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Daniel Lara's Posts

Increasing the Energy Efficiency of your Hot Tub or Spa

April 10th, 2014 by

thermospas-hot-tub-instlation-cutaway

Hot tubs and spas are more energy efficient than ever, and manufacturers have made great gains in efficiency in the last ten years. New insulation materials and better methods of applying it, and energy star certified pumps, blowers and heaters are leading the charge.

How energy efficient is your spa or hot tub? A spa uses electricity to power the pumps, blower, heater and lights. A well insulated spa, with a good spa cover should be able to operate for about $20 per month in electricity. If you spend more than that – read-on for tips on greater hot tub energy efficiency.

Spa Insulation

The price of a spa, in part, depends on how well it is insulated. Top of the line models have “Full Foam” insulation, injected between the spa shell and cabinet. When the quality and density of the foam is very high, that temperature loss out the sides and bottom is very low. A cheaper method of spa insulation is to simply spray the underside of the spa shell with half an inch spray foam. Lining the cabinet interior walls with foil covered fiberglass insulation or a rigid insulation panel is another way to reduce spa insulation cost, and spa efficiency.

To improve your spa insulation, you can buy DIY spray foam kits, or use rigid insulation panels to line the inside of the cabinet. You can also use fiberglass insulation bats, laid around the spa shell or up against the cabinet.

Spa Coverdollar_sign_with_wings_150_wht_13589 - purchased from PresenterMedia (PM)

How’s your spa cover doing? What’s on top of your spa makes a big difference in the energy consumption of a spa. It’s unfortunate that most spa manufacturers include a flimsy spa cover with their new spas. It’s common that these last only a few years, and that’s good, because the R-value of such spa covers is very low. A waterlogged spa cover is even worse. If you can feel steam or heat coming out of gaps in your spa cover, imagine it as dollar bills with wings.

A new spa cover is a sure way to dramatically effect your energy usage. The thicker the foam, the more heat trapping ability a spa cover has, so get a good one! Another way to reduce heat loss from the top is to use a floating spa blanket. It floats on the water, reducing the workload of your spa cover, while also protecting your spa cover from excess moisture.

Spa Heater

Most spa heaters are electrical immersion elements. These heat up, like a coiled electric cooktop burner, and transfer the heat to the water. Most spa heaters are as energy efficient as they can be – it’s up to you to use your spa heater wisely. Do you really need to have it cooking at 105° if you only use it on weekends? Or when airing out the spa cover, or after shocking the spa – might you turn down the heater?

Keeping your spa at 95 degrees, and then heating up to 105 just before getting in makes sense, unless you’re like me, and use the spa nearly every night. I turn the spa heater way down to 75 during vacations or short trips away from home. This is not only to save electricity, but to discourage anyone from using the spa while I’m away.

Spa Pump

Some spas have one two-speed pump, and some spas have two pumps, a low speed pump for circulation, and a high speed pump for jet action. Modern variable speed pumps are popular on pools, but I’ve not seen them used on spas. When your spa pump eventually fails, look at energy efficient spa pumps as a replacement. These operate with reduced amperage draw and larger capacitors to be up to 50% more efficient than standard pump motors. spa-timers-can-save-money

Spa pumps may typically run on low speed for 18 hours per day and high speed for 4 hours. You can however, make adjustments to the timer, to operate less on high speed, or have a few hours daily where it doesn’t run at all. If you experiment closely with pump run time, you can determine the minimum requirement, just before the water starts looking a little hazy. Increase run time above this threshold, and you optimize the energy usage of your spa pump.

Spa Blower

The spa blower injects bubbles into the spa jets, for real hydro-therapy. It makes the water force feel stronger, but at the same time, is gentler than water alone. Using your spa blower tends to cool off the spa water somewhat, requiring your spa heater to work a little bit harder.

When your spa blower eventually fails, you can look to an energy efficient spa blower, or downsize to a smaller blower, or just go without one! To me, a nice hot soak, without all the turbulence, is more relaxing than using the air blower. You can always open up the passive air intakes, to add air without operating a blower motor.

 

In summary, to increase the energy efficiency of your spa or hot tub:

  • Buy energy efficient pump and blower motors; look for the Energy Star logo.
  • Use a quality built spa cover, and a floating foam blanket.
  • Add extra insulation around the spa shell or cabinet.
  • Experiment with your pump run time; and operate it less.
  • Turn down the heat! 10 degrees can save 20%!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Fire up the Spa! How to Open a Winterized Hot Tub

March 27th, 2014 by

opening-hot-tub

 

Opening a hot tub is a lot easier than closing, and a lot less stressful, after you see that nothing’s leaking that is! Freeze damage on spa plumbing and equipment is a real possibility, especially with this brutal winter that gripped a lot of the U.S. this year.

If you read Jack Stone’s spa winterization instructions a few months ago to winterize your spa, then opening it back up should be a breeze.

