It all started one day at my brother-in-laws house….
ME: So, where’d you get the hot tub man?
B-I-L: From a neighbor
ME: What’d it cost ya?
B-I-L: Nothing, just had to roll it down here.
ME: You gonna set it up?
B-I-L: Na, too much work, the cabinet is rotted. You want it?
ME: (duh) YEAH!
So my wife and I commenced to hauling it sans the cabinet to our place for installation. My brother-in-law hasn’t seen it installed at my place yet, but I bet he’ll want it back….
This was a rather short installation process given that I did 99% of everything alone. It took me an evening to the tub hung and 4 days to plumb and do the whole deck.
Below is what I did. You can skip to the notes section here.
Here’s what I did:
First I documented EVERYTHING mechanical on the old setup. Pix here:
It’s mine so now I have to move it… don’t have pix, but needless to say doing it in the dark with four people, my brand new-never-scratched-not-even-hauled-anything-yet-Truck didn’t help any. Again- I left the old cabinet behind and took the tub and all the plumbing/electrical.
Next you have to put it some where. I had an unused corner of the house that was perfect for it. Pix here:
The Actual Install…
I decided to “hang” the tub against the house. It really doesn’t hang, but it looks like it. It has support on the absolute bottom and lots of support on the sides. The bare frame looks like this:
Keep in mind, at this point things are VERY rough. I decided to use two of those “foundation blocks” to hold up a set of 4x4s. They handle the weight like a champ and there really wasn’t much prep for putting them down.
I did a temporary plumb-as-it-is water test to see where the leaks were and how bad the plumbing was. The leak was were where I expected it- the spot where I took out a jet…
Notice when I did the plumb-it-as-it-is test, the plumbing wasn’t very good. In fact it was SO bad that I had to replace the heater unit. The idiot that installed it GLUED joints DIRECTLY to the heater. I’m talking joints on joints on joints, no threaded joints in case you ever have to remove it!!! DUH! Cut one and you can’t get anything back together. Not to mention the fact that the inside of the heater was in horrible condition. Check the pix:
Now look at this one, you can really see how bad the heater was, look in the middle of the pic and look at all the turns the pipe made from the filter to the heater!!!!
So that was the original plumb job…geez. Now that the plumbing is setup for a basic test, one must do a temporary electrical next….So out comes the computer power cable, some wire nuts and some wire stripping.
Ok, so it all works now we have to do version 1 of the plumbing, finish the real-to-local-code wiring and finish up the deck.
The final electrical is in conduit, has a dedicated circuit out of the main panel (not a sub panel) and is covered:
I decided to do a two part deck, one around the tub at tub level and one on the ground around the tub and up to the back door. Deck one looks like this:
The bottom deck actually sits on the ground (using pressure treated wood). Pictures tell this part of the story, they are pretty much in construction order from left to right.
Now with an awesome deck, we need a hot tub. Since I replaced the heater I got a new controller too, this handles making sure the heater isn’t on when the pump isn’t etc. Well, the first heat up has taken over 48 hours and hasn’t made it above 90 degrees. I even put my 500 watt fish tank heater in there. Without that it wouldn’t have made it that far! See the heater:
So, a call the manufacturer is warranted. I already opened everything, checked voltages, checked to see that the switches that handle the heating element are working, making sure none of the safety switches are off etc, etc. I really think the only reason we got to 90 degrees was the fish tank heater!!!
After receiving a new heater via over night shipment (Thanks Spa Babes!), the new heater was installed and heating. 24 hours later we had a 105 degree hot tub- no fish heater needed!
- This one sounds like common sense, but don’t believe it. I had a really nice cordless drill with a DIY super amped battery for when the other two die. Dropping a cordless drill on accident or otherwise into water is BAD. While I was able to save it with some WD40, it only worked for a week after that and then totally shorted out- smoke and all. I did get a nicer drill, but dang it I liked my old drill!
- It helps to have a somewhat portable saw mill. Mine is a radial arm saw. I prefer this for some reason over table saws for certain cutting.
- Put valves and unions before and after the pump, heater and filter equipment!!!! If you need to change anything this will keep most of your water in the tub and allow you to disconnect the equipment without cutting the pipe! Unfortunately I was in such a rush to get this working I remembered to put threaded fittings on everything, but not valves or unions….(update: I finally put in unions and on/off valves, it took the replacement of the filter unit before I cared enough to do it, but maintenance is so much easier!)
- Chemicals– I have never ever used chlorine in my pool or hot tub. It smells funny, bleaches your clothes and hurts your eyes. There are three alternatives that I know of right now. Bacquacil, SoftSwim (by BioGuard) and Clear Comfort by Omni. I am a Bacquacil defectee only because the dealer in the area is a total ass and has no concept of customer service (take note Bacquacil folks!!). So I switched to SoftSwim. SoftSwim like the other two is based on Biguanide. It is very similar to what is used to clean contact lenses. It is extremely easy on your skin, won’t bleach your clothes and won’t hurt your eyes. It has the same components as you’d find in chlorine pools: sanitizer, algicide and a clarifier/shock. It may cost a little more, but you’ll appriciate it I promise- especially if you have an above ground pool and or PVC piping- chlorine will eat your liner and dry out our pipes over time- Biguanide doesn’t harm plastics!