Knowing the proper time to replace your hot tub cover can be a somewhat tricky endeavour. Although a brand new hot tub cover can indeed run a pretty penny, continuing to use an inefficient cover can run into a more considerable expense over the course of a few months of winter.
When To Replace Your Cover
As a rule of thumb, most hot tub covers will have an average life span of anywhere from four to five years. This life span can be drastically reduced by UV rays from the Sun, any form of falling debris, and general damage inflicted by the user.
Hot Tub Covers – Heavy
Most of your heavier hot tub covers will require replacing when water begins to saturate their inner foam core. To slow this saturation process down, most manufacturers of hot tub covers will wrap a plastic vapour barrier over the foam core for protection.
However, over time this vapour barrier itself will begin to deteriorate and break down, and as a result, the inner foam core will start to absorb moisture. When this occurs, the ability of the hot tub cover to insulate will become dramatically reduced.
Now, the question is, how will you know if your hot tub cover is water-saturated? Simply put, the cover will become heavy—very heavy. If the hot tub cover is not replaced, it will absorb more and more moisture over time and will inevitably become too heavy to lift. When this occurs, you will run the risk of damaging your cover lifter, or you will end up splitting the cover in half along the seam in the centre.
Another obvious sign that you need to replace your hot tub cover is when you notice that water is pooling on it. This process is referred to as cupping. When subjected to somewhat heavy loads, a hot tub cover will start to cup. The most common cause of cupping is extended periods when there is either snow or ice on the cover.
Checking the corners of the cover will also alert you to whether or not it is cupping. If you notice that the corners appear to be lifting away from the hot tub’s shell, then most assuredly, the cover is cupping.
When a hot tub cover cups, it can cause a significant problem as the seal around the edge of the hot tub is broken. This broken seal will allow an excessive amount of steam, or heat to escape, which can lead to a significant increase in your energy bill, needing to add more water, and investing in more chemicals to keep the water balanced.
A New Cover – What To Look For
Now that we have determined when your hot tub cover will need to be replaced, let’s look at what you need to consider in purchasing your replacement cover. There are various hot tub covers on the market today, with multiple options and price points. This variety can often make the decision as to what cover to purchase somewhat tricky.
When considering how to determine the hot tub cover to purchase, along with the required quality, there are a few things that should be taken into account:
- The Thickness Of The Outer Skin – The cheaper the cover, the thinner the skin, which will inevitably lead to the cover degrading rapidly due to the UV rays from the Sun.
- The Stitching – Even when exposed to normal use, a cover with poor stitching will most often rip and tear.
- Foam Thickness – The easiest way to remember is that the thicker the foam the better the insulation. Hot tub covers are traditionally 3″ to 2″ up to 6″ to 4″ in thickness. Please note, that the thicker the cover is, the heavier it will be as well. Once a cover with thicker foam becomes saturated with moisture, the stress put on both the seams of the cover and the cover lifter also increases. As a result, it is common for the thicker hot tub covers not to have the life span that a thinner cover may have. For reference, covers between 4″ to 3″ and 5″ to 4″ thick are the best choice for energy efficiency and overall life span.
- Full Foam Sealer – The area between each side of the cover often has a filling piece of insulating foam that is referred to as a foam sealer. Without this foam sealer, there will be approximately a 1″ gap, that when the cover is closed, will not provide any form of insulation. In most cases, replacement hot tub covers will offer standard foam sections on the sides or a rubber bar. Either way, neither one of these is beneficial for preventing eventual evaporation or any significant insulation.
- Vapour Barrier Thickness – As mentioned above, the vapour barrier works to block the absorption of any water and moisture into the insulating foam core of the cover. The typical thickness of the vapour barrier in replacement hot tub covers can generally range anywhere between 2ml and 10ml. In a nutshell, the thicker the vapour barrier, the better the prevention of moisture absorption, and the longer the life span.
Hot Tub Covers – Automatic
When looking into a replacement hot tub cover you will want one that will offer both the best value of insulation and the longest life span. This would be an automatic cover. These types of covers are constructed of aluminum along with thick polymer materials.
Although they are commonly created to have the appearance of a gazebo, they do not require any form of custom work but will accommodate any hot tub within a set size range. These types of hot tub covers offer a variety of benefits, including:
- With the use of a special key, the cover automatically opens and closes.
- With a special key, you have the added security that no one else will have access to your hot tub.
- Lighting is built-in.
- Screens are available for blocking out both nosy neighbour’s and bugs.
- The best seal is provided for your hot tub through the placement of a rubber gasket, reducing evaporation.
- With thick foam, an automatic hot tub cover offers the best insulation overall.
- The hardtop constructed of polymer is not affected by damaging UV rays.
Extending Your Cover’s Life Span
Once you have decided on a replacement cover for your hot tub, there are a few tips that will aid in extending its life span for as long as possible:
- To prevent any possible damage from high winds, make sure to lock your hot tub cover down utilizing the built-in clips. By clipping down the cover, you will also reduce any heat loss and increase your hot tub’s energy efficiency.
- Be sure that you do not place anything heavy on top of your cover, as this may cause it to begin cupping. Ensure to remove any snow and ice build-up during the winter, paying attention to not cause damage to the cover during the process.
- After shocking your hot tub, you should leave your cover open for a minimum of thirty minutes. When a tub is shocked, strong chemical vapours will be present that can cause serious damage to the underside of the cover and significantly increase the vapour barrier’s rate of deterioration.
- At least 2-4 times a year, use a UV protecting spray to clean your cover. This maintenance will aid in preserving the vinyl finish of the cover and protecting it from the effects of the UV rays.
- Check your water often and make sure that it stays balanced. The underside of a cover’s fabric can be stretched out if the water is permitted to become too acidic. High bromine and chlorine levels can significantly degrade the fabric and the foam core of the hot tub cover.
An estimated average of 30-40% of the heat lost from a hot tub is done through its cover. Ensuring that your cover is working to its best ability should be your top priority. New hot tub covers, as a rule, are not cheap—however, broken, cupped, or significantly saturated covers throughout winter can run your energy bills into the hundreds of dollars.
Take the step to replace your hot tub cover when needed. With the cost of $30-$50 more on a better hot tub cover, you will not only increase the life span of the cover, but you will also see a reduction in your overall monthly energy cost. Have questions? Contact us today!