Getting the spa ready for another season is something that I have done many times – and in most cases, it’s an easy hour long process.

 

CLEAN THE SPA

Since you have it empty, it’s a perfect time to polish up the hot tub interior. For wooden hot tubs, use a brush and baking soda to clean the interior. Don’t Ever use stain or sealer on the inside of the tub, but you can use it on the outside. Linseed Oil is a great product for wood, just wipe it on the outside. It’s also great for acrylic spa wood skirts – but it will darken the wood.

spa-care-cleaner-For acrylic spas, wipe down the inside with a moist, soft cloth. If you notice any stains or if you have a few small dirty puddles, use a spa cleaner like our Spa Care Cleaner to clean and polish your spa surfaces. Don’t Ever use household cleaners, they can damage your spa, and put strange chemicals into the spa water that could interfere with water balance or be harmful to your spa users.

Don’t forget to give your spa cover some attention too! While the spa is filling, place the spa cover on the spa and clean and condition to protect the vinyl with Spa Cover Clean, or one of our many other cleaners and conditioners, made specifically for marine vinyl exposed to the elements. Don’t Ever use Armor-All type automotive conditioners, which could damage your spa cover.

CHECK THE SPA

Open up the spa equipment access panel and inspect all visible pipes and equipment for any cracks or obvious damage. Check over any wires that are visible, looking for any rodent chewing damage. Replace any drain plugs that were removed, and check that the drain spigot is closed.

Inside the spa, check over the spa lights, jets and drain covers before filling the spa to be sure that they are all securely attached.

FILL THE SPA

pre-filter-Drop in a garden hose and fill her up! Most garden hoses flow at 5-10 gallons per minute, so a 300 gallon spa could fill as fast as 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it to be sure that you don’t overflow the spa. If your fill water could be improved, our Pre-Filter removes minerals, metals, contaminants, chloramines and odor.

START-UP THE SPA

With the filter cartridge in place and other parts such as a skimmer basket, you can fire up the system, or actually just push the button to start the circulation pump. Test all of your features, like lights, blower, waterfall, high speed pump mode. Check that the heater is on, and set to your favorite soaking temp.

BALANCE THE SPA

brom-booster-htwBalancing the pool water is super important to protect your spa and your spa users. In some parts of the country, tap water actually is pretty good spa water, in terms of the pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels. In other areas, major adjustments need to be done to all 3 to bring them to their proper ranges.

If you use Bromine, you’ll need to build up your bromine bank, to be able to raise the bromine level in the spa. Brom Booster is our most economical way to boost the bromides in your spa, necessary if you use bromine tablets, or you’ll have trouble seeing a bromine level for several weeks, until enough of the tablets dissolve.

You’ll probably want to also shock the spa, after you balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium levels. Just follow the label instructions for the right amount to add for your spa. Shocking the spa is also done to initialize spa mineral cartridges, like Frog and Nature2 when you first add them.

HOT TUB OPENING PROBLEMS

No Power: If the spa is dead – no power, check that the breaker for the spa is on, and check any GFCI outlets for a tripped red Test button. If still no power, check that the wires are intact and all connector ends are pushed firmly in place. Steps beyond these include tracing the power circuit to find the short or end point. The problem lies where the power dies.

Pump Hums: If your pump tries to start, but just hums and possibly trips the breaker, it may be ‘frozen’. With the power off, use straight pliers to turn the shaft of the motor. For pumps without an exposed shaft, the shaft can be turned at the rear of the motor. If the shaft spins freely, but the motor still just hums and won’t start, a motor capacitor is the usual problem.leak-seal

Leaks: Uh-Oh! Pumps that are leaking along the motor shaft likely need a new shaft seal. If there are visible cracks or leaks that you can see on the pipes or equipment, well – you’ll have to get the right materials for repair. Call us if you need assistance. If there are leaks from unseen locations under or behind the spa, they can be hard to find with the spa full of water, especially when they are very small. Try Leak Seal to seal up small spa and hot tub leaks.

No Heat: The first thing to check is that the pump is running and the spa filter is clean and properly positioned for best flow. Beyond that, spa heaters that don’t heat or don’t heat enough could have an issue with the thermostat, temperature switch, pressure switch or flow switch.

No Cover: If your spa cover is looking tired, or has become waterlogged, bent or broken – now is the time to order a replacement spa cover. Spring is when most spa covers are purchased, and after this winter, our spa cover designers sure are busy!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

Five Foes of Spa and Hot Tub Covers

March 24th, 2014 by

Spy vs Spy, by Antonio ProhiasA hot tub cover that is quality made should be able to last 5 years in the outdoors, or longer if maintained well. Jack Stone likes to brag about a spa cover that he owned for 12 years, although I’m pretty sure that he replaced the foam at one point.

