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Daniel Lara's Posts

Hot Tub Filter FAQ

March 5th, 2018 by

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

February 20th, 2018 by

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

January 10th, 2018 by

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 valve 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, see all 20 posts in our Ozone category.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Top 5 Hot Tub Heater Problems

November 7th, 2017 by

Hot Tub Won’t Heat?

hot-tub-not-heatingA Hot Tub without heat, is … cold! And no fun for anyone. Hot Tubs are meant to be HOT, and 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 hear the complaints when the hot tub heater is not working properly. You need a quick solution to the problem of no heat, or not enough heat in your spa or tub.

Originally posted March, 2013, this post is New And Improved! More solutions to hot tub heater problems, and more pics and links to help you fix your hot tub heater!

Top 5 Spa Heater Problems

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 your spa cartridge and clean the filter(s), to see if you have a pressure or flow rate problem. Low water level, or a clogged pump impeller, closed valves, or clogged pipes or blocked spa drain covers. Some hot tub heaters have screens on the inlet side, to trap any debris that gets past the filter. You may notice reduced water flow coming into the spa or hot tub.

A 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, and will begin to heat until 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.

Some spa heaters use a flow switch instead, or in addition to a pressure switch. Flow Switches sense water flow, not water pressure, and 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 Temp Sensors shownThe 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 and for spas 30-40 years ago, 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, which 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, but if it’s not displaying properly or does not respond to input, or appears to be water damaged,  you could have problems with a topside control panel.

3. HIGH LIMIT: 

selection of Hot Tub High Limit Switches shownThe 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 run-away spa heater – one that won’t shut off, and could overheat (OH) and create scalding water, or suffer a literal meltdown. High Limits are calibrated with a preset maximum temperature (e.g., the upper limit or high-limit), at which the switch will open, and short the electrical circuit carrying 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 water temperature), incorrect voltage, malfunctioning element, loose wire connections, damaged wires, and finally – a faulty high limit switch.

4. HOT TUB HEATER ELEMENT:

3 hot tub heater element styles shownHot 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 display 9-12 Ohms usually – but 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.

diagram of spa heater showing leads, switches, unionsFor 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, as measured in Ohms. When testing with a multi-meter or ampmeter, 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 heartburn to many of our customers. These spa heater problems are causes that you normally don’t think about, but can be a quick solution, and isn’t that what I promised you? Check these causes of spa heater troubles first, for the quickest solution that will have 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 to be replaced. Warped, broken and ill fitting spa covers can allow as much heat to escape as is being put into the tub.
  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 or surge, or other incorrect voltage may have sacrificed 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, leave a comment below for me, or give our customer support hotline a call at 800-770-0292.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

 

Daniel Lara
Hottubworks.com

 

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Spa & Hot Tub Ozone Problems

September 20th, 2017 by

spa ozone bubblesOzone is one of the world’s most powerful sanitizers – over 200 times more powerful than chlorine. But one day your spa ozonator will quietly quit working.

Spa ozone is produced in a small ozonator underneath the spa cabinet, and it is delivered to the water by a small hose that carries the O3 gas to an injector fitting, where it is sucked into the spa plumbing.

But, over time, ozonator output decreases, and after a few years, it’s time for a renovation or replacement of the ozone generator.

 

Is My Spa Ozonator Working?

When released into the water, ozone immediately begins to kill contaminants in your spa – when it’s working. But, how do you know if the ozone is working, or if it’s time for a new spa ozonator?

  1. Fine bubbles in the tub, from the ozone line, a steady stream of fine ‘champagne bubbles’ entering the spa.
  2. Spa ozonators have a power indicator light, which may mean that ozone is being produced.
  3. When you lift the spa cover, you may be able to briefly smell ozone that has gassed-off.
  4. If you remove the ozone hose from the check valve, you should be able to smell the ozone.
  5. Water quality deteriorates when ozone is no longer being produced, requiring more chemicals.
  6. Is your unit past its prime? Ozonators all lose effectiveness and fail after a few years.
    1. UV ozone bulbs last about 2-3 years, less if cycled on/off frequently
    2. Del MCD-50 CD chips last 3-5 years, Del CDS Spa Eclipse models last 2-3 years

Clogged Ozone Injector

ozone-injector Mazzei Ozone Injectors are the point of entry for the ozone gas, a venturi tee manifold, shown here. The injector draws in the ozone, mixing it with the water, where sanitation begins immediately. Injectors have an internal check valve for one-way flow only – ozone can enter the injector, but water cannot exit. If water comes out of the injector cap, or enters the ozone hose – this indicates a clogged or damaged injector check valve.

If an injector becomes clogged with debris, gunk or scale, it will block the small amount of ozone gas pressure. To clean an ozone injector, remove the hose, and ream out the injector with a piece of wire or a very small screwdriver. Vinegar can also be used to help dissolve scale deposits. A new ozone injector will eventually be needed, if the injector is leaking water into the hose.

Broken Ozone Check Valve

A second, inline check valve is used on many spa ozone systems, to prevent water from backing up through the hose, and getting into your ozone unit. This is installed between the ozonator and the injector manifold. Check valves are one-way flow devices, designed to only allow gas (or water) to flow away from the unit.

ozone-check-valveOver time, ozone check valves can become stuck, or blocked by gunk or scale, much like the injector problem discussed above. Del ozone recommends replacing their in-line ozone check valves (shown here) every year. Cleaning a check valve with vinegar can remove deposits, but be sure that the one-way valve is still doing it’s job. You should be able to easily blow air through it, but only in one direction.

Damaged Ozone Tubing

ozone-hoseThe tubing, or hose that carries the ozone from the ozonator to the injection manifold will deteriorate over time. Clear ozone/air hose often becomes yellowed and brittle from the ozone, and will eventually split, requiring replacement.

Inspect your ozone hose often, from end to end for degradation, discoloration or cracking. Del recommends that ozone tubing be replaced every year, to prevent unexpected failure. Also inspect the barbed connections on the end of the hoses. Too much pressure can cause these to crack, and leak ozone.

Expired Spa Ozonator

DEL Ozone MCD-50, it's what I use on my spaFinally, the ozone generator itself may have expired. There are two types of spa ozonators, UV and CD. Most spa ozonators have an indicator light, but they don’t usually have a failure light, so take note of manufacturer replacement recommendations.

Spa ozonators using UV, or ultraviolet light to produce ozone, will need a new UV bulb after a certain number of operational hours, usually 8000-10000 hours. Most UV ozone bulbs will still turn on, or light-up, but no longer produce the wavelengths needed to create ozone, so remember to replace the UV bulb on schedule.

CD, or corona discharge ozonators, will require a new chip or electrode every 3-5 years, to maintain ozone output. Del sells renewal kits for their larger CD ozonators, and it’s quite a simple repair. Newer spa ozonators by Del, such as the MCD-50 and the Spa Eclipse are now so affordable and long lasting, the entire unit is replaced, including hose and check valve (included).

Spa Ozonator Maintenance

Maintaining a spa ozonator is not difficult, once you know what to look for. The most important thing is to replace the ozonator or ozone parts (hose, check valve, bulb, chip) on a schedule, to prevent damage to the ozonator, and poor spa water conditions.

Hot Tub Works carries a full line of spa ozonators, and ozonator parts to keep your spa ozone equipment running smoothly; and doing it’s job.

Your spa ozonator probably won’t make it known that there is a problem – you have to go looking for it. Remember, eventually (2-3 years), your spa ozonator will quietly quit working one day. Maintain your spa ozonator to keep your spa sanitary.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Troubleshooting Spa Topside Control Panels

August 30th, 2017 by

The Spa Topside control panel is used on hot tubs, portable spas, jetted tubs – just about every spa uses a display panel to allow the user to easily control the functions of a typical spa – pumps, heater, lights, blower.

And that’s all the topside control is – a control panel, think of it as a remote control for your hot tub, wired into your spa controller, which is really the brains of the spa system. The spaside control panel, it’s just a convenient way to turn things on and off, and view equipment status lights and water temperature.

Topside controls typically consist of a small LED or LCD screen, touchpad membranes and LED indicator lights, topped with a pretty decal or overlay, as they are called. Topside controls can be digital, analog, or a combination, and are made for both air control systems and digital control systems for spas.

Topside controls will only work with a particular spa system control board(s). Another TV reference would be appropriate; you have to use the TV remote that is made for your make and model of television. It’s the same with spa topside controls, they only work with the spa control make and model for which they were designed. And even more specifically, many topside controls only work with circuit boards that have a particular chip version, which is printed on the spa control circuit board main chip label.

Topside control panels are also not easily test-able. The best way to see if a topside control is bad, is to plug in another one and see if it works. Since spaside panels are not returnable, this entails some risk on the spa owner. But there are some ways to reduce the risk… read on.

No Display on Topside Control Panel

  • Reset Spa Controller, power down and restart
  • Check for condensation under display glass
  • Check cable for crimps or any visible damage
  • Clean plug-in cable connections on both ends
  • Check power at Transformer on control circuit board
  • Check power at fuse on spa control circuit board
  • Check that topside control number works with spa control chip version
  • Inspect circuit board for damage and correct power output
  • Replace topside control

Spa Control Panel Displays Incorrectly

  • Error messages or error codes may indicate the problem
  • Flickering display may indicate low voltage from transformer
  • Partial display may indicate dirty contacts or moisture
  • Blinking lights or flashing — indicates a system reset is needed
  • Check that topside control number works with spa control chip version
  • Inspect circuit board for damage and correct power output
  • Replace topside control

Spaside Control Panel Buttons Not Working Correctly

  • Check for moisture under glass or on contacts
  • Check cable for any rodent damage, crimping or melting
  • Clean plug-in cable connections at both ends
  • Membrane or touch pad buttons may be faulty
  • Inspect circuit board for damage and correct power output
  • Replace topside control

Bottom line is – it could be a bad spaside control panel, or it could be a bad spa control board, or a bad cable that runs between the control panel and the control board. Or it could be fuse on the circuit board or the transformer, not sending the correct power to the topside panel. If you recently replaced the topside control panel and are having issues, check that your topside control panel is compatible with your circuit board and chip revision number.

If you need help identifying the correct topside control panel to use with your spa controller, first check the backside of the topside control for a part number. If that is missing, open up the controller and write down all the numbers on the circuit board, including the main chip number, and give us a call, we can help you get the right topside, or advise further on your topside control troubleshooting process.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Filling a Hot Tub with Well Water

July 24th, 2017 by

Hot Tub filled with Well Water
Today’s topic came from a new spa owner that asks “Is it OK to fill a hot tub with well water?“.

The short answer is yes, you can – and it’s done every day all over America. Nearly 48 million people get their water from a private well, or 15% of the US population. That equates to nearly 1 million spa owners, using well water to fill a hot tub.

The short answer is incomplete though, without addressing the concerns in using well water in a hot tub. On the good side, well water is naturally pure, filtered for decades underground, without chemical additives or byproducts of treatment. On the bad side, well water can contain high levels of minerals and metals, dirt and dust which can stain spa surfaces, and make water balancing more difficult.

Will Filling a Hot Tub Burn-Out the Well Pump?

In all likelihood, filling a hot tub with well water won’t burn out the well pump, because you’ll only need to run the hose for a few hours, and you’ve probably run a garden hose for several hours before, watering or pressure washing around the house. Most hot tubs use only 300-400 gallons to fill, and when you consider that some people fill a 20,000 gallon pool from a well, filling a hot tub from a well shouldn’t be a problem.

 

Can Well Water Stain my Spa?

Metals and minerals contained in spa water can stain soft surfaces, and at high levels and under the right conditions can deposit onto slick spa surfaces. Minerals such as calcium or magnesium can mix with dirt and other particles to form scale deposits or rough calcium nodules, again under the right (poor) water chemistry conditions. Metals like iron and copper can also discolor the water, or stain some surfaces – shades of brown to red for iron, and from blue to green for copper.Leisure Time Metal Gon & Defender, 2-Pack

To prevent staining and scaling in a spa or hot tub using well water, you want to both filter out as much as you can (see below) before filling, and secondly keep minerals and metals dissolved in solution, by using a sequestering agent to lock them in solution. Leisure Time Metal Gon, Defender and our own Metal Out are 3 such chemicals that are used (1-2 oz. every few weeks), to keep metals and minerals from precipitating out of solution, clouding the water or staining spa surfaces.

 

Is Well Water Hard to Balance in Spas?

By “Balance” I’m speaking balancing the levels of pH (7.3-7.6), Alkalinity (80-120 ppm) and Calcium Hardness (180-220 ppm). When using well water to fill a hot tub, you may expect some of these levels to need adjustment.

Depending on the types of soils and rock in your area, well water may test low or high for pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness. pH and Alkalinity are usually easily adjusted, except in cases where pH is low and Alkalinity is high, this can take several treatments of pH Decreaser (followed by pH Increaser), over several days, to bring into proper ranges.

And depending on how hard or soft your well water is, your Calcium Hardness level may be low (soft) or high (hard). Soft spa water (under 150 ppm) is easily corrected by adding Calcium Hardness Increaser, but hard spa water (over 400 ppm), has no chemical reducer available. Spa water softeners like Defender don’t actually remove the excess Calcium from the water; molecular bonds keep it chemically locked in solution, where it can’t deposit as films or nodules.

Water clarity is an issue that affects some hot tubs filled with well water. Silty brown or green water can be avoided by using a Pre-Filter on the end of your garden hose, or using other methods to filter the water before it enters the hot tub, described below. Your spa filter will trap much of the suspended solids, but using it will shorten its lifespan by a small amount. Spa Clarifiers can also be used, to coagulate very small particles into larger, more easily filtered clumps.

 

Pre-Filtering Well Water While Filling a Hot Tub

Many homes with a well also have a home water softening system, which also filters the water. However, most outside water spigots are not connected to the water treatment system, because it is assumed that you are just washing the car or watering the lawn. With the use of a sink faucet hose adapter, you can connect a garden hose to the kitchen sink or utility sink for pre-filtered well water. You could also connect directly to the clothes washer hose, or to the water treatment system itself.

hot tub pre-filter for filling tub from well waterThe second way to filter your well water before adding it to the hot tub is to use a Pre-Filter, which attaches to the end of your garden hose to remove particles smaller than 1 micron. It can remove metals, minerals, silty dirt and other things much too small to see, and is useful also for those with city water to remove treatment chemicals or chlorine byproducts.

A DIY bucket filter can also be used, by filling a 5-gal bucket (with a lid) completely full of Poly Fill, or polyester filling used in pillows and comforters. Drill holes in one half of the bucket lid, and on the bottom of the bucket, use silicone and thread sealant to secure a female garden hose adapter. Poly Fill can trap silty dirt in the 5-10 micron range, but not minerals and metals.

 


 

So yeah, go ahead and fill your spa with well water, just be sure to pre-filter before filling, and treat with Metal Out or Metal Gon to keep iron, copper and manganese locked in solution, and use Defender if your well water is hard, or has calcium hardness levels above 400 ppm.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Electrical Component Testing

May 22nd, 2017 by

Image by Canadian Spa Company blog
Warning,
geeky electrical component post coming up! Today I’m talking about testing spa and hot tub electrical component resistance, namely how to test for continuity on hot tub heater elements, fuses, transformers, sensors and switches.

Warning, testing electrical components can be hazardous, and should be performed by confident individuals aware of electrical hazards. For testing continuity or resistance, shut all power off to the spa, at the main breaker, testing resistance when under power can damage your meter, the equipment tested, or yourself! Shut down all spa power disconnects.

To test a spa heater, transformer, sensors and switches, you will need a multi-meter that tests for Ohms Ω. You can find a digital multi-meter at any home or hardware store for under $15. Ohm meters will measure the known resistance in a spa electrical component, and can also be used to check for shorts in wires, cables and cords.

 

Testing Heater Elements

  1. Shut off all power to the spa at the breaker and spa pack
  2. Remove the wires or copper tabs on the heater element terminalsspa heaters diagram
  3. Set your Ohm meter to the lowest setting
  4. Place your meter leads on the tip of each element terminal
  5. A reading of 10-14 Ohms is good for most heater elements

If your spa heater element (with wires or tabs removed) reads zero resistance, or displays ‘Open’, that means that the element sheath has a crack or the coil inside is otherwise grounding out, and should be causing your circuit breaker or GFCI to trip. Time for a new hot tub heater element or a complete spa heater assembly.

Testing Spa Transformers

  1. Shut off all power to the spa at the breaker and spa pack
  2. Set your Ohm meter to the lowest setting
  3. Locate the resistance values printed on the transformer
  4. Place your meter leads onto a Primary wire and a Secondary wire
  5.  Compare the reading to the transformer specs specified

Transformers take 120V or 240V power and step it down to a reduced voltage to operate specific spa component circuits. Spa transformers that are soldered to the board are not as easy to test with an Ohm meter, and also keep in mind that many modern spas have several board mounted transformers.

Testing Spa Temperature Sensors

  1. Shut off all power to the spa at the breaker and spa packspa-sensors
  2. Set your Ohm meter to the 20K setting
  3. Locate the wire ends and remove the plug from the board
  4. Place your meter leads onto the green and red wire
  5. Compare readings to Thermistor Resistance vs. Temperature Chart

Most spa and hot tub high limits, aka thermistors, thermal cut-offs and temperature sensors – will have a resistance reading of around 10000 at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder water produces higher readings up to 50K, while warmer 100° F water will produce lower readings. Refer to your spa manufacturer resistance vs. temperature chart. Or, if you get “0”, or a zero reading, the sensor or cable is likely bad. Many hot tubs have more than one temperature sensor; a heater sensor, water temp sensor and air temp sensor.

Testing Spa Fuses

  1. Shut off all power to the spa at the breaker and spa packpicture of spa fuse
  2. Set your Ohm meter to the 1K setting
  3. Remove the fuse from the board or fuse housing
  4. Place your meter leads on each end of the fuse
  5. Compare readings to printed Ohms level

Blown spa and hot tub fuses will not show any continuity, or a “0” reading when testing. Some meters will display “Open” or O.L. (for Open Loop). A clear fuse can also be visually inspected to see if the wire or coil inside is broken of course, but for opaque fuses, you can test them with your Ohm meter.

Testing Pressure Switch or Flow Switches

  1. spa pressure switch shown being testedShut off all power to the spa at the breaker and spa pack
  2. Set your Ohm meter to the 1K setting
  3. Remove one wire from the pressure switch
  4. Place meter leads on both wire terminals
  5. If anything other than “0”, adjust pressure switch

With one wire removed, the pressure switch, or flow switch, should have zero resistance, as the switch should be ‘Open’. An Ohm meter can be used to adjust the pressure switch back to ‘zero’, by turning the adjustment knob or screw slightly until the meter drops to near zero.

 


In most spa components, Resistance is Good, with exception to pressure switches. No resistance is bad, as it means that there is another path that the electricity is taking, which usually means a defective component or cable, and it could also pose a safety hazard – where is the power loss going?

You can also use your multi-meter to test resistance of lengths of wire or cable. One probe on each end, and there should be resistance measured, NO resistance and there is a short somewhere.

Always remember, Shut Off Power completely down when testing spa electrical components for resistance, in Ohms.

Ohm SymbolNow everyone say “Ohhhhmmmmmsssss” – doesn’t that feel good?

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

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 (at first) 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 can be 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

 

FEATURED SPA PRODUCTS

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