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Do you need a permit for a hot tub? If you are getting a hot tub, you’re bound to have several questions related to its safety and legality. Let’s tackle both of these aspects of hot tub installation and see what needs to be done before you can go for a dip.
Do You Need A Permit For A Hot Tub?
Let’s get the legal side of the question out of the way first. Building codes across the United States vary, but typically, you only need a building permit for a pool, spa, hot tub, or other body of water that has a capacity of greater than 5,000 gallons.
Needless to say, unless you’re getting a king-size hot tub, chances are this won’t apply to you and your backyard jacuzzi. However, there is a catch to all of that.
While standard tubs are typically fine, custom tubs installed in single-family residences may require electrical or plumbing permits.
The reason for this typically has to do with building codes, which may not be in accordance with the particular electrical and plumbing hot tubs you are considering.
For that reason, it is typically a good idea to make sure that your hot tub’s connections are in accordance with those set forth by the National Electrical Code – and it’s usually a good idea to get a licensed electrician to check that for you.
In addition, you should check to see if any local or state electrical codes apply. That said, if you have had a hot tub installed recently without checking all of that and are worried that you may have accidentally incurred a code violation or two, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
It is estimated by industry professionals that as many as half of all hot tubs installed in the United States are in violation of a code.
This is no small part because there are so many regulations, laws can be obscure or change without people knowing, or installation teams simply have insight into regulations for electrical codes but not plumbing ones, or vice versa.
Common violations include poor electrical grounding, exposed, frayed, or otherwise bad wiring, and a lack of ground fault protection, all of which can put users at risk of electrocution.
It is always a good idea to have your hot tub’s electrical and plumbing lines pressure tested before using them. When in doubt, it is always best to call a professional to test and check these things for you.
Some examples of state-specific codes that you’ll want to keep in mind when putting in a new hot tub include:
- Your distance from the property line. In both California and Minnesota, hot tubs need to be at least five feet from a property line. This can naturally have a big impact on what size hot tub you get and where you place it on your property.
- Required safety barriers. For example, in Washington, barriers that feature self-latching gates are required for any spa or pool that is more than two feet deep so as to prevent accidents.
- Restrictions on filling areas. For example, in California, there are both city and state ordinances that prohibit hot tub owners from draining or refilling their hot tub unless there is a leak or other sanitation issue.
- In some states, such as Florida, a last of several safety measures are given (such as exit alarms, hot tub covers, and barriers for tubs deeper than four feet) and it is up to owners to choose which to implement, though having at least one is required.
Finally, it is worth noting that while there are plenty of aesthetic choices that may sound fun, they aren’t always the best from a health and safety perspective.
For example, gazebos are a popular choice to pair with hot tubs. However, while this can work, you’ll need to make sure the confines and specific layout of the gazebo doesn’t conflict with any of the codes mentioned above.
Remember, if your hot tub exceeds a certain square footage limit, you may have to acquire building permits.
Hot Tub Rules and Regulations
Assuming you have followed the legal advice above, you should now be ready to enjoy your hot tub right? Well, not quite yet.
There are still plenty of care-taking guidelines you’ll want to follow to make sure you not only are able to use your hot tub in a safe manner but are able to get the most out of it as well.
For example, you want to make sure to consider the layout of the hot tub as well as its location when planning out how you’ll clean it.
Fail to do this, and you could be left waiting forever for the heat and water to interact with cleaning chemicals. On that note, you’ll want to pay close attention to and be sure to enforce consistent hot tub safety rules.
While these may seem like a bit of a drag, they are essential for ensuring the long-term viability of the hot tub as well as the safety of your family and friends.
For example, it’s typically a good idea to have everyone shower before they take a dip in the tub. The same goes for those about to swim in a pool, too.
The last thing you want is for people to spread bacteria when going for a swim or sitting in a hot tub, and showering off can make germ management that much easier.
What’s more, it can also help save you time when cleaning your pool or tub. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the amount of time you have been in the tub.
Granted, time can fly when you’re relaxing and soaking up the lovely warmth of the tub, but there is too much of a good thing, and in this case it can prove hazardous.
For example, if you stay in a hot tub that is too hot for too long (that is, longer than 15 minutes), you run the risk of becoming overheated. This in turn can lead to more serious problems, such as fainting.
You may even accidentally irritate or burn your skin. There’s nothing quite like sipping on a margarita while chillaxing in the tub.
