Sizing a wooden hot tub

When purchasing a wooden hot tub, size should be one of your first considerations. Too often people allow the space they have available or their current budget to dictate the size of their hot tub vessel. This can often result in the purchase of a hot tub that is much larger than needed. Keep in mind that a hot tub requires constant, daily heat, and it costs the same energy to heat it whether it’s one, two or ten bathers that regularly use it.

When it comes to wooden hot tubs, 8′ diameter tubs account for less than five percent of our sales, even though many people contact us thinking this might be the size they want. The most common size for a wooden tub is either a 5×4 or 6×4 and well over ninety percent of all wooden hot tubs sold are either 5′ or 6′ in diameter, 4’ high.

One of the reasons that people prefer wooden tubs over their acrylic counterparts is because of the much greater depth, and 4′ high tubs are on average already a foot deeper than the plastic spas. It’s the depth we sell most often.
Not accounting for diameter, 5′ high wooden hot tubs amount to less than five percent of our sales, again with good reason. While it’s true that the actual inside depth is only about 4.5′ in a 5′ tub, you spend most of your time in the tub being seated, and for people of short stature and especially children, this depth can be too much.

The exception would be if you plan to do some sort of aqua-exercise in the tub, in which case we could understand the choice of a 5′ high tub. Aside from a full-blown swimming pool, there’s no better vessel for exercise than a nice deep wooden hot tub.

Just keep in mind that with an inside depth of 54″, if it’s filled all the way to the top, such a tub might have water that’s over the head of most youngsters. If children are involved, that’s one good reason to think about buying a tub no deeper than a 4’ model.

If you’re unsure about what size tub you want, you can always call, e-mail, or chat with us. It would be our privilege to help you decide what size tub would best suit your needs.

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Some VGB fittings recalled

Several years ago a law went into effect called the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool & Spa Safety Act. This act created more demanding safety requirements for suction fittings for hot tubs, spas and pools. The VGB Act resulted because a young girl, Virginia Graeme Baker, drowned in her family’s hot tub after becoming trapped underwater in a broken drain. To read more about this act and Virginia you can visit http://www.poolsafely.gov/pool-spa-safety-act/virginia-graeme-baker/.

Previous regulations from the 1980s assured that all suction fittings were safety fittings, but only so long as they remained complete and undamaged. The VGB Act was intended to mandate safe suctions even in the case of such failures, and VGB compliance became mandatory for all drains and suctions sold after 2008. Recently some drain and suction fittings that were sold as VGB compliant have been recalled because they were rated incorrectly.

Here at Almost Heaven we wanted to make sure to set your mind at ease. We have checked with our suppliers and none of the drains and suctions we have sold are part of the recall.

You can be confident that any equipment you have bought, or will buy, from Almost Heaven always meets the highest of safety standards, but for fittings especially sold prior to the VGB Act, it’s incumbent upon you to make sure that all suction fittings and drains have covers that are undamaged and securely in place.

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Playboy Mansion hot tub maintenance unacceptable

A story recently surfaced about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Playboy Mansion that ended up linked to bacteria found in one of their hot tubs.

There’s no excuse for improper water maintenance, and this incident would not have happened had this vessel received adequate attention in that department. To be sure, devices like a metal ionizer automate the process of water maintenance to a certain extent, but even a proper chlorine level would have prevented this outbreak, regardless of the health hazard presented by chlorine (and bromine) in its own. Whoever was maintaining this tub should be replaced.

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6 Reasons to Invest in a Home Sauna

Have you ever thought about installing a sauna in your home? While most spas, health clubs and gyms have saunas for their patrons; there are also many excellent reasons to install one right in your own home.

Privacy – Although some people enjoy conversation during their visit to the sauna, others desire complete silence. When you utilize a sauna at a public place you’re at the mercy of the other patrons who are enjoying the sauna as well. When you have a home sauna you can set the tone. You’ll never have to deal with excessive noise during your sauna bath.

Dress Code – Sauna etiquette, including dress code, can vary widely from culture to culture, sauna to sauna, and patron to patron. Some public saunas are clothing optional, some require a bathing suit, and still others only require the use of a bath towel. In your own home sauna, you never have to worry about being dressed, or undressed, inappropriately.

Hygiene – Public saunas are used by many people through the course of day. You never know who the last person was to sit on the sauna bench on which you’re about to relax. You also don’t know the last time the sauna was cleaned. By owning your own sauna you eliminate this concern, and ensure that you are always able to enjoy a clean and healthy sauna environment.

Humidity – Many people enjoy a sauna bath that begins with a dry sauna, to which they then add a bit of humidity by sprinkling water onto the sauna stones, the Finnish tradition of löyly. In a public sauna, often only the first patron of the day can enjoy a completely dry sauna. Once water is used on the stones, that dry sauna environment is gone until the sauna completely dries out. Depending on the traffic in the sauna, this might not be until the next morning. In your own home sauna, you can always control when and how much water is added.

