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Daniel Lara's Posts

New Uses for Old Hot Tub Water

April 25th, 2017 by

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle your hot tub water. Hot tub and spa owners generally replace their spa water every 90-120 days, or every 3-4 months. The reason for this is that the water becomes choked with invisible solids, minerals and contaminants that overwhelms the spa filter and sanitizer. This leads to cloudy, dull spa water which may be unhealthy.

Draining and refilling a spa or hot tub is a relatively simple and painless process, but what if your region is undergoing water restrictions, or for your own environmental reasons, you want to drain the spa fewer times per year?

In some cities and counties, draining your spa has become a punishable offense, with fees or fines that create an incentive to extend the time between spa water changes.

Here’s 6 ways to recycle old hot tub water or re-purpose spa water to other uses, and 8 ways to extend your hot tub water lifespan, so you don’t need to drain so often.

 

<<< 6 Ways to Reuse Hot Tub Water >>>

 

Water your lawn

Spa water makes fine lawn water, as long as you open the cover and allow the chlorine or bromine level to drop to around 1 ppm. It need not be at zero, but it shouldn’t be higher than 3 ppm, or certain types of grasses may object and start to turn a yellow color after a few days. Your spa water should also be relatively well balanced, or at least the pH level should be below 7.8, and even 7.0 to 7.2 if possible, as most lawn grasses prefer a slightly acidic pH level. Move the hose around every half hour, so you don’t over-saturate one area of the lawn.

Water your trees and bushes

Spa water also makes fine water for trees and bushes, again as long as the chlorine or bromine level is not off the chart, it’s ok to have 1-2 ppm, which is the same amount you might find in a tap water test. Plants that have been accustomed to chlorinated water (from municipal water supply), can tolerate even higher levels, but it’s always best to open the spa cover, and run the jets for awhile, to allow chlorine to dissipate to a safer level, below 3 ppm. If your spa uses a saltwater spa system, be sure that your plants and trees are salt-tolerant before using spa water for irrigation.

Water your home foundation

For those that live in the drier parts of the country, you may have heard horror stories of home foundations cracking when the ground becomes too dry. Or new concrete driveways or walkways that can settle if the ground beneath dries and shrinks too much. In times of drought, when rainfall is scarce, hot tub water can be used to soak the ground around the home, or near concrete placement. This soaks into the soil, expanding it to a greater volume, for support of heavy concrete and steel structures.

Pump it into your pool

Sure why not? Unless it’s dark green and super funky, a large swimming pool can easily absorb a few hundred gallons of spa water without batting an eyelash. It’s actually what I do, when I’m not needing to water the lawn or my plants, I just run the hose over to the pool and recycle my spa water, magically turning it into pool water.

Pump it into a doggy pool

During the hotter parts of the summer, my dogs love to take a dip, but they know not to go in the pool, with my direct (adult) supervision. I bought a Walmart kiddie pool a few years ago for my dogs. Now when I do a spa water change in the summer, I use about 80 gallons of hot tub water to fill up the doggy pool (kiddie pool), repurposing my old spa water, and (magically) turning it into doggy pool water.

Wash your car or boat

For this trick you will need a submersible pump, and a long garden hose to reach the driveway. I have used my spa water to wash our 2 cars, with some left over to water the front lawn. Since a submersible pump should not be used with a spray nozzle, the hose is constantly running. Place the hose on the lawn during the times you are scrubbing the car (or boat), you can kill two birds with one stone. If you have a community water watch organization on patrol, you may need to explain that you are recycling your hot tub water, and not just letting tap water run down the driveway.

 

<<< 8 Ways to Extend Hot Tub Water Life >>>

 

Maintain optimum water balance

Keeping your spa pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels not only makes the water more enjoyable to soak in, but allows your sanitizer and filter to work more effectively, keeping your water from spoilage sooner.

Shower before using your spa

Reducing the amount of oily, flaky, gunky stuff into the spa could be the number one thing to extend your spa water lifespan. For those that treat their hot tub like a bath tub, this creates a huge demand on your spa filter and sanitizer, and leads to smelly, cloudy and possibly unsafe water conditions. You don’t have to take a shower every single time, but if you need a shower, be sure to wash up well with soap and water before using the spa. And keep your head and hair out of the water, to reduce oil and soap contamination.

Shock after using your spa

Even though you are careful to wash before using the spa, shocking the spa after use is a good way to extend hot tub water life. But depending on how many people are using the spa, and for how long, a spa shock treatment may not be always needed. Use your judgement, but try to shock the spa at least once per week, to break apart chemical compounds and contaminants and kill any algae or bacteria.

