The Hot Tub Guru: Free Advice for First-Time Buyers

It's Not Just a Hot Tub: It's a Lifestyle

Buying Your First Hot Tub?

So you are thinking about buying your first Hot Tub, eh? (Yes, I'm Canadian. LOL.) Reading this entire article is your first right move. As they say, knowledge is power.

Well, you are going to love your hot tub. And, speaking from experience, based on years of performing installations and repairs in some of the coldest winters on the planet and with just about every make and model on the market, there are a few things you should look at first before you make that big purchase decision.

I'm not going to get into recommending any particular brand name either because they all have their pros and cons but most importantly, none of them pay me. lol. Buying a big-ticket item like a hot tub is usually a family decision and will cost you even more money if you don't do your homework first, so I'm going to make a few suggestions about things to look at before you buy, but the rest is up to you.

OK, Enough introduction. Let's get to the facts. Here we go.

NOTE: This information is for reference only. Many factors may have changed by the time you read this article so please, always do your homework first before you spend any money on any big ticket item.

How Much Money Will You Spend?

First, take a serious look at your finances. What is your budget? Decide what you can spend before you start looking and to try to stay within that limit while you shop around.

Don't be hustled by the sales reps.They are working on commission and make their money by jamming you with a ton of extras you won't need but, with knowledge, you can go into any hot tub retail outlet with confidence, knowing exactly what you are looking for, asking the right questions, and staying within your price range.

Don't be afraid to negotiate. There are huge mark-ups on hot tubs, especially when you start adding extra features, so there's always a little room to negotiate when it comes to your final purchase price. Remember, you don't need them. There are many players in this game that want your money so if they don't want to negotiate, then go play with someone else. Don't get greedy here and expect an unreasonable deal but it never hurts to ask.

The cheapest brands. A few years ago, one of the major wholesale discount stores (whose name I won't mention) came out with a nice-looking but poorly made line of hot tubs for around $5,000 and they quickly sold a ton of them. I'm sure most of you reading this have a good idea of the chain of stores I'm talking about. Unfortunately, as soon as the first cold weather hit, water pipes started bursting, pumps started freezing, and shells started cracking. I'm glad I was not involved in that nightmare because I heard an average of 500 tubs a week were being returned to the supplier. Unfortunately, now the buying public thinks they can get a high quality, new hot tub for under $5,000, which they can't.

If someone is offering you a new hot tub for under $5000, it is probably a cheap knock-off from China that will cost you more in repairs than what you paid for it so be very careful of what you are spending your hard earned money on. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

I do agree that the traditional retail hot tub suppliers have been gouging the public for many years, but they do offer additional security for any installation or warranty work they do for you by buying local. That factor alone might be worth the extra money and peace of mind if you have any problems with your unit later but you are still going to pay from $8,000 to $14,000 for a basic, well-made hot tub, and if you start adding extras like stereos, extra jets, or LCD screens, the cost will increase.

Old school hot tub.
Old school hot tub. | Source

Where Will You Put Your Hot Tub?

Installing Inside: If you install your tub indoors, then your biggest concern is ventilating all of the moisture given off by the tub, and you obviously need proper drainage.

Installing Outside: The closer it is to your home, the lower your installation costs. Those electric wires that run from your home out to your hot tub's electrical panel are expensive, so the closer the better, not to mention the labor involved if you have to dig a trench across or under who knows what to bury electrical cables.

If it's going on the ground, remember that if you live in a colder climate, every spring the ground thaws out and if you have your tub sitting on the ground, once the ground starts to melt next spring, it will shift the weight of the water in your tub, creating major stress, and if the shell cracks, you've got major problems.

You are either going to have to dig a hole at least four feet deep down to get below the frostline and pour a concrete slab that deep or, if it is going on a deck, then make sure the deck can support all that extra weight.

An average six person hot tub full of water will weigh at least 5000 lbs. without any of your crazy, drunken friends in there splashing around, so see if the area you are thinking about installing your tub on will take the weight. If not, you might have to look at digging some four foot deep holes to pour concrete support columns that come up just above ground level or higher and then sit four inch square, pressure treated wooden posts that will sit right under your deck's floor joists, under the deck, to help support the weight of your tub. Four concrete columns will work fine and you might be able to get away with just two if done properly. Any carpenter or good handyman can do this for you if you're not familiar with the procedure but if it has to be done, do it before your tub goes in.

It would suck to have all your friends over for a hot tub party and the entire tub collapsing on your deck, not to mention live electrical wires coming loose with water splashing everywhere and people stepping in it. Not the kind of buzz they intended on getting at your party. I smell lawsuit if someone gets hurt, or worse, so why take the chance? Do it right the first time.

Tip: Don't forget to have your electrician fill in any drilled holes in your home or hot tub skirting with electrical putty so mice won't get in there and build a nest. Mice love the heat but they hate that electrical putty.

Hot tub with an ocean view.
Hot tub with an ocean view. | Source

Before You Buy...

Tip: If you take the skirting covers off the sides of the tub and look inside at the back of the shell itself, notice that it has been sprayed but all around the jet hoses connections, but if the foam has been cut away or tampered with, it means that there was a leak somewhere and somebody was trying to fix it. If there is still water leaking out, then you obviously still have a problem, which is why you...

always buy a tub filled with water.

This is good to know if you are buying new or used. It might have been just a bad seal but now that they know that you know, it makes for a great final-price-negotiating tool and if you are buying from a retail store, make sure that those problems were addressed and written in the warranty in case there are any problems down the road.

Hot Tub Insulation: Do You Need It?

Proper insulation is a major factor in keeping your power bills down. Make sure the entire inner side of the shell is sprayed with foam insulation at least 33 mm thick / 2.5 inches (standard). 100 mm is even better. You can check that by unscrewing the skirting panels surrounding your tub's shell.

