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Buying A Used Tub --- Bad Idea?


DrewinOregon
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I think it's a great time to buy new or used spas. There seems to be a lot of people who are against buying a used spa. I'm considering a 1996 Jetsetter from Hotsprings for $2,500 that's been completely refurbished.

What are people's experiences in buying a used spa? I would feel better about buying a quality brand, not a used Home Depot tub.

I'm also willing to spend more for a new one, up to 6k. Also looking at the Tiger River Bengal model.

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I think it's a great time to buy new or used spas. There seems to be a lot of people who are against buying a used spa. I'm considering a 1996 Jetsetter from Hotsprings for $2,500 that's been completely refurbished.

What are people's experiences in buying a used spa? I would feel better about buying a quality brand, not a used Home Depot tub.

I'm also willing to spend more for a new one, up to 6k. Also looking at the Tiger River Bengal model.

If you are looking at a spa that is used from a spa owner it is imperative that you see the spa in operation, regardless of the price. If you don't see it running then run away yourself.

If this is a spa from a dealer then the key is to get some type of store warranty. If they've refurbished it then they should stand by their work and give something like like 60 or 90 or 120 days so you can be sure it truly was running well when they refurbished it.

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I think it's a great time to buy new or used spas. There seems to be a lot of people who are against buying a used spa. I'm considering a 1996 Jetsetter from Hotsprings for $2,500 that's been completely refurbished.

What are people's experiences in buying a used spa? I would feel better about buying a quality brand, not a used Home Depot tub.

I'm also willing to spend more for a new one, up to 6k. Also looking at the Tiger River Bengal model.

If you are looking at a spa that is used from a spa owner it is imperative that you see the spa in operation, regardless of the price. If you don't see it running then run away yourself.

If this is a spa from a dealer then the key is to get some type of store warranty. If they've refurbished it then they should stand by their work and give something like like 60 or 90 or 120 days so you can be sure it truly was running well when they refurbished it.

I just bought a 2004 Hot Spring Sovereign for $500. It was not hooked up but it did hold water. It was also very dirty. I am in the process of fixing and cleaning it up now. I'm getting it a new cover and lift, and I'm having to fix the controller board and a few of the jets. I found all of the parts and services I need online. The pumps and heater are in good shape fortunately. I should be done with the project by this weekend. Overall, I've found it pretty simple to work on.

My advice on buying a used tub would be, stick to a quality, established brand, check out the service history form the dealer it was purchased from. Also, make sure that it is hooked up and working or else budget some money for repairs and offer less than $1000. Make sure and get an estimate for moving costs and electrical hookup. After everything, I'll have about $3500 in my tub. Still it's allot less than a new one. The best deal I could find on a new tub was about $6000.

The Tiger River spas are very good. If I were buying new, I would definitely consider one of these. They seem to be made every bit as well as the Hot Spring, but the warranty is not as long. Still, I would not let that scare me away. They just seem to bump up the price of the Hot Spring line to cover the cost of extending the warranty. Otherwise, they are nearly identical.

Good luck.

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I just bought a 2004 Hot Spring Sovereign for $500. It was not hooked up but it did hold water. It was also very dirty. I am in the process of fixing and cleaning it up now. I'm getting it a new cover and lift, and I'm having to fix the controller board and a few of the jets. I found all of the parts and services I need online. The pumps and heater are in good shape fortunately. I should be done with the project by this weekend. Overall, I've found it pretty simple to work on.

My advice on buying a used tub would be, stick to a quality, established brand, check out the service history form the dealer it was purchased from. Also, make sure that it is hooked up and working or else budget some money for repairs and offer less than $1000. Make sure and get an estimate for moving costs and electrical hookup. After everything, I'll have about $3500 in my tub. Still it's allot less than a new one. The best deal I could find on a new tub was about $6000.

The Tiger River spas are very good. If I were buying new, I would definitely consider one of these. They seem to be made every bit as well as the Hot Spring, but the warranty is not as long. Still, I would not let that scare me away. They just seem to bump up the price of the Hot Spring line to cover the cost of extending the warranty. Otherwise, they are nearly identical.

Good luck.

"Also, make sure that it is hooked up and working or else budget some money for repairs and offer less than $1000."

I agree with the first half of your sentence above but not the second half. I know you want to pass on your good experience but you were lucky with your $500 purchase of a spa you did not see in operation. I know you're thinking "it was a good price and a good brand" but IMO its still a bad idea if not seen in operation. People are OFTEN putting these spas on Craigslist or selling them by word of mouth cheap knowing they're getting rid of their headache by passing it on to another person. Sometmes, the cheaper it is the more you haev to wonder "hmm, is it cheap because its a money pit?".

