Outdoor Hot Tub Maintenance

Hot tubs are meant to be enjoyed. But just like pools, forgetting basic maintenance can both be disgusting and dangerous.

Important Terminology

Before we get started there are some important terms you should know.


Hot tub sanitizers come in many forms and they each have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Chlorine is the most popular sanitizer and is the active ingredient in salt water hot tubs while the least popular is biguanidedue to its high cost, but it does provide great disinfectant power. 

Although bromine is a great sanitizer, the main drawback is it gets burned up very quickly when exposed to sunlight. Another option is using minerals like silver and copper to eliminate bacteria, but they can be a bit sluggish to work. With the help of chlorine, mineral sanitizers do pack a very strong one, two punch. 


The sanitizer will not function and be able to do its job if the pH is not balanced. There is some room for error but you should be aiming for 7.5. If the pH slides more than 0.3 in either direction, acidic or basic, you can quickly run into problems with your sanitizer as well as damage to your hot tub and hardware. 

If you have high pH you may experience scale formation, calcium deposits or cloudy water. The remedy for high pH is hydrochloric acid, muriatic acid or a pH decreaser.

If you have low pH you may experience corrosion to metal parts. The remedy for low pH is sodium carbonate, soda ash or a pH increaser. 

Ideal pH: 7.2-7.8  *7.5 Optimal


Alkalinity is known as the pH buffer and plays an important role in preventing pH from fluctuating. If you find that your pH and alkalinity are both needing adjustment, always balance alkalinity before pH. If you can manage to keep these guys balanced you will find that your hot tub maintenance will be reduced drastically. 

If you have high alkalinity you may experience scaling or cloudy water. The remedy for high alkalinity is sodium bisulfate, muriatic acid or an alkalinity decreaser.

If you have low alkalinity you may experience corrosion, staining or green water. The remedy for low alkalinity is sodium bicarbonate, baking soda or an alkalinity increaser.

Ideal Total Alkalinity: 100-140 ppm

Stabilizer or CYA

Stabilizer is also called CYA because it's made up of cyanuric acid. It's important because it prevents chlorine from being burned off by the suns UV rays. An outdoor hot tub without stabilizer will lose a large amount of chlorine. It's important not to overuse products that contain dichlor because it contains stabilizer. Every time you use dichlor you are raising stabilizer levels which leads to reduced effectiveness of the chlorine. 

If you have high stabilizer your sanitizer won't be as effective. The remedy for high stabilizer is draining and adding fresh water.

If you have low stabilizer your sanitizer will constantly be struggling to keep up. The remedy for low stabilizer is cyanuric acid.

Ideal Stabilizer or CYA: 20-30 ppm


Calcium hardness is the measure of how much calcium is suspended in the water and where the term hard and softwater is derived. Water that is hard will likely contain calcium but it may also contain minerals like aluminum, iron, zinc or manganese. You want calcium in the water so it doesn't leach minerals out of your tub finish or hardware but you also don't want too much so it won't deposit calcium in your plumbing. 

The calcium levels in your hot tub should not fluctuate very much, if at all, throughout the season unless you are adding fresh water or refilling your hot tub. Since your unique water source in your geographic area will vary from other areas, it's important that you identify through testing if you need to add calcium or reduce it every time you add fresh water. 

If you have high calcium you may experience scaling or clogged filter and plumbing. The remedy for high calcium is adding fresh water with a lower calcium content. 

If you have low calcium you may experience corrosion to delicate hardware. The remedy for low calcium is calcium chloride or a calcium increaser.

Ideal Calcium Hardness: 150-250 ppm

Weekly Hot Tub Maintenance
Frequency 7 Days
Keeping your hot tub clean and safe for all requires diligent maintenance. While some of these actions should be completed on a by-use basis, this weekly reminder will help you keep up the health of your hot tub.">

Sanitizer is the most important aspect of your overall maintenance routine and should be tested before using your hot tub or a couple times a week when it's not being used. 

The cover should be inspected for damage that would prevent it from keeping heat in and debris, pets, children and critters out. 

The water temperature should remain constant between 100˚-104˚F. A drastic fluctuation in temperature could indicate a major problem.

Keep the water line above the hot tub intake or the water won't circulate properly. 

A spa vacuum or skimmer is a good idea if there is any noticeable debris on the surface or bottom.

pH, alkalinity and salinity should be tested and kept within recommended ranges as often as possible. If these levels fall out of balance, a hot tub can very quickly become unsafe to use.  

Clean the water line and exposed shell with a cloth and hot tub cleaner or vinegar, especially if there is noticeable scum or debris. 

Inspect the filter and rinse with water or spray if necessary. A clean filter will help keep your water crystal clear and free or debris.

Monthly Hot Tub Maintenance
Frequency 30 Days
Beyond daily and weekly maintenance, your hot tub will need additional, more detailed care every month to extend its longevity and safety for all users.">

Clean the filter thoroughly at least once a month with a specialized hot tub filter cleaner chemical. This goes beyond the inspection and rinse that should be carried out weekly. 

Cleaning the cover should include a wipe down of both the outside and inside surfaces. A dilluted bleach solution will help protect against mold and mildew and eliminate musty odours. 

If you fall into the category of having problems with calcium hardness issues you can increase levels with calcium chloride or replace some water with fresh water to lower levels. 

Yearly Hot Tub Maintenance
Frequency 365 Days
Once a year, your hot tub will need a little extra care. A thorough draining and cleaning will help extend the life of your tub and ensure years of use.">

Drain and clean the hot tub at the end of season or yearly to protect your investment and extend the life of the tub and hardware. It's the perfect time to chemically clean the filter, shell and cabinet. 

A plumbing system flush is highly recommended every year to remove stubborn debris and even unwanted bacteria that can cause folliculitis. If you suspect your hot tub has contaminants, a flush can be carried out at any time by draining the hot tub of all water.

A yearly inspection is a great way to head off any major problems that could have been prevented. A professional inspection will give you peace of mind knowing your spa is in great working order and good for another year of enjoyment. 

A Couple More Tips

- Test and balance your hot tub 2-3 times per week or more if necessary.
- Clean the hot tub filter every 2-4 weeks or more if necessary.
- Drain and refill the hot tub every 2-3 months.
- Add fill water when necessary.
- Clean and air out the cover 1-2 times per week.
- Use a non-chlorine hot tub shock every 2 weeks or as necessary.

We hope you enjoyed this page detailing the important steps to complete hot tub maintenance. We promise that once you put in the time and effort to get your hot tub in top shape you're gonna enjoy it a lot more and spend a lot less doing it.