What is a hot tub

What is a hot tub, portable spa tub, or Jacuzzi?

If you are asking yourself, “What is a hot tub?” – You have come to the right place. A hot tub is a small pool of water or a larger than normal tub that utilizes hot water to cause buoyancy and treat aches and pains. Hot tubs often use jets as a form of hydrotherapy, applying targeted massage techniques to specific areas of the body. A hot tub, is also commonly referred to as a spa, portable spa, and jacuzzi. All of these terms seem to be interchangeable and commonly used. The term, Jacuzzi, is similar to how people call tissues, “Kleenex.” The brands have become so diluted that they are now a generic, everyday use of the term.

Hot tubs were first invented by the Jacuzzi brothers and the very first self-contained portable spa was introduced in 1968. Although, there was a gradual lead up to that defining moment starting 20 years earlier when Candido Jacuzzi realized he could use the submersible agricultural water pump to give his ailing son a soothing, whirlpool bath.

Types of Hot Tubs

The most common type of portable spa is the Acrylic, which consists of an acrylic interior and wood or simulated wood grain exterior. Roto-molded spas, named after the rotational molding process, are typically made from one, single piece of durable plastic. These tubs are spun in a 360-degree motion and formed into different shapes and seating arrangements. Wooden hot tubs, or Ofuros, are round tubs that resemble a large barrel. They are commonly made of Cedar or Redwood and were very popular in the 1970s. Cement hot tubs are usually built-in to the cement accompanying an in-ground swimming pool, but they can also be built above the ground as well. Cement tubs can look really good, but they aren’t typically as comfortable as a portable spas, lacking unique seating positions and advanced jet placement. Finally, we have the portable inflatable spas. Inflatable hot tubs are a more affordable choice and can usually be plugged directly into a standard 110V outlet.

Hot Tub Water Chemistry and Sanitization

Hot tubs are usually recommended to be drained every 3-4 months by most manufacturers and spa professionals. Due to the warm temperatures, damp conditions, and ratio of bathers to water, portable spas are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Hot tub water needs to be tested and treated on a regular basis, in order to keep the water fresh and clean.

The sanitizer chemical, Bromine, is generally the most commonly used chemical to sanitize a hot tub; but chlorine may also be used. Bromine is usually distributed in the form of a 1-inch tablet, but can also be used in powdered form. Chlorine tablets are not recommended by spa manufacturers and can often void the warranty on the spa’s shell. Chlorine granules are fine and can be used as the main sanitizer or added to supplement the bromine, if needed.

It is recommended to test the water and add chemicals as needed on a weekly basis. There are different ways of testing the water, from test strips to chemical reagents. These tests commonly test the sanitizer level, pH level, alkalinity level, and calcium hardness. There are many other chemicals that you can add such as stain and scale prevention, clarifier, water softeners, scum line treatments, and much more. Many bathers also use hot tub aromatherapy liquids or crystals to create different scents during each use.

Hot Tub Plumbing and Equipment

A Portable Spa Consists of:

  • At least one jet pump system to circulate the water and power the hydrotherapy jets.
  • A filtration system to filter out the debris in your spa.
  • A suction system to pull the water to be circulated back through the pump system.

Optional Equipment Includes:

  • An ozonator system which aids in lowering chemical usage and destroying bacteria.
  • An air blower that creates a “bubbly” effect to give users a gentle, tissue massage.
  • Bromine or Chlorine generating system which will help to add and maintain a proper sanitizer level for the spa.
  • Built-in mineral system which can reduce required sanitizer levels, soften the water, and help buffer the pH levels in the hot tub.

Energy Efficiency

Important factors in hot tub energy efficiency are insulation, heat retention, filtration, design, and engineering. Optional circulating pumps are considered to lower the cost of monthly operation, but are available only on specific spa models and brands. In addition, many spa manufacturers comply with the stringent energy standards of Title 20, established by the California Energy Commision (CEC).

photo credit: Andrei!

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