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How Many Years Does an Outdoor Hot Tub Last?

I’ve owned 4 hot tubs in my life and all of them have been outside and not under any roof or overhang. So I’ve wondered how many years does an outdoor hot tub last?

A high-quality in-ground or above-ground hot tub can last up to 20 years. But 10-15 years is the average. Low quality or inflatable hot tubs will not last more than 5 years. Extend the life of a hot tub by maintaining properly balanced water, changing water every 3-6 months, and keeping the lid clean and moisturized.

But there’s a lot more to know about hot tub lifespans.  So here, we’ll get into specifics on how long pumps, blowers, and heaters last, as well as covers and everything you need to know.

We also examine whether the temp you have yours set to affects the lifespan and how running it all the time impacts that too.

So let’s keep going!

How long do hot tubs last?

The average lifespan of a hot tub is probably 10-15 years. But some really nice ones can last up to 20 years if well maintained.

And just to be clear, we’re talking a high-quality in-ground or above-ground hot tub. An inflatable hot tub might last a maximum of 5 years.

Hot tubs are a combination of components and each type of component may have a different lifespan.

Below we’ll get into specifics of each part of the hot tub and how long it might last. But we’re talking about:

  • The shell (usually acrylic for above-ground or concrete for in-ground)
  • The equipment (pump, heater, blower)
  • The plumbing (typically PVC tubes)
  • The cover (heavy-duty foam wrapped in insulated vinyl)

There are also some things that we can do which affect the life span.

For example, not keeping the water pH and alkalinity balanced can cause corrosion in the equipment and plumbing.

When we had our 2nd hot tub when my older 2 daughters were 10ish, I came home one day to see one of their friends jumping off the edge of the hot tub into the tub like a swimming pool.

Guess who doesn’t get to have friends over for hot tub parties anymore? BUT, that can also easily cause the hot tub shell to crack since it’s not meant to undergo that kind of stress.

Lastly, the cover takes a beating if it gets a lot of direct sunlight.

So it’s important to keep it clean and moisturized (but not with Armor All which you shouldn’t use on vinyl whatsoever due to the silicone in it). Using a high-quality cleaner and moisturizer on the cover once or twice a month can prevent cracking.

There’s no better product on the planet for cleaning and moisturizing hot tub covers than 303 UV Protectant (click to learn more on Amazon).

303 brand is the ultimate protectant for vinyl, fiberglass (so it works on your shell too), plastic, rubber or leather goods.

Once your hot tub lid starts to crack on the vinyl, those cracks can easily let water in. When a cover gets waterlogged, mildew can set in on the inside of the lid and eventually you’ll be forced to throw out the entire thing.

Before that happens, though, you can just replace the vinyl cover and keep the foam inserts, which is much cheaper.

The pump is the heart of your hot tub.

Yes, it can’t get hot without the heater, but it’s the pump that pulls the water into the heater and then back out again into the hot tub.

Like most parts of a hot tub, how long a pump lasts has a span which depends on how well you maintain it. On average, a hot tub pump will last between 5-10 years.

The good news, having replaced a hot tub pump myself, is that it’s not that hard to replace one and they are generally under $500 bucks.

But what can we do to keep our pumps working longer?

Again, as I mentioned above, keeping the water quality balanced it key to keeping corrosion at bay. So even when our hot tub sees the least amount of use (summers in Texas, for instance), I still am checking the water and adjusting about once a week.

In addition, if you do see any evidence of a leak in the hot tub plumbing (water on the ground near the shell, or a noticeable drop in water level), make sure and deal with that before it gets worse.

Because the water is under pressure from the pump, it will naturally go towards the weakest spot.

Ideally, that’s just through the heater and back into the hot tub. But if you have a leak at either end of the pump, the pressure from the pump can make that worse, putting added strain on the pump or possible added wear on the pump.

At the very least, a leak will cost you water, chemicals, and patience. So deal with it as soon as you see the evidence. For me, the only leak product I use and swear by is Marlig Fix-a-Leak (click to learn more on Amazon).

To be fair, the reviews on Amazon are mixed and I almost didn’t buy it for that reason.

I’m glad I did anyway because this stuff works great on fixing leaks quickly and easily. Just take the filter out, pour it in, and let the pump circulate it for 24 hours.

Whether your leak is in the equipment, at the jets, or in those pipes inside the spray foam insulation, Fix-a-Leak, because it’s heavier than water, will go right towards the leak and plug it up.

Just CLICK HERE to check the current price on Amazon. I keep a bottle on hand just in case.

How long should a hot tub heater last?

Like the pump, the hot tub heater is another critical element of your hot tub.

After all, if the water can’t get hot or get pumped throughout the hot tub, you pretty much don’t have a hot tub anymore.

A hot tub heater lasts about 5 years, giving it one of the shortest lifespans of any part of the hot tub.

The reason for that, perhaps obvious, is because it’s continually getting super-hot to heat the water and keep it hot all day and night.

Think of it this way. If you left your oven on all day and night, it would most likely wear out pretty quickly.

The good news is that a heater element for your hot tub heater tube is very cheap.

While I’ve personally not replaced a heater element, in looking into it, it does look to be fairly easy. When I replaced the equipment in my last hot tub, I replaced the entire control box which had the heater attached to it.

