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Daniel Lara's Posts

Help – my Spa Heater isn’t Heating!

July 4th, 2014 by

dreamstime_xs_37231190-lgWhat’s a Hot Tub without a Heater? A Cool Bath!

In the second post in our “Help!” series, we take a look at the water temperature in your spa or hot tub, specifically, when it is lower than you want!

Temperatures of 100° to 104° are preferred by most hot tubbers, and nothing is worse than checking your spa temperature, and finding your thermometer dropping!

Troubleshooting a hot tub heater is a step-by-step process, to determine if you have a pressure problem, a power problem or a part problem.

PRESSURE PROBLEMS

Spa heaters need to have enough water flow, or more specifically, enough water pressure to operate. That is why your spa has a pressure switch, a simple device that senses the water pressure, or flow rate. When the water flow is high enough, the switch is open, or ON, which allows the heater to operate. When the pressure falls below the minimum set point of the pressure switch, it flips closed, or OFF, which breaks the circuit, and the heater won’t come on. Pressure switches are important safety devices, to keep a spa heater from running when there is not enough water running through the heater to absorb the heat being produced.

The high limit switch can also be tripped by low pressure or water flow. When the water slows down in the heater, this raises the temperature of the water as it exits the heater. Most high limits are set to trip when they sense water temperatures of around 140° . Tripping high limit switches can be another symptom of a pressure problem.

What can cause pressure (flow) problems? First, clean the spa filter cartridge, or replace if it’s over 2 yrs old. If your circulation pump has a strainer basket, check that it is clean. Obstructed suction inlets, clogged pipes, or clogged pump impellers can also cause flow problems, as can obstructed outlets, closed valves or closed jets.

Is the pump moving water at all? An Air Lock in the pump after draining and refilling is not uncommon. Is the pump on low-speed? Most heaters will only operate with the pump on high speed.

Rule out pressure problems first by making sure water is flowing as fast as it should be to operate the heater.

POWER PROBLEMS

Power to the heater is the next thing to check. Specifically wires and connections. Locate your heater, and the wires that are connected, which should be very tight. Loose connections on the heater can cause overheating and hi-limit tripping, and even failed circuit boards. Inspect the wires for any frayed, chewed or burned wires.

Checking Voltage: If you are comfortable and cautious with testing voltage, you can check the volts on the heater terminals with a multi-meter, or AC volt meter. With the meter set onto AC volts, with a setting higher than 240V. With the thermostat turned up, and the pump running on high, touch or clip each meter lead to each terminal (at the same time), and you should see 220 volts, or something pretty close (215-225v).

If you do get 220V while touching to each heater terminal, but no heat, this usually means that the heater element is bad.  Inspect the coating around the filament of the heating element, any cracks or chips and the element should be replaced.

If you don’t get any volts while testing the heater leads or terminals, check that a GFCI outlet is not tripped, as well as any circuit breakers.  Make sure the thermostat is turned up. If you still get nothing, the circuit board is likely bad.

Checking Continuity: With power off, the two heater terminals can be tested for continuity. Place your multi-meter on the lowest Ohms setting, and touch each lead to each terminal at the same time. If the meter doesn’t move, the element is bad. If the meter does move, and shows steady resistance, the element is probably good, but could still have a short – inspect the element for cracks or chips.

Rule out power problems by testing for voltage coming into your spa pack, and verifying that voltage is reaching your heating element.

PART PROBLEMS

spa-heater-parts-elementHeater Element: Heater elements can fail if the outer coating becomes cracked, corroded or chipped. And, they can also fail without any visible signs on the heater element. Checking for voltage and continuity, as described above can help determine your elements condition. Average lifespan: 5-10 years.

SPA-PARTS-SPA-FILTERSFilter Cartridge: Filter cartridges are not really a heater system part, but so crucial to heater operation. Clogged spa filters may look normal, but be full of small crystallized minerals covered in oily gunk. Average lifespan: 1-2 years.

