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Daniel Lara's Posts

Test & Balance Hot Tub Water

July 6th, 2015 by

filling-the-spa-or-hot-tubI know some people who claim to have “perfect” spa water right out of the tap – “I don’t even need to test it”, they say.

That may be true for some people, but for the majority of spa owners, the water from the tap or hose may have very low levels of calcium, alkalinity, pH. Well water can also contain loads of minerals and metals, and city water can be full of chloramines and other water treatment byproducts.

When filling a spa after draining, you start fresh again, with “New” water. What follows is a step-by-step on how to test and balance spa fill water, to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.

 

1. Pre-Filter the Water

For well water, this is a must. “Yeah, but my well water goes thru filters and a conditioning system” you may say, but did you know that most outdoor hose spigots are not connected to a home water treatment system? Only kitchen, bath and laundry. You can fill a hot tub from a utility sink, if you have a faucet adapter, or you can just screw a pre-filter onto the end of the garden hose. A spa pre-filter traps minerals, metals, chloramines, bacteria and hundreds of other junk that you don’t want in your spa water.

For city water too, a pre-filter will remove pathogens and impurities (remember that city water is partially made up of raw sewage), and pre-filters remove chloramines. It also removes dissolved solids, down to 1 micron, which is quite small and invisible. Even if your tap water looks good and smells good, filtering it as you fill the hot tub will improve the water quality – and make your spa water easier to manage.

2. Check Calcium Hardness

The first step after refilling a spa or hot tub is to check the hardness of the water. Test strips can be used, but a liquid test kit is much more accurate. For hot water spas and hot tubs, water that is too soft can foam easily, and also makes the water aggressive and corrosive to pump seals and o-rings, and shiny spa finishes. Spa water that is too hot can cloud easily, and deposit scale around fittings and at the water line. For spa water that is too soft, (under 200 ppm), add Calcium Increaser to raise the level, making the water “harder”. For water that is already hard (over 400 ppm), common in many parts of the country, well – we don’t have a chemical to lower Calcium Hardness, but using the Pre-Filter can lower total hardness by several hundred ppm. Spa hardness is best in the 180-220 ppm range.

3. Check pH & Alkalinity

pH and Alkalinity are close cousins, as outlined in a recent post. Total Alkalinity measures the carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to pH change. If your pH “bounces” or changes easily, you likely have low alkalinity. If your pH is resistant to change, you likely have high alkalinity. For spa water with low alkalinity (under 80 ppm), add Alkalinity Increaser to raise the level. For water with high Alkalinity (over 150 ppm), use the pH Down chemical or other acid, to lower the level – which will also lower your pH level somewhat. After filling the spa, adjust alkalinity to the 80-120 ppm range. Spa pH should be in the 7.2 – 7.6 range. A proper pH helps bromine and chlorine work their best, and helps prevent damage to seals, o-rings and surfaces. If your tested pH is too high, add an acid (pH Down), and when it’s too low, add a base (pH Up).

4. Add Bromide & Bromine

One disadvantage to dumping the spa water every 3-4 months is that you lose your bank of bromide ions. Bromine, unlike chlorine, takes a while to build up a “bank” of bromide ions. It can take several weeks of waiting for bromine tablets to dissolve, shocking every few days – or the faster recommended method is to add some Bromine Booster to the spa. Just a few capfuls of Brom Booster brings up the level of bromide ions, so that you can see some results when you test the bromine level. After adding bromides to the spa, fill the spa floater or brominator with half a dozen 1″ bromine tablets. Test the bromine level over the next few days, your spa may need slightly fewer (4) or slightly more (8) bromine tablets, to register a consistent 3-4 ppm bromine reading.

>>> After all of that work, you’re ready for a dip in the tub! Here’s one more Tip: write down exact quantities of what you need to add to fresh fill water – chances are, your source water will stay fairly stable and consistent in it’s chemical balance, so write down exactly what you need to add to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

What Chemicals are Needed for a Hot Tub?

June 29th, 2015 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-upSpa chemistry is something that needn’t make you anxious, and once you get the hang of it, most hot tubs will exhibit something of it’s own chemical personality, one that you will get to know well.

