Build Your own Hot Tub

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

By Tom Phillips

About 10 years ago, my sister got married. One of my first expiriences meeting her husband was at his place in Colorado. We were sitting in a wooden hot tub enjoying a spactacular view of the Rocky Mountains. I told myself then and there that when I owned a house I was going to have a hot tub.

Last June, my wife and I bought our first house. In setting our budgetary priorities-first we pay for the house, then we fix it up-there was not money available for a hot tub. I had priced them in the past, and the least expensive was about $1100.

About a month ago, I was lying on the couch, slightly hung over. Three beers is all it takes, and I'm foggy till noon the next day. I thought, "What I really need is a good sweat." My choices were limited to a long run-which I hadn't done since last September and our cramped bathtub. Then, like the proverbial light bulb, realization came to me. What exactly is a hot tub? It's a container with hot water in it. So what do you need to make a hot tub: (A) a container and (B) some way of heating the water in it (those pulsating jets never did much for me anyway).

I saw an insert for the Sunday paper, advertising a child's inflatable pool (the container) for $19.99. This "tub" is approxamately 60" in diameter and 22" high. When I was at the toy store, I almost bought the next larger model ($30), but in retrospect I am glad I didn't. The 60" model is the perfect size for two people who are comfortable being very close to one another. If I were still single, I probably would have gotten the 108" "party tub".

The next problem to tackle was the heat source. I figured there were probably two ways to go: (1) buy a hot tub heater or (2) get creative. Choice number one was again ruled out due to monetary constraints. One of the hot tubs I had priced ($2000) had a unique heating system. A very low wattage circulation pump was the heat source. The tub itself was very well insulated, and while the pump was in operation it generated heat. The salesman told me it took about two days for the water to get up to temperature.

Using this design, I purchased two 4 x 8 sheets of 2" polystyrene (R11) at a cost of approxamately $15. I cut the first sheet to fit underneath the tub, and I cut the second to function as a cover.

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