 

SPA-PARTS-PRESSURE-SWITCHESPressure Switch: When your spa filter, or suction intakes, or return jets are clogged, blocked or obstructed, the pressure switch will stay closed and keep the heater from working. The same if your pump is on low speed, or if valves are closed. A pressure switch can be easily jumped out with a wire and two alligator clips. Many spa pressure switches are adjustable from 1-5 psi, and sometimes the internal diaphragm fails, requiring replacement. Average lifespan 5-10 years.

hi-limit-spaHigh Limit Switch: The hi-limit switch often has a reset button located near the heater. You may experience occasional nuisance tripping, but repeated tripping indicates either low flow or a malfunctioning heater element. High limit switches can also be bad. They can often be jumped out, using a wire and alligator clips, to bypass the component temporarily, for testing purposes. Average lifespan: 10-15 years.

thermostat-hot-tubThermostat: Older spas will have a manual thermostat that is turned with a knob. Often this is on the side of the heater unit. Some very old spa thermostats are adjustable with a small Allen key, but use caution not to turn up the heat to more than 104°. Newer spas will use potentiometers and sensors to control the temperature regulation via the circuit board. Average lifespan: 10-15 years. 

 

spa-contactorContactor: This is a switch before the heater, which confirms the voltage is regular. When so, the contactor closes and allows power to continue to the heat4er element. Some contactors are loud enough to be heard clicking into place when power is sent to the element. Contactors can become insect infested or can pop a spring occasionally. Average lifespan: 10-15 years.

gfi-outletGFCI: Your spa should have a GFCI breaker in the panel, and also may have a GFCI outlet connected to the spa pack. Ground fault circuit interrupters are very sensitive and they can become overly sensitive. These are safety devices which sense current going to ground, so when they trip repeatedly, this indicates that some small amount of voltage is leaving the circuit. They can also fail from time to time. Average lifespan 10-15 years

spa-pcbPCB: This is an abbreviation for Printed Circuit Board, the circuit board that controls the functions of your spa. Failures of the board are unfortunate and not too unc0mmon. They can result from improper or loose wiring, excessive moisture or heat, voltage spikes which ‘fry’ the board. Troubleshooting a pcb is difficult even for a knowledgeable person with equipment. Spa circuit boards can be repaired, but replacement can often be a cheaper, faster solution. Average lifespan: 10-15 years.

Rule out parts problems by testing each component individually. When a spa heater is not working, there is one or more component to the system that is keeping it from operating. And, as I’ve heard many electricians say, …“the problem lies, where the power dies! “

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Help! My Spa Pump is Leaking!

June 9th, 2014 by

leaking-spa-pump-causes It happens to all spa and hot tub owners at one time or another. You first notice that the spa seems to be needing more refill water than usual, and then you notice a wet spot around the spa pack equipment, and it hasn’t rained in a while…

The spa pump is just one of the areas that can leak in your spa, but it is one of the most common. That’s because your pump shaft is spinning around at speeds of up to 3450 rpm – that’s a lot of friction and a lot of heat generated.

Spa pumps can also leak from freeze damage or from experiencing a water hammer effect. Let’s delve into 3 places a spa pump could be leaking – and what to do about it.

LEAKING SHAFT SEAL:

The mechanical shaft seal wraps around the spinning motor shaft, at the rear of the volute. The design of the two piece shaft seal allows the shaft to spin freely, without leaking. Spa pump seals can fail, especially if the pump was run dry, or if valves are closed while the pump is running, known as deadheading, which creates a water hammer effect when the water suddenly stops in the pipes. If the shaft seal is leaking the water will be running down the backside of the volute and dripping off of the bottom center, in tell-tale fashion.

To order replacement shaft seals, you first need to know which type your pump uses, we have dozens of different shaft seals, give us a call or email with your pump make/model and hp and we can look it up for you.

shaft-seal-for-spa-pumpTo replace a hot tub pump shaft seal, you need to open up the wet end of the pump, known as the volute. Clamp the shaft tightly while you spin off the impeller. There you will see one half of the shaft seal (the spring half) on the impeller stem, and one half of the seal is press fit into the back of the volute, where the motor shaft enters. Remove the bolts that connect the volute to the motor. Knock out the rubber and ceramic ring in the volute, and press fit the new seal half in place, being careful to keep it clean. Slide the other half of the seal, the spring half, off of the impeller, and slide the new one on in the same direction. They should both fit very snugly, if you have the right shaft seal (these are not universal, each pump has it’s own seal).

