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Archive for May, 2013

Spa Yoga Workout – Hot Tub Yoga

May 31st, 2013 by

hot-tub-yoga

 

Namaste! Welcome to my Yoga Ashram, I’m Gina, your yoga instructor. I’m qualified, I suppose, since I started my own Hot Tub Yoga program 8 weeks ago, in preparation for this blog post!

I have always been a fan of Bikram yoga, a very physical type of yoga, practiced in rooms near 100 degrees – so it was a natural transition for me to try yoga in hot water.

Yoga in a spa or hot tub is, to be honest – a bit easier than yoga on land. The buoyancy of the water, and the water’s resistance, definitely make it easier to hold the poses!

When I began my personal Hot Tub Yoga Studio, I started out by doing the poses that I was most familiar with What evolved was my own brand of Sivananda Yoga – (a series of linked asanas and pranayamas), or sets of poses and breathing exercises.

My spa isn’t big enough to do some fully stretched out poses, and of course, seated poses and many inverted positions are difficult to do underwater. So, after much trial and error, here are some tried and true yoga sequences that can be done in your hot tub.

Breathe

My yoga warm-up is more of a relaxation exercise, to prepare the body and mind for the sequences to follow. I sit cross-legged on the lounge seat of the spa, very straight and tall, in the Lotus position. Hands facing up, I begin rhythmic breathing, deep into my belly first. As the breathing becomes deeper, I fill my mid-chest and eventually my upper chest during each breath. Exhaling slowly and fully, this is known as the full Yogi breath. 8-10 full, slow breaths and I open my eyes and unfold my legs.

Hot Tub Yoga Warm-Up

Next – with the bathtub mat I bought placed on the spa floor, I kneel on the floor of my spa, in the Vajrasana or Rock pose. The water level forces me to sit nice and straight, with my toes bent under and my rump resting on my heels. After a few relaxing breaths, I push my hands up straight while inhaling, up toward the sky. Leaning and reaching back to full extension, I exhale as I bring my hands back into the prayer-like Namaste pose.

Spa Yoga Routines

yoga_8_animated

 

Breath: Standing up in the center of the spa, I begin a series of repeated movements. The first set is part of a Sun Salutation, and is similar to the kneeling warm-up routine. As I stretch toward the sky, it’s helpful to imagine a rope around my wrists, pulling me up straight and tall. Repeating the set 5 times, very slowly and precisely, focusing on my breathing. Inhale as I open up tall, exhale as my head goes under water.

 

Balance: Up until now, at the half point of my yoga workout, it’s been relaxing, with a focus on the breath, and clearing my mind with the clutter of the day. Now I turn to my balance routine. You can mix it up with different poses that seem to work best for you.

Yoga, for me, has a goal of perfection – unattainable perfection perhaps, but nonetheless, and as I hold a pose, I try to be perfectly straight and balanced – with a clear mind, breathing deeply, in and out of each position.

standing-asanas

yoga_9_animated

 

Brawn: Time to kick it up a notch. Now that I am fully limber, and beginning to break a sweat, it’s time for some strength conditioning. The next set of poses that I link together use muscles that I hadn’t used in years – but after a few weeks, they stopped complaining after workouts. Some of these strength yoga poses involve the benches in the hot tub, as support.

These poses during the “Brawn” phase of the workout, are held for a longer time than the previous sets. Once you gain balance, focus the breath, and hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can.

I’ve added some Pilates moves to my hot tub workout. One new favorite is using a Pilates ball, and with straight arms and locked elbows, push the ball partially under water for 3 or 4 breaths. After several rounds, I move the ball to my toes and hold it under water with feet (harder than it sounds!) while floating on my back (planking!), supported by my hands on the spa bench. Breathe.

hot-tub-yoga-workout

Hot tub yoga – this has been a fun experiment. I have to say – after 2 months of doing spa yoga, my hot tub and I have reconnected, and I am toned in areas that just aren’t touched with other forms of exercise. As an added benefit, the meditative breathing really takes the stress off, and gives me such an energy boost.

I hope you’ll try hot tub yoga soon – if you have, and have some tips to share, please comment below!

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

yoga pose graphics created by AskAboutHugo

How to Replace a Spa Pump Shaft Seal

May 28th, 2013 by

spa-shaft-seal-replacementSpa pump motor shaft seals – they are meant to keep the water from leaking along the shaft of the pump motor, behind the impeller. When a shaft seal fails, as they do from time to time, you will notice water dripping along the backside of the volute (where the shaft enters the impeller housing), running down and dripping off the bottom of the pump.

A leaking shaft seal can easily be confused with a failed volute (impeller housing) o-ring, or with a leaking union or plumbing fitting on top of the pump. In fact, many leaks around the pump will end up running down – and dripping off the bottom.

 

SHAFT-SEALS-LEAK-HEREIs Your Shaft Seal Leaking?

To be sure that you have a leaking shaft seal, inspect all areas around the pump closely (with a flash light and reading glasses, if necessary). If you have an open volute (where you can see the motor shaft), a leaking shaft seal will leak where the shaft enters the volute, as shown in the image on the right.

Looking close-up in the area indicated, you will usually see a thin, running stream of water, although in some cases, it could be spraying water in all directions.