Another good insulating factor is a thermo blanket (at least one inch thick, usually 18 inches wide and 30 inches long, depending on the size of your tub), attached to the back of the skirting panels, inside the unit itself. Most look like a rectangular piece of foam with thick tin foil over it screwed right to the back of your skirting on the inside of your tub. (Another NASA invention filtering its way down to the retail markets.) This will work to help keep the cold out while reflecting the heat coming off the pumps back into the open space surrounding the inside of your tub, which in turn helps to control the temperature in your tub so your heating system isn't working as hard to keep your water temperature exactly where you like it, which also equates to a lower monthly heating bill.

Simply put, when I come home and jump in and my hot tub is at the exact temperature I set it for, all that insulation I just talked about is working, which is exactly what I want it to do.

What color shell, skirting, and cover would you like?

A lot of people like to match the colors of their hot tub with the color of their home or its surroundings.

Hot Tub: Jets or No?
Hot Tub: Jets or No? | Source

Hot Tub Jets: How Many? Water or Air?

Jets? How many jets is a personal choice or based on how many people will be using the tub and which parts of your body you want massaged. As you start getting into 30, 40, 50, 100 or more jets, you will need and want a second, and maybe a third water or air pump, so keep that in mind when pricing out units. You just want to make sure all the jets are working both air and water.

Water or air jets? It's also good to have a combination of jets, water and air. Water are the larger (jacuzzi) jets and air are the smaller, one inch jets. They work very well together for different effects on a variety of muscle areas. Some areas of your body. like your back for example, may need a deep, penetrating water jet massage and some areas, like your feet, may enjoy a softer air bubble massage. It's great to have both options.

Tip: Never forget about your feet. It's a mistake a lot of new buyers make at the time of purchase because they want that cool stereo or LCD screen instead, and then are always sorry later for not getting it. Our feet absorb all of our body weight everyday and take a lot of punishment, so don't forget to give your poor aching feet a well-deserved massage too (hydro-Reiki, as I call it).

Full body hydrotherapy massage is where it's at, in my opinion.

Another tip: Always make sure you buy stainless steel jets rings, never plastic (PVC) or whatever they want to call it these days. Plastic wears out quickly, depending on tub usage and cracks, and are a real pain in the butt to change, too.

Do You Need a Hot Tub Cover?

If you live through cold winters, then the thicker the cover, the better. A five-inch-thick cover with four-inch sides will do a lot of work keeping the heat inside the tub, where it belongs.

Most tubs come with a standard three-inch thick cover, but if you live in cold weather, then spend the extra money for a thicker cover. If your supplier doesn't carry them, then go online and order one.

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever seen a hot tub with the cover on and noticed steam leaking out of the sides like a pressure cooker and thought to yourself, hey that's cool? Well, as a hot tub owner, that's the last thing you want to see because that means serious heat loss which equates to higher power bills. Not good.

Something else about covers is that if there is a foot of new snow on the ground and a foot of new snow on top of my hot tub's cover, I am a happy hot tubber because I know I won't have heat loss going straight through the top of my cover or out the sides.

If there is a snowstorm and there is no snow on your cover, that means another serious loss of heat which once again equates to higher heating bills. Not good. Thick, custom-built covers are where it's at. It's one of your smartest investments.

Tip: In Canada, it is against the law to leave your hot tub cover unlocked if there is no one attending your tub. The reason being is that small children can easily crawl up the steps and fall in the tub, which has unfortunately happened many times, so make sure you lock your cover when not using the tub. Why take the chance for a very inexpensive fix? Most covers come with a small lock and key now as standard equipment so stash the key in a safe, close place.

Cover Lifters are fine if you are too lazy to fold the cover in half, slide it off, and lean it up against a wall, but if you are by yourself or have some physical challenges, then definitely buy a cover lifter. Another fairly inexpensive but good investment. The covers do get heavy and awkward at times, especially if you are tired or in some sort of pain. Lifters come in several different designs that are totally automatic or have hydraulic pumps on them for easy maneuvering. I suggest to go to your nearest dealer and check them out for yourself whether you are buying from them or not. Everybody has different needs.

Hot tub at sunset!
Hot tub at sunset! | Source

Salt Water Hot Tubs?

There's a lot of excitement about the new salt water tubs. The technology is getting better every day but as I write this, it is not quite there yet.

The problem is that salt water pools are great but as soon as you run salt water through any kind of a heating system, it turns the salt to a sand-like substance. Not good. It's hard on your system and takes a lot of work to maintain, too much work for me, but keep your eye on them because they'll be great as soon as they iron out all the wrinkles and come down in price.

I don't know about you but when I come home after a long, hard day, all I want to do is pour myself a tall, cool drink and jump into a steamy, bubbling hot tub to help melt away the day's stress. If I have to spend a lot of my time maintaining a hot tub, that takes away all the fun for me.

A good substitute to help you get rid of a lot of chemicals is to find a model that has a dual (2) water filtration system. It will cut the chemical usage down by half.

Additional Hot Tub Features: Stereo, LCD, Railings, Etc.

Stereo? A good place to start. I never liked them because they are an extremely expensive addition, and when the jets are on, you can barely hear it anyway. Plus, if anything goes wrong with the stereo itself (and it will, especially in colder climates), it's very expensive to have fixed. I suggest a portable stereo plugged into an outside electrical outlet or a waterproof MP3/4 player that will float around with you in the tub so you can stick on the head phones and enjoy your favorite tunes while chilling out. Most retailers actually give those electronic toys away these days as an incentive for you to buy a tub from them.

LCD screen? Another bad investment; I don't care how cool the sales rep tells you they are. It's a very expensive add-on and after one winter in the cold, it will start having problems. The technology is just not there yet. Save your money. If you want to watch the big game with your buddies, then roll your big screen up to the patio door so you can see it but it's still inside, protected. I don't know if that will work for you but figure something out. Don't waste your money on LCD screens.

Electronic gizmos? Anything that electronically pops up from inside your hot tub, like an LCD screen or stereo speakers, are never a good idea in colder climates or if you live along the coast with exposure to salt water, which is why no one ever offers you more than a one year warranty. They are guaranteed to screw up after your first winter and will be extremely expensive repairs. Don't buy them. Spend that money on more jets because the jets are what it is all about.