Install a larger or second spa filter

We’ve covered this idea before, you can sometimes find the same size spa filter cartridge in a larger square footage size. This means that you increase the filter surface area, with a cartridge that has more pleats per inch. More surface area means better filtration. Another way to improve filtration is to use a Microban cartridge, which is coated with a bacteria killing layer (these are the Blue spa filters). Thirdly, you can install a second spa filter, inline underneath the spa, or an external filter placed beside the spa. With enough square footage of filter area, you could easily double or triple your spa water life.

Install an ozonator or mineral purifier

Anything that helps kill bacteria or remove contaminants from the spa water will increase water quality and lengthen the time between draining a hot tub. Ozonators and Mineral Sanitizers are two ways to do this, without heavy reliance on bromine and chlorine. You can reduce the need for halogen sanitizers like bromine and chlorine, while at the same time improving water quality and increasing the time between water changes.

Use spa clarifier or spa enzymes

Spa clarifiers are used to improve your spa filtration. They work to increase the particle size by coagulating suspended particles together, in a size that won’t pass right through the filter. Used regularly, spa clarifiers can stave off an impending water change by allowing the filter to keep the water cleaner, reducing cloudy and dull water. The same is true for spa enzymes, many of which are mixed with clarifiers. Enzymes are organic creatures that consume oils and gunk in the water, actually removing them and reducing the work for your filter and sanitizer.

Use a spa water prefilter when filling

Especially for those on a well, or for city water supply that is not always clean or perfectly balanced, using a spa pre-filter when you fill the spa can lead to a longer water life. A hot tub pre-filter screws on the end of your garden hose and filters out minerals, metals, chloramines, contaminants, oils – leaving you with very pure water – H2O. When you start with clean fresh water, with a low TDS (total dissolved solids) level, you can add weeks or months to the life of your spa water. I always use a pre-filter, and can tell you that it does make a difference!

Filter the water longer each day

Many spa owners naturally try to reduce their energy use with the spa, but reducing your filtering time too much can cost you more money in chemicals and water changes. For those spas with a 24 hr circulation pump – run the pump 24 hours, but also be sure to have a few jet pump runs during the day, to force high pressure water through the pipes and filter. This helps avoid biofilm cultures from growing and prevents dead zones in the spa circulation. If your spa water turns cloudy or dull too easily, you may need more daily filtration, and/or a new spa filter cartridge.

 


 

Look to find ways to reuse your spa water around the home, and try to improve your water quality so you only need to drain your spa 2 or 3 times per year, instead of 3 or 4 …

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Wiring

February 13th, 2017 by

Installing a new hot tub? Wiring for a full featured portable hot tub has to be done correctly, as we all know that water and electricity don’t mix. A 50 or 60 amp breaker provides power to a secondary GFCI box, which powers the spa pack controller. Hire an electrician and pull a permit, so that you can be sure it was all done up-to-code.

PERMITTING A HOT TUB

Do you need a permit for a hot tub? Probably. Most local building and zoning boards want to certify that hot tub wiring has been done safely, properly and ‘up to code’. The Permit-Inspection-Approval process is in place to prevent unsafe spa wiring, which can result in electrocution and fire.

Having an inspector certify the work ensures that electricians don’t cut corners like using small wire size, cheap connectors, incorrect or absent conduit, or ignoring important safety regulations. It also ensures that your contractor is licensed in your state to perform hot tub wiring.

Wiring a hot tub is best left to licensed electricians that have experience working with Article 680.42, and with local electrical inspector interpretations of the code, which can vary. Avoid using ‘cousin Billy’s son’, or anyone other than a licensed and established electrician, and if they tell you that you don’t need a permit, run for the hills (find another contractor)! Remember, it’s for your protection and safety, to have hot tub wiring done properly, and up to the most current code.

WIRING A HOT TUB

There are plug-n-play hot tubs that you can literally plug into a 15 amp wall outlet, but if you want a tub with powerful equipment and features, these require hard-wiring to a 50 or 60 amp breaker, on a dedicated circuit (nothing else powered by the breaker).

Square D 50-amp GFCI panel for outdoor installationThe first question is, do you have enough room (spare amperage) in your existing home breaker panel, to add a rather large 50 amp circuit breaker? You can add up the amps listed on the breaker handle, and compare it to the label at the top of the panel, that tells how many amps the panel supports in total (usually 100, 200, or 400 amps).

The second question is, how far away from the main home breaker panel, do you want to place the spa? You will need to run 4 wires in conduit, from the new circuit breaker, to the GFCI power connection in the spa pack. A secondary GFCI power cut-off outside of the spa, but at least 5 feet from the spa, is connected to the breaker in the main home breaker panel. Many electricians like to use this Square D 50-amp GFCI panel, shown right.

Once you get power into the spa from a dedicated circuit, the 4 wires (Ground, Neutral, Hot 120V, Hot 120V) will connect directly into your spa pack. Consult your owner’s manual for specific connections and settings, accessed inside the control box. Once connected, follow your particular spa instructions for filling and starting up your new hot tub or spa pack.

