Warranties are one the most important considerations when purchasing a hot tub not because hot tubs breakdown all of the time but because when they do you want to make sure you are in good hands with both the dealer and manufacturer. Most of the reputable hot tub manufacturers offer a comprehensive parts and labor warranty. What you want to avoid is a manufacturer with a lot of exclusions or pro-rations. There are some typical exclusions practiced industry-wide which have to do with failure from poor water chemistry or wear and tear items. For example, jets are something that can be susceptible to water chemistry because they are constantly in contact with the circulating water and if the water balance (ph, alkalinity, or calcium) is off then it can damage them. Pillows and headrests are also excluded since they can become discolored or damaged from poor water maintenance and normal wear and tear. In general, there are four major components of a hot tub warranty. The first is the shell. Shell warranties can vary from as little as one year or as much as a lifetime warranty. The second is the surface. Surface warranties range from 3-7 years and have to do with the 1/8” thick layer of cast acrylic which is mostly cosmetic and not structural. The surface warranty is typically a pass thru from the hot tub manufacturer’s acrylic supplier. The third is the equipment warranty which covers most of the electrical components. Equipment warranties range from 1-7 years and cover things like heaters, motors, control boxes, circuit boards, and topside controls. The fourth is plumbing warranty. Plumbing warranties also range from 1-7 years and cover you against leaks or other related issues.
It is important to note that a manufacturer’s warranty is only as good as the dealer you are buying it from. Purchasing a nice hot tub from a reputable manufacturer may not be a pleasant experience if you purchased it from a bad dealer and need warranty support. To understand this concept you must first understand that profits from selling hot tubs are all made on the front end and that warranty service is a cost center for a dealer. A manufacturer usually provides the replacement part and pays a dealer a nominal fee for a warranty job but in most cases a warranty repair results in a loss for the dealer. In fact, many dealers outsource their warranty work to a third party and assume little to no responsibility for the hot tub after they sell it. These third party hot tub repair companies are usually small operations that don’t stock the necessary parts or may be unfamiliar with your brand of hot tub. It’s very important that you do your diligence on the dealer you are buying from to make sure they have good reviews and that they do their own in-house warranty service and repair otherwise you can be left very frustrated for something you paid your good hard earned money for.
Also, be sure to ask your dealer if they charge a travel fee or deductible for a warranty service call. Travel fees are a widely used practice in the hot tub industry. Manufacturers don’t cover travel time to and from a customer’s home, therefore, dealers usually charge a flat fee or a per mile fee to send a technician to your home. Once a technician is on site then the manufacturer typically covers 100% of the parts and labor for a warranty repair (if covered). Usually there is one travel fee per service call meaning that if a technician is called out for repair and he or she doesn’t have the necessary part then the there is no additional cost for the return trip.
Our recommendation would be to purchase a hot tub from a reputable manufacturer with a local dealer that does in-house warranty service and has good reviews. You can also request a copy of the warranty from the local dealer to review it before making a purchase.