Hot Tub Filter FAQ: All Your Questions Answered

Are you one of the many lucky people who can enjoy the benefits of soaking in a hot tub at home?

Do you love having a hot tub in your backyard but hate the problems that come along with it?

That’s very understandable. Although hot tubs are relaxing and fun, they can also be a bit of a challenge to take care of. Maintaining a hot tub at home can be very difficult, especially when things start to go wrong.

Of course, the positives of having a hot tub far outweigh the negatives. When you have a hot tub, you can enjoy a hot soak in bubbling water anytime you feel like it.

Most hot tubs for backyard use are installed above ground, but some can be placed in-ground instead for a truly incredible experience.

No matter which type of hot tub you have, most work pretty much the same. They are filled with treated water and feature several jets around the hot tub to make the water bubble and froth. There are usually seats inside the hot tub as well, which can provide a place to relax while soaking.

Though there are many great reasons to have a hot tub in your home, there are several problems that might arise too. In this article, I’ll teach you about common hot tub problems and how to troubleshoot them.

Read on to learn more.

Q: What is a Hot Tub Filter?

If you’ve ever seen a fish tank, you probably know how a water filter works. The filter in your hot tub isn’t really any different, but it does work on a much larger scale. These filters are designed to process the water that goes into your hot tub and remove dirt, sediment, debris, and even some unwanted minerals before the water touches your body.

All hot tub filters are either cartridge style filters, sand filters, or diatomaceous earth filters. Cartridge filters are very easy to clean and can usually just be rinsed out with a water hose. They are made from durable materials such as polyester that allow for water to pass through while other types of matter are trapped in the filter. The entire filtration system is usually contained within the filter cartridge. This means that water is pre-filtered and then completely filtered through the same cartridge.

made from durable materials

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Cartridge filters are usually cheaper and much easier to maintain than other types of filters. They are the most common, and they are by far the most popular as well.

Sand filters are usually large, round balls packed with sterile sand. The water is filtered through this sand so that any unwanted particles can be caught through a very natural method. This version of a filtration system doesn’t work as well as other types, and it catches the least amount of dirt. However, it’s very popular with hot tub owners who are looking for an all-natural way to keep their water filtered. These filters must be cleaned very often, and this uses a lot of water. Therefore, this is an expensive type of filter to maintain.

Diatomaceous earth filters are made from the remains of diatoms that have been fossilized and processed into a fine white powder. This is a very common form of filtration that is almost as popular as the cartridge filter. Some cartridge filters also include this type of filtration powder as part of their setup.

Q: When Should I Replace My Hot Tub Filter?

One of the major causes of hot tub filter issues is forgetting to replace the filter at the right time. It’s important to know how often to change hot tub filter cartridges as well as how frequently the whole filter might need to be replaced. When you stay up to date on making these changes, your hot tub and its filter will last much longer, and you’ll enjoy a better quality of water with every soak, too.

  • How long do hot tub filters last? Depending on you filter brand, it might last anywhere from two to five years. However, most tend to run out after two to three years. Your filter’s instruction manual should give you more specifics, but if not, assume you should change filters in about two years.
  • If you use your hot tub more frequently, such as several times a week, your filter’s lifespan may not be quite as long. Regular use of the hot tub may make the filter wear out in about half the usual amount of time. This is normal, but remember to check your filter more frequently if you use your hot tub often.
  • If you have very hard water, you might also need to change your hot tub filter more often. Hard water can build up calcium deposits in your filter, and although you won’t notice this in the water itself, it can be very damaging to the filter.
  • Replace filters earlier than every two years if you notice the filter turning brown or green, or if it starts to come apart during regular cleaning.
  • Every now and then, the filter cartridge might break from extended use. It will need to be replaced when this happens as well.

Q: How Can I Change My Hot Tub Filter?

It’s important to know how to change hot tub filter components when the time comes, as well as how frequently to take care of this important maintenance step. Remember that each hot tub is different, and the best way to find out how to remove hot tub filter pieces and change the filter in your specific model is to refer to your instruction manual. However, this may not always be a viable solution, especially if you’ve had your hot tub for a while and have misplaced the instruction manual. Follow the steps below to change just about any hot tub filter when the time comes.

