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Daniel Lara's Posts

Spa Error Codes – The Big List

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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 different spa pack manufacturers. Each company uses its own conventions for naming the various system faults.

Hence the need for a 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. In fact, many codes are used to provide information about system mode, status or equipment operation. Some system status codes are identified as well, with the phrase “system message, not an error.”

So here it is…

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 High limit fault
-2 Temperature sensor fault
-3 Flow/pressure switch open
-4 Flow/pressure switch closed
-7 High limit fault
High limit or temperature sensor fault, water may be dangerously hot
Temperature sensor calibration after system restart, 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 Temperature sensor error, 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 air locked, or water level low
131 High 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 High limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
BL-ER Blower error, faulty motor or closed valve
C4.4 High limit fault
C Celsius, to indicate panel is in Celsius mode
Cd, CLd Cold – freezing conditions 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 Temperature sensor, or water is dangerously hot
CE 06 High limit manual reset on heater is tripped
CE 07 Stuck heater relay
CE 08 Temperature sensor fault
CE 09 Water pressure fault; pump may be air locked, 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 high 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 High limit fault
Er4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
err 1 Water pressure fault; pump may be air locked, or water level low
err 3 Stuck button on keypad
err 4 Water sensor/pressure switch fault
err 5 Temperature sensor error, or water is dangerously hot
err 6 High limit manual reset on heater is tripped
err 7 Stuck heater relay
err 8 Temperature sensor fault
Err Software program fault
Error 3 Stuck button on keypad
Error 4 Water sensor/pressure switch fault
Error 5 Temperature sensor error, or water is dangerously hot
Error 6 High limit manual reset on heater is tripped
Error 7 Stuck heater relay
Error 8 Temperature 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, air locked 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 air locked, 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 Freezing conditions 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 Freezing conditions 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 High 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 High 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 High 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 Hot Tub Works technical team, who can look up the code for you and decipher its meaning. We can help you learn if it is indeed an error code, or if it’s just a system status message. We can also help you find the right replacement parts, if needed.

800.770.0292 

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

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

OH, 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. The heater is shut off, and the circulation pumps and blower are turned on 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, the 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, the heater stays hotter, 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. Some causes of low water flow in a spa include:

  • A dirty spa filter cartridge.
  • Closed or partially closed valves or jets.
  • The pump has an air lock, or has lost prime.
  • Low water level in spa, and skimmer is sucking air.
  • The spa drain cover is obstructed or a 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. These can sometimes fall out of calibration or become too sensitive. Digital spas have electronic sensor circuits, which are more durable than mechanical switches. However, temperature sensors, high limit sensors, relays and circuit boards will still 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 its 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 troubleshooting chart

For OH, HH or HOT trouble codes, an overheating hot tub is not usually a heater problem. It is almost always a flow problem. When it’s not a flow problem, it’s usually a bad temp sensor, high limit switch 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. This type of testing should only be done with the spa heater and all systems powered OFF, and only performed by someone who is qualified to test safely.

cal spas OH spa heater code troubleshooting flow chart

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 high limit circuits for wire, plug or sensor problems.

Winter Hot Tub Accessories

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With winter upon us, many new spa owners (and even some seasoned pros) have lots of questions about hot tub winterization and whether or not to keep the spa open all winter. A lot of people also wonder if they can safely drain the spa during winter.

We’ve talked about winter hot tub tips before, including how to get the most out of your spa during the winter months. Today, we’ll show you some handy winter hot tub products and accessories that help protect your spa from harsh weather conditions and make your winter hot tub safer and more enjoyable to use.

Spa Covers

spa-cover-for-winterOf course you need a spa cover during winter! Without a tight fitting spa cover in good condition, your hot tub may have trouble staying hot. Spa tops that are waterlogged can lose half of their insulating properties, and a poorly fitting spa top or one that is not strapped down tightly will quickly lose heat. Replace cover clips that are broken or use high wind straps to pull the cover down tightly and prevent heat loss. If you see steam escaping around the edges or along the fold seam, just imagine it as dollar bills with wings.

Spa Caps

spa-cover-cap-for-winterIt’s a cover – for your cover! Spa covers take a beating over the winter from sun, snow and ice. A spa cover cap is almost like a fitted sheet for the top of your spa cover, effectively protecting your cover from moisture and UV rays. The CoverCap is available in 7’x7′ and 8’x8′ square sizes to fit most hot tub covers. As an added benefit, this cap can improve heat retention performance on covers that are losing heat, and and it helps extend the life of any spa cover. The CoverCap spa cover cap is made from strong woven PE. It features a silver reflective surface to melt snow faster and deter most birds, squirrels and other wildlife.

Spa Blankets

floating-foam-insulating-blanketFor spas and hot tubs in cold Northern climates, a floating spa blanket can increase heat retention by up to 50%. Without a spa blanket floating on the surface of the water, heat rises to fill the air space between the water and your spa cover. Floating spa blankets are available in three types: the durable radiant spa blanket with an aluminum underside, the floating foam blanket made of closed cell foam, and the economy spa bubble blanket made of extruded PE. All spa insulating blankets are sold in square sizes and can be trimmed with scissors to fit your spa.

Spa Enclosure

hot-tub-gazebo in winterYou may have a hot tub umbrella, but do you have a hot tub enclosure? Sometimes called pavilions, gazebos or cabanas, the Japanese were the first to popularize the use of onsens, or small huts built above a hot spring. Hot tub enclosures are available as inflatable domes, retractable domes, or wood structures with large window panels that can be opened. In addition to protecting your spa from sun, snow and wind, enclosures also can improve the efficiency of heating a hot tub in winter, and they can be the best way to add a little privacy to your hot tub.

Heated Floor Mats

heated-mats-for-spa-steps-during-winterUnless your spa is located just steps from the door, on a covered patio, winter hot tubbers often have to cross a frozen tundra to reach their bubbling spa. Ice and snow can be dangerous, and a slip and fall on your way to the hot tub can ruin the whole evening. For hot tubs in snowy winter areas, consider heating patio pavers with floor heat cables placed beneath, or use heated floor mats to keep the path to your hot tub free of ice and snow. You can find them in many sizes, and also find heated stair mats to use on your spa steps, for safe entry and exit.

Spa Handrail

spa-handrails-for-winterSpeaking of safely entering and exiting a spa, spa handrails are the perfect winter spa accessory. Spa steps may be icy from splashing water or rain/snow. However, a spa handrail helps you make that last big, awkward step into the spa without making a fool of yourself. When getting out of the hot tub, while your legs are like jelly and the blood is rushing to your head as you stand up, a spa handrail is ready and available at-your-service. We have several different safety handrails for spas. One type screws into the cabinet, another type is mounted to a large plate that slips under the spa, and the final type is mounted directly to the spa step.

