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Spas, Hot Tubs and Hydrotherapy

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What exactly is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is a water therapy and has been used since the ancient Greeks and Romans treated various ailments with it. When you combine hot water and air, you have a formula that can massage away the aches and pains of the day.

This natural therapy is currently used by hospitals, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and physiotherapists and has been for several years now.

There are three main elements that make hydrotherapy effective: heat, massage, and the weightlessness when submerged in water.

Heat

By immersing the body in hot water, you raise the core body temperature and dilate the blood vessels. This improves circulation and allows the body to speed up the healing process.

Massage

Using water and air pumped through air jets, your spa or hot tub can effectively massage the tissues of the body. Massage can relax tight muscles and stimulates the body to release endorphins, natural painkillers produced by the body.

Buoyancy

When the human body is submerged in water, 80-90% of body weight is reduced due to the buoyancy created by the density of the water. This reduces stress on joints and muscles and creates a very relaxing environment.

What to expect during hot tub or spa hydrotherapy.

After about 5 minutes your heart rate will begin to slow and blood pressure decrease due to the increase in core body temperature and dilation of blood vessels.

After about 8 minutes your hands and feet begin to feel warmer as circulation continues to improve.

After about 12 minutes your muscles start to relax and become more pliable. Stretching become easier and your body starts to release and remove lactic acid and other body toxins.

After about 15 minutes, body aches and pains will often diminish in strength and severity.

WARNING!

You should not spend more then about 15 minutes in hydrotherapy sessions because prolonged exposure to heat and massage can sap the body’s energy making exit from a hot tub or spa very difficult or even impossible, and your core temperature can continue to rise and become very dangerous.

NEVER use your spa or hot tub alone.

More on hydrotherapy in a later post…

How to buy a used Spa or Hot Tub

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The thought of buying a new spa or hot tub can be as exciting as it is daunting. On one hand, the idea of getting into soothing hot water bubbling away in your brand new spa or hot tub at the end of a long, stressful day is almost worth ANY amount of money. However, new spas and hot tubs are expensive even a stripped down model. Then, start adding a few options like additional jets to sooth and relax more muscles, and a chiller to cool the water on those warmer days like we have here in Arizona, and a few thousand dollars turns into the price of an entry-level automobile.

What is the solution to getting a good hot tub or spa at a good price? What if you want to buy a model with more options but you don’t have that much money? Did you know you can get what you want at an affordable price? You can if you start looking at used spas and hot tubs.

Used hot tubs and spas can be a very good value and provide years of enjoyment, but there are some risks involved in buying anything that has been used including a spa, jacuzzi, or hot tub. In this article, we will show you how to evaluate a used spa or hot tub so you don’t get soaked.

Before you get too excited and write that check out, or hand a pile of cash over for that used hot tub, there are several things you need to know. We will spend some time going over some of these items in the article, but here are some things to consider:

1 – Is this used hot tub or spa in good working order, or does it need some repair? Repairs can be costly, but they may also be very easy an inexpensive. Like automobiles, hot tubs and spas do need regular maintenance to stay working properly. Finding a used tub that has been well maintained is possible if you spend some time looking around.

2 – When purchasing a used hot tub or spa, you will want to clean and sanitize it prior to your first use. Even if it looks clean, you need to make sure for yourself. It is worth the extra effort to make sure it has been done properly because bacteria that your cannot see that has been breeding in a hot tub or spa for a while, can be harmful.

3 – Do you have a place to put your new spa or hot tub? You need a spot prepared and ready. Are you going to put it on a patio, a concrete slab, a slab of pavers, or pea-sized gravel? To make sure you do not damage your spa or hot tub, it needs to sit level and the base need to be able to support the weight of the spa including the 600-800 gallons of water.