What I mean is, you will get to know when it needs more of something, and if you were to really geek out, and keep a spa chemical log, (like me!), you can see water balance trends over time.

For instance, my hot tub is tested 2-3 times per week, and I record my readings in a little book. If I flip back thru, I can see that about every 3 weeks I lower the pH, and about every 6 weeks I need to raise the alkalinity. I also see that on average, I use about 14 bromine tablets and 9 oz of spa shock every month. Good to know.

break-it-downBut you didn’t come here to hear stories about my hot tub – you came here to find out exactly what chemicals are needed to maintain a hot tub? What do you need to buy? And, what do you Really Need, and what is more… Optional.

There are a half-a-dozen different categories of hot tub chemicals, each with about a half-a-dozen different chemicals, from about a half-a-dozen different brands. And that’s what makes hot tub chemicals seem so confusing; let’s see if we can’t Break it Down into smaller chunks…

 

MUST-HAVE SPA CHEMICALS

  • Test Strips or Test Kit – test spa water 2-3x per week
  • Bromine tablets – for continuous sanitation
  • Bromine Booster – Raises bromide levels after draining
  • Spa Shock – regular super-sanitation, weekly
  • Spa pH & Alkalinity Balancers – as needed

NICE-TO-HAVE SPA CHEMICALS

  • Spa Calcium Increaser – increases water hardness
  • Hot Tub Clarifiers – coagulates small particles for easier filtering
  • Spa Cartridge Cleaner – get a second year with a deep cleaning
  • Mineral Purifier - purifies with copper and silver ions
  • Spa Polish / Spa Cleaner – clean and polish the spa shell

AS-NEEDED SPA CHEMICALS

  • Defoamer – for foamy spa water
  • Metal Remover – or metal stain removers
  • Spa Cover Cleaner – and conditioner
  • Jet Clean – biofilm cleaners
  • Leak Seal – seals up weeps, seeps, leaks6-month Bromine Spa Care Kit

A simple and more economical way to stock up on the basic spa care chemicals is to buy one of our 6 month spa care kits. We have 8 different spa chemical kits available from mild to wild, in your choice of bromine, chlorine or Nature2 mineral sanitation.

As a bare minimum, you have to have chemicals to test and balance the pH, continuously sanitize the water, and regularly oxidize (shock) the spa. An ozonator or mineral purifier by itself can’t do the job alone; in addition, put bromine tablets into a spa floater, and then add a few capfuls of spa shock after using the spa.

Also important is to test and maintain the pH and Alkalinity, so it doesn’t get too high or too low. Use test strips to test the water, and then add a pH or alkalinity increaser or decreaser, if pH has strayed outside of 7.4-7.6, or alkalinity is below or above the range of 80-120 ppm.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

pH & Alkalinity in a Hot Tub or Spa

June 1st, 2015 by

digital-strip-testerToday’s post is hopefully a simple post, although it can be a complicated topic. pH and Alkalinity are close cousins in water chemistry, each affecting and affected by, the other.

pH is a measurement of how acidic (below 7.0) or basic (above 7.0) – your hot tub water is. Alkalinity is a measurement of the amount of carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to help stabilize pH.

When pH is LOW (below 7.0), the water becomes corrosive to seals, gaskets and plastics. When pH is HIGH, the water can produce scale, leading to cloudy spa water or deposits of calcium on surfaces and inside pipes.

Lower pH by adding Spa pH decreaser, or sodium bisulfate.
Raise pH by adding Spa pH increaser, or soda ash.

When Alkalinity is LOW, this causes pH to “bounce” or change easily – you may raise the pH, but it only lasts for a few hours. When Alkalinity is HIGH, this makes it hard to adjust pH in the first place, it makes pH very resistant to change.

Lower Alkalinty by adding Spa pH decreaser, or sodium bisulfate.
Raise Alkalinity by adding Spa Alkalinity increaser, or sodium bicarbonate.

The problem is… trying to adjust alkalinity without affecting pH, or vice versa. Fact is, you can’t – since they are both so closely related – but there are some tricks up my sleeve.

