BISHTA would always recommend that you buy a hot tub or swim spa from a reputable company who offer a full delivery and installation service, to avoid any potential issues that may arise.
However, if you have the skills and expertise to install it yourself, BISHTA has prepared some key tips to remember for a safe installation, but make sure you speak with and involve your retailer to ensure there is nothing else that they recommend you do to ensure a trouble free installation.
So, here are some top tips to help you if considering a DIY hot tub installation.
Location, location, location.
Choose the location on your premises very carefully. Do you want the hot tub close to the house, or in a more remote location? If it is to be installed some way from the house, think about the path between changing facilities and the hot tub and what type of surface it needs to be finished in to ensure it is non-slip, and that no dirt, grass or other contaminants can be picked up on feet and transferred to the hot tub. Most hot tub owners like to use their hot tub at night, so think about any lighting you will need along the pathway and around the hot tub to ensure that bathers can get to and from it safely. Do you need a separate stand-alone building near the hot tub to provide changing facilities and other services? If so, how big will it need to be, where will it go, and what services will it require? Where are the nearest toilets and showers located, so that bathers are as clean as possible when they enter the hot tub?
Avoid overhead power lines, and think about proximity to trees, to minimise the leaf debris which could end up in the hot tub water. If you are within sight of neighbours’ houses, consider the noise and the impact this may have on them and your privacy and whether it may be necessary to erect some kind of screening or fencing.
Many hot tub owners love to star-gaze from their hot tub, so, if this is one of your aims, think about your view of the night sky when sitting in your hot tub. Or, perhaps you would like the hot tub to benefit from a particular view. In which case, consider not only the location of the hot tub, but its orientation to take maximum advantage of the view.
Whilst the vast majority of hot tubs are installed outdoors, some are installed in the house or in some kind of garden building. If considering any kind of indoor installation, it is very important to consider how you intend to deal with the vastly increased, and potentially damaging, heat and humidity levels that become an issue in indoor installations. Specialist dehumidification equipment may need to be fitted, which a reputable retailer will be able to advise you on specifying and sourcing. You will also need to think about how you will deal with the water from overspill caused by bathers getting in and out of the hot tub, or in the unlikely event that the hot tub springs a leak; so installing suitable drainage will be a requirement. Access in indoor installations is usually much more restricted than in outdoors so, as well as getting the hot tub in at the outset, give some thought to maintenance access, and even to how you will get it out again, if you’re looking to upgrade to a new model in years to come! Please also bear in mind that some indoor projects may require planning permission, so always speak to your Local Authority to avoid potential problems later on.
And don’t forget that a hot tub requires electricity and a water supply, so the further away you install the hot tub from the house, the more expensive it will be to get these services to it; not to mention the practical challenges that may need overcoming in getting supplies from A to B.
Access all areas (or not, as the case may be!)
Once you have decided on your hot tub’s ideal spot, you then need to think about how you are physically going to get it from the road to its chosen location. The vast majority of reputable hot tub retailers offer a comprehensive and insured delivery service, and have the correct tools for doing the job, and we would strongly advise you take advantage of this. If any company tells you they only offer ‘kerbside’ delivery (in other words it will be dropped off a truck into Installing Your Own Hot Tub The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association C15 the street outside your house), then we would strongly suggest avoiding them, as getting a hot tub from the street to the pad is not for the faint-hearted without the correct equipment.
A hot tub is usually delivered on its side on a special trolley which can be steered at both ends. As it is on its side on the trolley, the hot tub’s height then becomes its width, and its width (or length) then becomes its height. You must also take into account the height of the trolley itself, and allow for the thickness of the hot tub’s packaging.
You need to plan the hot tub’s journey from the street through to the rear of the property and on to the pad, so you therefore need to consider the following: Are there any overhanging eaves, flues or branches that would interfere with the hot tub’s height on the trolley? Is the access wide enough throughout the route? If not, can any fence sections or gate posts be removed? Is the ground solid all the way, or are there areas of cultivated soil, delicate lawn or gravel which need protecting with scaffolding boards? Are there slopes, walls or terraces which need negotiating; or ponds which need crossing? Are you on good terms with your neighbours and, if so, might an easier route be to come via a neighbour’s property and remove a fence panel? It’s also a good idea to have the services of a few strong people onhand to help with the safe lowering of the hot tub from the trolley to the ground.
Do not forget that a hot tub is a big, cumbersome and rigid item. It would be fair to say they are not in any way bendy. So pay particular attention to very restricted and tight alleys, and sharp corners, as you will not be able to bend the hot tub to get round them!
