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Daniel Lara's Posts

Spa & Hot Tub Plumbing Repair Tips

September 10th, 2015 by

spa-plumbing-loopsSpa and hot tub plumbing is made up of PVC pipe and fittings. It’s a Closed Loop, similar to an electric circuit, if that makes it easier to understand. The same drop of water can make this trip several times per day.

A Spa Plumbing Loop starts at the skimmer and main drain, where the water leaves the spa, pulled under vacuum (suction) by the pump impeller. Once the water passes the impeller, the water is now pushed under pressure by the pump, through the filter and heater, and purifier equipment.

After the water has been treated and heated, it’s pushed onward into the return manifold, the pipes on the top of the spa (water runs through the lower, larger pipe, and air is pushed or pulled through the upper, smaller pipe), where it returns to the spa, via the spa jets. The same drop of water can make this trip several times per day.

But sometimes water can escape The Loop, finding it’s way into cracks and crevices no larger than 1 mm, and dripping on the ground, beneath your spa. Spa leak repair more commonly involves the equipment (pump/filter/heater/purifier), but a bad glue joint, leaky union, or cracked pipe could have also brought you to this page.


You can make your own spa or hot tub PVC repairs to the plumbing, with just simple tools and basic materials from any hardware store. Before you jump in the car, there are a few more things to learn about spa plumbing repairs.

You see, I’ve already made the mistakes for you – in my years of plying the spa trade, I’ve made hundreds of plumbing repairs, and dozens of complete re-plumbing jobs for old spa shells. Most of those jobs I’m proud of; a few had to be re-done. :-(


hacksaw-2If you walk into any hardware store and ask for a PVC saw, you’re gonna walk out with a basic hacksaw. Or you can pay more for PVC saws that resemble small wood saws. Both will cut through a 1.5″ PVC pipe in 15 strokes. However – many times there is not enough room to position a 15-18″ long saw to make a complete (and straight) cut on the pipe.

That’s why I almost never use hacksaws or PVC saws when I do hot tub plumbing repairs. They just don’t fit very well under the cabinet, with pipes so close to the shell of the spa. And forget about using them on an inground spa pipe repair, they are even more cumbersome when you’re upside down in a hole.

cordless-jig-sawWhat do I use to cut PVC pipes? Usually I use my extra small Reciprocating Saw, or if I don’t have that, my cordless Jig Saw. Both allow me to slip the blade behind the pipe, or at weird angles – and, they cut fast and straight (with a sharp blade). However – there are times when even my power saws don’t fit, and I have to pull out some micro saws.

cable-sawAlso useful is a Cable Saw, a length of picture hanging wire with two handles that cuts right through PVC. A cable saw can be wrapped over an extremely tight pipe and cut through in 25 strokes. In a pinch, you can wrap a short handle onto the end of a hacksaw blade with duct tape,  or you could even use a drywall saw – but these saws may take upwards of 100 strokes.


pvc-pipes-flex-and-rigidPIPES: There are two types of Schedule 40 PVC pipes used in spas and hot tubs – Flex and Rigid. Flex PVC pipes are used for the return manifold, so that the pipes can bend around the spa to all of the spa jets. Rigid PVC pipe is used on the suction manifold, or the pipes from the skimmer and drain to the pump. Be sure to buy Schedule 40 PVC pipe (not thinner walled Schedule 20, used for drainage).

Avoid using Flexible PVC on the suction side, because the ribbed pipe has much more friction loss than smooth, Rigid PVC, and because it can collapse under extreme suction vacuum.  So, use Flex pipe up top, and Rigid pipe down below, got it? We have Flex pipe spa plumbing kits in 1.5 and 2 inch.

Most spas and hot tubs are plumbed with 1.5 inch PVC, although larger spas may use 2 inch PVC. The Outside Diameter of 1.5 inch PVC (if you were to measure across it), is actually closer to 2 inches, or 1-7/8 inches, (with an Inside Diameter of 1.5″). 2 inch pipe has an OD of 2-3/8″ (and an ID of 2″). The Air Line (the smaller pipe above the return pipe), is usually 1″ Flex PVC, or sometimes 3/4″ Flex PVC.

FITTINGS: PVC fittings like couplings, Tee’s, 90′s, 45′s, unions, MTA’s and FTA’s (male and female threaded adapters), are common at most Home stores or a good local hardware store. You can also find good prices online for plumbing fittings.

dont-use-drain-fittingsBe sure to use Pressure Fittings, which will have a deeper socket than Drain Fittings. Bathroom drain fittings often have a glue-able surface of about 9/16″, but Pressure Fittings allow you to glue the pipe up to 1-1/4″ deep. Drain fittings are Never suitable for spa or hot tub plumbing. And like with PVC pipe, be sure to buy schedule 40 PVC fittings, not the thin-walled schedule 20 PVC.

Grey Fittings are often made of CPVC or if much thicker, Schedule 80 PVC, both of which are more heat tolerant, or heat resistant. These can be useful when making connections in and out of a spa heater, but are not required.

Spa Jet Fittings or Spa Manifolds are specialized fittings that you won’t find at your local Home or Hardware store, but we have all you need!