For every person like you that buys a spa without seeing it running there is the guy I was helping last weekend who bought a used spa from someone he knows based on the promise "it worked well when last used a few months ago before I drained it". Now he's in it for the $600 he paid, plus another $1200 trying to get it running plus the $500-800 or so more he needs to hopefully get it running (and that is just to get the spa running, not for electrical, delivery, etc.).

After talking to him about the next step he kept repeating "I can't believe I bought this without seeing it in operation"!!!

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I've learned so much from this forum. I have a chance at a 2005 Hot Spring Sovereign for $2,000.00, supposedly working great. I asked (among other things) if the spa is currently operating and if I can wet test. Answer to both questions is yes. So we're in the process of figuring out a mutually agreeable time to meet. If it's in good shape, I just have to decide if 4 1/2 inches of depth and 100 gallons of water is worth the $6,200.00 difference in price between my dream spa (new Sundance Altamar) and this used Sovereign.

Thanks so much for all the tips.

Raeven

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Opinions are like.....

Here is another one. Even if you had to spend $2000 to get a $600 spa up and running you will still be saving $5000 to $7500 off of the price of buying new... and you can't add the delivery and wiring costs since they would be the same if you bought new.,... (unless the dealer 'throws them in' but then you are really paying for them anyway.)

Go for it.

(on edit: you might want to take a look at this thread too; http://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=13751 )

Good luck.

I just bought a 2004 Hot Spring Sovereign for $500. It was not hooked up but it did hold water. It was also very dirty. I am in the process of fixing and cleaning it up now. I'm getting it a new cover and lift, and I'm having to fix the controller board and a few of the jets. I found all of the parts and services I need online. The pumps and heater are in good shape fortunately. I should be done with the project by this weekend. Overall, I've found it pretty simple to work on.

My advice on buying a used tub would be, stick to a quality, established brand, check out the service history form the dealer it was purchased from. Also, make sure that it is hooked up and working or else budget some money for repairs and offer less than $1000. Make sure and get an estimate for moving costs and electrical hookup. After everything, I'll have about $3500 in my tub. Still it's allot less than a new one. The best deal I could find on a new tub was about $6000.

The Tiger River spas are very good. If I were buying new, I would definitely consider one of these. They seem to be made every bit as well as the Hot Spring, but the warranty is not as long. Still, I would not let that scare me away. They just seem to bump up the price of the Hot Spring line to cover the cost of extending the warranty. Otherwise, they are nearly identical.

Good luck.

"Also, make sure that it is hooked up and working or else budget some money for repairs and offer less than $1000."

I agree with the first half of your sentence above but not the second half. I know you want to pass on your good experience but you were lucky with your $500 purchase of a spa you did not see in operation. I know you're thinking "it was a good price and a good brand" but IMO its still a bad idea if not seen in operation. People are OFTEN putting these spas on Craigslist or selling them by word of mouth cheap knowing they're getting rid of their headache by passing it on to another person. Sometmes, the cheaper it is the more you haev to wonder "hmm, is it cheap because its a money pit?".

For every person like you that buys a spa without seeing it running there is the guy I was helping last weekend who bought a used spa from someone he knows based on the promise "it worked well when last used a few months ago before I drained it". Now he's in it for the $600 he paid, plus another $1200 trying to get it running plus the $500-800 or so more he needs to hopefully get it running (and that is just to get the spa running, not for electrical, delivery, etc.).

After talking to him about the next step he kept repeating "I can't believe I bought this without seeing it in operation"!!!

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My wife and I bought a used Caldera Kauai through an ad on Craig's list last July. It was full of water and operating when we looked at it. Delivery was included in the price. I wired it in myself.

We didn't even think of buying a new spa, so we didn't look at any. We looked at a lot of used tubs though and the one we bought was the nicest one we'd seen. Other than having to round up the parts to assemble the peculiar two breaker GFCI sub panel required by the manufacturer, we have not had any problems with it.

We can't think of anything we would have done differently.

Dave

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My wife and I bought a used Caldera Kauai through an ad on Craig's list last July. It was full of water and operating when we looked at it. Delivery was included in the price. I wired it in myself.

We didn't even think of buying a new spa, so we didn't look at any. We looked at a lot of used tubs though and the one we bought was the nicest one we'd seen. Other than having to round up the parts to assemble the peculiar two breaker GFCI sub panel required by the manufacturer, we have not had any problems with it.

We can't think of anything we would have done differently.

