hot tub filter

Hot Tub Filter FAQs: How It Works, Why You Need One, & More

Did you know that as many as 18.99 million people in the United States live in a residential property boasting its own pool, spa, or hot tub? That’s right. Their number is in the millions, and this goes to show just how popular these facilities have become.

After all, being near and in water comes with numerous health benefits. Just look at the Japanese people, who love their “onsen” or hot springs. And while hot tubs can’t 100% replicate these natural water formations, they still offer relaxation and therapeutic benefits.

But only if you keep your hot tub filter as good as new.

In other words, for you to get the most out of your at-home hot tub, you need to maintain it. Read on to learn more about how these filters work and how big a part their maintenance plays in your continued use and enjoyment of them.

What a Hot Tub Filter Is in the First Place

Would you put your feet in cloudy, murky water? Most definitely not. So, it goes without saying that you won’t soak your entire body in dirty-looking water too.

That said, you wouldn’t want to enter a hot tub filled with water that doesn’t allow you to see the bottom. Because if there’s one thing you want from this facility in your home, it’s clean, sparkling water.

This is where the filtration system of your hot tub comes into play.

Much like how air filters work to keep the air quality in your home good, hot tub filtration systems have the same goal of keeping you healthy. But instead of the air, its focus is on the water in your hot tub.

This particular component of your hot tub circulates water throughout the tub. While it does so, it gets rid of pollutants and contaminants present in the water. This function, combined with sanitizing solutions you use for cleaning the tub, helps ensure you can continue relaxing safely as you soak in clean water.

What Kind of Filtration System Does Your Tub Have?

All hot tubs come equipped with a filter for dirt and debris removal. The main difference is how they carry out their cleaning and sanitation tasks.

Today, you’ll find two primary types of filtration systems, including the following:

Suction Filtration Systems

Most modern tubs come with suction type filtration. You’ll always find the filters themselves top-mounted since this installation allows for easiest access. Also, they typically have bigger sizes than other filtration system types.

Maintaining this type of filtration system is a breeze. You do, however, need to carry out regular maintenance to keep it as effective and efficient as new.

Pressure Filtration Systems

These aren’t as common as the suction types, but you’ll still find them in many older tubs. In the event you have this type of filtration system, you’ll have a smaller filter cartridge. A sealed canister then separately houses the filter together with a skimmer.

The main benefit of a pressure filtration system is its ability to deal with greater pressure. And there’s also the less maintenance work its requires.

The drawback? Once you do have to carry out your maintenance tasks, you’ll find the steps a bit more complex and time-consuming.

Suction or Pressure?

Both systems perform admirable work. At the same time, they have their own drawbacks. So, it’s up to you how you’ll take them on.

A good way to finalize your decision is to ask yourself how you can commit yourself to maintenance. Do you want an easy-to-maintain hot tub filter and are fine with having it serviced more often? Or are you leaning more towards a filter that doesn’t require as much maintenance but is a bit more difficult to clean and work on?

Also, consider your own bathing habits. The more you use the tub, the more maintenance it requires. Keep this in mind when determining which type of filtration system to invest in.

The Exact Type of Filter Matters Too

In addition to choosing the right type of filtration system, you also need to decide which exact type of hot tub filter to get. There are many different types of filters, including the following:


Cartridge filters are the most popular, and not just because they’re the most affordable. Their larger size allows for greater water surface area cleaning. Simply put, they’re both reasonably-priced and effective.


Sand filters, as the name suggests, consist of sand as the main cleaning agent. Sand filter parts often come in the form of large, sand-filled balls that allow for chemical-free cleaning of hot tub water. As the water passes through the sand, the balls catch and trap pollutants and contaminants.


Ceramic materials as filters have been used for a long time now. Think clay pot filters, wherein water passes through a porous surface. This surface then extracts sediments and other unwanted elements in the water.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth may be a new term to you, but the material itself is actually a type of fossil! The good news is, the powder form of these diatoms come in great abundance, making them quite affordable. Their low-cost, combined with their ability to get rid of contaminants and even bacteria, make them another popular filter choice for hot tubs around the nation.

A Filter is Only as Good as Its Filtration Cycle

A filtration cycle refers to the quantity of water that a hot tub filter allows to pass through. Every hot tub has its own unique characteristics and features, but you may still have some level of control over this cycle.

In essence, the greater the quantity of water that passes through the filter, the cleaner and safer it is.

Don’t Forget Proper Hot Tub Filtration System Maintenance

Just in case you haven’t experienced it yet, know that hot tub owners deal with an average hot tub repair cost of $2,207! Sadly, many of these expenses result from poor maintenance of hot tub filtration systems. The last thing you want is to not have the ability to use your tub unless you pay a lot for its repairs.

It’s for this reason you should invest in at least a once-a-year filter replacement. Remember, a hot tub filter is much like a drinking water filter, in the sense that it allows you to enjoy clean, safe water.

Keep in mind that dirty tub and spa waters can cause health problems like hot tub rash and legionnaire’s disease. Since you most definitely don’t want these to affect your health and that of your loved ones, it’s best to ensure you have a fully-functional tub filtration system.

Inspect the filter monthly. If possible, check it at least twice a month.

When Should You Clean Your Pumps Then?

Once a month is often good enough when it comes to cleaning hot tub filters. However, this still depends on the number of times you use it. Of course, the larger the bather load, the more times you should clean it.

Knowing the Time When You Need a Filter Replacement

You don’t have to immediately replace your hot tub filter. Sometimes, you just need to give it a good, solid wash and you can put it back for reuse. However, it’s important to know when you need a new filter.

A good rule of thumb is to change the filter once every two years. No matter how fine it looks, if you’ve had it working for about two years now, toss it. Keep in mind that pumps cost far more than filters, and continued use of an inefficient filter can damage your tub’s pump.

Note as well that some filters have shorter life spans. Even if it’s only six months old, so long as you can’t really clean it that well, it’s best you bid it goodbye.

Another sign that you need to replace this part of your hot tub is if the filter element – the middle-most part – has already loosened up. And of course, when there’s obvious damage to the center element, such as rips, bents, and dents, then it’s time to get that replacement.

Always Remember How Much You Paid for Your Hot Tub

To make it easier for you to remember your hot tub filter maintenance, remind yourself of how much you spent on purchasing the tub and having it installed. This alone can already serve as an excellent reminder to carry out your cleaning duties.

If not, just think of the health problems that may arise from dirty, unfiltered hot tub water. Besides, you wouldn’t want to get into that murky water, would you?

And once you’re ready to get a replacement filter, make sure you check out our extensive selection of water filters. They’re all affordable, yet high-performance products.

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