Hot tub covers can easily get waterlogged if not properly taken care of. Soaking in a hot tub is an excellent way to unwind and release tension, especially after a long day at work. Knowing fully well how beneficial spas are, owners protect their property by investing in hot tub covers. Sadly, as time goes on, you might notice that the cover gets heavier and difficult to lift.
Does it mean that the hot tub damaged? No, what you have is a typical case of hot tub cover getting waterlogged. A hot tub cover gets waterlogged when the foam core becomes exposed to moisture. The waterlogged cover itself might not do any significant damage to your hot tub nevertheless, it is a situation that needs to be addressed quickly. The hot tub cover is an essential part of your spa, relevant for its continued use.
Why hot tub covers are important
Hot tub covers are made to protect your investment and reduce operational costs. They were designed to protect the inner parts of your spa. However, covers do much more than that. Below are some reasons you should invest in a high-quality hot tub cover.
Most hot tubs are placed outdoors, specifically in the yard. An uncovered outdoor spa is prone to debris and pollutants. If your hot tub does not have a cover, whether indoor or outdoor, it is impossible to keep out dirt and microbes.
Hot tub water should be kept clean and clear at all times. The cover prevents any particles that can pollute your water. It will also save you the stress of cleaning your spa all the time and reduce the amount spent on chemicals.
Spa covers are not only essential to protect your property. In some situations, they might be the only thing stopping your children or pets from taking a dangerous dive without your knowledge. A hot tub cover affords you peace of mind whether you are at home or not. You can go about your business rest assured that the tub is secure and does not pose a danger to anyone.
Hot tubs are fitted with an insulation system. Its function is to maintain the spa heat so that the water is ready whenever you want to dip. However, hot tub covers are much more effective in keeping the water heated.
Spas without cover, on the other hand, frustrate the performance of the insulation system. Evaporation and freezing snow cool the water temperature. To use the spa, you would have to heat the water again. This will most likely cause a spike in electricity bills. A spa cover reduces the cost of operating your tub.
What are hot tub covers made of?
It is essential to know what is used to make hot tub covers to understand how they become waterlogged.
The outer part of the spa cover that you can see is made of vinyl. It keeps out unwanted elements and keeps in the spa’s heat. The vinyl has to be maintained with UV treatment to protect it from blistering sunshine. Also, the part of the vinyl that covers the water must be treated to protect from chemical vapors produced by the hot tub water.
The vinyl is usually affixed to the hot tub hinge or other parts, and the content of the vinyl can be accessed by opening the zip.
- Foam core
Inside the vinyl is the foam core. Its function is to ensure that the spa cover effectively maintains the spa’s thermal level—foam cores slope in shape to allow dirt debris to slide off. Foam cores come in different densities. The higher the density, the more efficient the cover is.
- Vapor Barrier
The vapor barrier protects the foam core from being exposed to moisture. Foam cores are millions of tiny air pockets, and if exposed to water, they would hold water like a sponge and make the cover heavy. The vapor is a thin sheet sealed around the foam core to shield it from moisture.
How hot tubs become waterlogged
A hot tub cover gradually becomes waterlogged when the foam core is exposed to moisture. How do foam cores become exposed to moisture? Outer layers like the vinyl and the vapor barrier protect the foam core. Reasonably, exposure occurs when these outer layers fail to keep water away from the foam cores. This may be because the outer vinyl was punctured or has deteriorated.
The hot tub is usually filled with clean heated water, which produces vapor. Since hot air rises, these vapors will find their way through a tear or hole in the vinyl and the vapor barrier. Then, the foam cores begin to absorb moisture. Although it might take quite some time, the dense foam gets soggy with water, and the cover becomes difficult to lift off.
Signs your hot tub cover is waterlogged
Generally, most hot tub covers’ durability is 5 – 7 years, all things being equal. Apart from the signs listed below, your spa cover needs to be changed once it begins to cup in the middle. This occurs when excess weight is placed or starts to collect on the cover, weighing it down. Now, let’s look at the signs that your hot tub is waterlogged.
- Electricity use
The hot tub cover not only keeps things out of your tub. It also protects your spa’s thermal efficiency. As such, you don’t have to re-heat the water every time you want to soak. Once the foam cores begin to absorb moisture, the cover fails to maintain the water’s heat.
When this happens, you would have to heat the water with electricity before using it. Increased electricity use might be a sign that all is not well with your hot tub cover.
- Bad smell
When the foam core becomes saturated, the cover will emit a foul smell. The chemical in the hot tub water compounds this. A foul odor is a sure sign your hot tub is waterlogged.
- Heavy cover
This is the most obvious sign. However, it is gradual, and most people tend to ignore it at first until the cover becomes impossible for one or two persons to lift. As stated above, the heaviness results from the water absorbed by millions of foam cores.