BONDING A HOT TUB

Bonding for hot tubs is an important part of electrical safety. A bare copper wire is attached to bonding lugs on metal and electrical spa equipment. Bonding captures stray voltages or short circuits that any one load (pump, blower, heater) may be producing. The large gauge bare copper wire creates an easy pathway for fault currents to flow, to protect spa users from electric shock.

Equipotential bonding is another type of bonding that connects a body of water (pool or spa) to the rebar steel used in the pool deck. In 2014, the NEC amended Article 680.42 to permit spa and hot tub installations without equipotential bonding, but with these exceptions:

  • Must be Listed as a “Self Contained Spa” on the certification label.
  • It cannot be Listed as “For Indoor Use Only” on the certification label.
  • It must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • it must be installed 28″ above any surface within 30″ of the tub.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

5 Hot Tub Repairs you can Do Yourself

January 10th, 2017 by

DIY-HOT-TUB-REPAIR

Around here, we are decidedly DIY, and we do what we can to encourage spa and hot tub owners to manage their own water chemistry, spa care and maintenance. And being that we sell thousands of spa and hot tub parts, we also want our customers to feel comfortable making spa equipment repairs.

There are literally hundreds of spa repairs that you can do yourself, today we are going to focus on 5 common hot tub repairs, breaking down the process involved, so you can fix it and feel proud.

 


 

Leaking Spa Pump Seal

Leaking Spa PumpsWhen a spa therapy pump is leaking, it’s either going to be where the pipes screw in and out of the wet end, or it’s going to be the shaft seal. A leaking shaft seal can be visually observed by looking at where the motor shaft enters the wet end. A shaft seal is a spring loaded, 2-piece part that seals up the motor shaft, as it passes into the wet end and connects to the impeller.

The easiest way to replace the shaft seal is to replace the entire wet end, as shown in these wet end replacement videos. The wet end is everything that in front of the motor, we have center discharge and side discharge wet ends to fit most spa pumps. In this way the entire pump is new, not just the shaft seal, including the impeller, seal plate, diffuser and volute housing. You could just replace the shaft seal, most spa therapy pumps use the #200 seal or the #201 seal.

 

New Topside Control Panel


balboa-54155-serial-deluxe
Most topside control panels (the buttons you push to control the spa equipment), can last 10 years or more – before they become unresponsive, or some calamity befalls them. Replacing a Topside Panel is not complicated, you just want to make sure to use the correct replacement panel, so that it fits the cut-out in your spa, and will connect or plug-in to your spa control.

The hardest part about replacing a spa control panel is buying the correct replacement. We have almost 100 different topside panels available from ACC, Balboa, Hydroquip, Len Gordon, Gecko and Tecmark. Most spa topside panels include the power cord of the correct length, so all you have to do is “glue it and screw it” to the panel, and connect the cord or cable. If you are having trouble finding your exact replacement topside control, give us a call and we can find it for you.

 

Hot Tub Ozonator Repairs


del-ozone-apg
Spa ozonators are wonderful devices that can make your spa water practically drinkable, but maybe you shouldn’t. Ozone is produced by either a UV bulb or a CD chip, and then delivered via hose into an ozone injector.  Over 12-24months, the ozone production will deplete, and eventually fall to zero. Since there is no simple test for ozone, other than no more bubbles from the ozone jets, it’s wise to schedule ozone repair on your calendar.

Every 12-24 months, or whatever is recommended by your ozone unit manufacturer, replace the ozone hose, ozone check valve, and either the CD chip or the UV bulb. With ozonator prices so low, many people find it better to replace the entire ozone unit every few years. Dimension One spas and others, may blow out the ozone air pump, and not need further repair.

 

Spa Heater Replacement


spa-heater-element-tests
Spas and hot tubs are most often heated by an electric immersion element, housed inside of a 15″ long ‘flow-thru’ stainless steel tube, or other vessel. Replacing a hot tub heater element is something that can be done DIY, but for simplicity, it’s usually best to replace the element and tube, as a complete unit. If you feel confident and are careful in repair however, you can replace just the element and reduce your repair cost.

Like other spa repairs, the hardest part is correctly identifying and ordering correctly, the correct spa heater element or spa heater assembly. We have several ways to do this, you can find spa heaters listed by Brand (Balboa, Gecko, Hydroquip), Popularity and by Dimensional size. You also need to match the element output in Kilowatts, usually 1kW, 4kW and 5.5kW. 11kW spas use two 5.5 kW elements. If you have any doubt about your selection, give us a call, we’re happy to help you find the right hot tub heater or element.

