Hot tubs enhance any home and provide a cozy place for solitary or romantic moments or as a lively center for social gatherings, barbecues, and family get-togethers. With a hot tub, you can have your own private backyard retreat for relaxing sore muscles or just as a place to wind down after a hard day.
As long as you have a location near the house, a stable base, and an electrical outlet, you can install a hot tub in your own yard.
Codes and Permits
The installation of hot tubs may be subject to the International Residential Code or another type of code in your community and thus may require permitting. Check with your local permit office for details. In some cases, barriers such as safety covers may be required to prevent drowning.
If you need to install an electrical outlet for the hot tub, this will require a permit. While plumbing is not required for a hot tub, if you decide to install a hose bib or other water source for convenience, this will require a permit.
When to Install a Hot Tub
You can install an indoor hot tub at any time of the year. For outdoor hot tubs, you may wish to wait for fair weather if you need to build peripherals such as a concrete slab base or a patio cover. If all supporting items are in place, you can install the hot tub at any time of year.
Water and electricity do not mix. Make sure that the electrical outlet is installed by code, preferably by a qualified electrician.
Equipment / Tools
- Laser level or bubble level
- Tape measure
- Garden hose
- Hot tub with cover, skimmer, and filter
- Concrete slab, decking, or other sturdy base
Find or Create a Suitable Location
If your hot tub will be located outdoors, ideally it should be situated close to the home and adjacent to an entrance. It is also best if the pathway to the house is hardscaped.
It is highly recommended and often required that you provide a safety cover for your hot tub. Even with the cover, the tub will remain cleaner and will last longer if it is shielded from the elements with a patio roof or a similar open-air covering. If your hot tub has no patio cover, avoid positioning the tub under trees as this will help prevent leaves and debris from settling in the tub.
Create a Stable, Level Base
A poured concrete slab is an ideal permanent base for hot tubs. For most hot tubs measuring 80 inches square, a base with an area of 10 feet by 10 feet is sufficient. This slab should be at least 4 inches thick and be fully supported from below. Most hot tub manufacturers recommend a concrete slab base over other types of bases.
A deck may be able to support the hot tub, as well. But first consider that the floor load of a full hot tub 87 inches square is about 2 1/2 tons. Your deck must have been built to meet or exceed these specifications. If not, you may be able to retroactively shore up portions of the deck to make it strong enough to hold a full hot tub.
Provide Electrical Power
All hot tubs require electrical power and should be within 15 feet of a dedicated GFCI outlet. Your hot tub may run off of either 120V power or 240V power. If it is 120V power, you may be able to plug the hot tub directly into an existing outdoor GFCI outlet. If the hot tub runs off of 240V power, it is unlikely that your home already has this type of electrical outlet outside. In this case, you should call a qualified electrician to install the outlet.
Move the Hot Tub Into Place
A palleted dry hot tub, intact with all packing materials and measuring 96 inches square by 48 inches deep, will weigh close to 1 ton (1,800 pounds). The weight of the hot tub—coupled with the tub's size and its fragility—makes it difficult for most homeowners to move the tub into place on their own.
Since many merchants offer curbside delivery by common carrier or freight truck, it is the homeowner's responsibility to move the hot tub to its eventual location. A hauling or moving company can move the hot tub into place by forklift. It may be necessary to remove gates and fences or to cut back shrubbery or trees to ease the passage of the hot tub to its destination.
If access to the location is very limited, you may need to hire a company to operate a boom crane to lift the hot tub into place. Twenty-ton boom cranes are the typical load-limit size used for hoisting hot tubs from the street and over fences, small trees, and even over the house itself.
Open or Close Valves
Once the hot tub is in place and all packing materials are removed, check the plumbing connections. Any gate valves should be open. Any drain valves should be closed or capped.
Never run the hot tub when it is dry. If the hot tub is full, never run it with the gate valves closed.
Add the Skimmer and Filter
The skimmer and filter are required to run the hot tub and may have been packaged separately. Install these parts according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Fill the Hot Tub
With a garden hose attached to an outdoor faucet, fill the hot tub to the fill limit specified in the instructions. Usually, this is no higher than 6 inches from the rim of the hot tub. Some tubs may require you to fill the tub through the filter rather than directly into the basin.
Prime the Hot Tub Pump
Most hot tub pumps must have water added inside before they can effectively circulate water. Most new hot tub pumps are self-priming. Priming can be initiated by operating the electronic control panel rather than by physically adding water to the pump. Run the prime cycle. Typically, this takes several minutes.
When to Call a Professional
- You may need to hire a qualified electrician to install the outlet near the hot tub.
- For pouring a concrete slab, the best results are usually achieved by hiring a concrete contractor.
- If installing the hot tub on a deck, consult with a contractor or a structural engineer for advice about whether the deck is able to carry this heavy load.
- If additional structural support is required to a deck, have the work done by a licensed contractor.
- If access to the location is difficult, hire professional haulers to manually move the hot tub or a crane to swing the tub into place from the curbside.