Free Shipping on all Spa Covers and orders over $150 Holiday Savings - Up to 50% Off Select Holiday Items!
1-800-770-0292
M-F - 7am-7pm CST
Sat-Sun. - Closed

Daniel Lara's Posts

Spa & Hot Tub Error Codes – FL, FLO, FLOW, LF

December 12th, 2014 by

balboa-LF-low-flow-error-codeEvery digital spa control is designed with some diagnostics, to self-diagnose problems with pumping and heating your spa or hot tub. Topside controls also give lots of information about your spa status, which are not to be confused with spa error codes.

There are 3 groups of error codes; Flow codes, relating to water flow, Heater codes, and Sensor codes. Let’s start at the top, today’s post is about water flow trouble codes on your spa panel. These are usually presented as FL, FLO or FLOW on your display, although it may be LF, for Low Flow, or PS for Pressure Switch.

LF, or Low Flow error codes on a spa or hot tub is really a self-preservation exercise for your hot tub. When water isn’t flowing fast enough through the heater, the FLO error code shuts things down, to avoid a total meltdown (well, not really a melt-down, but you know).

Flow problems are the number one source of trouble for the spa or hot tub owner. When the water isn’t flowing like it should, the heater stops working, equipment overheats and water quality quickly suffers.

So – FLOW. very important. Here’s what to do if your spa throws a FL, FLO or FLOW error code at you.spa-error-codes-FLO

For Low Flow spa error codes, check the filter, check the pump and check the valves to find something that is obstructing the water flow. Could be a dirty filter, a clogged impeller, closed valve, or a piece of plastic film covering the spa drain. Could also be low water level. Sometimes, it’s actually a bad pressure switch or flow switch, or loose connections or damaged wires or wire connectors.

Proceed step by step, and you should be able to find the cause of the FL, FLO or FLOW error code. If you need assistance with spa trouble codes, you can call us anytime at 800-770-0292 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

How To Install a Portable Spa Hot Tub

November 6th, 2014 by

deep-clean-your-spa-smSo, you saw our great prices on new spas, and unless this new spa is a replacement spa, you’re wondering what’s involved in spa or hot tub installation.

Whether you install one of our Plug & Play 120V spas, or a full featured premium spa running on 4-wire 240V, requiring an electrician, you’ll need to plan a few things in advance of receiving your new spa.

Spa Fencing

There are two types of fencing needed, safety fencing, to keep people and animals out, and privy fencing to keep out prying eyes.

For safety fencing – in most localities, a spa is under the same or similar fencing rules as apply to swimming pools, in the interest of public safety. Generally, a spa inside of a fenced-in backyard is acceptable. pergola-privy-fenceThere may not be an inspection of the fence in some cases, but still required nonetheless.

Privy fencing provides privacy, also a consideration when installing a hot tub, and also blocks the wind, which can cool the spa, and give you a chill while soaking. Frame your spa with large plants, and a 2 sided lattice fencing, or a pergola or cabana installed around the tub. Outdoor roll-up shades are also popular.

 

Tub Location

A convenient location is best, near the door. The area should be clean and dry (never muddy), and close to power and water. Shield the spa from as much sun, wind and rain as you can, and take care that storm waters will always drain away from the spa.

ezpads-for-spasThe surface supporting the spa must be solid, when full with water, a 6 person hot tub can weigh close to two tons! No wooden decks and certainly no balconies. A level, 4 inch slab of steel mesh reinforced concrete, on top of 4″ of gravel is sufficient in many cases.

Our hot tubs can be sunk into a deck when proper load bearing support is built to hold 150 lbs per square foot. Finally, consider view – both the view of the spa from the house and the view that you’ll have while in the spa.

 

Moving a Spa

spa-kartWhen the tub is delivered to your home, it won’t go any further than the driveway. From that point on, you have to figure out the shortest and safest route to the spa placement location. Professional spa movers use a Spa Kart to transport spas across lawns, over steps or into tight locations within the home. Check for local spa movers or rental shops for a solution, some even rent Spa Karts. Over smooth concrete it’s easy, but when the surface gets rough and uneven, you’ll need something with big tires, to support a spa of 400-600 lbs, along with straps and several hands to help.

 

Hot Tub Wiring

GFCI-spa-plug120V Spas: Most of our rotomold hot tubs are plug and play; 120V spas that plug into a standard, dedicated outlet. Dedicated means that nothing else is operating on that circuit. Plug the GFCI cord into a weatherproof 120V outlet (not GFCI), on a 15 or 20 amp breaker. The outlet should be between 5 and 10 feet from the spa, and no extension cords. 120V spas use less volts because they have smaller pumps and heaters, and few other features.