  • To Lower Alkalinity more than pH, add the pH decreaser with the spa pump off
  • To Lower pH more than Alkalinity, add the pH decreaser with the spa pump on
  • To Raise Alkalinity more than pH, use Alkalinity Increaser, with the spa pump off
  • To raise pH more than Alkalinity, use pH Increaser, with the spa pump on

Another problem is… overdosing the spa or hot tub, and swinging the pH and Alkalinity far to the other extreme. Know your hot tub size in gallons, and refer to the label for dosage per 100 gallons.snake-oil-salesman-sm

Dosage is almost always just a capful or two, a few ounces – so be careful not to over-shoot the mark! Add a small amount and retest the water after 30 minutes, and if needed, re-dose again.

When lowering alkalinity, you may have to raise the pH again afterwards, just slightly, which may also raise your alkalinity again just slightly. In some cases, where alkalinity has drifted very high, over 150 ppm – you may need to make many adjustments – sort of a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing…

TIP: When buying pH and Alkalinity adjustment products for your spa – there’s no need to overspend. We have all of the major spa chemical brands, and also a lower priced house brand of spa pH and alkalinity chemicals.

TIP: Don’t use Pool Chemicals in your Hot Tub. Chemically, pH and alkalinity adjustment chemicals are the same, but the labeling is for a pool 100x larger, which makes it quite easy to over or under dose, even if you are good at math!

Keep at it! It’s important to have correct spa pH and alkalinity, both for protection of spa equipment and surfaces, and so that your sanitizer works most effectively.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin;’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Heavy Hot Tub Covers

May 11th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careOur hot tub covers are made with the highest quality, 100% virgin EPS closed cell foam, vacuum wrapped and heat sealed inside of a 6 mil protective barrier. But even our top quality 2 lb foam core panels can absorb water.

Why? Why do spa and hot tub covers absorb water? Many people will say that closed cell foam cannot absorb water, and they point to studies where a piece of foam has been sitting in a jar of water for 20 years in some laboratory. And this is correct. Even submerged in water, at room temperature, most quality closed cell foam will not absorb water.

However! In a hot tub environment, there is a large temperature difference between the top of the cover and the bottom of the cover, in some cases it can be more than 50 degree difference. This creates an imbalance, and makes the warm moist air of the spa condensate on the bottom of the cover, and become aggressive in trying to escape.

Add to this the fact that most spas are treated with chlorine or bromine, or ozone – which can break down the vapor barrier, the closed cell foam, or both.

What’s wrong with a heavy spa cover?

For one thing, the R-value of the spa cover drops dramatically as water is a very poor insulator. Hot tub cover heat loss becomes a real concern when it becomes waterlogged. Secondly, the weight of the water can actually bend the steel reinforcement bar (not on our spa covers, made with 20 ga. steel bars).

It also just becomes a real pain in the butt – if you have to call a second person to help lift the spa cover on and off of the tub. Full of water, a spa cover can weigh several hundred pounds, which can cause injury, trying to move such a large heavy object. It can also damage or break your spa cover lifter.

Causes of a Waterlogged Hot Tub Cover

  • Torn foam panel protective barrier
  • Deteriorated foam panel protective barrier

That’s it! The 6 mil plastic sheeting that is used to wrap the foam core panels is the main protection against a waterlogged spa cover. Sure, other factors contribute to the problem, like chemistry or broken foam panels, but the fact is – if the vapor barrier is sealed tightly without any gaps or holes, the foam core panels stay nice and dry. Taking care to prevent punctures or tears and chemical deterioration is the best way to keep your spa cover dry and lightweight.

In addition to vacuum shrinking and heat sealed seams (not something all other spa cover makers do), Hot Tub Works spa covers offer a double-wrapped foam core, standard on our “Works” spa cover, and as an option for other covers. Could be the best $30 you ever spent!

How to Avoid a Heavy Hot Tub Cover

  • Remove the spa top twice weekly for 2 hours, to allow the cover to breathe.
  • Avoid unzipping a spa cover or removing panels; creates voids for moisture to enter.
  • Maintain proper water chemistry, and keep sanitizer at a minimum level.
  • Always remove the cover for several hours after shocking the spa water.
  • Patch any holes or punctures in the vinyl cover or foam barrier immediately.
  • Clean and condition the exterior vinyl on your spa cover once or twice per year.
  • Protect your spa cover from damage by keeping it locked, or use Hurricane straps.

