A hot tub is a great addition to any backyard, but before you can spend time relaxing in one with your friends it needs to be set up and wired correctly. This isn’t a simple DIY job for householders, no matter how handy you may think you are, because as we all know electricity and water aren’t a good mix. Working with electricity comes with its own risks, even for an experienced electrical contractor, but add water and it can be very dangerous for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. There are specific rules and regulations for installing a hot tub, so contractors need to be fully qualified and up to speed with current regulations before they start the job. Here are a few of the things that you need to know for a successful and safe hot tub installation.
Know The NEC Hot Tub Electrical Specifics
Within the National Electric Code (NEC) there are specific sections that relate to hot tub installation, so electricians must be fully aware of what these are to avoid making any life-threatening errors. As long as you’ve hired a fully-qualified contractor with experience in hot tub installation then you can hand over the job to them with confidence.
Make Sure You Have Everything You Need
Once they’re fully knowledgeable of specific regulations that relate to hot tubs, contractors and electricians should come prepared with all of the equipment that they’ll need to complete the job. It’s not just their responsibility, however, as householders should also make sure that they’re fully prepared and have all the accessories and Hot Spring spa parts that are needed for the finished hot tub.
Install Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection
Ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs) are essential when wiring up a hot tub, as required by the NEC and recommended by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. GFCIs are necessary to sense electrical current within the ground, which indicates that the current is likely to be in the water inside the hot tube, and will shut down the power immediately to avoid electrocution. GFCI protection can come in the form of breakers, disconnects or shut-off boxes.
Install an Emergency Shut-off Box
As previously mentioned, a GFCI emergency shut-off is an essential consideration when installing and wiring a hot tub. This means that not only will the GFCI protection automatically cut the power as soon as a fault is detected, but if for some reason the GFCI fails then the power can be shut off manually. The emergency shut-off box needs to be placed at least five feet away from the hot tub itself, but should be located in a spot that’s visible from the hot tub and near enough that it can be used immediately in case of an emergency.
Wiring shouldn’t go underneath your outdoor hot tub, or within five feet of its location, as it isn’t permitted in the NEC and can be dangerous. The hot tub itself should never be located underneath power lines, so take both of these things into consideration when deciding where to place your tub.
Jeremy is a veteran electrician. He enjoys blogging about common questions and concerns people have when upgrading their homes.