240v-spa-wiring240V Spas: Larger spas with 4-5 hp pumps and high wattage heaters require a 6 AWG, 4-wire 240V service to the spa, on a dedicated 40-60 amp breaker, with a cut-off switch or sub-panel, and other requirements, as per local electrical codes. They do not plug in like a washer or dryer, but use 4 wires inside of PVC conduit, with the last few feet of flexible conduit carrying the wires directly in through the cabinet and connecting to the spa pack.

Wiring a spa with 240V is not a recommended DIY project. A permit and an inspection is required in most areas, so it’s best to contact a local electrician who is familiar with the process of wiring spas and hot tubs. In most cases, hard-wiring a spa to the home main breaker, and installing a power cut-off near the spa is a $500-$900 job, depending on the length of the run from the breaker panel to the spa, and the route it must travel.

 

Filling a Spa

When the wiring and inspections are done, you can fill the spa, insert the spa filter cartridge.

loosen-the-pump-union-to-bleed-airWhen you first fill an empty spa, and sometimes when you drain and refill the spa later, and air lock will occur in the pump, and prevent the pump from catching prime. Instead of running the pump without water, which can damage the seals, loosen the union nut in front of, or on top of the spa pump just enough to let the air escape, and allow the water to fill the pump. When water begins dripping around the union, tightly up all unions tightly. Open up all gate valves in the system, and you are ready to begin filtering, heating and chemically treating your new spa!

 

Enjoying your New Spa

enjoy-your-spaThat’s the best part, after all the working of selecting, ordering, receiving, moving, wiring, inspecting, filling…now you finally get to enjoy the fruits of all your hard work and money.

Some accessories to help you enjoy your spa more include a spa cover lifter to help protect your spa top, and a supply of spa chemicals and test strips. Spa steps, handrails, and spa cleaning tools are on our spa accessories page – if you’ll pardon the shameless plugs.

Turn up the heat, and enjoy your New Spa from Hot Tub Works!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Winterize a Hot Tub in 5 Steps

November 3rd, 2014 by

spa-winterizationWinterizing a spa is simple enough for the average spa owner to perform, with simple tools and equipment. Winterizing a wood hot tub? It is not recommended to drain a wood hot tub for an extended period, or else the wood will dry out and shrink.

To winterize a wood hot tub, you can follow the steps below, but then plug the lines and fill the hot tub back up with water.

To keep the water from freezing solid across a wood tub, use an air pillow like those used for aboveground pool winterization, or fill several gallon sized plastic jugs, filled 1/3 full of pea gravel or pool antifreeze. Float these in the hot tub to absorb ice expansion. Add spa algaecide or sanitizer to control algae growth and cover tightly.

To winterize a portable spa, one with an acrylic or fiberglass shell, follow these instructions:

1aDrain The Spa

You probably know this drill already, but in this case you need to get all of the water out of the spa – every drop. Open up the drain spigot and roll out the hose, or use a submersible pump (which is hours and hours faster). Shut off the power to the spa before draining and plan your drain – first by making sure the sanitizer level is low, and the pH is balanced. It’s best to run the hose to an open yard, and move the hose often, to increase disbursement. In most cases, spa water is safe to use to water planter beds, trees or lawns, as long as your sanitizer level is under 1 ppm, and you move the hose around often.

2a

Turn on the Blower

Once the water is drained out, you can turn on power to the hot tub, but keep the pumps and heater off. Activate the blower only, and unless you want a fine mist shower, put the spa cover over the tub first. After running the blower for a minute or less, allow the water to drain. If you have air jets in the seats or the floor, turn on the blower again and mop up the mist spraying out with a big towel. Wring out the towel and continue to wipe up any spray that continues to spit out from the small air holes.

3aBlow out the Pipes

This is the part that makes people nervous, but it’s really quite easy. You’ll need a large wet/dry vac, reversing the hose so that it blows air through the hose. Remove the skimmer basket and blow air through the skimmer, thru the filter, thru the pump, heater and back out through the spa jets. Be sure that all of the manual air intakes are open, and that all banks of jets are open. When all of the water has blown out, move the wet/dry vac inside of the spa, and blow air through the jets. You can also reverse the hose, and use suction to suck the water out. Be sure that all lines are open and all water has been removed.

