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It's no secret that a wet and dry vacuum (or 'shop vac') is an incredibly useful tool for any home. Around the house, they can be used to suck up anything from dirt and leaves in the yard, to pet hair on your couch.
But can you use a wet and dry vacuum in a spa? You bet!
There are plenty of ways a shop vac can be put to good use around the hot tub: pipe flushes, draining, and winterizing are my top three. Read on to see a few ways I use mine.
- 1. Suck up the grime while flushing out your spa plumbing
- 2. Easily drain every last drop of water
- 3. Properly winterize your hot tub
- What's the best shop vac for a hot tub?
1. Suck up the grime while flushing out your spa plumbing
Occasionally, you will need to take care of your spa pipes and properly clean them out. This is especially important if you spot biofilm or other mold around the spa, as biofilm on visible surfaces almost always means that mold is growing in your pipes as well.
I wrote a full article about how to flush mold out of spa pipes and jets which covers the whole process, but as a brief summary, here's how you do it:
- Add a jet and pipe cleaner to your spa
- Run the jets and blower if equipped up to 30 minutes (a layer of dirty foam will form on the surface—that's all the contaminants coming out of your pipes!)
- Wipe down and clean any visible biofilm, mold or mildew with a diluted bleach solution
During this cleaning process, you can use a shop vac to suck up the layer of contaminated foam that will be floating around. It's very important you don't let biofilm stick to your spa surfaces, so you want to get all that foam and other gunk out of the hot tub as fast as you can.
It's gross, but it's also necessary if you want a clean spa. If you don't have a shop vac, you're left trying to scoop up the foam by hand or with a bucket, which can be tricky because it's a bit of a race against time. A shop vac makes this job a whole lot cleaner and easier to control in my experience.
You can use a jet and pipe cleaner along with a shop vac for great results, but be sure to follow the advice in my full article I linked above on how to properly clean out your spa jets—you don't want mold growth returning!
2. Easily drain every last drop of water
Most hot tubs have a drainage hole that doesn't go right to the bottom, leaving a couple inches of water that you'll need to get rid of some other way. So how do you get the last bit of water out of bottom of a hot tub? You have a few options here.
Absorb it with towels
If you don't have a shop vac and can't or don't want to purchase one, you can mop up the small pool of spa water with towels. You might need quite a few towels depending on how big your hot tub is.
Absorb as much water as you can with the towels until they're waterlogged, then wring them out and repeat until you've gotten as much water as possible.
This option is messy and time consuming, but it will do in a pinch.
Make a siphon
Another way to get rid of all the water in a hot tub is with a siphon. A siphon is a tube with a hole at one end and a reservoir of water at the other. It will create suction and draw the water out using gravity—as long as the other end is lower that the base of your spa.
You can make one in three steps:
- Get a long tube (like a hose, but a transparent tube can be better so you can see the water inside it)
- Submerge the entire tube in your spa until it's completely full of water
- Put your finger over the one end, then lift that end out and place it on the ground (or in a bucket at ground level)
- Release the seal, and the water should start to be sucked out of your spa
An effective siphon needs a lot of water to make sure there are no air bubbles in the tube or it won't work properly, so you might find it easier to drain your whole spa with the siphon if you want to use this method.
Use a shop vac
The last method, using a wet and dry vacuum to suck out the last bit of water, is not only easier than these other options, but also more thorough.
You can easily suck all the water out, and can then dry the surface with a cloth or simply leave it to air dry.
Of course the other option is hiring someone to do it for you. Hiring someone to take care of draining and refilling your hot tub requires no work from you, but will likely end up costing more than buying a wet/dry vacuum in the long run.
3. Properly winterize your hot tub
In winter, it is important to make sure your hot tub is ready for the cold if you don't want to leave it running. This is so that it can't freeze and burst or crack any pipes if they freeze too.
Here's how to winterize a spa:
- First, turn off the power to your hot tub. You can do this at the GFCI breaker in your breaker box.
- Next, drain it of all its water in the usual way by removing the drainage plug.
- Drain any water from each of your pumps.
- You can then use a shop vac with hose attachment to suck/blow any excess standing water from each line through the jets.
- To be extra safe you should add hot tub antifreeze to each pump as well as into your filter casing.
- Finally, put the cover back on your hot tub once you can be sure there is no water left inside to freeze and cause damage during the cold weather.
Now you're all done with winterizing your spa!
While I would say that having a shop vac for the first two cases is optional, it is pretty much a necessity if you want to winterize your hot tub properly.
What's the best shop vac for a hot tub?
I personally have this 14-gallon one by RIDGID:
It's big enough to hold a decent amount of water when using it with my spa, and I love that it's so versatile. I got the one with the auto detailing kit so I can use it on my car too—I'm all about multipurpose tools! You obviously don't have to do this though, one of the regular models of a similar size would work just fine.
Do they make vacuums for hot tubs?
They do make vacuums for hot tubs, but they're a little different from typical shop vacuums. They are designed more for removing grit and debris from the hot tub while it's full rather than for draining it:
What's the difference between a spa vacuum and a shop vacuum?
A spa vacuum is specially designed for removing debris from a hot tub, and is different from a typical wet/dry shop vacuum. Shop vacs, on the other hand, are typically multipurpose vacuums that work for all sorts of uses around the home and garden from dirt to leaves to water.
Just be sure you get a wet/dry shop vac if you want to be able to use it with your spa!