Our Hot Tub Covers have a five year, bumper to bumper warranty covering construction faults, material defects, and even water absorption. It’s one of the strongest warranties in the business, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – we almost never have to fulfill that warranty – because our covers are so well made!

Even though we have a long and strong warranty, and even though you’ll find our returns/warranty team very pleasant to work with on your warranty, no one wants to have to make a warranty claim, and ship a heavy hot tub cover back for repair or replacement. That is why I’ve come up with this list of warranty-busting spa and hot tub cover care tips.

Avoid these Five Foes of Spa Covers, and we may lower our warranty claim rate even lower!

5 Enemies of Hot Tub Covers

Sun

angry-sun-by-ocal-clker.comUV rays from the sun gives life through photosynthesis, but they also degrade most surfaces, even with UV inhibitors added to our 30 oz. marine grade vinyl used on our spa covers. Especially in sun drenched areas of the country, and especially if your spa has very little shade to shield it from the sun, UV rays can damage your spa cover. To keep marine vinyl soft, pliable and resistant to UV rays, protect your spa cover once or twice per year, with spa cover conditioner.  Don’t use automotive products (i.e. Armor All), which are not meant for outdoor surfaces.

Wind

angry-wind-by-ocal-clkerEl Niño is coming again later this year, which can mean higher wind speeds and more frequent storms. A strong wind can flip up a spa cover and a really strong wind can send it flying across the backyard. This usually results in major damage to hot tub covers, most commonly cracking the foam cores. Protect your spa cover from winds by always latching your spa cover clips, and if your spa is in a location susceptible to high winds, invest in a pair of spa cover wind straps, aka hurricane straps for spa covers.  Perhaps a larger danger than the wind itself, are large tree branches that are thrown down onto a spa cover.

Water

rain-cloud-by-ocal-clkerRain and snow are obvious enemies, but add to it automatic sprinklers. If your cover is in good shape, and you clean and condition it regularly, your spa cover should shed water. If water begins to puddle on your cover, you will soon be looking at a new spa cover, I’m afraid! Any type of roof over your spa, a patio, gazebo or pergola will help to keep your spa cover protected from sun and rain. A Spa Cover Cap is a wonderful invention to protect frail spa covers from rain and sun.

spa-cover-cap

Spa Cover Cap

Unfortunately, water from above is not the only liquid enemy of your spa cover – the moisture beneath your spa cover, your spa water, also can damage the foam, and grow mold and mildew. This is why our spa cover foam cores are vacuum wrapped and heat sealed, to keep out moisture. To help prevent moisture absorption into a spa cover, it is recommended to remove the cover completely from the spa, and allow it to air out. If your spa cover has become waterlogged, to the point where it becomes difficult to move, time for a new spa cover!

Animals

dog-on-spa-coverBears have been known to be attracted to a scent found in some spa cover foam panels, but this is a rare occurrence. Most wild animals will not chew or scratch a spa cover. Indeed, most damage comes from large dogs. The warmth of the spa beneath the cover is what seems to attract dogs and cats. A small pet probably won’t do any damage, but a 50 lb dog could weaken and damage your foam panels and reinforcement channel.

Party animals can be just as damaging to spa covers. Kids especially, and perhaps some adults, think the spa looks like a stage, and perfect for practicing their American Idol auditions. Keep all ‘animals’ off of your spa cover – a lot of weight is an enemy that attacks suddenly, destroying a spa cover in seconds.

Chemicals

cleaning-chemicalsChemicals beneath the spa cover, from your spa water, can be harsh to spa cover materials. Low pH or high sanitizer level, or shocking the spa and then closing the cover – all can lead to a slow deterioration of seams and vinyl.

Chemicals on the top of your spa cover can also be harmful to the vinyl. Spills of spa chemicals, or using harsh cleaners or the wrong kind of conditioner (like Armor-All), can dry out the vinyl and cause it to shrink, which eventually leads to splits in the fabric.

Don’t let these enemies of our spa covers hatch their evil plans! Protect your cover and it will protect your spa – much longer!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Foam: Eliminating Hot Tub Foaming

March 6th, 2014 by

foamy-hot-tubMy family and I took a short holiday recently, to a large theme park in Anaheim – I think you know the one I’m referring to. Well, we stayed in one of their theme hotels, which had a nice pool and spa. The spa water looked a little cloudy, but we got in anyway (after I checked the sanitizer level, lol). Turned on the bubbles, and whoa – did we get bubbles! Foam was nearly a foot high off the water. My kids thought it was hilarious fun and my wife didn’t seem to mind. I was disgusted, quite frankly.

Spa and Hot Tub foam is just plain nasty, when you know what has created the foaming water. A hot tub is not just a small pool – think of it as more of a large bath tub. When several people hop into a hot tub, the water becomes saturated with chemicals and soaps used on our skin, hair and bathing suits.