4 – You need to have the proper electrical hook-up. Most spas and hot tubs are hard-wired into a 220 volt box. There are requirements of how far that box needs to be from the spa and there are electrical codes that need to be followed. You will need to hire a licensed electrician to do this for you and it will cost a few hundred dollars for parts and labor. Shop around and find a reputable company before you simply hire the guy with the cheapest bid. Remember, safety first.

5 – You will need to move that hot tub or spa to your home and have it placed in your yard. If you are in or around the Phoenix Metro area here in Arizona, that, of course, is where AZ Clear Choice Spa Movers can come to your rescue. Moving a spa or hot tub requires some skill and know how. You can’t just get 5 of your friends to come lift it for you. The last thing you want to do is damage it before you even get a chance to put water in it.

So, lets get started…

How do I find a good used spa?

One of the best places to start looking is in your local classified ads, or on a website like craigslist, especially if you live in a larger metropolitan area. Spa and hot tub retailers may carry a good used tub from time to time, but they will need to charge you a premium on a used spa so they can make their profit margin. They may also try and point you in the direction of a new model by talking about the benefits of a warranty, the risks of a used tub, and the new luxuries that the “old” spa just does not have. If you do decide to go to a spa or hot tub retailer to look at a used tub, know before you go and don’t fall for those kinds of sales gimmicks.

What is a used spa or hot tub worth?

Well that is the right question and the answer is not always an easy one. There are many thing to consider when it comes to placing a value on a used spa or hot tub. Of course, you will want to start with the age & condition of the unit and what optional features and upgrades it has. Unfortunately, for both the buyer and the seller, spas, hot tubs, and Jacuzzis lose their value rather quickly. Because of this, a seller who paid say $8,000-$10,000 for a top-of-the-line hot tub or spa a couple of years ago may want to sell it for $5,000-$6,000. Buying a hot tub or spa for almost half price might sound good, but you can often find a very nice new spa or hot tub in that price range with a warranty and most of the bells and whistles.

It is important to remember that a used spa or hot tub will probably require some work and reconditioning, even if it is simply to clean and sanitize it. I would suggest you look at several tubs before you make an offer. By doing that, you will start to get a real feel for a good tub when you see it. Don’t insult a seller if you’ve done your homework and their price is too high. Just walk away. After all, either they will eventually lower their price, or they will sell it to an uninformed buyer for what they are asking. Put yourself in the seller’s shoes and decide if you would be happy to sell a used spa or hot tub for top dollar.

What should I look for and what should I avoid?

The first thing to look for is a spa or hot tub that looks nice and almost new. I have seen many used spa and hot tubs that looked as though they were right from the factory. A clean spa that looks nice has a better chance of being well maintained then a spa that looks it’s age. Of course, you need to look deeper. I would never buy a used spa or hot tub that was not connected and working when I went out to evaluate it. OK, so if it looked new and they were willing to take $250, maybe. I will ask the seller to set the heat to high, usually it should run at about 104 degrees, so I can verify the heater is working. If the spa or hot tub is connected and running, it is much easier to see if there are jets that need to be replaces, blower or heater elements that are not working, or if the tub has any major leaks. Then, after you have verified that everything is working, take your time and look underneath the hood so to speak.

Evaluating the shell, the cabinet, the controls and the pipes.

Most of the high quality hot tubs and spas today have cabinets made of plastic that looks like wood. These new cabinets are resistant to fading and sun rot, they are very low maintenance, they are not affected by moisture, and they will look great for years to come. Older spa and hot tubs had side made from wood panels. Wood needs more attention and care and will deteriorate in not maintained properly. If you are looking at a used model that has wood cabinets, make sure the wood is sound and solid. It is worth asking the seller if you can remove several of the panels and check the condition form the inside. The nice thing about wood is with a little sanding and refinishing you can make weathered wood look like new.