Dave

I'm sure part of the reason it all worked out for you is you shopped around, bought a quality brand and saw the spa in operation. Obviously buying used can be a good option; I'm just a proponent of making sure you're getting a spa that is working as expected because I know of soooo many incidences where someone got a major project when they thought they were getting a fully operational used spa.

Now if the owner says "it has this problem and that issue but we're only asking $XXX" or even "its got problems so if you can take it as is its all yours for nothing" and you decide its a project you're willing to take on that's great.

I just hate to see people get into a real fixer upper when they think they're getting a gem.

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spatech, your advice has made a huge difference in how I've approached this purchase. When I first started shopping around, I wouldn't have dreamed of asking to wet test a used spa. Now I've got no problem with it at all. I've also learned to ask for the repair history on a used spa.

I may still get a lemon, but it won't be because I didn't do everything possible to ensure that I didn't -- and that's because people like you have taken your time and effort to post here and help make me an informed shopper. Thanks. ;)

Raeven

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The only thing I would add about my experience is that I am fairly comfortable working on things like this myself. If you have to call a technician at $100 an hour plus travel, the economics quickly get out of whack. If you get a name brand spa and get the parts yourself and do the labor, you are well ahead of the game. I agree that seeing a spa in working order is far better than not. But also realize that it instantly adds $1500 to $2000 to the price. Also, my spa is a 2004 model so I felt that the chances of having to gut the whole thing were fairly low. It was a chance I was willing to take to save some money. And yes, it has been allot of work but to me it has been well worth it.

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spatech, your advice has made a huge difference in how I've approached this purchase. When I first started shopping around, I wouldn't have dreamed of asking to wet test a used spa. Now I've got no problem with it at all. I've also learned to ask for the repair history on a used spa.

I may still get a lemon, but it won't be because I didn't do everything possible to ensure that I didn't -- and that's because people like you have taken your time and effort to post here and help make me an informed shopper. Thanks. ;)

Raeven

Thanks and as you noted, seeing the used spa in operation (and wet testing, good for you) won't guarantee you won't get a lemon but it'll sure lessen the chance, by a lot IMO.

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The only thing I would add about my experience is that I am fairly comfortable working on things like this myself. If you have to call a technician at $100 an hour plus travel, the economics quickly get out of whack. If you get a name brand spa and get the parts yourself and do the labor, you are well ahead of the game. I agree that seeing a spa in working order is far better than not. But also realize that it instantly adds $1500 to $2000 to the price. Also, my spa is a 2004 model so I felt that the chances of having to gut the whole thing were fairly low. It was a chance I was willing to take to save some money. And yes, it has been allot of work but to me it has been well worth it.

JKM, you certainly sound like you are a handy person. How many hours do you think you will have invested in, picking up and installing your spa, researching the parts and problems on the net, rebuilding and repairing etc. the complete amount of hours you have spent. I realise the project is not yet complete, but what do you think you will have for total time once that point is reached? also start up chemicals and I assume you installed new filters also?

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Lets see, re-painting steps, cleaning, installing new cover and lift, installing new jets.... I'd guess around 8-12 hours total. That's spread out over about a month though, mostly on nights and weekends. And yes, I ordered a new set of filters. The only chemicals I've purchased are Swirl Away and chlorine.

-Joel

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Another option for anyone considering a used spa. Dont be afriad to check with your local dealers. If you are a handy person and dont mind doing the work yourself like JKM, you may be able to get a spa for free. We remove many spas when we are installing a new one. We do not sell or rebuild used spas. Many people are finding out that used spas are becoming harder to dispose of. Some towns accept them and some dont.

Many places you have to cut them up and seperate the wood matal and plastic. Its a big job and there is a charge associated with many of the transfer stations also.

Currently we have maybe 6 or 8 spas that we would be happy to give someone for free. I bet we gave away 20 spas this year so far. Some are major brands and some are not. They cost us money and time to dispose of so if someone wanted to pick it up as is they can have them. I am sure there are other dealers out there that feel the same way.

So consider checking with your local dealer and ask about free spas. You may be doing them a big favor and getting that cheapo fixer-upper deal that you are looking for..

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Another option for anyone considering a used spa. Dont be afriad to check with your local dealers. If you are a handy person and dont mind doing the work yourself like JKM, you may be able to get a spa for free. We remove many spas when we are installing a new one. We do not sell or rebuild used spas. Many people are finding out that used spas are becoming harder to dispose of. Some towns accept them and some dont.

Many places you have to cut them up and seperate the wood matal and plastic. Its a big job and there is a charge associated with many of the transfer stations also.