  • Hot tub filters should be changed every two years in most cases. This time may be longer if you have a heavy-duty filter or shorter if you use your hot tub frequently or forget to cover it very often. Check it once a year to be sure it looks as clean as possible, but remember that you might not need to replace it this often.
  • Many hot tub owners alternate filters so one can soak and dry completely without any downtime between hot tub uses. If you do this, it’s a good idea to keep a note somewhere that you won’t lose it to help you remember how many times you’ve used each filter.
  • The first step toward changing your hot tub filter is finding it. Turn off the hot tub and, if possible, turn off the breaker to the power supply. Drain the hot tub completely of water before you start looking for the filter. The filter piece will look like a small bucket or another holder that should be visible without removing any of the other components or pieces. Your instruction manual can tell you exactly where to look, but it shouldn’t be hard to find.
  • Your filter cartridge may be as easy to remove as a simple twist. However, some cartridges are screwed in, so you might need a screwdriver to remove it. You should be able to tell just by looking whether or not you can remove your cartridge by hand. Whichever way you need to remove it, take it out to complete the next step.
  • Using the same process by which you removed the old filter, put the new filter into the container in your hot tub. Read the directions on the new filter to be sure you don’t need to soak it or rinse it first to prime it for use or to remove any unwanted pieces of filter media material.
  • When the filter has been completely installed, return power to the hot tub and replace the water you drained away. Turn the hot tub on and let it run to cycle the filter for at least 4 hours.

Q: How Can I Clean My Hot Tub Filter?

Understanding how to clean a hot tub filter is a very necessary part of owning a hot tub. If you don’t clean the filter, you’ll have to deal with very dirty, grimy water that won’t be safe to soak in. Over time, as the filter backs up and clogs, the hot tub will most likely stop working altogether. A very badly clogged filter is a sure path to a broken hot tub water pump, which is an expensive problem to fix and can mean the end of your hot tub. By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to enjoy a clean and functioning hot tub at all times.

a clean and functioning hot tub

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  • Every two weeks, check your filter. Take a look at it and see how it seems to be holding up. If it doesn’t look yellow or brown, all you’ll really need to do at this point is just use your fingers to pick out any large items like sticks and leaves that might have gotten trapped in the filter media.
  • Every month, rinse your filter. If you have a cartridge filter, which is the most common version of hot tub filtration, all you’ll need to do is rinse it out with a garden hose. Use a strong setting on your hose so you can get some good water pressure, and just focus it on the filter media. This will remove any hair and other larger items that might have gotten caught here.
  • Every three months, do a deep cleaning. Remove the hot tub filter media and place it in a large bucket filled with enough water to completely cover the filter. Add 8 ounces of any filter cleaning solution to the water. Most home improvement stores will carry various brands of this solution, but you can also use the specific type recommended in your hot tub’s instruction manual. If your filter is extremely dirty, you might want to double the amount of solution you add to the water.
  • Let the filter soak for 24 hours, then remove it and rinse it again with your garden hose to completely remove any soap or solution still clinging to it.
  • Let the filter dry completely before you put it back into the hot tub. If possible, let it dry in the sun for a faster drying time.
  • Remember to never put your filter cartridge in the dishwasher or washing machine. Don’t use a power washer to clean the cartridge, and don’t soak it in dish or laundry detergent. Only use the garden hose and a bucket of water to clean the cartridge, and only use filter cleaning solution made for hot tubs.

Q: Do I Really Need a Filter?

Now that you’ve seen all these details about replacing and cleaning filters, you might be wondering, “Can I run my hot tub without a filter at all?” It does seem like a lot of work to maintain a hot tub filter, but rest assured that it’s very well worth it. The filter is an important part of your hot tub that helps it function properly. It also helps keep you and your friends and family safe while soaking. Keep the following tips in mind when considering whether or not you can run your hot tub without a filter installed at all.

  • First and foremost, remember that the hot tub filter does have an important job. It’s there to catch unwanted contaminants from the water that flows into your hot tub, and it may protect you and your family by removing harsh sediments like calcium from the water supply. It can also catch larger items like sticks and leaves that might float around in the hot tub and cause damage or cut skin.
  • The hot tub filter also keeps debris from being sucked into the pump. The more debris that enters the pump, the more likely you are to see damage to the pump and its components. This is a much more expensive problem to fix than simply replacing a filter cartridge.
  • Removing the filter from your hot tub can also cause air to enter the pump. When this happens, the results are much the same as when debris enters the pump. You might end up with a completely broken pump or severely clogged pipes.
  • If you absolutely must run your hot tub with no filters installed, you can do so for a very short amount of time. It’s not recommended to do this for more than one hot tub cycle, which is about 20 minutes long.
  • Take note that some pumps and filters require one cycle to be run without any filter cartridges in place in order to prime them properly. Your instruction manual can give you more details if this is true of your hot tub.