But you should be able to replace the heater element yourself fairly easily. Or pay a repairman a couple of hundred bucks to do it for you.

But as I mentioned, using the right chemicals and keeping your water balanced is crucial for the longevity of your equipment.

I have a recent article which details what chemicals you need, and which ones you can skip (saving your wallet).  Keeping your water quality well-balanced will also be great for your skin health too.

How long do hot tub covers last?

A high-quality hot tub cover will last between 5-7 years.

If it gets a lot of direct sunlight that can definitely shorten the lifespan. Also, if you never clean the lid or polish it with a moisturizer, that can lead to it getting dry, brittle, and eventually crack and fray.

As I mentioned above, keeping it clean and moisturized once or twice a month, can ensure that water doesn’t get inside the cover. Once your cover gets waterlogged, mildew can set in causing the entire lid needing to be replaced.

Otherwise, you can just replace the vinyl cover for around $300.

The best way to extend the life of your hot tub lid is with a polyester spa cover.

Now a cover your cover sounds a bit weird, I know. But hear me out. This is a fabric cover you just slip over your existing foam and vinyl hot tub cover. These are waterproof, UV resistant and this INEXPENSIVE ITEM protects your expensive cover from all the elements.

While there are a lot of hot tub sizes, the ULTCOVER Waterproof 600D (click to check price on Amazon) is made to fit most square hot tubs up to 85 inches. And it comes with elastic cords to adjust to your tub size.

But they have other sizes available too!

I wouldn’t use mine all the time, but in the off-seasons when my tub gets little use (the blazing Texas summers for example), that’s a great time to cover your cover. Then it comes off in seconds if you want to use it.

And if your hot tub cover gets a tear, don’t just let it sit as it will get worse!

I have a recent article that walks you through every step of how to patch holes and fix tears in your hot tub cover, extending the life of your cover by years!

I was really surprised how easy it is to do, and how the repair isn’t even very visible when you’re done. Just click the link to read it on my site.

Should a hot tub run all the time?

If you’re asking if it’s OK to simply shut the power off, I would not do that.

If you’re approaching a season where you don’t intend to use the hot tub, such as winter in Alaska, you could certainly drain it, winterize it, and then shut the power off.

And if you aren’t sure how or if you need to winterize it, check out a recent article where I break that down into 7 simple steps. Just click the link to read that on my site.

But as long as you have water it in, it’s important for the health of the water (and the users of the hot tub) to keep the water balanced with chemicals and to be regularly heated and circulated to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms.

That being said, it’s also important to periodically drain the hot tub water completely and refill and then re-treat the freshwater.

I do this about every 5-6 months but you may want to do it every 3 months if you use yours frequently. You would shut the power off when draining, and then turn it back on once the new freshwater is above the level of the jets.

Lastly, if you were asking about running all the time from an electricity standpoint, most hot tubs do have an economy mode where the pump and heater kick in less frequently, putting less wear and tear on them.

Generally, though, the hot tub temperature will not be as hot this way.

I can also tell you that in my house, which is about 2500 square feet with 2 HVAC systems, our electricity bill WITH our hot tub never gets over $200/month. So hot tubs really don’t add that much to your bill.

If you live in a super-cold winter area, you may find you want to winterize your hot tub. Believe it or not, antifreeze can help protect your pipes when you do that.

Just follow all the steps in my recent article if you plan to do that. Just click the link to read it on my site.

Does the temperature of a hot tub affect how long it lasts?

In short, yes, but probably not to a large degree.

I keep our hot tub set to 98°. That way the whole family, including our toddler, can enjoy it and not risk getting overheated. But some people like their hot tub set to 100° or even as high as 104°.

In the grand scheme of things, we’re talking a temperature variation of under 10 degrees. That is not enough to put such added strain on the heater and pump as to significantly shorten the lifespan.

Honestly, you can probably impact the lifespan more by keeping the water well-balanced.

But if you really want to maximize the lifespan, don’t set yours to 104° or higher. Keep it to 100° or under.

Will an indoor hot tub last longer?

The main thing you’re avoiding with an indoor hot tub is exposure to the elements; especially sunlight.

And the sun is mostly impacting the lifespan of the cover more than the rest of the hot tub itself. If you have an above-ground hot tub with real wood siding, the sun and rain can impact the lifespan of that too.

But whether indoors or out, you still have the normal wear and tear on the heater, pump, and blower.

You also, of course, have the inevitable leaking to contend with too. So while you may be adding a few years to the life of your cover, you are potentially opening up a larger and more expensive can of worms by having a hot tub indoors.

Whether you have your hot tub indoors will also impact electricity usage too. The hot tub will need more in summer and less in winter. After all, an outdoor hot tub does have its water temperature impacted by the seasonal temperature changes.

But personally, I don’t think an indoor hot tub is going to last significantly longer aside from the vinyl cover lasting maybe twice as long.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we took a quick look at how long the average outdoor hot tub lasts.

But we got into specifics on heater elements, pumps, blowers, and if the temp you set yours to affects the lifespan.

Specifically, we answered the question of how many years does an outdoor hot tub last, with an answer of 10-15 years, on average for a high-quality above-ground or in-ground hot tub.

How long have had your hot tub?

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Jeff Campbell