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How to move a hot tub

Crane, dolly or roller?

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    hot tub on a porch overlooking a neighborhood

    You’ve finally achieved the dream of turning your outdoor space into an oasis, but now you’re moving into a new house. The good news is you can take some of the oasis with you; even a large hot tub can be moved. The best method depends on the tub’s size and how it’s situated in your yard, deck or terrace.

    Key insights

    • Even empty, a small hot tub weighs 400 pounds.
    • The most common method for moving a hot tub requires four movers and a dolly.
    • Two people can move a hot tub using the roller method, but only if the terrain is level.
    • To move a hot tub off an elevated deck, from a fenced-in enclosure or over rough terrain, you may have to rent a crane.

    Preparing your hot tub for a move

    Whether you hire professionals to move your hot tub or call in a favor from some friends, the first thing you’ll need to do to prepare for the move is to unplug it and remove the water. The difference in weight between an empty hot tub and a hot tub filled with water can be thousands of pounds.

    Size of tubEmpty weightFilled weight
    1- to 3-person400 pounds3,400 pounds
    4- to 6-person600 pounds5,350 pounds
    9- to 10-person900 pounds8,900 pounds

    The best way to move a hot tub

    Even empty, a hot tub is heavy and unwieldy, but most can be moved by four movers with the right tools.

    “The dolly-and-plywood method is the one that will probably be the most accessible to the average homeowner,” said Roland Foss, senior operations manager at the moving company Bellhop in Las Vegas. “You'll want at least four able-bodied people, as well as some form of padding, like a moving blanket, and two sets of straps: one for lifting and another set of ratchet straps to secure the hot tub in place.”

    The dolly-and-plywood method is the one that will probably be the most accessible to the average homeowner.”
    — Roland Foss, senior operations manager, Bellhop, Las Vegas

    A large furniture dolly works best. If you don't have one, you can rent one — and ratchet straps — at home centers, moving van rental locations and storage facilities. You’ll also want to purchase a sheet of heavy plywood (two if you need to use one as a ramp to the truck bed).

    Step 1: Prepare the destination by clearing any obstacles at the new house, such as backyard fencing or hedges. You may need to level the ground.

    Step 2: Clear the area around the tub. Make sure the unit is fully accessible on all sides. Identify the path to the truck and walk it to make sure it's clear of obstructions.

    Step 3: Position the dolly on the ground and roll it up to the hot tub. Two movers lift one side of the tub while the other two slip straps underneath. Repeat on the other side. While half the team uses the straps to lift the tub, the other two movers slide a plywood board fully underneath it, roll the dolly up and slip the bottom of it under one end of the plywood.

    Step 4: Set the tub down and position it so that you can’t see any part of the plywood. Secure the hot tub to the plywood and dolly with the ratchet straps, then prepare to roll the hot tub onto its side, down the path and up to your vehicle. The dolly and plywood will remain securely attached to the bottom of the tub. You’ll need them positioned there when you get the hot tub to its new location.

    Step 5: Load the hot tub onto the truck and position it so that the heaviest side (with the motor) is on the bottom. Secure it with the ratchet straps. Now it’s ready for the ride to the new location.

    Step 6: When you reach your destination, unload the tub by rolling it out of the truck the same way you rolled it in. Roll it along the path until you reach the new location, and then lower the tub down onto the dolly. While half the team raises it by the straps, the other two movers remove the plywood and dolly.

    Step 7: Loosen wires and pipes and keep them out of the way as you lower the hot tub and position it in its new location.

    Other common ways to move a hot tub

    While using a dolly and plywood is often the easiest way to move a hot tub, sometimes it's not always possible. Depending on whether your yard is flat and how accessible your backyard is from the street.

    The two-mover roller method

    Two people won’t be able to lift the full weight of a hot tub — even a small one — for long. But they could lift it long enough to position it over three or four rollers.

    “The roller method actually starts out a lot like the dolly-and-plywood method,” Foss, from Bellhop in Las Vegas, said. “It's better suited to hot tubs on flat, level surfaces like patios, or especially flat lawns.”

    Step 1: Clear the space, pick the path and set up the lifting straps just like you would with the dolly method.

    Step 2: You'll need a series of pipes or logs that are at least 4 inches in diameter. An inexpensive option is to cut pieces of sturdy PVC pipe approximately 2 feet longer than the hot tub. Lay them down in a horizontal, parallel formation. Use the lifting straps to position the tub on top of the rollers.

    Step 3: One person pushes the hot tub along the rollers, and the other grabs the rollers as they appear out the back and repositions them at the front of the tub.

    The crane method

    Sometimes it’s not possible to move a hot tub yourself, even with the aid of three or more helpful friends. If your hot tub is situated on an elevated deck or terrace, enclosed in a fenced-in backyard or accessible only through a narrow or uneven landscaped path, you may need to hire a crane.

    “A crane is the most expensive way to move a hot tub, but there are times when it's the only way to get the job done,” Foss said.

    The cost to hire a crane varies based on the nature of the site and how far you need the tub moved, Foss explained, but you could be looking at as much as $2,000 — “not counting the cost to truck it to a different location if that's your ultimate goal,” he said.

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      Can a hot tub be transported on its side?

      If you have enough helpers, you can carefully roll a hot tub onto its side. If the ground is fairly level, you can roll it over grass to a truck. It can be transported on its side in the back of the truck if it’s strapped in well using ratchet straps.

      How heavy is a hot tub?

      An empty hot tub can weigh 400 to 1,000 pounds, depending on the size. When filled with water, a tub can weigh 3,000 to 10,000 pounds.

      Can I move a hot tub myself?

      Moving a hot tub by yourself isn’t feasible. Even drained of water, a tub can weigh 400 or more pounds. But if you have at least one helper and the pathway is level, you can move it using the roller method.

      Bottom line

      The most common method for moving a hot tub requires four movers, a heavy furniture dolly, some plywood and lifting and ratchet straps. A smaller hot tub can be moved by two people using the roller method as long as the pathway is level. For hot tubs that are located on an elevated deck or terrace or those surrounded by rough terrain or a fenced-in enclosure, you may need to rent a crane.

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