 

Leaking Spa Plumbing


leaking-spa-pump-causes-sm
We’ve already talked about leaking pump seals above, but spas and hot tubs can leak almost anywhere. Common spa leaks include leaking spa jets, leaking manifold plumbing fittings, leaking unions and filters or skimmers. The first thing to do is to locate the exact source and find a spa leak. As per Murphy’s Law, it’s almost never going to be easily accessed. You may have to remove cabinet panels, and get yourself into awkward positions to find and fix the leak.

If it’s your filter or a spa union, you may just need to tighten up the lock ring, or it could be a pinched or dry-rotted internal sealing o-ring. Leaking spa jets are usually a deteriorated spa jet gasket. Leaking glue joints, on valves or fittings will usually need to be cut-out and replumbed. Draining the spa below the level of the repair will be necessary. Other than that, it’s just regular PVC plumbing, with primer and glue and the right spa plumbing fittings.

 


 

For help diagnosing a spa or hot tub problem, or help selecting the right replacement spa parts, you can contact us anytime at 800-770-0292, or you can send info and images to us in the email, at info@hottubworks.com.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

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Winter Hot Tub Accessories

December 19th, 2016 by

It’s officially winter now, and I can tell because our call center has begun fielding calls from new spa owners, with anxious questions about hot tub winterization or could they keep the spa open all winter? Or, can they safely drain the spa during winter?

We’ve talked about winter hot tub tips before, or how to get the most out of your spa during the winter months. Today I want to show you several cool winter hot tub products, or accessories that help protect your spa, and make winter hot tub use safer and more enjoyable.

 

spa covers

spa-cover-for-winterWell, of 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 bad fitting spa top that doesn’t fit well, or is not strapped down tightly will lose heat. Replace cover clips that are broken or use high wind straps to pull the cover down tightly over the spa, and prevent heat loss. If you see steam escaping around the edges, or on 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 during winter, from sun snow and ice. The spa cover cap fits over top of your spa cover like a fitted sheet to protect it from moisture and UV rays. Available in 7’x7′ and 8’x8′ square sizes, to fit most hot tub shapes and sizes. Can improve heat retention performance on covers that are losing heat, and helps extend the life of any spa cover. The CoverCap spa cover cap is made from strong woven PE, using a silver reflective surface to melt snow faster, which also deters most birds, squirrels and bears, oh my!

 

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 3 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 trimmed at home with scissors to fit your spa.

 

spa jackets

spa-insulating-jacketFor spas with little internal insulation, wrap the Spa Jacket around the cabinet to instantly improve heat retention. Spa Jackets block wind and keep insects and rodents out of your spa cabinet. Constructed of two layers of vinyl covering a 1/2″ thick foam blanket, each Spa Jacket is custom made to fit your spa perfectly. Comes in 4 panels that snap to your spa cabinet and Velcro connect to adjacent panels. Can be used to improve hot tub efficiency, or simply as a way to hide ugly or damaged cabinet panels. 7 available colors, to match your spa cover.

 

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 Onzens, 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 your 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 splashed out water, or rain/snow; a spa handrail helps you make that awkward last big step into the spa, without making a fool of yourself. And getting out of the hot tub, when your legs are like jelly, and the blood rushes to your head as you stand-up, the Spa Handrail is at-your-service. We have several spa safety hand rails, one that screws into the cabinet, or two with a large plate that slips under the spa, and one that attaches to a spa step.

 

a good hat

hat-for-hot-tub in winterPossibly the best winter hot tub accessory, a good hat will keep you from losing heat from the top of your head, and keep your hair dry. When your head is cold, you risk getting a head cold! Along with my trusty Red Sox hat, I also swear by my spa slippers and robe, two other winter wardrobe essentials for hot tubbers. Wearing a hat while in the hot tub, even if that’s the only thing you’re wearing 😉 is always a good idea.

 


 

Enjoy your hot tub this winter with some of these popular winter hot tub accessories!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Circulation Pump Troubleshooting

October 31st, 2016 by

HOT-TUB-CIRCULATION-PUMPS
Circulation pumps used in spas and hot tubs, also called Circ Pumps or Hush Pumps, are low-flow pumps that constantly circulate the water (24/7) very slowly, to continuously filter, heat and chemically treat the water. Common spa/hot tub circulation pumps are made by Aqua-Flo, Grundfos, Laing and Waterway.

spa-circ-pump-motor-labelNot all spas have a circulation pump however. Many spas use a 2-speed therapy pump, with low speed used for constant circulation, and high speed used for turning the jets on high. The way to tell if a spa pump is a Circ Pump, and not a Therapy Pump, is by the Amps listed on the motor label. Anything under 1.5 Amps would be a Circ pump. Therapy or Jet pumps have much higher Amp usage, and you would see at least 6 Amps listed on the motor label.