The shell surface? Never buy a smooth surface. Always make sure the surface is a little rough. The main reason being is that they get very slippery. Some people like the smooth surface, saying that rough surfaces collect dirt, but I never had any problems like that. If the tub needs a quick wipe down, then do it. You clean your bathtub once in a while, don't you? Tip on on cleaning: Never use harsh chemicals to clean the surface of your tub. Try to stay natural like lemon oil or white vinegar. There are enough harsh chemicals in the water as it is, you don't need any more.

Hand railings? Definitely YES. Again, especially in winter, there is a lot of water pooling and freezing around the tub. Stepping in and out of your tub safely with ice build-up everywhere is a common reason for serious injury, so buy hand railings. Great investment. The more, the better. strategically place them wherever people are going to be walking on slippery surfaces. It would really suck to be putting your family or friends in a position where they have to ask you to pay for medical bills because they slipped and hurt themselves on your deck.

Towel racks? I like them, especially heated ones. It's either that or some kind of a rack to hold your housecoat or whatever you are wearing to and from your tub in winter. All I can say from experience is that it is really nice when it's 20 below to have a warm towel or bathrobe on hand.

Lights? I highly recommend them. There's nothing like a little mood lighting (or chroma-therapy as the experts call it). Most tubs come with standard flood lights, usually on the bottom of the tub, but you can also get the fiberoptic (pin hole) and LED lights with multiple color choices along the top of your tub just along the waterline or behind a waterfall, for example. Color choices at the touch of a button? Designers just keep getting more creative in the features. Very nice touch for all you romantics out there.

Loungers? Love them! Great for a full body, hydrotherapy massage. Just make sure you have enough jets for the full body massage effect, from head to toe and everywhere in between. Even if that holds no appeal to you, think about others who really might appreciate it. Full body water massage! Now that's hot tubbing at its best.

Scents and fragrances? Although I am a big fan of pure, essential oils for aromatherapy and natural health reasons, never put them directly on any plastic or in your tub water unless they are diluted with some kind of a carrier oil. They are so powerful that they will compromise the integrity of the inner structure (shell and connections). Many new tubs today actually come with a scent-diffusing feature.

Head and neck cushions? Yes, but rolled-up towels will work just has good and save you money.

Waterfalls? Kind of cool but extra money. Your decision. I don't mind having at least one in the unit to stick my head under for a head massage. Nice effect.

Ozone system (ozonators)? I personally don't like them. They're very hard on the respiratory system, especially for children or if you have asthma or any other kind of respiratory difficulty, but some people swear by them so do your homework and choose wisely. Tip: If you have one on, don't breath in while you are taking off your cover. Let all the built-up steam dissipate up in the air before you jump in.

Hot tubbing at night, in the winter, with family and friends.
Hot tubbing at night, in the winter, with family and friends. | Source

Do You Need a Warranty for Your Hot Tub?

Where warranties are concerned, the longer the better, and make sure that your supplier and their manufacturer have been established long enough so you feel comfortable in the thought of them hopefully being around in the future to honor it, should something go wrong with your hot tub a few years down the road.

Tip: Read the warranty in full before you buy and don't be afraid to ask questions and get things clarified in writing if you don't understand. A lot of people listen to what the sales rep tells them and believe everything they say. They may be telling you the truth about everything but why take the chance with this kind of investment? Understand what the warranty covers: The pumps, the jets, the shell, the special features, etc. What is the coverage of each one?

Extended warranties are one big hustle and huge money-maker for any company that offers them, but really take a close look at what it offers if you are thinking about buying one. Read it very carefully. Do not listen to the sales rep. If you do not read it over and you come to find out down the road when you have a problem that even though the sales rep told you it was covered, the warranty does not, then you deserve to be screwed. Don't be stupid. Read everything.

If the extended warranty will cover pumps and other features for an extra 2 to 5 years in addition to what the standard warranty already covers, maybe it's worth the extra few hundred bucks, but how long has this company been in business is always my first question. If they are new, then think it through, but I always feel a lot more comfortable if they are well-established, especially when you are spending that kind of money.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about. Let's say that the extended warranty covers everything for five years: Okay, sounds good, I'll buy it! But the salesperson forgot to mention that you would have to drain the tub and might have to bring it into the shop for repairs at your time and expense depending on the problem. If it's just a hose or needs a new pump, no problem, maybe just a house call will work, but what if the shell cracks in the middle of winter? Who covers all those expenses? You're not talking about a vacuum cleaner here. You're talking about unhooking the plumbing, electrical, labor, transportation to and from the shop. One major pain in the ass so I'll say it one more time: Read everything!

Finally: Buying a Used Hot Tub

All I can say is never, never, never buy a used hot tub unless it is full of water and hooked up so you can do a complete inspection. Would you buy a used car without taking it for a test drive? No! so test drive the hot tub out before you buy.

Make sure all the jets and other features are working. Take off the skirting panels and make sure there are no leaks anywhere. It's a major problem if the shell is leaking: It might just need a replacement seal or hose, but who knows until you take a look.

Tip: If the tub looks fairly new and the seller tells you the warranty is still good on it and transferable, they might be misleading you. No hot tub supplier will honor a warranty after a hot tub has been moved to a new location. Who knows what might have happened in transport so if they are telling you this, get the name of the company they bought it from and give them a call to get the facts. They might honor the warranty if they move it and re-install it themselves but be prepared to pay a few thousand dollars for this.

Tip: One good indication of what that used tub is going to cost you to operate is to ask the seller for their last couple of months electrical bills. They are selling it for a reason. Be careful.

Last but by no means least, never let anyone drink anything from a glass container in or around your tub and I don't care what it is. No one needs to be sitting or walking on broken glass and bleeding in your hot tub water. Plastic, cans, whatever, but no glass allowed!

Well, I could go on and on but I think that's enough to get you thinking.

Good luck and may you enjoy many years of happy hot tubbing!

