hot tub temperature

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On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 18:23:23 GMT, Paul M. Eldridge

We've looked at five brick-and-mortar hot tub dealers (although one was too far away), starting last November. Then I started looking on-line.

We've done that a few times, but no "wet tests".

I definitely want that.

No, thank you very much for the suggestions, I'm going to print it out!
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Hi Jud,
I'm delighted I could help, but it sounds like you've already got a pretty good handle on this and I'm sure you'll be pleased with whatever product you ultimately decide upon.
The good news is that there are plenty of great choices out there. For the most part, it really does come down to how well the dealer is going to take care of you. Investigate them thoroughly before you hand over your money.
Cheers, Paul
On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 19:42:11 -0400, Jud McCranie

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On Sun, 16 Apr 2006 00:13:22 GMT, Paul M. Eldridge

Well, not exactly. I've been in a few hot tubs, but the only owner of one I know has one of the round wood ones that is heated by burning wood, which is completely different. We looked at a store last November, but more seriously in the last month.
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Hi Jud,
Sounds like you've got to make yourself some more friends! :-)
Oh boy, not sure what else to suggest, other than hit all the manufacturer's web sites, do the prerequisite Google searches and check out www.epinions.com (keyword: spas) to see what others have to say about their ownership experience.
When visiting a dealership, you should be able to pick up on various visual clues. For example, is the place spotlessly clean and are the products well presented? Do they have a proper service department? Are their service trucks clean and in good repair? Is the sales staff professional, courteous and genuinely interested in helping me find the right product? Can I do a "wet test"?
I mentioned warranties earlier on. Let me repeat, pay particular attention to the fine print. I read through the warranty coverage for one spa and it was a true eye opener. Basically, it said if there is a problem with the spa that cannot be repaired onsite, the manufacturer reserves the right to replace the spa with one of equal or better value. OK, I'm thinking at this point.... "I can live with that!". Then I read the next sentence, which tells me I'm responsible for the full cost of shipping the defective product back to the manufacturer, as well as that of its replacement. So now I'm asking myself, just how much does it cost to ship an eight hundred pound spa half way across the country and another one to take its place? A thousand dollars? Two thousand dollars? Oh, and who's going to help me get that spa properly packed, protected and ready for pickup?
This is precisely the reason why you must due your due diligence.
Cheers, Paul
On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 22:35:56 -0400, Jud McCranie

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On Sun, 16 Apr 2006 03:47:54 GMT, Paul M. Eldridge

Yes, I've been doing that too.
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On Fri, 14 Apr 2006 19:05:19 -0700, "Steve B"

