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Water Icing/evaporation Through Side Of Cover - Ideas?


Vermontubber
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Hello all - Happy New Year. I looked through various topics about thermal blankets and cover maintenance during winter, but haven't found anything that addresses what I'm hoping to learn.

I have a small (3-4 person) 250 gallon hot tub here in Vermont, only a few months old. There are no leaks (have checked thoroughly) and it is well insulated on the sides. I have a fitted bubble wrap-style thermal blanket on the water, then the cover, and to protect the tub and cover from snow and falling ice when we are not using it, I've placed a tarp on top with fitted pieces of light plywood that helps in case a tree branch, ice, or heavy snow falls.

We went on vacation for 6 days, and I left the tub at 95 degrees since we wouldn't be using it; when I got back, the water level was dangerously low - I'd lost a foot or more! Thank goodness no damage was done, but it was close.

I know that there is extreme evaporation during dry, frigid weather, but this was way past anything I'd expect. I have noted that water tends to get sucked out of the sides of the tub and seems to drip down off of the cover's flaps, which I can track because it freezes on the side of the tub (composite, not wood). Is this the culprit of such drastic water loss? Should I be using a foam blanket insulator on top of the edges of the tub as some here have suggested, or is the cover simply really horrid and need replacing?

I don't mind adding water to combat evaporation but the risk of damaging the tub when we're gone kinda freaked me out. Any suggestions of steps to take to figure this puzzle out would be really helpful - thanks in advance and happy 2015.

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Couple possibilities;

The spa is too far off level.

For any number of reasons, the cover isn't fitting tight enough.

You have a leak.

Your air dials are open.

There's a black hole near by (this is about the only thing I can think of that might actually cause, "water tends to get sucked out of the sides of the tub".

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Thanks for your kind replies (I like the black hole theory!) - my language was poor in that regard, so to clarify - After checking again this morning, I think water is beading/collecting on the inside of the cover and dripping out via the flaps, down the sides of the tub, in an usual quantity. I searched around the entire perimeter of the tub and inside the maintenance console an there is no sign of a leak anywhere, nor any standing or frozen water anywhere but down the sides of the tub. This morning there were huge icicles down two sides of the tub that weren't there last night, and as I check the lip of the cover, they are definitely wet and the origin of the icicles. Given the volume that I see it wouldn't be impossible to lose what I did over the week we were gone.

If :

I continue to find that there is no leak;

The air dials are closed (I never have the air jets on when the tub is not in use, and we only occasionally use them when we are in, so they are definitely off)

The cover (a flat, basic version) seems to be at least a big part of the issue. I've not read about anyone else having these drips down the sides of the tub in cold weather, so perhaps it doesn't fit right after all. Strange, because it's the cover that came with the tub, and it *seems* tight around the edges. Even though it's tight, the flaps are still wet.

Anyway, thanks for conversing and offering ideas about this. It will feel better to make a financial commitment for a new cover or blanket or whatever at least having explored possibilities, so I appreciate this very much.

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The cover could also be slightly warped, or the top of the spa not perfectly flat, causine a gap that water drips out of (or is sucked through by that black hole :-). Try pushing down on each corner of the cover and see if it moves down.

Or, if most of the escaping water is coming from the hinge area of the cover, then it's just a poorly designed cover.

Being it's the cover that came with the tub, odds are it's as cheaply made as possible (most OEM, but not all, are).

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  • 2 months later...

My tub experiences a little "steam out" from the side crevices of the cover and I saw some mini-icicles (expected) -- but -- at most I've only had to add two inches every month or so.

- does your cover fold over the edges / side of the tub? A good cover fit should completely go beyond the outer edges of the top of the tub. If the tub is, say, six feet square, that cover should be more than six feet wide. It should rest comfortably and the sides of the cover should overhang the tub's edges. Not tight.

Had that problem on an older hot tub - someone sold me a bum cover replacement that didn't fit.

- how thick is the cover? It's been rather cold up here - temps below 0F / -15C .... being in New England - you should have a THICK cover. I am rather concerned that you might have too thin of a cover - the "bubble blanket" or "foam blanket" might merely be a way to compensate for an inadequate cover for your / our climate and if you were advised to use one, You might want to upgrade that cover. You shouldn't have to supplement it. You said "flat cover" - that also bothers me greatly.