A Good Hat

accessory hatThis is possibly the best winter hot tub accessory to have. A good hat will not only keep you from losing heat from the top of your head, but it will also help keep your hair dry. When your head is cold, you risk catching a head cold! Along with my trusty hat, I also swear by my spa slippers and robe – two more winter wardrobe essentials for hot tubbers.

 

 

Hot Tub Jets Not Working?

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hot tub jets not working

 

Why are my hot tub jets not working?! It’s a common spa question that we get asked all the time. One day you’ll get in the spa and notice the hot tub jets don’t feel as strong as usual.

It’s almost always an easy fix, so don’t worry about major problems right away – it’s probably not the case. There is usually a very simple reason that the jets don’t have much “oomph” lately.

Here’s the step-by-step process that we use in our call center to guide spa and hot tub owners through issues when their spa jets aren’t working.

 

 

Is the Pump Working Right?

hot tub pumpThis is an important first question, but it’s really many questions combined into one. The first part being, “Is the pump air-locked?” This can occur if you just drained the hot tub. Some systems need to “burp” out air in the pipes in front of the pump, which is usually done by loosening the union nut or pump drain plug to allow the air to escape.

Some hot tubs have two pumps – a circulation pump for filtration and a jet booster pump. Many hot tubs just have a single, two-speed pump that accomplishes both functions. So another question would be, “Is the jet pump working?” or “Is the pump’s high speed working?”

If the jets seem to have less than the normal volume of water coming through, be sure that the pump is turning on like normal. Digital spas typically have to push the display to enter the jet mode. Older spa controls use an air button to activate the jet pump. The air switch button and the air hose can fail or lose effectiveness over time, and they may need to be replaced.

 

Dirty Spa Filter?

hot tub filterA dirty spa filter can slow water flow down noticeably, but not completely. Your spa heater won’t work if your water flow rate is very low. So if your heater is working, chances are good that your filter is still pretty clean. A dirty spa filter will also allow small bits of debris to pass through. Replace your spa filters every 12-18 months for best results.

 

Clogged Drain Cover?

hot tub drain coverThe drain covers that are located in the foot well area of a spa or hot tub have very powerful suction, and if something like a napkin, plastic wrap, cup or t-shirt comes close, it can block the water flow. Check that your drain covers are not covered with something that’s blocking the water flow.

 

Low Water Level in Spa?

hot tub water levelIf your spa skimmer is drawing in air, or “sucking air,” this will drastically affect water flow. It will also shut off the spa heater. Is the water level OK in the spa? You may need to add more water every so often to replenish the water lost to evaporation and drag-off. Keeping your spa cover straps clipped helps reduce evaporation by pulling the cover tight against the spa.

 

Air Leak in Front of Pump?

hot tub air leakIn the case of an air leak, it’s usually the pump union in front of the pump that is loose, or it could also be that the o-ring inside is out of position. Then again, it could also be a valve or any pipe connection in front of the pump (the pipe that brings water into the pump). If anything before the pump is loose or cracked, the pump will suck in air. The point that is leaking air when the pump is ON will also leak water when the pump is OFF. With the cabinet door open, shut off the pump and look for any spray or drips on the pipe that goes into the pump.

 

Clogged Pump Impeller?

hot tub pump impellerFor most hot tubs with a good spa cover, the tub stays pretty clean. But if your spa was left uncovered and took on leafy or seedy debris, this debris can clog up the pump impeller. The impeller is a closed vane type, and for many portable spas, there is no pump strainer basket to catch debris.

To check your impeller, shut off power and close the valves on both sides of the pump. Remove pump unions (a gallon or two of water will spill), and turn pump to look inside of the pump impeller housing. If it is clogged, you will usually see some debris in the center eye of the impeller.

To proceed further for cleaning, remove the screws or bolts that hold the impeller housing cover in place. With the impeller exposed, use flexible wire or plastic to ream out the impeller vanes and remove the clogging material. Re-secure the impeller housing cover, tighten the pump unions and open the valves.

 

Is the Jet Adjustable?

hot tub jetMany jets are adjustable at the nozzle or by rotating the outer ring Many can be turned almost off, which increases flow to the other jets nearby. You may find it easier to manipulate the jet adjustment while the pump is off, but it’s not necessary. Try turning the jet nozzle left or right, or turn the jet’s outer ring or “scalloped bezel.”

 

Is the Jet Clogged?

hot tub jetSpa jets can also become clogged, but it doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it’s usually the broken piece of a part that has lodged itself in the jet and is blocking part of the water flow. In some cases, spa jets can become clogged from clumps of calcium or debris that have pushed through the filter. For many spa jets, the internal jet assembly can be removed (unthreaded) from the jet body for inspection. Inground spas with jets that are not easily removable can use a wire or thin rod to ream out the small orifices.

 

Are the Valves All Open?

hot tub slice valveFor most spa and hot tub systems, there are two diverter valves on either side of the pump. These can be closed for equipment service without draining the entire spa. Sometimes these valves will vibrate into a closed position – especially slice valves, which are used on many spas. Check that the valves inside the cabinet are open.

Another type of valve is used on some spas to operate different sets or banks of spa jets. Usually a large knob or dial will allow a spa user to open and close jets while seated inside of the spa. Some hot tubs or inground spas may require a valve adjustment outside of the spa. For inground spas, there is often no valve or diverters to adjust individual spa jets, but you can often adjust the jets themselves or turn individual jets on and off.

Air valves will add volume to the water. There are often surface knobs, which can be turned to open or close the air intake line. Open them to see if volume increases sufficiently. Air lines should be closed after use so you don’t bring a continuous stream of cool water into the spa. Doing so will make your heater work harder and cost you more money.

Hot Tub Leaking from the Bottom

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spa-cutaway-hot-tub

A leaking spa or hot tub is cause for alarm. But don’t freak out! It’s almost never the spa shell, and in most cases, spa leaks can be found and fixed easily.

Take a deep breath! After your blood pressure drops, we can get up under there and find out what is leaking and where.