4a

Winterize the Spa Equipment

Remove the spa filter and give it a good deep cleaning, or dispose of it if it has been in service for more than 12 cleanings or 24 months. Open up the union nuts on the pump and heater, to check for any remaining water, and allow it to drain out. When tightening back up, make sure the union o-ring has not slipped out. Look over the system closely, and open any drain plugs that you see on the pipes or equipment, especially those on lower pipes. Keep the spa drain open, in case any water gets in during winter, and be sure to shut off all power to the spa, at the main circuit breaker.

5a

Cover the Hot Tub

If your spa cover is not in the best of shape, invest in a cover cap, or tightly secure a tarpaulin over the spa, using bungee cords to keep it in place during high winds. If your spa cover is in good shape, it still would be a good idea to cover it, to protect the cover and to keep any rain or snow out of the spa. Another good thing to do during a spa closing is to clean and condition your spa cover, using one of our many spa cover care products.

 

~ That’s it! Just 5 steps to close a spa for winter, and a few more additional steps if you have a wooden hot tub. Drop me a line if you have any questions about winterizing your spa or hot tub.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs and the Ebola Virus

October 30th, 2014 by

bacteria-in-spasThe recent surge in Ebola cases has prompted a lot of concern and chatter on the subject. Hot tubs have once again become a target of health stories, with several news stories such as How Safe Are Hot Tubs?, WSJ Oct 20, 2014, or Ask Ila: Are hot tubs safe? Masslive Oct 24, 2014.

A great story recently comes from Lifehacker – just 9 minutes ago – Five Fear Mongering Stories That Are True (But Overblown).  The number one story is that Public Hot Tubs are Rife with Disease.

“It seems like once or twice a year, the news decides to remind us all that any type of public bathing is disgusting. These stories typically come about in overblown, hyperbole-filled rants about diseases like Legionnaires…”

Hot Tub Folliculitis

Some stories are true, in a hot tub with insufficient filtration, poor water balance, low chlorine and unwashed users – bacteria such as Pseudomonas can survive, which can cause hot tub folliculitis. However, even in hot tubs with measurable levels of pseudomonas, it can be prevented by limiting your soak time, removing swimsuits promptly and taking a soapy shower.Spa-and-hot-tub-test-strips-travel-pack

When I travel, I always carry along a travel size hot tub test strips, especially when traveling to places where hot tubs exist, like ski resorts, island resorts and cruise ships. Most hotels have hot tubs too, and unless you are visiting a Ft. Lauderdale beach hotel during spring break, you’ll find resort hot tubs to be nearly always vacant, with crystal clear water.

My two rules when using public hot tubs, are #1: Check the pH and chlorine level and #2: Clean and clear water is a must. A strong smell of chlorine is not the best indicator, as this usually means that the hot tub (or nearby pool) has high levels of combined chlorine, which is a poor sanitizer. A test strip will tell for sure – what the level of free chlorine is and, that the pH level is in a good range for the chlorine to work effectively.

Hot Tubs & Ebola

Can you contract the Ebola virus from a hot tub or spa? The quick answer is No, or at least probably not. The reason for this is that a virus cannot survive extended periods of time outside the host, or the body. According to Alan Schmaljohn from the University of Maryland, in water, the Ebola virus would be deactivated in a matter of minutes. Water is a very different medium than bodily fluids, and viruses cannot survive in hot tubs for long.

Especially in filtered, balanced, chlorinated hot tubs. Chlorine, or it’s little cousin Bromine, are powerful disinfectants, and at levels of 1-3 ppm for chlorine, or 2-4 ppm for bromine, the Ebola virus is killed nearly instantly. As the CDC and others recommend, chlorine bleach solution kills the Ebola virus.

So No – catching the Ebola virus from a hot tub, is probably very unlikely. However, some forms of bacteria can exist in over-used and under-maintained public spas, most notably Pseudomonas, as mentioned above.

Using Public Hot Tubs

As my new friends at Lifehacker would agree, don’t let some overblown media coverage prevent you from enjoying a nice soak at the gym, or while on vacation. Use your eyes and nose to check if the spa is clear (it’s easier to tell when the lights are up and the jets are off).

Use a chlorine / pH test strip to surreptitiously test the spa water. You can just saunter over and act like your testing the temperature with your hand, when hidden in your palm is a test strip, lol – that’s what I do! Then walk back to your seat and compare the strip for good pH and sanitizer level. please-shower

If you decide to enjoy the hot tub, limit your session to 15 minutes, and just to be safe – don’t drink the water or dunk your head underwater.

Oh, and be a good citizen – take a hot, soapy shower before and after you use a public spa or hot tub – a spa is not a bathtub!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara

 

Frozen Hot Tub!

October 6th, 2014 by

frozen-hot-tubWinter is coming! And with El Nino predicted, it could be a cold, snowy winter indeed. That’s good for the spa parts salesmen, I suppose – because it means lots of freeze damage to spas and hot tubs.

But hold on there ~ as long as you have your spa operating, at least on low speed, with all valves/lines open, and the water isn’t allowed to freeze across the surface ~ you needn’t worry about freeze damage to your spa or hot tub.

Most digital spa controllers will have a freeze monitor that will turn on the pump if the outside air temperature reaches 40 degrees. Some will even turn on the heater if the water temperature drops too low. But many air controls or simple hot tubs or inground spas don’t have built-in freeze protection.

WAYS TO PREVENT SPA FREEZE DAMAGE:

  1. Set an Temperature Alert on your Phone: There’s an app for that! Instead of relying on the weather report, you can use one of the many apps that will alert you (via smartphone) that temperatures below a certain set point are expected. Then, make sure the spa is hot and operating.
  2. Install a Digital Spa Pack with Freeze Protection: As mentioned earlier, if you have Air Controls, or an inground spa, you may not have built-in freeze protection. Upgrading to a digital spa pack, or for inground spas, installing a digital timeclock, will allow your system to automatically turn on the pump when low outside temps are sensed.
  3. Keep the Spa hot during Winter: For protection from power outages, keeping your spa hot all winter long will give you the most amount of time. A spa that is kept at 100 degrees and covered tightly can keep it’s heat for 24-36 hours during a power outage. An unheated spa, with very low temperatures, can freeze up solid in only an hour of not circulating.
  4. Keep your Spa Cover Tightly in Place: In some parts of the country, it’s so cold… “How cold is it, Johnny?” – It’s so cold… that leaving a spa cover off for just a few hours can cause the spa water to actually begin to turn slushy… Daiquiri anyone?

STEPS TO UNFREEZE A FROZEN HOT TUB:

Get the Hot Water and Blankets! We’re not having a baby, the hot tub is frozen solid! If you find that the hot tub or spa has ice on the surface, and is not operating…

1. Shut off Power if the pumps are not moving water, until all the ice thaws.
2. Break through Ice on the surface, add hot water from hose, or buckets from the bathtub.
-  Some utility sinks will allow you to attach a hose, or you can connect it to your hot water heater drain.
3. Closely Inspect with a utility light, or large flashlight, the pump, filter, heater, and pipes for cracks.
4. Use a heat gun, or place a small ceramic heater under the spa cabinet that you can monitor.
-  Plug into a GFCI outlet. Raise it up off the ground, and keep away from insulation or wires.
5. Use heavy blankets to help hold the heat in under the spa, if needed.

IDENTIFYING FREEZE DAMAGE:

Most cracking or damage from the expansion of ice happens to the heater body, usually a stainless steel cylinder, mounted horizontally, or the filter body or lid, a vertical plastic cylinder that holds the filter cartridge, or to the pump body or lid. Pipes tend to spider-web crack, not a clean split, but they shatter along long lengths, or through fittings.

As the spa starts to warm up, from the heat beneath and the hot water above, condensation will drip from the spa, don’t be alarmed. But running water… (not slow drips), and you may have some broken equipment or pipe. After identifying that hot tub parts are needed, you can proceed to drain the spa completely, by opening all drain valves or plugs, and using air to blow out pipes and equipment.

smiley---yeaIf you don’t see any running water, and you don’t see any cracked spa equipment or pipes, you can turn the spa back on – to check again for running water while the system is under pressure. If it sounds normal, and looks to be running properly, relax – you caught it just in time!exploded-spa

Most freeze damage is minor – a pump wet end, a bit of pipe, maybe an entire spa pack – but rarely does it total the entire spa. There are cases where a spa has been frozen solid for weeks however, and it’s literally exploded. Even when some parts are reusable, the cost to re-pipe the spa is prohibitive. If you discovered a frozen hot tub early, consider yourself lucky with a few hundred dollars in spa parts.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Advanced Hot Water Chemistry

September 15th, 2014 by

advanced-hot-tub-chemistry---PM

Beyond pH and Bromine levels, beyond alkalinity and calcium hardness – what else is there?

Maintaining a healthy hot tub is crucial not only for the users of the spa, to avoid sickness, but also for the integrity of your hot tub spa.

