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Thread: Thinking about buying a spa, need advice please re: bad back

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    Laenini's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Brooklyn Center, MN

    Thinking about buying a spa, need advice please re: bad back

    We are starting to think about maybe getting a spa. Even just with a little looking around at what is out there, I am already overwhelmed. I would love advice about what kind of jets might be best to help ease some of my back and neck pain issues. I have severe degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back and this triggers constant muscle spasms in my neck, upper back between my shoulder blades, and my lower back. I'd like a spa that can really do some deep tissue massage in these areas. There seems to be a huge variety of different types of jets placed in differing configurations in the spas out there. Does anyone have any idea what really seems to work?

    I keep thinking about the corner jetted tub in my master bathroom. When we bought our house 6 years ago I was so excited about that jetted tub. I thought it was really going to be heaven to sit and relax in that tub and I couldn't wait to try it out for the first time! Well, that tub ended up being quite the disappointment. It only has 2 jets and really all those jets do it swirl the water around a little bit. They do nothing more than just what a hot bath already does to relieve muscle pain.

    So I am concerned about finding myself in a similar situation with a spa purchase. I'm afraid that through my ignorance I will buy a spa that looks like its really going to be blissful, but then once I have it home I discover that it really doesn't do what I expected it would do. Can anyone offer some advice on what sorts of features I should be looking for in a spa?

    Pool: 24' round by 48" deep AGP
    Waterway 1HP-2 speed pump, H100 Heater, sand filter, skimmer, using BBB (love it!)
    Hot tub: 2008 CalSpas, 8x8, 8 seats, 60+ jets, ozonator
    3 step bromine sanitation

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    In the Industry

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Thinking about buying a spa, need advice please re: bad back

    Thats a tough one to give advice on since most people dont sit in a ton of different tubs and most PB only know the line they carry well. The company hotsprings is one line that the store I work for sells. You might want to look into them. If what my salesman tells me is true, they are the highest selling spa in the US and are endorsed by the american arthritis association. Normally I wouldnt take this time to plug what the store I work for sells, but their is onething about these tubs that makes me think they might be the best tub for your back. Their feature / signature jet is called the moto massage and looks like a spinal cord if you view the mechanism. It is designed to move up and down vertically on your back to massage your spine. I havent seen anything like it in other tubs. Here is a link to it.
    Take a look at the website and see if its something you think might help. The best think to do is ask to wet test the spas you are concidering in the store.We let people do it all the time.
    Involved in the pool and spa industry
    Pittsburgh, PA

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    spishex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Hillsborough, NC

    Re: Thinking about buying a spa, need advice please re: bad back

    I'll second Hot Springs from a quality standpoint. They're also about the most expensive tub you can get, but they're excellent. My advice to you is to try before you buy. Most companies will have at least one or two models on the floor that you can test out. You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, and this is going to cost almost as much, so go try out as many as you can stand and you'll get a good feel for what you need.

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    Join Date
    May 2007
    Rocklin, Ca

    Re: Thinking about buying a spa, need advice please re: bad back

    Many brands offer different type of jets that can be simply screwed into any position that is the same size.

    If money is an issue don't forget to factor in the cost of running electrical to the location where you will put it. You will likely want a 220V version.

    We hit up the local Home Shows where there are literally a couple dozen different manufacturers in attendence. This visit is an efficient way to create a short list of ones you want to wet test. Most offer some sort of show pricing. Ask if they will extend this pricing for a week or two.

    Good luck and let us know what you get.

    Mine is a Cal Spa Avalon A857 and I love it but it really makes the power meter spin when I turn on all 57 jets (three 5HP motors).
    11000 Gals, Intelliflo, Sta-Rite Cartridge, Polaris 360

    Pool I built in my old house: my-new-pool-build-t4534.html

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    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    North Central Texas

    Re: Thinking about buying a spa, need advice please re: bad back

    Another geekgranny Book

    Look for multiple pumps also. Mine has one main circulation pump and two jet pumps, one for each side of spa, and a separate one for the bubbles. The jet pumps work separately or together. It's especially nice if you want jets on your side and another doesn't want any. Ours has option to run circulation twice a day for the time we set or 24/7. Some people don't want or need circulation/filtering running 24/7 but with our high/frequent usage and extreme summer heat we run ours 24/7. With 220v I don't think the filtering circulation uses much electricity.

