How-To Guides | Spa Installation & Setup

You’ve decided to take the plunge and get a new Hot Tub! With a little planning and preparation, installation is an easy job you can complete quickly.

Your Hot Tub here graphic on patio

There are some finer points hot tub first-timers should be aware of. Let's go over it, step by step.

Preparing for Your Spa

Site Selection

View, privacy and access are major factors when choosing a site for the spa. Outdoor placement is easier and cheaper than indoor, but both have their advantages.

Before choosing a site outdoors, think about the view from inside the tub. Looking at your neighbors junk car collection or utility lines is not going to be very relaxing. Trees and plants are nice, but not too close to the tub, since they drop leaves and other debris.

Once you’ve narrowed down your placement choices, your final site should have:

  • A smooth, level surface
  • Structure to support the weight of the tub, water & occupants
  • Adequate drainage for rainwater & splash out
  • Accessibility to all panels for maintenance or repairs
  • Privacy

It may make sense to place the spa indoors if privacy, easy access and shelter from the weather are important. Here’s what you need for good indoor install:

  • A waterproof, non-skid floor with a drain
  • Structure to support the weight of the tub, water & occupants
  • Waterproof vapor barrier for wood studs / rafters
  • Tile or cedar planks for the walls and ceilings
  • A powerful fan to vent humidity

Spa Foundation

Five hot tub foundation options

Concrete - Reinforced concrete slabs provide a good base for hot tubs, but here are a few other cost saving ideas:

Gravel Base - This is the least expensive option for a foundation. Ensure that the ground is compacted and that rainwater and splashed/drained water will flow away from the tub. Adding pavers or a walkway to the spa will keep dirt and gravel out.

Decking - Wooden decks look great, especially when you build the tub into them. If you're placing the tub on a deck or elevated structure, have an engineer or contractor approve the design.

Utility Requirements

The spa site needs a drain field nearby. Keep in mind, you'll drain up to 500 gallons from the tub every 3-4 months. While most plant life tolerates treated hot tub water, avoid delicate plants like roses or vegetables.

Plan for the electrical needs of the spa. Is the spa location within reach of power?

For safety, all spas must connect to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). In case of an electric short, this vital safety device cuts power in as little as 1/40th of a second.

Electrician wiring GFCI Disconnect for hot tub

240 Volt spas run on hard wired GFCI protected circuits. These require a qualified electrician to run a 240 Volt line out to a GFCI Load Center/Disconnect. The further the spa is from the main breaker box, the more it will cost to wire it.

Wiring a Hot Tub Spa

120 Volt plug and play spas run off standard 15 amp household circuits. These tubs have a GFCI built right into the electrical cord.

Hot Tub GFCI cord plugged in outlet

Plan ahead: National Electrical Code requires 120 Volt receptacles to be 5' minimum and 10' maximum from the tub. You might need an electrician to install a new plug-in closer to the tub. Caution: Never use extension cords.

Note: Since 120V hot tubs need a dedicated 15 amp circuit, an electrician will usually need to install that line.

Spa Access

For both indoor and outdoor placement, allow access to all sides of the hot tub. This is important when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Parts can be placed anywhere in the cabinet, so being able to remove all of the panels is crucial.

Install hatches or a crawl space around the spa if you plan to surround the tub with a deck. Comfort while working on the hot tub is important. Give 18” – 24” of space for a full grown adult to access the inside of the tub.

Site Access

Look at the route from the delivery point to the spas final location. Hot tub makers will provide the dimensions of the delivered package if you ask. Take a tape measure and walk the actual path the tub will travel. Make a plan for any trouble spots. Look out for low eaves, air conditioner units, narrow gates, stairs, or anything that will make maneuvering difficult.

Gates, flower pots and other hot tub delivery obstacles

Crane services are an option if you live on a hillside or the desired site is difficult to access. A crane can lift the spa over walls and trouble spots with ease and may cost less than you’d expect.

Installation & Setup


Curbside truck delivery of a spa

The majority of spas purchased online are delivered curbside. That means the tub will be carefully delivered to the end of your driveway. Spas purchased from dealers may be delivered to the final location, but watch out for extra charges for this service.

large crane moving hot tub high in the air over a house

You will want to be present on delivery day to inspect the spa for any damage. With a few helpers on hand, follow your plan and move the tub to its final location.

Positioning the Spa

Moving hot tub with pallet jack

Moving the hot tub to its final location is easy for 2 to 3 people depending on its size. Since the tub will arrive on a pallet, a pallet jack is an easy tool to use.

Furniture or piano dollies are other options. These wheeled frames are available at moving companies to rent or buy.

Using plywood ramp on uneven ground to move spa

Sections of lawn or uneven ground are easy to navigate with a smooth runway. Cut a 4’ X 8’ piece of plywood in half, yielding two 2’ X 8’ sheets. Move one sheet in front of the other as the spa moves forward.

Pre-Fill Prep

With the tub placed in its final location and the power connected, it’s time to begin the startup procedure. Familiarizing yourself with the features and functions of the spa is important, so read the owner’s manual completely before continuing.

Collage of steps to filling and starting spa

  • Remove exterior panels
  • Hand tighten loose unions at the heater and each pump
  • Open gate valves by pulling the handle up & locking it using the Gate Keeper
  • Remove filters from spa filter chamber
  • Clean the interior with a pH neutral, non-foaming cleaner
  • Rinse the spa shell
  • Fill with about 12" of water
  • Open the drain valve to release the dirty water
  • Close the drain valve

Filling your Spa

Before finally filling your hot tub, take stock of the condition of your water source. Use a PreFresh hose end spa pre-filter if your water is from a well, or has other impurities.

Also double check your manual for the recommended fill height, as it can vary between spa brands.

Insert the hose into the empty filter chamber and fill the spa.

Power Up

Turning hot tub jets on

The spa must be full of water before turning it on. Powering on your hot tub without water can damage the heater.

  • Turn on the power at the GFCI breaker or plug-in
  • Reinstall the filter
  • Check the pumps by pressing the “Jets” buttons on the keypad
  • Look for leaks inside the cabinet while the pumps are running
  • Set the heat to your desired temperature
  • Replace and secure the cabinet panels

Note: It can take from several hours to a full day for the tub to heat up.

Balance & Sanitize

Test strips testing water chemistry

Now that the tub is full and everything checks out, it’s time to balance and sanitize the water. Starter Kits are available if a chemical supplies kit didn't come with the spa.

Learn more about balancing and sanitizing your spa:

ABCs of Water Chemistry

Hot Tub Water Prep and Maintenance

IMPORTANT: The information provided here is for educational purposes only. It is neither a substitute nor a replacement for information contained in your owner's manual. Consult with your local building department, qualified licensed contractor, or structural engineer for structural and electrical requirements as appropriate.
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