Build Your own Hot Tub

A hot tub doesn't have to be expensive...We made ours for $35

By Tom Phillips


My mother, bless her heart, likes to buy me things for the kitchen. When I was single and living in an apartment, she bought me a set of aluminum cooking pots. When I got married, she upgraded us to a larger, stainless steel set. And she didn't like my electric coffee maker. It was old, and the housing was cracked from a fall off the counter. Although it functioned, I thihnk she felt that, while that was OK for a bachelor to have and old cracked coffee maker, a married man should have a shiny new one. Have you figured out where I'm going with this?

I dug the old coffee maker out of the attic and removed the top. (The fall from the counter helped with that part). I attached a four-foot length of quarter-inch plastic tubing to the out flow of hte coffee maker and put the end of it in the tub. Then I placed a smaller diameter piece of tubing to flow into the water well of the coffee maker. Next I set the coffee maker on some books, so that the level of water in the tub would be roughly at the same level as the coffee maker. I then started a siphon flow from the tub into the well of the coffee maker. Then I plugged in the coffee maker. If you are going to do this yourself, be careful: water and electricity do not mix. I rigged the coffee maker to an extension cord so that I can turn it on and off from 15 feet away. Always remove the heater and any cords from the area before using the tub.

When I filled the tub, I took a temperature reading; it was at 90 degrees. The next morning,, I went downstairs, removed the cover, and found that the water was at 114 degrees. Too hot. The ideal temperature, at least for me, is 105 degrees. I left the cover off for half an hour, then took another reading. It was 108 degrees (a tad hot but bearable), so I climbed in.

So there you have it : I spent $20 for the tub, $15 for the insulation, and scavanged the rest. A $35 hot tub!

One of the problems that I ran into was that the outflow tube from the coffee maker, being very hot, caused a bluge in the wasl of hte inflatable pool. I solved this problem by drilling a hole in the cover, so that the outflow tube did not rest on directly against the tub wall.

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Another problem I encountered was that I occasionally woke in the middle of the night thinking it was morning, because I could hear the coffee maker gurgling in the background. I've since gotten used to it.

Every now and then I put a cup of bleach into the tub to kill any bacteria, and I change the water pretty often. I suppose I could get fancy and buy some sort of testing kit, but that would probably cost more than the tub. The next step is to rig up some sort of thermostat that will turn the coffee maker off when the water gets up to temperature. I also plan on insulating the walls of the tub so that there isn't excessive heat loss during the winter.

And while the view from our hot tub is of a 30-year-old furnace and not the Rocky Mountains, we still enjoy it very much.

Editor's note: Hot tub sanitation is important, to avoid health problems. The following information was supplied by the Spa Factory Outlet in Phoenix, Oregon.

There are several different methods available to keep the water sanitary in your hot tub. The most common are treatments with bromine or clorine, usually in tablet form, dispensed from a floatation device. These chemicals are also available in granulated form, which is added periodically as needed. A simple test (such as a dip strip) tells you when you need to add more.

It is also recommended to "shock" your water with appropriate chemicals about twice a week (depending on how much use the tub is getting). This treatment burns off any organics in your water, including "spent" bromine or chlorine.

With a conventional hot tub, there are a few other elements of water chemistry that need to be kept in balance, too, including pH and "totall alkalinity". This gives you the best performance and longevity from your system.

For more information, contact your local spa professional.

The American Constitution, one of the few modern political documents drawn up by men who were forced by the sternest circumstances to think out what they really had to face, instead of chopping logic in a university classroom.
--George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950

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