Causes of Hot Tub Foam

Every time you use your spa, the warm water absorbs dead skin cells, perspiration and dirt, and also lotions, oils, soaps, cosmetics and hair products. Over time, these invisible solids build up in the water, making the water ‘thick’.

Spa water chemistry also plays a role. A high pH and alkalinity and/or low calcium hardness levels creates an ideal condition for foaming. Add spa calcium increaser if you have soft water in your area, and your calcium hardness level is below 150 ppm. And, maintaining your pH level at 7.4-7.6 and your alkalinity in the range of 80-120 ppm will not only help prevent foaming, but has many other advantages.

Solutions to Hot Tub Foam

Spa Shock can break down many of these substances and reduce spa foaming in most cases, but spa shock has trouble removing oils and phosphates from the water.

Spa Enzymes can be used to break down oily, soapy substances, naturally. Enzymes actively seek and consume oils and scum which contribute to hot tub foam.

Spa Defoamer can be used to instantly remove spa foam. It’s a silicone solution that when sprayed on the surface, reduces surface tension, and spa foam disappears (if only temporarily).

Preventing Hot Tub Foam

The options above will do well to control a foamy hot tub, and keep the foaming to a minimum – but, it’s not really solving the problem.

Draining the Spa is the ultimate and inevitable solution to hot tub foaming. To prevent foaming caused by BioFilm, use Jet Clean before draining, at least once per year. If you can’t do a complete drain, you can drain half of the spa, and refill – and although it’s not a full drain & clean, you can fix a foaming spa problem, at least temporarily, in this manner.

Taking a shower before using the spa is always recommended, especially if you need to shower – and I think you know what I mean. Don’t use the spa as a bathtub.

Don’t Submerge if you have long hair, put your hair up to keep hair products out of the tub. Even those with short hair can bring in shampoo, conditioner and hair gel into the tub when they go under water.

Rinse your swimsuit in hot water if you have laundered them. Avoid wearing T-shirts or clothing that has been washed with soap. Trace amounts in your clothing or bathing suits will cause spa foaming.

Maintain Water Balance, with particular care to your pH, calcium and sanitizer levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Parts: Spa and Hot Tub Valves

February 17th, 2014 by

hot-tub-and-spa-valvesSpa & Hot Tub Valves come in two forms – water valves and check valves.

Spa water valves are used to control the flow of water or air – to partially or fully shut off the flow, or to redirect it in different directions. Water valves placed before the pump control the suction inlets, like the skimmer and spa drain. Valves after the pump control the flow of water through different banks of spa jets. Valves also allow you to shut off the water flow when cleaning the spa filter or repairing spa equipment.

Spa check valves are used to keep water from flowing backwards through certain pipes. Check valves are also called one-way flow valves, because that’s what they do, allow water to travel in only one direction. Tiny check valves are also used on spa ozone systems, to keep the gas flowing in the right direction, and keep spa water out of the ozonator.

Spa Water Valves

Controlling the flow of water in your spa requires a valve that can handle temperature, chemicals and pressurized water. Spa valves also need to be able to hold a positive seal, or completely shut off the flow of water.

There are 3 types of spa valve design – Ball valves, Guillotine valves and Diverter Valves used on spas and hot tubs.

spa-ball-valveBall Valves

Ball valves have a ball shaped diverter inside, and are made with or without unions (the large nut that allows you to open the valve for repair or service). The pipe connections can be slip or threaded. Ball valves are only available as a 2-way valve – one pipe in, one pipe out. They may be installed on either side of the pool pump, to allow you to service or repair the pump or spa pack. We stock two sizes of a spa union ball valve, to fit 1.5” and 2.0” pipe.

 

guillotine-spa-valveGuillotine Valves

Also called slice valves, a guillotine type spa valve has a flat blade that slides down to block water flow; pull up to open the valve. The end connections can be slip or threaded, male or female, with or without unions, and are only available as a 2-way valve.  Slice valves are the most commonly used valve on hot tubs, and we carry 3 brands: Magic, Valterra and Waterway, to fit 1.5″, 2.0″ and 2-1/2″ pipe.

 

jandy-space-saver-Diverter Valves

With a rotating diverter design, the Jandy valve revolutionized pool and spa plumbing, by creating an easy to use 3-way valve. This design allows for configuration of 2 pipes in, 1 pipe out – or 1 pipe in and two pipes out.  The Jandy Space Saver valve is used in many spas and swim spas, and has 3 slip ports to accept pipe size of 1.5″ or 2.0″. ortega-valves

We also carry Waterway diverter valves, 2-way, 3-way and even 4-way. The Ortega spa valve has a unique internal diverter design, available in 2-way, shown right.

