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Daniel Lara's Posts

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


CODE


ERROR CODE DESCRIPTION

* * *  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.

800.770.0292 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

How To Clean a Hot Tub that has been Sitting

February 24th, 2015 by

how-to-clean-a-spa-that-has-been-sittingIt doesn’t take long for spa water to go south when the hot tub has been sitting for days or weeks without being filtered or sanitized. How long? In moderate temperatures, spa water can stay fresh for up to two weeks, if covered tightly.

Spa water that sits longer than a week or two will begin to grow algae and bacteria, even without light, under a dark spa cover. Spas that sit untended will begin to grow biofilm or bacterial colonies – the kind of scum you see in a toilet that hasn’t been used or cleaned in awhile (sorry for that analogy!).

For spas and hot tubs that have been sitting, unused and unmaintained, for a period of longer than a few weeks – here’s the process to bring it back online.

TEST FILTER SYSTEM

Before you do a lot of work cleaning the hot tub, make sure that the spa pump and filter are operational. Add water if needed to bring the level up to mid-skimmer, covering the spa filter, which may need to be replaced with a new filter cartridge.

Turn on power at the circuit breaker, then open up the spa cabinet to find the spa equipment. Reset any popped GFCI outlets, and power up the spa pack. Check that all valves are open, before and after the pump, and take a good look for any leaking water under the spa.

Using the spa side control, run the spa pump on low speed and high speed briefly, which will help dislodge gunk in the pipes. Some spas have two pumps, a circulation pump and a jet pump; test them both to be sure that they will be operational after you drain & clean the hot tub.

DRAIN & CLEAN

Draining the spa is the best way to clean a hot tub that has been sitting for awhile. If your water is in fair condition, hazy but without visible algae or biofilm growth, skip ahead to the next step and purge the plumbing, to clean a hot tub without draining.

draining-a-hot-tubTo drain a spa or hot tub, look for the drainage port or hose. Some spas have a small access port at the base of the cabinet to drain water. If not you will usually find a short hose or a hose connection at the lowest point of the spa. Pull out the hose, or connect a hose, and let the water drain by gravity. You can also use a submersible pump to drain a spa. Be sure that the power to the spa is OFF before draining.

As the spa is draining, if the water condition is really bad, use a garden hose to spray off the spa surfaces. You can also spray into the skimmer, or spray water directly into the spa jets, to help loosen slimy gunk. Just be careful not to spray the spa pack, or spa equipment (pump, filter, heater).

REFILL & PURGE

Now that you’ve removed the funky, gunky water from the hot tub (or if you want to clean a hot tub without draining), the next step is to purge the spa, which means to add a chemical that will remove the slimy biofilm that lines the inside of the pipes, and has made a home in various nooks and crannies in the spa air and water plumbing.biofilm-in-spas-and-hot-tub

You can use Natural Chemistry’s Spa Purge, or Leisure Time’s Jet Clean. Follow label directions, adding it to the spa with the pump system running. In a very short time, you will notice the funk and gunk rising to the surface, as a brown foam. Turn on the jet pump and blower to help dislodge any remaining bacterial colonies.

DRAIN & REFILL

Drain the spa again, using a hose or rag to remove the scum around the top of the spa, cleaning as the water level drops. When completely empty, use sponges or a wet/dry vac to suck up the last bits of water.

One more time to the well! Refill your spa with fresh water. When full, test the water chemistry and add adjustment chemicals if needed to balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness. Add a bromine booster (if you use bromine tabs), and then shock the hot tub with 1-3 tablespoons of spa shock, following label instructions.

A new spa filter may also be in order, to keep the hot tub water clean and clear. Replace your spa filters every 18 months, or every 12 cleanings, whichever comes first.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Spa Error Codes – Sn, SnS, Sn1, Sn2…

February 5th, 2015 by

balboa-error-code-Sn-Sn1-Sn2-Sn3-SnS---Continuing in my little series on spa and hot tub error codes or trouble codes, today we take a look at Sensor Errors.

These will present themselves in many forms on the display, such as Sn, Sn1, Sn2, and they refer to temperature sensors located on the heater manifold. The controller display is telling you that either the high limit or the temp sensor are open or shorted. There also could be a voltage problem, excessive voltage creates heat. Or, it could be a problem with the thermostat allowing the heater element overheat.

Like our previous discussions on spa error codes, FLO and OH, the sensor codes Sn, Sn1, Sn2… are very much water flow dependent. If water is not flowing through the heater chamber fast enough, it gets too hot, and the safety high temp sensors go into action – just doing their job.

