Spa covers are an investment in your hot tub. Like any investment, you would like to protect it. This guide presents maintenance tips that can save you money and maybe even some grief in the long run.
About Spa Cover Vinyl
Most hot tub covers use a vinyl type material for the jacket, or skin. Marine grade, heavy-duty vinyl is the best material for this job. This vinyl repels UV rays, holds up to the sun and resists mildew.
Protecting your Investment from Damage
303 Protectant cleans as well as prevents fading & cracking. We advise using only 303 Aerospace Protectant on hot tub covers.
We’ve tested them all, and this is simply the best product of its kind. With an Earth-friendly, non-toxic formula, it will add years to cover life. With regular use, 303 blocks up to 100% of harmful UV to prevent sun damage.
When applied to the underside of your cover, it also helps prevent mildew. 303 Protectant is very economical, and you’ll find many other uses for it around the home, RV, boat and car.
Using the wrong vinyl treatment product is worse than using nothing at all! In fact, a well-known automotive vinyl treatment contains silicone oil, which is death to vinyl. Avoid products that contain any type of oil or petroleum distillates, have a greasy feeling, or leave a waxy coating.
If a vinyl protectant product label says “flammable” or contains petroleum distillates, keep it away from your spa cover! These products look good when first applied, but actually accelerate spa cover deterioration and offer little or no UV protection.
Periodic Hot Tub Cover Cleaning & Maintenance
Cleaning of your spa cover is an important part of routine spa maintenance. Dirt acts as an abrasive to the vinyl topcoat, and can also cause wear to fold, seams, and stitching. Mildew which grows on damp, dirty vinyl will begin to actually root in the fabric, accelerating failure.
Routine cleaning, prior to application of vinyl protectant:
- Rinse with cool water using a garden hose
- Spray with a gentle, non-foaming cleaner and wipe clean. Never use laundry detergent, abrasives, bleach, alcohols, dish soaps or harsh cleaners. These products can actually remove some of the topcoat and cause premature vinyl failure.
- TIP: Tree sap can be removed by rubbing with a little vegetable oil or margarine.
- For stubborn dirt, use a non-abrasive sponge
- Rinse again thoroughly with water and allow to dry.
- Repeat monthly, or as needed.
Dealing with Mildew Inside the Vinyl Jacket
(Indicated if odor is a problem)
- Unzip the jacket and carefully remove the foam cores.
- Clean the inside of the jacket with a soft brush.
- Clean the core’s plastic vapor barrier.
- Spray off surfaces with garden hose.
- Towel-dry all surfaces, and allow for additional air-dry time of the jacket.
- Sunlight exposure for an hour or two helps rid residual mildew from inside the jacket.
- Foam core should be kept in the shade while drying.
- Carefully reassemble when dry.
Note: If foam core is rotten and waterlogged, cover requires replacement.
Care Tips for Prolonging Spa Cover Longevity
Treat your cover as you would a fine automobile. A new car comes with a warranty covering mechanical defects. Its warranty doesn’t cover dents, rock-dinged windshields, or tire wear.
Premature engine failure in a car not properly maintained also would not be covered. Similarly, a spa cover warranty covers material defects, but not damage caused by abuse, accidents, neglect or normal wear-and-tear. We’ve put together the information you need for proper maintenance to get the most life out of your spa cover.
Protecting the Foam Core
Spa covers have a core of polystyrene, which can be broken if abused. Never allow children to jump or play on a cover, which can cause breakage of the core.
Grit from shoes or bare feet can also mar the vinyl covering, causing premature failure. Avoid placing sharp objects on the cover, which can puncture the core liner, permitting water absorption by the foam core. Animal claw scratches or chewing can have the same result, so try to keep pets away.
Avoid placing glass or other objects on the cover which can create excessive heat from the magnified effects of sunlight. This heat can actually cause the foam core to melt, and is not covered by the warranty.
The insulating core is sheathed in clear plastic to prevent water from being absorbed into the insulation. Condensation and rainwater seepage between the outer vinyl skin and the clear liner of the foam core is normal. All spa covers should have weep holes in their undersides to allow this water to drain out.
Dealing with Water Intrusion
Although a few water droplets inside the clear plastic liner are not a major concern, larger water accumulation requires attention. The cause is normally a puncture or a break in the vapor barrier, which is easy to fix yourself. (A heavy, saturated foam core is a different matter, indicative of an old waterlogged spa cover that needs replacement).
If your cover core liner has water in it, open the zipper and carefully remove the form core for inspection. Look for punctures or openings around the perimeter seal. Even a small hole can let in a lot of water over time.
Patching Holes in Clear Core Liner
After locating the hole, drain as much of the accumulated water out of the clear plastic liner as possible. This will prevent it from eventually getting absorbed by the foam core.
What if the water can’t be evacuated through the entry hole? Try cutting a small slit in the plastic liner near one of the corners. Set the core on edge so that the water flows down and out of the slit.
Don’t expect to get out every last drop– if you get most of it out, you’ll be in good shape.
Liner holes are simple to fix with a patch kit. This inexpensive product is the only permanent sealing solution around water.
Make sure the plastic is dry around your repair so that it will adhere. Fixing it yourself is easy, and eliminates the considerable expense of shipping off the large core for repairs.
Repairing Minor Spa Cover Rips and Tears
Small holes and tears in a spa cover should be repaired with a patch kit. This special clear elastomeric material is designed to permanently adhere to vinyl while making a very neat mend.
Just make sure the surface is clean and dry prior to application. Again, fixing it yourself is easy and economical.
Tie Down Straps & Broken Latches
Tie down straps are there for one purpose: to secure the cover to the spa. To avoid ripping the straps, never use them to carry or remove the cover. Another cause of ripped straps is failure to unlatch the locks before lifting the cover off of the spa. This type of damage is not covered by any spa cover warranty. Broken cover locks/latches can and should be replaced.
Avoiding Vinyl, Seam, & Stitching Damage
- A high quality spa cover lifter can reduce stress on seams.
- Use handles only for gentle opening or closing of the spa cover.
- Handles are not intended for carrying or removal of the cover from the hot tub.
- Do not lift cover by the skirting. This stresses and can rip the bottom seams.
- Never drag a cover across the ground, especially concrete surfaces.
- Never place glass objects on a spa cover. The glass can magnify sunlight and melt the vinyl.
- Maintain proper water balance and pH.
- Excessive bromine, chlorine, or shock can deteriorate vinyl.
- Use a floating spa blanket to protect cover from excess evaporative chemicals & moisture.
- Use of sanitizer systems can prolong spa cover life expectancy.
- Carefully secure all latches when hot tub is not in use, to prevent wind damage.
A single cubic foot of freshly-fallen dry snow weighs about 30 pounds! Doing the math, an 8’x8′ cover with just 3 inches of accumulation is supporting nearly 500 extra pounds. That weight goes up even more with wet snow or ice.
Hot tub cover manufacturer’s warranties do not cover snow or other weight-related damage. If it snows where you live, help prevent breakage of the cover’s foam core by removing excess ice-snow accumulation.
Sometimes a hot tub cover which has been weight-stressed will develop water puddles due to sagging. Some cheap or older covers were not designed with a tapered core for proper water runoff, exacerbating the problem.
If you get a small puddle on your cover, remove the foam core from the vinyl, and flip it over. Flipping sometimes corrects this issue (at least temporarily) if not too severe.
Is the Cover Shot?
If your old cover is waterlogged, it’s time for replacement. Be sure to buy a well-crafted one. Think of a new cover as an investment, not an expense.