Why don't you give the OP some names to look for? What manufacturers do you consider "top manufacturers"? I have heard negative things about ThermoSpa not honoring warranties (they advertise heavily on cable television). In my view, Beachcomber (which I have), Hot Springs, Marquis, Jacuzzi, and a couple of others qualify as good, reliable spas.
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I have a Thermospas tub, (for about 8 years now) and the company has never been anything other than helpful. Many of my friends have bought Thermospas after enjoying mine, and they all have had nothing but praise for the company. The reason Thermospas advertises more that most spa companies is because they sell factory direct. Beachcomber is well made, but their insulation setup is based on the old fashioned idea of filling the box with hardened, expanded foam. That makes repairs complicated and expensive. There are better ways of insulating now with more advanced materials, and keeping the mechanicals inside the insulated box is more energy efficient. Hot Springs is also an excellent brand. Jacuzzi just isn't what it used to be.
Bear in mind that other than the shell and cabinet, most spa parts are generic and come from elsewhere. Some companies select better quality parts off the shelf, and may have some generic parts cosmetically customized with their logo on them, but you really need to find out who made the parts to know what you are getting with any brand of tub.
Also find out if the pump motor rating is the "peak rating", which is kind of phony, or the real "continuous rating". If they just say it's a "3 HP" it is likely the peak rating which can only be achieved by running a 120 volt 2 HP motor at it's rated peak voltage of 180 volts! It's really a 2 HP motor. This is a very common advertising lie used by almost all spa companies.
Bigger pumpstter hot tub experience, especially when you start looking at tubs with more than a minimal number of jets. I have two "real" 3 hp pumps, plus a separate blower for the air jets. Walmart/Home depot type tubs typically have much smaller motors and far fewer jets. It's simply not the same experience as a fully powered and adequately jet equipped unit.
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I have a Baja spa that came with the house. Since I'd never had a spa before, I hired a "hot tub guy" to come out and show me how to set it up and maintain it. It turned out he was the same guy who had installed it (good odds on that in a small town), and he said it was about 6 years old. It has two pumps and a blower, and will heat to about 108 degrees, but from experience I have found 100 is the most comfortable; however, the spa is inside, and I think I would want it a little warmer if I were using it outside, certainly if in an area where it gets really cold outside.
Anyway, I don't know much about "top brands" or anything since it was already here, but this one still works perfectly and looks brand-new; everyone was astonished to hear it was 6 years old. Either it's been very well cared for or very lightly used in the past (but boy howdy, it's been used steadily since I got here!) Of course, it helps that it's not exposed to the elements.
As far as comfort, I would definitely recommend buying larger than a 3-person spa for 3 people. Mine is a 6-person and while we could put 6 people in it, it's really most comfortable at about 4 people (I think spa size must be rated by the same people who rate camping tent size). As far as the jets, you don't want too few, but "more" isn't the only consideration, either. I would say that the location of the jets is as important than the sheer number. The lounge feature is definitely nice.
Good luck with your purchase! The one thing I can say for sure is you'll never be sorry you've got a spa!
Jo Ann
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wrote:

I think after the "new" wears off we won't all be using it at the same time. But I see your point.

I've been in those, and I definitely want that.

I've been in enough of them to know I will like it.
We have been saving up some money. At first my daughter wanted an above ground pool. Then last fall I talked her into a hot tub. Now she and my wife want the pool, but I don't. We've been looking at both, but looks like we're going to have to get the pool. But we should have some money left in the account after buying a pool and that plus our tax refund will go most of the way toward a hot tub too.
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On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 13:17:29 GMT, Mys Terry

That's probably the one I called for information (thermo as opposed to therma).
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On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 13:17:29 GMT, Mys Terry

So does that mean they don't make the one at Walmart? Or if they make it, maybe they don't support it? We're talking about Thermospa as if what applies to it applies to the one at Walmart. ????
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A spa is a combination of a lot of things. Hoses. Pumps. Gates. Valves. Jets. Electronics. Switching devices. Heating devices. Temperature control devices.
If you use high quality components, chances are the spa you build will work well and be reliable. If you use low quality components, chances are that the spa you build will break down more often, be less reliable, and have a lot more service related issues.
That being said, when you go to the Borg stores, it is nearly impossible to find out the name of the manufacturers of the component parts. And even if they are stamped with the manufacturer, you need to speak Chinese to read the address or company name.
Now, throw together a couple of years of manufacture using a long list of variable parts from various suppliers ............ ALL OF THEM BEING LOWEST BIDDER, and you have a real bag of snakes.
If you were to take a poll of people who have owned a spa for five years, there would be a definite statistical correlation between those who bought good spas from good manufacturers and who like them. Those who bought cheap spas won't have as high a satisfaction percentage.
Buy all you can afford even if you have to buy used. They last a long time, and a good used one will cost you less than a bad new one.
Steve
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On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 23:22:55 -0700, "Steve B"

He may be saving his money on the purchase so he'll have enough money for electricity to run it.
Remember the poster we had 3 or 4 weeks ago, who couldn't afford the electricty?

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wrote:

Electricity isn't the only thing. You have filters, chemicals, and parts. Poorly designed spas use lots more electricity because they are not insulated as well, and do not run as efficiently. So, a "savings" in the beginning can be eaten up quickly.
Steve
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In our part of the country, Catalina is tops. The other brand names you mentioned are good, but I was told by a spa EXPERT that unless you live in the state that manufacturers them, or you have a dealer near by that they are hard to get parts for.
I would suggest that the OP, and all others use a thing called Google. It is a very handy device, kind of like a reference library on steroids. In it, one can get all sorts of things. I just did a search on "hot tub ratings" and got 10,300,000 answers in .30 seconds. They range from Consumer Reports, Pool and Spa News, etc. People who see spas every day.
To suggest any here would not be good. I will suggest Catalina since they are a standard in the industry. A friend of mine in California has a new Hot Springs spa, but there is no supplier in my town, so getting parts would be difficult for me if I owned one here.
Do two things. Count the pumps, and count the jets. Buy one that has at least two pumps, and one that has the most number of jets. And look for the Catalina name plate.
Steve
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Parts for spas are very easy to get for any brand, regardless of where you live. It's called "The Internet".
There are some really big parts dealers that sell all of the parts used by every brand. Here's the one I use. Their online catalog has pictures of the parts so you can match up what you have and figure out who actually made it.
http://store.aquaticpartsco.com/apc/displaycatalog?d=2&sdst=0
When I needed a pump I found these guys to be absolutely great:
http://www.electricmotorwarehouse.com /
I would not say Catalina is any more of a "standard" than any of the other big outfits.
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Whatever winds yer clock. I prefer when I need a part to just take the old part to the shop, match it up, and get a new one. Yes, the Internet is great, but it is not without its problems. I can have a part in an hour, and on the Internet, I have to wait a few days. Once I needed a pump. I called around. I found a used rebuilt one for 1/4 the cost of new. It's still chugging. If one gets the wrong part on the Internet, the spa is down for a week due to shipping logistics. That is unacceptable to me.
So, finding a brand of spa that has a local dealer, TO ME, is an important consideration for support.
But you can't beat filter prices on the Internet compared to local shops.
STeve
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Steve B wrote:

We purchased a second home in the mountains, that had a spa from Arctic Spas already installed. Arctic Spas is from Edmonton, Alberta- about a thousand miles from here. Their closest dealer is a day's drive away. The spas were reportedly very upper end and seemed to be well built when I pulled the redwood enclosure and inspected the pumps and fittings, before buying the cabin. What I FAILED to check was the local dealer. After buying the cabin, I learned that the local dealer had dropped Arctic Spas from its inventory. I was an orphaned owner, but still covered by factory warranty. When the inevitable break-downs began to occur, I contacted Arctic Spas directly.
We reached a gentleman's agreement that if I would do my own repair labor, they would send me the parts by Federal Express. Over the years, this worked well and I respected their responsiveness.
Here are a few of my amateurish observations: 1) Arctic Spas are designed for cold, cold temperatures. They apply the dense foam to the inside of the enclosure, and not the tub itself. That way, the pumps, heaters, electronics and piping is inside the thermal enclosure. It also makes everything very accessible, which is good. 2) When something breaks on a spa, you will be laying on your stomach, arms extended for a long period of time. In freezing weather, this is a royal pain, and only becomes slightly less so during the summer months. 3) Screws freeze or rust, parts corrode and electronics fail on spas. If you have to do the work yourself, it's a continuing pain in the rump.
A) Get a spa where you can see the components, and they are not submerged and hidden in foam. B) Be sure the dealer has a long association with the manufacturer and plans to continue the relationship. Buy from a good dealer or Sears, not a big-box retailer who has no established service department. C) Unless you love laying on your stomach in mud, snow or ice, arms outstretched, trying to free a rusted bolt with no room to move the wrench, find out about who does the service work and if the service department is well established. If you live in the boondocks, find out if you must pay extra for a service or warranty call. D) Only get a spa where you have easy access to all sides. Despite where the pump and heater are, the leak or problem will happen in the most inaccessible area. E) Be sure to have room to lay (in the mud, snow or rain) all the way around your spa. Don't put it tight against anything. F) Locate not only the drain, but also the sump drains for the pumps. If possible, pipe them to the outside as well so you can totally drain the spa in freezing weather, if desired. G) Get the biggest spa you can afford. Get the deepest one, so that the water comes up to your neck easily. H) Get lots of jets, big pumps and even an air blower. Be sure that the heater-only mode is one of the motors running at low speed. The more bubbles and agitation, the better. I) Skip the fountains, entertainment center, TV, or wet bar on the spa. Instead, do them individually and free standing. They break, can be proprietary to the spa, and just run up the cost. j) A cabana to enclose the spa is nice, but not necessary. It's fun to sit and have snow or sleet coming down on your head. If it gets bad, a towel over your head keeps all warm. K) If you DO go for a cabana, get it big enough that you can change inside, without having to run to the house. L) Get the cover double bagged, if available. The cover will eventually saturate with water from the hot spa, and double bagging slows down the inevitable. M) Get a "swing back" for the cover. That way, you can just flip it open or closed without help. N) Get a spa with plenty of room to set drinks on the rim above the water.
I'm sure I'll thnk of more stuff later on.
Mark
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Hi Mark,
You've raised a number of good points and offered some really terrific advice.
No question, a cover lifter is an absolute must. The last thing you want to do is to fight with the cover when getting in or out of your spa. It's just about impossible for one person to open and close the cover without twisting and contorting their body like the torsion bars on a Volarie and, more often than not, you can almost guarantee part of that cover is going to end up in the water. And without a cover lifter, there's the question of where to put it. If you put it down on the ground or deck, it's going to get scuffed and dirty and end up bring dirt, grass, sand, etc. into the spa.
And, for several reasons, I would avoid recessing a spa into a deck. For one, as you say, it makes servicing and draining the spa that much more difficult. You also pretty much forego any possibility of using a cover lifter. If the spa is set low in the deck getting in and out becomes uncomfortable and potentially dangerous (you can't easily brace yourself with your hands). And if there are young kids running about, there's a potential tripping hazard. Also, what do you do if you get a bigger BBQ or a larger patio set and now need to move that spa an extra five or six inches? Or what if you decide to replace your spa at some point because it no longer fits your needs? Do you end up rebuilding your deck? Bad news, all around.
I looked closely at Artic Spas' design and I don't want to sound like I'm knocking their product. The fundamental problem I have is that the pumps and electronics are trapped inside a thermal envelope and subject to very high operating temperatures. As you probably already know, heat is not generally kind to electrical equipment and electronics in particular. Also, during the summer months and more so in hotter climates, extended pump use can end up overheating the water. And as you might guess, I tend to believe a fully foamed tub is the better way to go, for reasons previously mentioned. That said, I'm pleased to hear they've been willing to work with you directly in the absence of a local dealer; that's comforting to know.
Good luck and enjoy that spa!
Cheers, Paul
On Sat, 15 Apr 2006 15:00:51 -0700, Mark and Gloria Hagwood

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I always have that more expensive option if I'm in a hurry, but then, this is not a heart/lung machine we're talking about. If it's down for a few days, nobody will die.

You are paying a price for your impatience. Local dealers are often out of stock on the one part you happen to need. Then they put it in their weekly stock order and you wait much longer than I do ordering my parts from the same warehouse your dealer uses. It's pretty hard to order the wrong part when they have photographs on the website. Once you know that your jets are made by "Turbo Industries" and your electronics were made by "Sparky Technology", It's very easy to pick out the right parts. The electronics "box" in spas are called a "Spa Pack" and they are all distinct looking. Photographs of the circuit board inside are like a fingerprint. When my heater element failed, the dealer would have had a "heater assembly" as a replacement, for $250. Online, I could buy just the element that was bad for $40 plus shipping. I bought two so I will have a spare.
Jets are easy to match up exactly, and for that matter, you may decide to substitute a different type. They all simply mount through a hole, after all. You can mix brands if you desire.

I'm sure the dealer appreciates your enthusiasm and endless supply of ready cash.

Yeah, I'm sure the local dealer is more competitive on service parts that he has you convinced are proprietary!
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