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What to Know Before Buying a Used Spa

What to Know Before Buying a Used Spa

Many of you have considered buying a new hot tub, but also wondered if a used tub is a smart purchase. Since Covid, the cost of all spas has gone up at least 25%, so considering a used spa makes sense. And since we do troubleshooting over the phone and sell replacement parts, we have a pretty good idea of what you should look for.

Now why would somebody be selling their hot tub?

  • Sometimes there’s a problem with a spa that needs to be fixed and they don’t want to spend money on it anymore. This can be good for you if you know what’s wrong.
  • Sometimes they’re just not interested in using the hot tub anymore. They were originally excited to buy it and then, for any number of reasons, they just want it out of the backyard.
  • Sometimes you have a seller who just moved into a house and doesn’t really want the hot tub.
  • You might have a seller who had a spouse or partner who used the spa regularly and now they have passed away or are gone and the other person is happy to give it up. So these can all be good reasons for selling the hot tub and for you to buy one a used one

Where are some good places to look for a hot tub?

  • Many people find them on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
  • Ask your friends see if they know anyone selling.
  • Buying a used spa can like buying a used car: you have to know what you’re looking for and you have to go in with your eyes wide open.

When you’re in the seller’s backyard, what should you look for?

  • Whenever possible, ask the seller to fill the spa and have it running when you get there.
  • Is the cabinet in good condition?
  • Is the water hot?
  • Do the pumps work?
  • Look at the upper control. Can you read the display and do the buttons work?
  • Is the spa cover okay or does it need replacing?
  • Do all of the Jets work?

If there is water around the base of the spa there might be a leak. You’ll want to take the front door off where the equipment is. Run the pumps on high-speed and look for any source of a leak. Sometimes a pump will leak and it just needs a seal kit, which runs around $50 or less, and a couple hours work. No big deal.

If some of the fittings are loose or cracked those might be fairly easy to replace.

If the leak is coming from inside the cabinet where the plumbing is, it can be more of a project.

If the side panels are removeable, we have a leak repair video that will help you locate and fix many problems.

Okay, so let’s pretend everything is in good working order, how much should you pay?

Here’s how I think about it.

  • If I go to Costco and buy one of their midsize spas, I might pay around $5000. If the used spa is around 5-7 years old, and it’s in excellent condition, we’ll pay half, or about $2500.
  • Now, does it need a new spa cover? That can be $600, depending on the size of the spa. You definitely want new spa filters. You want to be sitting in your own “stuff”, not somebody else’s. That’s another hundred dollars or so. Are any Jets missing? They generally begin at $20 apiece, depending on their size and function.
  • What is the condition of the headrests? The standard life of those is 4-5 years and replacing is anywhere from $30-$60 each depending on who manufactured them.

So our hypothetical case with a $2500 excellent used spa around five years old. Subtract the cost of cover to $600, new headrests, filters, & jets. I think offering $1600 is a fair place to start.
I’ve seen people buy older spas in good condition for as little as $500.

You now have to get the spa home and in your backyard.

There are several You Tube videos on how to move a spa, so I’d look there for ideas. If you live in a town with several spa dealers, there may be a moving service they use. Don’t be afraid to call them and ask.

  • The best place for your spa, if you’ve got one already, may be on a flat concrete slab or deck,. We put our spa on a bed of crushed rock. We just built a little wall with a few bricks and raked the rocks smooth before laying the spa down. That was only a couple hundred dollars and a half days work.
  • Think about what you want to see when the spa is in place. A blank wall on the side of your house or a beautiful sunset?
  • Think about where to run the wiring
  • And be sure to leave room all around the spa to work on it, if necessary.

Now you’ve got to run wiring from the main panel to a GFI breaker near the tub.

  • You can find the electrical specs by calling Easy Spa Parts. Our experienced techs can help with this and most parts you’ll need. I would have an electrician do the wiring. You want to meet national and local electrical codes. If there’s ever any issue with a hot tub, you don’t want an insurance claim to be denied because you wired it on the cheap.

Once the spa’s in place and wired, fill it add water to see if everything is working.

  • Sometimes, the first time you turn it on, the GFI trips. It’s not uncommon for the white wire on your GFI to be in the wrong spot. Hot tubs are a little different than other GFI hookups so you can call ESP for a wiring diagram.
  • Even certified electricians get this one wrong. And boy do they hate to admit it.
  • So that’s what ESP does. We help with troubleshooting over the phone or chat. Then we supply parts for your repairs.

I hope you are not overwhelmed because once you have a hot tub that’s working, there’s nothing more enjoyable and relaxing for you, your family and your friends. It’s a great place to congregate. My nieces and nephews love coming to our house just to visit in the hot tub. So happy spa hunting and if you have any questions give us at call ESP.