Currently we have maybe 6 or 8 spas that we would be happy to give someone for free. I bet we gave away 20 spas this year so far. Some are major brands and some are not. They cost us money and time to dispose of so if someone wanted to pick it up as is they can have them. I am sure there are other dealers out there that feel the same way.

So consider checking with your local dealer and ask about free spas. You may be doing them a big favor and getting that cheapo fixer-upper deal that you are looking for..

Great point. In our area, the dealers haven't gotten into the used spa business yet and they really don't want to let anyone know that there are used tubs out there. But there is allot of money to be made in used tubs, probably allot more than selling new. I've noticed that some dealers in other areas are into used tubs in a big way. I guess it just depends on what market you are in and how much time you're willing to wait.

-Joel

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I have a few things to add.

Well obviously as you can read here spa hacks charge way to much for service. The guy I used after a lightning strike cannot be called a spa tech. Sorry.

I bought a used wet Colman 555 about 6 years ago. It was 3 years old and had one year left on the warranty which was not transferable on Coleman and I am sure most brands.

I was doing a major backyard remodel so it sat in the garage dry for 1 year or more. I now realize this wasn't a good idea as some of the seals get dry and start to leak.

We have had it operating for about 4-5 years now and we like it however I have done alot of work to it that would have cost more that a new spa. I have had to chip off foam and repair at least 2 air jets. they seem to get brittle and break at the fitting caused by the thousands of blower cycles. I have replaced all the jets as we do get lots of blowing quarts sand. I have pulled one pump twice and the other once to get a new seal installed. If I take it to a spa hack shop it only costs me 50$ to pop in a seal. I bought a new cover 400$. I have re stained the stairs twice and the tub sides once. I have had a few other leaks that were alot of labor and I had my heater finally go out this summer. And then a valve handle pulled out after the heater was off for 10 days. not sure if the seal dried up and it stuck or what. This was a major plumbing job that most folks wouldn't want to do as my valve was one piece.

I did order a new heater on line but the potting was kinda cracked at the electrical feed through so I sent it back and bought it from a supply house where I have got all my jets and parts. They do seem to be getting more testy about selling to joe public and I hate those kinds of industries.

I would have to say that a spa that was left dry for much time is a very risky idea to buy.

My tub now has a balboa board and heater and top decks in it due to the lightning strike but the perimeter lights will not work with this board and the controls are weird. I should have stayed with coleman but I think I was hoodwinked as the spa hack was able to make more money going with the balboa. Bottom line is unless you know alot about repairs and find a good supplier locally I think new would be the way to go.

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elkski, sorry your experience was such a bad one. I can see why you feel as you do. Hope your next experience is better.

As for my own foray into Used Spa Land, here's my current situation, and I'd love any insights from those who care to share:

For sale is a 2005 or 2006 Hot Spring Sovereign Model I with the Endural shell. As I understand it, this model has the smaller pump. It was purchased from the local dealer by a couple who subsequently resold it to a second party because they were moving out of the area. It was moved to its new home in May of 2008. The original owners had the diverter valve and interior control panel replaced under warranty. The second owner only had it moved and nothing since, so that's all the work that's been done on it. She says her motivation for selling it is financial.

I like the person who is offering it for sale. She strikes me as forthright and honest. She has been very helpful in terms of assisting me with the history of the spa. She claims it has been well maintained by both parties (the original owners were personal friends of hers), always filled, functioning and kept on a regular schedule for chemicals, cleaning, water changes, etc. The spa is offered with chemicals, cover lift, steps and GFI panel.

The local dealer has been quite helpful in terms of discussing the particular spa and its history, as well as providing information regarding moving and preparing the space for the spa. I think they would be fine to deal with for repairs. They have been in our area for a very long time.

I am going for a wet test in the spa tomorrow to make sure the lounge fits me, but otherwise, I don't have any alarm bells.

Asking price is $2,000.

Are there any questions I should ask? Any particular issues with this spa about which I should know?

Thanks to anyone who is kind enough to share their experience, knowledge or thoughts.

All the best, Raeven

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Well, like they say... wet test, wet test, wet test.

The spa was as represented, in pristine condition and the present owner was prepared to throw in new filters and some other good incentives. She is a truly lovely person. I wish this deal would have worked out.

Unfortunately, I am too tall for this spa. Total depth is only 33", and a good part of my upper body stayed above the water line in most of the seats. I decided I wouldn't ever be really happy with it for this reason.

Oh, well. Made a new friend, and I have another short friend who might be interested in her spa. Maybe it all will work out in the end.

And I keep looking. <_<

Raeven

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