Can You Use an Inground Hot Tub in the Winter?

In most differences between pools and hot tubs, pools come out ahead. But hot tubs can be budget-friendly and, it turns out, season friendly as well. While swimming pools’ scale makes running them in the winter too costly to be worth the upsides, the same doesn’t apply to hot tubs.

You can use an inground hot tub in the winter as it will not freeze, provided you keep it at a specific temperature or drain it after use. With careful use, you are safe and can arguably enjoy yourself more due to the temperature contrast between the winter weather and the hot water.

In this article, we will look at the best practices of running an inground hot tub in the winter. Moreover, we will see whether running a hot tub in freezing weather is worth it or not. In doing so, we will address tub position and size; but that comes later. For now, let’s look at the things to keep in mind when using a hot tub in winters.

Take Care of The Lid

Snowfall can damage even RV roofs that are built to be sturdy. So when your inground hot tub lid sits exposed to snowfall, it can end up carrying weight beyond its capacity. Most often, this damages the foam inserts in the vinyl sleeves. Slide the tub lid off with care and make sure nothing falls into the tub. Ideally, a hard-top gazebo or a canopy of sorts should be used to keep snow from falling onto your hot tub’s lid.

Prevent Extended Exposure

Usually, it isn’t harmful to dip into a hot tub while the weather is freezing. However, coming out wet is risky. Your body gets cold rapidly when it is wet so having an exit plan is essential. Make sure there are no obstacles that extend your stay outside. 

Since most inground hot tubs are outside and can even be a significant distance away from one’s home, having a thick bathrobe to quickly throw on can be helpful. Do not stand out in the open and attempt to dry yourself; the upside of being dry is overshadowed by the risks of being out in the open. Have your slacks and bathrobe ready, and hurry while making your way into the house.

Have a Room Heater Ready

It feels good to be in a hot tub while it is cold outside. However, when you get outside, you have to contend with the contrast. This often involves getting cold in a painfully obvious and abrupt fashion. 

Many people tremble after a hot shower as well, so this isn’t exclusive to hot tubs. Still, it is relevant to hot tubs as it is to any hot bath or shower: make sure that when you reach indoors, you have your room warmed up and towels at hand to be completely dry. Depending on whether your hot tub had chemicals or not, you might need a shower afterward. Obviously, that must be warm as well.

Make Sure the Hot Tub is Hot.

Finally, you have to ensure that the hot tub is operating at the right temperature. Being wet makes one more sensitive to the cold, which is why water has to be hotter during the winter. Ironically, hot water has a stronger initial sting in freezing weather, which can often persuade people not to bathe in higher temperatures. This is risky as they can catch a cold or even get immobilized in the tub. Ideally, one must set between 98 to 100 degrees.

Going higher than 100 degrees can lead to drowning in sleep. Hot water can make you sleepy during winters, and people have reportedly slept and drowned doing so. Going lower than 80 degrees is risky as well because, as mentioned above, your body can get rapidly cold when you climb out of the tub.

Hot Tub in the Winter: Is it Worth It?

So, you can use your hot tub in the winter without damaging it. You can also be safe as long as you take proper precautions. The question, now, is whether the hassle is worth it. While the actual answer may be subjective, here is a contextual one:

Not Worth It: Large Hot Tub far From Home

If you have a large hot tub, it probably requires chemicals, even for short-term use. As a result, every time you soak in it, you have to take a subsequent shower. When your body gets hot, then becomes cold as you walk back to your house, and then gets hot with a warm shower, you’re inviting cold and flu. Moreover, bigger tubs are easy to make big mistakes with. 

Temperature control, climbing out and getting the lid off all become larger tasks with slightly larger consequences. Add to that the distance between the tub and your bedroom, and it becomes quite evidently not worth the trouble.

Worth It: Small Hot Tub Inside or Close to Home

If your hot tub is a stone’s throw away from your home, you might be able to pull off running it in the winter, primarily because it will minimize your exposure to the cold and will be easy to maintain. 

The fact that you can use the hot tub without over chlorinating it is ideal as you won’t need to take a warm shower right after. But even if you have to wash off tub-maintenance chemicals, you won’t be getting a hot shower after extended cold exposure, given that the tub is inside or very close to your house.

Up for Debate: Small Hot Tub far From Home

A large hot tub close to one’s home can still be run without the hassle, and the chemical-ridding shower doesn’t affect one’s health as much because there’s no prolonged cold exposure preceding it. In contrast, if your tub is at the edge of your backyard, it doesn’t even matter that it might be free of pool chemicals, walking a long distance while you’re wet is a risk only you can decide the worthiness of.

Final Thoughts

The only reason pools aren’t open in the winter is that they’re too big. You make a pool small enough and shelter it from snow, and you have yourself a hot tub you can use in winters. But if you don’t find operating it worth the drawbacks, you can winterize your hot tub and stick to warm showers during the cold weather.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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