Similar to the way you'd buy a used vehicle, buying a used hot tub requires plenty of caution and research. The last thing you want to end up with is a pretty-looking hot tub that has tons of problems under the hood.
It can be incredibly resourceful to buy a used hot tub, as new ones can cost well over $10,000.
The good thing is that once a hot tub has had one owner, the price drops drastically. Of course, you need to make sure you're buying a used hot tub from the right place to be safe.
And that's what we're here to help with.
We'll explain everything you need to know about navigating the used hot tub market. Let's dive in!
Used Hot Tub Pricing
There are many factors to consider when trying to determine the average price of a used hot tub.
More often than not, you'll find that hot tub owners are selling their hot tubs for around 50% of what they paid for them initially.
For example, if there is a hot tub that someone paid $8,000 for a couple of years back, it's likely that hot tub will cost around $4,000 from the new owner.
Beyond the initial price, however, you will have to consider additional costs that come into play when purchasing a used hot tub. Let's look at a few of those additional costs.
When you purchase a new hot tub from a dealer, that dealer will probably provide shipping. However, if you purchase a used hot tub from an individual seller, you will likely have to deal with the transport, which can be quite tricky sometimes.
Now, if you have a large flatbed truck and some friends that are willing to help you transport your used spa for some pizza and beer, you're in luck. On the other hand, many used hot tubs will require some form of special transport treatment, such as a forklift, crane truck, or specialized dolly.
People who aren't able to remove a used hot tub for free often have to pay anywhere between $300 and $1,000, which can be a good chunk of change if you're trying to save money. If you hire a professional team that hauls used hot tubs, they will probably charge based on the location distance between the pickup and the delivery. Some will even charge based on the size or seating capacity of a hot tub.
If you pick up a used 110V hot tub, you're in luck. These plug-n-play hot tubs plug into regular outlets, meaning you won't have to deal with any hard wiring. However, most hot tubs use 220 to 240V connections, which are hard-wired into the home's electrical systems.
You can't simply walk in and disconnect this type of electrical hookup, as this job is meant for licensed electricians only. Now, sometimes current owners will eat that cost just to get rid of their used hot tubs. If that's the case, congrats! If not, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $200 for this kind of service.
Now, once you get it to your location, you will have to re-install the hot tub to your own electrical system. This means you will have to hire an electrical once again, who will come to your home and install a 220V line so you can start using your spa.
There are many factors to consider when making an electrical hookup, and the price will often depend on how far it is from your control box.
If it's within fifty feet, the job is quite simple and will cost less, as less wire and conduit will need to be laid.
On the other hand, if the cable run will be greater than fifty feet from the box to the equipment area, the job can take a while and cost much more. Overall, expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,300 for this kind of job.
Best Places To Buy Used Hot Tubs
You might now be thinking, Where in the world do I look if I want to browse some high-quality hot tubs?
Let's go over the most popular places to get your hands on a used tub.
Whether you're buying a used car, a used dishwasher, or a used hot tub, Craigslist is the place to go. Depending on the area you live in, you'll likely see hundreds of used hot tubs listed. This means variety.
The major downside to Craigslist is that you have to be very trusting of strangers. There's no way to know if the used tub you buy from someone is any good. The problem can be anything from corroded electrical components to heater failure, and you won't even know until you get it home.
It's important to make a deep assessment of a used spa if you're buying it from Craigslist and focus on things beyond the cosmetic condition.
Note that unless you make a deal with the buyer, you likely won't get the delivery or installation that you would likely get from an in-store buy. If online classifieds aren't your thing, we recommend checking out your local newspaper. While most sellers use some form of online classifieds these days, such as Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or NextDoor, you may find the gem you are looking for in print!
PRO TIP: Make sure to gauge the local price point while shopping for hot tubs on the used market. You might think you're getting a great deal on a used hot tub until you see what other people are pricing their used spas for.
If you're serious about getting a used spa that is in great condition, the most trustworthy place to go is your local spa dealer. More and more buyers are looking to used spa dealers after hearing the horror stories surrounding online classifieds, and we totally understand.
There are a couple of reasons we recommend browsing your local dealership first.
For starters, dealers don't want to be held liable for an old tub that doesn't work, which is why they'll often give their hot tubs a full inspection before selling them. If they can, they will supply maintenance records and replace any major components that aren't working. Because they don't want you to bringing a broken spa back to their store or give their business a bad review, they'll typically do everything in their power to provide an ethical sale.
Secondly, dealers will often handle the delivery of their used hot tubs. They may even include these elements in the purchase price.