Comments 78 comments

Susan 2 weeks ago

We have an in ground hot tub. It was given to us. It was installed years ago, but we have had one problem after another with leaks. A few weeks ago, the guy came to fix them again and I drained the water out. We did not fill it right away because it rained for a few days in a row. When I went to fill it, I noticed it had lifted up. I filled it anyways and it leaked out fairly quickly, which tells me something has come undone from the bottom, as that is where the water leaks from. Will the tub eventually settle back down or do we need to remove decking, etc. to fix this new problem? I am just about done with all this, lol

voxleo 3 weeks ago

I believe it IS possible to get a great quality tub for under $5,000: Softub. 'nuff said.

A Softub is inexpensive to maintain, very portable and comfy. Much less expensive than hard tubs , no need for pro installation, just an outlet and a hose and proper space indoors or out. My mother uses hers daily, so it is constantly on at 103 degrees and still costs less than 10 bucks a month in electricity . That is in CA, for the 140 gallon version which seats two comfortably and is their smallest size. I can set up for her and move myself, and I am all of 5'2 and 130 lbs in size.) She does use the lid lifter, which she also uses the open lid as a shield from the neighbors viewing in the backyard while she is in it. She bought it used some 5 or 6 years ago at least, and it is still going strong, though I have replaced the ozonator on it once as we weren't aware of maintaining it until it went out.

Really energy efficient design and far superior to the inflatable portable varieties and much easier on the budget than a hard tub. The jets may not be quite as powerful, but they are good enough and the difference in maintenance cost is a huge factor that may well be worth the compromise on that. We tried one of the Intex inflatables, but it did not compare to the energy efficiency of the Softub, and was a lot noisier and harder to keep clean water. If you decide to go portable, go Softub, as it is worth it in the money saved for heating alone.

Amy 4 weeks ago

Good article. We made one of those mistakes you mention. Did not understand the warranty well enough. Didn't even know hot tubs could delaminate. So 6 months in and $9000 later ours did. Company replaced it. Got another and it delaminated too also in 6 months. Abs with acrylic, airspace under the foot area, nothing holding it up. Now we have up and down rolls, almost 2" inclines, under our feet. Very dangerous. Company is calling it a cosmetic blemish this time. So now we are going after any help we can get, attorney general and Magnisium moss act, implied warranty of merchantability. We thought after 2 years of research we had found the perfect tub. Can't stress enough, Get a good warranty! To top it off manufacture went out of business after 30 years just 3 months after we got the replacement tub. Is Delamination a defect?

Otakureader 5 weeks ago

I can understand your reluctance about "Big Box" hot tubs in colder climates, but what if the person lives in an area that has no snow, and never sees the temperature dip into under 65f? That takes away the argument against them for freezing pipes or cracking shells.

Tami 2 months ago

Hello Mr. Guru,

We have just bought an older(not so so old) hot tub in pretty good condition but when we spray washed off the underneath to get the spiders and webs off, we noticed a little of the waterproof looking thin layer came off of the insulation. Would it be wise to paint some more waterproofing layer on it or does it really not matter. What would you recommend to use on it?

John 2 months ago

There's no date on this article but comments post back 6 years. Do you have a new take on a saltwater tub? I love the odorless and 100% filtration concept.

Ryan 5 months ago

This is a great article, it really covers everything that goes into selecting and purchasing a new hot tub. I'm a little hesitant of buying a "big boy" hot tub currently, since I don't know what my living situation will be in about six months. But I have seen that inflatable hot tubs can be a decent alternative. I've been looking at a few of the reviews for them on and I really like the Coleman or Intex brands. Thoughts?

Jason 5 months ago

Nice article! Very helpful! Thank you.

DoveFreexrolo 6 months ago

I’d like to write like this too

Jeff Kern 6 months ago

Your thoughts on adding a timer to save electricity. Say turn it off at 11:00pm and turn on at around 5:00am

Ed Allan 11 months ago

We have a noise problem with our new hot tub. It is on a roof deck with bedrooms below. It is seated on trex type decking, with an airspace underneath for drainage over a fiberglass base. The bedroom below has an annoying engine sound. Don't know what to do.


Hotteertpuppy 13 months ago

excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must continue your writing. IÕm sure, you have a huge readersÕ base already!

Melanie 2 years ago

We are considering buying a 2009 caldera cambria that is currently at the new home we have purchased. The current owner wants $6000. It's a big hot tub & if all is well I suppose it's a decent price, but we're anxious about such a big investment for something we can't be 100% sure about.

Rudy 2 years ago

What is the timer for?

Benny 2 years ago

Great article, enjoyed reading it! I only really recommend winterization. To the hot tub, you may add polyurethane insulation. Check it out As long as you have the cover on your hot tub, the heat has nowhere to go and it maintains a nice warm. Swedesh families actually prefer to use a hot tub when weather is the coldest. On a chilly winter's night, i think the wintertime with its cold temperatures is a great time to be hot tubbing. I hope that's useful :)

xjointreview 2 years ago

i must say this was a great read, LoL @ the old saying u get what you pay for. i am looking into buying my wife and i a new hot tub with low shipping cost. i came across this article

do you know about other website that provides that offer?

Phil 3 years ago

Mr Guru, hope u are well. wondering if u know about water resistent speakers for the tub? I already have them when they came with the house. they now need repalcing. are water resistent speakers ok. they get lots of water in them and want to replace them with he best option.

Expabeaffenue 3 years ago

When i used to obtain high on living yet these days I've truly piled up a new resistance.

CS Cart Module 3 years ago

I’ve searched through many sites but have yet to come across a site that is as useful and informative as yours .

that 0ne guy 4 years ago

I agree with your one comment on Arctic Spas. I've now had one for 7 years and have had minimal maintenance/repair needs (northern Colorado, so -10F winter, 105F summer). I also did some cost of ownership calculations based on local electricity rates, and found that I would save over time buying an Arctic, as it uses less electricity that many other tubs. Well built and insulated, I would recommend them, and I use mine almost daily. (I have no experience owning any other tub, so a limited perspective).

