When your hot tub isn’t heating during the winter, it’s critical to keep it from freezing to avoid damage and costly repairs. In this article we’ll discuss how you can prepare yourself for unexpected heater failures during the winter, and what to do when your hot tub isn't heating.
The key to preventing freezing: use a ceramic heater
To prevent your hot tub from freezing when your heater is failing, place a small ceramic heater inside your hot tub cabinet and set it at an appropriate temperature (aim for around 70°F/20°C). Ensure that the heater is on the ground, will not fall over, and that it’s not touching anything (this is to prevent a fire risk).
Once the heater is safely placed inside your cabinet, close the cabinet panel to prevent heat loss and any animals from getting inside. If you can’t reattach any of your cabinet panels, lean the panel up against your hot tub and place your stairs against the panel to secure it.
Always be sure that you’re monitoring your hot tub while it’s being heated by a ceramic heater. Check back in the first hour after setting up the heater to ensure it’s warm enough in the cabinet and that everything has remained secure. The target air temperature in the equipment area is 70°F/20°C. Check back daily to be sure the cord has not become unplugged or the breaker does not trip.
As an additional precaution, you can monitor the heater with a wireless indoor/outdoor weather thermometer/station like the AccuTemp Wireless Thermometer.
We recommend the Honeywell HCE100 HeatBud; available in-stock at most Canadian Tire stores or Amazon. It features Cool-Touch housing, a built-in tip-over safety switch, overheat sensor and backup cut-off fuse for extra safety. It’s also a BrandSpark multi-year Canadian Shopper winner and an Amazon Choice product.
Steps for using a ceramic heater with your hot tub
Note: for the Jacuzzi Soul, you’ll need to drain your hot tub and place the space heater inside the seating area with the cover closed (see details/instructions).
- Remove the front cabinet panel to expose the equipment bay.
Here’s detailed instructions on removing cabinet panels on popular hot tub models we support.
Place the ceramic/space heater inside the equipment area or another secure location under the hot tub.
Tip: Check towards the corners or behind the Spa Pack to find space for the heater.
Jacuzzi and Sundance: look to the corners, behind the pump, or (if necessary) behind the spa pack.
C-Series: The C-Series equipment area is large and spacious - it should be easy to find a location behind the pump.
Tip: tuck the extension cord through the corner.
Nordic hot tubs: Like the C-Series, there should be lots of space inside the equipment area. You shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a suitable location.
Heater placement checklist:
- Ensure the heater is safe
- Select an appropriate heat setting (aim for 70°F/20°C).
On the Honeywell HCE100 HeatBud you’ll likely need to use the ‘high’ setting.
- Ensure you use an appropriate sized outdoor extension cord.
- Re-attach the cabinet panel. If the cabinet can’t be closed, lean it back up against the hot tub and secure it in place.
- Check the heater in the first hour to ensure the cabinet area is warm but not hot (aim for 70°F/20°C).
- Check back daily to make sure the heater has power (plugged in, and breaker not tripped).
If your hot tub has power
If your hot tub still has power, set your filtration system to run for 24 hours per day - if water can keep moving through the lines, it decreases the likelihood of freezing damage to your hot tub.
Never drain your hot tub in without placing a space heater in it
We recommend never draining your hot tub in the winter. Draining your hot tub leaves water in the lines, heater, pumps and other components. The remaining water is enough to cause significant damage due to freezing; the small amount of water left after a drain also makes freezing occur faster. If a hot tub must be drained, it must be winterized to prevent costly repairs.
We have an article on how to winterize your hot tub, but (as mentioned in the article) if you’re not confident in this procedure, we recommend having a professional do it. If you have any questions, don’t leave it up to uncertainty and give us a call.
Common questions and concerns
How much will it cost to run a space heater?
The HeatBud is a 250 watt heater (on high) which means it will consume approximately 4kW per day. At standard Ontario electricity rates, the cost of running the heater is about $0.53 per day.
I can’t fit a space heater in the cabinet
If you can’t fit a space heater in the cabinet, hot air will not circulate due to the insulation (like the Jacuzzi Soul). You can drain the hot tub and place the space heater inside the hot tub with the cover closed - this will keep the plumbing and equipment warm.