Circulation pumps tend to last 5-10 years, although your mileage may vary. I’ve seen them last only a few years, and I’ve seen them last 20 years, and I wish I knew the secret to a long life, but it seems random. One thing for sure however, is that at some point in the life of a spa or hot tub, a circulation pump will develop problems.

Here’s how to troubleshoot a circulation pump on a spa or hot tub, to determine if the circ pump needs repair or replacement.

CIRCULATION PUMP IS DEAD

If there is no action at all from the circulation pump, your topside control panel should be giving you an error code, perhaps a FLO or OH. Check that power is on, and the breaker or GFCI test button are not tripped. Check that all valves are in the open position. For slice valves, the handle should be Up, and for ball valves, the handle should be parallel to the pipe. Follow the circ pump plumbing, and look for any possible kinks in the hose. Pull out the cartridge filter, to see if flow improves and the circulation pump is doing better.

CIRCULATION PUMP IS MAKING NOISES

One of the best things about a hot tub circulation pump is quiet operation; they make almost no noise. Gurgling, humming or grinding noises on a spa circulation pump are good indicators of a problem. It could be Air, Scale or a Clogged Impeller. Maybe a dirty spa filter. Or, it could be the bearings in the motor going bad.

AIR IN THE LINES: If you have just drained the spa, you may have an air lock on the circ pump. Some circ pumps have an air bleeder knob, or you can loosen the union nut to release the air. Open the lock nut slightly until you hear air hissing, then tighten up again as water begins to leak. You can also pull out the spa filter and insert a garden hose into the hole, sealing around the hose with a clean cloth or sponge, to force air out of the lines.

SCALE DEPOSITS: Calcium or lime deposits can built up and create noise that makes a ‘hush pump’, not so quiet. The impeller housing or the wet end cover plate of a circ pump can be removed to inspect the impeller. Be sure to cut off power first, and close valves on each side of the pump. If there are no valves, you can use a hard clamp on soft hoses, or plug a 3/4″ line with wine corks. Inspect the hoses (pipes) and the impeller surfaces for any deposits. They can be removed with a stiff brush, or a chemical like CLR.

CLOGGED IMPELLER: Circulation pumps usually pull water from the skimmer/cartridge filter, and it’s not uncommon that bits of debris, or even parts of the filter itself get sucked into the pump, clogging the impeller. Open up the circulation pump as described above to check this possibility. Other possible clogs include downstream obstructions, in an ozone injection manifold, or specifically the Mazzei injector, or if a return fitting or drain cover is used, where the water returns to the spa, it could be clogged on the inside.

BAD BEARINGS: Inside of a normally quiet circulation motor are two bearings that ensure smooth rotation of the rotor within the stator. When these bearings age, they begin to shriek and squeal, or grind loudly. A test to confirm is to disconnect the plumbing and turn it on very briefly, to see if it still makes funny noises. At this point, you either need to replace the bearings, replace the motor, or replace the entire circ pump.

CIRCULATION PUMP IS BARELY PUMPINGpump-system-spa-hot-tub

Spa circulation pumps don’t wear out and pump less water over time, they either work or they don’t. If you feel low volume of water coming out of your heater return, the first thing to do is to remove the spa filter and see if the flow improves. If after cleaning the spa filter, the problem reoccurs, replace the spa filter.

Secondary causes of extra low flow on a low flow hot tub circulation pump include the items mentioned above; either there is air in the line, or something is blocking flow before the pump on the suction side, or after the pump on the pressure side.

 


 

If you decide to replace your hot tub circulation pump, the job of actually replacing a circ pump seems to be less trouble for most people than ordering the correct replacement circ pump for your particular hot tub. In my next post, I’ll cover Replacing a Hot Tub Circulation Pump, or how to select the correct make and model of circ pump, and install it yourself.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Cost to Repair a Hot Tub

September 19th, 2016 by

spa repairmanLots of people ask the question “what’s the cost to fix a hot tub”, but it’s kind of like asking how much does it cost to fix a car. The answer is the same in both cases, “it depends”. That’s because the cost to fix a hot tub is directly related to what’s wrong with it.

So – what’s wrong with your hot tub? Many hot tub problems can be fixed for under $100 in spa parts, but larger equipment purchases can set you back $500 or more. Let’s look at costs for some common spa repairs and equipment replacements.

Cost to Repair a Spa Leak

DIY: Depends where the leak is and what is actually damaged, but it could be a leaky pump union or shaft seal, leaking filter o-ring or jet gaskets, all of which are very inexpensive to replace yourself. With exception to large scale freeze damage, most spa leaks are easily found and fixed, if you can just reach it!

PRO: For the leak detection itself, probably 1-2 hours time, or a few hundred bucks. The cost for repairing the spa leak, again depends on where and what is leaking, but in most cases spa leaks are fixed for under $500. Larger leaks buried deep in foam, or under the spa, are more likely $1000, and large scale freeze damage could be two thousand, or more.