 

Spa Check Valves

spa-check-valvesIf your inground spa drains when the pump shuts off, you may have a bad check valve, designed to keep the water from gravity draining. Your spa air blower also likely has a check valve, to prevent water from entering the blower motor. Ozone check valves are used to keep water out of the ozonator unit.

Spa check valves are spring loaded, and use springs of different thickness, to keep the valve closed until a pressure minimum is reached. Available in 1.5″ and 2.0″, there are spa water check valves, and spa air check valves.

 

If our spa tech support personnel can be of any assistance to you in identifying, or troubleshooting the valves on your spa or hot tub, please call us, or send an email for a fast response.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Parts: Ozonator Parts

January 27th, 2014 by

ozone-molecule

Ozone is used in spas and hot tubs for sanitation and disinfection purposes. It’s widely known to be the world’s most powerful sanitizer, and when combined with good filtration, can almost provide all of your spa sanitation needs.

But alas – ozone is not a stand-alone sanitizer. Many people with an aversion to chlorine or bromine supplement their spa ozonator with a mineral purifier and non-chlorine shocking. You can also use ozone with about half of the bromine or chlorine normally required.

Ozone systems are fairly simple devices, and thus can be simply understood by most people, which makes troubleshooting easier. This article is about the ozonator parts that may be needed in common spa ozone repairs.

There are two types of ozonators for spas – Ultraviolet systems (UV) and Corona Discharge (CD) systems. UV systems create ozone by using an ultraviolet light bulb, which converts oxygen molecules (O2) into ozone molecules (O3).

Corona discharge ozonators create ozone by using a small electric charge through the air, which also converts O2 into O3. CD systems can outperform UV systems in ozone output by a factor of four, and with far less energy consumption.

Is My Ozonator Working?

Fair enough question – ozonators work silently with the usual exception of a small stream of champagne bubbles coming from one of the spa returns. Your unit should have an indicator light, or you may be able to smell the ozone gas if you remove the discharge hose. There is a spa ozone test available that you can use if you want to check the spa for the presence of ozone. Ozonators don’t last very long however, most UV systems need a new bulb within 2 years, and for newer CD ozonators, it can be shorter and can require a new CD chip every 12-18 months.

Which Type of Ozonator Do I Have?

SideTypicalUVCD

Most CD ozonators tend to be boxy units, with a hose than connects to an injection fitting, or a larger injection manifold. UV ozonators tend to be long and cylindrical, housing a long UV tube bulb. They will also have a hose to inject the ozone gas from the generator unit into the water stream. UV systems can also be identified by their strange blue glow.

To buy parts for an ozonator, you’ll need to know the brand, or more specifically – the make and model. The easiest way to ID your spa ozonator, is to look closely for the label that’s on the unit. A flashlight and maybe reading glasses will be necessary.

Repair or Replace?

repair-or-replace your spa ozonator

It’s not uncommon, with the low price of spa ozonators nowadays, for spa owners to just replace an ozonator with new, for less than $100. So consider that an option, after obtaining your ozonator make and model. Every two years or less, order the exact replacement model. Switching to a different model could require plumbing in a new mixing chamber or injection manifold, which is usually not a big job, but may require draining of the spa.

Common Spa Ozone Parts

If you do want to make your own ozonator repairs, you can save a few dollars in the process. Spa ozone problems usually boil down to either ozone production or ozone delivery. Either not enough is being made, and you need a new UV bulb or CD chip – or the air pump, air hose, check valve, or injectors have clogged or failed.

The most common spa and hot tub ozone parts fall into one of these categories.

Ozone  Injection Manifolds

If the ozone bubbles cease in your spa, but when you remove the hose from the injector fitting you can smell it, you have a clogged or failed injector or manifold. Or you may have a clogged or failed check valve within the ozone hose.

spa-ozonator-manifoldMost modern spas and hot tubs will use a 3/4 inch injector, threaded on both ends, which connects to a dedicated ozone line or to the heater pipe. The internal injector can become clogged. Replacing the cap will usually fix your ozone trouble, or you can replace the entire injector assembly.spa-manifold

Larger inground spas or pools will use a 1.5 or 2.0 inch manifold that plumbs into the return line or a dedicated ozone line. These allow excess water pressure to bypass the ozone mixing chamber. Repairs to these larger manifolds are usually limited to replacing the injection fitting.

Ozone Diffusers

dimension-one-diffuserA diffuser is device that diffuses the ozone gas, creating smaller bubbles which allows it to come into contact with a greater number of contaminants. It’s commonly attached to the end of the ozone hose, and is most common on older, over-the-wall hot tub ozonators. Prozone and Dimension One are two ozone systems that use a diffuser

Air Pumps

Not so common on most modern spa ozonators, but a few dimension one ozone systems use a small air pump to inject the ozone gas into the pipe. These can be external mounts, or more commonly mount inside of the ozone unit. If your bubbles quit coming, check that manual air valves are closed, which could reduce suction. Replacing an inline check valve, the small one-way flow valve within the clear ozone hose is a very common spa ozone repair.

