Having to drain your hot tub is something you will have to do from time to time as part of your hot tub care routine as the only way to thoroughly clean it is when it is empty.
There are four main ways to drain a hot tub:
- Using a submersible pump
- Through the hot tub drain plug
- Siphon with a garden hose
- Using a wet/dry vacuum
I will go into each method in detail below.
Four methods to drain a hot tub plus a bonus
There are a number of ways to drain your hot tub I have described below, all of which I have used at some time or another when carrying out hot tub cleaning over the past 20 years that I have owned hot tubs.
I have a separate article you may wish to read If you want to how often you should change your hot tub water.
Whichever method you use to remove the hot tub water, the first thing you should do is switch off the electricity to the hot tub. You do not want the pump running while the hot tub is emptying as that could lead to damage.
I would recommend that you remove the hot tub filters from the filter compartment too before you start to drain your hot tub. This helps to prevent an airlock and ensure that the dirty water in the pipes also drains.
1. Using a submersible pump to drain a hot tub
This is quite a good way to remove the water from your hot tub and it is certainly easy and very quick too.
Obviously, if you don’t have a submersible pump then you will need to buy one, but as you will be emptying your hot tub every 3 months then it will be money well spent as it will save you time in the future.
They are not too expensive and since it will not be pumping a huge volume of water, unlike emptying a swimming pool, it doesn’t need to be too powerful either.
A pump similar to the Superior Pump 91250 1/4hp available on Amazon would work perfectly well.
You just need to connect a hose, drop the pump into the hot tub and switch it on. Job done!
It used to take me about 10 minutes to drain all of the water out of my hot tub using this method.
The following show how to drain a hot tub without a pump:
2. How to drain a hot tub with a hose
This is probably the easiest way to drain a hot tub without a pump.
You may struggle to do this on a totally flat site (and definitely if your hot tub is below ground level). When I was in the UK my garden was on a slope away from the house, so I always used this method.
How to go about it:
- Put one end of a garden hose into the hot tub (after switching the electricity off to the hot tub).
- The bottom of the hose may start to float so I actually had a small metal weight I used to tie to that end of the hose to keep it down at the bottom of the footwell. You could get someone to hold it at the bottom too.
- Run out the hose to a convenient area of the garden where the water can drain out or into a sewage input/drain. Make sure the end of the hose is below the level of the other end in the tub otherwise the siphoning effect will not begin.
- Suck on the hose to get the water starting to flow but make sure you do not raise it above the other end.
- When the level of the water in the tub goes below the seats use a brush or something else convenient to push the water that sits in them into the foot well so that is also siphoned out.
- Inevitably not everything gets siphoned out so use a sponge and a bucket to remove the last of the water.
It used to take about an hour to drain all of the water out using this method.
If you don’t feel like sucking on the hose to start the siphon (so you won’t get a mouthful of dirty water) then you can buy a self-starting siphon hose which can also be used as a hot tub vacuum to get the sand and other heavy dirt out.
The Shake-a-Vac Spa & Pool Water Vacuum & Self-Starting Siphon Drain for Hot Tubs shown below is available on Amazon.
3. Use the hot tub drain valve
Most hot tubs have a drain valve (sometimes called a spigot, drain plug or spa drain) which you can utilize to empty it. My current hot tub was originally on the sun terrace of our apartment and was actually plumbed into the drain so that I could empty it by just opening a valve.
When I had it moved to my house there was no suitable drain nearby so I now use my submersible pump or the method shown below.
Where is the drain plug on a hot tub? On most hot tubs you will probably need to remove a side panel to find the drain valve and then connect a hose, a pool backwash hose or even plumb it in permanently to an existing drain nearby, depending on your particular situation.
You can buy these drain valves which allow a hose to be connected easily.
When the level of the water in the hot tub goes below the seats use a brush or something else convenient to push the water that sits in them into the foot well so that is also drained out.
It used to take about 40 minutes to drain all of the water out using this method.
4. Use a shop vac or wet/dry vacuum
Some types of vacuum cleaners can be used to pump water. These are normally known as either shop vacs or wet/dry vacuums.
You can push the hose down into the hot tub and then pump the water into a convenient drain if there is one nearby. You should be able to vacuum most of the water that normally remains in the bottom of the hot tub using other methods.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying one especially to drain the water from your hot tub (as buying a submersible pump might be a better idea), but if you already have one then you can consider using it.
It used to take about half an hour to drain all of the water out using this method.
Bonus method: Use your pool’s pump system
This is certainly the fastest method I know of how to drain a hot tub quickly as it empties in less than 5 minutes.
But of course, many would not be able to use this method as you need to have a swimming pool that is close to the hot tub.
Fortunately, my hot tub is next to my pool so a few times I have used the pool’s pump system to empty the hot tub (very quickly) by connecting the vacuum hose, putting the multiport valve to waste and switching on the pump with the other end of the hose in the hot tub.
The hot tub water is sucked out and goes through the pool pump and out through a backwash hose.
I managed to empty my hot tub in less than 5 minutes using this method.
Hot Tub Maintenance Course
I bought Swim University’s Hot Tub Maintenance Course a while 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 as I have saved by not needing to use as many chemicals as I did previously.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER to visitors of this site
Use the discount code EASY10 at checkout to save 10% on this Swim University course.
How to get water out of the bottom of a hot tub
Whatever method you use to drain a hot tub, inevitably you will be left with about an inch at the bottom. I have tried a few methods to remove this but in the end, I always just fall back to using a bucket and a large sponge to remove this water.
You will have to get into the hot tub to do this but with a large sponge (the sort you might wash your car with) you can soak up the water in no time and squeeze it into the bucket. It only takes a few minutes and then you are done.
How long does it take to drain a hot tub?
Depending on the method you use it can take anything from an hour if siphoning the water with a hose to only 10 minutes if using a submersible pump.
Whichever method you use the hot tub will not be emptied completely so you will have to manually drain the remainder which will probably take an additional 10 minutes.
How long can a hot tub stay empty?
You can leave a hot tub empty for as long as you need to as long as you give it some protection.
If it is outside, you should cover the hot tub to protect it from rain, from sunlight and also from getting dirty. If it will sit empty over winter you will need to ensure that there is no water in the tub or in the pipework so that it will not become damaged during freezing weather.
If the hot tub is inside then apart from perhaps covering to keep dust off you shouldn’t need to do anything more.
More hot tub information
Draining a hot tub FAQs
Can you drain a hot tub on grass?
Draining water onto a lawn might damage the grass due to the amount of chlorine (or bromine) in the water. Although most people use city fresh water on a lawn and that contains chlorine although not as much as in the hot tub.
Is hot tub water bad for plants?
Due to the amount of chlorine (or bromine) in hot tub water then directly watering most plants with it may not be a good idea. However, draining the hot tub into an area of the garden where there are fewer plants should not do any harm.
Is hot tub water grey water?
Hot tub water is considered grey water, just as bath water and other water used in the home is.
I have had hot tubs for over 20 years and a pool for the last 10 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. About Me