When most people are considering buying and installing a hot tub or spa one of the things they invariably ask is – do hot tubs need plumbing? Fortunately, the answer is that there are very few external requirements, including the need to plumb it in, so it is surprisingly easy to set up a hot tub.
Hot tubs are almost completely self-contained so a hot tub installation requires no plumbing. To install your hot tub you will only need a method of filling it with water, which can be as simple as using a hose, and a suitable electricity supply.
If you read the rest of this post you will understand what is involved as far as the installation of a hot tub and spa are concerned.
Do you need plumbing for a hot tub?
Most modern hot tubs and spas can be considered completely self-sufficient units when it comes to hot tub plumbing requirements.
There is no need to permanently connect your hot tub to your water supply to fill it and it doesn’t need to be connected to your drainage system to empty it either (although you could – more on that below).
The only on-site connections you will need will be safe electrical wiring.
This makes hot tub installation easy in most instances and certainly keeps installation costs down.
Do hot tubs need a water supply?
You will not need a permanent, dedicated water supply for your hot tub but obviously you will need some method of filling your hot tub.
However, most people with a hot tub located outside in their backyard will simply fill it with a garden hose hooked up to a convenient faucet. I even filled my first hot tub up with a garden hose and that was located indoors.
You could even fill it with a bucket if you felt so inclined, had a strong back and a few hours to spare.
How long does it take to fill a hot tub with a garden hose?
This will only take perhaps 45 minutes to an hour until full for most average size hot tubs, which normally hold around 500 gallons of water.
How long to fill the hot tub with a hose will vary on the water pressure in your particular area of course.
Does a hot tub need drainage?
When it comes to how to drain a hot tub, most hot tub owners do not have their hot tub connected to the drainage system of their house.
The two most common methods to empty a spa/hot tub without the need for proper drainage are:
- Probably the most common method is to use a submersible pump which will quickly empty it into your backyard or drains
- Another method is to use a garden hose or some other pipe to create a siphon which will slowly empty the hot tub water to an adjacent drain or another part of the backyard.
It is possible to connect certain types of hot tub to a drain as many have a drain outlet that you can open to allow the water to empty and this can be connected via pipes to your drainage system.
This is the one reason you may want to engage the services of a plumber to connect the drain outlet directly to the drainage system and you cannot make the proper connections yourself.
My second hot tub was originally installed on the top sun terrace of my apartment so just letting the water out wasn’t an option as it would have flooded the terrace. Therefore I connected it directly to the drain so to empty it I just had to open a valve.
You can read my post describing the various methods for emptying a hot tub in the post – How to drain a hot tub – 4 easy methods
Do you need an outside faucet for a hot tub?
Fortunately, provided you take good care of the spa, then you will not need to empty and refill the hot tub too often – certainly no more than once per month and often significantly less frequently than that.
In theory, you do not need an outside faucet/tap in order to be able to fill a hot tub with water, although, assuming your hot tub is located outside in your backyard/garden, having an outside tap will make things easier.
To fill a hot tub without an outside tap you could even go as low-tech as using buckets. Of course, that would take lots of time but on the plus side, it would certainly keep you fit.
Another option would be to use an adapter on your kitchen faucet and attach a hose to that to fill your hot tub. This is the method I used for my first hot tub which was located inside not outdoors.
Do you need a hot tub electrician to install a hot tub?
Some hot tubs, mostly inflatable versions, for example, require no special electrical installation and you can just plug into a regular electrical outlet and run using 110v electricity.
However, most hot tubs and spas need a 220/240v power supply. Consult the owner’s manual to check what are the electrical requirements of your hot tub model.
In the US or Canada this will almost certainly mean that you will need the services of a certified electrician to run the proper electrical wiring.
In the UK, although your supply will be 220/240v, you will still need to have a dedicated electrical supply to the hot tub and not simply plug it into a socket.
Whichever country you are in then it will be essential that the hot tub will need to be on a separate supply to your main power board, with a separate higher-rated breaker (usually 50 amps) than most of your domestic circuits.
Unless your hot tub installation is on a site a great distance from your home then the costs of installing safe electrical wiring should not be too high.
This is the electrical installation for my ArcticSpas hot tub as an example.
Do I need a permit for a hot tub?
Fortunately, in most states and cities in the US, and anywhere in the UK, a permit is not required if you need to install a standalone hot tub or spa on your property, whether you are installing an inside or outdoor hot tub.
You may wish to contact your local authority in order to get the definitive answer for the area you live in.
Installations of a built-in hot tub, perhaps as part of a swimming pool installation, may need a permit but this will probably fall within the building permit for the entire pool complex.
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How close can a hot tub be to a house?
Your new hot tub can be located pretty much anywhere you wish, that is provided the ground it will be sitting on is strong enough to hold the hot tub and its water, which will weigh a considerable amount when filled. This can be on a concrete foundation, on a deck, a floor indoors or even a rooftop terrace.
The hot tub installation can also be up against a house wall if that suits your particular situation.
My current hot tub is set right up against the back wall of my house and has been for the past 8 years. Prior to that this same hot tub was on the sun terrace of my apartment right up against a wall.
Previously, my first hot tub was in a location inside my conservatory/sunroom and again was set up right next to a wall. None of these installations led to any problems at all with either the spas themselves or the walls they were/are set against.
If the hot tub is located directly up against a house wall then you need to make sure that it is orientated with the side that is least likely to need to be opened to gain access to repair any problems. If you do not and, for example, you placed the side with the controls, pump, heater and other components next to a wall then having even a minor issue might prove a real headache as the hot tub will probably need to be drained and moved to gain proper access.
In a few states in the US it seems that a hot tub cannot be installed in a location that is closer than 5 feet from the property line, not the actual house.
Important: You should not site your hot tub anywhere that there are overhead power lines in the immediate vicinity – for obvious reasons!
Can you put a hot tub on grass?
Although this may seem like a good simple idea, allowing your hot tub to sit directly on the grass in your backyard is not a good idea.
Firstly, a full hot tub can weigh upwards of 5000lbs and although your grassed area may seem solid, that amount of weight will probably mean the hot tub will slowly sink over time.
Also, the base of the hot tub will continually soak up moisture from the ground which will lead to rotting.
Ideally your hot tub installation site should be on a suitable concrete slab or patio with a good foundation. They can also be situated on a suitably strengthened deck.
I have had hot tubs for many years and a pool for the last 9 years. I had to learn how to clean, maintain and fix them the hard way. Since then I have helped many friends and neighbors with their pools and now I want to share everything I have learned with you.