We’re all spending a lot more time at home these days. Living and working in the same space can be stressful, and what better way to ease the tension than with a hot tub? The hot water and powerful jets can instantly work wonders for stress reduction, and there are many proven benefits of hydrotherapy for an aching body. But if you don’t quite have the space in your yard for an outdoor hot tub, you may be tempted to use your garage as a DIY spa. Here’s a few things for prospective bathers to consider before adding a hot tub in your garage:
Hot Tubs 101
Indoor hot tubs have a few advantages, a big one being that weather isn’t a factor! Come cold temperatures or elements like rain or snow, you can enjoy your indoor hot tub at any time. Outdoor spas need to be kept at a consistent temperature or drained completely in colder months to avoid freezing water and pipes.
There are many different types of spas to consider for your hot tub room. Portable hot tubs are self-contained, meaning everything needed for their operation is built into the unit itself. These hot tubs are generally made of fiberglass, plastic, or acrylic shells that rest on a wooden or metal platform. There are also inflatable vinyl and latex models available, which are typically less expensive. Popular brands are Hot Spring, Jacuzzi, and Bullfrog.
LESLIE: Alright. Dana in Florida is looking to chill out in a Jacuzzi. Tell us about it.
DANA: I’m thinking of putting a Jacuzzi in my garage and what I’ve done is I’ve converted the garage into a rec room.
LESLIE: So, Dana, it’s not still all filled with tools and your lawn mower?
LESLIE: OK, good.
DANA: Now, is it … would it damage the interior if I were to put a Jacuzzi in there; with all that extra moisture and stuff?
TOM: Ah, that’s a great question. Because … now, when you say a Jacuzzi … now a Jacuzzi is a bathtub that you fill up and use and then drain. I think you’re talking about a hot tub.
DANA: Yes sir, I stand corrected.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Well, there’s a couple of things to be concerned about. Humidity is one of them. You will find that not only the humidity but the chlorine is very corrosive. And so, you’ll get corrosion on electrical outlets and switch plates and other things that are metal in there. So it might be that you need to ventilate that space as well as simply having the tub there by itself. However, having said that, there’s absolutely no reason, that I can think of, not to do it as long as, you know, you do it consistent with all of the building codes and do everything safely; especially from an electrical standpoint. You want to make sure that thing’s wired correctly so you don’t have anything unsafe about the electrical system.
DANA: Well, what do you mean by ventilation? This room has no windows and it only has a garage door itself.
TOM: Now, are you going to keep the garage door?
TOM: So you’re going to … you’re going to have this garage that’s going to be like you can pull your car in, (laughing) get out of the car, strip down to your shorts and jump right into that hot tub.
DANA: (laughing) Sounds like a good idea, but no.
TOM: Well, I don’t think you have to worry about ventilation if you have a big old garage door on it. I thought you were going to convert into a complete rec room.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, but if you’re going to keep the door closed while you’re sitting in there.
DANA: Right. Correct.
TOM: Garage doors are plenty leaky by themselves.
DANA: Oh, OK.
TOM: But what I’ve seen is people put hot tubs into basements or other sealed in spaces and really don’t deal with the ventilation issue. And in most enclosed rooms that have either a hot tub or a pool, you’ve got to deal with the ventilation. You’ve got to have the ability to bring out that moist air and bring in the drier air so that you don’t grow mold and rot and things like that. And also, you want to make sure that you have a top that, of course, goes over that hot tub because not only does that keep the heat in, that also stops the water from evaporating and reduces that humidity in that space.
DANA: Really appreciate your help, guys.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Enjoy it.
DANA: Thank you very much.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Then Dana could really get that bumper sticker that says, “My other car is a Jacuzzi.” (laughing) Ta-da-bump!
TOM: (laughing) Exactly. 888-666-3974.
Hot Tub Size & Voltage
In order to find out how large you want your indoor hot tub to be, you have to consider how many people you want to occupy your personal oasis. Standard hot tubs hold 4-5 people, but if you’re more of a party animal (and have the indoor space), you can get a 6-7 person hot tub, or even one for 8+ people! Keep in mind that more size = more water to fill up the tub.
Space aside, hot tub owners need to think about the power that their hot tub will require. 110V hot tubs (better known as “Plug and Play” models) can be plugged into your standard outlet — perfect for indoor use in your garage, sunroom or basement. 240V hot tubs on the other hand need to be hard wired by an electrician. The big benefit of a 240V hot tub is that it takes half the time to heat up, which means you can get your spa time in much quicker!
Indoor Hot Tub Placement: Things to Consider
Now that you’ve chosen the right hot tub for your needs, it’s time to figure out how it will impact the spot you choose to place it. The garage may seem like the perfect location, but keep in mind the following when preparing your space for an indoor hot tub:
Insulating Your Garage
Most garages aren’t equipped with a heating system, as they’re mostly used for tool and vehicle storage. Before putting your hot tub in your garage, it’s best to insulate the walls. This especially goes for the exterior walls if you have an attached garage unit (chances are the wall attached to your home is already properly insulated). Insulating your garage also means you’ll have less condensation on the “cold” surfaces of the garage walls and ceiling, which means less chance of growing mold and mildew. Garage doors are also easy to insulate. Just add foam panels on the inside of the door to warm things up.
Mold & Mildew
Most hot tub owners prefer to keep their tub between 100°F-102°F, with the maximum recommended temperature being 104°F. This hot water will, in turn, create a good amount of warm, moist air. When that moist air settles on the drywall surfaces inside your garage, mold trouble can start. Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, air and an organic food source (like drywall!) As the warm, moist air comes off the hot tub, it rises, condenses, and releases moisture. This completes the perfect mold trifecta! , resulting in the perfect recipe for Toxic “black” mold, which LOVES growing on drywall. This is why ventilation of any indoor pool or hot tub area is super important.
Ventilation is Crucial
Another way to help prevent mold is to ensure your garage is properly ventilated. A proper ventilation system not only lets out excess steam, but also reduces the smell of chlorine from the tub and lessens the chance for respiratory irritation. You can invest in something as simple and inexpensive window fan. However, adding a properly sized exhaust fan, hooked up to a moisture-sensing humidistat switch, is really the key to creating a safe, mold-free space.
Caution! Slippery When Wet…
The last thing any hot tub owner wants is to cramp their zen by injuring themselves while exiting their spa. Make sure your garage floor is made of a material that is non-slip, like poured concrete, stone, or textured rubber mats. It’s also a good idea to have a floor drain to get rid of any excess spillage. Heck, even grab a decorative plush bath mat to give your toes a little treat when you get out of the hot tub.
Whether indoor or outdoor, a hot tub can provide tons of fun and relaxation for family and friends alike. Good luck with your hot tub project!