Cost to Repair a Hot Tub Pump

DIY: Most Jet Pump (Main Therapy pump) repairs are either a wet end replacement for about $65, or a motor replacement for around $200. You can also just replace the entire jet pump for $200-$300. Circulation pumps, aka Circ Pumps, which run low speed most of the time, are replaced for $150-$200. Other spa pump parts such as impellers, seals and o-rings are fairly inexpensive.

PRO: Having a spa guy repair or replace your hot tub pump is a lot easier and safer, but also costs more money. Cost for hot tub pumps professionally installed run about $500, and smaller pump problems like leaking or squeaking spa pumps should come in around $350.

Cost to Repair a Hot Tub Heater

DIY: If your hot tub heater is tripping the breaker, replace the element for around $30, or the complete Balboa style spa heater, tube and all for around $120. Titanium spa heaters by Sundance and Hot Spring are $320. If it’s just not heating up enough, it could be a temp sensor, high limit, pressure or flow switch, most of which are $20-$50 in spa heater parts. Your topside control may give an error codes to help guide troubleshooting a spa heater.

PRO: The last spa heater invoice I remember seeing was just under $500 for a diagnostic call, and an additional trip to install the new spa heater. If done in one trip, the cost may be more like $350, for either just the element, or the entire flow thru tube heater. Titanium proprietary heaters from Sundance or Watkins cost more to purchase and may be $750, installed.

Cost to Repair a Spa Light

DIY: A hot tub light is usually LED or halogen. Spa light bulbs or LEDs can be purchased in the range of $15-$72, depending on the size. Entire spa light kits with transformers and small incandescent bulbs average $25.

PRO: How many hot tub guys does it take to change a light bulb? Probably just one, but he’s got to get paid. A spa light repair service call would probably cost around $150, parts and labor. To save money, troubleshoot the spa light, so they know what parts to bring.

 


Cost to Replace a Spa Ozonator: Ozonators for hot tubs cost $70-125.

Cost to Replace a Spa Blower: Hot tub blowers cost $70-$110, and check valves are about $15.

Cost to Replace a Hot Tub Cover: Spa covers cost $250-$450, depending on size and options.

Cost to Replace a Spa Pack / Controls: Digital Spa Packs average $750. Control systems average $450.

Cost to Replace Spa Jets: The cost to replace a spa jet varies from $20-$50 on average.

Cost to Replace Spa Circuit Board: Hot tub PCBs range from $200-$600, with an average cost of $300.


 

Cost to Operate a Hot Tub?

Most people spend about $250 per year on average, some years more, some years less. Spa filters, spa covers, chemicals, parts and supplies, every cost to run a hot tub will average out to about $250 per year, not including electricity. In ten years, you can expect to spend around $2500 maintaining and caring for your spa, along with occasional equipment replacements. Some spend less, some spend more!

Cost to Buy a New Hot Tub?

animated-hot-tubLike automobiles, hot tubs and spas have a wide price range. For the well known Cadillac spa brands like Jacuzzi and Hot Spring, their top models range from $12-$15K. Lesser known brands are available in the $9-12K range, and online hot tubs can be purchased for $4-7K.  Some spend less, some spend more!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Leaking from the Bottom

August 1st, 2016 by

spa-cutaway-hot-tub

A spa or hot tub that is leaking 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 hot tub leaks, and how to fix a leaking spa.

water-drop-smSpa Pump Leaking

We covered this in detail in an earlier post called Help! My Spa Pump is Leaking! and 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, and then you know the parts that may be needed to fix a leak on a spa pump.

water-drop-smSpa Light Leaking

The lens for the spa light can become loose or can crack, especially on high heat halogen spa lights. The light housing or niche is usually located on the same side as the spa pak, so that 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 maybe the locknut is just loose.

water-drop-smSpa Filter Leaking

We also covered this topic in detail in a post  called Hot Tub Filter Leak Repair and to summarize that article, the usual spa filter leak fix is a new gasket or o-ring, or a new filter housing, if the body is cracked. Or the locking filter ring could just be loose and need to be tightened up! Like I said, most spa leaks are small and easily fixed, but if you’ve got worse problems, read on.

water-drop-smSpa Plumbing Leaks

It happens often enough, but leaks in the PVC pipe is actually rare. More common are leaks on the back side of Spa Jets, from loose locknuts or deteriorated spa jet gaskets, on the inside of the spa.

