- By Andrew Astonville
- Published 05/4/2012
The word ‘Spa’ is named after a town in Belgium and dates back to Roman times. Spas are a method of hydrotherapy that makes for an excellent medium for relaxation and they do wonders for your health.
You can relax in your spa bath as you would in a normal bath, with the added bonus of jets that swirl the water around to create a massaging effect which soothes and invigorates the body.
The following guide will explore the ins and outs of spas, to help you decide whether they’re a good buy for your home.
Clarifying Spas, Jacuzzi’s, Whirlpools & Hot Tubs
The terms ‘spa’, ‘jacuzzi’, ‘whirlpool’ and ‘hot tub’ can be very confusing to the average person – these days they are understood to be interchangeable, but there are a few subtle distinctions between them. Here is an overview to clarify the matter:
Spa – in our context, the name ‘spa’ is loosely applied to a bath or tub holding hot water which generally has pressure jets to provide a massaging effect. They can be installed either inside or outside the home, while a popular option is to have a spa attached to your swimming pool. The term spa is additionally used for health clubs and gyms which provide massage, relaxation and other such health therapy services.
Jacuzzi – this is in fact the brand name for the spa baths, hot tubs or whirlpools manufactured by the Jacuzzi Corporation. Generally however, the term ‘jacuzzi’ is often used for any tub which has jets and nozzles that come in a range of sizes (from one to multi person baths).
Whirlpools – these were originally designed by Candido Jacuzzi (so also part of the Jacuzzi Corporation) for therapeutic and relaxing home treatment. They have jets built into the sides of the tub which mix the air and water for a massaging effect. Heater elements are optional.
Hot Tubs – generally termed for outdoor installation, these have a heating element and usually seats four or more people. Pressure jets are an optional extra. Hot tubs are also available as portable, inflated units designed to hold two to four people.
Benefits of Spas
One of the main reasons why spas make you feel superb has to do with the little known molecules known as negative ions. Originally occurring in nature, they are generated for example by thunder and moving bodies of water. In a nutshell, negative ions present in the air are extremely good for the body. Thus, the whirling of the water from the jets built into spas cause negative ions to occur which energises the atmosphere around you.
Here is further a summary of the health advantages of spas:
· The hot water relaxes and soothes the body.
· Increases circulation.
· Helps to eliminate toxins from the body.
· Beneficial for insomnia and nervous tension.
· Helps to ease arthritis.
Owning a spa means you get to enjoy all the health and relaxation benefits of hydrotherapy from the comfort of your own home, rather than having to visit a gym with a pricey membership and possibly share the experience with strangers.
In addition, a larger outside spa is great for entertaining your friends and family, especially during the summer time with a tasty BBQ on the go.
Tips for Choosing a Spa Bath
Here are some factors to consider when shopping around for a spa:
Size & Model
Since they come in different sizes and with a range of specification options, spas are available to suite most any budget, plus they make for a great value-add to your property.
You can choose an inside spa for your own private use or an outside spa for entertaining four to eight people (depending on the size you opt for). You can even adapt your normal bath to a spa.
Generally there are two types of spa models available on the market – the whirlpool variety which has ventilated jets on the side walls, and the spa bath which has a number of nozzles in the base. You can even choose a spa which has a combination of these two types.
Spas can cost anything from £500 for smaller units to £10,000 for the larger, more luxurious, high-end models. Hot tubs, which tend to be of the larger variety, are generally more expensive than whirlpools or spa baths. When shopping around, make sure to get more than one quote to obtain a fair price. Recommendations from other spa owners are also a wise idea to help you clarify what will be best for your individual needs.
Installing a spa is generally not a DIY task, it’s recommended for most to call in a professional contractor. This is best for the long term since the warranty and labour guarantee will give you added peace of mind against any problems occurring.
Maintaining Your Spa
Since a spa is much smaller than a swimming pool, one would imagine it would be a great deal easier to maintain. The fact is however that a spa requires the same principles of chemical treatment and care as a pool. Highly heated water in particular gives rise to bacteria that can be harmful, so artificial bodies of water must always be properly sanitised, filtered and maintained to provide safe bathing conditions. Your spa provider will be able to give you all the instructions and materials you will need – do make sure you follow their instructions. Also see my article titled ‘Crucial Chemical Maintenance for a Healthy Swimming Pool’.
Finally, unlike swimming pools, the water in your spa must be changed on a regular basis, so it will need to be drained and then refilled.
The above guide gives you a good idea of what spas involve, including their health and relaxation benefits, their maintenance and some key know-how to help you choose the right model for your home.
About the Author: Andrew Astonville is an independent advisor on maintaining spas.