Hot Tub Setup: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether it’s your first time attempting a hot tub setup or you’re hooking up a replacement spa, we have a step-by-step set of instructions to help get you going! We know that it can seem intimidating, but if you take it one small step at a time, it is completely doable.


Getting a hot tub installed is one of those things that kind of requires a plan before you have a plan. You need to be sure of where your hot tub will go, whether inside or out.

First, check out your city’s building code to learn how far away from your home you must place the hot tub. Many codes requires at least 5 feet between your home and/or the property line. It also typically needs to be 10 feet away from any overhead power lines.

When you’ve got an appropriate place picked out, make sure you select an area that is firm and level, preferably with a perimeter boardwalk like a cement slab or decking that will decrease the amount of debris inadvertently brought into the water. You’ll be glad you made this choice when you’re not fishing leaves and dirt clods out of your filter.

Make sure the spot is prepared before delivery. Keep in mind that if you order a 220V spa, it will need to be connected by a licensed electrician.

Familiarize yourself with your unit’s owner’s manual. If any of the advice in this article contradicts what is suggested in your specific owner’s manual, go with that first. This is a generalized guide.

Once your spa has been placed in its spot, it won’t be long before it’s ready to use!

Prep the Equipment

Make sure all the electrical power to the equipment at your circuit breaker is TURNED OFF before you get started because you’ll need to access the equipment inside your spa cabinet. Power connected to an empty spa can activate critical components like the controls and heaters and if power is supplied there, those elements may be damaged and void the warranty.

Open up your spa cabinet so that you can assess all of the equipment.

Check to make sure all your unions on either side of the pump or heater are hand-tight. Then open your gate valves, if they aren’t open already. This allows water to flow through your pump, heater, and into the spa.

Double check to make sure that your drain valve is closed for when you fill up your hot tub.

Before filling, clean the interior of your spa with a mild, non-foaming cleanser. Don’t use a typical household cleaner as it will affect your water chemistry, making it unnecessarily difficult to balance. A product like Spa Pure Spa Cleaner will be mild on your spa shell and is easily diluted when the unit is filled with water.


DON’T fill your spa with hot water. You run the risk of tripping off the high-limit thermostat and harming your equipment. Instead, your typical household garden house will do the trick.

Before you fill the water, make sure your hot tub filter is installed. This helps to make sure your spa water is properly filtered form the start.

Close all drains and fill the tub with water by placing the hose down the center of the standpipe in the filter compartment to minimize airlocks in the equipment. The water will fill through the heater, pumps, and jets which pushes the air out of the lines.

Use a hose-end filter to reduce impurities coming from your hose like iron, lead, and other contaminants that are often present in fill water.

Fill the water level to what is specified in your owner’s manual. Low water levels can be damaging to your pump and heater. Typically, you should fill the water at a level 1-1/2 to 2 inches above the highest jet.

Power On

Once it’s been filled, re-open the equipment door on your spa cabinet and check for any leaks around the fitting areas. These can be hand-tightened if you see any water running around the unions. DO NOT use a wrench as you can crack the nut and make the leak worse.

After the spa has been filled with water and the equipment compartment door is secured, power must be applied. If you’re sure there are no leaks, you can close the cabinet door and turn the power on to the unit at the circuit breaker. Most units should begin to heat the water immediately.

It can take anywhere from 7-24 hours to adequately heat your water, depending on size and voltage of the unit. Check all of your buttons on the hot tub’s control panel and make sure all the jets are working properly. If not, something may have been damaged in transit and you’ll want to get that reported as soon as possible.


Balance your water before you introduce any sanitizer. Having properly balanced water is a crucial element in helping your equipment function properly and keeping any bathers healthy and content. It can be a tricky and tedious task in the beginning but the more you do it, the more it becomes just another aspect of your routine.

Add your spa chemicals directly into the filter compartment with the jet pump on high for at least 10 minutes.

It’s important to first adjust your total alkalinity. When TA is out of balance, it will negatively affect your ability to adjust pH or sanitizer levels correctly. Get your pH and calcium hardness adjusted as well.

Now is the time to add your sanitizer. Whether you use chlorine, bromine, or some alternative form of sanitizer, add it into the water and rue the clean cycle or run the jets on high for 10 minutes to circulate the water. After the filter cycle has concluded, test the spa water and adjust as necessary.

The spa is ready when the water has circulated and the chlorine level remains between 3-5 ppm (or whatever level is appropriate for the sanitizer you’re using. Whether you’re a new hot tub owner or someone replacing an older unit, you’ll quickly have your purchase validated as soon as you have a nice, long soak.


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