Purge, drain, and refill your hot tub: Maintenance tips

purge hot tub

You want your hot tub water to be clean and clear every time you go out to soak. The truth is that, lately, it’s been harder and harder to keep the water looking like it should. Your hot tub water is cloudy or the hue just looks off. And try as you might, it’s a struggle. But as you try to balance your hot tub chemicals, there might be one question that you haven’t asked yourself.

How old is my hot tub water?

Hot tub owners should expect to drain their spa every six months to a year, depending on how often they use it. Draining and refilling your hot tub also gives you the opportunity to clean the shell and add in fresh water.

As the winter months approach, though, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to draining your spa water. It’s better to do it on a sunny autumn day when the temps are comfortable.

clean hot tub
You want the water of your to tub to be clear, clean, and ready for a relaxing soak. Regularly draining and refilling your hot tub will make it easier to keep chemicals balanced.

Before draining your hot tub

Draining your hot tub is a pretty straight-forward process. However, there are a few things you should do before turning off your breaker and getting out the water. 

The first step in draining your spa is to decide which method will work best. Some spas have an internal drain to which you can attach a garden hose. If you use this method, the water might drain a bit more slowly but requires less hands-on work.

Another way to drain your hot tub is to use a submersible pump. You will put the pump in the footwell of the spa, and you will run the hose out to the yard.

A wet/dry or shop vac is another tool for draining your hot tub. In fact, even if you use one of the other methods, it’s a good tool to have on hand.

It’s also important to gather any other supplies that you might need. You will want a garden hose, microfiber or shop towels, a gentle cleaner, a spa purge/plumbing product, and a pre-filter.

You will also need to know how many gallons of water it holds. If you don’t know, you can find this information in your owner’s manual.

spa purge
Using a spa purge product will cause foam to build up in your hot tub. You can remove the foam but be sure to wear gloves!

Spa purge

Is the water clear or cloudy? Is there scale on the acrylic shell? Do the filters need to be rinsed? Those are often the questions we ask when deciding if our hot tub is clean.

But what about what you can’t see?

The plumbing and components of your hot tub are not within view. However, biofilm and other contaminants can build up in the plumbing, affecting your overall water quality.

The best way to clean the plumbing of your hot tub is to use a purge product. Whether you choose Spa Purge or Jet Line Purge, the product is designed to clean the parts of the spa you don’t see.

The directions can vary product to product but you will add it just before you drain. 

As it is removing buildup from the pipes, be sure to remove any spa pillows or other accessories before you add the product. Setting the pillows aside will help you avoid damage. 

You will run the spa from 20 minutes, up to an hour, so that the product can do its job. So jets are on, air valves are open, and the diverters are turned to the middle so water is moving through all of the jets.

When you add a purge product to your water, don’t be alarmed if you see the water start to foam up. You can put on a pair of gloves and scoop the foam out. Just be sure to thoroughly spray down the patio or deck.

how to drain a hot tub
There are a few ways you can drain your hot tub. You can use a submersible pump, internal drain, or a hose. When you are ready to refill, you will want to use a pre-filter attached to the end of your garden hose.

How to drain a hot tub

Draining a hot tub does not have to be a complicated process. The first step, though, might surprise you.

You need to turn off the breaker or the power to your spa before you grab a shop vac or submersible pump. You don’t want the jets to come on or anything to get stuck in the plumbing when you are trying to drain the hot tub.

If you are using the internal drain on your hot tub, you will need to remove the cabinet. Locate the spigot and attach a garden hose. Open the valve on the drain and lead the hose to a safe spot in the yard.

Do you want to use a submersible pump? Put the pump in the footwell of the spa and lead the hose out. If the pump’s hose is not long enough to lead out of the spa, you might need to attach a garden hose. Then, you get to turn on the pump and let it do the work.

Once the water is beginning to drain, you can use a towel to start scrubbing the surface of the spa. Take advantage of the water still in the spa to get off any film or scum build-up on the acrylic.

Clean the spa

You drained the water. So your hot tub is empty, right? While most of the water is gone, you will probably find “puddles” on the seats and maybe in the lounge. Use a wet/dry or shop vac to remove any standing water in the hot tub. 

The next step is to use your garden hose to rinse the spa, being sure to spray down the sides and remove any residue left from the spa purge. Remove any water from the rinse-off with the shop vac.

With the spa empty, it’s now time to clean the shell of the spa. Use a gentle cleaner or pH neutral product like vinegar. Wipe it down with a soft cloth.

Subhead: Refilling your spa

Before you refill your hot tub, you will also want to put the filters back in the hot tub. (Make sure to clean those, too!) Replace the spa pillows. 

Reference your owner’s manual and refill your hot tub according to the manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to put on the pre-filter before adding water. This step is important because it helps remove heavy metals and other minerals in your source water. These properties can make it harder to balance your water.

How long does it take to refill? It will depend on the size of your spa and the water pressure at your home. 

Once the spa is full, you can turn on the water, balance the chemicals, and get ready to enjoy your backyard oasis.