Warranty - Is there a Difference?
The word warranty may be the most abused word in the spa industry. Many warranties may seem to be a good warranty until you read the fine print. You are making a very expensive investment and you want to make sure it is a quality product that will last a long time. If there is a problem you will want to make sure that there is someone standing behind it.
Insist on being provided with a copy of the spa warranty before you purchase. All dealers are required by law to provide you with one, even though some are reluctant to do so. Make sure it states all the legal disclaimers and is not just a warranty highlight page.Take it home and read it. This will tell you a lot about the spa you are considering. Good spa warranties cover both parts and labor for the entire term. Others are parts only you pay the labor which can be very expensive. Some are prorated after a short period of time. Some require substantial co-payments after a period of time. Your warranty will only be as good as the company that issued it and the service company that will carry it out. You will be amazed at the difference between them. Quality spas have quality warranties. Stay away from manufactures that play games with their warranty. You will be sorry in the long run
All spas carry several different warranties that apply to different aspects of the spa. Each one varies in length and is subject to certain limitations. Some of these may include:
Spa shell or structure (usually only covers complete shell failure due to water loss) This will be the longest warranty and many times the first warranty a sales person will recite to you. It usually does not mean much. Most of the time it only applies to a complete structural failure of the spa shell resulting in water loss though the vessel. This is a very rare failure and would never happen to a quality built spa. Don't get sucked in by a long term structure warranty. It doesn't mean much.
Surface warranty on the spa shell. (covers cracks, bubbles, delaminating and cosmetic issues on shell) This is the most important warranty of all. This warranty covers most of the things that can happen to the shell. If there is a problem here the spa will usually require replacement. Read it carefully. Many claim long term warranties but have many disclaimers, large prorations or applicable change out expenses. A good warranty will offer solid protection here. A good manufacturer will cover surface for at least 7 years with very few disclaimers. A companies reputation means everything here. A quality manufacture will gladly replace a defective product if one should occur, while others will do everything they can to keep from doing so.
Spa plumbing (usually covers leaks in plumbing) Make sure both parts and labor are covered. Parts are cheap labor is expensive. Many exclude labor after a period of time. Many charge a trip charge after 90 days or one year. A quality spa will be covered for parts and labor for at least 5 years. A leaky spa is no fun. Good spas don't leak
Spa Equipment. (usually covers pumps, motors, heaters, blowers, control packs etc) This is the trickiest warranty of all. Make sure it covers both parts and labor. Make sure it is not prorated. Make sure trip charges do not apply after a specified period of time.
Make sure the equipment is covered by the manufacturer who made the spa, not a Third party equipment manufacturer. Many manufacture's have a practice of passing along their warranties from their individual equipment vendors and make you deal direct with them if you have a problem. This usually does not provide very good warranty coverage. If their is a problem with the equipment you will be stuck dealing with a third party vendor that may or may not cover the repair. Many have lots of disclaimers about chemical corrosion, water damage etc. which void the warranty. It is wise to buy a spa that is covered completely by its original manufacturer. Look for a straight forward equipment warranty. Be careful if it is not.
Exterior cabinet (covers spa exterior) Many have none at all. Most wood cabinets offer 90 days or 1 year for manufacturer defects (not cosmetics). Some of the new maintenance free sidings offer longer term warranties up to 5 years.
Accessory items (usually covers ozone purifiers, TV units, Stereo systems, Misters, Fiber optic lights packages, etc.) These areusually excluded from the spa warranty and require you to deal with the individual vendors if there is a failure. Ask which accessory items are covered, for how long and what the process is if a claim should arise.
Spa covers Most manufactures do not cover the warranty on the spa cover.. The cover is usually considered an accessory item and warranted by the vendor they get it from. If a warranty issue arises it usually has to be handled through the cover manufacturer. Cover warranties range from 1 to 3 years for material and workmanship. There may be a shipping charge should an issue arise.
Bottom of spa Most spas have no warranty on their bottom. Some are covered by the exterior warranty.
Miscellaneous items (Jets, Pillows, Filters, light bulbs fuses, hose bibs etc.) Most warranties exclude these type items from the warranty.
Good spa manufactures back their spas up with a quality warranty. Stay away from those who don't.
Buy from a respected spa dealer in your community that carries a quality national brand spa line that is backed up
with a good warranty.
Remember you will usually get what you pay for.
Is insulation that important?
The operational cost and energy efficiency of a spa will be directly related to how well it is insulated. A poorly insulated spa can cost 4 to 5 times as much to operate as a well insulated model. That can add up to thousands of dollars in additional operating costs over the lifetime of the spa.
There are many spas on the market today that just spray insulation over the spa shell and leave a large uninstalled cavity between the wood skirt and the shell. Some manufactures don't even insulate the plumbing fixtures or seal up the bottom at all. That will result in much higher operating costs than a full foam or thermal pane insulation system. Its your choice, pay a little more now or a whole lot later.
Is a filter important?
When you are using your spa you are causing dirt, soaps, oils, and many other foreign materials from your body and outside to enter the spa. One person in a spa equals 100+ people in a backyard pool.
Since a spa is such a small body of water with such high bather load, it is necessary to have an adequate filtration system to remove the foreign materials that are given off from the bathers. Make sure to purchase a spa with a good filtering system or the water will not stay clean and sanitary.
Look for an effective large mouth skimmer opening. An effective skimmer will remove the foam and froth that is created by pushing the oils and soaps up to the surface as you soak within seconds after it is generated. . Make sure that the spa filters all the water and does not bypass some of the water back to the spa. Make sure the filters are large enough to do the job.
Some spas have gone to multiple filter designs to insure that all the water is properly filtered by all the pumps. Most single filter designs are not efficient and bypass some of the dirty water back through the jetting system.
Many manufactures have gone to chemical reduction systems that are part of their filter system. Some of these systems work well and others do not.
Stay with a well know quality manufacturer that has a good reputation in the industry.