Here’s a list of the most common causes of hot tub leaks and how to fix a leaking spa.

water-drop-smSpa Pump Leaking

We covered this problem in detail in an earlier post: “Help! My Spa Pump is Leaking!” To summarize the article, when a spa pump is leaking, it’s either the shaft seal, unions or the wet end volute. Look closely with a flashlight to determine the exact source of the leak on a spa pump. This should help you determine the replacement parts needed to fix the leak.

water-drop-smSpa Light Leaking

The lens for the spa light can become loose or cracked, especially with high heat halogen spa lights. The light housing or niche is usually located on the same side as the spa pack so the bulb can be serviced easily. Shine your flashlight onto the area around the housing to determine if water is leaking from the spa light. The fix for a leaking spa light is usually a new spa light kit, or the locknut could just be loose.

water-drop-smSpa Filter Leaking

We also covered this topic in a detailed post called “Hot Tub Filter Leak Repair.” To summarize that article, the usual spa filter leak fix requires a new gasket or o-ring, or possibly a new filter housing if the body is cracked. It’s also possible that the locking filter ring could be loose and just needs to be tightened up! Like I said, most spa leaks are small and easily fixed. But if you’ve got worse problems than what we’ve already covered, read on.

water-drop-smSpa Plumbing Leaks

It happens, but leaks in the PVC pipe are actually pretty rare. Much more common are leaks on the backside of spa jets, caused by loose locknuts or deteriorated spa jet gaskets on the inside of the spa.

Spa leaks occur in other gasketed equipment – anything with o-rings and gaskets. This includes things like skimmers, lights, pumps, unions, chlorinators and ozonators.

Freeze damage can shatter PVC pipe, but most spa plumbing leaks actually occur at the glue joints, or where the pipe is glued into a coupling, spa jet, union or tee fitting. If the original PVC glue was thin in one area, over time water can seep out between the pipe and fitting walls.

Locating a Spa Plumbing Leak: If you don’t see the spa leaking anywhere inside of the equipment bay, then you have a real spa plumbing leak. It could be on one of the fittings, jets or somewhere on the pipe. But where? It takes some sleuthing to decide where to remove the cabinet panel.

Shut the pump off, and allow the spa to drain to its lowest level – pay attention to where it stabilizes and stops leaking. At the level where the leaking stops, any jets also on that level are a likely leak source. Sweep or use a leaf blower to dry off any standing water around the tub. Then add water to the spa for a few minutes and watch closely where the water begins to run out. A doctor’s stethoscope or a simple paper cup can be used to listen for leaking water.

Spa plumbing leaks will often leak more when the pipes are pressurized, or when the pump is running. Some hot tubs may stop leaking altogether when the pump is off. In this case, you’ll need to refill the spa, and run the pump while looking for the leak source.

Leak-Seal-by-LeisuretimeSmall leaks in hot tub fittings and spa jets can be fixed by adding the emulsion Leak Seal by Leisure Time. Leak Seal seeks out leaks, and clots together to form a permanent repair. It works great on small voids, seepers and weepers, but does have its limitations. It won’t fix large cracks or stop large spa leaks, but for small leaks, give it a try.

Removing Cabinet Panels: Once you have determined where the spa plumbing is leaking, carefully remove the cabinet panels. These are often glued or stapled onto the frame or studs around the spa shell. In some cases, you’ll find screws under the trim on top and bottom of the panels. If glued or stapled, find the seam or space where two panels join, and use a large flathead to pry one of them up. You won’t need your power saw, but you may need to remove the header or footer strip to make it easier to pull out the cabinet panel.

Digging Thru Spa Foam: Once the panel comes off, you may have full visibility of the plumbing, or you may have a wall of insulating foam. Just dig it right out, using a screwdriver or large kitchen spoon, and search for the wettest area of the foam. Keep digging towards the moisture until you expose the pipes, fittings or spa jet that is leaking. A wire brush on a drill can be used to clean up the little bits stuck onto the PVC, or you can use pipe cleaner to dissolve the foam bits.

spa-foam-removal-by-JD-Finley

Spa Plumbing Leak Repair: Once you find the leak, you’ll want to fix it. Leaking spa jets may need a new gasket (or just tightening). Leaking pipes and PVC fittings (90s, 45s, couplings) should be replaced if possible; just cut it out and replace the fitting with a new one. There are some PVC repair products such as Mr. Sticky’s that can be tried, but they are not always successful. Snap-on PVC repair cuffs or compression couplings can also be used in tight spots. As a drastic last resort, the line (or jet) can be abandoned by cutting out the leaking area and capping the pipe on both ends.

After the spa leak repair is complete and your spa is leaking no more, you can pick up a few cans of spray foam and replace most of what was taken out. This helps the spa retain heat and block cold winter temperatures. Replace the wall cabinet panel in the same fashion as before, using screws, a staple gun or a wood adhesive like Liquid Nails.

Top 5 Hot Tub Heater Problems

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hot tub not heatingHot tub won’t heat?! A hot tub without heat is, well, COLD! Not fun for anyone! Hot tubs are meant to be HOT. If you’ve ever been in a warm tub, you know it’s just not the same.

If you’re in charge of the hot tub at home, you immediately hear the complaints when the hot tub heater is not working properly. You need a quick solution to the problem of low heat or no heat in your spa or hot tub.

We’ll walk you through some solutions for hot tub heater problems, including photos and links to help you fix your hot tub heater!

1. LOW FLOW

Low flow in your spa or hot tub is most commonly associated with a dirty spa filter. If your spa heater won’t heat, remove and clean the filter(s) rule out a pressure or flow rate problem. Low water level, a clogged pump impeller, closed valves, clogged pipes or blocked spa drain covers can also cause flow issues. Some hot tub heaters have screens on the inlet side to trap any debris that gets past the filter. If this becomes clogged, you may notice reduced water flow coming into the spa or hot tub.

hot tub heater pressure switchesA spa heater relies on sufficient water flow to operate. A pressure switch, screwed into the heater chamber, senses when the water flow is too low to properly protect the heater. Pressure switches break the electrical circuit powering the heater element, and the heater shuts down when the water flow is insufficient. It will start heating again once proper water flow is established. Most pressure switches can be tested by using a jumper wire to connect the two wires together, bypassing the switch. Many spa pressure switches can be adjusted with a thumb wheel or small slotted screw to close the circuit at a particular pressure rating. For example, some are adjustable from 1 to 5 PSI. You can make small adjustments to the pressure switch by turning the wheel or screw, but the factory calibrated setting is safest for your spa heater.

hot tub heater flow switchesSome spa heaters use a flow switch instead, or sometimes in addition to a pressure switch. Flow switches sense water flow, not water pressure. When water flow is great enough, two paddles are pushed together to close the circuit. When flow is less than required, the flow switch remains open and the heater will not operate. Some flow switches can be tested by using a jumper wire to connect the two wires together, bypassing the switch. Harwil type mechanical flow switches can also be unscrewed from the tee housing and inspected for scale or corrosion. Flow switches are not adjustable, but sometimes do need adjustment – be sure that surfaces  are clean of scale, and the paddles are not bent. Harwil type flow switch paddles must also be perpendicular to the water flow for full operation.

