When most people are considering buying and installing a hot tub or spa one of the things they invariably ask is – do hot tubs require 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 I need to install plumbing with my new hot tub?
A hot tub or spa can be considered a completely self-sufficient unit when it comes to hot tub plumbing requirements. There is no need to permanently connect your hot tub to your water supply when filling it and it doesn’t need to be connected to your drainage system to empty it either (although you could – more on that below).
This makes hot tub installation easy in most instances.
Most people with a hot tub located outside in their backyard will simply fill it with a garden hose. This will only take perhaps 30 minutes until full for most average size hot tubs, which normally hold around 500 gallons of water.
When it comes to emptying, 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 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 my post – How to drain a hot tub – 4 easy methods
Do you need an outside tap 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 tap/faucet 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 an electrician to install a hot tub?
Some hot tubs, most inflatable versions, for example, require no special electrical installation and which you can just plug into a regular electricity 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 in to 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 for this 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.
Hot Tub Maintenance Course
I bought this course some months after I bought my first hot tub and was struggling with maintaining it. It was money very well spent and it has paid for itself many times over the years.
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 it 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 any closer than 5 feet from the property line, not the actual house.
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.