Cheap Heaps 4 years ago

Wow. Great article, great feedback! I would have liked to read this before I purchased today. I feel fairly confident after much research that the jacuzzi 365 I just bought was the right choice. I live in southern Pennsylvania and the winters are rarely harsh. I decided to install the tub on one of those PVC type pads with tw inches of sand and gravel underneath in a well drained area. Do you think I'm safe?


Edwina 4 years ago

I'm disabled with a lot of back problems. I've had one of those blow up hot tubs that lasted a couple years. In fact, it still works, except for the bubble part. We can't find the maker to see if we could replace the parts so I'm looking for a regular one, you know the ones with all the parts made out of hard, durable parts? I don't really need a large one but I would like the type that has a lounge area. Because I'm on disability, I really can't afford to pay up front, is it worth buying one with payments? Should I purchase it from a company on the internet or through a company in my area? Do you have a brand or company you would suggest I check out? Thanks for your advice.

Shane 4 years ago

Hi There,

I have a round tub 1000 litres (mayby 10,000) ;) I have built a deck around it bit its about 4 inches above the deck. Is there a casing or mould i can wrap around it Guru?


Bonnie 4 years ago

I have a small two-person hot tub in my bathroom. Because of arthritis, the cover is very difficult for me to lift off. I've read about thermal blankets used with conventional covers. Do you have a recommendation as to whether they can they be used without the cover inside?

JRock 4 years ago

Hi - I just bought a house that was recently remodeled, and included a really nice indoor hot tub. It is installed and brand new, but never used. I'm looking to sell it because I wont be able to use it due to personal/health reasons.

I really don't want to have to deal with removing it myself since I have no clue what I am you know if any retailers would purchase (and unhook/pick-up) a new/installed/out-of-box unit like this?

Steve (UK) 4 years ago

Hi, Firstly, what a great article, written with no apparent interest, other than to assist others in their choice of what is a very expensive item. My wife and have recently ordered and are getting installed next week a Jacuzzi J230 Tub (we got a great price as it is last years model and was on clearance) we choose (without your advice :-) no pin lights, or audio system) . we are really excited about it. Last year we had a soft sided inflatable spa to see what we thought of the experience, and this is what convinced us of the purchase. I agree with your thoughts that taking our time about it and trying the cheap option first to see how we would get on was a very smart move. IN the UK we do get freezing weather, but rarely for very long and never as cold as in Canada, so I am reasonable confident in the system we have bought. I would be grateful for any further thoughts and advice you can add? One thing I have been advised to do is to make sure that and visitors thoroughly rinse their costumes out before wearing them in the tub as I am informed that the soap chemicals in the bathing costume after washing can cause problems with the chemical balance of the water. Is this right?

BayBayz profile image

BayBayz 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Go for it, you should have no issues but check with a certified electrician first. You might be violating some local electrical codes that may create electrical first and find out if the condo as any restrictive covenants against hot tubs first because they might order you to shut it down

BayBayz profile image

BayBayz 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

The only reason I stay away from Southern US tubs is not because of their manufacturing quality, they could be top of the line, it's the insulation factor which is my biggest concern living in Northern Canada.

I don't care how great the shells are, made from what top line equipment is used or what electrical system they have installed, if none of it is insulated properly, it won't last 1 season outside in Northern Canada. Extreme cold does some crazy shit to even the best of equipment in any industry

Christa 4 years ago

Hi guru...

Do u know anything about mermaid hot tubs?

Would u stat away from tubs made in California or Nevada

Do u think Canadian tubs are better made?

Puget Sound Paul 4 years ago

I have an Arctic tub...about five years now. Love it! However the cover has to be replaced. The core failed and got really heavy. Artic covers are nice but expensive, and I'm considering a non-artic cover that is as thick as they least that I've found.'s the question. Insulating blankets. I see bubble wrap looking blue ones for about $30 and closed cell foam blankets that go for about $60. It makes sense they would insulate and hold vapor in, but are they worth it and do they really work?

sport 4 years ago

Aloha Guru,

thanks for the great info, very informative. I live in HI in a small condo on the ground floor with a garden patio. Was thinking about getting a small tub (looking at a used Sundance Solo right now, less than 150 gal) and was wondering about the whole 110/220 debate. I've read 110 only heats at 2 degrees/hour vs 6 with a 220. With a tub that small in my warm climate (pretty much never gets below 60F lows), will it really be that much of an issue?

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BayBayz 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

It's usually a combination of steam and chemicals.

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BayBayz 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Thanks for your input Karen

Rob 4 years ago

Great Article!

I have an idea of what wholeseller you are talking about about, but not sure..... i was thinking about getting this one,

Anyone have any comments? Also i have read conflcting articles on that you can use salt in any hot tub and some say no, what's the real scoop? i would prefer salt over chemicals...



Montreal, Canada

Gary 4 years ago

Good info I can't wait to go skinny dipping;-)

Georgette 4 years ago

Why do we choke when we are in the hot tub?

Karen 4 years ago

I would like to say you can get a very nice hot tub for 4 to 5,000 dollars when you are purchasing last years hot tubs and companies are wanting to move them for the 2012's. I agree do your homework on the warranties and stay away from plastic piping. Yes, if you purchase a shell not smooth, you will not have to worry about waxing your spa and and scratches that may show up will not be noticed like a smooth spa. I have had my spa for a long time and spa's are not meant to last but so long, you will go into buying a pump/heater within time. I say get what feels good to the body insteal how fancy it looks. My spa is kept in a garage that is a rec. room. I'm looking to stay away from the smell that chokes you.

Good Luck, as I need it to. Can't really get any feedback who has the best hot tubs??????????

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Hey John,

I'm assuming you are a sales rep for Hot Springs Hot Tubs. If you are not then maybe you should be and they are definitely not the only supplier that has built in systems

John 5 years ago

Salt, Salt, Salt did I say salt? is the way to go. I'm on the end of my 1st year with our Hot Springs salt water hot tub. Before that we used conventional chemicals for 8 years. Our salt tub is almost maintenance free. No chemical smell, its cheaper to run and the best feels so much nicer. Before you purchase a tub make sure you check out a salt water system. As far as I know Hot Springs is the only manufacturer that offers it built in from the factory. Having said that my neighbor added a CalColor? unit to his 8 months ago after sitting in mine and loves it.

