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Used hot tub problems and what to look for
Used hot tub problems and what to look for
Written by Kimberly Giraldo
Updated over a week ago

When you are shopping for a hot tub, there are many things to consider and many options to weigh. You may have even considered purchasing a used hot tub. A used or refurbished spa can be an affordable way to enter the hot tub market as long as you purchase it from a reputable source. While purchasing a used or refurbished spa can be a budget-friendly option, there are some used hot tub problems that you should be aware of before making this choice.

This article will cover some common problems that can be associated with used hot tubs, what to look for when shopping for used hot tubs, and the difference between used hot tubs and refurbished hot tubs. Furthermore, you can expect a comparison of a used hot tub with a new hot tub so you will be fully equipped with a wealth of information and knowledge as you complete your hot tub shopping — whether you decide on a used, refurbished, or new hot tub.

What is the difference between a used spa and a refurbished spa?

Consider first the difference between buying a used spa from an individual versus purchasing a refurbished hot tub from a reputable hot tub dealer. If you buy a hot tub from an individual seller, you run the risk of not knowing the entire history of the hot tub, such as if it had previous issues or requires any repairs. Without understanding the used spa’s background, you could potentially end up with a spa that needs many repairs, the cost of which may outweigh the cost of a brand-new hot tub.

However, when you work with a reputable spa dealer, you can purchase a pre-owned certified spa that has been fully tested, inspected and refurbished to work like a new hot tub. Many credible hot tub dealers also offer a warranty on refurbished hot tubs. This gives you peace of mind that your refurbished hot tub will work as expected.

In either case, ask to see the spa running or request a wet test from a dealer or at a showroom. This way you can make sure everything works and are able to inspect the hot tub for leaks. Though this can be a bit trickier in the case of a spa with full-foam insulation, you can, however, look for evidence of leaks in the foam or wood.

Consider the additional costs

In the case of purchasing a used spa from an individual, consider the cost of transporting it from their location to your backyard. Despite the fact that these units are portable, it is highly recommended to hire a professional spa mover, which can range in cost between $500 and $1,000. Moving a spa yourself can be dangerous and can cause damage to the spa.

Another seemingly hidden cost of purchasing a used hot tub is the energy costs. An older hot tub model or a spa from a less-than premium brand may end up costing you more in monthly running costs. Older spas do not run as efficiently as today’s high-quality spas. Less-quality spas do not have as much insulation, which is a vital aspect of retaining your hot tub’s heat and ultimately keeping your running costs down. Newer, high-quality spas not only run efficiently, but they also tend to have excellent insulation. They are also equipped with additional features that make heating your hot tub water easy along with effective filtration cycles.

Another potential used hot tub problem is the cost of running the proper electrical for the unit. You may need to add a 220v ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) set up close to where you will place your spa, which can be very costly. Alternately, a used hot tub that plugs into a standard outlet is an option that does not require 220v GFCI. However, these units may not have the power to heat the water and run the massage pumps at the same time, resulting in a less-than-desirable hot tub experience.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a used hot tub in the name of saving money, it’s important to factor in the value of a new high-quality hot tub versus the hidden costs of a less expensive used spa. Sometimes the cost of an initially less expensive hot tub will begin to outweigh the investment of an entry-level hot tub from a high-quality brand that is built to last for many years. The seemingly cheapest option can oftentimes become the most expensive.

Checklist: Used hot tub problems, what to look for

If you can see the used hot tub operate before purchasing it, look for the following:

-Water leaks under the spa.

-Holes where jet inserts should be.

-Check the cartridge filter.

-If the hot tub makes a loud noise while operating, that could be a sign (or a sound) of a faulty pump or a worn-out motor.

-Make sure the water comes up to temperature and that the temperature gauge is working properly. If not, the water can get too hot, making it very unsafe to use.

-Have it inspected by a professional who can determine whether the hot tub has had previously problems. Also, have the professional let you know if there are any red flags you should be aware of before making the purchase.

Pros and cons: New hot tub vs. used hot tub

When weighing whether to purchase a new hot tub or a used hot tub, this simple comparison can help you make the best decision for your needs:


-Choose exactly what you want

-Experience the latest features, such as wireless options and entertainment systems

-Have your investment protected with a manufacturer-provided warranty

-Receive dealer assistance with installation details

-Enjoy a longer, more useful life from your hot tub

-New parts, even ones you cannot see, will not have any build-up, corrosion or wear and tear

-Higher initial buy-in


-Choose only from what is available

-Experience some wear and tear/weathering and older technology

-You may not have a warranty that is transferable; however, some dealers may offer their own warranty

-Arrange delivery and installation on your own, including determining electrical needs

-Feel uncertainty about the durability and brand reputation

-Old parts or equipment may be worn out or even discontinued

-Lower initial buy-in

Whether you decide on a refurbished or a new hot tub, the importance of a reputable spa dealer cannot be overstated. A trusted dealer can help guide you through all your hot tub options to ensure you find the right hot tub for you.

Disclaimer: All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing and may change without notice.

Medical disclaimer: This information is not intended to prescribe a particular diagnosis or course of action. We are not medical professionals. Please contact your GP or other medical professional for advice if you have any concerns about your current health or well-being.

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