Comfort and convenience – Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy a sauna any time of day or night, without having to leave the comfort of your own home? You can use your home sauna whenever and however you want. Never again will you have to worry about the gym or club being closed, or having to share your bath with unwanted guests.

ROI – When it comes to adding value as you’re selling your home, few improvements are as unique and attention getting as a sauna, and if you install a Prebuilt Sauna (as opposed to a Precut Sauna Kit), you’ll even have the option of including it in the sale or taking it with you to your new home. Our Prebuilt Saunas assemble or disassemble with no special skills or tools in just a couple of hours.

People who add a sauna to their home are able to enjoy their sauna experiences much more than those who must share a public sauna with strangers. Home saunas are cleaner, safer, and more comfortable than their public counterparts.

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Sauna Venting

Posted October 28th, 2010 by admin and filed in Saunas

Sauna bathing in the Scandinavian style is an activity that’s centuries old, and it’s really only relatively recently that electric sauna heaters have come onto the scene. Often we wonder if some venting specifications that we see really apply more to the old style wood fired saunas.

Aside from the case of a public sauna, which can be filled with hundreds of smelly bodies every day, there is no need for “fresh air” in the sauna, and at Almost Heaven we sincerely now believe that venting in a small residential sauna simply is never really required.

The purpose of venting in a residential sauna is not to provide fresh air, as many people would expect. The venting can be useful for getting the heat from the heater to the far corner of the sauna, but in a small sauna, the far corner isn’t very far away.

Proper usage of the vents is therefore often contrary to what most people would surmise. You would start your sauna with the outlet vent open, and close the vent once the sauna reached full temperature, much like starting your car on a hot day and leaving the windows cracked a bit at first so the air conditioner can displace the hot air in the car.

As long as you design your venting according to the proper specification, the only advantage will be the ability to heat the sauna about five minutes more quickly. Keep in mind, though, that the Tylo sauna heater is already heating the sauna in half the time of other brands of sauna heaters anyway, so the gain is less than you might think.

Most important, if you violate some of the basic tenets regarding venting, you could actually make things worse. Our favorite adage on the matter is that “bad venting is much worse than no venting at all”.

The basic rules for venting state that the inlet vent should be below the heater and the outlet vent as far as possible from that, in an opposing wall or corner, either in the ceiling or high up in the wall. Also, most important, both inlet and outlet vent must open into the same room or space. You cannot go through a wall and into another room with one of your vents.

You’re far better off omitting the vents completely, if it would otherwise mean violating one of the above rules, and since the inlet vent must always be under the heater and the outlet vent as far from this as possible, whether or not you vent your sauna can affect the overall layout of the sauna by virtue of the position of the heater.

You’ll find many opinions on the subject of sauna venting, but after nearly 30 years in the sauna industry we’re convinced it’s unnecessary in residential sauna applications.

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Choosing the proper size for your Family Sauna

Posted September 16th, 2010 by admin and filed in Saunas

When people think about adding a sauna to their home, they sometimes let the space they have available dictate the size of their new sauna. Often this leads to the specification of a larger sauna than is actually needed. For a couple or small family sauna, the 5×7 sauna is the perfect size. If more space is available, a shower, and/or a lounging/changing area, is an excellent extension to make your sauna experience more enjoyable.

Those accustomed to sauna bathing know that the top bench is considerably hotter than the lower bench. Having a full width lower bench permits bathers with different preferences to use the sauna at the same time, but in a shallow sauna there isn’t enough room to make the lower bench full width. Unless the sauna is at least 5’ deep, there’s only room for a narrow step bench which provides a step up to the upper bench and a footrest for people seated up there.

As for the width of the sauna, many people prefer to lay down during their sauna bath, so you need benches that are long enough for prone bathing. With our Precut Sauna Kits you lose an inch from the cedar T&G that covers your wall framing, and with our Prebuilt Saunas, which have modular wall panels that are 2.5” thick, the inside dimensions are 5” less than the outer dimensions, hence the recommendation of the 7’ width.

With the 5×7 size, not only is the lower bench full width, but you even get a bonus L shaped lower bench, rather than just a straight bench. That’s one upper and one lower bench that can each accommodate a prone adult, and one seat for a third adult still remaining.
If you need a sauna with enough upper bench space to accommodate two prone adults, then the 6×8 – pretty much the largest size we’d recommend for a residential sauna – would be the proper choice, but for most sauna bathers, the 5×7 is quite suitable.

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Natural water purification alternative

Our involvement with the metal ionizer came about mostly because of our association with wooden hot tubs. In a natural wooden tub, chemical sanitizers can quickly do serious, irreparable damage to the wood if not used very, very judiciously. Even in acrylic spas and swimming pools, there’s still the effect such harsh sanitizers have on your health, equipment and the environment.