Spa Error Codes: Sn, Sn1, HL, E2, E3, Prh

For these trouble codes, the high limit sensor is open or shorted. It could be a loose plug connection or bad wire, or it could be a problem related to water flow. Clean or replace your spa filter cartridge as a first step. Make sure that all jets are open, and nothing is blocking the spa drain cover flow. Underneath the spa, check that all valves are open (handles up). If the flow rate still seems less than normal with all jets and valves open, you may consider inspecting for broken valves (closed when they appear to be open), clogged impeller inside the pump wet end, or something stuck in the skimmer pipe. Of course, be sure that you don’t have a pump air lock, and that the spa water level is filled high enough.

Spa Error Codes: Sn, Sn2, Sn3, EO, E1, Prr

With these spa sensor codes, the Temperature Sensor is open or shorted. The temp sensor and the high limit are usually located on the heater housing, with 1-2 small wires coming off and connecting to your controller. With the system powered off, you normally unscrew the sensors from the heater manifold, and unplug the wire from the panel. Inspect the wires for any heat or rodent damage, and the sensor face for corrosion or scaling. However, the usual cause for spa temp sensor error codes is that the water flow is insufficient, and when water moves too slowly through the heater, it doesn’t remove the heat fast enough, which triggers all sorts of error codes for flow rate and overheating. HOT, OL, HL, FLO, Sn…

SPA TEMPERATURE SENSOR ERROR CODE FLOW CHART

Here’s a Cal Spa troubleshooting chart for when your spa topside display shows a sensor error code Sn, Sn1, Sn2, Sn3… As you can see, it could be a nuisance tripping, or the wires could be absorbing excess heat, need calibration, or simply be faulty.

cal-spas-Sn-error-code-flow-chart

In addition to the Sn, Sn1, Sn2 type of error codes, other codes for Smart Sensor spas, such as SA, Sb, SnA, SnB error codes are used on many spas and hot tubs. These are similar to the Sn1 and Sn2 codes, signaled from the high limit or water temperature sensors.

cal-spa-smart-sensor-troubleshooting-flowchart

In summation; when you have spa trouble codes of Sn, SnA, Sn1, Sn2. Sn3, HL, EO, E2, E3, Prh, Prr – these all refer to the heat sensors that are usually attached to your heater manifold. Inspect the wire and plugs, check the spa water level and make sure water is flowing free and fast. If you confirm all those things, and it still throws an Sn error at you, test the sensor as described above; it may be faulty.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Error Codes – OH, OHH, OMG

January 6th, 2015 by

balboa-control-OH-errorIn our series on spa and hot tub error codes, we turn our attention today to the HOT messages that your topside control may be trying to give you.

OH, or OHH, or OHS (Overheat) all mean that a temperature sensor has detected unsafe water temperatures of 108° – 118° F, and your spa is in an emergency cool down mode, shutting off the heater, and turning on circulation pumps and blower to help dissipate heat.

Open the spa cover to allow excess heat and steam to escape. The spa obviously should not be used when OH or OHH is flashing on the topside control; as the water could be scalding hot for several more minutes. After the water cools, a high limit switch may be need to be reset on some spa packs; look for a red reset button. Press any topside button to reset a digital spa after the water has cooled to 100° F.

What causes a Spa to Overheat?

Low Water Flow (LF, FLO), is the usual cause of an overheating (OH, OHH) spa or hot tub. When water doesn’t flow fast enough through the heater, it removes less heat, and the temperature of the water increases. Eventually, the temp sensors or high limit switches will detect the increased water temperature, and shut everything down. The causes of low water flow in a spa include:

  • Dirty spa filter cartridge
  • Closed or partially closed valves or jets
  • Pump has an air lock, or has lost prime
  • Low water level in spa, skimmer sucking air
  • Spa drain cover is obstructed or pipe is blocked

What else causes a Spa to Overheat?

If your water flow is perfectly fine, then you could have a problem with the thermostat or high limit switches used on older spa packs, which could fall out of calibration, or become too sensitive. Digital spas have electronic sensor circuits, which are more durable than mechanical switches, however temperature sensors, hi limit sensors, relays and circuit boards also eventually fail on modern spas.

In most cases, for newer spas anyway, the water flow problem can be quickly remedied and the spa will cool, reset and start again on it’s own. Some panels need a prompt from you to restart. For spas without digital controls, you may need to manually reset the high limit switch near the heater housing.

Spa Overheating Troubleshooting Flow Chart

Here’s a Cal Spa troubleshooting flow chart that has some other possible triggers of seeing OH, OHS, OHH or HH blinking on your spa panel. Open the spa cover and let the spa cool down for 10 minutes, then touch the control panel to reset the circuits, or push a red reset button on air systems.

cal-spa-OH-OHH-OHS-HH-error-code-trouble-chart

OH, HH or HOT trouble codes, or a hot tub overheating is not usually a spa heater problem - it is almost always a flow problem, and when it’s not a flow problem, it’s a bad temp sensor, high limit or a stuck relay.

