Home spa: Guide for peace of mind, year-round

deux femmes dans un spa

Some say the word spa comes from the Latin Sanus Per Aquam, meaning health from water. While this may simply be a myth, the benefits of water on the body and soul are indisputable. They reduce stress, relieve muscular and arthritic pain, improve sleep...in short, the benefits can do wonders for your well-being! 

This relaxing activity does come with some risks, however, for your safety and that of others, as well as to the equipment itself. Here are a few tips that will ensure your hot tub experience is strictly a positive one. 

How to install your hot tub

Adding an outdoor hot tub, just like a swimming pool, comes with a set of standards that can vary from city to city. Before you begin installing a unit, we suggest you check with your municipality to make sure you comply with the standards in effect in your region. 

In Quebec, you usually have to comply with the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Regulation. Here are the primary standards for outdoor spas:

  • If your hot tub contains less than 2,000 litres of water, there’s no need to get a permit or install an enclosure. However, when it’s not being used, your hot tub must be closed by placing a hard cover equipped with a lock. 

  • If your hot tub contains more than 2,000 litres of water, you will need to obtain a permit before installing it. Plus, you must include an enclosure of at least 1.2 m in height (e.g. a wall with no door, extended with a fence) which limits access to the hot tub. 

  • If you decide to add a hot tub on your terrace, you will have to include a guardrail with an automatic closing and locking system. The guardrail must also measure at least 1.2 m in height. 

There are also a few regulations regarding the distance that must be kept between the hot tub and your home and the power lines. In Montreal, for example, your hot tub must be at least 1 m (3 ft, 3 in) from your property limits. 

As it pertains to electric safety, we recommend answering this Hydro-Québec questionnaire. It will help you check if your installation is compliant. 


Bad combos 

There are other matters around the home to be watchful for if you want to be a responsible hot tub owner. For your safety and that of your loved ones, avoid these following combos!

Hot tubs and drugs or alcohol 

Did your chat with friends last through two bottles of rosé? Did the annual barbecue turn into a microbrewery beer tasting? Has your backyard been compared to Woodstock? You should wait until you’ve sobered up and gathered your wits before getting into the hot tub. 

In fact, consuming drugs or alcohol, combined with the water’s temperature, can cause drowsiness and even loss of consciousness, which in turn increases the risk of drowning. 

Watch out for heat stroke!

When you’re not fully sober, you don’t notice signs of hyperthermia (an abnormal increase in body heat). You are likely then to extend your stay in the hot tub beyond the recommended 15 minutes.

Hot tubs and pregnancies 

You’re expecting? Congrats! You should know that it’s probably best to stay away from the hot tub until you’ve given birth. 

The tub’s hot water makes a pregnant woman’s body heat temperature rise, increasing the risk of a miscarriage, especially during the first trimester. The rise in temperature could also cause a drop in blood pressure, and even lead to a reflex syncope. To help you stay away from the tempting water, remember that your little one is already swimming in toasty warm waters in your belly. 

Hot tubs and young children 

A child’s body does not handle hot water as well as an adult’s. That’s why children dehydrate so fast. Hot tubs are therefore not recommended for kids under 5. 

Hot tubs and heath issues 

Cardiac problems are at the top of ailments that can result from bathing in a hot tub, because the high heat increases blood flow and accelerates the heart’s rhythm. So if you or someone in your circle suffer from blood circulation disorders, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy or kidney problems, it’s best to avoid hot tubs. 

Hot water also promotes bacterial growth, so if you have an open wound, you should wait before you get in the water, or risk an infection.   

Hot tubs and chemicals

Many chemicals such as bromine or chlorine will help keep your water “looking clean”. Always use these products separately, never mixed together. Follow the suggested waiting time between treatments.

Also make sure to add the products to the water, but not water to a product already poured in the hot tub.

Hot tubs in the winter

Whether or not they are functional, your hot tubs need to be maintained in the winter. For starters, you need to clear the snow off due to the weight it adds on top of your unit. Freezing can also do serious damage to the point that if you don’t take any precautions, you may have to replace the hot tub in the spring. 

First, make sure your cover can handle winter. You can also get a protective canvas to shield your spa from debris and ice. If you still intend to use the hot tub in the winter, the canvas will save you some money on your electric bill. 

One more tip: Keep an eye on the water level. If it’s too low, the pump and heating may shut off, causing the ducts to freeze and breaking your plumbing system. 

If you decide to “shut down” the hot tub for the winter, start doing so in the fall. Do the following:

  • Drain the spa properly with a plumbing cleaner.
  • Let it dry completely, including the pumps, filter and pipes. 
  • Once the unit is entirely empty, pour hot tub anti-freeze in the skimmer, air holes and pipes.
  • Protect them with glass wool insulation. 

By following our safety and maintenance tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your hot tub for years to come!