If you want to eliminate the need for halogen (chlorine or bromine) sanitizers, an ionizer device is the only accepted way to do so. Ozonaters actually present a hazard to your health in their own right, corroding nearby metal parts and eating away at your equipment’s ‘O’ rings, and despite this, they only reduce the need for halogens. You still need to maintain a halogen level with an ozonater, but zero halogens are required with an ionizer.

Our ionizer produces copper, silver and zinc ions, which are effective at killing algae, bacteria, fungi and viruses. The copper/silver sanitization process is so safe and effective that, at higher concentrations than what’s necessary for a pool or hot tub, this same method is used to purify potable (drinking) water. Using an ionizer means you’ll never again have to share your dip with harsh chemical sanitizers. This makes your hot tub or pool a healthier place to relax for you, your family and your guests.

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Gas Hot Tub Heaters versus Electric Hot Tub Heaters

Back in the early days of hot tubbing, gas-powered hot tub heaters were always less expensive to operate than their electric counterparts. However, with gas prices steadily increasing year after year while the cost of electricity has remained relatively regulated, this simply is not always true anymore.

To make an educated decision about which strategy is best in your situation, you should do a cost analysis of each heating source – something we’ve helped many of our customers do. Surprisingly many of those analyses have revealed electricity to be the less costly of the two forms of energy. You know that this is obviously an unbiased recommendation since we sell both gas and electric heaters – especially since the gas heaters are nearly twice the price of the electric heaters!

Another consideration to take into account when looking at a natural gas or propane hot tub heater is your climate. Many gas heaters are only rated for outdoor use down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and none of the ones we’ve seen are rated for use below freezing. Many dealers won’t bother to tell their customers this, and instead sell them replacement parts when their gas heater rusts out prematurely. The only way to run a gas heater during the winter in a freezing climate is to install it indoors, which requires the purchase and installation of both a flue and an indoor heater hood.

In many cases gas hot tub heaters are more costly to buy, to install, and most important, to operate. Make sure to do a thorough examination of your situation before making a choice as to which is best for you.

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Weight loss in a sauna?!

Posted June 28th, 2010 by admin and filed in Saunas

There are many claims being perpetuated, especially by the Chinese makers of infrared saunas, which are simply not true. One such claim regards weight loss.

Weight loss from any kind of sauna bathing – infrared or traditional, is simply the loss of water weight through perspiration. As soon as the bather replenishes the fluids lost through perspiration in the sauna, the weight comes right back. Failure to replenish these fluids results in dangerous dehydration, which medical professionals rightly consider unsafe and warn people to guard against.

Buying a sauna in an important decision, and one that should be thoroughly researched. It is not a decision that should be made on the basis of misguided beliefs or expectations. The therapeutic benefits of traditional saunas are centuries old and well established, from the Scandinavian style saunas to the Native American sweat lodges, whereas the relatively new technology of the infrared sauna is just that – new and unproven. Consumers would be wise to use caution when considering infrared saunas for therapeutic reasons. If you’re looking for proven health and relaxation benefits from a sauna, the tried and true traditional Scandinavian style sauna is the only choice to make, but remember, no sauna will make you lose weight.

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Infrared Sauna Heaters vs. Traditional Scandinavian Style Sauna Heaters

The infrared saunas use a “space heater” style heater. These heaters radiate heat as a space heater would, by warming the part of the body facing the heater. This means that the side of the body not facing the heater stays cold. As if this is some sort of an advantage, most infrared sauna proponents freely admit that their heaters don’t heat the air inside the sauna, meaning the area enclosed in the sauna never reaches genuine sauna bathing temperatures.

A true Scandinavian style sauna heater works by heating the entire volume of air inside the sauna. These heaters are generally electrically powered, though a few “die-hard” sauna aficionados wouldn’t consider it a true sauna unless they were using a wood fired sauna heater. Both of these traditional styles of heaters work the same way, by heating not only the air inside the sauna but also heating a container of sauna rocks.

This design, unique to a traditional Scandinavian sauna heater, allows the bather to sprinkle water onto the hot rocks, creating steam and raising the humidity from under 5% to somewhere around 10% or 15%. The application of water onto the stones, which is known as the Finnish tradition of “löyly”, drastically changes the environment of a sauna, and is simply something you’re not going to be able to enjoy in an infrared sauna.

Some of the advocates of infrared saunas cite a quicker heat up time as a reason to buy infrared heaters rather than traditional heaters. That’s an easy enough claim to validate, when your operating temperature is the 120 F achieved by the infrared sauna heater, as opposed to the 190 F typical of a Scandinavian style sauna heater. Moreover, Tylo Sauna Heaters have patented double side vent technology which allows them a heat up time that is the same as, if not less than, these infrared heaters, despite the much higher temperature achieved.

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