In a minority of installations, where there is no possibility of getting it to the rear of the property over ground, there is sometimes no other option than to crane the hot tub in. Your local retailer will normally have existing relationships with a local crane company experienced in delivering hot tubs, and we would strongly recommend that you utilise their services. Please note you will need a risk assessment for the lift. Always request an insured lift where the crane company is wholly responsible for all aspects of the lift and provides a banksman. Never opt for a ‘lift only’, where you are not insured for anything which goes wrong, and you have to act as banksman. Whilst the former is always more expensive than the latter, you cannot put a price on the peace of mind that it brings.
It’s all in the foundations
All hot tubs require a firm, level base which is capable of supporting the weight of the hot tub, the water and the bathers without shifting at all. Hot tubs are very heavy pieces of equipment – typical floor loadings of a hot tub full of water and bathers are in excess of 500kg/m2! (Refer to your retailer for accurate figures for your chosen hot tub). Any other items which could add to the weight (i.e. gazebos or buildings) will also need to be taken into account.
The most common form of foundation is a 4” (100mm) deep reinforced concrete pad, which is formed using timbershuttering and levelled off smooth and level, so that the hot tub cannot rock on any high or low points, and built to an area at least the size of the hot tub’s published footprint.
It is also possible to install on an existing patio, as long the patio’s foundations are strong enough to take the weight, and the slabs on top are smooth and level. Also, bear in mind that the surface needs to be level, so check an existing patio, as many are built with a fall to allow for rainwater run off, which will not be suitable for a hot tub.
A hot tub can also be installed on decking, as long as the sub-structure is strong enough to take the weight. If you are at all unsure, speak to an experienced decking contractor, or your retailer, if they offer decking services. The other thing to bear in mind when considering putting a hot tub on decking is that timber is naturally resonant and can transmit and amplify any vibration from the hot tub during its operation and filtering modes. Many hot tub owners opt for the concrete pad solution, then simply deck up to the edges or around it.
If you are considering installing a hot tub in any kind of raised position, i.e. a balcony, roof, or terrace, it is vital to call upon the services of a qualified structural engineer or architect who can provide calculations to ensure that the hot tub has the minimum level of structural support underneath it. Under no circumstances go ahead and install a hot tub in such a position without doing this first.
There are specific regulations governing the electrical installation of a hot tub. A hot tub must be installed on its own correctly-sized fused spur, wired in SWA cable directly back to the consumer unit, and protected by its own separate RCD, according to 17th Edition electrical regulations. All work must be carried out and signed off by a competent person according to Part P of Building regulations. Under no circumstances whatsoever, carry out any such work yourself, unless you are a competent person and able to sign off the work under Part P.
Taking the plunge
What access will you have for bathers to get into and out of the hot tub water? If installed at ground level, then you will need to consider at least a set of steps to allow bathers access in and out of the hot tub. Many owners build decking around the hot tub to facilitate access as well as for aesthetic reasons. If you are doing this, construct the decking in modular sections which can be removed easily in the event that the hot tub requires servicing or repair. If anyone using the hot tub has mobility issues, it is worth considering installing a grab-rail to assist entry and exit. These accessories are available from all reputable dealers.
Hot tubs can also be partially or fully sunk in ground, thus lowering the height of the lip. See the separate BISHTA factsheet for more information on doing this, as it has some very specific design considerations. If you are doing this, give particular thought to illumination round the hot tub so it does not become a trip hazard in darkness.
Think of access for future servicing
Like any piece of electro-mechanical equipment, at some time your hot tub will require servicing or repairing, so think about making access to all sides of the hot tub as easy as possible. Bear in mind that hot tub engineers charge for their services by the hour, so if an engineer has to spend the first 2 hours dismantling a deck or taking down a wall, then that could make what may otherwise be a quick and simple repair avoidably expensive. The other thing to be mindful of is that the majority of parts and labour warranties on hot tubs cover the time it takes to diagnose a fault and make the actual repair. Most warranties have clauses which allow the service company to charge for the time it takes to gain access to the hot tub if they deem it unreasonable.
Your hot tub will require a small number of water treatment chemicals to keep the water clean, safe and hygienic. These chemicals require some kind of store where they can be locked away in clean, dry conditions, and kept safely away from children and pets. The chemicals also should be kept apart from one another and away from flammables such as petrol; therefore a garden shed with a lawn mower should be avoided.
Treat it right, to keep it safe.
BISHTA is very keen to ensure that all UK hot tub owners are aware of correct water hygiene management to ensure your hot tub water is kept clean, safe and hygienic. Please ensure you familiarise yourself with our free water treatment factsheet (C3).
To find out more about BISHTA contact our office by calling: +44 (0)1264 356211
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