How To Fix a Frozen Hot Tub
All across the US, cold fronts are making their effects felt. From freezing temperatures, to snow and frigid winds, wintertime can be brutal. While many of us escape to our hot tubs as a refuge, even those aren’t entirely immune to the effects of the cold weather. If you’ve have ever had a frozen hot tub, you know how much damage can be done if not prevented or caught early. There’s a reason hot tub retailers love wintertime—it’s when the demand is at its highest for replacement spa parts that are damaged when the hot tub becomes frozen.
Prevent Hot Tub Freezing
As long as your spa is operating, at least on low speed with all of its valves and lines open, the water won’t be stationary long enough to freeze along the surface which will prevent severe freeze damage. NEVER turn your spa off at the breaker unless you are prepared to immediately drain and winterize the system.
Check your spa regularly. Even if you’re not using it on a daily basis, you should still be checking it to make sure it’s working. Untold damage can occur in less than 24 hours. If you’re not one who uses your hot tub during the winter months and aren’t likely to keep an eye on everything regularly, it might be best to winterize your hot tub and keep it empty. Just make sure you blow out all of the jets and pipes so that nothing freezes.
Install a digital spa pack with freeze protection. For in-ground spas, installing a digital clock will allow your system to automatically turn on the pump when the temperatures outside are low. Most of the digital spa controllers will have a freeze monitor that will turn on the pump if the outside air temperature reaches 40° F.
DON’T turn the temperature down too much. Keeping your water hot during the winter will protect your equipment and be the most energy efficient route. Some may think that turning their water down below 90° is a good way to save energy. It’s not. If you have a power outage or your heater goes out some time during the winter, a stable water temperatures between 100-104° and a tight-sealing hot tub cover will keep everything well-insulated and protected. Water this hot can often keep its heat for 2-3 days during a power outage. Unheated water combined with low outside temperatures can freeze in only an hour of not circulating. Once frozen (even if the power returns) the spa won’t be able to circulate water and cannot heat itself.
Cover up! Having a hot tub cover that is well-maintained and that seals properly keeps everything clean and functioning. In some parts of North America, it’s so cold that leaving a hot tub cover off for even a few hours can turn it slushy. Keep the cover on when you’re not using it and make sure it’s doing its job, meaning it doesn’t have any tears, isn’t picking up water, and is sealed all the way around the perimeter of the spa shell. If you have clips, make sure they’re buckled so the cover stays secure and the wind doesn’t pick up the cover during any snow storms.
If you do think your spa has quit working during the winter and may freeze, don’t panic. Look at it first while the water is still warm and see if it can be fixed before needing to be drained and refilled. Hot tubs are specifically designed so that they don’t have any freezing issues. The large amount of warm water in most modern tubs cools slowly and will help keep it from freezing, hopefully giving you enough time to resolve it without draining.
Unthaw a Frozen Hot Tub
If you do have your hot tub freeze (in varying degrees), here are the steps you need to take to unthaw and protect your equipment.
Use something like an ice pick to chip away at the center of the water until a hole has been established. Add buckets of hot water to the system either from the tub or boiled on the stove to melt the ice.