In addition, buying a quality spa cover from a company you can trust, will prevent many problems with waterlogged spa covers. The “Other Guys” don’t vacuum wrap and heat seal the foam panels, and don’t use heavy duty polyester scrim and zipper.

Most importantly, hot tub covers from Hot Tub Works are warranted for 5 years against moisture in the foam core. How can we do that? Truth is, our warranty claim rate is very low, and less than 0.65% of our hot tub covers need warranty assistance.

How to Dry out a waterlogged spa cover

bailing_water_all_of_the_work_300_wht_15637Once your vapor barrier has been compromised, there is not much chance of drying out the foam panel completely, but you can take it off the spa and lean it up against a wall, so that excess water drains out. There is no reason to unzip the cover and pull out the panels, since they are encased in plastic and won’t dry out anyway. Even if you remove the foam panels from their vapor barrier, very little drying of the foam will occur, even after days of drying time.

There is very little you can do once a spa cover has taken on water, except to try to find the rip, tear or puncture and make a repair, but by then it may be too late. The best thing for a waterlogged hot tub lid is to set aside $300-500, and buy a new spa cover. This time you may opt for a spa cover with denser and thicker foam or more importantly, a double-wrapped foam core.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Inflatable Hot Tubs: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

April 24th, 2015 by

intex-purespa-cutaway

The Inflatable Hot Tub is a relatively new product on the market, and it has a surprising amount of internet activity or “buzz” happening.

They’ve not only caught on in the U.S., but are also quite popular in the U.K. and Australia, according to my little keyword tool.

Why so popular? Also known as portable spas, inflatable hot tubs can set-up nearly anywhere, which is a huge part of it’s appeal, and it’s low cost makes it a perfect entry level spa – to get your feet wet, so to speak.

 

But there is also a dark side, some less appealing traits to inflatable spas. If you’re considering a small investment in one of these – here’s a few Good, Bad and Ugly considerations to make before you buy an inflatable hot tub.

 

GOOD – GOOD – GOOD – GOOD – GOOD

  1. Entirely portable, comes in a box not much bigger than a microwave oven. Comes with a carry bag to pack it off to sporting events, camping or fishing trips or to the beach.cute-british-girl-showing-off-bestway-inflatable-hot-tub
  2. Quick set-up. The spa has an air blower of course, and this is used to quickly inflate the chambers. After inflation, drop a hose in the tub and it fills in under an hour. Plug into any grounded outlet. Put on the cover and turn up the heater.
  3. Sturdy and durable. Vertical ‘I-beam’ construction gives the walls rigidity. Reinforced vinyl material ranges in thickness from 30-50 mil; which is not puncture-proof, but is resistant to scrapes and punctures.
  4. Easy to operate. Self contained pump, filter, heater and blower unit has digital controls to operate equipment and display temperature and status lights. Lock out feature prevents tampering.
  5. Locking spa cover is included to keep the spa clean and warm, and ready to use. Also comes with test strips and floating chlorinator.

PRO TIPS:

  • Make sure it’s completely dry before packing for storage or transport.
  • Don’t overfill an inflatable tub, and don’t sit on the sidewalls.

 

BAD – BAD – BAD – BAD – BAD

  1. Not as deep as  you might imagine. Only 22-24″ maximum water depth for most models.
  2. coleman-spa-tubNot as large as the picture seems. Look at these happy campers in this “4-person” inflatable hot tub – where are their legs? I suppose it’s fine for the young and beautiful, to commingle legs with their young and beautiful friends, but for me – I prefer personal leg space.
  3. MUST be installed on a level surface, at ground level. Not suitable for balconies, rooftops or elevated floors. Full of water and people, inflatable hot tubs can weigh up to 2500 lbs.
  4. Slow to heat. The heater on these units is small, and although the water is only 200 gallons, it can take awhile to heat up. If you keep it covered, and outdoor temperature is 70-90° F, expect 2-3° increase per hour.