2. THERMOSTAT

spa thermostats and temperature sensorsThe thermostat is the dial that you turn to crank up the heat. Most new spas use a temp sensor connected to a circuit board, and the topside control panel is just a remote control. Spas of 20 years ago mostly used potentiometers and solid state probes. For spas 30-40 years old, mechanical thermostats with a capillary bulb are common. If you have a thermostat “knob” instead of a lighted red arrow, you can test your thermostat to see if the unit is faulty internally or if the sensor bulb has become corroded.

For newer spas and hot tub heaters with a topside control panel, the thermostat is usually replaced by a temperature sensor. This plugs into the main circuit board on your spa controller, and the probe end slips into a thermowell. Inspect the cord and probe for damage, and be sure that it is plugged into the panel snugly. If your topside control panel is displaying incorrect water temperature, it’s likely a bad temp sensor. However, if it’s not displaying properly, does not respond to input or appears to be water damaged,  you could have problems with a topside control panel.

3. HIGH LIMIT SWITCH

hot tub high limit switchesThe high limit is another switch, similar to the pressure switch and thermostat discussed above, in that it is part of the safety circuit. Its purpose is to prevent a runaway spa heater – one that won’t shut off, and could overheat (OH), create scalding water or suffer a literal meltdown. High limit switches are calibrated with a preset maximum temperature at which the switch will open, breaking the electrical circuit that carries power to your spa heater element.

Some hot tubs use two high limits: one monitoring temperature inside the heater and one outside of the heater. High limit errors will normally display a HL code or OH code when they are the cause of the problem. On older spas, the red button will pop-out when the high limit has been reached. Nuisance spa high limit tripping can be related to low water flow (causing higher than normal heater temperature), incorrect voltage, a malfunctioning element, loose wire connections, damaged wires or a faulty high limit switch.

4. HOT TUB HEATER ELEMENT

hot tub heater elementsHot tub heater elements are similar to an electric hot water heater element, and as such, spa heater elements burn out very quickly if operated without cooling water surrounding it. Hot tub elements can also be tested to determine if there is a short in the coating surrounding the heating element. Use a test meter set on ohms (Ω) to measure spa heater element resistance. A good element should usually display 9-12 ohms. If it pegs to “infinity,” or keeps rising slowly, there is a short in the element and it should be replaced.

Spa heater elements can also develop a scale buildup, from hard water or sanitizing with salt systems. When a spa element develops scale on the outside of the element, it will reduce the element’s heat output, and could lead to element failure. Spa heater elements look like a stovetop heater coil, and as such, if the outer casing becomes cracked, a new element is needed. For hard water areas, using a sequestering agent to keep calcium scale in solution, and running alkalinity on the low side, 70-80 ppm, can reduce scale formation on heater elements.

hot tub heater diagramFor those of you with newer spas, you’ll often find that your spa heater element is housed in a sleek stainless steel chamber, with unions for easy removal. On these complete spa heaters, you can test the element, high limit and pressure switch for resistance, measured in ohms. When testing with a multimeter or ammeter, an “OPEN” is when the meter spikes to a high reading. A “SHORT” is when there is little to no activity on the meter. When there is no resistance, the current is leaving the circuit, known as a “short circuit.”

5. OTHER SPA HEATER PROBLEM CAUSES…

This last category causes profound headaches for many of our customers. These spa heater problems are causes that you normally don’t think about. The good news is that these can be fixed quickly. Check for these causes of spa heater troubles first. It’s often the quickest solution, and failure to rule these out first may leave you shaking your head.

  1. GFCI tripped. Look for the electrical outlet on your spa pack. The one with the red TEST button. If it’s popped out, push it back in firmly.
  2. Door interlock open. Many spas have a cabinet switch or spa pack cover switch to prevent operation unless doors are tightly closed.
  3. Spa cover needs replaced. Warped, broken and ill-fitting spa covers can allow heat to escape as quickly as the heater adds it to the water.
  4. Loose wires. Connections must be tight and not oxidized. Chewed wires (rodents), melted wires or crimped wires are also possible.
  5. Blown fuse. A power spike, surge or other incorrect voltage may have destroyed the fuse on a control board.

 

I have sincere hopes that this information has helped you heat your hot tub up again. If you’re still baffled, give our customer support hotline a call at 1(800) 770-0292.

 

Shop For These Featured Products:

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Clean Spa Filters – in the Dishwasher?

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how to clean hot tub filterCan you clean your spa filters in the dishwasher? I think the idea came about when cartridge manufacturers suggested that dishwasher detergent (not laundry detergent!) could be used as an alternative to TSP (trisodium phosphate) for soaking cartridges and removing greasy oil deposits before cleaning the filter.

I have yet to see a manufacturer of spa filters suggest cleaning spa filters in the dishwasher. There are some people online that say that they clean their spa filters in the dishwasher (without soap or rinse aid), and using a no-heat drying cycle. Sounds OK, but will it really get the cartridge clean?

My dishwasher hardly removes all of the tomato sauce it should, but it’s a decent model. So I thought I’d put this to a test. Can you clean spa filters in the dishwasher? And perhaps more importantly: Should you?

The Dishwasher-Spa Filter Cleaning Test

My spa filters had not been cleaned in a month, which is my usual schedule, so I removed my filter cartridge. It’s about 15″ tall, so I was able to place it standing up on the lower rack of the dishwasher – it just barely fit. I added a small amount of dishwasher detergent to the reservoir, then set it on the longest cycle (115 mins) with a no-heat drying cycle.

THE RESULT? There was still debris stuck down in the pleats, even though it definitely looked a lot cleaner from the outside. I’ve seen some suggest laying the spa filter on the top rack of the dishwasher, so I repeated the test in this manner, even rotating the cartridge twice during the cycle. However, there was still small debris and discoloration deep in the pleats.

How to Clean Spa Filters

THE OLD METHOD IS STILL THE BEST METHOD. Hose the filter cartridge clean with a handheld garden hose nozzle. It’s a wet and not particularly comfortable experience, but cleaning it pleat by pleat in an up and down motion does the best job.

Here’s a step by step guide for cleaning spa and hot tub filter cartridges:

  1. Turn off spa, open filter canister and remove cartridge.
  2. Spray carefully with a high pressure hose nozzle to remove debris from each pleat.
  3. Soak the cartridge for 8 hours in TSP solution (1 cup TSP per 5 gallons hot water). Rinse clean.
  4. Soak the cartridge 1 hour in an acid solution (1 cup acid per 1 gallon cool water). Rinse clean.
  5. Soak the cartridge again in the TSP solution for 10 minutes to neutralize remaining acids.
  6. To kill remaining microbes, allow filter to dry completely before reinstalling.unicel-filter-guy-using-protective-gear

Steps 3 and 4 are not always necessary. TSP (or dry dishwasher detergent) is great for removing oily deposits on spa filters. Muriatic acid (or dry acid) is used to remove mineral scale like calcium deposits. Be sure to wear proper protective gear when handling muriatic acid, and always add the acid to water (not water to acid).

Steps 3, 4 and 5 can be combined into one step when using our Spa Cartridge Filter Cleaner, which can remove both oils and minerals. We also have Leisure Time Filter Clean for an overnight soaking, or Leisure Time Cartridge Clean, which is a spray-on formula that works in minutes instead of hours.

A spray nozzle that works great for cleaning spa filters is the Filter Flosser. It can really get in there to clean between the pleats of your filter, even if the water pressure to your hose is not so great.

Final Tips

  1. DO NOT clean spa filters in the dishwasher! It’s not very effective and could damage the filter.
  2. DO NOT clean spa filters with a pressure washer, for obvious reasons.
  3. Dry dishwasher soap is OK, but laundry detergent is NOT OK.
  4. Remember to rinse the filter thoroughly after soaking to remove all chemical traces.
  5. DO NOT use DE powder as a spa filter aid. However, Puri-Fiber or Aqua-Perl may be used if desired.

Conclusion

unicel-guy-spraying-hose on spa filterIf you REALLY want to use your dishwasher to clean a hot tub filter, be my guest. But be warned: the dishwasher won’t get your filter very clean. It shouldn’t hurt the filter cartridge unless you use a heated dry cycle. You can use a small amount of dry dishwasher detergent as long as you remember to rinse the filter well once the dishwasher shuts off.

As for me – I’ll just keep doing it the old fashioned way. I take a seat next to an empty trash can, then hose the filter clean inside of the can. It’s more difficult to do it like this, but it keeps my shoes dry.

Hot Tub Filter FAQ

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Group of 20 spa filters of different sizesSpa Filters is the topic of the day, a simple product, but one that generates a lot of questions. Let’s start with the general and work our way to the specific.

Hopefully you will find the answer to your vexing spa filter question below! Your edification is guaranteed – if you don’t find an answer to your spa filter question, leave a comment, I’ll add it to the list!

What is a Spa Filter?

A spa filter or hot tub filter is a pleated polyester cartridge that removes fine particles from spa water. The design of a spa filter forces the water to pass through the woven micro-fiber fabric, which traps dirt, debris, oils and other water clouding particulates. Hot tub filters look and function very much like the air filter in an automobile, and like a car air filter, eventually the cartridge becomes clogged and fibers separate, and it needs to be replaced.

What Alternatives Exist to Spa Filter Cartridges?

For aboveground spas (and pools), the cartridge filter is the predominant choice, because so much filter surface area can be packed into such a small filter, it’s hard for designers to resist. Cartridge filters are also an easy filter to understand, use and maintain, as opposed to sand or DE filters, used mainly on pools. However, sand or DE filters can be added to any spa, see Carolyn’s post on adding an external filter to a hot tub, however in most cases, the spa filter cartridge is the easy choice.

What Makes Some Spa Filters Better Than Others?

Spa filter cartridges have many features to provide added strength or longevity. The thickness of the end caps, the strength of the internal core, and overall structural rigidity lead to a better cartridge. The weight of the fabric and the particular weave that is used can also be a distinction between spa filters. A few popular spa filters are also available with more pleats per square inch, for a 50% increase in filter surface area. Microban spa filters (blue spa filters) are treated with anti-microbials and come in a blue color. There are cheaper imported filters on the market, but cartridges from the big three are always reliable (Unicel, Filbur and Pleatco).

When Do Spa Filters Need Cleaning?

As spa filter cartridges load with dirt, the circulation water flow rate is reduced, and soon after the water quality begins to suffer. For many spas, cleaning the spa filter cartridge weekly is the regular rate, for 2-3 users, 2-3x per week. For spas used more often, or less often, you can adjust the rate accordingly, but don’t let it go too long, or the cartridge can be damaged, and your water quality will suffer and perhaps become unsanitary. On the other hand, cleaning your spa filter too often can lead to premature failure. Each time a cartridge is cleaned, the woven fibers separate a tiny bit, eventually opening up to allow small particles to pass through unfiltered. If your spa filter has a pressure gauge, wait until the pressure rises 7-9 psi, as an indicator of needed cleaning. Alternatively, you may notice that flow rate is reduced in the spa, from less ripples on the water surface, or lower jet volume – or, you may notice the water begin to look a little dull and gray.

When should Spa Filters be Replaced?

Tired, worn-out spa filter

My rule of thumb is to replace your spa filter after 12-15 months, or 12-15 cleanings, whichever comes first, for the average residential spa. If your spa is used several times per week, I would recommend closer to the 12 month time-frame, that’s how often I replace my cartridge, every December 31 actually. However, if you use the spa only once or twice per week, and only need to clean the spa filter every 4 weeks, you may be able to go closer to the 15-month time frame. As previously stated, each time you clean a spa filter, the fibers separate a little more and the filter loses a bit more effectiveness, and manufacturers recommend filter replacement after 12-15 cleanings. Spa filters that deal with heavy hot tub use, and/or poor water conditions will also have a shorter lifespan.

Where is a Hot Tub Filter Located?

The filter cartridge on many spas is located underneath the surface skimmer basket, and accessed from the topside of the spa. In other cases, the spa filter housing may be located underneath the spa, in a plastic cylinder that opens with a lock ring to access the filter cartridge inside. For spas that are top load, just remove the filter lid, and pull the cartridge straight out. For bottom load cylinders underneath the spa, look for two shut-off valves to close off water before loosening the filter lock ring.

Where to Buy Hot Tub Filters?