After you have seen the spa running and heating the water, and you’ve seen the air bubbling from every jet, you now need to look closely with everything turned off. Look at every inch of the shell and be especially mindful of anything that looks like a crack, a blistered or a warp in the shell. Some tiny cracks can be repaired, but major crack will mean endless problems. Also, look at every water jet and reach in to make sure they spin or move if they are supposed to. In Arizona, the summer heat can quickly warp a shell and freeze up jets in an empty spa. Those repairs can be costly to fix. You are better off to walk away and look at another unit then to think you can simply fix these items even if everything else look good.

Take a look at the control panel and ask the seller to show you how everything works. Run through the process a few times to make sure the controls do what they are supposed to do. Again, I would never buy a tub that was not connected and working. Just because you can hear a motor running does not mean it is doing what it should do when the spa is full of water. Is the water heating? Are the jets blowing? Do the other features work? Does the waterfall work if it has one? Have the seller demonstrate everything.

Now we need to look inside the cabinet at the pipes. This will also let you know if the seller simply made the outside look good for your visit, or if the spa or hot tub has really been well maintained. Inside the cabinet you will see many PVC and plastic pipes, a motor or two, a heating element and possibly even a chiller. Some if the thing I look for is puddles of water in the cabinet. This is a good indication of a leak. There will be moisture inside the cabinet, but too much to where it puddles inside should be a red flag to you.

I also look to see if there are any signs of critters living in the cabinet. I am not talking about the occasional spiderweb or cricket. I mean look for signs of mice, rats, snakes, or other animals that might like to call a spa or hot tub home. Mice and rats will chew up the sprayed foam that covers the underside of the acryllic shell and use it for nesting material. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take any of those kinds of pets home with me. If there is very much foam that has collected in the bottom of the cabinet, I would walk away.

If a spa or hot tub has been stored for very much time drained and empty, I would look twice as close for a couple of reasons. Over time, spas and hot tubs will fall apart faster when they are not in use rather then when they are being used. Wiring will break down, leaks will form due to heat buildup, the sun can play havoc on the shell, and residual water in the pipes can stagnate and corrode the internal parts of the unit. I will always ask if the spa has been stored and if so for what period of time. If it has, I will ask the seller to hook it up, fill it with water and run it for at least 24 hours before I am willing to go out and look at it. If a seller is not willing to do those things, I would walk away. After all, would you buy a car without starting it up and driving it around the block?

The last item to look at is the cover. I would like to find a hot tub or spa with a cover in good or great condition. The are chemicals we offer to our customers that can restore the luster and shine to a cover in good condition. (As a side note, I would never use Armor All on my spa cover.) However, a cover in lees then ideal condition would not be a deal breaker for me as long as everything else looked good. Covers really will need to be replaced from time to time. Passing up a good deal on a hot tub or spa in great condition because the cover was a little worn is like passing up a great deal on a used car because it needs new tires. All cars will eventually need new tires, and all spas and hot tubs will eventually need a new cover. By the way, we can order you a new custom-made cover and deliver it to you if you live in the greater Phoenix area. Call us for a quote.

The bottom line is shopping for a used spa or hot tub can be worth the effort with a little research and a little homework. Know before you go and don’t get soaked!

In another post, we will talk about the cost of common spa and hot tub repairs. Take a look at our other posts and let us know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Tub and Spa Water Chemestry

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Spa Water Chemistry

Hot tubbing is great and if you’ve owned a spa or hot tub for very long, you also know how relaxing it can be. But in spite of all the natural health benefits there are some potential health risks you need to be aware of.

A hot tub or spa is full of hot water that does not get changed with each use like your bathtub. Hot water over time can become a breeding ground for all sorts of microorganisms. The health risks can include, but are not limited to septicemia, skin rash and infection, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and legionellosis – a potentially fatal infectious disease.

These risks can be can be eliminated and controlled with proper spa and hot tub water maintenance.

Today, we have many fantastic ways to treat and sanitize hot tub water, so lets discuss a few things you need to know about treating your hot tub or spa water.

Shock Treatments

One of the first things to discuss when it comes to spa and hot tub maintenance is shock treatment. Shocking you spa or hot tub water is a way to breakdown dirt, soaps, body oils, lotions and other impurities that cannot be removed by your hot tub’s filter. It is recommended to shock treat you spa or hot tub water from time to time to keep these impurities from building up and becoming food for bacteria and algae.

Most manufacturers recommend a non-chlorine shock treatment, but there are several treatments available. Please see your owner’s manual for your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Sanitizers

Chlorine is not used as often because of the odor and because it breaks down so quickly in the hot water. Bromine Tablets or Granules are a more popular method of sanitizing hot water today. They have a relatively low odor, but they are not odor free. While bromine is very effective, some people have a low tolerance for it and it can cause skin dryness.

There are other sanitizers that use copper ionization to kill bacteria and algae and they are very effective. They also have the advantage of being truly odorless which is important to many spa and hot tub users. The levels of copper also remain very low so the water is still safe for people and pets.

One thing to keep in mind with copper ionization is it is not compatible with other chemicals used to treat stains and inhibit metals. You need to use only those chemicals that are specifically designed to work with the copper.

Balanced Water

What do we mean by balanced water? Well, simply put, balanced water is neither too alkaline nor too acidic.

Water that is too alkaline has a very high pH and can cause scale to build up and create problems with the hot tub or spa equipment. Water that is very acidic has a low pH and can erode and damage plumbing and seals.

Balanced water is right in the middle and also helps sanitizers work a lot better. You can easily test the pH of your water by using simple test strips.

Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity is important because it really indicates how well the water will maintain a change in pH levels. Chemicals that raise or lower the pH of your water can adjust total alkalinity. See your user manual for specific recommendations.

Staining and Scale Buildup

Unsightly stains and scale not only make your hot tub look old and uninviting, they can become very difficult to remove over time. We recommend using a stain and scale preventer to keep your tub looking nice.

Water Hardness

In some areas of the country, water hardness is not a problem and in fact may require adding a chemical to increase the amount of dissolved calcium in the water. Here in Arizona, we have extremely hard water and that needs to be considered when adjusting your water chemistry. You typically cannot remove dissolved calcium from your water. Please see your user manual for specific recommendations.

Other Water Chemicals

There are various other water chemicals that will solve most any problem you have with your spa or hot tub water. There are de-foamers to reduce foam, and even scents to make your spa or hot tub water smell nice adding to the overall experience. In all cases it is important to check your user manual or speak to your manufacturer before trying something new in your spa water.

Leisure Time Chemicals

One of the best ways to start off right each time you drain and refill your spa or hot tub is to use a hose filter that will filter a lot of the initial impurities from your water making it easier to find balance and create a safe hot tubbing environment.

Maintaining your spa or hot tub water will allow you to safely enjoy your hot tub or spa for years to come.

Hot Tub and Spa Safety Tips

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There is nothing like having your own spa or hot tub to soak away life’s daily stresses and provide a gateway for total relaxation. Using a hot tub can be part of your healthy and active lifestyle. As wonderful and healthy as reaching this point of relaxation can be, there are a few safety tips you need to keep in mind anytime you use your spa or hot tub.

Water Temperature

The first danger to keep in mind is the temperature of the water. The National Spa and Pool Institute has set a safe maximum temperature of 104 degrees for hot tubs and spas and most hot tubs and spas today are not able to exceed that maximum temperature.

Healthy adults should not spend more then about 15 minutes in water of that temperature because soaking longer then that can raise the body’s core temperature to dangerous levels. Not only do we recommend lowering your spa’s water temperature a few degrees to save money, lowering the water temperature is recommended by many healthcare professionals.

While 104 degrees is the maximum temperature for healthy adults, children and infants should not bathe or soak on water above about 95 degrees. Adults who have a history health problems including but not limited to high blood pressure, heart disease or circulatory problems or any other serious illness or disease should consult a doctor before ever using a hot tub or a spa. Again, please ask your doctor for his or her specific recommendations.