PRO TIPS:

  • If you can fill your inflatable tub from a utility sink with hot water, you can save a lot of time in heating.
  • 2 persons is plenty-o-people for the “4-person” inflatable hot tubs.

 

UGLY – UGLY – UGLY – UGLY – UGLY

  1. Funky water. If you do put 4 persons into a 200 gallon hot tub, let’s see – that’s 50 gallons per person, which will overwhelm the undersized spa filters. In other words, the water can get funky and germy fast, even if everyone showers first.
  2. tiny-tubNot safe for children. At only 28″ tall, a toddler may be able to climb into an open hot tub and possibly drown. The latching cover should prevent most entry, but only until about age 5, which is when my daughter learned how to operate the spa cover strap clips.
  3. Not energy efficient. You’ll find out fast that it’s costly to keep this type of spa hot, and nearly impossible in very cold outdoor temps. In fact, in temperatures of below 50°, a 1 kw heater may not get past lukewarm.
  4. Disposable. Unfortunately, many inflatable hot tubs will be neglected, abused and set out to the curb for the trash after a few years of service. They won’t all end up that way, but in general, portable spas have a short lifespan.

PRO TIPS:

  • Add a capful of MPS (non-chlorine shock) before and after each use, and keep the floater filled with bromine tablets. Run the filter daily, and change the water monthly.
  • A heavy plywood sheet, carefully placed over top the spa cover may discourage some toddlers, and may improve heat retention somewhat. At least on top.
  • You can recycle a vinyl inflatable hot tub, call your local trash service for information.

 


intex-purespa-inflatable-hot-tubSo, that’s my rant about inflatable hot tubs – we had to join the conversation, it’s become such a popular topic online, and a story line that we needed to cover here on the hottubworks blog.

If I haven’t scared you away from inflatable hot tubs, and you’re looking for an easy way to join the 5.9 million Americans who own spas or hot tubs, take a look at our portable inflatable hot tubs – we carry the Intex PureSpa and the AiriSpa – 2 great entry level spas!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Air Balloon Hot Tubs

March 30th, 2015 by

hot-air-balloon-hot-tubThis blog has reported on spas in some very strange places – suspended from a bridge, on top of a mountain, built inside of a cave or sunk into a glacier.

But a hot air balloon hot tub? Where would a off-beat start-up launch such a creative endeavor? Where else but in California?

In Napa Valley, they take Hot Tubbing to the extreme with Hot Air Balloon rides – in an 8 person hot tub, heated to 105°!

Hot Air Hot Tubs is the brainchild of Sergei Enganar, who with partner Pablo Payoso, dreamed up the idea while taking tourists aloft over the scenic northern California vineyards.

As Sergei tells it, “Several people had commented to us during our first few years, how cold it is up in the balloon, and that we should install a hot tub” After a few months of tinkering in a garage with fitting a hot tub shell into a hot air balloon basket, they were ready for the first test flight.

“We lost about 50 gallons [of water] on that first flight” says Sergei. Pablo chimes in to explain that they learned to fill the tub only about 3/4 of the way full, to avoid water loss when the basket swayed.

Asked how the pumps and heater operated, I was surprised at their ingenuity. The circulation pump is powered by a car battery, “Our pumps we had made to be able to run on 12V” says Sergei. “We tried to do the same for the heater, but it wouldn’t heat the water hot enough – so, we switched to gas!” Pablo says with an excited look in his eye.

hot-tub-hot-air-balloonA splitter manifold delivers gas to a small burner beneath a heat exchanger located on the side of the basket. When asked about heating water at high altitudes, they both agreed that it’s much faster, but Sergei added, “we have to monitor the temperature constantly as we ascend and descend, to avoid over or under heating the water”.

Heating challenges aside, how about all of that extra water weight? “Yes, it’s very heavy, we had to install twin burners on this balloon, to add enough lift to counter balance the weight of an extra 1.5 tons of water”.

Hot Tub Rules? I asked. No alcohol. No babies. No splashing. Clothing Optional? I asked. “We request normal swim suit attire”, says Pablo, with a sly grin.