- Torn vinyl
If you observe the signs above and are still unsure whether the cover is waterlogged, inspect the spa cover for any tear or crack. Once the vinyl is torn, it gives room for moisture to get to the foam core. Though the vapor barrier shields them, waterlogging should not be ruled out just yet, and a torn vinyl should be replaced, waterlogged or not.
How to fix a waterlogged hot tub cover
Luckily, you don’t need expert knowledge or a repairer to fix your hot tub cover. Below are some guidelines to follow to get your spa cover fixed. But before you start, you might want to observe the weather forecast and schedule your repair on consequent sunny days. Extremely sunny days will increase your chances of success.
- Remove the spa cover
Do not attempt this alone if the cover has become too heavy for a single person. Lift the cover of the spa and place it on the ground.
- Remove the foam core
Open the zip of the vinyl. Do this carefully to avoid compounding existing tears. Then, remove the foam core sheltered by the vinyl. Notably, the dense foam will be heavy with water. You might want to do this with someone to prevent damage.
- Remove the vapor barrier
You will find the vapor barrier encasing the foam core. Remove the vapor barrier as well. Here, you will have to decide whether to buy a new vapor barrier or repair the one you have. In any case, make sure the vapor barrier can prevent moisture before putting it back.
- Dry the foam core
Place the foam core in a sunlit area to get the best results. Also, change its position at intervals to ensure that all sides of the foam are exposed. You might have to support it with wood planks to make it stand. Before you decide it has had enough sunbath, check if it is lighter. Keep drying it until it feels light.
- Dry and patch the vinyl cover
Use a special cleaner to cleanse the vinyl cover and lay it under the sun to dry thoroughly. Change its position to ensure it is properly exposed to air. Then, inspect it to locate the hole or tear. Preferably, you should get a patch-up kit since they come with instructions. Here are some tips to repair the vinyl cover;
- Wash the area of the tear on the vinyl.
- Cut around the edges of the tear.
- Cut around the patch as well to an appropriate size for the tear.
- Apply sandpaper on the torn area before patching.
- Fit the foam core into the vapor barrier
It is important to confirm that the vapor barrier has no hole. Or you will end up with a soggy foam-core again. You can seal the holes with any material that will not permit moisture or purchase a new vapor barrier.
- Encase the foam core
If necessary, after patching or replacement, you can put the foam core back into the vinyl cover and place it on the hot tub.
Why you should fix your waterlogged hot tub
Perhaps, you find the guidelines above too stressful. You may be wondering if using your hot tub the way it is after getting waterlogged will only affects the cover. Unfortunately, a heavy hot tub cover is costly to run. The waterlogged cover will not maintain your hot tub’s thermal level, forcing you to re-heat anytime you want to use the spa. This might be frequent during the winter months and will cause a spike in your electricity bill.
Also, the continued use of a waterlogged cover will take its toll on other parts of the spa. For instance, as the cover gets heavier, it will become difficult for the equipped cover lifters to function. In the end, the lifter will break due to excess weight.
Furthermore, if a waterlogged cover is not fixed, it will begin to accommodate bacteria like mold and mildew. Then, it would emit a foul smell. This, coupled with the cover’s heaviness, will put you off anytime you feel like dipping.
How to keep your hot tub cover in good shape
Preventing your hot tub cover from becoming waterlogged in the first place is much better than having to fix it. There is no guarantee that a waterlogged spa cover will be good as new even after it is fixed. Taking steps to prevent your hot tub cover from getting waterlogged would reduce running costs and improve the longevity of your cover. Here are some tips for maintaining your hot tub;
- Avoid placing heavy objects on it. Your hot tub cover is not a good place to sit on. Generally, do not put any heavy thing on the cover to prevent ‘cupping.’ Don’t allow snow to collect on the top of the cover. While removing anything on it, be careful not to use any tool that might puncture it.
- Lock the cover with equipped clips. This will reduce heat loss and save energy bills.
- The vinyl is the spa cover’s main shield. It is vital to give it regular treatment to ensure that it is in good condition to fight off unwanted elements. Use a vinyl conditioner to treat the outer side and check the inner part regularly to prevent bacteria.
- Make sure the hot tub is not located where the vinyl could be punctured.
- After shocking the spa, leave it open. The chemical vapor after shocking might damage the spa cover.
- Take the hot tub cover off once in a while, and lay it under the sun. Do this regularly to extend the lifespan of the tub.
- Examine the vinyl regularly for tears and observe its weight.
Taking good care of your hot tub will help you to get maximum enjoyment from your investment. No one wants to buy a spa only to see it break down after few years. This article explored how to fix and take preventive measures against waterlogging. Following the points mentioned above will save you future stress and unnecessary costs.