If you want to install a hot tub on a raised platform, you have three main options for lifting it into place: a winch, a crane, or a helicopter.
The right tool for the job will depend on the size and weight of your spa, how high above the ground it needs to go, and what kind of access you have available.
Tools capable of moving hot tubs
In most cases, a winch powerful enough to move the weight of your spa will provide enough assistance to maneuver it into place.
A winch is a mechanical device designed to pull in (or let out) a wire rope or cable. When attached to a heavy object like a spa, it becomes possible to move objects that you could not move unassisted.
For a winch to be a viable option, you must have a clear ground access path. This means no obstructions from the side or above that would prevent the spa from getting through (stairs might be okay—more on that later).
If you do not have clear access to the location, you will need to consider more expensive options like a crane, or in some cases, a helicopter.
How to lift a hot tub onto a deck
Hot tubs can weigh 600 lbs or more even when empty, so the first step should always be to ensure the deck can support the hot tub you want to install.
Once the deck is reinforced or confirmed to be strong enough, you can determine the best installation method. This will depend on a few details about the deck itself, and the available access to it.
If you have a low deck
For decks up to around 4' off the ground, you might not even need mechanical assistance. Most hot tub moving companies can supply a team large enough to simply roll the spa up and onto your deck:
Be prepared to remove fencing or railings if necessary. This is often the easiest way to make sure you have enough access for the spa to reach its final location.
If you have a second story deck
For upper level decks, your movers will not be able to position the spa manually. However, they can often use a combination of winch, ramp and some human assistance to guide the spa in the right direction:
Note: You will need something to anchor the winch to while it is pulling the hot tub. This could be railings or some other part of the deck, or a specially constructed support. The anchor must be strong enough to hold the full weight of the spa.
Deck with no access
If there is no access to your deck from the ground, and railings or fences cannot be removed, you'll have to install it from above. You have two main options:
Installing by crane
Many crane companies offer residential hot tub delivery as part of their standard service. It's a great way to get a spa onto a higher deck, as well as onto a balcony, roof or terrace.
If you go this route, be sure to check that overhead access is completely clear. That means no trees or power lines can obstruct the hot tub site, the street where the crane would park, or any part of the lifting path in between.
You also need to consider if there's space for a crane to perform the lift without disrupting traffic. If any road closures are necessary, you'll need to coordinate with the relevant city department. Likewise, if any part of the lift will be over a neighbor's property, you'll need permission from them and insurance.
Installing by helicopter
In locations with very difficult access, you can find helicopter lifting services that will deliver hot tubs and spas.
This is a quick and efficient delivery option, which allows you to avoid many of the problems you would encounter with a crane—you really only need clear vertical overhead access to the spot where the spa needs to be dropped.
You can expect this to cost a little more than a crane, but it's actually more affordable than you might think, especially compared to the cost of a new spa. Plus, installation is essentially a one-off cost.
How to get a hot tub up stairs
Using the same techniques as when installing a hot tub on a deck, it's also often possible to winch a spa up stairs. You will need to take the same precautions to protect the spa, like putting boards or a slider down first to avoid scratching the sides.
To avoid headaches on moving day, be sure to carefully measure all dimensions of the entire route the spa has to travel before hiring movers to get your spa up stairs:
- Width: The steps (and the path to and from them) must be wide enough to accommodate the spa at all points.
- Height: Check any roofs, doorways or other overhead obstructions are high enough to let your spa pass under them. Bear in mind the spa will be on its side at around a 45-degree angle while it's traveling up the steps during the move.
- Corners: This one can get tricky to measure, but if your steps or path have any turns in them, you'll need to make sure the spa can clear all the necessary angles.
Moving a hot tub is no small task, so it's almost always worth paying a professional to do the job for you. It's the best way to avoid causing damage to either you or the spa.
That said, it's useful to know which installation method is going to be the best option for you ahead of time.
This way you'll know which type of company to call—and also have an idea of project complexity and what costs to expect before you start getting quotes.