Things to Look for Buying a Used Hot Tub (step by step guide)

Relaxing in a hot tub is a great way to pass the time, have a romantic evening, or even relax your muscles. But buying a new one is not cheap! Here are the top things to look for buying a used hot tub:

  1. Look for cracks in the acrylic shell
  2. Ask the seller how old the hot tub is
  3. Google the brand of hot tub to verify they are still in business
  4. If the hot tub is full of water at the time of purchase, look for water on the ground or evidence of leaks
  5. Is the heater, blower, and pump in good working condition?

But there are a lot more things to look out for and questions to ask the seller. So let’s keep going!

Since I have, in fact, bought a used hot tub, you’ll get the benefit of my wisdom and some critical mistakes I made.

Is it worth it to buy a hot tub used? What should I look out for? And does it matter what the make and model is?

If you’ve been asking yourself those questions, then ease your mind, because you’re in the right place. By the end of this short read I’ll answer all of those questions for you, and then some. Hot tubs are a great way to relax, and at the end of the day, they don’t have to cost you a fortune.

So let’s get right down to it, and take a look at everything you need to know to make an informed decision about a used hot tub.

You ready?

Is it a good idea to buy a used hot tub?

Now you might be wondering if this is a good idea to begin with.

While it might not seem like a good idea, it’s a great way to save some money. When push comes to shove, you can definitely find a quality hot tub for a much lower price than a new one, if you go about the process right.

The used hot tub I bought at my last house, I got for $150.

Now, to be fair, I had to put about $700 into it replacing some of the equipment, on top of the $350 I paid movers to move it. The biggest mistake I made with mine was not checking my breaker panel to see if I had an open slot.

If I had an open slot, that would have made the electrical work fairly inexpensive too. As it was I paid about $700 to add a slot & breaker and run the power line to the hot tub location. And that was, by far the cheapest of the 3 quotes I got.

But I would have had to pay that even if I bought a new hot tub.

The seller originally wanted $500 for the hot tub and claimed it was like 5 years old. Upon seeing it, it was obvious it was well over a decade old. It also had some minor cracks in the shell and rats had chewed a lot of the wires.

So that was why I talked him down to $150. So inspect before you pay!

But all told, that same hot tub brand new would have easily been several thousand dollars and I would still have had to pay the electricians to run power and hook it up.

Buying a used hot tub is kind of like buying a used car.

Is it a good idea to buy a used car? Absolutely, but there is a bit of a catch. While the initial cost may be more inexpensive, you won’t be sure what the future will hold.

You won’t know much about the history, or if it’s had any repairs.

Buying a used hot tub is a great way to save some money, but only if you do it the right way. Luckily, in the sections that follow, I’ll be showing you absolutely everything to look out for before buying a used hot tub.

What questions should I ask when buying a used hot tub?

The first thing you need to be aware of is what to ask.

When it comes to buying a used hot tub, you need to gather as much information about it as possible. In doing so, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and make sure that the hot tub will last you longer than 3 days.

So what questions should I ask before I buy?

The questions you should ask fall into two categories, and the first one might surprise you. So please pay close attention to what follows. Buying a used hot tub is not always easy, but if you use these questions, the process can become much easier.

Questions you need to ask yourself first

The first set of questions you need to ask are in regards to yourself. It might sound strange, but this is a crucial step in the buying process.

So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should ask yourself before you go ahead and start the buying process:

  • Will I be buying a used hot tub from a trusted retailer? Or from someone individually? Often this will be from an individual
  • Do I have faith in the person or entity I’ll be purchasing the hot tub from? Most often you’ll be buying from someone you don’t know whatsoever
  • Do I have space for one?
  • How will I be getting the hot tub back to my home? (hint: hire someone!)
  • Does my outside breaker panel have an open slot?
  • Will I be able to fix the hot tub if something breaks? (replacing the equipment, which I did, was actually easier than you might think)

Once you have the answers to those questions, you’re in luck, because you’re more than ready to start the buying process. So let’s take a look at the next step.

Questions you need to ask the seller

This next set of questions will allow you to gauge the quality of the hot tub.

And they can help you determine how much the price tag really should be. These questions will also offer you insight into the status of the owner, and if they can be trusted.

Let’s take a look:

  • How old is the hot tub? (they may be unsure, especially if it came with the house when they bought it)
  • What model is the hot tub? (if you can find a website for the brand, that’s a good sign as it means you’ll likely be able to find parts if you need them)
  • What kind of maintenance/repairs has been done on the hot tub so far?
  • Does it have all the parts I need to get it working?
  • Is it functional?
  • Does it have any special features, and are those features functional?

Those questions will help you keep the owner on their toes, and will provide you with valuable insight into the overall value of the hot tub.

