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How To Drain and Refill Your Hot Tub

Are you unsure when it’s time to completely replace your hot tub water? Even if you’ve been diligent about your water chemistry, there will always be a need to drain and refill your hot tub. Thankfully you only need to do this super easy process a few times a year.  Check out our tips in this post or our Splashy Segments video!

When is it absolutely time for a hot tub refill?

We recommend every six months at a minimum. The reason is that eventually, your water quality won’t balance anymore – the chemicals are essentially spent. It’s more cost-effective at this point to refill than dump in treatments that won’t work.

Watch for when these chemicals are getting too high:

  • Calcium, especially over 400-450 ppm
  • Combined chlorine
  • Cyanuric acid

However, some spa owners schedule their drains every four months. This is really common for users who soak regularly and have multiple bathers. The more people in your tub, the faster your chemicals get used up! It’s ok to use the four seasons as your refill calendar.

What is the easiest way to drain?

The first step actually happens while there’s still water! Use a jet cleanse at least once a year. This product helps dissolve buildup from your internal plumbing, particularly organics, oils, dirt, and minerals.

Safety next! Turn off the spa at the breaker. This ensures there’s absolutely no electricity. You won’t have to worry about jets or pumps accidentally turning on.

Next open the equipment panel. There’s a hookup that attaches to a regular garden hose. Once connected, turn on the valve to let water start running out. It may take up to an hour to completely drain depending on your hot tub size.

Some owners prefer a sump pump because it speeds up the process. You’ll still need a garden hose as well as a power cord. Sink the sump pump into the deepest part of your spa well and then turn on. Keep tabs on when the pump is no longer submerged as it shouldn’t run while dry.

Direct the water away from your foundation, just like your gutters do. The chemicals in the water may not be great for flower beds or veggie gardens, but your grass, trees, and shrubs shouldn’t have a problem.

Anything I should do while the hot tub is empty?

With everything exposed, now is the perfect time for a little deep cleaning. Grab a microfiber towel and wipe everything down. You might see a water line that’s formed by calcium deposits, which is easy to tackle with white vinegar and baking soda. There are also specially formatted shell cleaners you can use.

After you’ve applied any cleaning agents, give your spa a quick spray. You don’t want any chemical residue in your new water. Plus you want to rinse away any grime that you knocked loose.

This is also a good time to remove filters and give them some love. Depending on how dirty they are, they might come clean with a quick rinse. Or you might need to spray on a filter cleaner and then scrub. For a really deep clean, let the filters soak.

While your filters are drying, now it’s time to refill! Detach your garden hose from the hookup or sump pump and place inside the filter compartment. This step prevents airlock, which will malfunction your jets. It takes around 40-60 minutes to refill your tub to the neck jets. Reinsert your filters.

I added my new water – now what?

Ok, you’ve drained, scrubbed, and refilled. The last step is reestablishing your water quality. Remember you just added fresh tap water, which needs to be treated so it’s safe.

Add alkalinity, pH, calcium, metal and scale control, sanitizer, and shock. Check out steps 3-4 in our post on preparing a new hot tub – they’re exactly the same when refilling with new water. Once your chemicals are added, set your tub to heat, wait until it’s the right temperature, and then get ready for a soak!