Whether you are planning a new pool construction or looking for extreme pool renovation ideas, adding an attached spa to your inground pool kit is not as complicated as it seems! Here's an FAQ style, question and answer format on installing an attached spa or hot tub to your inground vinyl pool. Let me know by comment if you have any other questions!
Benefits of Inground Hot Tubs
- Relaxing after a vigorous swim
- Great for relaxed conversations
- Small children love the "little pool"
- Relieves muscle and joint stiffness
What surface options do I have for adding a spa to my pool?There are a couple of different surface options that you can choose, most vinyl liner pool owners will opt for the drop-in pre-fab shell, made of fiberglass or acrylic. You could construct it of steel, gunite and stone, but the job is considerably more involved. For this reason, I usually recommend for a vinyl pool kit, use a pre-fab spa shell for a quick installation
What other options do I have with attached spas?
The traditional spa may have one underwater light, usually a halogen bulb. You can upgrade with additional lighting, or use colored LED lights. LED spa lights can have fully programmable light shows - with a remote control to change the color, sequence or brightness.
The traditional attached spas usually have five or six jets, and as they increase in size, more jets are added. There are many different types of jets; such as swirl jets, massage jets, and oscillating jets.
A nice touch that can be added to your spa is a bubbling system. Bubbles are created with an air blower for a relaxing, stress reducing effect. The air increases the volume of water directed through the jets, and the force feels much stronger when you add air to the line. Blowers are usually controlled by a spa-side remote switch that will turn on the blower, installed near the filter pump.
The size of the spa depends upon how much room you want to devote to the spa. The typical spa is built for 4-6 people. Diameters range from 4' to 8', or larger, with smaller spas seating 2-3 people, and larger spas that can comfortably seat 6-8 adults. The number of jets increases according to the size of the spa. Larger spas may require a booster pump to adequately power the increase in the number of jets, whereas small to medium sized spas can be powered by your existing filter pump.
There is a wide selection of colors with an acrylic or fiberglass spa. Most people choose an acrylic finish spa due to the wide variety of colors, such as grey, tan, blue or green. Swirl effects are also available. Acrylic shells have a lustrous finish, similar to the type found on above ground, portable spas.
Do I need a separate pump and filter?You can control a spa attached to a pool, using your existing pool equipment and a multi-function control system. This allows you to use the spa independently of your pool or use both pool and spa at the same time. The spa and pool can share the same pump, filter and heater. Automatic valves will allow you to click a button to isolate the spa piping, and with a gas pool heater, increase the temperature 1-2 degrees per minute. You can, of course, connect an inground spa to a separate pump, filter and heater system, if desired. Another option is to install a portable spa shell, sunken into a wooden deck, next to the pool, operated with it's own integrated spa pak.
Do I need a cover? What type of spa cover?You absolutely need a cover. You need a cover whether the spa is concrete, acrylic or fiberglass. We recommend that a secure safety cover be used. This will protect the spa in the winter and keep debris out as well as for safety reasons. It also protects animals and people from hurting themselves if they fall in the spa. For best heat retention, an insulated hard cover is recommended. A secondary floating cover can also be used. For safety purposes, your spa should have a safety cover or strap and anchor system to keep the cover secure in high winds, and unable to be opened by young children.
Will I have to do anything chemically different to my spa water?For separate systems, or portable spas used with water that is separate from the pool, we recommend that you test the water daily, as well as before and after using the spa, using a test strip kit or liquid testing kit. The water in the hot tub should be changed every 1-3 months, depending on your usage. If your spa is connected to the pool equipment, then your spa uses the same water as the pool, so no separate testing or balancing is needed. As you treat your pool water, your spa water will also be treated.
Can I have my spa overflowing into my pool?Yes, that's the usual way. Most inground spas attached to your pool have what we call a spillway, and the water from the spa overflows into the pool. This makes it easier to control your water level in both your pool and spa. It also helps the spa stay cleaner, as it is constantly circulating and overflowing into the pool.
What's better, a pool/spa combo, or a portable spa?It depends on what your intentions are for the spa; relaxation after swimming, or therapy and stress relief. Keep in mind that when a spa is attached to the pool, your season of use may be limited. You can keep an inground spa open while the pool is closed, but the cost can be high to heat it and keep the pumps running, if you are located in the snowbelt. You can just enjoy it as an added bit of value to your now longer pool season. For those in the southern U.S., adding a spa means more pool enjoyment year around.
For those pool owners in the snowbelt, if you plan to use your spa year round, a portable spa may be a better option. You can still place it close to the pool or sink the spa shell in a wooden deck next to the pool. But not too far from the back door. When it's cold outside, no one wants to walk a long distance to get to the spa. Portable spas are usually installed on a deck or patio, near the house. The shorter the walk, the more you will use it.
No matter which way you go, integrated inground spa or separate above ground spa - the enjoyment and relaxation is the same. Sit back on a chilly evening and look at the stars in 102 degree water - what's better than that? If you have more questions that come to mind about your spa or hot tub project, leave a comment below, or give us a call at 800-983-7665.
SPP Pool Expert