Spa drain hookup (C) Daniel FriedmanDrain & Winterize a Hot Tub or Whirlpool Bath
How to drain a hot tub or spa & protect from freeze damage

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Hot tub & spa or whirlpool bath draining & winterizing procedures:

This article describes how to drain a hot tub, spa, Jacuzzi, or whirlpool bath tub to take the system out of service. We also discuss steps in winterizing or freeze-damage protection for hot tubs, spas, and similar bath tubs.

In these articles we describe the use, operation, maintenance as well as common problems, troubleshooting, & repair suggestions for hot tubs, spas, and whirlpool baths. We discuss hot tub leaks, broken hot tub or spa jets, hot tub or spa water temperature & heater repair, hot tub or spa pump diagnosis & repair, hot tub or spa filter maintenance, cleaning & repair, noisy air pumps at hot tubs, noisy water pumps at the hot tub or spa, and other hot tub, spa or whirlpool bath diagnosis & repair topics.

Page top photo, a Hawkeye Products hot tub or spa installed in Minnesota serving as an example of of repair & maintenance topics in this article. This spa was installed ca 1995 and is still in operation.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

How to Empty or Drain the Hot Tub or Spa & how to Winterize the Hot Tub

How to drain a hot tub (C) Daniel FriedmanDrain The Hot Tub or Spa & its Piping

If the spa or hot tub is to be left out of service for a protracted period or left out of service where it may be exposed to freezing, the tub should be drained completely and water should be removed from the filter canister as well.

Drain the tub, scoop out and remove any remaining water from the tub or spa, and open, empty, and allow the filter canister to dry.

We used the same hose as used to fill the hot tub, this time connecting it to a convenient drain valve on the spa piping. This drain is a bit higher than the very bottom of the spa, so the last bit of water must be hand-bailed out of the spa interior if you need to completely empty the tub.

Notice that the drain valve is in line with and opens slightly below the spa pump outlet. This drain should totally empty the wet end of our tub circulating pump. If that won't happen for your tub pump you'll need to open a dran plug on the wet end bottom (if present) or you'll use a shop vac to draw any remaining water out of the pump impeller assembly.

Chuck and other hot tub service techs have pointed out that if you are about to re-fill the hot tub or whirlpool tub to return it to service after draining (tubs in continuous use and maintenance are drained about 4 times a year) then it's not necessary to remove all water from the tub nor from its filter canister; new water placed into the system combined with shock and then maintenance tretament with an appropriate disinfectant will handle the condition of that small volume of old water that remained in the system.

But if you are winterizing the whirlpool tub and need to leave it dry to avoid freeze damage, you want to remove all water from all system components.

Bail out the remaining water from the tub bottom. If necessary, use a wet-dry shop-vacuum to remove water from the pump, tub piping, jets, and the filter assembly (if the filter does not have its own drain).

Remove the Filter Cartridge

Leave the filter cartridge out to dry so that it can be more easily cleaned when returning the system to service. Hayward also recommends storing filter cartridges indoors - presumably in a dry location not subject to freezing.

Removing the whirlpool tub filter cartridge (C) Daniel Friedman

Drain the Filter Cartridge Canister

Open the drain valve at the bottom of the filter canister to drain out water remaining in this component.

Drain valve at the base of a hot tub or whirlpool tub filter canister (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: Hot tub or spa installations whose bottom is lower than the available drain valves are normally installed over a floor drain so that water spilling under the system can drain away safely. But Jacuzzis and similar whirlpool baths or spas installed in some homes are placed right onto a plywood subfloor with no under-tub drain. Avoid spilling water under such units as doing so may damage the plywood subfloor, leak into a ceiling below, or cause costly water and mold damage to the building.

Leave the spa filter where it can dry and leave the filter canister open.

Hot tub filter and canister after winterizing (C) Daniel Friedman

I take care that nothing is pressing on the canister gasket where it may leave a dent or damage the gasket as I don't want a leaky filter gasket when the system is returned to service.

Leave Access Panels Off Until Below-Tub Areas are Dry

I leave the hot tub access panels open for a week or as long as necessary for everything in that space to be dry. If you spilled water under the hot tub or spa or if you are leaving a wet filter canister therein, don't close up the space or you risk a nasty mold contamination problem.

Whirlpool access panel left open to dry space below (C) Daniel Friedman

You can speed the dry-out of the space below and around the whirlpool tub, spa, or hot tub by using a fan or even a fan plus a nearby dehumidifier to recirculate dry air under the tub.

Watch out: when leaving the under-tub access area open be sure that electrical power is off and that all chemicals are left out of reach of children.

What if I can't Get All Water Out of the Hot Tub, Spa, or Whirlpool Tub?

For a hot tub with components that cannot be fully drained, it may be possible to use a safe, food-grade antifreeze in the system. For that case, ask your tub manufacturer for advice about safe use of non-toxic antifreeze in the system.


Also see ANTIFREEZE for BOILERS where we discuss non-toxic antifreeze products.

Turn Off Electrical Power to the Hot Tub or Jacuzzi / Spa

If you haven't already done so, turn off electrical power to the hot tub or whirlpool bath. This step reduces the chance of pump motor damage from running the pump dry and it leaves the system a bit safer too.

Hot tub or spa circuit breaker switched OFF (C) Daniel Friedman

While you are at the electrical panel,

Electrical panel label indicates Whirlpool Bath circuit breaker (C) Daniel Friedman


Continue reading at SPA / HOT TUB REPAIR PARTS, SUPPLIES, SERVICES, or if your spa or hot tub needs repair see SPA HOT TUB WHIRLPOOL REPAIRS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see these

Article Series Contents

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SPA / HOT TUB DRAIN / WINTERIZING PROCEDURE at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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