LEAKING UNIONS:

The unions are those large white rings that are threaded onto the pump, one where the water enters and one where it exits. A spa union is a 3-part connector, with two halves – and a large ring or nut to tighten the halves together. One side usually has male threads which screw into the pump. In between the two halves sits a very important o-ring, which can become dislodged if the union is opened or tightened while there is water rushing out. spa-unions

Another type of leaking union occurs when the threads that are screwed into the exit of the pump have heated up and shrunken slightly. This can happen if the pump runs dry, or otherwise generates enough heat. The tell tale sign to look for is water leaking around the union which carries water out of the pump. When it happens on the incoming union, the one that brings water into the pump, this will usually draw air when the pump is running, and leak water when the pump is off.

In both cases, you can quickly repair a leaking union, by reseating or replacing a union o-ring, or replacing a union half that has shrunken. If you have trouble finding the right spa union parts (there are a number of different union types), please let us know!

LEAKING VOLUTE:

The third and final type of leaking spa pump is the leaking volute, aka impeller housing. The volute can become cracked if left full of water at freezing temperatures, which then drains the spa for you as it thaws.

The volute can also become damaged by a water hammer effect, caused by closing off valves after the pump while the pump is running. If your volute has cracked, that should be obvious, it’s usually a fast leaker that is hard to miss, and different than a leaking union or shaft seal. spa-wet-end-schematic

To repair a cracked volute; you can replace just the volute parts that are cracked (front or rear volute half) or you can buy the entire wet end, center discharge wet ends or wet ends for side discharge pumps. The entire wet end includes both volute halves, impeller, diffuser and seal; use if you are more comfortable replacing the entire shebang.

 

~ Spa and hot tub pump parts are always urgently needed, that’s why we triage orders that contain certain pump parts, to meet our goal of shipping pump parts within 2 hours of your order. If your spa pump is leaking water, it’s either a bad shaft seal, bad union or bad wet end.

Place spa pump parts orders early in the day, and remember you can always email us for a fast reply or call a spa tech from 7-7 M-F and until 4pm on Saturday to be certain that you are ordering the correct pump parts to fix your leaking spa pump.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Chlorine or Non-Chlorine Shock for Hot Tubs?

May 19th, 2014 by

spa-hot-tub-shock-treatments

Spa and Hot Tub Shockwhat’s better – chlorinated granules or non-chlorine shock?

This post takes a look at the differences between two types of oxidizers used for spa shock treatments – Sodium DiChlor (chlorine granules) or MPS – Monopersulfate (chlorine free).

WHY SHOCK SPAS & HOT TUBS? Oxidizers are added to pools and spas to destroy pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and also organic contaminants that lead to algae growth.

The second main reason is to destroy molecular combinations between your main sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), and other organic matter, which create foul smelling -amines in the water.

WHEN TO SHOCK A SPA? The best time to shock a spa is after you have used the spa, or every 7-10 days. Don’t shock just before using the spa which will reduce it’s effectiveness, and could cause skin irritation. Wait at least an hour after shocking (with MPS), while circulating the water with the spa cover open, before getting in the tub.

HOW TO SHOCK A HOT TUB? Follow the label instructions, for specific dosages. Check your pH first, and adjust to within 7.2 – 7.6. This will allow the oxidizer to work harder, with a pH in the lower half of the scale. Just shake the required amount over the water, being careful of winds, which could blow the powder in your face. Don’t rinse off the cap or scoop in the water, keep it dry and clean at all times for safety. Keep the cover open to allow for gassing off, an important part of the process.

WHAT TYPE OF SPA SHOCK IS BEST? Finally, we are at the meat of this post – which is better for spas and hot tubs, MPS or chlorine shock? Let’s create some distinctions between the two types of spa shock, by looking at benefits of each, not shared by the other.

PRICE COMPARISON

SPA-SHOCK-PRICES-COMPARISON-CHARTHow do Chlorine Granules compare to MPS in terms of price? Is there a large difference between the two? Our chart shows 4 chlorine shocks, 5 MPS shocks, and one blend, Replenish, which contains MPS, with some chlorine added.