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

You are doing all the right things. Keep looking until you find what you want. The ozone system can easily be taken off a unit too. This article is now over 1 year old so take another look at the salt water systems. Technology moves at an amazing pace these days and obviously if your tub is going inside then you already must have proper drainage but proper ventilation for that amount of moisture is also a big factor. Also keep in mind that you do not want that moisture escaping to any other part of your home creating mold issues elsewhere so insuring your hot tub room is extremely well ventilated and sealed tight will save you a fortune in home repairs down the road as well as any future health issues that can arise from poor ventilation.

Every sales rep is going to try and convince you why their line of tubs are the best so listen to what they have to say so you can cross reference the information with other lines of tubs. It is a minefield of information to absorb but stick to your plan

Caryse 5 years ago

We live in Oklahoma and are looking into a hot tub for therapeutic reasons. I was hoping to avoid chlorine, and am concerned about the tubs that use Ozone filtration. I read concern about the salt water systems not quite being up to par, but am interested in that kind of system. Have they improved? We looked at a Master Spa tub but our understanding is they use a "mineral" system filter and ozone filtration. We are also checking out Hot Springs tubs. We're just really confused as to what filtration systems are best. The tub will be indoors--I don't want ozone.

The sales people remind us of stereotypical car sales mentality. I feel like I'm navigating through a mine field!

This blog is wonderful. Thank you for all the information.

monica tomney 5 years ago

THANKYOU, just started to research into purchasing a hot tub for our new home.We work hard for our dollars and appreciate all your great advice/precautions and recommendations .

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

My first suggestion is to go back and read my article. It covers all of your questions.

Roxy 5 years ago

We are trying to decide between hydropool self cleaning salt water system or the dynasty Victoria not salt water unit. Any suggestions? We live in northern Ontario and can I install it just on crusher dust and patio slabs?

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Never heard of it

Adam West 5 years ago

Hi, I just need to Know what you think about mark 3 LX74 hot tubs? there is a new one for sale and I'm thinking about buying if.

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Hello again Katie,

Yes, you always want to buy a hot tub made with Lucite in the shell. It is an acrylic base that makes the shell extremely durable and able to not only withstand our coldest winters without chipping or cracking but a lot of abuse from everyday wear and tear.

It is a combination of all these products and equipment I've mentioned in previous comments that make well made hot tubs more expensive to buy.

I'll say it again. If anyone out there thinks they are going to buy a good hot tub, brand new for $5,000.00, you are in for some major disappointments and a lot of extra money out of your pocket to maintain and repair it every year.

If you really want a good hot tub but $5,000.00 is your budget then I would suggest to hang on to your money until you can find a private seller of a top brand name manufacturer and for whatever reason, they want to sell it because they are moving for example and can't take it with them but you cannot buy a new, well made tub for 5 grand and I challenge anyone out there to prove me wrong. Now if you plan on using for a maximum of 1 year or you live in a warm climate and hardly ever use it then any tub is good as long as it works, but keep in mind that after that first year of normal usage, it starts falling apart especially if you experience cold winters, guaranteed.

If money is your challenge for buying a good tub than I would suggest buying a blow up model (soft tub) for a couple of grand. At least you can still enjoy the hot tub experience without a lot of money out of your pocket and they are pretty portable if you move

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

To be honest Tom, I don't like chemicals myself and prefer to go with an all natural product. There are so many new ones coming on the market that I can't keep up with them so I suggest to look around online and do some homework yourself.

That's another reason I always suggest a tub with a dual filtration system so it does cut your chemical use in half.I wish I go be of more help in that area and tell you exactly what you should be using but everyone has different needs so as I suggested, only you know what you want. If you find a product that you like tho, share it with some other readers. I'm sure they would be very interested in what you found out.

Thanks for writing

Katie 5 years ago

Again, can't thank you enough for your input! Headed out again to a different dealer who carries different brands... Found an AS dealer in my area will check them out for sure. I take it from your earlier response that lucite in the shell is important. WHat would be the minimum depth I should consider? Believe me , I won't forget about foot jets! I am going to check out what they call an anti float or gravity lounger. Seems I may never find exactly what I am looking for ( at an affordable price that is). I am not in a hurry and have learned a lot from my first "test dive" . Mostly that what I think I want today.... I will rule out tomorrow! Thanks for your help.

Tom 5 years ago

Hi Spa Guru,

I just purchased a Sundance Hamilton and even though it is not as deep as I wanted it to be the seating seems to work well. A lounger with neck, leg and foot massage jets with a side chair with foot massage as well. Three other massage seats and a cool down. When I wet tested I felt that my 6 foot frame worked well in all the seating. Now I have a question on the chemicals to keep spa clean. I don't like the smell of bromine, so I'm looking at either Aqua Finesse which is all natural or BAQUA which is not natural but doesn't give off any odors.Do you have any knowledge on either of these? Thanks for any help.

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Another perfect example of how hot tubs may look pretty with lots of jets but the building material and equipment is of very poor quality. Many people just look at the price and do not take into consideration anything else. Hey, it looks cool, the jets work and the price is right. Let's buy it, then one year later they are freaking because everything is falling apart or not working. No Lucite manufactured into the shell itself which means it will start cracking after your first winter. Poor brand name pumps.Cheap hoses and jets. Poorly insulated. Substandard electrical system, (not Balboa)I can go on and on but it's a perfect example of really doing your homework before you buy and you did so good on you

Great information Katie.

Lets get to some of your questions.

I don't like metal frames. It has to be a least 1/4 inch angle iron to support it and that means extremely heavy plus I personally don't like the idea of sitting in water, with electricity flowing all around you and up against metal. Makes me kind of nervous.