Well I thought you’d never ask! Hot Tub Works of course has a huge stock of spa filters, ready to ship, at low prices. If you need one NOW however, and don’t mind paying a premium for immediacy, you can call a few spa dealers in town, and give them the cartridge number printed on the end cap of your cartridge, to see if they have one in stock. In the rare case where there is no spa cartridge number on the cap, you can also order spa filters by dimensions, or length and width, and the diameter of the center opening. Or if you are away from home, yet know your spa ‘make and model’, you can find your spa filters by manufacturer.

How to Clean Spa Filters with an Acid?

Unicel filter guy, preparing to use acid, carefullyVery Carefully, and only if needed! Acid bathing of a spa filter is best done only when calcium deposits or other minerals have restricted flow through the filter. Aggressively acid washing spa filters can do more harm than good, and is only necessary when dealing with very hard water noticeably clogging a spa filter. But how do you know? An acid solution can be sprayed onto a test area to see if it bubbles, indicating the presence of mineral deposits. No bubbling? No need to acid wash. If bubbles are seen, spray or soak cartridge in an acid solution for 5-10 minutes, or until bubbles stop forming. To acid clean spa filters, use a weak acid solution of 1/2 cup (4 oz) of Spa pH Down, added to 3 gallons of Water. If using a weak acid like Vinegar to clean spa filters, use 1 part Vinegar to 3 parts Water.

How to Clean Spa Filters with TSP?

Trisodium Phosphate, or TSP is a common and generic type of degreaser that works well for cleaning hot tub filters, specifically for the removal of oils trapped within a filter cartridge. TSP works best when mixed with Hot Water. Add 1 lb of TSP to 5 gallons of hot water. Drop in your spa filter and allow it to soak for a few hours or overnight. Remove to bucket of clean cool water for a few minutes, then remove and hose clean very thoroughly. Allow to dry fully before reinstalling to kill remaining bacteria; which is why it is recommended to have two sets of spa filters at the ready.

How Long should the Spa Filter Run Each Day?

That depends – on the size of your spa filter in relation to the number of gallons. It also depends on how well your water is balanced and sanitized, and how much the spa is used and by how many people. Lots of variables affect the number of hours a spa filter should operate each day. In general, most spas run on low speed for 12-22 hours per day, and run on high speed for 1-2 hours per day. For spas or hot tubs with high usage, or small filters, or poor sanitation – more filtering will be required to keep the water clear. For spas used very little, or with high volume filters, less hours per day may be needed. You can experiment by cutting back on daily pump run times, to find the tipping point, where the water quality begins to suffer, or sanitizer demand increases.

How to Clean Spa Filters with Spa Filter Cleaner?

HotTubWorks Spray-On hot tub filter cleanerSpa Filter Cleaner is our one-step cleaning chemical for hot tub filters that both degreases and descales, doing the job of a mild acid bath and a degreaser at the same time. We have two types of spa filter cleaners, a spray-on filter cleaner, or a soaking filter cleaner. Use the spray on cleaner for a quick turnaround, spray-on and hose off after a few minutes. Use the soaking spa filter cleaner when you need to administer a deeper cleaning of your filter cartridges. Oh, and in case you want to ask about cleaning spa filters in the dishwasher – read my earlier post about such experiments.

Can I Run the Spa Pump Without a Spa Filter ?

Yes you can – for purposes of testing the heater, to see if the filter is the cause of the heater not turning on. And if your cartridge were to split in half – and you end up having to wait for a delivery of a new spa filter – you can run the pump without the filter for a short time. The water will not be filtered, so it’s best not to use a spa without a cartridge in place, for healthy and clear spa water. But if you cannot filter the water, at least you can circulate the water, so that it won’t be sitting stagnant while you wait for a new spa filter to arrive.

 


 

As promised, your satisfaction with this blog post is 100% guaranteed! If you have not received full value for your time spent reading this blog, I want to make it right! Leave a comment below about your particular spa filter, and I’ll answer them personally!

 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Parts Terminology

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hot tub cutaway showing internal hot tub spa parts

Glossary of Spa and Hot Tub Parts Terms! At Hot Tub Works, we are surrounded by spa and hot tub parts. My desk is home to various pool parts, brought in from the warehouse, or dropped off by sales reps. We have several display boards on the walls with dozens of types of spa jets, air parts, and my favorite board of heater parts. In the break rooms and training rooms you’d find more displays of hot tub parts and equipment, all carefully mounted and labeled.

We talk to customers all day long about their spas and hot tubs, so long ago Hot Tub Works founders committed to creating deep product knowledge. In so many ways, we train on the language of spas and hot tubs, and the terms to describe the hundreds of individual parts used to build them.

Today’s post is the terminology of spa and hot tub parts, to help you better identify and discuss, all of the various components on your spa and hot tub equipment. Want to add a term to our spa parts glossary? Leave me a comment below with your whatcha-ma-callit!


Air Buttons:

Air Buttons are used spa-side on an air-control systems or pneumatic controls, to activate equipment such as pumps, lights, blower. Pushing the Air Button will send a pulse of pressurized air through an air hose, to activate an Air Switch.


Air Injectors:

Air Injectors are found on the floor or seats of spas and hot tubs to distribute air from a air blower motor. Air Injectors have a PVC connection on the inlet side and a diffuser cap with many holes on the outlet side.


Air Manifolds:

Air Manifolds are some of the wildest looking spa parts we sell! A Manifold is used to split the flow of air from one large pipe into many smaller hose barbs. Air Manifolds are typically 2″ or 1.5″ inlet and 3/8″ hose barb outlet.


Air Switch:

Air Switches are used with air buttons, to activate spa and hot tub equipment, when using an air-control system, aka older style pneumatic controls. Air Switches can be a simple on/off switch for a blower or light, or more complex switch that will sequentially control many functions.


Brominator:

A bromine feeder or dispenser for constantly and consistently adding small amounts of bromine sanitizer to a spa or hot tub. There are bromine floaters, or a free-standing Brominator can be plumbed inline on the spa return line or off-line where space is an issue.


Capacitor:

Start Capacitors are s small battery that helps spa pump motors get up to speed quickly (3450 RPM), Run Capacitors alternate current to one or more windings of a single phase AC induction motor to help create a rotating magnetic field to reduce motor workload. 


Check Valve:

A Check Valve is a one-way flow valve, and is used for both air, water and ozone systems in spas and hot tubs. Spa blowers always have a check valve on the plumbing to allow air out, but not allow water in. Ozone check valves keep water out of the ozone hose and ozonator.


Chip Number:

On a PCB or printed circuit board, there is a Chip Number printed on the main chip, often referencing a Revision Number. When replacing a spa circuit board on a spa control, be sure to match chip number and revision, and superseded versions.


