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How Often Should I Empty My Hot Tub?

A hot tub is a true luxury. And while we all know it’s important to add chemicals to keep it clean, it’s also important to change the water periodically. So, you’ve probably wondered, how often should I empty my hot tub?

As a general rule, a hot tub should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every 3 months. However, the frequency of use and the number of bathers can affect the frequency. With proper chemical maintenance and infrequent use, it can be acceptable to go up to 6 months before changing the water.

But how do you do that? And how do you know when it’s time? And what happens if you go too long before emptying your hot tub?

In this article, we’ll explore all that, plus where to drain the water, how to drain the last bit of water remaining at the bottom of the hot tub, and all the top related questions.

Let’s dive right in…

 Sad is an Empty Tub

How do I change the water in my hot tub?

A regular garden hose can be used to drain the water of a hot tub by connecting to the hot tub’s drain spigot, often located behind a panel. This can take up to 2 hours. However, for quicker results, a submersible pump is a better alternative. 

A pump can drain a hot tub in just 15 minutes! But let’s look at the details of both ways.

Using a Garden Hose

Connect one end of the garden hose to the spigot on your hot tub. The location can vary depending on the brand and age of the hot tub. Often, though, it’s behind the removable panel with removable thumbscrews. 

Once connected, run the other end of the hose to a discrete part of your yard.

Remember, this water is not only hot but also still has chemicals in it. You don’t want to drain it on pristine grass, flowerbeds, near tree roots, or your neighbor’s yard.

Also, remember this is hundreds of gallons.

Once the hose is ready, simply pull the hose spigot out a little bit to start the water flow. As I mentioned, depending on the size of your hot tub, this can take up to 2 hours.

Using a Submersible Pump

This is the fastest way to drain your hot tub. It takes about 15 minutes, and because most pumps come with a 25-foot hose, you can easily direct it to a discrete part of your yard. 

CLICK HERE to check out the submersible pump on Amazon that I bought.

Ideally, you want to drain the water into the city sewer, but that isn’t the same thing as a storm drain which often goes directly into nearby streams and lakes.

If you’re concerned about draining it, cut the power a few hours before draining to allow it to cool a little. And don’t add any chemicals for about 3 days before draining.

When ready, plug the pump into a nearby wall outlet and drop it into the deepest part of the hot tub.

The pump has a float sensor that alerts it once it’s underwater (it has no on/off switch). So, once it’s underwater, it starts working automatically.

Before you drop the pump in the water, make sure you cut the power to the tub off.

Once it’s done (it will shut off automatically once the float stops floating), there will be little pools of water at the bottom of the tub and in each seat. 

This is normal. You’d have the same experience even if you were draining with a garden hose. 

Simply use a wet/dry vac like this one on Amazon to remove the remaining pool of water.

The submersible pump I use and recommend is the Professional EZ Travel Collection Submersible Drain Pump on Amazon.

It takes the hard work out of changing the water of your hot tub. It comes with a hose clamp, drain hose, automatic shutoff feature, and can drain 2000 gallons in an hour!

It’s completely submersible, and you don’t have to worry since its overheat prevention mechanism turns it off once the water level becomes too low.

It’s portable and reliable since it’s light and has an impact-resistant casting. And, it comes with free shipping. It’s got almost 200 ratings on Amazon, and most of them are 5-star.

CLICK HERE to check it out.

Can I drain my hot tub into the street?

The street is not an ideal place to drain a hot tub. Most municipalities and cities have regulations and guidelines against this. A discrete part of the yard, into a septic system, or into a sewer drain are better alternatives.

But honestly, most hot tub owners just drain it in their own yard.

That’s what I’ve done with all 4 of the hot tubs I’ve owned. Just don’t drain it near the foundation of your house, onto your neighbor’s yard, or near flower beds.

If you don’t have an ideal spot, just move the other end of the hose occasionally to disperse it across a wider area of your yard.

And as I mentioned above, cut the power ahead of time to allow it to cool, and don’t add any new chemicals for a few days to lower the amount present in the water.

But what’s the absolute best place to drain it?

Check out a recent article of mine where I get into some cool alternatives if there don’t seem to be any good spots in your yard. A sewer drain is a good option, but never drain it in a storm drain. Not sure of the difference?

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you get the last bit of water out of a hot tub after draining?

After draining, the last bit of water in a hot tub can be removed using a wet/dry vacuum. It is also effective for sucking water out of the jets.

Depending on the holding tank’s size, you may have to empty it a few times before you get all the water out.

CLICK HERE to see my favorite wet/dry vac on Amazon.

Do make sure the wet/dry vac is firmly situated on the ground net to the hot tub. Never rest it on the rim of the hot tub’s shell where it could possibly fall in!

Remember, this is an electrical appliance!

Yes, it’s designed to suck up water, but it can still give a huge electric shock if the motor comes in contact with water.

You can use the wand end to clean the debris and dirt on the floor of the hot tub, even as you’re siphoning water out of the tub.

Simply drop one end of the long vac hose into the tub and connect the other to the wet/dry vac. 

Then, turn on the vac just to get the water moving through the hose for a while. 

Then, turn it off, and disconnect the hose to allow the water to flow out onto the ground or some other place you prefer.

Again, the Craftsman Wet/Dry Vac on Amazon is the shop vac that I use and recommend highly. 

Its container has a 16-gallon capacity, and it comes with accessories such as Hose, Two Extension Wands, Car Nozzle, Crevice Tool, Blower Wand, Utility Nozzle, Wet Nozzle, and Diffuser. 

It’s Amazon’s choice pick that has over 4700 ratings, with most being 5 stars.

CLICK HERE to check it out.

Curious about a more detailed take on using a shop vac for cleaning your hot tub?

Check out a recent article where I shared how to use a shop vac to clean your hot tub, whether you need one if you already got a submersible pump, and similar issues. 

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How often do you add water to a hot tub in between draining times?

As a general rule, top off a hot tub every 1-2 weeks. Between bathers soaking up water in their suits, splashing it outside the hot tub, and normal evaporation, hot tubs can lose 1-2 inches of water each month.

Why is this important? Over time, if you were not making up for this reduction in volume, the water would eventually dry up.

Just run your garden hose over and top off.

I like to fill mine up to just under the headrest pillows. Just make sure to test and adjust the water chemistry every time you do this, as minor adjustments may need to be made.

Do you turn off a hot tub when you drain the water?

Always cut the power to a hot tub prior to starting the draining process. To minimize damage to grass and ground, cut the power up to 24 hours before draining to allow the water to cool.

Leaving the lid off will help release some of the heat too.

Many modern hot tubs will have some sort of auto shut-off safety feature preventing the filtration and heating system from kicking in if water levels are low.

But not every hot tub has this.

So again, just cut the power at the disconnect box before starting. Or if it’s a plug-and-play hot tub, just pull the plug.

And then don’t turn the power back on until you’ve cleaned it and refilled it up to where the water level covers the jets.

But what about cleaning it while it’s empty?

If you’ve wondered whether you could use dish soap to wash your hot tub, you’d like a recent article of mine, where I explained that you could, its drawback, and how you could remedy it. 

Just click the link to read it on my site. 


We learned that hot tub water should be emptied every 3 months, and the water topped up every week or every other week. 

We also looked at how to change the water by checking out how to do it with a garden hose and a quicker way to do it with a submersible pump.

We found out if it’s okay to drain the water into the street and how to get rid of the last bit of water that’s often at the bottom of the tub.

Photo which requires attribution:

Sad is an Empty Tub by Alan Levine is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, color-adjusted, and had a text overlay added.

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Jeff Campbell