Spa pumps with closed volutes (where you can’t see the motor shaft), will be leaking out of a drain hole, in the bottom of the seal plate, or the point where the motor joins the “wet end” of the spa pump.

Identifying a Spa Pump Shaft Seal

Not all spa pumps use the same shaft seal, and seals used for hot tub pumps are usually of a higher grade rubber (Viton or Silicone Carbide), than those used in swimming pool pumps. These materials are more resistant to chemical changes, and if you use a spa ozonator, these materials won’t deteriorate like a shaft seal made with a Buna type synthetic rubber.

The easiest way to order the correct shaft seal, is to order by make and model of the pump. This may not be so clearly marked on many pumps however. If you still have documentation on the spa purchase, an owner’s manual should list the shaft seal, and it’s manufacturer’s part number.

The next easiest way to find out which shaft seal is used on your pump is to remove the pump from beneath the spa (shut off power and water valves first), and disassemble the motor from the wet end, so that the shaft seal can be measured and identified.

Disassembly of the Wet End

Motors can be removed from a spa without too much work. First make sure that the power is shut off on the main breaker. Place tape over the breaker to prevent others from flipping it back on while you work. Close the valves both sides of the pump to hold back the water in the spa, otherwise, you’ll need to drain the spa first before pump removal.

Unscrew the unions on the pipes that come in and out of the pump (there will be some water spillage). Disconnect the bare copper bonding wire from the bonding lug. Remove the power cord from the control box. With the motor removed, and in a location that you can work on it (without stooping or laying on your stomach), loosen the bolts that secure the front plate to the volute.

With the front plate removed, you should be looking at the impeller. Some spa pumps have an impeller shroud, or diverter that will need to be removed first. Remove the impeller by holding the shaft firmly in place, while spinning the impeller in a counter-clockwise direction. For open volutes, a small pair of vice grips can be used to hold the shaft firmly so it won’t turn as the impeller is threaded off of the shaft.

For closed volutes, the trick is to hold the shaft in one location at the rear of the motor. For motors with a removal end cover, a 7/16 wrench can be used on the rear of the shaft. Others have a small shaft cap that can be removed, dead center of the rear end bell of the motor. The shaft is slotted to accept a large flat head screwdriver, used to hold the shaft stationary.

After removing the impeller, you should see your shaft seal, and you can now identify it by type and size.

Measuring your Spa Shaft seal

Spa shaft seals come in two pieces, a round ceramic disk, and the other half, with the spring. One piece will be pressed into the seal plate of the pump, and the other half fits onto the impeller. As the two halves of the shaft seal are drawn close together during impeller rotation, the spring is compressed, and a good “seal” is made. The seal doesn’t actually touch the shaft, if it did, it would burn up in just seconds of 3400 RPM of the motor shaft. Nonetheless, you will notice that many shaft seals mention the shaft diameter of the motor that they fit.

SHAFT-SEAL-MEASUREMENTS

Remove both pieces of your shaft seal from the pump. The mating ring may require a small flathead screwdriver to pry it out, as it is pressed into place. Be sure to also remove the rubber mating ring, if present.

The other half of the seal, with the spring, can be worked off gently with your fingers. Once removed, take the diameter and height measurements, as shown left.

SHAFT-SEAL HEAD TYPES

 

The other distinction between shaft seals is the type of head that the “spring half” of the seal is either Type A, or Type B. Most spa pumps with Type B seal heads will be using a #1000 seal, but check the other measurements of the seal to be sure. Another measurement, if you want to be really sure, is to measure the diameter of the shaft. Calipers would be most accurate, or you can use a rigid measuring tape, and eyeball it very closely.

Spa Pump Shaft Seal Chart

With this information on the shaft seal head type and the diameter measurements, and perhaps the shaft measurement, you can now refer to this handy spa pump shaft seal chart, to confidently figure out the type of replacement shaft seal needed, or the seal number, shown in the left hand column. Most common are the shaft seals #100, 200, 201 and 1000, but your spa pump could use a different one. Measure to be sure, and call us if you have any questions.

spa-pump-shaft-seal-chart

NOTE:  The Seal Type numbers in the left column, (i.e. PS-100) are commonly accepted universal seal part numbers, which will correspond in size and type, to the manufacturer’s part number. Again, if you have any questions or concerns with proper shaft seal identification, call us for help.

Installing a new shaft seal

The biggest mistake people make when installing a new shaft seal is installing the seal or the mating ring upside down. As you remove the two halves of the seal, take note of it’s orientation. If this bit of information is not available, take note of how the seal is packed in the box – usually, this is the correct position. Otherwise, know that the ceramic part of the mating ring is meant to contact the hard plastic side of the seal.

When installing Type B seals into the seal plate, use a bit of silicone around the stainless steel cup as you press fit the seal into the plate. Use a very large socket, or a 1″ PVC coupling as a setting tool, to lightly tamp the seal cup fully in place.

When installing Type A seals over the impeller, put the soft rubber side toward the impeller, and the hard plastic side toward the ceramic face of the mating ring.

After installing both seal halves, thread the impeller back on fully, and reassemble the wet end (with no leftover parts!). Reposition the pump and connect the unions, making sure the o-rings are in place. Reconnect the bonding wire and the power cord. If your pump was mounted onto a skid, or base, resecure the pump to reduce vibration and movement.