The following article on hot tub water chemistry will focus on 3 important tenets:

1. A Hot Tub is Not a Small Pool.

2. Chemicals behave differently in Hot Water.

3. Spa filters are important to chemistry.

 

1. HOT TUBS ARE NOT SMALL SWIMMING POOLS

Although many spa owners treat their spas and swimming pools the same, using the same test kits and even the same chemical treatments, there is a world of difference between the two. The largest difference is in volume. Easy enough to understand, a spa of 400 gallons is quite a bit smaller than a pool containing 20000 gallons.

The main distinction here is in gallons per bather. When 4 persons slip into a 400 gallon spa, that’s the equivalent of 200 swimmers in a 20000 gallon pool. A radical change in water chemistry occurs when people enter a hot tub. The pH tends to jump up dramatically, and the sanitizer is pummeled. The small cartridge filter, adequately sized for an unused spa, becomes immediately overwhelmed.

Bromine tends to respond better than chlorine in this situation, maintaining more efficacy at higher pH levels than chlorine, but even a high level of bromine is rapidly depleted in the presence of several spa users. This leaves your bathers unprotected from pathogenic microorganisms.

This is why a Hot Tub needs to have additional sanitation methods. Using an Ozonator and a mineral purifier together (in addition to bromine), is the best way to ensure extra protection for a hot tub or spa used by several persons at the same time.

This is also why it is so important for spa users to shower thoroughly before using a hot tub. I know that it’s difficult (if not outright rude) to ask guests to shower before using a spa, but just imagine all of the gunk that is washing off their (and your) body – bacteria, dirt, fungus, feces, oils, urine – to name a few. Not to mention all those chemicals from cosmetics, lotions, hair care products, shampoo and soaps. And your skin pores, opening up in that hot water…

 

2. CHEMICALS BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY IN HOT WATER

As water temperature rises, the viscosity or density of water decreases, and molecular activity increases. Sanitizing agents become hyperactive, and quickly dissipate. Carbonates and bicarbonates, hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and calcium minerals all ‘fly’ around the water at breakneck speed, combining and separating in bizarre ways, not seen in colder water. Molecules in cold water have a greater atomic bonding, and resist change, whereas in hot water, molecular combinations (not all good) occur much more easily in hot water.

Cold water also holds much more entrained oxygen than hot water, and sound travels faster in cold water. Not much to do with hot tub water chemistry, I just think it’s interesting, that’s all. Everything that is in your hot tub water, every speck of dust, every droplet of bodily fluid, all affect water balance, and contribute to Total Dissolved Solids in a hot tub. It’s another property of hot water that solids break down more easily than in cold water. But they don’t go away, they are simply dissolved in the water.

Pool chemicals are not suitable for spas and hot tubs. Namely because of the labeling and dosages listed. It’s very easy to overdose or under dose a hot tub. Even for those chemicals that may be identical, such as pH up or Alkalinity increaser. Although chemically the same, spa chemicals are produced in finer grades, to dissolve more rapidly.

Other pool chemicals, such as clarifiers and algaecides, are not produced for use in hot water temperatures. They break down more readily in water of higher temperatures, and combine in ways that render them useless. These reasons are why you should not use pool chemicals in your spa or hot tub.

 

3. SPA FILTERS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK

You may wonder what the spa filter has to do with hot tub water chemistry, but as the title implies, it’s more important than you may think!

Harkening back to our opening paragraph, when 3 or 4 people jump into a hot tub, it can overwhelm a spa filter. I’m speaking of the pleated filter cartridge that serves to strain out small particles in your hot tub. In most cases, their diminutive size is adequate for a hot tub that is not hosting visitors, but place a few humans in the equation, and it can take hours for it to catch up.

In spas, as in swimming pools, there needs to be a balance of sanitation and filtration. A balance is important, if you will – imagine doing it all with only one of these. If you only had sanitation (and no filtration – stagnant water), you would need a very large amount of sanitizer to keep the water clean and clear. Or – you could do without sanitizer, if you had a filter as big as a house, or circulation of hundreds of gallons of water per minute. But this is impractical, so we rely on a balance.

It doesn’t take long for a small cartridge filter to stop pulling it’s weight around a hot tub or spa. When this happens, much more is required of your sanitizer, or more sanitizer is required, I should say. I know that some of you may be guilty of going years without changing the filter cartridge. Sure you clean it – occasionally, but when was the last time you replaced your spa filter?

For best results, replace your filter cartridge every 10-15 cleanings, or every 12-24 months, depending on how often the spa is used. A spa filter that needs replacement won’t stand up and wave it’s hand for a substitute, it quietly keeps chugging along, allowing microscopic debris to pass through unfiltered.

