If you’ve ever tried to get rid of an old hot tub, bought a used one, or wanted to relocate one in your yard, you’ve been faced with a tricky problem. While most hot tubs aren’t all that heavy—about 500 pounds empty—they are big and unwieldy to handle. That doesn’t mean moving them has to be hard, though. We’ve got four great, easy ways to get the job done. Which one will work best for you depends on your specific situation.
Prep For the Move
There are two things that you need to do before attempting to move a hot tub. The first is drain it, and the second is to disconnect the conduit and power supply.
Drain the Hot Tub
Note: Before you drain a hot tub, check local rules and ordinances. Some areas may require you to send treated hot tub water into the sanitary sewer system. This may mean routing into a utility sink. If you’re allowed, you can recycle it to water your lawn—just be sure the pH is below about 7.5 to avoid killing your grass and you move the hose around frequently. If the hot tub has been sitting for a long time with untreated water, you don’t need to worry about any of this. Just drain it on the lawn.
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Shut off the power to the hot tub at the circuit breaker. This is usually housed in a grey electrical box, located close to the hot tub.
Most hot tubs will have a drain with a hose connector—you can use this, but it will take hours to drain. The faster way is to use a submersible pump or a pool cover pump. Just connect a hose to the pump, drop it in the water, and plug it in. Stick around and make sure to turn it off when the tub is pumped out, as running the pump without water going through it can burn it out. There will be a little water that the pump won’t be able to get—you can open the drain and most of this should flow out.
Disconnect the Power Supply
If you’ve already shut off the circuit breaker at the panel located near the hot tub, you’ll need to go to the main service panel in your home, find the circuit breaker for the hot tub, and turn that off as well. Then you can open the panel near the hot tub to disconnect the wires to the hot tub. Next follow the conduit to the hot tub, open the panel on the side near the conduit and disconnect the wires inside the cabinet. Lastly, you can remove the conduit.
With those done, you’re ready to move the hot tub. As we mentioned, there are four ways, and you’ll need to consider your specific situation to assess which will work best for you.
Moving the Hot Tub Method One: It’s Not My Problem, It’s Yours
If you just want an old hot tub gone and you’re giving it away or selling it, this is the one for you. When you offer it for free or sale, simply state moving is the buyer’s responsibility and offer an estimate of the weight with a suggestion of how many people they should bring to move it. If you want to be nice, you can assist and offer the info on one of the next three methods. Of course, you’ll need to clear the area around the hot tub and along the path it will need to be moved.
Moving the Hot Tub Method Two: For Hard Surfaces
If the surfaces between your hot tub and driveway are pavement, concrete, or covered with pavers, this it the way to go. You’ll need two moving dollies and two 4x4s. With two people, lift up one side of the hot tub and slide a 4x4 under the edge, and then do the same with the other side. Slip one dolly under the middle of each side between the 4x4s. Next, lift each side and remove the 4x4s, and lower the hot tub onto the dollies.
Push the hot tub out to your driveway for loading on a flat trailer or box truck. For a trailer, you’ll want to lift one side off the dolly and pull the edge of the hot tub onto the trailer. It may take a third person behind the tub to prevent it from rolling back when you lift the front edge on. Then lift the other side and slide it on. For a box truck, you can roll the hot tub right in using the ramp that comes with most rental trucks.
Moving the Hot Tub Method Three: For Soft Surfaces
If you have a lot of grass between the hot tub and where you plan on loading it, and it’s relatively level, you’ll need four sections of 4-inch schedule 40 PVC pipe. (You can use 3-inch, but 4 will roll more easily.) The pipe comes in 10-foot lengths. You probably only need about 8 feet though, so you can cut them shorter if they’re difficult to handle or transport.
With two people, lift up one side of the hot tub and roll a pipe under the edge. Lift high enough that someone can push the pipe toward the center of the tub, then roll a second pipe under near the edge. Do the same on the other side. Now you can roll the tub on the pipe. When one pipe rolls out the back, move it to the front and roll the hot tub onto it—repeat as needed to reach your loading area. To turn, place the pipe on an angle when you roll the tub onto it. The tub should slide easily on the pipe; just rotate it as you push it. If you need to make a sharp, 90-degree turn, roll the tub until it’s only on two pipes. Take the other two and line them up end-to-end with the two still under the tub and push it sideways on them. In some cases, sliding the hot tub across the pipe may be easier than rolling.
As with the dolly method, push the hot tub to your loading area to put it in a box truck or on a flat trailer. For the trailer, you’ll want to lift one side and pull the edge of the hot tub onto the trailer. Here too it may take a third person behind the tub to prevent it from rolling back when you lift the front edge on. Then lift the other side and slide it on. For a box truck, you’ll need to do the same thing, but the lift will be higher, so be careful.
Moving the Hot Tub Method Four: For Uneven Surfaces
This is the trickiest method when hills or uneven surfaces are involved. It can also potentially damage the hot tub cabinet if you’re not careful. Do this with at least three people. You’ll be lifting it on its side and rolling it by flipping it onto the next side.
Lift one edge of the hot tub up and push it high enough so that it stands on the side of the cabinet. Then lift the back corner and roll/flip it onto the next side. Once you get it up on the corner and it starts to settle toward, the next side, you’ll have to get you hands under the edges traveling down to prevent dropping it and damaging the cabinet. If you need to go up a hill, go straight up, not on an angle, or you’ll risk it tipping over.
Loading is somewhat easy with this method, as you can roll it up parallel to the edge of your trailer or truck, and then tilt the bottom of the tub toward the vehicle. This will drop it right onto the deck of the trailer or truck. Then you’ll need to lift the other end and slide it on.
For each method, unloading is simply a reversal of the loading process.
Brad Ford has spent most of his life using tools to fix, build, or make things. Growing up he worked on a farm, where he learned to weld, repair, and paint equipment. From the farm he went to work at a classic car dealer, repairing and servicing Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Jaguars. Today, when he's not testing tools or writing for Popular Mechanics, he's busy keeping up with the projects at his old farmhouse in eastern Pennsylvania.