UV Lamps & CD Chips

spa-cd-chips-uv-bulbsAs mentioned above, neither of these items last for long. When the bulb quits working that can be obvious, as you no longer see the strange blue light. Most UV bulbs will last for 2-3 years. For a CD system, each CD chip is rated for a certain number of hours, so you could do the math. Running a CD system daily will usually give it an average lifespan of about 2 years. Larger ozonators using a CD electrode can be in service longer, usually around 3-5 years.

Hose and Clamps

Ozone tubing or hose will eventually dry out and deteriorate from the ozone, becoming brittle and discolored. Generally speaking, it will need replacement every year or two. In a pinch, you can use hose from Home Depot, but it won’t last as long as the manufacturer ozone hose.

Replace your clamps every few years as well to prevent them from cracking and the hose slipping off of either end. Loop and hang the hose in such a way so that it won’t crimp or bend.

Renewal Kitscd-renewal-kit

A renewal kit is an ozonator repair kit, made to fit Del ozonators. They typically include hose, fittings, check valve, CD chip and hose clamps. They come with full instructions and is a rapid renewal, only taking 15-20 minutes to replace these spa parts.

If you have any questions with troubleshooting your spa ozonator or finding the correct ozone parts, you can always call or email our spa tech supporters!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Preventing Freeze Damage to a Spa or Hot Tub

January 20th, 2014 by

frozen-spaFreeze damage  is when water freezes and expands inside of spa pipes or spa equipment, like your filter, pump or heater.

Water expands about 10% when it freezes. For pipes or equipment that have a small amount of water inside, for instance a pipe that is less than half full of water, unused space inside the pipe allows for some ice expansion.

When pipes, pumps or filters are more than half full of water, there is little room for expansion, and even very thick materials can burst from the ice pressure inside.

Today’s lesson centers on how to avoid freeze damage in a spa or hot tub, which can be a complicated and expensive spa repair, and in some cases, could ‘total’ the spa, with repair costs of thousands of dollars.

There are 3 ways to prevent freeze damage in a spa or hot tub

1. Winterize the Spa

We don’t recommend that you winterize your spa, unless you are sure that it won’t be used for at least 3 months, or it cannot be maintained (at a vacation home, for example).

Winterizing the spa is a process that takes a few hours, to drain all of the water from the spa, and use air to ‘blow the lines’, to force water from the pipes, hoses and equipment.

We did an article on How to Winterize a Spa, if you are thinking about winterizing the spa. It’s not difficult, but if you want assurances of a proper winterization, most spa service companies offer this service.

2. Use Freeze Protection

Modern spas packs will have a freeze protection mode on the spa that will turn on the circulation pump when temps get close to freezing. If you don’t see this available in your control options for the spa, you may not have freeze protection.BALBOA-SPA-PACK

Freeze protection works with an air temperature sensor that communicates with a controller, wired into the pump power circuit. Freeze protection is standard equipment on all of our Digital, Flex-Fit and Balboa spa packs, which is the simplest way of adding freeze protection for older spas with air activated spa packs.

For help adding freeze protection to your spa, feel free to call our spa techs with some information about your spa.

3. Run the Pump

As long as water is moving through the pipes – all of the pipes, the water won’t freeze. Open up all of your jets, if your spa has the ability to isolate banks of jets. Low speed can be used, as long as all pipes are utilized.

The water need not be hot, or even heated at all – in most cases. As long as it’s moving through all of the pipes and equipment when temperatures are below 32 degrees. The heat from the spa pump, under a closed skirt, is also helpful to heat up the equipment. Of course, a spa cover should be used during winter to avoid ice forming on the spa surface.

During winter, it may be wise to operate your pump 24 hours per day in cold northern areas, or set the time clock to turn on the pump for 10 minutes every half hour.

 

ALSO HELPFUL TO PREVENT FREEZE DAMAGE: frozen-jacuzzi

  • Adding heat to your spa, a hot spa can give 24 hours of protection
  • Keeping a tight fitting spa cover in place and secure
  • Spa insulation – the more there is, the more protection you have
  • Hang a 100 watt shop light, under the skirt, next to the spa pack

 

FROZEN SPA!

If you discover a spa or hot tub that is solid frozen, and maybe you spot some freeze damage already, the equipment needs to be thawed out. If there are cracked pipes, using electric space heaters could be unsafe, under the skirt.

If you have a camping tent large enough to place over the spa, you can thaw out a spa in a few hours. When I was servicing spas in Colorado, we had a tent we used whenever we’d get a ‘frozen spa’ call. We used a small kerosene heater once the tent was set up over the spa, and monitored it closely. If there was freeze damage, (and there usually was), we would drain it completely, make the repair and fill it back up.

