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Our hot tubs are ready to tackle the freezing winter temperatures seen in many parts of the United States. Our hot tubs work well in very cold climates and enjoying a winter outdoor tubbing session is a great pleasure for many of our customers.
How you care for your hot tub in cold weather conditions depends on how often you use your hot tub and whether or not electricity is available. If you are using the tub at least once a week, you should be fine in all except the most extreme weather as the water (with appropriate covering) shouldn't lose more than about 15-18 F degrees per day. You do, however, need to avoid having the entire tub freeze solid as this could cause severe damage tub.
If your hot tub is electrically heated, the biggest risk is that the piping will get damaged as a result of water freezing inside. To reduce the chance of water freezing in your pipes/equipment, you can use one of the following strategies:
1. Leave your circulation pump and heater running constantly whenever the temperature drops below freezing. The peg on the AS-TC-94 control unit can be flipped to the top (I) position, which means always ON. If you are concerned about energy usage, you can reduce the temperature on your heater, while allowing the circulation to run. This will help to reduce your total energy usage.
2. Heat your water intermittently. This can be done manually by turning the heating system ON/OFF at regular intervals, or by setting your control unit to turn ON/OFF automatically at certain times of the day. The control unit has a clock timer that can be set at ~15-minute intervals. How often your system needs to be turned ON/OFF will depend on your local weather. If temperatures are well below freezing for extended periods, you'll need to run the heater longer than if you are only slightly below freezing occasionally. Monitor the temperature and adjust your settings accordingly.
3. Install a freeze control accessory unit. Freeze controls can be purchased on the Redwood Outdoors website. The freeze control accessory will connect directly into your hot tub timer/control unit and does not need an independent power source. The freeze control will monitor the air temperature and cycle the tub to prevent freezing. This is effectively the same as strategy #2. However, it means you do not need to monitor the weather yourself or change your timer settings.
4. Drain your hot tub. Drain the water out of the hot tub and be sure that none is left in your pipes or equipment. We recommend leaving 2” to 3” of water in the bottom of the hot tub to keep the base wet. This will prevent leaking around the bench struts or drain plug (but make sure the water level is below your lower suction so that water doesn’t flow back into your system!).
While wood-fired tubs don’t have any plumbing to freeze and break, letting your tub freeze to a solid block of ice may cause severe damage to the tub. If you will be using you tub a few times each week you can probably get with doing nothing if the temperatures are above zero. If you won’t be using your tub for extended periods during freezing temperatures, there are a number of approaches you can take.
1. Some owners who have electricity near the tub like to use stock tank heaters to keep the water from freezing.
2. If electricity is unavailable and water to refill your tub isn’t a problem, drain all but about six inches of water from the tub. This will keep the bottom sealed and no damage will occur. Once the freezing weather has passed, refill your tub to prevent the wood from drying out.
3. Some owners with tubs at cabins where there is no water available during winter to refill during their visits leave their tubs full but secure a large, partially inflated inner tube to the bottom of the tub. A similar and easier approach is to anchor several air-filled plastic milk jugs at various levels of the tub. Either procedure allows the inner tube or milk jugs to take the stress of the expanding ice so that the tub is not damaged (the inner tube needs to be completely submerged near or at the bottom).
When heating a frozen or partially frozen tub with an internal stove, make sure the stove is covered by sufficient ice/water. Then build a small fire and let the stove heat slowly. A fast-burning fire quickly melts the ice around the stove and then boils the water away exposing the stove to air. Without water surrounding the stove, it can melt. If necessary, add water to the tub on top of the frozen surface while melting the ice.