Chlorine granules come out a bit cheaper by the pound than MPS spa shock, which has a much wider price range, all higher per pound than chlorine, with the notable exception of Activate shock.

 

STRENGTH COMPARISON

SPA-SHOCK-STRENGTH-COMPARSION-CHART-2The reason that DiChlor shock is used in spas, is that DiChlor is more stable at higher temperatures and has a near neutral pH level. Spa shocks are particularly fine, more of a powder than a granular, so that they dissolve quickly.

All 4 of the chlorine hot tub shocks are 56% Available Chlorine. Among the 5 non-chlorine spa shocks, all are blends of MPS in different formulations, with different percentage of MPS.

If one was to generalize the relative strengths of MPS and DiChlor, it could be said that both Dichlor and MPS have equivalent ability as an algaecide, bactericide and virucide. Dichlor shock may have an edge for spas that are heavily used, or in need of high levels of oxidation.

 FEATURES AND BENEFITS

 

Dichlor-molecule - RSC.orgCHLORINATED GRANULES:

Although there are many types of pool shocks available, using Calcium or Lithium or Sodium Hypochlorite, chlorine hot tub shocks are primarily made with Sodium DiChloro-S-Triazinetrione, or DiChlor for short.

  • Neutral pH, Quick dissolving
  • Sanitizes and oxidizes pathogens and organic contaminants
  • Lower price point

MPS-potassium-peroxymonopersulfate  from rsc.orgMPS SHOCK:

There are a few formulations of MPS, but most of the monopersulfate sold for spas and hot tubs is a blend of MPS, primarily purchased from DuPont, and packaged for resale under many brand names.

  • Low pH, Quick dissolving
  • An excellent oxidizer and a fair sanitizer
  • Does not contribute calcium or cyanuric acid to your spa water
  • Can use the spa almost immediately, unlike with chlorine
  • No odor, gentle on spa covers

 

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you are not using bromine tablets to sanitize, but instead using minerals and ozone, DiChlor may be a better shock to use, but – if you use Bromine tablets or Angel Tabs to sanitize, use the MPS shock to oxidize. I’ve always used bromine tablets and shock the spa with MPS after we use it. However, I also keep some DiChlor on hand, and give the spa a super shock about every month.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Filters – 3 Ways

May 5th, 2014 by

too-many-spa-filters-to-choose-fromThe sheer number of spa filter cartridges is enough to boggle the mind. I have a cross-reference book on my desk for all of the pool and spa cartridges that are available – I’m guessing that there are 5000 cartridges in this little book.

I think it’s safe to say that there may be some confusion at times, on behalf of a hot tub owner trying to find a replacement spa filter. In most cases, you can look on the cartridge itself, for the filter number, but what if you have a Unicel and are searching in a Pleatco or Filbur database? Or what if you have a manufacturer’s filter cartridge, is there a generic available? And what if the cartridge is destroyed or got thrown out by mistake?

Rest easy my friends, Hot Tub Works has the solutions to these and other spa filter quandaries. Introducing:

Spa Filters 3-Ways!

BY PART NUMBER

find-my-filterMost savvy spa owners already know this – but there is a filter number stamped into the end cap of the filter cartridge. It may be a Unicel, Pleatco or Filbur number. It can even be a manufacturer part number. Just find the number printed on your spa cartridge, and enter it into the box, and click the Find my Filter button.

BY MANUFACTURER

find-my-filterHere’s another way to Find your Filter – when you don’t see a part number printed on the end cap, you probably have an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) filter cartridge. We have nearly 250 spa and hot tub manufacturers listed. Just select your make from the drop-down menu and click the Find my Filter button.

BY DIMENSIONS

find-my-filterIf these two methods fail you, we have another way to get you the correct spa filter cartridge. Just take an overall diameter and overall length of the cartridge, and choose the picture that matches your cartridge end – open, closed, castle-end, slotted, threaded… and click on the Find my Filter button.

spa-filter-ends

Remember to replace your spa filter cartridge every 12-24 months, depending on several factors. If you’re wondering if your spa filter cartridge is shot ~ check this post that Gina recently wrote ~ 5 signs that you need a new filter cartridge!

Let our super-duper database take all the guesswork out of buying a new spa filter…

 
Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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