Third, depending on the store you buy from, you might get to take advantage of something similar to a factory warranty. Of course, you likely won't get the exact factory warranty that the manufacturer would have provided, as it is a used spa, after all. However, a little peace of mind is better than nothing!
Lastly, a used dealership may even let you use your current hot tub's trade-in value to put money towards your new hot tub.
Of course, the downside is that you'll pay a bit more for used models at a dealership than you would on Craigslist, though at least you'll have accountability if something goes wrong.
What To Look For When Buying A Hot Tub On The Used Market
Whenever you venture out to explore the used hot tub market, take this list of things to look for with you and give each of these elements a good assessment.
Does It Run?
While this question should be fairly obvious, you'd be surprised by how many people don't ask this question or bank on the trust of the seller.
It's up to you to make sure you SEE the tub running properly before you buy it.
You wouldn't buy a car without giving it a test drive, would you?
Many sellers will empty their hot tubs when they're getting ready to sell them, making it impossible for buyers to truly know if they're working or not. If you show up in a seller's backyard and they won't fill up the tub so you can check if it's running, it's time for you to start running.
Though sellers may have good intentions, they may not even be aware of the problems it's taken on since they emptied it.
A hot tub sitting empty in a seller's backyard might have corroded electrical components, as this tends to happen when hot tubs are sitting empty outside. The plumbing lines might be damaged, the seals might be cracked, or there might be mold and mildew under the hood. This is especially true if you're looking in places with wetter climates.
The point is if you can't see the spa running with the jets, heater, pumps, lights, controls, and any other additional features (waterfalls, stereo systems, etc.), don't buy it.
If the spa runs, make sure to listen carefully to see if you hear any funny noises. For example, a grinding sound often means that the pump is on the brink of failure.
Does It Leak?
With the spa running, you'll want to take off all of the exterior panels to check for any leaks. Some of the spots you will want to check for leaks include:
While there might not be any current signs of leakage, you may find past signs of leakage in the form of stains. For example, you might see small stains where puddles of water used to be. You might even see that the foam insulation on the inside is darker and damper in some places than others.
It shouldn't be wet at all. If it is, that's a sign that there was or is a leaking problem.
Need a Hot Tub?
Is There Corrosion?
Corrosion might be one of the easiest things to spot. Just because there is corrosion, however, does not mean it's the end of the world.
Now, in some cases, if you see corrosion around the water line or on important components, it could be a major issue, and we recommend avoiding it. However, if you see a bit of corrosion on the metal grab bars, some fading or discoloration in the shell, or some headrest disintegration, the spa is still usable.
It's important to ask questions, however, as these flaws can sometimes mean the spa water wasn't treated well. With too much or too few chemicals, the plumbing, pumps, and heaters on used hot tubs can be negatively impacted. It's a great idea to get an idea of how they treated their used hot tub before you buy it.
Is There A Cover?
Does the hot tub come with a specific hot tub cover?
If so, is it in good condition?
Most used hot tubs need new covers.
That's the unfortunate reality. Many covers get worn, waterlogged, or damaged in some fashion.
Of course, if you're buying a premium brand that has a built-in hardcover, you might be alright, though those spa models are few and far between.
If it's a foam hot tub cover with a vinyl exterior, you can pick it up to inspect it. Look for any rips or tears on the hot tub cover. If the hot tub cover is super heavy, it is waterlogged and will need to be replaced.
Note that we always recommend buyers purchase new spa covers when buying used hot tubs, as spa covers typically suffer from a decrease in insulation value over time. If a spa cover can't do its job of keeping the water warm, it'll mean higher energy bills for you.
How Reliable Is The Brand?
When looking for hot tubs on the used market, keep the brand name in mind. Premium brands are best if you can afford them, as they have better, longer-lasting components with reliability built-in.
It's much better to purchase a minimalist, high-quality hot tub with a reputable brand name and simple design than a no-name model with lots of features. More technical components can lead to more needed repairs. When shopping for used spas, search for some of our favorite brands, such as Bullfrog Spas, Hot Spring, and Caldera.
The Bottom Line - Should I Buy A Used Hot Tub?
Buying a brand-new hot tub can be an expensive endeavor, which is why many consumers purchase used hot tubs to fulfill their hot tub ownership desires. The nice thing about buying pre-owned is that you can still enjoy premium brand names without having to suffer the original purchase price of a brand-new hot tub.
Main takeaway: perform a thorough assessment of the used hot tub that you are interested in. A hot tub that requires tons of maintenance down the line will ruin the overall hot tub experience for you.
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About The Author
Full-time staff writer at wyllz.com and stay-at-home mom.