There’s one more chapter in this spa plumbing story. Making the PVC pipe and fitting connections.

red-hot-blue-glueFor Smooth PVC pipe and fittings, PVC glue is used to bond smooth pipe to smooth fitting, but is not used on threaded fittings. Use only Fresh medium or heavy body PVC cement. Old glue that’s been in your cabinet for a few years is not going to save you time or money!

Another important distinction exists about PVC Cleaner and Primer. Use Cleaner for Flex Pipe, to remove the slick surface but not overly soften the surface. Primer also functions as a cleaner, but it rapidly softens (decomposes) the pipe, generating heat for a stronger bond. Flex pipe is too soft already, and Primer softens it too much. So remember, Cleaner for Flex pipe, Primer for Rigid pipe (and fittings), just before you apply the glue.  Got it?

red-rtv-siliconeFor a Threaded PVC fittings, you need thread sealants. smear a layer of Silicone over the male threads, then wrap several times (clockwise!) with Teflon Tape. Hand tighten the fitting in as far as you can, and then give another full turn with Channel type pliers, or a strap wrench.


Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Spa and Hot Tub Ozone Generators

August 10th, 2015 by

spa ozone bubblesBefore there was ozone, it’s amazing we kept spas clean. We drained them a lot. An ozonator generator can kill 99.99% of impurities in a spa or hot tub. There’s almost nothing it won’t kill.

Ozonators typically last about 2-3 years before needing a regeneration kit, or replacement. The new Spa Eclipse can last up to 5 years, and uses Del’s new Plasma Gap ozone generation technology.

Adding ozone to a portable or inground spa is a simple affair, with installation possible in under 10 minutes. Install ozone on your spa, to both purify the water and invigorate your senses.

Del Spa Eclipse

spa-eclipse-newThe New Spa Eclipse Next Generation Corona Discharge system is the new kid on the block and replaces all previous versions. Featuring DEL’s exclusive Advanced Plasma Gap technology, the newly engineered design is now equipped with Auto Voltage Sensing. Higher ozone output and longer life than other CD technology, the DEL Ozone Spa Eclipse is the ultimate solution for water treatment in spa applications. Considerably more energy efficient than UV ozone generators, the Spa Eclipse is lower in overall power consumption, heat generation and operating cost Includes Ozone supply tubing, check valve, mounting screws, installation manual, and water chemistry guide. For hot tubs up to 750 gallons.

Dimensions: 5”H x 3.4”W x 2.3”D, 1lb
Output: 50-70 mg/hr;
Power Consumption: 110V/220V = 10W

Del MCD-50

del-spa-mcd-50The Del MCD-50 is for spas or hot tubs that want higher ozone production for optimal water quality. MCD-50 is serviceable and reliable with the longest lifespan of any spa ozone generator on the market, typically running for five years. The MCD-50 has a 50 milligram/hour ozone output, and also uses less power than many larger spa ozone generators. Uses a ceramic tube Corona Discharge method to quickly produce ozone. Mounts to the inside of spa or hot tub panel. Includes 44 inch cord with 4-pin AMP plug; ozone supply tubing, check valve, mounting screws, installation manual, and water chemistry guide. UL Listed, for hot tubs up to 1000 gallons.

Dimensions: 8.6”H x 6.1”W x 2.8”D, 3.75 lb
Output: 50 mg/hr; 580 PPM; 2cfh
Power Consumption: 110V = 50mA, 6W / 220V = 35mA, 9W

Installation of a Del Spa Ozonator

del-ozone-installation-in-a-spa-or-hot-tubTo install a Del MCD-50 or Spa Eclipse in your spa, find a suitable mounting location on the inside cabinet, above the return line (after the pump and heater). Place it as high as possible on the underside of the spa cabinet.

The ozonator doesn’t have to be located directly above the injection point, but it should be within a few feet. If the unit is mounted above water level, the hose can run straight to the injector, but if installed below water level, loop the hose up above the water level on it’s way to the injector.ozone-injector

Most spas or hot tubs that area “Ozone Ready” have an ozone venturi manifold, or vacuum injection point already installed on the spa return line. For an older spa or wood hot tub adding an ozone generator, you can install an ozone injector to your return hose. Just cut the hose and push it over the barbed ends of the injector, and connect the hose to the injector fitting and tighten down the hose nut.

After mounting the unit, connect the ozone supply tubing and connect the 4-pin AMP plug to the ozone (or accessory) port on your spa pak controller.

OZONE-MOLECULEOzone is the world’s most powerful sanitizer. Adding it to your spa can help ensure a bacteria-free hot tub or spa. If you have any questions on how to add an ozonator for hot tub or spa, give us a call – we have spa techs standing by!


Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Hot Tub Pump Motor Replacement

July 13th, 2015 by

spa-motor-and-wet-endReplacing a spa or hot tub motor saves about 40% over the cost of replacing the entire pump, and there’s no plumbing required!

Hot tub motors are as easy to replace as the entire pump, and can be done in under an hour. Another benefit to re-using the existing wet end is that you can reduce waste around the home. Why throw out something that’s perfectly good?

The Wet End to which I refer, if you don’t know, is the plastic front half of your hot tub pump, the end that gets wet. The “Dry End” then, although we don’t call it that, is the metal cased electric motor, the back half of your spa pump.