When your filter is doing less than what is required, your water suffers, and it could affect the health of your spa users and your spa luster. Do yourself a favor and set a calendar reminder to replace your spa filter on a regular basis. Or, do what I do, and buy them in pairs, and alternate cartridges when one is removed for cleaning. This allows me to go 24 months between purchases, and also means that I allow the cartridge to dry fully after cleaning it, which kills any contaminants buried deep inside the fibers.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Spas: Cutting Energy Costs

August 21st, 2014 by

green-spa-2There are an estimated 3.5 million spas and hot tubs in the United States, about half a million in California alone! Each spa can use around 2500 kWh of energy per year – that’s almost 9 Billion Kilowatt hours!

This has caused various state and federal energy agencies to look closely at the way spas and hot tubs are designed, and how this affects their energy consumption. Several studies have been done in the last ten years, and they give us a good idea of where manufacturers and citizens can save energy around a spa or hot tub.

From a study commissioned by PG&E, for instance, we know that there are measures that can improve spa efficiency by up to 40% for spas of average to low efficiency. States with scarce power supplies (like California), are very interested in reducing demand on the grid.

The study aforementioned was responsible, in 2006 for the insertion of spas and hot tub standards being inserted into Title 20, California’s energy saving initiative. This set efficiency standards for new spas and hot tubs, similar to the cafe standards, which mandate minimum mpg for automobile manufacturers.

The standards have been revised and tweaked, and as a result of more research we now know more about how spas and hot tubs use energy. Here’s what we’ve learned:

 

Top 5 ways to Reduce Hot Tub Energy Costs

1a LIGHTS: Starting the list are our spa light or lights. Using LED lights, with a consumption around 3 watts, beats out halogen or other bulbs as the way to go. Most new spas are entirely LED, with some exception. Older spas can retrofit to use LED bulbs, in some cases without changing the light housing, or replace with a spa light kit. If your spa light does not have an auto shut off, install an indicator light in the circuit that you can see from the house, to keep off when not being used.

Possible Energy Savings: 5-10%

 

2aCONTROLS: Smarter control systems are now possible, with pumps that have a dozen programmable speeds, and timer clocks that allow you to optimize energy usage with multiple run times, programmed for your usage patterns, and taking advantage of cheaper off peak energy. Most spas are programmable, even if they have a mechanical time clock – but many people fail to optimize it.

It takes a lot of energy to start the pump motor and heater, extra amps aid in the starting-up, so although many daily on-off cycles are good, too many can be too much. For your spa, Experiment by reducing the hours, to find a sweet spot where the water quality or temperature won’t suffer, and you can cut energy costs. You don’t need to run it 24 hours a day!

Run the pump(s) less during the day, to avoid peak usage hours. My spa pump mostly runs on low speed, but it takes a long break in the morning and then another mid-afternoon siesta.

If you have two pumps, you have one smaller circulation pump, and a larger jet pump. Experimenting with run times on these can also result in savings.

Possible Energy Savings:  10-20%

 

3aPUMP: Running your pumps less helps yes, but for those spas out there with the 20 year old pumps, or the single speed pumps, or the pumps that suddenly disabled their low speed, or the failed circulation pump that was never replaced. I’m talking to you!

Replacing with the most current spa pumps will give you a boost in economy with a more energy efficient motors used nowadays. Side discharge pumps also have a boost in efficiency over center discharge.

Possible Energy Savings: 10-20%

 

4aCOVER: Your spa cover can either be saving you money, or costing you money. If you can see steam creeping out of the edges of it, or if your cover has taken on water, it’s not holding the heat in like it should.

The heat retention in a spa cover has to do with 3 things, the density of the foam, the thickness of the foam and the foam core wrap or seal. Although we offer a 1.5lb spa cover, a 2.0 foam density is best for holding heat in, with a taper of 3 to 5 inches at least. And when you order your next replacement spa cover, go for the options of the double wrapped foam core and the continuous heat seal – worthy add-ons that will save heat and protect your core from moisture.

Possible Energy Savings: 15-20%

 

5aINSULATION: And now, drum roll please – the most significant thing you can do to increase your spa or hot tub energy efficiency is to make sure your tub is well insulated underneath and around the sides. There are many portable spas that have virtually no underside foaming, and have a thin sheet of padding on the inside of the  cabinet walls. Hot tubs, true wooden tubs don’t normally have any insulation around the outside and can be extremely inefficient, which is why most are heated on demand, and not kept hot.