The biggest mistake I made when I bought my hot tub was not Googling the brand of the hot tub.

If I had, I would have seen that they had gone out of business well over a decade earlier. That may not have made me not buy it. But in my fix-it-up process, it made it much harder to find parts.

Plus being an older hot tub, the PVC plumbing was all 2″, whereas I think all newer models are 1.5″. So in replacing the equipment, I had to hunt down adapters for everything.

Plus every water connection in your tub is a potential leak spot.

When it comes to buying a used hot tub, asking the right questions can make all of the difference. Whether you’re buying from a private seller or a licensed retailer, that’s no excuse to remain uninformed.

In terms of whether it’s a good buy or not, it also helps to know how long outdoor hot tubs last.

I break down all different types of hot tubs and how long, on average, you can expect them to last in a recent article. I also cover easy maintenance you can do to extend the life. But there’s no sense paying a lot of money for a hot tub that’s at the end of its life expectancy.

Just click the link to read that on my site.

How do you move a used hot tub after purchase?

Moving a hot tub isn’t easy. It’s also not something you should attempt on your own unless you have 3-4 strong friends to help and a flatbed trailer.

Even then, I would consider hiring a mover to ensure it gets done the right way.

I paid $350 to move the used hot tub I bought. Amazingly a crew of 2 had that thing loaded and driving away inside of 30 minutes. Unloading at my house was even faster.

If the movers you find are familiar with hot tubs, they’ll likely just give you a quote. If not, it helps to know how much a hot tub weighs.

In a recent article, I break down how much different kinds of hot tubs weigh from small to large and even inflatable. I also give you weights empty, with water, and with people too. That can be helpful if you plan to put yours on a deck.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How much value do hot tubs lose after purchase?

Hot tubs are a lot like cars in the sense that the second you own one it drops in value.

This is commonly referred to as a depreciating asset, and a hot tub is no exception. So, when you go to buy one, please keep this in mind.

In the world of used hot tubs, the overall value can drop down well below 50%. This depends on the model, the age, and the condition of the hot tub.

For example, a hot tub that’s 10 years old, barely works and needs to be refurbished, can end up only being worth 10%-20% of the initial value. This was the case with the one I bought. That one was probably $5,000 new 15 or more years earlier.

So my getting it for $150 was a drop of 97%.

On the other hand, if a hot tub is rather new, in good condition, and works great, you’ll need to start your bidding at around 50%.

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t haggle the price down a bit, but 50% is typically a great place to start negotiations for a used hot tub.

If you’ll be purchasing your hot tub from a used vendor, then you can expect that 50% price point to remain pretty level throughout the buying process. While it’s pretty hard to get a retailer to come down on the price, if you’ll be buying one privately, you might find greater success.

I bought my used hot tub on our neighborhood Facebook buy-sell-trade page. Craigslist could also be a good place to look. Generally speaking, a person selling a hot tub will be more likely to negotiate than a dealer.

That’s because in most cases they just want it gone. They are either moving, getting a newer one, or just don’t use it. They figured they could make a few bucks getting rid of it, but they aren’t looking at it from a profit standpoint.

What is the best hot tub brand?

There are dozens of great hot tub brands out there in the world.

A lot of them make a great product. Sure, some are better than others, but most hot tubs are made to a similar standard. So, if you’re looking for the best brand, I’ll give you a few to keep an eye out for.

The hot tub I currently own (I’ve moved since I bought that used one and I left that hot tub at the old house) is a Master Spa Twilight Series.

It came with our new home and we love this hot tub!

But for the purpose of this section, I’ll be taking a look at the top 3 hot tub brands, and why they’re the best at what they do.

If you’re buying a used hot tub you won’t always be able to go with your first choice, so hopefully, I can help you create a backup plan if the need arises.

These brands are:

  • Jacuzzi (the brand)
  • Hot Springs
  • Sundance

Now that you know the brands, let’s take a look at why you’ll want to go with one of the three options displayed above.

Jacuzzi

Jacuzzi has been around for a very long time. In fact, so long that their brand has moved on from just selling basic jacuzzis.

They started off on a small scale. But now they have hundreds of retailers around the world.

Not only do they have worldwide coverage, but they can even answer any questions you may have about one of their models both used or new. Jacuzzi leads innovation in the hot tub world.

It’s tough to find a brand better than them.

Hot Springs

Hot Springs makes hot tubs that come at a similar price and structure as Jacuzzi. But at the end of the day, some of their top-notch hot tubs are even better.

This is because Hot Springs partners with modern engineering powerhouses like BMW for some of their designs. Not only does this encourage quality, but at higher tiers, you won’t find a better hot tub than Hot Springs.

Sundance

Sundance may be last on this list, but they’re certainly not least.