Spa leaks occur in other gasketed equipment, or anything with o-rings and gaskets, 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. 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, until it stabilizes and stops leaking. At the level where it stops, the jets also at 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 just a 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 it’s 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, you can carefully remove the cabinet panels, which 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 have found the leak, you want to fix it. Leaking spa jets may need a new gasket (or just tightening). Leaking pipes and PVC fittings (90’s, 45’s, couplings) should be replaced if you can; cut it out and replace the fitting with new. 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 option, 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, to help 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.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Saltwater Chlorine or Saltwater Bromine?

July 25th, 2016 by

saltwater-chlorine-or-saltwater-bromineSalt water chlorine vs. salt water bromine. Which is better?

The chlorine vs. bromine debate, along with the pros & cons of using a hot tub salt system have been hashed out before on this blog, but what if you already love spa salt water generators, and wonder about using sodium bromide, instead of sodium chloride as the necessary salt.

Bromine is better than chlorine in a hot tub, as it stays potent in high temperatures and in a wide range of pH values, and has less odor. So why not use Sodium Bromide instead of Sodium Chloride in a spa or hot tub with a salt generator?

  • Sodium Bromide salt is much more expensive than Sodium Chloride salt. This is because of the higher cost of raw materials. It costs only $5 in NaOCl after draining the spa (unless you use Dead Sea Salts, which are much more costly), but to replace the NaOBr, it can cost $25, each time you drain.
  • Bromine Generators cost twice as much to purchase than equivalent spa chlorine generators. Roughly $200 for salt systems, and $400 for bromine systems.

But wait ~ aren’t Bromine tablets also twice as expensive as using spa chlorine tablets? Yes. Bottom line is that Bromine costs more than chlorine, no matter how you introduce it to the water.

For many spa owners, it’s worth the extra cost to have a Bromine spa.

Spa Chlorine and Bromine Generators

saltron-mini-power-supply-and-cellCan you use bromide salts with a salt chlorinator? You could, after draining and refilling with fresh water, add sodium bromide ions to the water to create bromine, instead of chlorine. However, salt chlorine generators such as the Saltron Mini are optimized to work with sodium chloride, although the manufacturer told me that either salt can be used.

Is there a difference between Salt Brominators and Salt Chlorinators? There are small differences in the salt cell coatings and in the salt level required for operation, but the operation or technology is the same. They both convert ions into a sanitizer, which afterwards revert back to the base salt, where the process can begin again. Spa Salt Bromine Generators, such as Blu Fusion (formerly the unfortunately named ISIS salt system), and the Gecko Alliance in.clear bromine salt system for spas.

What type of Salt is used in a Saltwater Hot Tub? If you are using sodium chloride, be sure to use a pool salt with a high 99% level of purity, without added caking agents, desiccants or iodine added. For a bromine spa, add pure sodium bromide salts to the spa, the same bromide booster that is used to build the ‘bromine bank’ when using bromine tablets. Many spa salt system owners also use Dead Sea Salts, which contain potassium and magnesium, in addition to sodium.

 


 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

 

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Clean Spa Filters – in the Dishwasher?

June 27th, 2016 by

dirty-to-clean-filtersCan 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, for soaking cartridges, to remove greasy oil deposits before cleaning.

But I’ve not seen a manufacturer of spa filters come out and 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. Would my home dishwasher clean my spa filters?

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 was able to place it standing up on the lower rack of the dishwasher, and it just barely fit. I added a small amount of dishwasher detergent to the reservoir, and set it on the longest cycle, 115 mins, but 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. Hosing clean with a handheld garden hose nozzle. It’s wet and not particularly comfortable experience, but cleaning pleat by pleat in an up and down motion does the best job.

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

  1. Shut 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 in a TSP solution, 1 cup per 5 gals hot water for 8 hours, rinse clean.
  4. Soak the cartridge in an ACID solution, 1 cup per 1 gal cool water for 1 hour, rinse clean.
  5. Soak the cartridge again in your TSP solution, 10 minutes, to neutralize remaining acids.
  6. Allow filter to dry completely before reinstalling, to kill remaining microbes.unicel-filter-guy-using-protective-gear

Steps 3 and 4 are not always necessary. TSP (or dry dishwasher detergent) is a great grease remover, for 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 can be combined into one, with our spa filter cleaner, a chemical to accomplish both tasks of removing oils and minerals. We have Leisure Time Filter Clean for an overnight soaking, or Leisure Time Spa Instant filter cleaner; spray on formula works in minutes, not hours. A spray nozzle that works great for cleaning spa filters is the Filter Flosser, it really gets in there deeply, even if your hose pressure is not so great.

What Not To Do with Spa Filters

  1. Don’t clean them in the dishwasher, it’s not very effective and could damage the filter.
  2. Don’t clean them with a pressure washer, for obvious reasons.
  3. Dishwasher soap (dry) is OK, but Laundry detergent is Not OK.
  4. Don’t forget to Rinse thoroughly after Soaking, to remove all chemical traces.
  5. Don’t use DE powder as a Filter Aid, although Puri-Fiber or Aqua-Perl may be used.