The larger, jacuzzi style jets create the most pressure and the smaller, air bubble jets are more for massage.Spinners are a nice addition but obviously extra cost

I like a deeper tub because it means when I'm sitting in it, I can get the water right up over my shoulders. I don't want to be in a hot tub with a group of friends, it's 20 below and water only coming up to my belly button, lol. Don't forget those foot massage jets if you are steering away from loungers.

You obviously live in cold climate so I don't usually do this but maybe look at the Arctic Spa line of hot tubs. More expensive but a very high quality hot tub. beachcombers are not bad for winter but only half the quality of AS

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Hi Katie,

There is no need to take any chances Katie if you do your homework first.

8 grand is a pretty cheap price for a new hot tub delivered and installed considering all the other expenses incurred just to have it installed. It means that the tub is only worth about 5 or 6 grand retail new so why not spend a little extra and get a new one with a full warranty and no headaches?

$4500.00 for a used tub that will not have a warranty seems like a lot of money considering what it costs brand new.

I would also find out what you can buy it for new if they just deliver it and you get it hooked up yourself. Installation and delivery is a big money maker for dealers. They are all add ons and I'm sure that does not included wiring it up. It's probably just a hook up and your are responsible for getting it wired to your electrical panel. Check that out too.

If you decide to check out this used one then follow my advice and make sure that is is full of water and running because if it has major issues then, I don't care how cheap it is, repairs will cost you more than what the tub is worth new. Find out where they bought it and what kind of warranty comes with it. Is the warranty transferable? I doubt it. Why are they selling it. $4500.00 plus transport & installation. You're either going to need a crane, forklift or a lot of bodies, depending on location, to move it plus either a flat bed truck or some kind of trailer to transport it and then you have to put it in place at your place. Even empty it's still very heavy

If your not already wired up for power to it at your place, your electrician will charge you maybe $500.00 to $700.00. What are you putting it. On a deck or on a slab? Will your deck support the weight? Is your slab below the frost line depending on where you live? Find out the exact model number and brand name and find some reviews on it. Don't let anyone pressure you Katie. If they are, then there might be something going on. Follow your instincts. It might be a great deal but why take the chance with your hard earned money. If it is all ready up and running then do a thorough inspection. Test everything and take the panels off the sides while it's running and look closely for leaks while all the pumps are going. $4500.00 plus, plus is a lot of money to lose if it's full of problems. If it's not all ready set up and running, I would be asking myself, Why isn't it? It sounds like a Chinese knock off which might mean it is CE electrical system which is European and will not work properly in North America. We use ETL here. Your electrician can hook it up and get it running but it will cost you a fortune to run it every month. What brand name is it?

Keep asking me questions. I'll just plant some seeds for you to think about so you are going in with your eyes wide open.

Good Luck

Katie 5 years ago

I am going to check out a used hot tub. It is priced at $4500. It is one year old. The exact same model new is $8000 delivered and installed. Is it worth the savings to take a chance on a used unit? I am also concerned about moving it and installing it ourselves. Does the service and guarantee from buying it new outweigh the savings..? Thanks for all the great info. Yours was the most helpful information I have found!

Kathy 5 years ago

I m looking at a Sundance Hamilton floor model. Have you heard anything about their heating element. When I wet tested it it was at 103, but it didn't feel like it. Priced at 7200. Also wet tested a Limelight Flair. Priced at 7500. Both have loungers, but the Flair seems a little cramped. Between the 2 I thought the Flair had better hydro therapy. Can you give me some advice?

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Hi Kathy,

If you are happy with the tub and OK with the price, the only thing I would recommend is reading the entire warranty very carefully before you sign anything and don't be afraid to ask questions.

If they are also installing the tub at your place, make sure it's a complete install with everything included in the price.

Good Luck

kathy 5 years ago

I am looking at buying a Hot Spot Relay hot tub. It is a floor model that has not be used. Taxes included I can purchase it for 6105.00. It has full foam insulation and an ozinator built in. Lounger without the foot jets. Though there are foot jets built into the floor area of the tub. Any advice before I sign on the dotted line? A New Yorker resident.

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Thank you abinavis

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abinavis 5 years ago from Bat Island

I used whirlpool bathtub in my home and so far I enjoy it much. Give my life more relax and comfortable. Reading your hub it really enrich my knowledge more on tubs. Excellent writing Baybayz. Keep up your great work.

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

To be honest Susan, I have no knowledge of soft hot tubs but that's probably why the original owners sold it.

Something obviously sounds wrong with the electrical. For whatever reason, the unit is sucking up way too much juice. It's working too hard to heat the water which in turn is driving up your electrical bill and could be a number of reasons. Do they come with a circulating pump to keep the water moving. It might be a bad thermostat.

It might be the heat pump itself. Did it come with any manuals or a trouble shooting guide, maybe a website you can research?

If you have electricians in the family, I would suggest getting them over and running a meter over the entire electrical system to see what is or isn't working or searching for the dealer who sold it to the original owners. I wish I had a magic fix for you Susan but electrical problems are just a hit miss bunch of suggestions when you are not standing in front of the unit.

You did bring up another good point tho for people thinking of buying used. Ask for electrical bills over the last couple of months from the owners before you buy. That will give you a good estimate of what the unit will cost you to run and remember, never, never, never buy used unless the unit is full of water and running so you can test everything out and do an inspection of the shell, inside and out

Good Luck Susan. I wish I was more help

susan 5 years ago

I bought a used softub (2005)(220 gal.)I turned it on Oct 1st and just got my PGE bill for Oct.It went up from 115.00 in sept to 226.00 I was shocked.Looks well made tight cover etc. Could this be from just initial heat up? Nothing else in the house changed or was added that might explain the energy usage.PGE rates did not change.I am in Northern Calif. so, mild climate. Use the tub once a night. No parties.It's a 115 volt with about a 15 foot extension cord.

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BayBayz 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Thanks tkaptur.

If you have any questions, let me know

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tkaptur 5 years ago from South Haven, Michigan

Good tips, thanks for posting.