Here’s another Cal Spa troubleshooting flowchart for spa error codes OH, including testing the spa heater element for excessive resistance, done with the spa heater and all systems powered Off, and only by someone qualified to test safely.

cal-spas-OH-spa-heater-code-trouble-flowchart

So, the next time your spa throws you a OH, OHH or some other Overheat error code, you know what to do. Clean or replace the spa filter, open all the jets and turn the pump on high. If you still have problems, check over your temp sensor and hi limit circuits for wire or plug or sensor problems.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Solar Hot Tub Heaters

December 22nd, 2014 by

spa-solar-heatersSolar Hot Tubs are all the rage now for off the grid homes and campsites, or for anyone who wants to operate a spa or hot tub in an eco-friendly way.

Can a solar pool heater be used to heat a spa? You betcha! And it’s a simple Saturday project. Spa solar heaters can heat up a spa to over 100° with just 6 hours of sunshine – ready to use when you come home from work!

I have a friend with an inground pool and spa, and a solar pool heater – his spa is 104° in under 30 minutes – during sunny daylight hours, of course. And,…there’s not much heat in winter, but you can get 3 seasons with a hot tub solar heater!

Your hot tub cover will retain the heat from a solar heater until well into the evening, and if needed, you can use an alternate spa heater or hot tub heater for night hot tubbin’.

 

How to install a Solar Hot Tub Heater

1. Location of Solar Panels: The first thing to think of is where and how the solar panels are going to be mounted. If you have full sun, all day long, you could just lay them on the ground, but for most folks, mounting them on a roof or rack, at a 30-45° angle works best. A rack can be built of angle iron or lumber, topped with plywood or plastic and painted black. You can also hang them on a fence. Choose a spot that will get at least 6 hours of daily sun; a southern facing direction is best.

2. Buy a Solar Pool Panel: A single 4′ x 20′ solar panel, a total of 80 square feet, is a good size for most spas. There are also 4′ x 10′ panels, but they are priced higher per square foot of panel. 80 sq. ft. of solar panel will heat spas under 500 gallons to over 100° during the day, and be ready to go for the evening. If you want to heat the hot tub in under an hour like my friend with the pool/spa, you’ll need 4-5 of the 20′ solar panels.

solar-heater-all-rolled-up3. Installation of Hot Tub Solar Panels: Solar pool panels are polypropylene mats of small black tubes with a continuous backing, so they absorb more heat than black hose DIY solar spa heaters. Inside the box will be two 2′x20′ solar panels, end caps, pipe adapters, mounting kit and a 3-way diverter valve. Secure the panels to the location securely so they are protected from high winds, animals and tree branches. Attach the end caps, and run PVC pipe from the panels to the plumbing line of the spa.

4. Plumbing a Spa Solar Heater: This part is custom for every spa or hot tub, but essentially you connect the plumbing from solar panels to the spa. A 3-way diverter valve will allow for adjusting the flow rate, and for shutting off the solar panels completely. Other items needed for plumbing beside the pipe include some directional fittings (90′s or 45′s) and couplings to connect lengths of pipe. A check valve is needed just before the heated water comes back into the spa plumbing, to prevent water cycling.

Other Thoughts about Solar Hot Tub Heaters

  • A solar controller can be used with an automatic valve turner and temperature sensors to have thermostat control for the solar spa heater, but more importantly, to shut off the unit when conditions are not right for solar, at night or when it’s raining, for instance. This is an extra $325, but is recommended for optimum heating, neither under or overheating the spa.
  • Speaking of overheating, it is possible to overheat the water with a solar spa heater. If you have an electric spa heater, the hi-limit may trip and shut off the spa pump, but at that point the water may already be dangerously hot. Use caution not to heat the water over 104°.
  • As mentioned before, hot tub solar heaters don’t work at night, or when it’s raining or heavily overcast. They drop way off in effectiveness during the winter months, unless you are in the very deep southern U.S..
  • A booster pump is not usually needed for installation on a roof, unless the roof is very tall. If a booster pump is needed these small spa circulation pumps are perfect for the job.
  • For best results, use an insulated spa cover to retain the heat and a solar controller to optimize when the solar panels are used, and to maintain safe water temperatures.

 

sunheater-solar-pool-heater

Hot tub solar heaters work very well in all parts of the U.S. – anywhere that has at least 6 hours of unobstructed sun. For many hot tubs, solar heat is used as a supplemental heater to keep the spa hot during the day, and at night or during rainy periods, the other spa heater takes over.

I wish I could say that we sold solar spa heaters at Hot Tub Works, but we don’t. However, here are some links for solar pool heaters and controllers at Specialty Pool Products, who had the best price on solar pool panels that I could find online.

 

Happy HOT Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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