Still, soothing and paradisal though this can be, you should be mindful of the fact that the heat of the water will impact the rate at which your body processes alcohol and thus how quickly you become intoxicated.
The hotter the tub, the more that tends to accelerate. As such, you should always be careful to drink in moderation when doing so in a hot tub.
Even if you’re normally able to “handle” higher amounts of alcohol consumption, this may be more hazardous while you soak up the heat in a hot tub.
In addition, there are certain health conditions that are not a good mix with hot tub stays, especially cardiac or pulmonary problems.
Not only can this lead to the aforementioned overheating issue, but it can also tax our heart and lungs. If you already have heart or lung problems, staying in a hot tub for a long period of time is probably a bad idea.
As a rule of thumb, if you are uncertain as to whether a hot tub might exacerbate a medical issue, you should ask your doctor before taking a dip.
As alluded to above, you’ll also want to pay close attention to the quality of the water. A dip in a hot tub won’t seem as luxurious if you’re stuck paddling slimy scum and bacterial buildup away from yourself the whole time.
You should thus inspect the water before getting in. If the clarity of the water is less than ideal (that is, if it is cloudy or foamy), chances are something has gone seriously wrong and you should check out your water filtration system.
In addition to bacterial buildup, cloudy water could also mean that the chemical levels in the water are off, or that there is too much oil in the water.
Remember, while draining hot tubs is often frowned upon according to local and state law, if the water clarity and quality are poor, you may have no choice.
It isn’t worth jeopardizing your health to uphold these standards, so if the water quality is bad, don’t be afraid to drain it out and start afresh.
One reason water clarity and quality are so important is that even the tiniest bit of bacterial buildup can lead to major problems if it gets into an infection or cut. This can lead to you getting tremendously sick.
On the other hand, if you are already sick (knowingly or otherwise) and you go into the water with an open or even a recently closed wound that may open again in the heat, it can lead to you transmitting germs to others.
If guests have cuts or wounds, it is better if they simply do not go into the tub or pool. The heat of a hot tub can also be too intense for children, and they should not be allowed into the hot tub.
This is also true given their small size, as there is the danger they might accidentally slip beneath the water and drown.
You’ll thus also want to buy and attach a pool or hot tub covering to ensure that the water remains covered while you are away so as to prevent these kinds of accidents.
Adults, meanwhile, should take care when entering or exiting the pool or spa so as not to slip and hurt themselves.
To that end, you should always make sure that the area surrounding the hot tub and pool are wiped down so they are nice and dry so as to prevent slippage and accidents from occurring.
In addition to a cover, some choose to add a fence around their hot tub or pool for extra protection. If you are pregnant, you should consult a physician before using a hot tub to make sure it isn’t a danger to your present condition.
While hot tubs will not cause a miscarriage on their own, they will naturally raise your body temperature.
This can naturally be of concern to any woman who’s pregnant, so if you do decide to go for a quick dip, you’ll need to be quite careful with the temperature of the water and the duration of your stay.
One reason you may wish to do so is because the heat from a hot tub can be enormously soothing for sore muscles and a host of other ailments. It can also be great for those suffering from arthritis, back pain, and similar conditions.
The mixture of heat and chemicals in hot tubs can be a potent one. As such, if you are going to place a hot tub indoors, make sure you keep the area well ventilated.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that the jets through which water flows out and the filter into which old water flows back in are both unobstructed.
Sitting in front of the jets for a brief period can be soothing, but keeping it blocked for a prolonged period of time can be dangerous.
If, upon getting out of the hot tub, you find you have developed a rash, you should do another check of your water’s cleanliness, as this can be a sign that there is a bacterial issue.
It can also mean that there is too much chlorine and cleaning chemicals, or that your skin simply cannot tolerate these very well.
There are plenty of things you need to keep in mind when purchasing, installing, and maintaining a hot tub from a maintenance and safety perspective.
While the sheer totality of it all can seem overwhelming, each of these tips can help keep you and your guests safe while improving your hot tubbing experience.
You’ll likewise want to make sure you are following local and state electrical and local codes to ensure your experience is as safe as possible. Once you have done all that, you can enjoy a hot, soothing hot tubbing experience in comfort and security.
Hello, my name is David Zal and I’m a plumber with more than 20 years of experience based in Englewood (Florida). I like to teach normal people how to make easy fixes in their homes. I believe that a lot can be achieved just with DYI and that’s why I started this blog.