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BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

This first comment is for Darrel22,

I get asked my opinion on many different brand named products but to be honest, I try to avoid answering it because of many different factors that can effect your purchase. Obviously, the Jacuzzi name has a powerful presence in the industry but every dealer is different so make sure you completely understand how your warranty works. You obviously have done your homework and checked around so the final decision is yours. All I can suggest is that if you are 100% sure of your potential purchase,then go for it before it gets too cold and harder to install for several reasons.

Welcome new Hot Tubbers.

This second comment is for Peggy Wentworth

Excuse my ignorance Peggy but I'm assuming TN is Tennessee. If it is, I've only traveled through there once on my way to Atlanta and it was summertime so I don't know your winters but I'll try to answer your questions the best I can.

As you know, here in Canada the ground freezes solid every winter so when we install a hot tub on a concrete slab, we have to dig down at least 4 feet or below the frost line so the slab doesn't shift during spring thaw. If we don't, then there is going to be big problems with the structure of the tub after 1 season so if the ground doesn't freeze solid in your winter, then this should not be an obstacle which is great because that can be a huge expense you won't have to take on.

A standard 3 inch thick cover should work fine for you but you will need a cover to keep the heat in and debris out.

Just to clarify your electrical question, the tub needs it's own dedicated line wired directly from your tub to your electrical panel in your home so if you plan on using your dryer on the same circuit as your tub, I would not suggest it but please talk to a certified electrician to be safe. If something goes wrong with your tub, your warranty may not cover it or worst-case scenario, something might catch fire. Either way, talk to a professional first. Why take any chances.

There are many factors involved when talking prices, for example. Different brand names, features etc. but you should be able to pick up a high quality, 2 person hot tub for under 5 grand. Keep in mind that just because someone is quoting you a real low price, doesn't mean you are getting a good deal. You can run into many expensive problems when buying cheap hot tubs that will cost you a lot more in money and headaches than the price of investing in a high quality tub.

Do your homework Peggy and don't get hustled by anybody. Take your time, ask a lot of questions and feel very confident in your purchase before you spend any money. You want Hot Tubbing to be a wondering experience but if you buy a cheap tub that looks pretty on the showroom floor but is made of poor quality materials and equipment that you can't see unless you know what you are looking for, then you are going to be cursing the hot tub very soon after you set it up and spent all that hard earned money.

Good Luck

Peggy Wentworth 6 years ago

I am looking for a two-person hot tub to go on concrete with a roof overhead. With the roof and since I live in TN, do I need the 5" cover?

I have a dryer inside the wall that I was to connect the tub. Is this okay to connect this way?

What should I expect to pay for this unit?

Thanks much.

Darrel22 6 years ago

Fantastic information. I live in western Canada where temps dip to -40 C and we are looking at purchasing our first hot tub. We are seriously considering buying a Jacuzzi. The J-280 to be exact. Do you have any experience with Jacuzzi? If so, any recommendations would be great. Thanks

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BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Thanks Kubth,

I've written a few more like it on Far Infrared Saunas and Steam Showers if you are interested

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kubth 6 years ago from UK

An excellent Hub BayBayz, I have linked to it from my first Hub. Really glad someone has taken the time to offer all of this impartial advice to hot tub buyers.

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BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Hi Doug,

You have to take off the panels surrounding the shell on the outside of the hot tub. they are usually just screws with decorative caps covering them that pop off. If you live with winter, your shell should have be at least 100MM of sprayed on foam surrounding every part of the inside of your shell. Also, on the back of the panels themselves, you should have insulated foam backing with a heat reflecting cover. It looks like thick tin foil. It's designed to reflect the heat coming off the pumps back into the inside of the tub where everything is located which in turn helps to heat the shell which will heat the water.

As I mentioned in another comment,I highly recommend a thicker cover in colder climates. At least 5 inches thick in the middle down to 4 inches on the ends. Hot tubs loose a lot of heat through the cover and most come 3 inches thick as a standard size. A thicker cover will cost you a little more but you'll save it in your power bill within a few months. If whomever you are buying your tub from doesn't sell thicker covers, search online. If they do, check around anyway for some comparative pricing. There are many parts suppliers out there. Just find one in your area.

I always knew I had a good cover after a snow storm. If there was just as much snow on my cover as on the ground, then the cover was stopping the heat from the tub escaping and that is what I want. If there was no snow on top of my cover and a foot of new snow on the ground, then you have serious heat loss. Not good. Your heating system is working a lot harder to keep the water warm

doug 6 years ago

Will a 115 vac spa hold up good in freezing weather?

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BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

hey jonathan t,

I really suggest you take out that ozanator in your hot tub. I guarantee it is causing you problems with your asthma

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BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

Thanks for you comments everyone. I try not to mention brand names because then the attacks start but the weather in your area is something to consider before you buy. If you live in a colder climate then make sure you have a well insulated tub and a thick cover, 4 to 5 inches is good. Most come with a standard 3 inch which creates a lot of heat loss in winter.

Salt water tubs are very cool but they are also a lot of maintenance so just make sure you do your homework.

I am not familiar with the DreamMaker brand but if you are buying from a foreign country, make sure that the electrical is approved for the North American market. CE standard is Europe and won't work efficiently here

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jonathan t 6 years ago from Burlingame, CA

i had no idea an ozonator caused respiratory problems! no wonder my asthma acts up when i'm in hottubs!

mj 6 years ago

Is the technology there yet with the Salt water Hot tubs? I am looking at one now and they say it is the best.

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paulkimelecu 6 years ago from philadelphia, pa

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paulkimelecu 6 years ago from philadelphia, pa

Yes, I, like Karen, would love to know what is your favorite brand. I love DreamMaker as they are really the only ones available in Korea...

Karen Reader 6 years ago

I have one question. What is your favorite brand of hot tubs?

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BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada Author

I could have went on and on about my experience in the hot tub business but I didn't want to bore everyone so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Thank you

The Hot Tub Guru

Amy Appleton 6 years ago

Thanks for the info, great hub.

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