Adding hot water to the spa is another old trick. With a small adapter, a garden hose can be attached to most sink faucets, to bring hot water to the spa, to raise the water temperature for a faster thaw. In some cases, you can gently wet frozen pipes with warm water – just don’t spray any motors, electronics or controls.

 

SPA POWER FAILURE!

COLD!

If your power fails during winter, remember that a heated spa with a good fitting spa cover has enough warmth to prevent freeze damage for 24 hours or so, longer if it’s very well insulated.

To maintain some heat under the spa skirt during a power failure, you could hang a 100 watt shop light in a location close to the spa pack. In some scenarios, a small space heater may be safe to use also, inside the spa cabinet, in a dry location, until power is restored.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Ozone Problems

January 6th, 2014 by

spa ozone bubblesOzone is one of the world’s most powerful sanitizers – over 200 times more powerful than chlorine. Using ozone in a spa or hot tub allows you to use fewer chemicals and may even require less filtration time.

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 2-3 years, it’s time for a renovation or replacement of the ozone unit.

 

Is My Spa Ozonator Working?

When released into the line, ozone immediately begins to kill contaminants in your spa – when it’s working. But, how do you know when it’s working?

  1. Bubbles in the heater return line. A steady stream of champagne bubbles entering the spa.
  2. Spa ozonators have a power indicator light, but this doesn’t mean that ozone is being produced.
  3. There are ozone test kits, which tells you if your ozonator is producing ozone.
  4. If you remove the supply tube from the check valve, you should be able to smell the ozone.
  5. Water quality will deteriorate when ozone is no longer being produced, requiring more chemicals.

 

Clogged Ozone Injector

ozone-injectorAn injector is the point of entry for the ozone gas, which is located in the center of a venturi manifold, shown here. The injector draws in the ozone, mixing it with the water, where sanitation begins immediately.

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 heavier deposits.

Broken Ozone Check Valve

A check valve is used on many spa ozone systems, to prevent water from backing up through the hose, and getting into your ozone unit. 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 check valves (shown here) every year. Cleaning a check valve with vinegar can remove deposits, but be sure that the mechanism inside is still doing it’s job.

Split Ozone Tubing

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

Inspect your ozone hose often, from end to end for degradation. Del recommends that the 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.

Ozonator Expired

ozone-CD-chipFinally, the ozone generator itself may have expired. There are two types of spa ozonators, UV and CD. 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.

CD, or corona discharge ozonators, will require a new chip or electrode every few years, to maintain ozone output. Del sells renewal kits for their CD spa ozonators, and it’s quite a simple repair.

Spa Ozonator Maintenance

…is not so difficult, once you know what to look for. The most important thing is to replace ozone parts 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; 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. Maintain your spa ozonator to keep your spa sanitary.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

DIY Spa Cover Repair Videos

December 19th, 2013 by

spa-cover-repair

 

Making my own repairs around the house is something I take great pride in. I’ve been accused of being too independent, and taking it a bit too far sometimes. Like the time I thought I’d install my own whole house generator. That was a big job, too big. But spa cover repair, how bad can it be?

If you like to make your own repairs around the home, and don’t mind patching things up, to get a few more years of life, this blog post is for you. Here’s some videos of some real boot strap pioneers, with ideas on how to repair a few common problems with spa covers.

Spa covers can be repaired if they aren’t allowed to go to far before receiving some attention. And if you have two of these major defects at the same time, it may be more economical to replace the entire thing with a new spa cover.

Here’s some ideas for you spa owners with an independent streak! There’s a lot of DIY hot tub repairs happening!

 

Repair Tears in the Vinyl Covering

The cover of your spa or hot tub cover is made with marine grade vinyl. It’s tough, but not tough enough. Over time, UV rays will deteriorate the vinyl, and you may notice threadbare areas. Or, your spa cover may have fallen victim to the sharp claws and teeth of a pet or wild animal. Or, It could have been dragged against something sharp, tearing or ripping the fabric. As this video shows, you can patch a spa cover, using tapes and a vinyl repair kit or patch glued on top of the problem area. This will help to lock out moisture and prevent the hole from becoming larger over time.

Replace the Vinyl Covering

If your problem is not an isolated hole or trouble spot, you may choose to recover the spa top with new marine grade vinyl. With a large sheet of unbacked vinyl, a can of contact cement and a large spreader, you can cover over the entire top of the spa cover, and the sides too. In this way, you not only get a newer appearance, but you cover many holes or thin areas all at once. You can find marine grade vinyl at a boating supply shop, or at a good fabric store. You may not find the heavy duty 30 oz weight that we use on our spa covers, but if you get something close you can add a few years to your hot tub cover.

Replace the Foam Inserts

The foam panels of your spa cover is what gives your spa much of it’s rigidity and is the main insulation for the spa cover as well. Large dogs, heavy snow load or kids using it as a dance floor can all cause the panels to break. As this video shows, you can open up the panels and replace with a high r-value home wall insulation board, which you cut to the shape of your existing foam panels. Then wrap it tightly in 6 mil plastic. It won’t have the r-value of our 2 lb foam, nor the advantage of our vacuum sealed 6 mil wrap, with heat welded seams, but a panel replacement of this type can be quite effective.

Replace the Cover Straps

Your hot tub cover straps serve an important dual purpose – to keep the cover secure during high winds, and also to help lock out youngsters and others who shouldn’t be using the spa, at least not alone. You can add extra spa straps if you want more protection, or if your spa cover straps have dry rotted and broken off, you can replace your spa cover straps and clips. We sell a set of spa cover strap clips and you can buy nylon webbing (strapping) at any fabric store.

Of course, there are some things that you can do yourself – you can even make your own spa cover! We would like to remind you how important your time is, and suggest that when the time comes, take it easy and buy a new spa cover from Hot Tub Works instead!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara

 

Hot Tub Repair Business – Train to be a Spa Repair Man

December 16th, 2013 by

spa-repairman-hot-tubs-tooMany of us here at hottubworks got our start in the retail end of the spa business, but others are from the service business.

A Spa and Hot Tub repair company will offer several services, namely equipment repair and replacement, regular service and maintenance accounts, winterize, summerize and spa relocation services. They could also have spa inspection services for realtors, and orientation services for new spa owners. With factory training, you can perform warranty service for major spa manufacturers.

Spa and hot tub repair companies may also work on Jetted Tubs, usually installed in modern bathrooms. They could work with commercial spas and hot tubs like municipal spas, hotels, condos, resorts and therapy centers, or they can go a more residential route and work on inground or aboveground home spas; some indoors, but mostly outside on the patio.

So that’s your customer. But what about you? What skills are needed to become a successful spa entrepreneur? A successful spa technician, or a spa repair person will wear many hats.

  1. Chemist: You will be called upon to correct bad water conditions, with accurate testing and chemical additions.
  2. Electrician: Most spas are quite electrical, with loads like the pump motors, heater, blower controlled by a pcb, or printed circuit board.
  3. Engineer: Hydraulics and flow mechanics. Make repairs to the plumbing, install new spa equipment or an entirely new spa.
  4. Teacher: A good spa tech and business owner will make a business of teaching and instructing spa owners how to manage their spa.

I find that people with HVAC experience, including home appliance techs tend to understand spas and hot tubs pretty well. It really is not that much different than a large washing machine! Well, that’s not entirely true, they are indeed more complicated than a washer, but that’s what also makes it interesting!

 

Where to Get Spa Training

CPO TrainingCPO

The Certified Pool Operator CPO, course is a national certification program, that yeah – mainly is focused on pools, but there is also a lot of spa information. Many of the concepts of swimming pools cross over to spas and hot tubs.

Professional Training

CHTT

Many professional associations, such as the American Pool & Spa Professionals APSP, or the International Hot Tub Association IHTA, offer training through their local chapters, or at their national and regional trade shows. Some even have a certified professional courses that you can take and earn a ‘degree’ in spa repair.

Spa Repair Forums

SPA-FORUMS

Bulletin Boards are a great way to learn about spas and hot tub repair. Read the posts, read the replies – now you know! There are a few discussion boards or forums out there that deal with spa topics. I’d like to point out the Hot Tub Works spa repair forum first and foremost. Spa Forums.com also has a nice chunk of info online. RHTubs has another good spa forum.

Retailer Resources

HOT-TUB-TOOLBOX

At Hot Tub Works, we are proud of the videos and articles that we have put together on all sorts of spa and hot tub technical topics. The Hot Tub Toolbox is our library of articles and videos on various pool topics. Our friends at Spa Depot also has a nice spa info section, laid out by category. You can find lots of high quality spa and hot tub information online, and it’s all free.

Spa Repair Books

ULTIMATE-GUIDE

There are not a lot of books about spa repair on the market. Most books about spas are glossy coffee table books, or cover a very limited range of information. There is one book called The Ultimate Guide to Spas and Hot Tubs, which is jammed full of good information, in 320 illustrated pages, spread over 9 chapters. Tool Tips and Tricks of the Trade are given in each subject area.

What Else Is Needed?

Aside from good knowledge of spa care and repair, you’ll also need have a few other things for a successful spa repair company.

  1. Business License and registered Trade Name.
  2. Separate bank account and insurance policy.
  3. Advertising and Networking to add clients.
  4. Service vehicle with tools and supplies.
  5. Webpage or Online Directory listings.
  6. Great customer service skills.open-for-business

Your state or city may have other specific licenses to register the business, such as an Occupancy Permit, or special contractors license. You’ll need to file tax returns for the business, and pay any other license fees in your area.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara