Swim Spa Placement & Installation Guide: 4 Things to Consider
By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated
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Choosing the right spot for your swim spa is one of the most important factors you need to consider when planning a swim spa installation.
But you also need to prepare the ground with an appropriate base—and figure out how you're actually going to transport the unit there when it's ready to be installed.
In this article, I'll go over the main things you need to consider when you're planning to install a swim spa.
1. Choosing the placement
Where you place your swim spa has a huge impact for a lot of people on how much they end up using it.
You should try and place your swim spa in a location that gives you easy access to both power and water (necessary for running and cleaning the spa), while still being somewhere that's fairly private from the rest of the world.
It can also really help to think about how you will be using it—will you mostly use it for regular exercise during the week year-round, or just as a place to cool down and relax with family on the weekends?
If you get cold winters and would like to be able to use it year-round, you don't want to have a long walk from your back door to the swim spa.
Some people even have a shelter or enclosure built around their swim spa to make it easier to use year-round:
Indoor installations can be a great option if you live somewhere that gets cold winters and you want to be able to use your swim spa year-round.
Additionally, make sure the location is not too close to your property (10 feet away is reasonable) or to a tree root system. You don't want to risk the spa being shifted from underneath in the years to come.
If you're working with limited space, you might not have many options for placement, but just try to pick the best one possible.
It's important to note here though that the location you choose could impact the installation cost of your swim spa significantly—the more complex the installation, the more expensive it will be.
Can you put a swim spa in a garage?
It is often possible to install a swim spa in a garage, provided the floor is level (many garages have sloped floors), and that there's enough space—both above and around the spa.
Aim to leave at least 3 feet of space between the unit and any walls. This is to leave enough room for access in the case of repairs, as well as getting in and out of the spa.
Remember that you will need access to both power and water, so you might need to have a dedicated 240V circuit installed for the swim spa if there isn't one already accessible from your garage.
You should also think about ventilation. While garages can sometimes be easier than other indoor spa installations, you still need to make sure you're not going to be creating any mold issues.
Can a swim spa be installed in a basement?
Yes, swim spas can be installed in basements. But just like with any indoor placement, it's not as simple as an outdoor installation.
The first thing you have to think about is access: will you be able to maneuver the unit into position? You'll need to make sure you can get it through any doors or hallways that lead into your basement. Swim spas are typically around 8 feet wide and 15 feet long, so any tight spaces present a serious challenge.
Even if you have access covered, there's more to think about—for one thing, you'll need to make sure that there's enough space around the unit (3 feet on all sides), and that the floor is stable, level, and even.
You also need to ensure good ventilation by making sure there's somewhere for the steam to escape, so condensation can't form and cause mold or damp in your home.
One of the biggest issues with basement installations is drainage—where will water go so it doesn't just sit on the floor? The basement is one of the last places in your house that will dry out, since it's below ground level. And even with the most careful use, swim spas almost always result in some amount of splashing.
Can you move a swim spa?
One of the greatest advantages swim spas have over traditional pools is that they are portable.
Once a pool is dug into the ground, that's now a permanent part of the property. You can't take it with you when you move.
Swim spas are designed to be moved though—and because of their portable nature, many people are happy to have the option of being able to move their spa when they need to relocate.
It's important though to understand that moving a swim spa is not something you should attempt regularly. It will be an expensive operation, and there are major planning and safety considerations you need to take into account when relocating a swim spa.
Think carefully about where you want to place your swim spa when installing it, because swim spas are heavy objects with many fragile components—you don't want to have the hassle of trying to shift them to a new location in your backyard just because you didn't think the initial placement through properly.
2. Selecting an appropriate base
You have quite a few options when it comes to choosing a base for your swim spa. From in-ground to above ground, prefabricated or custom-built—selecting an appropriate base option depends on budget, aesthetics, and desired placement of your swim spa.
Does a swim spa need a concrete pad?
Despite concrete being a popular choice for spa pads, it's actually not necessary for a swim spa.
A concrete pad is certainly ideal because it provides a sturdy foundation, preventing any shifting or instability. But your swim spa will be fine with other types of base too, provided you don't install the unit directly onto the ground.
Some other types of base options are:
- Gravel or crushed stone
- A deck
- Synthetic pad
If you like the idea of an in-ground or recessed swim spa, one option is to build an elevated deck around the unit. This may provide better access for entry, but at the expense of reduced access for repairs (you have to leave space for technicians to climb under the deck to access the service panel).
If you don't want to go through the trouble of building a custom base, you can place a swim spa on a prefabricated synthetic pad like an EZ Pad or Handi-Pad.
I have another detailed blog post about the different types of spa bases—it's for hot tubs, but the advice about choosing a base applies to swim spas as well.
How thick should a concrete pad be for a swim spa?
A concrete pad for a swim spa should be at least 4 inches thick. For the largest swim spas, you may consider building up to a 6-inch thick pad.
This is not only to ensure that the pad doesn't buckle under the weight of the unit, but also to help prevent cracking or warping due to temperature changes throughout the year.
Can you put a swim spa on a deck?
Swim spas can be installed on decks, but it's something of an expensive option. You need to hire a structural engineer to assess whether your deck is strong enough to handle the weight of your swim spa before you commit.
Any reinforcements needed will have to cover a bigger area than for a hot tub, because swim spas are up to 20 feet long.
For this reason, a lot of people choose to recess (or partially recess) their swim spa into a deck instead of placing it on the deck's surface:
You should also bear in mind that any water leakage could create stains on the deck, so it's perhaps not an ideal choice if you want to maintain a perfectly clean deck.
I'm not saying you shouldn't put a swim spa on a deck though; many people love the convenience, view, and aesthetic this creates in a backyard.
As long as you're aware of the associated costs and considerations, it's just something else to take into account when planning your installation.
How do you level a swim spa?
Do not attempt to adjust, level, or shim a swim spa once it is installed. Doing so will void any warranty and could damage the unit and/or components.
Leveling a swim spa is something you should take care of during the base installation process—it's not something you can adjust once the swim spa is in place.
You don't want any gaps or dips in your base that could create an uneven surface, so you should check (double check, and check again) that it is flat and level before placing the unit.
3. Installing the power source
All swim spas need a 240V circuit with GFCI breaker. There's no such thing as a 110V swim spa.
This is because of the sheer amount of power needed to heat the water, as well as maintain good water flow and filtration functionality.
If your home's electrical panel does not already have a separate circuit for an old hot tub or pool pump, you'll need to hire a licensed electrician to install one.
You can aim to have this done either before or after your swim spa arrives, but it's sometimes easier to do the work once the unit is in place so the electrician can install the circuit and hook up the spa at once.
They can't do that second part if the spa isn't actually there yet.
4. Preparing for delivery day
Planning for the actual installation is another crucial part of the process. If you have a wide gate and a clear access path to your backyard, that will make things easier for your delivery crew.
But if you live on a narrow street and/or the unit won't easily fit given the access you have available, things get much more complex. Many installations need to use a crane at this point.
Swim spas are about 8 feet wide and up to 5 feet high, so even on their side, they need significant clearance.
You should measure the width and height of any gate before you order the spa, to make sure it will fit. Even if you think it will, you should then seek a second opinion—either from professional movers or your local dealer (whoever will be handling the install).
If you know ahead of time that there's no way an 8-foot wide unit will fit through your gate, you can plan for a crane operation from the start. Most dealers are used to dealing with this type of installation, so they should be able to recommend a crane operator and help you through the process.