Q: What Happens When My Filter Isn’t Working?

It’s inevitable that at some point during the course of your hot tub ownership, you’re going to run into some kind of trouble. Whether you find your hot tub not filtering, discover that the water isn’t getting hot enough, or even notice that the jets aren’t working properly, the filter is always a good place to start troubleshooting. The following tips will help you figure out whether or not the problem with your hot tub is really focused on your filter or not.

problem with your hot tub

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  • If the filter isn’t working, your water flow may be limited. This is usually because something very large is blocking the filter and keeping water from entering the hot tub properly. Clean the filter well or replace the cartridge to remedy this problem.
  • If your water isn’t getting hot enough, this could still have to do with your filter. There are a lot of other problems that could cause the water not to heat properly in your hot tub, but the filter is one of them. Keep it clean and replaced as necessary to be sure water is moving the right way through the hot tub.
  • You might find that your water doesn’t seem to be filtered at all when it reaches your hot tub. It may have a lot of debris in it, or it might be too hard on your skin while you’re soaking. If this is the case, your filter isn’t working right and should be replaced. In most instances, this just means replacing the filter cartridge. Rarely, the entire filter basket might need to be replaced. You can order this replacement part from the store where you purchased your hot tub, or directly from the hot tub manufacturer.
  • One of the biggest problems you can run into with your hot tub is the filter not working at all. This usually means the pump is shot. This may mean that you need to carefully remove all the air from the pump before you use it, or that there’s debris caught in the pump lines. It may also mean the jets and other components of your hot tub need to be cleaned to remove blockages. In a worst case scenario, parts of the pump may be broken and might need to be replaced.

Other Potential Hot Tub Problems To Look For

Hot tub owners must deal with a variety of different problems that might come up during the life of the hot tub. Below are just a few of the issues you might discover while learning how to better maintain your hot tub.

  • Poor heating. Heating your water is a very important part of having a hot tub. Without hot water, you only have a cold bath on your hands. In some cases, water in a hot tub takes much longer than it should in order to heat up properly. It might only get lukewarm at best, or it might take fifteen or more minutes to really get hot enough to enjoy. In other cases, the water might not heat up at all, leaving it completely cold no matter how long you let it try to heat. In both of these instances, the thermostat is the most likely culprit. The filter or the insulation in the hot tub may also be to blame.
  • Low water quality. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, you can’t do a lot about your water quality. However, you can work to add the right chemicals and treatments to your hot tub water to make it work correctly.
  • Cracked covers and frames. When left out in the elements, your hot tub’s cover and frame will slowly weaken and become more prone to cracks. If this happens, the hot tub may not function properly, and it may stop working altogether. It’s in your best interest to be sure you cover your hot tub when you aren’t using it.
  • Broken pumps. A broken pump will mean that your hot tub isn’t going to work at all. You need the pump to function in order to draw water into the hot tub. If it stops working, it will be expensive and difficult to replace. Unless you notice obvious signs that a pump is broken, like smoke coming from the pump, try all your other repair options first.

Of course, some of the biggest problems that have to do with hot tubs revolve around the filter. In the remainder of this article, many of the most common questions about hot tub filters will be addressed, and you will be provided tips and tricks for troubleshooting common filter troubles.

Conclusion

There is a lot to learn about working with a hot tub filter. If you’re a new hot tub owner, you might feel a little overwhelmed, but remember that most everything you need to know about your filter boils down to keeping it clean and replacing it every two years or so, or as necessary. Doing so can increase the lifespan of your hot tub and make all of the working parts involved in it functioning as well as possible for a long time to come.

Do you have any more questions other than the ones that weren’t addressed here? If so, be sure to submit those questions as you think of them! Remember that if you’ve got a question, chances are good someone else is wondering the same thing. Send in your questions to help yourself and others learn more about how to work with hot tub filters!

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