The sound of running water is always relaxing to the human ear. It’s no wonder that adding a fountain, waterfall or water feature to your hot tub will make it more enjoyable for you and your family or friends. We’ll give you some tips on how to design and install a water feature in your DIY Hot Tub, so read on!
Types of Water Feature.
There are many different types of water features that can be added to your hot tub. Of course, it is best to incorporate these at design stage as retro-fitting on at a later date is quite difficult.
You’ll want to choose one with the same aesthetic as the rest of your backyard, but there are also many things you need to consider before making a purchase.
The main types of water features are as follows:
-Waterfalls -Fountains -Streams
They all provide a soothing sound and cooling mist to the air. They also allow you to add colour and design to your hot tub. Fountains can be made from many materials, acrylic, stainless steel and stone is often used too.
Types of Materials Used
You need to be mindful of the chemicals that you will be using in your hot tub and the effect that they can have on the materials. Also, a fountain or water feature that is designed for a pond is not necessarily rated to be used with Hot Tubs and Swimming Pools.
This is because the materials that they are made of will corrode with the Hot Tub chemicals so double check compatibility before you purchase anything.
Considerations for a adding a Water Feature in your Hot Tub
In this post, as with this whole blog, we really cater for the DIYer that is building their own hot tub. Adding a water feature to a plastic shell tub is not something that I would suggest doing!
Size and Space
Remember to also consider space constraints too, as many water features are larger than you may have expected!
Where are you planning on installing your water feature? Is it going to be in the centre of a round hot tub or at one end of the tub in a wall?
The flow rates of waterfalls are measured in gallons per minute and you want to make sure that the rate is not too high for your hot tub.
If it’s a low-flow waterfall, then this will be no problem but if it’s higher than 1000 gph (gallons per hour), I would recommend doing some calculations based on the pump you plan to use.
What is the maximum flow of the pump? How many jets you are going to use as well as the water fall? You need to make sure that when you add up all the rates you are going to be within the maximum of your pump. You have the right flow to power all of the individual components.
There are two parts to this section. How do you control the flow and how do you control the water feature. In this section, we’ll look at the flow only.
The way you control the water flow is with a waterfall regulator better known as a ball valve. This regulates how much water comes out of your outlet. Manually operated, you can adjust the flow to get that perfect water feature.
You can also use an inlet reducer to reduce the incoming water pressure. Smaller pipe, less water. Pretty simple.
The last thing you want is to have your waterfall so powerful it is a horizontal line of water that goes nowhere near the tub!
Where do I connect a Water Feature in the Hot Tub plumbing?
Normally, you would simply tee into the 2″ water pipe on the jet lines. You need to check on the inlet size of the water feature you are connecting to.
Is is metric, 50mm, 1.5″ or even 2″? Check as you will need some reduces or plumbing connectors to get you down to the right size pipe. There is no fixed rule on this, all the water features are different.
What I would say is that if the water feature is showing a “barb” connection, it is not going to be suitable for your Hot Tub. These are for really low pressure setups for Coi ponds and fish tanks.
Ideally, you want to have a socket connection or two on a larger water feature. This will then connect nicely into your hot tub plumbing.
How do I turn the Water Feature on or Off?
When you are designing the water feature, you need to decide how you are going to control it. For example, if your hot tub has a waterfall, the chances are you only want it to run when you are in the tub. Otherwise, it would empty the tub onto the cover!
You could simply opt for a manual adjusted stop valve or ball valve. Turn the handle to lock the water off or switch it on. Pretty simple stuff.
However, some customers want to be able to “switch” their water features on or off. In order to do this, you need to use a Solenoid Valve.
What is a Solenoid Valve?
– A solenoid valve is a type of electronic valve that opens and closes with the use of an electric current. It’s practically impossible to turn it on or off by hand, so this can be useful if you want your water feature to operate automatically or at certain times simply connect the valve to a timer.
There are two types of solenoid valve.
– Normally Closed or NC – The solenoid valve is closed when there’s no power. When the power is on, it opens and allows the water to flower though the water feature.
– Normally Open or NO – The solenoid valve is open when there’s no power. When the power is on, it closes and does not allow water to flow though the water feature.
When you are selecting your solenoid valve, you need to decide whether the water feature will be mainly on or off. For example, if you are only going to use a waterfall when you are in the tub because otherwise it would be pouring onto the Hot Tub cover, you would select a Normal Closed (NC) valve.
If the water feature is going to be on most of the day, then elect a Normally Open (NO) valve.
Also, you need to check the voltage of the solenoid valve. They come in all different options from 12V right up to 240V and pretty much everything in between.
The size of the valve is also import. Smaller the pipe size, smaller the flow. Ideally, you want to be on similar size to the pipe that is connecting to the water feature, probably 1.5″. You can of course convert the pipe sizes along the way.
How to install a Solenoid Valve in your plumbing setup.
The solenoid valve needs to be installed after any check valves and pressure reliefs because it works by allowing water in one direction through its opening.
If you don’t have a place for the solenoid valve, then install a ball valve downstream that will allow flow when turned on.
Remember, the valve itself is either open or closed, there is not an in-between state.
There will also be a direction of flow on the valve itself so make sure you are putting this in the right direction of flow in the system. There is usually an arrow on the valve to show this.
Here is an example of how you would connect this 240V 1″ solenoid valve – labelled “A”. You can see first, we have a 1″ socket to male thread (“B”) so our 1.5″ pipework will be dropped down to one inch.
To do this, we use a piece of 1″ white pipe (“C”) which is connected to a reducing bush (“D”) which then sits inside of a 1.5″ socket (“E”). Notice the direction of flow arrow on the solenoid (A) in this case from left to right. We can now connect 1.5″ pipe at either end of this setup. The left side would be connected to the main water supply on the jet lines, and the right hand side would then connect to the water feature itself.
This Solenoid Valve is normal closed, so when we switch on power, the water will flow.
The Solenoid Valve would then be wired into the main electric supply and a simple switch would be wired into the positive cable. A simple, but effective solution for being able to turn on your water feature with a switch. There is also not a worry about say a power cut as the valve would simply close without any power.
Hope you have found this article useful.
Happy Hot Tubbin’
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Thanks - Andi
Hi, Andi here. I own Buildahottub.com and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.
Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi