Hot Tub Time-Suck Machine

Why having a friend with a pool is preferable to having one oneself

A few years ago my father in law ran across someone giving away a hot tub, and although he didn’t want it himself, he told my wife, who decided to take it. She had been dreaming about one since we moved into this house. When we first viewed it some five years ago, there had been a hot tub on the lower wood deck, but the owners had taken it with them as part of the sale.

She accepted it without talking to me about it. I have never desired one, and realized that even a free hot tub would come with several costs. The first was getting the electrical hooked up to it. There were some problems with it, so we had to hire an expert to deal with some electrical issue, and also paid a friend with an electrical license to come and hook it up. Then there’s been the chemicals that it requires to keep the water balanced.

My wife was incredulous that I didn’t want a hot tub, and tried to argue that if I didn’t want it that I shouldn’t use it. Of course I would use it, but I have not enjoyed it proportionally to cost. Perhaps if she had let me drain it during the winter I wouldn’t be so resentful after listening to the heater trip on four times an hour during the winter nights.

Earlier this spring I noticed that the water level was low, and attributed it to evaporation. We had run into some problems with the cover leaking and capturing condensation and I assumed that it was leaking out through this. Deep down I knew something else was going on. We had to refill it several times over the past few months, but I kept putting things off. I had noticed that there was constant moisture around the bottom of the tub and the deck, and I knew that something had to be done.

That time is now.

Yesterday evening the family decided to have a hot tub party, and while we were in it the tub lost power. I checked the breaker and found a ground fault, quickly realizing that my plans for tomorrow had been superseded by this event. I knew that I either had to repair the electrical issue, or drain the tub. So this morning, instead of doing the bushes as I had planned to, I shut off the electrical to the breaker box on the back of the house, pulled the fifty amp breaker out and made a trip out to a couple hardware stores to find a replacement breaker. I figured this easier to troubleshoot than the tub itself.

Unfortunately, neither of the big hardware stores carry breakers that big, only selling the entire box for a hundred dollars. But after speaking to my father, an electrical engineer, and the staff at one of the stores, I came to the conclusion that the tub itself was the problem. So I went home, put the breaker back in, and then began the chore of removing the side panel from the tub. Instead of pulling off the panel by the pump, I pulled off a different one, closer to where the water had been pooling out of the tub. Several of the screws were rusted and gave me some trouble, but I managed to finally get them off and was able to peer inside.

It was a mess. The intake had a drip…drip…drip… coming from it, and the entire underside of the tub was soaking wet. I showed my wife, not to gloat, at all, and then pulled the garden hose out and began draining the tub.

I’ve been waiting for the sun to retreat before I deal with it more. The deck under the tub is rotten in places, so my deck rebuilding project has gotten considerably more complicated. Moving the damn thing will probably take four hands. The deck won’t be that big of a deal unless the cross beams need replacing. I should be able to manage that. But we’re looking at sealing the leak, dealing with whatever electrical issue there is, and replacing the cover if we’re to salvage it. I’m not sure what we’re going to do.

The rest of the day has been a mixed bag of adulting. I had to remove the television from the den, stashing it behind a couch in the front office after I came home from my earlier errand to find the kids driving Missus insane. I managed to prepare another batch of my Mr. Beer home brew kit, this one an IPA from Brew Demon. And Missus has found some joy with her new carpet cleaner, having successfully banished some long-standing spots from our carpet. And as soon as I hit post on this, I’m taking everyone out to a local nature park for a walk and a picnic. When we get home I’ll need to put the cover back on the spa and put the hoses away.

I’m not sure what we’ll do the rest of the day, hopefully I can talk Elder or Missus into playing a board game with me, but I have a feeling they’ll finagle me into putting the TV back where it belongs. I’d rather not. if I was being honest, it does not spark joy in this household, at least not the way the hot tub has.

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