Replacing the motor involves separating the motor from the wet end and removing the wires or plug, and then reversing the process to connect a new spa motor! Let’s get started!

1. Disconnect the Pump: Unplug the spa pump cord from the outlet, or disconnect the amp or pin connector on the spa pack. Next close the valves on both sides of the pump. If you don’t have valves, you will need to drain the spa before pulling the pump. Afterwards, loosen the spa pump unions, turning counter-clockwise by hand. If more force is required, use large Channel Lock type pliers or a Strap Wrench to disconnect both unions on the pump. If your pump happens to be bolted down to the base or floor, I’m sorry – bust out your socket set or wrench set to remove the nuts, otherwise lift the pump carefully out of it’s location to a well-lit work bench or counter.

2. Remove the Through Bolts: On the back of the motor are 4 carriage bolts, at 10, 2, 4 and 8 o’clock. Spray a little WD-40 on both ends of the bolt, on the head, and where the bolt screws into the plastic wet end, on the other end of the motor. Loosen these with a small nut driver , or straight pliers, and slide the long bolts out. In some cases where the bolts are severely corroded, they may snap on the threaded end. If so, proceed to the next step, and once the wet end is separated, soak the bolts ends again with penetrating oil and try to twist the broken bolt end out of the plastic wet end.

3. Remove the Impeller: This is the part that baffles and confuses many DIY spa owners, but it’s not really so hard to accomplish. The trick is to hold the motor impeller stationary while unthreading it from the end of the shaft.

separate-pump-from-;wet-endUsing two large screwdrivers, insert a large Phillips head screwdriver down into the top water port of the pump (where the water comes out). and into one of the vanes of the impeller. Use a flashlight if necessary, to insert the screwdriver about an inch into the side slots of the impeller to lock it into place. Now open up the back cap of the motor and turn the shaft counter-clockwise with a large slotted screwdriver, or alternatively, grab the shaft with pliers just behind the impeller, and turn the shaft counter-clockwise, to spin the shaft off of the impeller, in 4-5 turns.

4. Replace the Motor: Step 4 is just the reverse of step three. Once you separate the wet end from the motor, you can slide the old motor out of the way, and slide the new motor in place.  Push the wet end gently onto the new motor shaft, and tighten the shaft at the back of the new motor with a large flathead screwdriver. Turn the shaft until you feel it tighten onto the impeller fully. When it starts up it will spin itself tighter. In most cases a new shaft seal is not needed, but if your old seal was leaking, take a look at another post I wrote on how to replace a spa pump shaft seal.

5. Replace the Spa Motor Cord: The motor power cord from your old motor can be removed and reused on your new motor, barring any defects or wear and tear that would suggest replacement.

wiring-a-spa-pump-motorTwo speed motors have 4-wires, and single speed motors have 3-wires. Typical wire harness colors have black and red as Hots, White as Common and the green wire is for Ground. In most cases, you will hook up the wires exactly the same onto the new motor. Labeling the wires, or making a small sketch before removal can be helpful to remember the wire connections. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove spade connectors, or a small flat head screwdriver can be used as a lever to push connectors off of the terminals.

~ And that’s all there is to it! If you are looking at a failed spa pump, or one that is giving you trouble and may give up the ghost soon, consider replacing only the motor – rarely do any other parts need to be replaced.

new-spa-pump-motorsSave 40% over buying the entire pump, and replace just the motor! Prices for Hot Tub Pump Motors start at $129.

For help selecting the correct spa pump motor, put on your glasses and grab a flashlight – crawl up under there and write down HP, FR, SF, and Voltage information, and any brand names printed on the pump. Then give us a call or shoot us an email, and we’ll give you the options for your spa pump motor replacement.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Test & Balance Hot Tub Water

July 6th, 2015 by

filling-the-spa-or-hot-tubI know some people who claim to have “perfect” spa water right out of the tap – “I don’t even need to test it”, they say.

That may be true for some people, but for the majority of spa owners, the water from the tap or hose may have very low levels of calcium, alkalinity, pH. Well water can also contain loads of minerals and metals, and city water can be full of chloramines and other water treatment byproducts.

When filling a spa after draining, you start fresh again, with “New” water. What follows is a step-by-step on how to test and balance spa fill water, to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.


1. Pre-Filter the Water

For well water, this is a must. “Yeah, but my well water goes thru filters and a conditioning system” you may say, but did you know that most outdoor hose spigots are not connected to a home water treatment system? Only kitchen, bath and laundry. You can fill a hot tub from a utility sink, if you have a faucet adapter, or you can just screw a pre-filter onto the end of the garden hose. A spa pre-filter traps minerals, metals, chloramines, bacteria and hundreds of other junk that you don’t want in your spa water.

For city water too, a pre-filter will remove pathogens and impurities (remember that city water is partially made up of raw sewage), and pre-filters remove chloramines. It also removes dissolved solids, down to 1 micron, which is quite small and invisible. Even if your tap water looks good and smells good, filtering it as you fill the hot tub will improve the water quality – and make your spa water easier to manage.

2. Check Calcium Hardness

The first step after refilling a spa or hot tub is to check the hardness of the water. Test strips can be used, but a liquid test kit is much more accurate. For hot water spas and hot tubs, water that is too soft can foam easily, and also makes the water aggressive and corrosive to pump seals and o-rings, and shiny spa finishes. Spa water that is too hot can cloud easily, and deposit scale around fittings and at the water line. For spa water that is too soft, (under 200 ppm), add Calcium Increaser to raise the level, making the water “harder”. For water that is already hard (over 400 ppm), common in many parts of the country, well – we don’t have a chemical to lower Calcium Hardness, but using the Pre-Filter can lower total hardness by several hundred ppm. Spa hardness is best in the 180-220 ppm range.

3. Check pH & Alkalinity

pH and Alkalinity are close cousins, as outlined in a recent post. Total Alkalinity measures the carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to pH change. If your pH “bounces” or changes easily, you likely have low alkalinity. If your pH is resistant to change, you likely have high alkalinity. For spa water with low alkalinity (under 80 ppm), add Alkalinity Increaser to raise the level. For water with high Alkalinity (over 150 ppm), use the pH Down chemical or other acid, to lower the level – which will also lower your pH level somewhat. After filling the spa, adjust alkalinity to the 80-120 ppm range. Spa pH should be in the 7.2 – 7.6 range. A proper pH helps bromine and chlorine work their best, and helps prevent damage to seals, o-rings and surfaces. If your tested pH is too high, add an acid (pH Down), and when it’s too low, add a base (pH Up).

4. Add Bromide & Bromine

One disadvantage to dumping the spa water every 3-4 months is that you lose your bank of bromide ions. Bromine, unlike chlorine, takes a while to build up a “bank” of bromide ions. It can take several weeks of waiting for bromine tablets to dissolve, shocking every few days – or the faster recommended method is to add some Bromine Booster to the spa. Just a few capfuls of Brom Booster brings up the level of bromide ions, so that you can see some results when you test the bromine level. After adding bromides to the spa, fill the spa floater or brominator with half a dozen 1″ bromine tablets. Test the bromine level over the next few days, your spa may need slightly fewer (4) or slightly more (8) bromine tablets, to register a consistent 3-4 ppm bromine reading.

>>> After all of that work, you’re ready for a dip in the tub! Here’s one more Tip: write down exact quantities of what you need to add to fresh fill water – chances are, your source water will stay fairly stable and consistent in it’s chemical balance, so write down exactly what you need to add to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works




What Chemicals are Needed for a Hot Tub?

June 29th, 2015 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-upSpa chemistry is something that needn’t make you anxious, and once you get the hang of it, most hot tubs will exhibit something of it’s own chemical personality, one that you will get to know well.

What I mean is, you will get to know when it needs more of something, and if you were to really geek out, and keep a spa chemical log, (like me!), you can see water balance trends over time.

For instance, my hot tub is tested 2-3 times per week, and I record my readings in a little book. If I flip back thru, I can see that about every 3 weeks I lower the pH, and about every 6 weeks I need to raise the alkalinity. I also see that on average, I use about 14 bromine tablets and 9 oz of spa shock every month. Good to know.

break-it-downBut you didn’t come here to hear stories about my hot tub – you came here to find out exactly what chemicals are needed to maintain a hot tub? What do you need to buy? And, what do you Really Need, and what is more… Optional.

There are a half-a-dozen different categories of hot tub chemicals, each with about a half-a-dozen different chemicals, from about a half-a-dozen different brands. And that’s what makes hot tub chemicals seem so confusing; let’s see if we can’t Break it Down into smaller chunks…



  • Test Strips or Test Kit – test spa water 2-3x per week
  • Bromine tablets – for continuous sanitation
  • Bromine Booster – Raises bromide levels after draining
  • Spa Shock – regular super-sanitation, weekly
  • Spa pH & Alkalinity Balancers – as needed


  • Spa Calcium Increaser – increases water hardness
  • Hot Tub Clarifiers – coagulates small particles for easier filtering
  • Spa Cartridge Cleaner – get a second year with a deep cleaning
  • Mineral Purifier - purifies with copper and silver ions
  • Spa Polish / Spa Cleaner – clean and polish the spa shell


  • Defoamer – for foamy spa water
  • Metal Remover – or metal stain removers
  • Spa Cover Cleaner – and conditioner
  • Jet Clean – biofilm cleaners
  • Leak Seal – seals up weeps, seeps, leaks6-month Bromine Spa Care Kit

A simple and more economical way to stock up on the basic spa care chemicals is to buy one of our 6 month spa care kits. We have 8 different spa chemical kits available from mild to wild, in your choice of bromine, chlorine or Nature2 mineral sanitation.

As a bare minimum, you have to have chemicals to test and balance the pH, continuously sanitize the water, and regularly oxidize (shock) the spa. An ozonator or mineral purifier by itself can’t do the job alone; in addition, put bromine tablets into a spa floater, and then add a few capfuls of spa shock after using the spa.

Also important is to test and maintain the pH and Alkalinity, so it doesn’t get too high or too low. Use test strips to test the water, and then add a pH or alkalinity increaser or decreaser, if pH has strayed outside of 7.4-7.6, or alkalinity is below or above the range of 80-120 ppm.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


pH & Alkalinity in a Hot Tub or Spa

June 1st, 2015 by

digital-strip-testerToday’s post is hopefully a simple post, although it can be a complicated topic. pH and Alkalinity are close cousins in water chemistry, each affecting and affected by, the other.

pH is a measurement of how acidic (below 7.0) or basic (above 7.0) – your hot tub water is. Alkalinity is a measurement of the amount of carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to help stabilize pH.

When pH is LOW (below 7.0), the water becomes corrosive to seals, gaskets and plastics. When pH is HIGH, the water can produce scale, leading to cloudy spa water or deposits of calcium on surfaces and inside pipes.

Lower pH by adding Spa pH decreaser, or sodium bisulfate.
Raise pH by adding Spa pH increaser, or soda ash.

When Alkalinity is LOW, this causes pH to “bounce” or change easily – you may raise the pH, but it only lasts for a few hours. When Alkalinity is HIGH, this makes it hard to adjust pH in the first place, it makes pH very resistant to change.

Lower Alkalinty by adding Spa pH decreaser, or sodium bisulfate.
Raise Alkalinity by adding Spa Alkalinity increaser, or sodium bicarbonate.

The problem is… trying to adjust alkalinity without affecting pH, or vice versa. Fact is, you can’t – since they are both so closely related – but there are some tricks up my sleeve.

  • To Lower Alkalinity more than pH, add the pH decreaser with the spa pump off
  • To Lower pH more than Alkalinity, add the pH decreaser with the spa pump on
  • To Raise Alkalinity more than pH, use Alkalinity Increaser, with the spa pump off
  • To raise pH more than Alkalinity, use pH Increaser, with the spa pump on

Another problem is… overdosing the spa or hot tub, and swinging the pH and Alkalinity far to the other extreme. Know your hot tub size in gallons, and refer to the label for dosage per 100 gallons.snake-oil-salesman-sm

Dosage is almost always just a capful or two, a few ounces – so be careful not to over-shoot the mark! Add a small amount and retest the water after 30 minutes, and if needed, re-dose again.

When lowering alkalinity, you may have to raise the pH again afterwards, just slightly, which may also raise your alkalinity again just slightly. In some cases, where alkalinity has drifted very high, over 150 ppm – you may need to make many adjustments – sort of a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing…

TIP: When buying pH and Alkalinity adjustment products for your spa – there’s no need to overspend. We have all of the major spa chemical brands, and also a lower priced house brand of spa pH and alkalinity chemicals.

TIP: Don’t use Pool Chemicals in your Hot Tub. Chemically, pH and alkalinity adjustment chemicals are the same, but the labeling is for a pool 100x larger, which makes it quite easy to over or under dose, even if you are good at math!

Keep at it! It’s important to have correct spa pH and alkalinity, both for protection of spa equipment and surfaces, and so that your sanitizer works most effectively.


Happy Hot Tubbin;’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Heavy Hot Tub Covers

May 11th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careOur hot tub covers are made with the highest quality, 100% virgin EPS closed cell foam, vacuum wrapped and heat sealed inside of a 6 mil protective barrier. But even our top quality 2 lb foam core panels can absorb water.

Why? Why do spa and hot tub covers absorb water? Many people will say that closed cell foam cannot absorb water, and they point to studies where a piece of foam has been sitting in a jar of water for 20 years in some laboratory. And this is correct. Even submerged in water, at room temperature, most quality closed cell foam will not absorb water.

However! In a hot tub environment, there is a large temperature difference between the top of the cover and the bottom of the cover, in some cases it can be more than 50 degree difference. This creates an imbalance, and makes the warm moist air of the spa condensate on the bottom of the cover, and become aggressive in trying to escape.

Add to this the fact that most spas are treated with chlorine or bromine, or ozone – which can break down the vapor barrier, the closed cell foam, or both.

What’s wrong with a heavy spa cover?

For one thing, the R-value of the spa cover drops dramatically as water is a very poor insulator. Hot tub cover heat loss becomes a real concern when it becomes waterlogged. Secondly, the weight of the water can actually bend the steel reinforcement bar (not on our spa covers, made with 20 ga. steel bars).

It also just becomes a real pain in the butt – if you have to call a second person to help lift the spa cover on and off of the tub. Full of water, a spa cover can weigh several hundred pounds, which can cause injury, trying to move such a large heavy object. It can also damage or break your spa cover lifter.

Causes of a Waterlogged Hot Tub Cover

  • Torn foam panel protective barrier
  • Deteriorated foam panel protective barrier

That’s it! The 6 mil plastic sheeting that is used to wrap the foam core panels is the main protection against a waterlogged spa cover. Sure, other factors contribute to the problem, like chemistry or broken foam panels, but the fact is – if the vapor barrier is sealed tightly without any gaps or holes, the foam core panels stay nice and dry. Taking care to prevent punctures or tears and chemical deterioration is the best way to keep your spa cover dry and lightweight.

In addition to vacuum shrinking and heat sealed seams (not something all other spa cover makers do), Hot Tub Works spa covers offer a double-wrapped foam core, standard on our “Works” spa cover, and as an option for other covers. Could be the best $30 you ever spent!

How to Avoid a Heavy Hot Tub Cover

  • Remove the spa top twice weekly for 2 hours, to allow the cover to breathe.
  • Avoid unzipping a spa cover or removing panels; creates voids for moisture to enter.
  • Maintain proper water chemistry, and keep sanitizer at a minimum level.
  • Always remove the cover for several hours after shocking the spa water.
  • Patch any holes or punctures in the vinyl cover or foam barrier immediately.
  • Clean and condition the exterior vinyl on your spa cover once or twice per year.
  • Protect your spa cover from damage by keeping it locked, or use Hurricane straps.

In addition, buying a quality spa cover from a company you can trust, will prevent many problems with waterlogged spa covers. The “Other Guys” don’t vacuum wrap and heat seal the foam panels, and don’t use heavy duty polyester scrim and zipper.

Most importantly, hot tub covers from Hot Tub Works are warranted for 5 years against moisture in the foam core. How can we do that? Truth is, our warranty claim rate is very low, and less than 0.65% of our hot tub covers need warranty assistance.

How to Dry out a waterlogged spa cover

bailing_water_all_of_the_work_300_wht_15637Once your vapor barrier has been compromised, there is not much chance of drying out the foam panel completely, but you can take it off the spa and lean it up against a wall, so that excess water drains out. There is no reason to unzip the cover and pull out the panels, since they are encased in plastic and won’t dry out anyway. Even if you remove the foam panels from their vapor barrier, very little drying of the foam will occur, even after days of drying time.

There is very little you can do once a spa cover has taken on water, except to try to find the rip, tear or puncture and make a repair, but by then it may be too late. The best thing for a waterlogged hot tub lid is to set aside $300-500, and buy a new spa cover. This time you may opt for a spa cover with denser and thicker foam or more importantly, a double-wrapped foam core.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works



Inflatable Hot Tubs: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

April 24th, 2015 by


The Inflatable Hot Tub is a relatively new product on the market, and it has a surprising amount of internet activity or “buzz” happening.

They’ve not only caught on in the U.S., but are also quite popular in the U.K. and Australia, according to my little keyword tool.

Why so popular? Also known as portable spas, inflatable hot tubs can set-up nearly anywhere, which is a huge part of it’s appeal, and it’s low cost makes it a perfect entry level spa – to get your feet wet, so to speak.


But there is also a dark side, some less appealing traits to inflatable spas. If you’re considering a small investment in one of these – here’s a few Good, Bad and Ugly considerations to make before you buy an inflatable hot tub.



  1. Entirely portable, comes in a box not much bigger than a microwave oven. Comes with a carry bag to pack it off to sporting events, camping or fishing trips or to the beach.cute-british-girl-showing-off-bestway-inflatable-hot-tub
  2. Quick set-up. The spa has an air blower of course, and this is used to quickly inflate the chambers. After inflation, drop a hose in the tub and it fills in under an hour. Plug into any grounded outlet. Put on the cover and turn up the heater.
  3. Sturdy and durable. Vertical ‘I-beam’ construction gives the walls rigidity. Reinforced vinyl material ranges in thickness from 30-50 mil; which is not puncture-proof, but is resistant to scrapes and punctures.
  4. Easy to operate. Self contained pump, filter, heater and blower unit has digital controls to operate equipment and display temperature and status lights. Lock out feature prevents tampering.
  5. Locking spa cover is included to keep the spa clean and warm, and ready to use. Also comes with test strips and floating chlorinator.


  • Make sure it’s completely dry before packing for storage or transport.
  • Don’t overfill an inflatable tub, and don’t sit on the sidewalls.



  1. Not as deep as  you might imagine. Only 22-24″ maximum water depth for most models.
  2. coleman-spa-tubNot as large as the picture seems. Look at these happy campers in this “4-person” inflatable hot tub – where are their legs? I suppose it’s fine for the young and beautiful, to commingle legs with their young and beautiful friends, but for me – I prefer personal leg space.
  3. MUST be installed on a level surface, at ground level. Not suitable for balconies, rooftops or elevated floors. Full of water and people, inflatable hot tubs can weigh up to 2500 lbs.
  4. Slow to heat. The heater on these units is small, and although the water is only 200 gallons, it can take awhile to heat up. If you keep it covered, and outdoor temperature is 70-90° F, expect 2-3° increase per hour.


  • If you can fill your inflatable tub from a utility sink with hot water, you can save a lot of time in heating.
  • 2 persons is plenty-o-people for the “4-person” inflatable hot tubs.



  1. Funky water. If you do put 4 persons into a 200 gallon hot tub, let’s see – that’s 50 gallons per person, which will overwhelm the undersized spa filters. In other words, the water can get funky and germy fast, even if everyone showers first.
  2. tiny-tubNot safe for children. At only 28″ tall, a toddler may be able to climb into an open hot tub and possibly drown. The latching cover should prevent most entry, but only until about age 5, which is when my daughter learned how to operate the spa cover strap clips.
  3. Not energy efficient. You’ll find out fast that it’s costly to keep this type of spa hot, and nearly impossible in very cold outdoor temps. In fact, in temperatures of below 50°, a 1 kw heater may not get past lukewarm.
  4. Disposable. Unfortunately, many inflatable hot tubs will be neglected, abused and set out to the curb for the trash after a few years of service. They won’t all end up that way, but in general, portable spas have a short lifespan.


  • Add a capful of MPS (non-chlorine shock) before and after each use, and keep the floater filled with bromine tablets. Run the filter daily, and change the water monthly.
  • A heavy plywood sheet, carefully placed over top the spa cover may discourage some toddlers, and may improve heat retention somewhat. At least on top.
  • You can recycle a vinyl inflatable hot tub, call your local trash service for information.


intex-purespa-inflatable-hot-tubSo, that’s my rant about inflatable hot tubs – we had to join the conversation, it’s become such a popular topic online, and a story line that we needed to cover here on the hottubworks blog.

If I haven’t scared you away from inflatable hot tubs, and you’re looking for an easy way to join the 5.9 million Americans who own spas or hot tubs, take a look at our portable inflatable hot tubs – we carry the Intex PureSpa and the AiriSpa – 2 great entry level spas!


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works



Hot Air Balloon Hot Tubs

March 30th, 2015 by

hot-air-balloon-hot-tubThis blog has reported on spas in some very strange places – suspended from a bridge, on top of a mountain, built inside of a cave or sunk into a glacier.

But a hot air balloon hot tub? Where would a off-beat start-up launch such a creative endeavor? Where else but in California?

In Napa Valley, they take Hot Tubbing to the extreme with Hot Air Balloon rides – in an 8 person hot tub, heated to 105°!

Hot Air Hot Tubs is the brainchild of Sergei Enganar, who with partner Pablo Payoso, dreamed up the idea while taking tourists aloft over the scenic northern California vineyards.

As Sergei tells it, “Several people had commented to us during our first few years, how cold it is up in the balloon, and that we should install a hot tub” After a few months of tinkering in a garage with fitting a hot tub shell into a hot air balloon basket, they were ready for the first test flight.

“We lost about 50 gallons [of water] on that first flight” says Sergei. Pablo chimes in to explain that they learned to fill the tub only about 3/4 of the way full, to avoid water loss when the basket swayed.

Asked how the pumps and heater operated, I was surprised at their ingenuity. The circulation pump is powered by a car battery, “Our pumps we had made to be able to run on 12V” says Sergei. “We tried to do the same for the heater, but it wouldn’t heat the water hot enough – so, we switched to gas!” Pablo says with an excited look in his eye.

hot-tub-hot-air-balloonA splitter manifold delivers gas to a small burner beneath a heat exchanger located on the side of the basket. When asked about heating water at high altitudes, they both agreed that it’s much faster, but Sergei added, “we have to monitor the temperature constantly as we ascend and descend, to avoid over or under heating the water”.

Heating challenges aside, how about all of that extra water weight? “Yes, it’s very heavy, we had to install twin burners on this balloon, to add enough lift to counter balance the weight of an extra 1.5 tons of water”.

Hot Tub Rules? I asked. No alcohol. No babies. No splashing. Clothing Optional? I asked. “We request normal swim suit attire”, says Pablo, with a sly grin.

Interesting… Hot water at 5000 feet! Now, I’ve seen it all!

If you want to take a ride in the Hot Air Balloon Hot Tub, you might have to wait awhile – and if you believe this malarkey, you just fell for our April Fool’s Joke!

You can’t put a hot tub in a hot air balloon! :-)


Ha-Ha Happy Hot Tubbin’!
Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works



Spa Error Codes – The Big List

February 27th, 2015 by

spa-and-hot-tub-error-codesThe best thing about digital spas and hot tubs – those with a spa side control panel – is that you are given error codes for most equipment problems. Spa error codes can be somewhat cryptic, but when you have the BIG LIST of CODES, you can immediately define the two or three digit source of trouble.

Problem is – there’s not much consistency among the error codes used by spa pack manufacturers. Each one uses it’s own conventions for naming the various system faults.

Hence the need for the BIG LIST of CODES. The alphabetical list of hot tub error codes below covers all major manufacturers of spa controls, including ACC, Balboa, Brett Aqualine, CTI, Dream Maker, EasyPak, Gecko, Hurricane, Jacuzzi, Len Gordon, Maax, Pinnacle, Spa Builders Group, Spa Quip, Sundance and Vita Spas.

Is it an Error Code, or a System Status Code?

Not all spa codes are errors, to inform you of trouble, but many codes are used to provide information about system mode, status or equipment operation. Some system status codes are identified below as well, with the phrase “system message, not an error”.


the big list of spa and hot tub error codes



* * *  Flow/Pressure switch either Open or Closed
* * * High Limit switch is faulty
- – - , – - - Water dangerously hot, electronic fault, system shut down
-1 Hi-Limit fault
-2 Temp sensor fault
-3 Flow/Pressure switch open
-4 Flow/Pressure switch closed
-7 Hi-Limit fault
Hi-Limit or Temp Sensor fault, water may be dangerously hot
Temp Sensor Calibration, after system shutdown/startup, not an error
1 Stuck Button on Keypad
2 No Controller Data being received
3 Temperature Sensor fault
4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
7 Stuck Heater Relay
9 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
131 Hi-Limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
A1/A2-ER Auxiliary system error; blower, lights, music
AOH Auxiliary system overheating; Equipment is running hot, or needs air
BJ2P Hi-Limit fault – water may be dangerously hot
BL-ER Blower error, faulty motor or closed valve
C4.4 Hi-Limit fault
C Celsius, used to indicate panel is in Celsius mode
Cd, CLd Cold – Freeze Condition detected
CE 01 Stuck Touchpad button
CE 02 No controller Data Communication
CE 03 Temperature Sensor fault
CE 04 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
CE 05 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
CE 06 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
CE 07 Stuck Heater Relay
CE 08 Temp Sensor Fault
CE 09 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
CL Current Time of Day; system message, not an error
COL Cool – water is 20° below set point; system message, not an error
CoLd Cold – water is 40° or less; system should self-start pump / heater
Cool Cool – water is 20° below set point; system message, not an error
CP-ER Circulation pump error
dr, dy, dry Dry – low water volume detected in heater
E0 Short circuit temperature sensor
E1 Open circuit temperature sensor
E2 Short circuit Hi-Limit sensor
E3 Open circuit high Limit sensor
E4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
Ecdu, Ecn, Econ Spa is in Economy Mode; system message, not an error
EO Short circuit temperature sensor
Er0, Er1 Temperature sensor fault
Er2, Er3 Hi-Limit fault
Er4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
err 1 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
err 3 Stuck Button on Keypad
err 4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
err 5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
err 6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
err 7 Stuck Heater Relay
err 8 Temp Sensor Fault
Err Software Program Fault
Error 3 Stuck Button on Keypad
Error 4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
Error 5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
Error 6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
Error 7 Stuck Heater Relay
Error 8 Temp Sensor Fault
F2 4 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F4 8 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F6 12 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F Fahrenheit, used to indicate panel is in Fahrenheit mode
FB-ER Fiber Optic error; accent lighting
FC Filter Continuous mode; system message, not an error
FL1 Water Pressure fault, dirty filter, airlocked pump, low water level
FL2 Pressure switch fault; switch closed while pump is off
FL Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault; water flow problem
FLC Pressure switch fault; switch closed while pump is off
Fldu Spa is in Filter mode; ; system message, not an error
FLO, Flo, FL1 Flow – inadequate water volume sensed by Flow / Pressure switch
FLO2 Flow – short circuit/closed circuit; pressure/flow switch
FLO (flashing) Flow – short circuit/open circuit; pressure/flow switch
Flon Spa is in Filter mode; ; system message, not an error
FN-ER Fan error; cooling fan fault
FP, Fr, FrE Freeze – water is 40° or less; system should self-start pump / heater
H2O Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
HFL Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
HiLi, HLEr Water temperature above acceptable range
HL, HH, OHH High limit sensor reading 118°, or above – check flow
Hold Panel buttons pressed to many times or too quickly
HOT Overheating, water over 112° F. Cool down procedure begins.
IC, ICE, ICE2 Freeze Condition detected; Warm up procedure begins.
ILOC Interlock failure; check magnetic contacts on spa equipment door
L1, L2 Panel Lock; enter code to unlock control panel
LF Persistent low flow problems.
LO Freeze Condition detected; Warm up procedure begins.
LOC Panel Lock; enter code to unlock control panel
O3-Er Ozone error; check for operation and output
OH High temperature condition, over 110ºF. Spa may be partially deactivated or low speed pump (and air blower if equipped) may activate to lower temp
OHH Overheat. One sensor has detected 118º. Spa has shut down
OHS Overheat. One sensor has detected 110º. Spa has shut down
OP Open circuit sensor
P1, P2 or P3-ER Pump 1,2 or 3 error or failure
pd Power supply interrupted, unit running on battery backup
PnL Panel error; communication error between panel and circuit board
Pr Priming – pump is starting; system message, not an error
Prh Hi-limit sensor failure
Prr Temperature Sensors Alarm
PS Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
PSoC Pressure switch open on circulation
PSoH Pressure switch open on high speed
PSoL Pressure switch open on low speed
RH-HR Heater Repair error
RH-NC No Communication error; Panel to Board
RH-NF No Flow in heater
RH-NH No Heat, heater fault or failure
SA, SnA, SnH, Sb, Snb, Snt Sensor Open Circuit or faulty
SE Spa in Economy Mode; system message, not an error
SEoP Sensor open or disconnected. Heater disabled but spa operational
SESH Sensor short, nonfunctional. Heater disabled but spa operational
SH Short circuit on temperature sensor
Sn1 Hi-Limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
Sn2 Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
Sn3 Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
SN Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
Sn Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
Sna Sensor plugged into jack A is not working. Spa is shut down.
Snb Sensor plugged into jack B is not working. Spa is shut down.
SnH Hi Limit circuit open or faulty
SnS Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
SnT Temperature sensor fault, circuit open or faulty
SP-F1,F2 or F3 Fuse 1,2 or blown
SP-HR Hardware error
SP-IN Input voltage low
SP-OH Overheat – water temp over 112°
SP-OT Overtemp – air temp around equipment is too hot, lack of air flow
Std Spa in Standard Mode; system message, not an error

Do you have a spa or hot tub error code that is not on the list?  Make a call to our tech team who can look up the code for you, and decipher it’s meaning and let you know if it is indeed an error code, or a system status message.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works