- your spa cover should be designed for your climate. What works in Arizona or California or Florida might not be suitable for Vermont in winter. Same as clothing.... you wear your Bean boots and heavy jacket. You don't wear flip-flops around town in January in Northern New England.... your hot tub should be treated in similar fashion.

- you will always get SOME evaporation. More so in the winter. My niece had a tub with a thin cover. At Lake Winnipesaukee. Sub-freezing weather. Cover flew off in the wind, never to be found. Water evaporated. Motors/pumps burned out. I advised her , when replacing the burned out tub - UPGRADE that cover. I don't know if she did.

Now - I own an Arctic Spa, very happy with it. Their covers are definitely heavy-duty and will save you money in the long run ; I do not work for Arctic, but I do know that their cover is great, compared to others I've had =

http://www.arcticspas.com/spa-school/hot-tub-covers/

I maintain my cover with regular applications of 303 Aerospace Protectant (available at West Marine) - beats other products, even though it's more expensive than other "protectant" products; and remove snow with a product called a Sno-Brum - they cost around $15 or $20. But -- a good cover will pay for itself. Covers DO go -- but a good one can last you ten years if you take care of it - and clear the snow off of it regularly.

And - CHECK AGAIN FOR LEAKS. If your tub is foam-packed-insulated - it may be nigh impossible to find it easily... This is why I went with what I went with this time around - a heat-saving but non-foam packed cabinet. W had a similar leak and it took us some time to find it, (on our old Sequoia Spa).

Good luck, let us know how it works out. Remember the old Yuban Coffee ad - "As John R. Arbuckle once said, 'You get what you PAY for...!':

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Hello all -

Just a thank you and an update now that 2 months of incredibly frigid temperatures seem to be improving. Some things I've noted/learned, for which I'm always interested in hearing your input:

So far, since that one incident in late December, no other massive or even really noticeable water loss has occurred. Temperatures remained well below freezing for a solid chunk of January and all of February. The icicles on the side of the tub I spoke about continued to appear, although smaller.

Once March came, temperatures rose above freezing and we of course were going on a vacation for a week and I was worried - if it was a leak of some sort within the insulation area, I figured it probably had frozen and would reappear once things thawed. But fortunately, this seems not to be the case. We got back last night and the water level was fine.

My current working theory: what happened initially was that the cover is indeed horribly made, and it must have soaked up steam and condensation so that it was completely saturated. That water either dripped out the edge seams or stayed inside and froze once things got cold enough. I think that would be enough water to show the serious drop I experienced. Maybe once it froze inside the cover, there was a better seal or no other place for the water in the tub to go, so things seemed to improve. I just can't think of any other likely answer, since this past week was warm enough to melt any frozen area and restart a leak if it existed, and there are still no signs of leaks in the cabinet or around the edges. I will have someone come and help take a serious look at it once it's warmer, when I can empty the tub and tilt it a bit to see underneath. I can also closely inspect the cover to see if I'm right about it being full of water - that should be easy to tell.

So I think my spring task - after things have warmed a bit and I can stop worrying about serious snowfall - is to replace the cover (thanks for the suggestions - more are welcome!) and get a better quality thermal blanket to keep it in good condition.

Thanks for such good dialogue and ideas! Hope you are all enjoying a good entry into spring.

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The easiest way to check if the cover is saturated/waterlogged -- open it. Is it considerably heavier than it was before?

And as I said - if your hot tub dealer recommended that you use the foam / bubble blanket -- the cover that came with the tub may be inadequate for Vermont.

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  • 6 years later...

I live in western Massachusetts I also have a similar leak from the pivot sides of my new heavy duty cover where it forms ice cycles constantly during cold weather. The same condition existed with the last cover with my Jucuzzi tub? I have yet to find a solution? Is there a cover that solves this condition? I keep my tub at 102 year round and ice cycles abound in the winter as well as gradual water loss!

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For starters,   how big are the icicles?   Pencil size?  Major league?   If they're small,  I wouldn't worry about it... but do check to ensure the cover is "covering" adqueately. 

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