You can increase your spa’s efficiency by stuffing bats of fiberglass insulation everywhere you can under the spa, with the exception of the air space around the spa equipment. You can also use spray foam to fill in gaps, and eliminate air spaces and gaps – but it would be easier to use removable insulation, especially for future access to pipes or jets around the spa.

Possible Energy Savings: 25-30%

 

Other things you can do to prevent heat loss include:

  1. Build wind blocks around outdoor spas
  2. Use a floating spa cover in addition to your regular spa cover
  3. Avoid using the air blower, which cools the water
  4. Turn down the heat if you won’t be using the spa for a week or more
  5. Replace the cover promptly after using the spa

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

The Dead Spa: No Power Hot Tub

July 31st, 2014 by

spa-has-no-power

It’s happened to me plenty of times – get myself all ready for a nice soak in the tub, lift the lid and find lukewarm water and no lights on the control panel.

It’s usually an easy fix, when you have no power to the spa – the greater disappointment is not being able to use the spa at that moment.

If you’ve ever found a ‘Dead Spa’, with no power at all, no indicator lights, nothing at all – this post is for you. Use these steps to troubleshoot a hot tub with no power.

 

 

Tripped Breaker

Check the main circuit breaker that provides power to the spa. This may be located in the home main panel, or inside a smaller panel near the hot tub. To reset a circuit breaker, first push it towards OFF, and then flip it back to ON. If the breaker begins to repeatedly trip (known as nuisance tripping), it may need to be replaced, or there could be voltage irregularity. Consult your electrician for testing or replacement.

Tripped GFCI

This one gets me all the time. My spa, and most others, have an electrical outlet attached to the spa pak. This is one of those GFI outlets with the red test button, and a black reset button. If you find it tripped, just push the red button back in. If the outlet continues to pop, either immediately or later, there is some stray voltage grounding out, and causing the button to pop. Consult an electrician to find the source, if not readily apparent (burnt wires, insects or rodent damage, water).

Blown Fuse

Spas and some hot tubs have internal fuses, which are meant to blow when voltage spikes occur, to protect your equipment (pumps, blower, heater). A blown fuse could just be a blown fuse, or it could point to a blower or pump that is shorting out, or it could mean the transformer is allowing too much voltage to pass through. Check your owner’s manual for location of any fuses, and always replace with the exact duplicate fuse.

Faulty Wiring

Incoming wires can be damaged from heat or rodents, or you may have loose connections, or wires touching each other. This will often cause a breaker to trip or fuse to blow, but not always. If it’s the wires carrying power into the transformer, or out of the transformer, you can have a ‘no power’ situation. Shut off all power before touching or replacing any damaged spa wiring.

Tripped High-limit switch

In some spas, a heater high limit switch can cause a complete power shut down, to protect equipment (and you!) from harm. If your spa pak has a hi limit reset button, (usually red), give this a push to see if power is restored. Thermal overloads (motors, blowers), can also prevent equipment from coming on, but don’t usually shut down all power and lights to the spa.

Bad Transformer

A transformer reduces voltage, ‘transforming’ it to a specific lower voltage. A spa may have 220V coming into the transformer and 40 volts coming out, for example – but this varies from spa to spa. A voltmeter can be used to test the transformer output, to see that it’s within 10% of the rated output voltage, which is normally printed right on the transformer.

Bad Panel

Finally, if you have no indicator lights on your control panel, look underneath for lights on the spa pak. For a control panel that is unresponsive, with no LED’s or temp reading, check the wire harness from the spa pak to the circuit board for a loose connection or damaged wire. It could also be a bad circuit board (but I hope not!).

~ Soooo, if your spa has no power, no lights, no nuthin’ – check out these 7 possibilities.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Replacing a Wet End on a Spa Pump

July 24th, 2014 by

SPA-PARTS-WET-ENDSWet End Replacement – a wet end is the part of your spa pump that gets wet – the volute halves, and inside, the impeller and shaft seal. It’s sold as a complete unit, for quick field replacement, in the case of volute, impeller or seal failure.

Here’s pictures of Drake replacing a wet end in about 75 seconds, along with the transcript I also lifted from the video. :-) Enjoy!