Don’t go it alone

Just like swimming, when using a hot tub or spa, never do it alone. In the event of a problem, there is someone there to get help or be of assistance. Soaking in hot water can also have the effect of draining your energy to the point of immobility. It is possible that after sitting in a hot tub too long and you would not be able to climb out.

Of course, always watch children around water of any kind and NEVER leave children unattended in any spa or hot tub or swimming or wading pool.

Drugs and/or Alcohol

Hot water has the ability to increase the absorption of many prescription drugs and especially alcohol into your system. Talk to your doctor about the prescription drugs you are taking before spending time in your hot tub. Adding alcohol to your hot tubing can be risky because of the more rapid absorption into your blood stream. We suggest hot tub users refrain from alcoholic beverages while hot tubing.

Pregnancy

Hot tubs and spas have the ability to raise the body’s core temperature to levels that can be extremely dangerous to an unborn baby. If you are pregnant, never use a spa or hot tub without speaking to your doctor about it first.

Water pH and Sanitizers

Always check the levels of sanitizers and know the pH of your water before entering your hot tub. Improper balance in your water’s pH may allow for harmful bacteria growth that may prove a serious health risk. Use test strips to verify and monitor the Total Alkalinity and pH.

Spa cover for safetySpa Cover

Spa and hot tub covers serve a dual purpose. They help retain heat to cut your energy costs down, but they also serve as a safety barrier for pets and small children. Always make sure you replace the cover on your hot tub or spa after you are done using it, and make sure to lock it into place with the locking tabs on all four corners.

In the sun and heat, the cover clips will weaken and wear out. They are very easy to replace. Just check with your local spa store or find them online. Remember, NEVER leave children unattended around a spa or hot tub even if your cover is securely clipped into place.

 

If you remember these simple and common sense safety tips, you will be enjoying your hot tub or spa for years to come. Enjoy and Relax!

What do I need to do before moving a hot tub or spa?

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So you have a spa that needs to be moved.  Even if you hire professionals to do the job for you, there will still be some required preparation on your part.  Moving a spa takes more then just inviting 5 or 6 of your strongest friends over to give you a hand.  It needs to be drained and disconnected and there needs to be proper access to roll you spa out on a dolly.  This article will guide you through the necessary steps you must take prior to calling in the professional movers.

 

The black power line is clearly disconnected

Disconnect The Power

The first thing to do is make sure your electrical has been disconnected.  We recommend you use an electrician if your spa uses a 220v connection.  We are not licensed electricians but we can provide you with a good recommendation in your area if you don’t know an electrician you can call.  You will also want to have an electrician reconnect the power to your spa at your new location.

Draining a spa or hot tub

An Electric Drain Pump will do the trick

Drain Your Water

The second thing to do is drain the water from your spa.  This takes several hours if you simply connect a garden hose to the drain so it needs to be done at least a day before the movers arrive.  If you are not sure how to drain your tub, just ask us when you schedule your appointment.  Make sure you are mindful of any electrical connections to your spa and turn off the power.  We usually recommend having the power disconnected before you drain your spa for safety reasons.  Not all of the water will be able to drain through the drain hose.  There will usually still be a few gallons of water left in your spa.  We suggest a wet-dry vacuum or you can scoop as much as possible with a bucket.

Can you see the problem here?

Verify Clear Access

The third thing to do is make sure there is room to move the spa out of your yard and into the new yard.  We generally need unobstructed access through gates, around plants and trees, and under branches and roof eves.  We tip the spa on its side and wheel it out on a special spa dolly.  This adds about 10” in height to your spa.  So, for example, if you have an 8’ by 8’ spa that is 36” tall, we need 37”-38” clearance through any gate and at least 8’10” of clearance under roof eves and tree branches, etc.  Pathways in and out of yards need to be free of clutter or anything that could impede moving your spa in or out of your yard.