Contactor:

A Contactor is a large relay or an electric switch rated for high amperage. Contactors are used on larger electric heaters such as C-SPA or Coates heaters. Fairly sturdy items, but subject to damage under excessive loads or chattering.


Control:

Your Spa Control is the brain of the hot tub. Spa Controls are digital and fully electronically controlled. Older spa controls are pneumatic systems with Air Controls. New Spa Controls are typically sold with a new heater and new topside control panel.


Diffuser:

A Pump Diffuser is used to evenly diffuse water flow, inside of a pump, a filter or returning to the spa. Ozone diffusers are also used to provide for even ozone disbursement.


Diverter:

A Diverter is used inside of a valve, to divert water flow into or from one or more pipes. Large spas often have spa side knobs that can be turned to activate different banks of spa jets. The knob, connected to a shaft, is turning a diverter inside of the valve.


Element:

Hot tub Heater Elements are similar to those found in electric hot water heaters, or the coiled burners found on electric cook tops. Spa heater elements can be replaced when they develop problems, but those with the Balboa style tube heater just replace the entire heater assembly.


Escutcheon:

An Escutcheon Plate is a trim ring used around spa jets, aka spa jet wall fitting or spa jet escutcheons. Spa side buttons often have a shiny retainer ring escutcheon used as trim, and Escutcheon plates are also found around spa grab rails used on inground spas.


Filter:

Spa Filter can refer to both the entire filter assembly, or can be used to refer to the internal spa filter cartridge. Spa Filters are rated for 12-24 months for most residential use. Keep an extra spa filter on hand, so you can dry them completely after cleaning; kills more bacteria.


Flow Switch:

Electric spa heaters can basically melt-down if the water flow isn’t proper, a Flow Switch is a electro-mechanical device that plumbs in front of, or sometimes after, the spa heater to monitor flow rate. Harwil type paddle switches are common, but there are many others.


Heat Manifold:

A Spa Heater Manifold is a plastic or steel box or tube used to house an electric spa element. They have connections for incoming and outgoing water, sensors and the element terminals.


High Limit Switch:

Another spa heater part, High Limit Switches are used to sense the highest limit of temperature. Typically two high limits are used, to measure incoming and outgoing water temperature. OH and HL error codes are produced when they sense an overheating situation.


Impeller:

The Spa Pump Impeller is similar but opposite in design to a boat propeller. Impellers are designed to draw water in and push it out forcefully. Most spa pump impellers are closed vanes, and they can become clogged with seeds or debris of a certain size.


Inlet:

Water coming into a spa or hot tub, such as through a spa jet or foot jet, is known as an inlet. There are hundreds of styles of spa inlets, by Balboa, G&G, HydroAir, Jacuzzi and Waterway.


Jet:

Spa Jet Parts is quite a large term encompassing many other parts. The Spa Jet Body is the main housing of a spa jet, which holds the Jet Internal and Nozzle, held in place by a Jet Retainer or Wall Fitting.


Lock Nut:

Lock Nuts are used around spas and hot tubs in many places, to secure a filter cover or wall fitting tightly to the spa shell. Also used on spa unions, and behind each jet, Lock Nuts, aka Lock Rings are ubiquitous parts on spa and hot tub equipment. See also: Split-Nut Union.


Motor:

Hot Tub Motors are used on spa jet pumps and spa circulation pumps, to turn the Impeller, which drives the filtering and sanitation equipment. Forced air spa blowers also have motors, and ozonators likewise have tiny air pump motors and time clocks have a small timer motor.


Nozzle:

Some Spa Jets have a Nozzle, or an orifice tip that is screwed into the spa jet. Mostly found on inground spas, Nozzles of different sizes can be replaced. For portable spas and hot tubs, common spa jet nozzles are part of the one-piece Jet Internal.


Outlet:

Water leaving a spa or hot tub. Spa Suction Outlets include the spa skimmer and spa main drain, aka spa suction outlet. Outlets are where the water goes Out of the tub, and Inlets are where the water comes In to a hot tub.


PCB:

Printed Circuit Boards, or Spa Circuit Boards, often abbreviated PCB’s are used in every spa controller and topside control. Modern spa controls depend heavily on PCB’s, which have improved in quality and design tremendously in the last 20 years.


Pressure Switch:

A Pressure Switch for spas is used as an approximation of water flow, or used in place of a flow switch. Pressure switches are factory set to open when they sense a minimum level of pressure within the heater, as an indicator of sufficient water flow for safe heater operation.


Pump:

The spa or hot tub pump is the heart of your circulation system, crucial for filtration, sanitation and heating. Some spas will have one 2-speed pump, and others will have 2 pumps, one for ‘Jet Action’ and one for near constant circulation.


Relay:

A Spa Relay is an electronic switch, usually mounted to a printed circuit board. They are often small black cubes about an inch tall, and are used to control switching to your spa equipment, or turning on/off your pump(s), heater, blower, light, ozonator.


Shut-off Valve:

Also called an Isolation Valve, Spa Shut-Off Valves allow you to shut off the water to perform certain maintenance items like cleaning the pump basket or spa filter, adding chemicals, or making repairs to the spa pack or other equipment.


Skimmer:

Surface Skimmer is the full name, a spa skimmer is used to draw water from the surface to remove floating debris and dust. Works in tandem with the spa drain, to keep spa water clean and clear. Skimmers have a skimmer Weir and basket to empty.


Split-Nut Union:

A Split Nut Union is a Lock Nut with two small screws on either side. Most often used to replace a broken Lock Nut, because there is no way to slip a new one over the pipe. Split Nut Unions come apart to quickly replace pump unions and heater unions.


Tailpiece:

A Tailpiece is half of a spa union, specifically half of a Pump Union or Heater Union. It’s the part that slips through the Lock Ring and connects to the incoming or outgoing pipe. Can be ordered separately or as a pump union or heater union part.


Temp Sensor:

Temperature Sensor is the full name, used to monitor temperature of the water, both for display on the topside control, or for use to prevent overheating. New Style M7 Balboa heaters have done away with pressure switches and instead now use two temp sensors.


Terminals:

There are terminals all over your spa control and equipment. Any place that a wire makes a connection, there is a terminal. Spa wires use many types of plugs but they all connect to some sort of terminal. Keep your terminals clean and dry.


Thermostat:

Older spa control systems use mechanical thermostats, but most spas on the road nowadays have electronic thermostats used with a temperature sensor, placed into a thermowell, to sense the current water temperature, and allow user adjustment.