 

unicel-guy-spraying-hose on spa filterIn conclusion; if you want to use your dishwasher to clean a hot tub filter, be my guest – it shouldn’t hurt the filter cartridge, unless you use a high heat dry cycle, which could melt the rubber and make a real mess. You can also use a small amount of dry dishwasher detergent, as long as you remember to rinse the filter well after 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, and hose it clean inside the can. Difficult, but it keeps my shoes dry.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Steps and Hot Tub Handrails

May 23rd, 2016 by

smart-step-with-planters

The number one spa accessory has to be a spa cover, but after that, the most important spa and hot tub accessories are spa steps and hand rails.

Like a spa cover, steps and handrails are an important safety feature for any spa owner. It’s awkward and unsafe to enter or exit a hot tub without assistance from spa steps and handrails.

Today’s post then, is a buyer’s guide for spa steps and handrails.

Spa and Hot Tub Steps

Spa and hot tub steps have snap-together, no-tools required assembly. We offer many different spa step styles, the main difference is in height, and weight capacity. Added spa step features include internal storage, non-skid surfaces, and built-in or available hand rails.

Dura Step II

  • Large slip resistant treadsdura-step-II
  • Locks together in seconds, no tools
  • Strong, stable, & attractive
  • Reversible tread fits round or square spas
  • Supports up to 700 lbs
  • Measures 15″ tall x 27″ wide x 26″ deep
  • 2 colors, Grey and Redwood

 

Handi Step

  • Snaps together, no hardware or tools neededhandi-step-2
  • Fits both straight and curved spas
  • Supports up to 300lbs
  • Extremely durable blow molded plastic
  • Multi-purpose; garage, home and camping
  • Dimensions per step: 29″ wide x 23″ deep x 14″ tall
  • Available in 12 colors

 

Signature Step

  • Dual handrails and 3 Stepssignature-spa-step-3
  • Drink holder/towel bar
  • Strong, sturdy construction
  • Easy, quick assembly
  • 36″W X 24″H X 38″D
  • Available in 5 colors
  • Our tallest spa step

 

Smart Step

  • Slip-resistant rubber tread is soft on feetsmart-step-II
  • Locks together in seconds with no tools
  • Smooth dark colors resist dirt and stains
  • Reversible top tread fits round or square spas
  • Holds up to 700 lbs
  • 36″W x 16-1/4″H x 28″D
  • Available in Redwood or Coastal Grey

 

Step n Stow

  • 3 Styles, Rectangular, Cake or Roundedstep-and-stow-cake
  • Quick, easy assembly with no tools
  • Steps have hidden, lockable storage area
  • 100 % impregnated color
  • Removable drain plug
  • Planters available (sold separately)
  • 5 cool colors available

 

Universal Spa Step

  • universal-spa-stepReversible top step fits round or square tubs
  • Maintenance free, heavy thermoplastic
  • Attractive styling complements your spa decor
  • UV Treated for long lasting sun protection
  • Anti-slip tread for added safety
  • Supports over 800 lbs.
  • 16″H x 32″W x 24″D
  • Grey, Java or Redwood colors

 

 

Spa and Hot Tub Hand Rails

Spa and hot tub rails are important to help make a safe transition from the spa to the spa step. Hand rails either screw to the supports on your spa cabinet, or are secured by a flat plate that slides under the spa.

 

Spa Handrail

spa-side-handrails-animGet a grip with the Spa Side Handrail – a durable, zinc-plated & powder coated 2-piece design with a flat steel plate that slips under your spa cabinet (6 1/2″). No hardware or assembly are required, and no drilling into your spa cabinet.

The Spa Handrail can also be used as an umbrella stand for our spa umbrella. Fits on spas up to 40″ in height from the ground. Handrail is 57″ tall, overall. Includes LED light in handle for visibility and added beauty.

 

 

Safe-T-Railcovermate-safe-t-rail

The Safe-T-Rail by Covermate is for free-standing spas and makes spa entry and exit safe and easy. Features rugged construction, 5 minute installation. Black powder coated aluminum or polished stainless steel finish available.

Ultra-sturdy, rust-free construction has two composite mounting brackets and 16 SS screws. 49″ tall, Fits all above ground spas, no matter the shape or height. Classic figure 4 design with long lasting rubber grip.

 

 

SmartRail Spa Railingsmartrail-spa-railing

The SmartRail features a rotating bracket that works on virtually any spa configuration, and attaches to freestanding as well as spas with a wrap around deck.

Rust-proof powder coated aluminum, and a single corrosion-free bracket with 12 screws. Foam hand grip and ergonomic figure-4 design make the Smart Rail spa handrail a feature packed winner!

 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works