How to Remove Foam Insulation From a Hot Tub (2 Methods)

Jennifer Rhodes

By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated

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If you need to repair or find a leak in your hot tub, you'll first need to figure out how to remove the foam insulation from your hot tub to get access to the source of the problem. The good thing is that this can be accomplished as a DIY project in many cases.

You can remove foam insulation from your hot tub by either cutting out the insulation by hand or dissolving it with acetone, also known as nail polish remover.

Keep reading to learn exactly how to remove your hot tub insulation using both of these methods so you can get your hot tub repair done—and get back to enjoying it.

How to remove foam insulation from a hot tub

As with any home DIY project, there is more than one way to remove foam insulation from your hot tub. Both of the methods mentioned below are great ways to effectively remove foam insulation so you can repair your hot tub with ease.

Depending on the tools you have available and what you are comfortable doing, you might gravitate towards one of these methods over the other, or you may decide to try a little bit of both.

Here are the two best ways to remove the foam insulation from a hot tub:

1. Physical removal

The easiest and most straightforward way to remove foam insulation from your hot tub is to physically remove it by hand. This usually involves cutting out and/or pulling away the insulation in the area that you need to work on—or to get a better look at the area you're concerned about so you can diagnose the problem.

The biggest thing to remember when removing the foam insulation by hand is to be careful and work slowly.

If you are using sharp tools to cut away the foam, make sure you switch to smaller more precise tools (or even just your hands) when you are working near any important hot tub components like the pipes, jets, or other fixtures. Foam insulation can be replaced easily, but other parts you'll need to re-order (often from the manufacturer).

2. Chemical removal

If you're looking for a chemical method to get rid of the foam insulation around your hot tub components, nail polish remover will also do the trick. You will need pure acetone nail polish remover to do this job, so avoid formulations with other added ingredients.

How does this method work? Simply put, the acetone in the nail polish remover actually eats away at the foam itself. This is a great method because you don't have to clean up as much of the debris after, but it comes with some risks as well.

The most important thing to remember is that acetone is flammable, so take as many precautions as possible to prevent any spills or other problems that could start an unexpected fire.

When using the acetone method to remove foam insulation, always shut off the spa at the breaker first. Then, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, wear eye protection, and keep the acetone away from any PVC piping.

Acetone will also eat PVC so it's important to not splash it on areas you don't want to dissolve, as you could create a bigger problem this way.

Why would I need to remove foam insulation from my hot tub?

The only reason you would most likely ever even need to use either of these methods is if you need to fix or diagnose a problem with your hot tub, usually a leak.

Clearing away the insulation allows you to look at the underside of the shell of your hot tub with an unobstructed view, so you can easily see where the problem is coming from—and hopefully fix it!

Which method of removing foam insulation is better?

Both the physical removal and nail polish remover methods of removing foam insulation will work, but ultimately it's up to you to decide what you feel comfortable with.

Some people aren't comfortable using chemicals like acetone on their own, so this can be a reason to opt for physical removal. By the same token, physically removing the insulation may seem like a messy task that you don't want to take on, either because you don't have the appropriate tools, or don't want to be left with the cleanup.

The physical removal method is good for larger areas of foam, but you might prefer to switch to acetone once you reach the smaller, harder-to-reach areas.

There are pros and cons to both methods, which is why many DIYers (and even pros in many cases) end up using a combination of the two to get the best and safest results.

Final thoughts

If your hot tub recently sprung a leak or you need to make a small repair, there are two tried and true ways to remove foam insulation from your hot tub so you can work on it: physical and chemical.

You can choose to either cut away the insulation by hand or using tools or dissolve it using acetone nail polish remover. Both methods work well and will get the job done, so it's just a matter of choosing which option feels right for the job—or opting to do a combination of the two.

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