Fill the spa or open the valves to allow the pump to fill with water. Turn on the circuit breaker and test the pump. If water does not begin to flow immediately, you probably have an air lock in the pump or spa pak. Shut off the pump, and loosen the union on top of the pump just slightly, to allow air to be pushed out, until water begins to flow and spill. Quickly tighten up the union and test the pump again.

PREVENTING DAMAGE TO SHAFT SEALS

  • Never run the pump dry, or without water flowing through it.
  • Maintain your water level in the spa, to prevent air being sucked in.
  • Use Viton shaft seals if you use a spa ozonator.
  • Maintain proper water balance and sanitizer levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Measuring for a new Spa Cover

May 23rd, 2013 by

measure-spa-coverThe easiest way to order a new spa cover is to order by make and model from our database of over 100 different spa manufacturers and over 1000 different models. But, when your not sure, or want to make sure you get the best fitting spa cover, the best thing is to measure your existing hot tub cover.

In just a few steps, and with just a tape measure and our order form, I’ll show you how to order a perfect spa cover every time.

 

The most common question we get is “What should I measure?” If your current hot tub cover is in pretty good shape, you can just measure the existing cover. If it’s in really bad shape, then you’ll measure the tub instead.

The most important thing is that your measurements be from outside acrylic to outside acrylic. Don’t measure to the outside of the spa cabinet, but just to the point where the spa shell ends.

The most common shaped hot tub is a square or a rectangle, that’s about 85% of hot tubs. If you have a hot tub made after 1985, chances are it has rounded corners. The most common hot tub covers we make are rounded square, or rounded rectangle. If you have a different shaped hot tub, don’t worry, these principles will apply as well. spa-cover-measurement-form

The first thing to make note of is where the fold is, or which direction the fold of your spa cover is running. On our measuring form, you’ll notice that the “A” measurement is always cut in half by the fold of the spa cover. So the first measurement of a spa cover is straight across the cover, and across the fold. Write down this first measurement down.

The next measure is the “B” measurement, taken across the cover, perpendicular to the first measurement. Write down this measurement.

C” is the third measurement that we take is to determine the radius, or the curvature of the rounded corner. There are two ways to measure this, with a carpenter’s square, or with a measuring tape. The measure is taken from where the curve begins to the point where it intersects at a 90 degree angle, with a straight edge, or yard stick held on the adjacent edge of the cover, as shown in the image above.

The curve could be very slight, a 4″ radius, or they can be 12″ in some cases. It’s important to carefully measure the corner radius, to have the best fitting spa cover.

 

Spa skirt measuring

Next, we’ll measure the length of the spa cover skirt and the straps. On our website, we have default values – for the most common measurements, but you can enter your own. The skirt should hang down long enough to cover the acrylic on the spa, to protect it from the UV rays. Measure the length of your current spa cover skirt, from the bottom of the cover to the edge of the skirt. Shown in this image, we have a 5″ spa cover skirt length.

 

spa-cover-safety-straps

Now you can measure the safety strap, in the same manner, from the bottom of the spa cover, and including the skirt, to the buckle – but not including the buckle. Our new spa covers include 2 safety straps, with standard buckles to fit your existing strap locks. We also include the complete hardware kit if you want to change the entire lock. Write down the measurement of your spa straps. Shown in this image, we have an 8″ safety strap length.

 

And that’s it! Just 5 pieces of information necessary to order a replacement spa cover from Hottubworks. You can always order by make and model, but if that information isn’t handy, you can measure your own hot tub in just a few minutes.

Here’s Jerry from Hot Tub Works, in a video about how to measure your current spa cover for a replacement cover

– Jack

Replacing a Spa Pak – a How To

May 20th, 2013 by

replacement spa packsA Spa Pack is an integrated unit that contains the spa pump, heater, blower and controls. On average, a spa pack will last around 10 years, before one or more components begins to fail, or give you regular trouble.

Replacing your Spa Pak can be a quick and simple affair. In the worst case scenario, it may involve some light plumbing and wiring, and replacement of the top-side spa control, if purchased with your spa pack.

 

Selecting the Right Spa Pack

Digital or Air System?

spa-side-control

You probably have a “spa-side control”, a small control panel “top-side”, that you use to operate the spa from inside the tub. If you have a digital display, you have a digital control. If your spa-side control has a dial for temperature, and air buttons with air hoses running to the control box – this indicates that your spa has an air system control. Since they are close in price, many spa owners may upgrade their new spa pack to a digital system.

Spa Pack or Spa Control?

Spa Packs are the complete kit and kaboodle – control box, heater, pump(s) and sometimes also a blower. Everything, really – with the exception of the spa filter or ozonator. The Spa Control is just the controller for the spa, although some newer controls also include a spa heater.

If your system is fairly new, and you are mainly having problems with the control, with the other equipment in good order, you can save some bucks and replace just the spa control. If the other equipment items are older than 7-8 years, you may want to consider replacing the entire spa pack, to avoid equipment failure in the near future.

Gathering Information

Before you can order a replacement spa pack, grab your reading glasses and a flashlight, and get up close and personal with the existing equipment. You’ll need to locate and write down the following bits of information, from the name plates on the control and pump.

  • Pumps: One pump or Two? Locate the Horsepower (HP) on the motor nameplate.
  • Heater size: Usually, residential spas are either 1.5kw or 5.5kw
  • Control Voltage: Incoming voltage is either 120 volts or 240 volts (or 115/230).
  • Blower – do you wish to replace the blower also?
  • Pipe Size: 1.5″ or 2″? 1.5″ PVC pipe has an outside diameter of 1-7/8″.
  • Inlet Direction: Is Control inlet on the left side or right side of the pump?

Ordering a New Spa Pack

If you’ve done it before, and you are confident of your selection, by all means place your spa pack order online. If our tech support staff can be of any help to you in purchasing the correct spa pack for your application, by all means, call us at 800-770-0292. We have spa experts standing by from 7 to 7 during the week, and 8 to 5 on weekends.

Spa packs are not cheap, but considering it’s the “engine” of your hot tub, a price of $600-$800 may not seem too severe. You’ll find our prices on spa packs to be among the best, and with a wide variety of brands to choose from. Shipping on spa packs is always fast and free.

Installing your New Spa Pack

1. Shut off the Power, at the main Circuit Breaker for the spa. Read the installation instructions.
2. Close the isolation valves to shut off water before and after the pump, or drain the spa.
3. Loosen the unions before and after the existing spa pack, and remove wire connections from the spa light, ozonator, stereo or other accessory equipment.

spa-pak-locationYour spa pack control and heater must be installed after the pump and before the filter (unless your spa filter cartridge is located in the skimmer well of the spa). Make sure that the pipes are connected to the correct in and out ports of the pump and the heater.

Line up your new spa pack, and determine the plumbing arrangement. In most cases, all of the plumbing fittings and pipe you will need are included, but in some situations, a trip to Home Depot may be in order to pick up a few fittings, or a fresh can of PVC glue and a can of primer or PVC pipe cleaner. blower-installation

Dry fit all of your plumbing together before gluing, to make sure that everything is lined up, and all pipes and fittings can be glued to their full depth. NOTE: A spa air blower is not glued onto the pipe. Fumes from PVC glue can be ignited by a blower, so instead, use a screw or clamp to secure an air blower onto PVC pipe, as shown right.

4. Position spa pack components and secure them to the base or skid.
5. Clean and glue the PVC joints. Use Teflon tape on threaded fittings.
6. Attach wire plugs from spa light or other accessory equipment into the labeled ports on the control box.

spa-wiringMaking the electrical connections is fairly straight forward, and safe – as long as the power is off. Tape the breaker in the “Off” position, to prevent someone from accidentally turning it back on.

Make the hard wire connections from the new spa pack to the wires from the main circuit breaker (which is still Off!). If you doubt your abilities, please contact a certified electrician to make these connections.

7. Fill the spa, and inspect for any leaks in the pipes or equipment (before it gets too full).
8. Install the new Spa-Side control, by mounting in place of the existing top-side controls. If your new control is much smaller than the old one, you can use a small saw or Dremel tool to cut small openings in the current control, and mount the new control right on top of the old control.
9. Turn on power to spa, and set the thermostat to the lowest setting.
10. Run the spa jet pump on high for several minutes to purge all air from system before turning up the thermostat and testing the heater.

And, your done! While the spa is heating up, take some time to read the owner’s manual operating instructions, and send in the warranty registration card.

Once again, if you have any concerns about spa pack selection, ordering or installation, our 100% free spa tech support personnel are here to help you – 78 hours per week!

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Related Information:

Installing your New Equipment Pack
Installing a Spa Equipment Pack (videos)

Draining your Spa or Hot Tub Correctly

May 16th, 2013 by

drain-the-spa-hot-tubDraining, or emptying your spa or hot tub, is necessary every 2-4 months, to reduce the amount of dissolved solids in the spa, and any germs or “baddies” that may have built up some resistance to the spa chemicals.

Draining is also sometimes preferable to intensive shock treatment, which can be harmful over time to spa seals and finishes. I prefer to drain more often, and use fewer harsh chemicals, when possible.

There are some considerations for draining a hot tub, including: local water restrictions, spa water chemistry and in some areas – water discharge regulations. If you plan to leave the spa drained for an extended period of time, I have some tips below for that too.

When to Drain A Spa or Hot Tub

Spas with very high use, commercial or public spas, may need to drain every few days to keep maintain water health. For private spas or hot tubs, with say, 9 spa sessions per week (3 users, 3x weekly), your spa water will last longer, up to 4 months between changes.

Some spa owners will drain for persistent cloudy water, or after a heavy use weekend by many people, or if they’ve managed to let the spa “go” – for some time without sanitation or filtration. I’ve drained my spa for all of these reasons at one time or another – otherwise, it’s every 3 or 4 months.

thinking-guy-left“When in doubt, drain it”, is my usual advice, or when the spa chemistry is really bad – “water is cheaper than chemicals!”, is something I might say.

How to Drain A Spa or Hot Tub

Before draining the spa, or at least twice per year, use a Spa Purge type chemical to remove biofilm and hidden “funk and gunk”. If you’ve never use one of these spa pipe cleaners, you’ll be amazed at the amount of gross, brown bio-gunk that it foams to the surface. Spa Purge is a name of one spa biofilm remover, I get great results using Jet Clean, which is a lot cheaper.

After circulating Jet Clean for around an hour, I am ready to drain the spa. Some spas have a handy external spigot to connect the hose, but mine is inside, and not in the most convenient location. After hooking up a permanent hose of the perfect length, I now just reach inside the cabinet and pull out the hose.

Shut off the Power. At the main switch, so your equipment timer won’t turn the pumps on during the drain and refill.

Gravity Draining with a hose takes some time, my spa takes about 3 hours to drain. I come out every hour and move the hose to a new location in my backyard. You can also use a small submersible pump, like a pool cover pump, to drain the spa in 15-30 minutes. When it’s about halfway down, I spray down the exposed walls with my garden hose, and again when empty.

Spa Siphon – If you have no spa drain spigot, and no utility pump, you could drain by siphon, if you have an area nearby that is lower than the hot tub. Duct tape a Crescent wrench to the end of a hose and place it in the bottom of the spa. Starting at the point where the hose comes out of the water, push the hose straight into the water, and coiling it underwater. Fill the entire hose up in this manner, and then cap the end of the hose with your thumb and quickly pull the hose to an elevation lower than the spa floor. Release your thumb and water should begin to flow.

Spa Water Use and Hot Tub Discharge Restrictions

Drought is a real reality in areas across the country. If your city is experiencing severe drought, it may put in place mandatory water restrictions, that may restrict draining and refilling your spa or hot tub.

In addition to this, most cities and towns have some regulations regarding how to discharge or drain a spa, hot tub or pool. Here are some general guidelines, your city may be different.

  • Water should have a balanced pH level
  • Sanitizer level should be very low
  • Don’t pump to the Sewer, but “Infiltrate” around the yard
  • Don’t pump near any streams or tributaries

Leaving your Spa Drained for an Extended Period

Wooden hot tubs will dry out without water in them, so it is not recommended to leave them dry for longer than a few days, just long enough for repairs or relocation.

If you know you will be unable to maintain a non-wood spa for months at a time, it will be best to drain it, to prevent biofilm and bacteria build-up.

wetdryvacAs the spa is nearly drained, turn on the blower, to clear out the lines (you may want to put the spa cover on first!). Use a powerful wet/dry vac to blow air through the pipes – from the skimmer and spa jets. A small air compressor can also be used, (with low pressure), connected into the pump drain plug. This is important, to prevent standing water from developing into a bacterial mess, inside of the hoses or equipments. The same process is used to winterize a spa or hot tub.

Remove the drain plugs from the equipment, and leave all drains open. Remove the spa filter and store indoors. Wipe down the inside of the spa, with a  sponge or towel to remove any remaining water. Put on your spa cover on to keep it clean.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Parts: Air Switches for Spas and Hot Tubs

May 13th, 2013 by

spa air switch informationAir Switches have been used for spa side controls for as long as I can remember – probably after early hot tubbers got tired of having to get out of the tub to turn on jets, air, or lights!

Using an air switch provided a safe means of turning on hot tub equipment with wet fingers. Air switches for spas have come a long way since the early days, and many spa manufacturers are now controlling many spa functions with micro circuits on PCB’s (printed circuit boards).

However, there are still LOTS of spa switches out there; some showing their age. This post has information on troubleshooting, identifying, ordering and installing spa air switches.

 

Types of Spa Air Switches

SPDT-AIR-SWITCH

Air switches used in spas are used as a break in a circuit, just like a light switch or a circuit breaker. There are several types of switches that are used on spas and hot tubs. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of spa air switches.

A standard air switch controls a single load, that is – just the light or the blower, for example. They are sold in a few distinct types – Single Pole – Single Throw or SPST (one wire in, and one wire out), or the Single Pole – Double Throw SPDT (one wire in, two wires out). A Double Throw can be used for a two-speed pump to operate high speed and low speed, each on separate outputs.

DPDT-air-switchYou may also see a switch that is like a “Double SPDT”, with two wires in, and four wires out. This is known as the DPDT, or that’s right… the Double Pole – Double Throw air switch – pictured here on the left. Multi-function switches can have even more terminal sets, you may have larger switches with 4 sets of terminals, which can turn several items on or off, at the same time, or in sequence.

Air switches will also have a “Spout” or a small ribbed opening – where an air hose pushes on to the air switch. The location of the Spout can make a difference, some are side mounted and some may be bottom mounted, as on our image examples.

Another distinction between spa air switches is in their operation. Latching type of air switches are “Push On – Push Off” activated, such as a single color spa light. These are also known as Alternate or Permanent air switches. Sequencing switches, mentioned above, control several functions at once, such as selecting a “SPA” function, which will turn on jets and blower and heater, for example. Multi-function sequence switches have multiple terminals for wire connections. Momentary spa switches close the circuit (On) only while the air switch is depressed, and opens the switch when the button is released. These are also known as Non-Latching switches for spas.

Trouble Shooting Spa Air Switches

Basic: Your first indication of a problem may be that you push the button and nothing happens, or the result is different than what you expected! First step in diagnosis would be to remove your equipment panel and locate the thin air hose connected to the spa side controls. Make sure that they are all connected, on both ends, follow the hose from the button to the switch.

Next, push the button and listen for the switch to “click”, or make a small noise (you may need to turn off the spa to hear it). If you hear no noise, inspect the air hose for cracks or splits. If OK, inspect the air switch with a flashlight, looking for insects or disconnected wires.

You may have an air switch with an adjustable dial, over a threaded body. Spa air switches come factory calibrated, and there is usually no need for adjustment. However, during troubleshooting an air switch, you may turn the dial in one direction or the other, but track the number of revolutions, so you can return to the starting point if adjustments make no difference. Resistance in Ohms

Advanced: Shut Off power to the spa at the incoming circuit breaker. Use a multi-meter to check continuity through the switch. Place your meter on the Ohms setting, to check the resistance, and place meter leads onto each incoming (common) terminal and also on the terminal just below it. You may need to remove the wires from the terminal, but only do one set at a time, and remember which is which, or label them with masking tape.

While you are holding the meter onto the terminals, have a helper push the air switch button up-top (or clamp your meter leads). While connected, your meter should  read continuity/no continuity, as the button is pushed on and off. If any of the pole/throw sets do not display this behavior, the switch has failed.

Identifying your Spa Air Switch

It’s important to select a replacement switch with the exact type – not necessarily the same brand, but the same number of Poles and Throws, the same voltage and amperage, the same Operation Type and the same Spout location.

If you identify a faulty spa switch, remove and label each individual wire, and unscrew the switch from it’s mounting (power is still Off!). Put your glasses on and write down all identifying information – Volts, Amps, Type and Manufacturer.

Usually, searching these numbers on Hottubworks will pull up pictures of possible replacements. Look at the pictures to try and positively identify your switch. If you have questions, you can always call our tech support center.

Buying a New Spa Air Switch

We sell dozens of air switches every day. Of these, about 10% of orders are returned – with customers selecting the wrong one. We don’t want you to lose any time with your spa, so if you have a question or are just unsure about what type of spa air switch you have, please give our team a call.

Of course, our spa air switches are very easy to order online, with large pictures and full descriptions – and a friendly return policy. So, if you’d rather not call us, make your best selection and let us know if you have any questions while installing the new air switch.

Installing a New Spa Air Switch

You’ll normally find all of your air switches housed in a central control box, with a uniform mounting method. Some are screwed in place or clipped in place. Remember to have the power Off during switch troubleshooting and replacement. Label all wires that are removed, and proceed in a logical forward and reverse order. After removing wires and air hose, the switch can be removed, replaced, re-wired and re-hosed.

Again, if you need any help in diagnosis, identification, ordering or installation of a new spa air switch, you can always call or email Hottubworks for friendly spa support at 800-770-0292, 7 days per week.

 

Deep Cleaning your Spa or Hot Tub

May 10th, 2013 by

Deep Cleaning your Spa or Hot TubYour Spa or Hot Tub is wonderful for restful relaxation or romantic evenings – but there is a dark side. Maintenance and Care.

Just like owning a car, there are specific and regular treatments needed to keep it running and looking good. Unlike my car however, my spa is easy to clean, maintain and service.

Here’s the what I do to really deep clean my hot tub, which I do every 3 months – or sooner, if I’m planning a big hot tub party, or we’ve had a “high-use weekend”.

 

Clean the Pipes

If your spa is like mine, it has dozens of jets and hundreds of feet of hidden pipes and hoses. Scientists discovered that BioFilm bacteria can find harbor inside the plumbing and equipment of hot water tubs. Just like carbon build-up in your car, it’s best to remove these deposits regularly to keep the spa sanitary. I use a product called Jet Clean the night before I plan to drain the hot tub. As it circulates, it breaks down scale and biofilm, so that I can flush it out with my next day draining.

Clean the Filter

After I have circulated the Jet Clean, I remove the filter cartridges and spray in between the pleats with my garden hose. Then, I drop it in a bucket of Spa Filter Clean solution and let is soak overnight. In the morning, as I’m draining the spa, the spa filter gets another cleaning with the garden hose (until it stops foaming), and I set it in the sun to dry. Drying your spa cartridges, before re-installing, helps kill any remaining bacteria, and lets the fibers open up and “breathe” just slightly.

Drain the Spa

First, shut off the power to the spa, in preparation for draining. Most spas have a water valve underneath, where a garden hose is connected. If not, a small submersible pump can be used. As it’s draining, I move the garden hose around my yard to recycle the water. When it’s half empty, I use another garden hose with a spray nozzle to spray into the jets and skimmer. If you notice any algae or slimy discoloration, remove the jet eyeballs and drain covers, and soak them in a chlorine solution. Use a bottle brush to scrub inside the pipes, and hose out again with fresh water.

Clean the Shell

My spa is an acrylic shell, with a beautiful shiny silver finish. To clean the inside of the shell, I spray on CitraBright and wipe it down with a soft cloth. Even though the spa shell looks clean, I’m always amazed at the amount of dirt on the cloth. It’s important to not use any household cleaners or other products that could contain harmful chemicals or phosphates. You don’t want that stuff in your spa water. Citrabright cleans fast with no residue, and has a nice Orange County scent.

Protect the Shell

Fast Gloss seals and protects the shell of the spa from sunlight and spa chemicals. What I really like about it, and why I use it, is that it makes my spa shine like it’s brand new! It also removes any streaking left over from the cleaning process. Just wipe it on, and buff a bit – real easy. It also lasts a long time, I think I’ve had my bottle for over 2 years now. After this treatment, I begin to fill the spa. Mine takes about 3-4 hours to fill, so I might have to delay filling, or adjust my schedule so I don’t overflow the spa (again)!

Clean the Spa Cover

I can’t work for a Hot Tub cover company and have a ratty looking spa top! My spa cover is 4 years old, but it still looks great. I use our hot tub Cover Care and Conditioner every 3 months. This is a combination cleaner and conditioner, in one step – just wipe it on, and wipe it off. I also use it on the spa pillows.

Clean Underneath

My spa equipment sits underneath the spa. It’s a nice warm place for small critters to hide, and maybe damage something, so keep this area of your spa clean too. I normally use my long extension on my vacuum cleaner, and suck up any cobwebs or debris. Occasionally, I spray it with a hose, but I’m careful about the electronics. If you find any evidence of rodents, you can use poison bait, or try Mouse-Away, which repels them with a cute mint sachet.

And that’s it! That’s how I do it anyway. Every 3 months, just like changing the oil in your car – give your spa a deep clean, and it can look like new – nearly forever!

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

Prevent Waterborne Illness in your Spa or Hot Tub

May 6th, 2013 by

rwi-in-hot-tubs“Recreational Water Illness” is a term used to describe the effects of different pathogens that can survive and thrive in pools and spas.

According to the CDC, “Recreational water illnesses (RWI’s) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans”.

Of course, in this discussion, I’ll focus on preventing RWI’s in hot tubs and spas.

 

RWI’s IN HOT TUBS & SPAS

The two largest Recreational Water Illnesses that we see in poorly maintained spas and hot tubs are Pseudomonas and Cryptosporidium. The first is a form of dermatitis, or skin inflammation (a rash), and the second is a germ that causes diarrhea.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

Pseudomonas is sometimes referred to as “Hot Tub Rash”, although I don’t particularly like that term! It is a form of bacterium that is present everywhere in nature. It is naturally occurring in soil, air and in all bodies of water. It produces a red rash, with small dots to the size of a pea, which resemble chicken pox. Hot tub folliculitis can be painful and is quite itchy, similar to poison ivy. The rash usually lasts about 7 to 10 days, but can leave marks on the skin for several months. Antibiotics and ointments may be prescribed in some cases. The extent of the rash depends on the length of exposure; those who soak longer in an infected tub may display more acute symptoms.

Cryptosporidium

Crypto, as it’s known for short, is one of the most common Recreational Water Illnesses, and is spread through Fecal matter. It has a hard outer shell that makes it incredibly resistant to environmental factors, including chlorination. It can survive days in chlorinated water, until a sufficient oxidation potential is reached with bromine and/or ozone treatment. Crypto can remain in the lower intestine for up to five weeks, and can be transmitted from the feces of an infected person to a new host.

PREVENTION OF RWI’s IN HOT TUBS

For most of you reading this, you’ll never have to worry yourself about these germs and bacteria in your home hot tub. Public pool and spas, with large bather loads are the more likely place you can pick up one of these water illnesses.

With spas and hot tubs, we filter, circulate and treat with sanitizer, to prevent bacterial colonies from forming. Let me say that again – In hot tubs, we control Pseudomonas and other germs – with proper Filtration, Circulation and Sanitation. RWI’s only survive and thrive in poorly maintained spas and hot tubs.

I should also say that Crypto, in particular, is primarily released in the spa from users that don’t shower thoroughly before using the spa. We all know, toilet paper doesn’t get everything – and if you go into the spa with a dirty behind, and you are infected, you will release the germs into the hot tub. The germs can be absorbed by others by water that gets into their mouth, nose or eyes, or even through small cuts on the skin.

Adding an additional form of spa sanitation, such as ozone or mineral sanitizers, can aid your primary sanitizer (Bromine or Chlorine, or Biguanides) in fending off the onslaught of bacteria that escalates quickly when several adults get into the tub, and the sanitizer level takes a nose dive.

Protect Your Spa

  1. Keep a constant residual of sanitizer in the tub, at a high enough level to control Pseudomonas. Chlorine – 2-4 ppm, Bromine – 4-6 ppm.
  2. Limit guests to 30 minutes per soak, and no more than the recommended user load. Shock the spa after use, or at least twice per month.
  3. Drain and Refill your hot tub every 3 months, or 30 uses, whichever comes first.
  4. Filter your Spa continuously and effectively. It should never stagnate longer than a few hours.
  5. Clean your spa filter regularly, and replace the cartridge every 12-24 months.

Protect Yourself & Others

  1. Take hot showers before using the spa, being sure to wash “thoroughly”.
  2. Don’t drink the water! Remember “Montezuma’s Revenge?” Same thing.
  3. Shower after using a public pool or spa, and remove wet swim clothes.
  4. Don’t use a pool or spa if the water quality looks questionable, or there are too many users.
  5. Don’t use a pool or spa if you have had diarrhea in the last two weeks.

You can prevent Recreational Water Illnesses by following the tips above, in your own spa, and in your water activities outside of the home. Have questions? Leave a comment below.

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

How to Buy a Spa Cover

May 2nd, 2013 by

how-to-buy-a-spa-cover

Spa covers last for many years, but eventually – they become broken or water logged. Replacing a spa cover, or buying your first cover, can be a simple, fast and inexpensive purchase ~ if you know what to look for.

In this post, I’ll tell you how to quickly find your exact fit hot tub cover online, and how to decide on the many features and options – so you can compare spa covers from many dealers, and find the best price on the best fitting spa cover that best fits your needs.

Discover Your Spa Cover

Spa Cover Make & Model

Spa Cover Make and Model

Every spa or hot tub has a make and model, just like an automobile. “Make” refers to the manufacturer of the spa, and “Model” is the name of the spa. Most online spa cover stores will allow you to choose your Make, and then provide a list of Models made by the manufacturer.

This is by far the easiest way to order a spa cover. If you don’t see the Make and Model listed on the outside of the tub, open the service panel to look inside for a placard or sticker. Or, if you have the original spa invoice or owner’s manual or a brochure, this should also give you the information needed.

 

Spa Cover Shape & Dimensions

spa-cover-shapes-sizes-2

It happens that many folks can’t find the Make & Model of spa, so you’ll find that most hot tub cover sites will allow you to order a spa cover by choosing the shape of the spa cover and then filling in some simple dimensions.

Our website asks you to pick from 11 common spa cover shapes, and also has an option for “Unusual or Oversized” cover shapes, which are used more for freeform inground spas, than for portable hot tubs.

After you pick the shape of spa cover that you have, you will be asked to take 2-4 measurements – of the spa shell, not of the existing spa cover, but the outside to outside measurement of the spa shell.

We’ll also ask for the measurement of the existing spa cover skirt length and strap length. The skirt is the material that hangs down to help seal up the spa. Most skirt lengths are about 4″, but you can specify, from 2 – 6 inches. The spa straps are sewn onto the skirt, and these have clips that attach into buckles attached to the spa sides. 7 inches is standard, but you can specify longer or shorter spa straps.

 

Spa Covers Features & Options

So that you can compare Apples to Apples, you’ll want to understand the various features of better spa covers. Some of these may be included “standard” on your spa cover, or may be an optional expense.

Spa Cover Colors

A color choice is standard with all hot tub cover dealers. You should have at least 8 colors to choose from; at Hottubworks, we have 14 colors available, from Almond to Walnut. Choose a color that complements your patio decor, or your particular taste.

spa-cover-color-choices

Foam Density & Thickness

Inside of your marine grade vinyl spa cover are rigid foam panels, which taper to a smaller thickness near the outside of the cover, to allow water to run off easily. The thickness of the foam panels will affect it’s strength and it’s heat retention ability. Thicker spa covers are stronger and keep more heat in the spa, but they’re also a heavier when moving. We have 3 thickness available – 4 inch tapering to 2 inches on the side, or a 5 inch tapering to 3″, or our thickest, a 6″ foam panel, tapering to 4″ inches.

Foam Density is another selection to make. Denser foams hor heat retention, and can resist damage more easily. Denser foam panels also resist water absorption better than a foam with more air pockets. We also have 3 Densities available – 1 lb. foam, 1.5 lb. foam and our 2 lb. foam density.

Hottubworks always use virgin foam core stock, made without any ozone depleting CFC’s or HCFC’s

Spa Cover R-Value

The R-Value of a spa cover is a measure of it’s thermal resistance. You’ve seen R-value on other products as well, such as windows, wall materials and home insulation. Essentially, the R-Value of a spa cover is it’s resistance to heat loss. I like to also call it the “Retention Value”, for how much heat a spa cover will Retain.

The R-Value for hot tub covers is influenced by 3 things – the Foam Density and the Foam Thickness, discussed above, and the Continuous Heat Seal, discussed below. Here’s a chart I made containing R-Values for spa covers, from 12 – 30, depending on the foam thickness and density.

spa-cover-r-value-char-t-2

Continuous Heat Seal

Every spa cover has a fold, and some larger spa covers can have more than one. At this junction of the two foam panels is a weak spot for heat retention. Most spa covers use two pads at each end of the fold, to keep heat from escaping, but this leaves a large gap through the rest of the fold. A Continuous Heat Seal keeps heat from escaping through the hinge, or fold of the spa cover. It’s a dense pad that runs the entire length of the hinge, sewn in place, and it really improves heat retention, especially in colder climates.

Double Wrapped Foam Core

double wrapped foam core

The foam core on spa covers is wrapped in a thick plastic to prevent moisture from working it’s way into the foam. If you’ve ever struggled with a soggy, water logged spa cover, you know how important this plastic cover can be. Having a Double-Wrapped foam core simply means that the core is wrapped twice, for more moisture and vapor resistance and protection from accident prone people who may nick, burn or tear the plastic.

Spa Cover Dealers

Finally, to make the best comparison of hot tub covers, consider the expertise and reputation of the company that you are buying a spa cover from. There are many ways to make cheaper spa covers, simply by using cheaper materials, weaker construction and lax quality control. Using cut-rate shippers is another way that some spa cover dealers shave a few bucks off their cover cost.

Hottubworks uses computer aided design and manufacturing processes, top grade materials and quality construction. All covers go through a 16 point quality inspection and are shipped with national carriers that you know and trust.

Here’s Drake, from Hottubworks, with some video tips for you on How to Buy a Hot Tub Cover. You can see more spa cover videos on our YouTube Channel.