How to Drain Your Hot Tub Easily and Safely

Sump Pump in Hot Tub
Sump Pump in Hot Tub

Hey there, hot tub lovers! If you’re like me, you know that regular hot tub maintenance is the key to enjoying your spa for years to come. Today, I want to dive into one of the most important aspects of hot tub care: properly draining your tub.

Now, I get it – draining your hot tub might not be the most exciting task on your to-do list. But trust me, it’s essential for maintaining water quality, preventing equipment damage, and ensuring a hygienic soaking experience. Plus, once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that bad! Following is a simple step by step guide for the process.

When to Drain Your Hot Tub

So, how do you know when it’s time to drain your hot tub? A good rule of thumb is to do it every 3-4 months, but there are a few telltale signs to watch out for:

  • Cloudy or foamy water that doesn’t clear up with chemical treatments

  • Strange odors coming from the water

  • Excessive buildup on the waterline or in the filters

  • It’s been a while since your last drain (I’m guilty of this one!)

What Tools are Needed to Drain a Hot Tub

Draining a Hot Tub
Draining a Hot Tub

Before you start draining, make sure you have everything you need on hand. This includes using a submersible pump (if you’re not using the gravity method), a garden hose, cleaning products, and some safety gear like gloves and goggles. Trust me, you don’t want to be running around looking for supplies in the middle of the process!

Once you’re all set, it’s time to power off your hot tub and prepare for draining. Make sure to turn off the heater and any other electrical components and the circuit breaker, and remove any floating debris from the water. If you have a cover, give it a good cleaning while you’re at it – you’d be surprised how much gunk can build up on there!

What is the Process for Draining a Hot Tub

Now for the main event: draining the water. There are various methods for getting this done. If your hot tub is equipped with a gravity drain valve, simply attach your garden hose and let the flow of gravity do the work. If not, you’ll need to use a submersible pump to get the job done. Either way, be prepared for the process to take a while – depending on the size of your tub, it could be a few hours before it’s completely empty.

Regardless of the process used to drain the hot tub, there will always be some water left in the very bottom. A small cup and a few rags will help to get this last remaining water out of your spa. If climbing in isn’t easy then a shop vac can be used to remove water remaining after the majority has drained.

While the water is draining, take the opportunity to give your hot tub shell a good scrub. Use a soft cloth or sponge and a mild cleaning solution to remove any dirt, grime, or calcium buildup. Don’t forget to clean your filter cartridge(s) too! Depending on their condition, you might be able to get away with a quick rinse, but it’s always a good idea to have some spare filters on hand for replacements.

You should also run the spa jets during the early stages of the draining process to flush out any junk or chemicals lingering in the pump lines. Turning the pump on when the water is too low will result in water being sprayed everywhere. Now you will have a mess to clean up in addition to cleaning your hot tub.

Post-Draining Maintenance Checklist

Filter Cleaning
Filter Cleaning

After you’ve successfully drained your hot tub, you’re almost across the finish line! But before you fill it back up, there’s a handful of maintenance tasks that’ll ensure your hot tub is in tip-top shape. Here’s a checklist to guide you through:

  • Inspect and Clean the Jets: This is the perfect time to take a close look at your jets. Remove any that are removable and give them a thorough cleaning. If you notice any damage or if they seem clogged, consider replacing them to ensure efficient operation.

  • Check and Tighten Connections: With the tub drained, inspect all visible plumbing connections for leaks or wear. Tighten any loose fittings to prevent future leaks once your hot tub is operational again.

  • Clean and Condition the Cover: If you haven’t already, give your hot tub cover some love. Clean it with a mild detergent, rinse it thoroughly, and apply a conditioner that’s compatible with your cover material. This not only keeps it looking great but helps it last longer too.

  • Refill and Balance Water: Once all maintenance tasks are complete, it’s time to refill your hot tub. After it’s filled, don’t forget to treat and balance the water according to the recommended chemical levels. This step is crucial for ensuring the water is safe and comfortable for everyone.

  • Perform a Systems Check: After the hot tub is filled and the chemicals have been balanced, turn on the power and check that all systems are running as they should. Pay special attention to the jets, heater, and filtration system. If anything seems off, it might be time to call in a professional.

Remember, taking the time to perform these maintenance tasks not only prolongs the life of your hot tub but also enhances your soaking experience. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of slipping into a freshly cleaned and well-maintained spa.

How to Refill Your Drained Hot Tub

Alright, you’ve done the hard part by draining and cleaning your hot tub – great job! Now, it’s time to bring it back to life by refilling it with fresh, clean water. This step is just as crucial as draining, so follow these simple steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Debris Removal from Hot Tub
Debris Removal from Hot Tub
  1. Remove Any Debris and Clean the Filters (If Not Already Done): Before adding water, make sure that the hot tub and its filters are free from debris and have been cleaned. Pay special attention to the filter housing. This helps in keeping the water clean right from the start.

  2. Place the Hose in the Filter Well: To avoid air locks in your hot tub’s pump and heater, it’s a good idea to place the garden hose in the filter well when starting to fill your hot tub. This method helps in pushing air out of the system as the tub fills.

  3. Begin Filling With Cold Water: Turn on the water and allow the tub to fill. Be sure to close the drain valve or insert the drain plug before filling with water. Keep an eye on the water level, ensuring it reaches the appropriate level for your specific model, which is usually indicated near the filters or in your owner’s manual.

  4. Check for Leaks: While the tub is filling, periodically check for leaks. If you spot any, it’s best to address these issues immediately before continuing.

  5. Once Filled, Begin Heating the Water: After your hot tub is filled to the proper level, you can start the heating process. It may take several hours for the water to reach your desired temperature, so patience is key here.

  6. Balance the Water Chemistry: Before you jump in, it’s essential to treat the water by balancing the pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels. Use a water test kit to measure the levels, and then adjust them according to the instructions provided with your chemicals. Proper water chemistry is critical for both your safety and the longevity of your hot tub components.

  7. Run the Pumps to Circulate the Water: Once the chemicals have been added, run your hot tub’s pumps to circulate the water and distribute the chemicals evenly throughout.

  8. Perform a Final Systems Check: With the hot tub filled and the chemicals balanced, do one last check to ensure all systems are running correctly. Pay close attention to the filtration and heating systems.

We highly recommend you get a hose that is specific for filling the hot tub. The drainage hose can end up with residue from previously chemically treated water and affect the water quality during filling. Chlorinated water will leave lots of chemical residue in the drain hose and if you fill it with the same hose getting the fresh water properly balanced can be much more difficult than it should be.

And there you have it! Refilling your hot tub might seem like a lengthy process, but it’s all worth it for that first dip into sparkling clean water. Remember, regular maintenance and proper care are the keys to enjoying your hot tub for many years to come. Feel free to adjust these steps as needed based on your specific hot tub model and manufacturer’s instructions.


Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far, it means you’ve taken significant steps not only to maintain your hot tub but to ensure it gives you, your family, and your friends countless hours of joy and relaxation. Remember, a well-maintained hot tub is more than just a luxury; it’s an investment in your well-being and home. Regular upkeep might seem daunting at first, but with routine practice, it becomes second nature. The first few times we drained our spa it was an adventure. Now we know how to drain a hot tub with grace and efficiency.

Each step you’ve taken, from draining and cleaning to refilling and balancing the water chemistry, contributes to a safer, more enjoyable spa experience. Here’s to many more serene moments and the gentle, soothing hum of your perfectly maintained hot tub. Happy soaking!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How often should I drain and clean my hot tub?

It’s generally recommended to drain and clean your hot tub every 3 to 4 months, depending on how frequently it is used and how well the water is maintained. If you notice any changes in water clarity or quality, it might be time for a clean.

Can I use household cleaners to clean my hot tub?

It’s best to avoid using household cleaners in hot tub properly as they may contain substances that can harm the hot tub’s components or affect the water chemistry. Opt for cleaners specifically designed for hot tubs.

What should I do if I notice a leak in my hot tub?

If you notice a leak, try to identify the source. Small leaks can sometimes be repaired with waterproof sealant, but for larger issues or if you’re unsure, it’s best to contact a professional for repair.

How long does it take to heat the water after refilling the hot tub?

Heating times can vary depending on the size of your hot tub and the starting temperature of the water. Generally, it can take anywhere from 4 to 20 hours for remaining water to reach the desired temperature.

How do I know if my hot tub’s water chemistry is balanced?

Using a water test kit is the best way to check the balance of your hot tub’s water. Test the hot tub water for pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels, and adjust as necessary according to the guidelines provided with your test kit and chemicals.

Is it necessary to clean the filters every time I drain and refill the hot tub?

Yes, cleaning the filters each time you drain a hot tub and refill your hot tub ensures that they are free of debris and can function efficiently. Depending on your usage, filters might also require cleaning in between water changes.

Remember, maintaining your hot tub and following these steps ensures a safe, enjoyable, and lasting experience. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to consult your hot tub’s manual or reach out to a professional for advice.

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