When it comes to Sundance, you’ll be pleased to know that they’ve been in business since 1979. That means they’ve been doing this for a while, and know-how to deliver a great and reliable product. Plus, believe it or not, Sundance is actually the largest hot tub manufacturer in the world (for acrylic hot tubs).

If you’re looking to buy a used hot tub, choosing from any of these 3 brands is an excellent choice. Not only will you be getting a high-quality hot tub, but you’ll be getting one that’s built to last.

The most important things to check when buying a used hot tub

When it comes down to purchasing a used hot tub, you’ll want to come prepared.

In the world of buying used items, especially from one owner to another, people may not always be sincere. Luckily, if you’re not exactly sure about what to look for, I have your back.

When it comes to buying a used hot tub, there are a few things you should consider once you’ve already asked all of the questions I showed you above.

So let’s take a look at a few things you definitely need to consider before you buy a used hot tub. Without being backed by a warranty, you’ll want to make sure you won’t be needing too many repairs from day one.

The heater

The heater is typically built into the control box. To see this, you’ll have to remove the panels from the side. Newer hot tubs usually have plastic panels that come off easily.

Older ones may have real wood which requires a screwdriver or drill to remove.

You won’t be able to tell a lot from looking at the control box other than looking for evidence of leaks. But you can Google the make and model number of the control box to see what a new one costs in the event you need to replace it.

It also doesn’t hurt to check the temp the digital readout is showing compared to an actual thermometer you put in the water. It’s not uncommon for them to be off by a degree or 2, but any more than that could be a red flag (and a negotiating point).

The pump and blower

Hot tubs use a pump to circulate the water through the heater tube (the silver tube attached to the bottom of the control box). It then pushes the water through, heating as it goes, and then into the hot tub itself.

Then there is a blower which water does not pass through.

The blower, as it sounds, is basically a vacuum cleaner type motor that pushes air into the water to create the bubbles which come out of the jets.

Test both using the buttons on the control panel. And if you have the panels off as I mentioned above, just look for any evidence of leaks around both.

The filter

Most hot tubs use a removable cartridge filter, which means that they can be detached for cleaning or storage purposes. Luckily these are usually easily found online; many on Amazon.

But it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the filter and see how dirty and old it looks. You’re supposed to change them every 12-18 months, rinse them monthly, and do a chemical soak every 3 months.

But many hot tub owners don’t do that consistently.

An ancient or dirty filter tells you they have not maintained their hot tub well, and that could have put extra wear and tear on the equipment; a good negotiating point.

It also doesn’t hurt to look for the filter model on Amazon just so you know how much a new one will cost. For a complete guide to knowing when to replace your filters and how to both rinse and chemical soak them, check out a recent article I wrote.

I cover everything you need to know to ensure your filter is working perfectly. And when your filter is doing its job, your equipment is far less likely to break down.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Make sure there are no leaks

You’ll also want to check out the seals for any leaks, this way you don’t have to keep filling it up all of the time. This is also important because leaky seals can lead to additional maintenance requirements.

The easiest way to check for leaks is to look around the base of the hot tub (assuming it still has water). Looks for any signs of moisture on the concrete pad or decking that the tub sits on.

Make sure you see it working, and while you do, take the time to listen

Seeing the hot tub in action before you buy it may seem obvious. But did you know that you should listen to it as well? All hot tubs or spas will release a low humming sound when they’re on. While this hum is normal if you hear other sounds, that could spell trouble in the pump department.

If it’s easy, take off the panels on the hot tub to see any signs of a leak inside.

A leak isn’t necessarily a make-it-or-break-it thing as leaks are actually somewhat common. But it will be good to know in advance if there is one, and how bad it is.

I have a recent article which is the ultimate guide to finding and fixing hot tub leaks. So if you buy one that develops a leak, or suspect the used one you’re buying leaks, make sure and bookmark my page.

Just click that link to see it on my site and save it.

The verdict

Not everyone wants to spend thousands of dollars on a brand new hot tub.

It can be an expensive purchase, and while it might seem out of your reach, everyone can afford a used hot tub.

Buying a used hot tub can be a great way to save money, but also a good way to get the model you’re looking for as well.

There tends to be a negative stigma regarding used products, and while that can be true in some cases if you shop the right way you won’t be disappointed.

So when it comes down to it, buying a used hot tub can be a great idea. You’ll be able to enjoy the warm water, relax on a romantic evening, and bask in the healing properties.

Before you jump the gun, just be sure to use this information as a guide. Why? Because nobody likes a broken hot tub right?

Putting your new (used) hot tub on a deck?

I have mine on a deck, but for the deck to support the weight when full, it may need to be reinforced. In a recent article, I show you exactly how to know if your deck needs extra support and how you can easily add that if needed.

Just click the link to read that on my site.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

Recent Content