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2050 M-119 [View Map]
Petoskey, Michigan 49770
Phone: (231) 347-1134
Toll Free: (888) 666-1134
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Monday - Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Hot Tub Start-Up & Refill

Draining Your Hot Tub

  1. Disconnect the spa from the power supply by tripping both of the GFCI breakers located in the subpanel or by unplugging from the outlet.
  2. Locate the main drain valve for the spa and remove the drain cap. Attach the inlet of a garden hose to the drain valve (to avoid flooding of the foundation surrounding the spa) and route the outlet of the hose to an appropriate draining area.
    Note: Spa water with a high sanitizer level may harm plants and grass.
  3. Open the valve by turning the knob. The spa will drain by gravitational flow.
    IMPORTANT: All Hot Spring spa models will drain almost completely through the main drain valve and the secondary drain. Equipment such as the jet pump and heating system will drain. Any water remaining within the plumbing or equipment after draining will only need to be removed if the spa is being winterized.
  4. Allow most of the water to drain through the main drain.
  5. Remove threaded cap from secondary drain. This will drain the remaining water (about one gallon) from the bleedline system.
  6. Close the drain valve and reinstall the drain cap.
  7. Reinstall threaded cap onto secondary drain.
  8. Refill the spa through the filter compartment BEFORE restoring power.
    Note: Refill water temperature must be between 50° - 70°F to avoid high-limit tripping.

IMPORTANT: Always clean and rotate the filter cartridges each time the spa is drained for cleaning.



  • Do not fill the spa with hot water, as tripping of the high-limit thermostat may result.
  • DO NOT CONNECT POWER TO AN EMPTY SPA. Power to the spa automatically activates critical components within the spa, such as controls, heater, and other systems. If power is supplied to these components prior to the spa being filled, the components will be damaged, and this may result in a non-warranty component failure.
  • Do not use your spa after filling until all of the steps listed below are completed.
  • Before filling your spa for the first time, remove the equipment compartment door and check to ensure that the unions on either side of the pump(s) and heater are hand-tight. Also, install the pump’s drain plug by screwing the plug(s) into the threaded hole in the face of the pump(s). (A notice can be found attached to the control box, and the plug(s) will be found in your Owner’s Packet.)


Start Up & Filling your Hot Tub

  1. Close all drains and fill the hot tub with water by putting the hose down the center of the gray standpipe in the filter compartment. This will minimize airlocks in the equipment by filling through the heater, pumps and jets, pushing most of the air out of the lines . The water level of your hot tub should be maintained at a level of 1½ inches above the highest jet. 
    IMPORTANT: Watkins® Manufacturing Corporation does not recommend that the spa be filled with “softened” water, as this may damage the spa’s equipment.
  2. AFTER the spa has been filled with water and the equipment compartment door is secured, power must be applied to the spa.
    1. 115 volt models: Connect the GFCI to the waterproof receptacle and push the RESET button on the GFCI.
    2. 230 volt models:
      1. Vanguard, Sovereign, converted Prodigy & converted Jetsetter - reset the 20 amp GFCI breaker first & verify system is primed by pushing the JETS hardbutton once, than the JETMAX soft button to make both jet pumps run on high for 1 minute. Than reset the 30 amp breaker.
      2. Vista, Grandee, Envoy or Aria models - reset the 30 amp GFCI breaker first,  verify the system is primed as outlined above, then reset the 20 amp breaker.
  3. The jet pump(s), heating system and all internal plumbing will achieve a partial prime as the spa is filled.  Once the jet system is fully operational (as indicated by strong, non-surging jets), priming of the spa is complete. Weak or surging jets are an indication of a low water level condition or clogged filter cartridges.
  4. Adjust Total Alkalinity (TA) to 80 ppm, Calcium Hardness (CH) to 100 ppm, then spa water pH to between 7.4 and 7.6. These procedures are listed in the “Water Quality and Maintenance” section of the Owners Manual.
    IMPORTANT: Add spa water chemicals directly into the filter compartment with the jet pump on high speed for at least ten minutes.
    OPERATION NOTE: Adjusting the Total Alkalinity as the first step is important, as out-of balance TA will affect your ability to adjust the pH correctly and will prevent the sanitizer from operating effectively.
  5. Superchlorinate the spa water by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons of chlorine (sodium dichlor) per 250 gallons of spa water. The jet pump should be running on high speed when adding the chlorine, and remain on high to circulate the spa water for a ten-minute period.
  6. Set the temperature control to the desired temperature (between 100°F and 104°F), then place the thermal cover on the spa and allow the water temperature to stabilize (approximately 24 hours). Make sure you secure the cover in place using the cover locks. Periodically check the spa water temperature. When the water temperature climbs above 90°F, proceed to the next step.
    1. Hot tubs on 110V may take up to 36 hours to heat
    2. Hot tubs on 220V may take up to 12 hours to heat on average
  7. Run the CLEAN cycle, or jets on high for 10 minutes to circulate the spa water. After the filter cycle is complete, test the spa water for Free Available Chlorine (FAC) residual. If the residual is between 3 and 5 ppm on the test strips (found in most chemical test kit) go on to the next step. If the residual is less than 3 ppm, superchlorinate the spa water by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons of chlorine (sodium dichlor) per 250 gallons of spa water, while the jet pump is running on high or on the CLEAN cycle for a ten-minute period.
  8. Recheck the Total Alkalinity (TA) at 80 ppm, Calcium Hardness (CH) at 100 ppm, then spa water pH at between 7.4 and 7.6.
    OPERATION NOTE: Make sure you adjust your Total Alkalinity first, as an out-of-balance condition will affect your ability to adjust the pH correctly, and will prevent the sanitizer from operating effectively. The spa is ready for use when the spa water has circulated and the chlorine level remains between 3 ppm and 5 ppm.
  9. The spa temperature is pre-programmed to reach 100F, and will normally do so within 18 to 24 hours. You may raise the water temperature by pressing the Temp Plus (+) button on the control panel, or lower it by pressing Temp Minus (–) button. After a few hours, the water temperature will remain within 3°F of your selected temperature.


Operation Notes

  1. Your spa is equipped with a ten-minute timer delay on the heating/maintenance mode. Whenever the jet pump has been turned off (and a three-degree temperature drop has occurred) or the temperature control has been turned up, it will take ten minutes before the low speed of the jet pump and heater become activated. Always push the JETS button to turn off the jet pump when exiting the spa. In the standard 115 volt, 15 or 20 amp electrical configuration, the heating system does not operate simultaneously with the high speed pump. On the other hand, on the 230 volt system, the heating system does operate simultaneously with the high speed pump.
  2. The spa controller has an automatic one-hour “time-out” feature should the high speed jet mode be left on inadvertently. After one hour of continuous operation, the controller will automatically return to the maintenance/heating mode.
  3. The spa controller also has a six-hour “time-out” feature should the light be left on inadvertently. After six hours of continuous operation, the controller will automatically turn the light off.

Drain and Refill your Hot Tub 2 - 4 times a year. Do not drain your hot tub in temperatures below 40 degrees!

Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce

Service & Installation

Toll Free (888) 666-1134
Local Phone (231) 347-1134
Online Service Request

Featured Specials

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Trade In Value

Find out what the Trade In Value may be and consider trading in your old hot tub for an additional discount!