Tips to keep your hot tub cover in good shape—and WHEN you really need to get a new one
May 24, 2019 – We in the Northwest recently experienced a harsher than normal winter, with plenty of cold nights, more days with snow than in many years past, and—naturally–plenty of precipitation. One thing has become clear over the past few months here at Olympic: plenty of people have waited far too long to replace old waterlogged hot tub covers.
I realize that hot tub covers are not an inexpensive item to replace. But they are a reality of hot tub ownership. Delaying replacement of your cover can cause tub and cover lifter damage, increase operating cost, and be potentially harmful physically to someone trying to remove it. All these things could cost you a lot more than the timely replacement of your hot tub cover.
Trying to limp along with a cover that’s beyond its age (3-5 years is the average lifespan), could run the risk of the following misadventures:
- A cover begins to lose its insulating value the longer it’s on your tub. Many don’t realize this, but a cover will begin to lose its R-value (the measurement used to gauge heat retention) in very little time after it begins its job. Trying to continue use of a cover beyond its normal lifespan will surely cost you more in increased electrical usage.
- A cover that’s waterlogged puts tremendous strain on your hot tub’s cover lifter and consequently the cabinet of your tub. If you struggle to get your cover off, your lifter and cabinet are likewise struggling under the weight. No cover lifter or cabinet is indestructible. Both will give way when enough undue weight is forced upon them. You could end up bending the bars of your cover lifter, breaking shocks if they’re part of the design, and the lifter potentially ripping out of the cabinet of your tub, resulting in hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in damage. It also takes your tub out of commission until the cover can be replaced, never mind the lifter and cabinet.
- That same weight from a waterlogged cover can put a lot of stress on YOU. I cannot tell you how many customers over the years have called to get a new cover that waited too long and ended up injuring their shoulders or back, causing the need for a doctor’s visit, chiropractic care, medication, and more. Spending the money on a new hot tub cover surely costs less, and your health is certainly worth more!
- A cover that gets too heavy can very well just split in half under its own weight, ripping out the center seam. Now you’re really stuck! New covers usually take up to 6 weeks to arrive from a cover manufacturer. It will put your hot tub out of commission for an extended period.
NOW! Once you get that new hot tub cover, hurray! It’s a brand new day, and you have a chance to help keep it in the best shape possible until it’s time for another one. Here are some tips to help keep your cover in good working condition:
- Clean your cover regularly. A gentle dishwashing detergent will work wonders on the exterior vinyl of the cover (like Dawn). Clean the vinyl and rinse thoroughly.
- After cleaning, condition the cover with 303 Protectant. This terrific product helps condition your cover’s vinyl to help keep it supple while guarding it against damaging UV rays. (Note: Never use Armor All. It can seal the vinyl, preventing it from breathing. This can lock moisture inside the cover’s foam insulation and increase waterlogging.)
- Clean the underside of the cover to keep it mildew free. You can use a Scotch-Brite sponge to clean it with baking soda. If there is mildew or a stubborn spot, Simple Green does a great job on it.
- If you have a cover lifter for your tub (and I hope you do!), open your tub for a couple of hours on a warm sunny day. Unzip the center seams of each half of the cover and create a gap with some sponges to force the seam open. This will allow some moisture inside the cover to evaporate and help slow waterlogging.
- Think about a bubble cover. This is especially a good idea if your tub isn’t in use for an extended period. It can help slow the waterlogging of your vinyl cover a bit.
- Keep your water balanced! Guess what? Water that’s out of balance can create an acidic environment and can also start degrading the underside of your cover. Balanced, correctly sanitized water is your cover’s friend.
- If one half of your cover starts to sink in and create a pool of water on one half of the cover, do not despair! Get someone to help you remove the interior foam core and flip it. Reversing it will usually solve the issue.
- Some folks seem to think a cover lifter will last forever! So not true! A cover lifter may last up to 5-6 years but at some point it needs replacing too. A sound cover lifter can better support a cover that might be getting heavy and help guard against unfortunate cabinet damage.
- Do NOT ever remove your interior foam to try to dry it out for an extended period! If you do so, the vinyl could shrink and you’ll never get the foam cores back inside the exterior vinyl. You’ll end up with a new cover—maybe sooner than it was really needed.
- DO NOT ever cover your hot tub cover with a tarp or a second layer of something to “protect” it. Your hot tub cover needs to breathe to do its job. An extra layer will prevent breathing, and you’ll end up causing waterlogging much faster.
If you have a cover that’s older than 4 years, take some time to make a true honest assessment on how it smells, how heavy it is, and be brave and get that new cover BEFORE it causes you any extra financial or physical angst. It’s absolutely the right thing to do. You’ll be happier in the long run and not let a cover calamity get in the way of your hot tub soaks.