    Ours has separate returns for ozone and main circulation. Of course the ozone return puts out bubbles but ours also puts out bubbles from the main circulation return. It's a wonderful indicator to me to change out the cartridge filter when the bubbles stop coming out of circulation return.
    (we normally keep at least two good filters - I have four so that when it is time to do a long filter soak in a more thorough cleaning product I can get more use of the product). I usually change out/clean the filters no less than twice a week so having four is handy.

    Another really important feature is being able to turn on the venturi for each area to bump up the jet action higher/stronger. Sometimes I need more jet pressure than our strong jets provide especially for my neck. I'm investigating changing around some jets or purchasing a couple to get even stronger action in my favorite seat. That's why I advise getting jets that you can change around yourself.

    Our spa is an Aries, made locally. We've had this one for seven years (our first Aries but third spa). We went out to the factory and sat in every model they had (dry) to pick out the seats we wanted and then where we wanted the jets and what type of jets. Many of the jets can be changed out for other ones too. We had a lounge in previous spa and didn't use it much because human bodies float so it was impossible to get the jet action on neck and back without being pushed away from them.

    One really important thing I would look for too is jets that will not become stuck; that is the ring around them to adjust pressure. When the spa guy was out here this spring I asked him how to keep ours freely moving. He said "use them", that is adjust them often to keep the sand, sediment, etc., from jamming them. He then suggested I get a small, pipe collar wrench to help free them up. I'm still working on them but the wrench helps. Look for jets that are user interchangeable and ones that are least likely to have the adjusting collar jam from debris
    BTW... keep the water balanced. I had the circulation pump replaced less than two years ago and had to get another replacement this spring. Less than 2 yr old pump started leaking from the shaft at some point, not enough to indicate a leak as we do have to account for some evaporation, especially as it is so hot here in summer that it takes days for the temps to fall much in summer if I turn heater off, with circulation pump going 24/7 and insulated cover on most of time and I use the spa for several hours, several times a week. (back, neck, shoulder therapy) The first thing he asked me when he looked at the pump condition was, "Are you keeping your water balanced at all times?" I told him "yes" (I was not telling the truth) Bottom line, the pump warranty for first replacement was only one year and probably would not have failed if I had kept water in balance. BTW... the original pump lasted over five years AND it didn't "break". It had just started making some noise that indicated some bearings or something going out. And I didn't like hearing the noise. KEEP WATER BALANCED

    Original bubbler motor went out after 7 years which I had him replace this spring. The original cover, also lasted 7 years but really needed replacing after 5 when a friend got up on it and broke the insulating foam. It is in full Texas sun most of the day.

    Three years ago I added a cover rack. Get that for sure. I chose the one where you open cover then slide the folded cover on to racks that swing out from back side. We chose that because most of the others hold cover so view is blocked on that side. We want to see the woods and bird feeders when ours is open AND the one I purchased was the cheapest. I installed it myself in little time.

    Another thing to get for sure is a safety rail for getting in and out of tub. We didn't have one until the spa guy came out this spring. I can't believe we didn't put one in sooner. Hubby is 74, gets around great, but not as agile as previous years. AND if you happen to let water get out of balance, but still looking clear, you are less likely to slip and fall on the slippery invisible bad slime.

    Ask around a whole lot and see as many spas in action as you can. The Texas State Fair usually has a whole tent where spa reps have running spas. I figure that might be so a many State Fairs. The Home Shows, as suggested in another post, are another great place to compare and ask ask lots of questions and compare jets between makers.

    Hope this helps someone considering purchase. geekgranny=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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