Interesting… Hot water at 5000 feet! Now, I’ve seen it all!

If you want to take a ride in the Hot Air Balloon Hot Tub, you might have to wait awhile – and if you believe this malarkey, you just fell for our April Fool’s Joke!

You can’t put a hot tub in a hot air balloon! :-)

 

Ha-Ha Happy Hot Tubbin’!
Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa Error Codes – The Big List

February 27th, 2015 by

spa-and-hot-tub-error-codesThe best thing about digital spas and hot tubs – those with a spa side control panel – is that you are given error codes for most equipment problems. Spa error codes can be somewhat cryptic, but when you have the BIG LIST of CODES, you can immediately define the two or three digit source of trouble.

Problem is – there’s not much consistency among the error codes used by spa pack manufacturers. Each one uses it’s own conventions for naming the various system faults.

Hence the need for the BIG LIST of CODES. The alphabetical list of hot tub error codes below covers all major manufacturers of spa controls, including ACC, Balboa, Brett Aqualine, CTI, Dream Maker, EasyPak, Gecko, Hurricane, Jacuzzi, Len Gordon, Maax, Pinnacle, Spa Builders Group, Spa Quip, Sundance and Vita Spas.

Is it an Error Code, or a System Status Code?

Not all spa codes are errors, to inform you of trouble, but many codes are used to provide information about system mode, status or equipment operation. Some system status codes are identified below as well, with the phrase “system message, not an error”.

 