Thermowell:

Thermowells are the holders or ‘well’ of a temp sensor. Dry thermowells are a metal or plastic tube in the shape of a test tube, with the temp sensor placed inside. Wet thermowells are simple rubber seals that allow placement of a heavy duty coated temp sensor in direct contact with the spa water, inside of a pipe.


Timer:

Spa and hot tub timers control the operation time for pumps to run each day. Modern spas allow you to choose from modes, but older control systems use mechanical timeclocks to set program times. For most spas, 12-18 hrs daily on low speed, and 1-2 hours on high speed is sufficient.


Transformer:

Spa Transformers reduce voltage from a higher voltage to a lower voltage. Spa controls all have a transformer to operate the spa systems with just 24V-32V usually. Transformers for spas can be tested with a multi-meter, voltage-in and voltage-out.


Topside Control:

The main spa control panel mounted on the ‘Top Side’, for user control of program modes. Also known as a spa side control, or display panel, it functions as a remote control panel to your spa controller. New Topside Panels must match the Spa Control model exactly.


Union:

Unions are used to facilitate easier removal of spa equipment from tight spaces beneath spas. Pump Unions and Heater Unions can often be removed with big hands, or a strap wrench or large Channel pliers may be needed for sticky unions. Union parts include the Tail Piece, Lock Nut, O-ring and Male End.


Vacuum Switch

A Vacuum Switch is the opposite of a Pressure Switch, but it operates in the same manner, as a proxy for water flow. Vacuum Switches are placed in front of the suction side of the pump, factory set to open when they sense a minimum level of vacuum pressure.


Venturi

The Venturi Effect was first documented by Giovanni Battista Venturi way back in 1797, and the principles in use today are still the same. Fluid pressure reduces when water is forced through a small opening. Mazzei ozone injectors use the venturi principle, as well as passive Air Controls.


Volute:

Pump Volutes are also called the pump strainer housing or more specifically the pump impeller housing. The shape and design of the pump volute determines the flow characteristics. Volutes are fairly sturdy but may crack under extreme pressure or freezing water.


Wall Fitting

Spa Wall Fittings is the beauty ring or trim ring around a spa jet, typically round and open in the center with threads on the inside and/or outside. Wall Fittings are often available in designer finishes and colors.


Weir:

Inside of every spa skimmer is a tiny flapper door thingy, called a skimmer weir or floating weir. Packed with foam, the spa weir has two purposes, to accelerate water flow into the skimmer, and to stand vertical when the pump shuts off, to trap debris inside the skimmer well.


HOT-TUB-PARTS

Do you have any other spa parts terminology you wonder about? Or other ways to call your hot tub parts? There are regional differences around the country in spa parts lingo and trade terms used. What do you call that thing-a-majig?

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Ozone Working? How to Tell

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It’s a common question we get from hot tub owners – how to tell if a spa ozonator is actually working?

No matter what spa ozone brand you have, eventually it will fail. All spa ozonators will begin to reduce output and will one day suddenly stop producing ozone, but how do you know when that day comes?

Today’s blog post will deal with how a hot tub ozonator works, but more about how it doesn’t work – along with the most popular ways to check ozone output.

It’s good to be skeptical, in these cases – your spa may become unhealthy, and allow bacteria and germs to thrive without an operational ozonator.

 

OZONE INDICATOR LIGHT

This can be a good ‘indicator’ of ozone being produced, if your spa ozonator has a light to indicate ozone production, other lights only indicate power. UV bulb ozonators should emit the usual eerie blue light when operating, and Del spa ozone and others with a CD chip usually have a small vibration sound when operating. However, keep in mind that things can appear normal at the ozonator, when ozone is not actually being produced.

BUBBLES AT OZONE JET

Ozonators produce tiny ‘champagne bubbles’ that are shot into the spa plumbing lines, and eventually work their way to the surface. Smaller bubbles are good, under 1 mm in size, larger bubbles are usually air. Depending on your ozone system, bubbles coming out through the normal jet or port (usually in the footwell area), may not always indicate ozone. Some hot tub ozone systems use air pumps or air venturi fittings that mix air with the ozone, so there are bubbles all the time, even when there is no ozone.

THAT OZONE SMELL

Clothes Pins - the solution to smelly spas and hot tubs?Ozone has a uniquely pungent yet fresh smell, and is recognized by most people in the air at concentrations as low as 10 ppb. It is strongest when lifting the spa cover after hours of being closed. It’s normally easy to smell, in fact, ozone comes from the Greek word ozein, which means ‘to smell’. Another method is to remove the ozone hose from (a plugged) injector, and hold the hose up to sniff for an ozone smell. Faulty check valves or injectors can cause ozone delivery problems, so be sure the entire system is going and flowing.

OZONE TEST KIT

An ozone test kit is available, and they work with a glass ampule that is connected into your ozone hose line (requires assembly). Turn on the ozonator and within a minute the color will change inside the ampule, in the presence of ozone. It won’t measure output exactly, but can give you an approximate level of ozone production. It also is a one time use test, and at $10+ each, not cheap enough to do too often.

POOR WATER QUALITY

Another fine indicator that your ozonator is depleted or not working is that the water quality has suffered or required more maintenance lately. Bouts of cloudy water, lack of sparkle, or even algae may have tipped you off. If you can rule out low pump run time, tired filter cartridge, bad water balance or lack of other sanitizers or shock, then you may have a problem with ozone output.

What Now?

Del MCD-50 spa ozonator shownIf you think that your ozonator is producing less ozone than before or no ozone at all – you are probably correct. Although new ozonators by Del have a 3-5 year lifespan before burning out, older models need a new bulb or renewal kit every 18-24 months. And although it happens, spa ozonators don’t often last far beyond the recommended lifespan. As mentioned earlier – all ozonators will fail, and stop working. It’s best to be prepared, and plan for a scheduled replacement.

New Del Ozone units are small and uncomplicated, to a point that replacement has become an easy DIY job to replace an ozonator. The Del Spa Eclipse or the Del MCD-50 include new hoses, check valves and injectors for a full ozone system replacement. Retrofits to most manufacturer ozone systems easily.

Although spa ozone As an alternative to replacement, many spa and hot tub ozonators have parts available such as replacement bulbs, CD chips and Renewal Kits, to make your system run like new again.ozone-hose

And once again I’d like to remind you – ozone manufacturers recommend that ozone hoses, ozone check valves and ozone injectors be replaced annually, for best results. Quite often you see, an ozonator failure is actually caused by a failure to one of these three key components.

For more information on spa ozonator troubleshooting, repair or installation, check out our other articles in the Alternative Sanitizers blog category.