 

Here’s a quick change wet end for the 56 frame Ultramax spa pump

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--

What you want to do is take all five bolts out of the volute, and remove the volute, or impeller housing from the front of the wet end. Some models may have only 4 bolts, some have six.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--3

Take a slotted screwdriver, and insert it into the rear of the motor shaft (you may have to remove a cover plate), to hold the shaft stationary. Now spin off the impeller (counter clockwise). If it’s stubborn, you can use a pair of large Channel Lock type pliers, to assist in removing the impeller from the shaft. It can also be helpful to have a second person hold the screwdriver (or wrench) on the rear of the motor shaft.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--4

Once the impeller is removed, you need to take note of the color bands on the impeller, that dictates the horsepower of the impeller, which should match the motor hp, and match your new wet end as well.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--5

Now you want to remove all four motor bolts by loosening with a 5/16″ nut driver and release the tank from the motor. If the motor shaft is rusty, dusty or crusty, clean it up with some sandpaper.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--7

Your replacement seal will come already in place inside your new wet end – you want to make note that you have the right color bands, which will dictate the horsepower for this particular motor.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--9

Position the new wet end over the shaft, in the same orientation as your previous wet end (pointing either up, or to the side).

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--8

Use a slotted screwdriver on the back of the motor shaft and turn the shaft, pulling tight the new wet end against the motor, threading the shaft into the impeller and compressing the spring.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--2

Insert the motor bolts and tighten them all the way by hand, and then use a 5/16″ nut driver to tighten them up in a harmonic cross pattern. Now reach in the front of your new wet end, and be sure that the impeller spins freely.

replacing-a-spa-pump-wet-end--11

Reconnect the wiring and the union connectors, and your wet end replacement is complete!

Remember to use only the exact and correct replacement wet end  – if you have any questions on selecting the right one, feel free to give us a call, or send an email, and we’ll help you out.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Folliculitis – Preventing Pseudomonas

July 17th, 2014 by

FOLLICULITISnoun \fə-ˌli-kyə-ˈlī-təs\ – inflammation of one or more follicles especially of the hair.

It’s a skin infection that produces an itchy rash with red bumps.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is a germ usually responsible.

 

Pseudomona… What?

pseudomonas-4Hot Tub Rash is a faster way to say it, easier than either folliculitis or pseudomonas aeruginosa! Let’s call our germ “Pseudo“; Pseudo is one of the most common bacterias in our modern society. It is naturally occurring nearly everywhere, and poorly maintained hot tubs present a particularly nice home for the pathogen.

Pseudo is also responsible for over 10% of all hospital infections. In addition to dermatitis, pseudomonas also causes gastrointestinal, urinary and respiratory infections. It’s a very opportunistic bugger, exploiting hosts with a variety of entry points.

In a hot tub that is poorly filtered and sanitized, pseudomonas can thrive, and as you soak in the water, your pores open up, and the pseudo just swims right inside, and makes a home near the root of the tiny hair follicles.

The rash usually appears on legs, buttocks and back, but hot tub rash can appear nearly anywhere on the body. The rash can begin to appear within a few hours, but may take up to 24 hours to become noticeable. The rash frequently appears under the swimsuit areas, due to continued exposure even after leaving the water.

Preventing Pseudomonas

To make sure we get the information correct, I went straight to the experts. Prevent hot tub rash in your spa by following these tips from the CDC’s Pseudomonas Fact Sheet.

  • Remove biofilm slime regularly by scrubbing and cleaning.
  • Replace the spa filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace the water in a hot tub regularly.  Here’s how.
  • Maintain pH levels in the 7.2-7.8 range.
  • Maintain sanitizer levels; 2-4ppm chlorine, or 4-6ppm bromine.

Public Spas & Hot Tubs

The fact is, most cases of hot tub rash occur in public spas – hotels, resorts, rec centers, gyms. It’s much less common in well maintained home spas. Public spas have high levels of guests, which pummels the sanitizer and pH levels, and quickly allows bacteria to form, unless the operator is constantly monitoring the chemistry and filtration.

To safely use a public spa, which I do on occasion while on vacation – here’s a few tips of my own:

  • I always pack some spa test strips to discreetly test the spa pH and sanitizer in a public spa.
  • Limit your soak to 20 minutes, afterwards, wash yourself and your swimsuit in the shower.
  • Change into dry clothes, don’t stay in your swimsuit.

Hot Tub Rash Treatment

In most cases, the rash will disappear on it’s own in otherwise healthy individuals. Itching can be reduced with a calamine lotion, or similar anti-itch ointment.

In individuals with compromised immune systems, or if symptoms persist past 3-4 days, or appear to be spreading, visit  your doctor or a dermatologist, who may prescribe an antibiotic medication or antifungal cream. Lab tests could be performed to determine the exact type of bacteria or fungus.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara