There’s no getting away from it: hot tubs need regular maintenance. This is a problem if you own a hot tub that is not located in your regular home.
Maybe you're a landlord with rental properties, or an Airbnb host, or perhaps you just have a second home that you visit occasionally that happens to have a hot tub.
There are actually a few things you can do to keep a hot tub clean, safe, and well maintained—even when you’re not there.
First, let’s take a look at what’s actually involved in maintaining a hot tub (feel free to skip this section if you're already familiar with the requirements).
What maintenance does a hot tub need?
1-4 times per week
Test your water balance (pH, total alkalinity, and sanitizer level) and make any adjustments as needed:
- pH should be in the 7.2-7.8 range
- TA should be in the 80-140 range
- If using chlorine as a sanitizer, it should be 1.0-4.0 ppm
- If using bromine, you want 2.0-6.0 ppm
Remove and clean your filter.
It's a good idea to have two filters so you can put a fresh one in right away, rather than leave the spa without a filter while you clean the old one.
You should replace a filter with a brand new one after 1-2 years of use.
Every 3-6 months
Drain, clean and refill your spa.
This process takes a long time, and it can be tricky getting a freshly filled spa properly balanced again.
Here are my top tips for managing hot tub maintenance remotely.
Leave supplies for cleaners or guests
If your property is a short-term vacation rental (which has people in it regularly), or you have someone you know nearby who is happy to help out, there are certain things you can do to make it easy for them to perform basic maintenance for your hot tub.
A lot of the most basic things are not too tricky for someone else to learn, even if they’re not familiar with hot tub maintenance in general. For example, you can leave a tube of test strips which usually have simple instructions on them so that anyone with access to the property can do a basic check of the hot tub’s levels in just a few seconds:
This will allow them to take all the important readings like pH, total alkalinity, and sanitizer. That should be enough to at least let anyone confirm that the spa is safe to use.
But what do you do if something needs adjusting? It’s one thing to take a reading with the test strip, but it does get more complex if you need to start measuring out chemicals, and figuring out which ones need adding to correct a particular reading that is off.
For things like pH and total alkalinity, that might be best left until someone with more knowledge can take a look at the spa. But for simpler things like shocking the hot tub after each use, you can pre-portion out sanitizer into little sachets.
This can work great for people like Airbnb guests, because you can simply tell them to add one of the sachets to the spa after use. They don’t need to worry about things like finding the correct sanitizer in a collection of chemicals, or worrying about measuring out how much to use.
If you do want to ask guests to help out with this, or perhaps even the cleaner of the property, you'll need to leave very clear instructions. You can either print out and laminate a card, or add instructions to your general guide book for the property if you have one.
Consider a smart water monitoring device
A more high-tech solution to monitoring your water when you’re not there, is to invest in a smart water monitor.
These are app-connected devices which are designed to sit in your spa water, and continuously measure things like pH and sanitizer. You can get notified through the app of the readings, so you’ll know if and when something needs attention. A couple of well-known brands in the industry are pHin and Sutro.
This can be really helpful if you’re not around to test the water regularly yourself, but you’ll obviously need someone nearby who can actually adjust the chemicals when something is out of whack. And for that, you’ll either need to be able to do it yourself, or if you don’t live anywhere near the property, pre-portioned sachets could again be the solution.
Bear in mind these devices are quite new in terms of technology, and some of the reviews of them do report concerns with accuracy or reliability. For this reason, I probably wouldn’t rely on one of these as the sole means of testing your chemical levels, but I think they could be a useful tool for people trying to manage a hot tub they don’t have regular access to.
Hire a local service company
The final tip is to call in the professionals.
In in most areas, you’ll find local companies who can provide routine weekly, bi-weekly and monthly service for your hot tub.
The obvious benefit of this is that you won’t need to instruct them on what to do. They’ll have all the appropriate tools and equipment and chemicals they need, and you should be able to trust that they’ll keep your spa in perfect condition—in a way that’s completely hands-off for you.
This is ideal for second homeowners who cannot take regular care of their hot tub, but would like to have it ready when they arrive. It’s also the only way you’re going to be able to do this at scale, like if you need to manage multiple properties with hot tubs.
As this is a physical service, it’s going to be the most expensive option out of the ones I recommend. But you may find the peace of mind—not to mention the lack of hassle and worrying whether a guest or neighbor has done the right thing with your spa—to be more than worth it.