the big list of spa and hot tub error codes


CODE


ERROR CODE DESCRIPTION

* * *  Flow/Pressure switch either Open or Closed
* * * High Limit switch is faulty
- – - , – - - Water dangerously hot, electronic fault, system shut down
-1 Hi-Limit fault
-2 Temp sensor fault
-3 Flow/Pressure switch open
-4 Flow/Pressure switch closed
-7 Hi-Limit fault
Hi-Limit or Temp Sensor fault, water may be dangerously hot
Temp Sensor Calibration, after system shutdown/startup, not an error
1 Stuck Button on Keypad
2 No Controller Data being received
3 Temperature Sensor fault
4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
7 Stuck Heater Relay
9 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
131 Hi-Limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
A1/A2-ER Auxiliary system error; blower, lights, music
AOH Auxiliary system overheating; Equipment is running hot, or needs air
BJ2P Hi-Limit fault – water may be dangerously hot
BL-ER Blower error, faulty motor or closed valve
C4.4 Hi-Limit fault
C Celsius, used to indicate panel is in Celsius mode
Cd, CLd Cold – Freeze Condition detected
CE 01 Stuck Touchpad button
CE 02 No controller Data Communication
CE 03 Temperature Sensor fault
CE 04 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
CE 05 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
CE 06 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
CE 07 Stuck Heater Relay
CE 08 Temp Sensor Fault
CE 09 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
CL Current Time of Day; system message, not an error
COL Cool – water is 20° below set point; system message, not an error
CoLd Cold – water is 40° or less; system should self-start pump / heater
Cool Cool – water is 20° below set point; system message, not an error
CP-ER Circulation pump error
dr, dy, dry Dry – low water volume detected in heater
E0 Short circuit temperature sensor
E1 Open circuit temperature sensor
E2 Short circuit Hi-Limit sensor
E3 Open circuit high Limit sensor
E4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
Ecdu, Ecn, Econ Spa is in Economy Mode; system message, not an error
EO Short circuit temperature sensor
Er0, Er1 Temperature sensor fault
Er2, Er3 Hi-Limit fault
Er4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
err 1 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
err 3 Stuck Button on Keypad
err 4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
err 5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
err 6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
err 7 Stuck Heater Relay
err 8 Temp Sensor Fault
Err Software Program Fault
Error 3 Stuck Button on Keypad
Error 4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
Error 5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
Error 6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
Error 7 Stuck Heater Relay
Error 8 Temp Sensor Fault
F2 4 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F4 8 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F6 12 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F Fahrenheit, used to indicate panel is in Fahrenheit mode
FB-ER Fiber Optic error; accent lighting
FC Filter Continuous mode; system message, not an error
FL1 Water Pressure fault, dirty filter, airlocked pump, low water level
FL2 Pressure switch fault; switch closed while pump is off
FL Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault; water flow problem
FLC Pressure switch fault; switch closed while pump is off
Fldu Spa is in Filter mode; ; system message, not an error
FLO, Flo, FL1 Flow – inadequate water volume sensed by Flow / Pressure switch
FLO2 Flow – short circuit/closed circuit; pressure/flow switch
FLO (flashing) Flow – short circuit/open circuit; pressure/flow switch
Flon Spa is in Filter mode; ; system message, not an error
FN-ER Fan error; cooling fan fault
FP, Fr, FrE Freeze – water is 40° or less; system should self-start pump / heater
H2O Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
HFL Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
HiLi, HLEr Water temperature above acceptable range
HL, HH, OHH High limit sensor reading 118°, or above – check flow
Hold Panel buttons pressed to many times or too quickly
HOT Overheating, water over 112° F. Cool down procedure begins.
IC, ICE, ICE2 Freeze Condition detected; Warm up procedure begins.
ILOC Interlock failure; check magnetic contacts on spa equipment door
L1, L2 Panel Lock; enter code to unlock control panel
LF Persistent low flow problems.
LO Freeze Condition detected; Warm up procedure begins.
LOC Panel Lock; enter code to unlock control panel
O3-Er Ozone error; check for operation and output
OH High temperature condition, over 110ºF. Spa may be partially deactivated or low speed pump (and air blower if equipped) may activate to lower temp
OHH Overheat. One sensor has detected 118º. Spa has shut down
OHS Overheat. One sensor has detected 110º. Spa has shut down
OP Open circuit sensor
P1, P2 or P3-ER Pump 1,2 or 3 error or failure
pd Power supply interrupted, unit running on battery backup
PnL Panel error; communication error between panel and circuit board
Pr Priming – pump is starting; system message, not an error
Prh Hi-limit sensor failure
Prr Temperature Sensors Alarm
PS Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
PSoC Pressure switch open on circulation
PSoH Pressure switch open on high speed
PSoL Pressure switch open on low speed
RH-HR Heater Repair error
RH-NC No Communication error; Panel to Board
RH-NF No Flow in heater
RH-NH No Heat, heater fault or failure
SA, SnA, SnH, Sb, Snb, Snt Sensor Open Circuit or faulty
SE Spa in Economy Mode; system message, not an error
SEoP Sensor open or disconnected. Heater disabled but spa operational
SESH Sensor short, nonfunctional. Heater disabled but spa operational
SH Short circuit on temperature sensor
Sn1 Hi-Limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
Sn2 Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
Sn3 Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
SN Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
Sn Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
Sna Sensor plugged into jack A is not working. Spa is shut down.
Snb Sensor plugged into jack B is not working. Spa is shut down.
SnH Hi Limit circuit open or faulty
SnS Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
SnT Temperature sensor fault, circuit open or faulty
SP-F1,F2 or F3 Fuse 1,2 or blown
SP-HR Hardware error
SP-IN Input voltage low
SP-OH Overheat – water temp over 112°
SP-OT Overtemp – air temp around equipment is too hot, lack of air flow
Std Spa in Standard Mode; system message, not an error

Do you have a spa or hot tub error code that is not on the list?  Make a call to our tech team who can look up the code for you, and decipher it’s meaning and let you know if it is indeed an error code, or a system status message.

800.770.0292 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

How To Clean a Hot Tub that has been Sitting

February 24th, 2015 by

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

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

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

TEST FILTER SYSTEM

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

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

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

DRAIN & CLEAN

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

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

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

REFILL & PURGE

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

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

DRAIN & REFILL

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

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

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Spa Error Codes – Sn, SnS, Sn1, Sn2…

February 5th, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPA TEMPERATURE SENSOR ERROR CODE FLOW CHART

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

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

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

cal-spa-smart-sensor-troubleshooting-flowchart

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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

January 6th, 2015 by

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

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

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

What causes a Spa to Overheat?

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

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

What else causes a Spa to Overheat?

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

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

Spa Overheating Troubleshooting Flow Chart

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works