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Daniel Lara's Posts

Winterizing a Spa or Hot Tub

October 7th, 2013 by

spa-under-snow

Most portable spas are not winterized, many spa owners find that winter is one of their most enjoyable seasons with their hot tub. But, if this is a summer home, or if you are more of a 3 season spa user, you can shut down the spa for the next 3-4 months. Power outages or maintenance needs may also make you decide to winterize the hot tub. If a tub full of water were to freeze hard for several days, it can destroy a hot tub beyond repair.

 

Essentially the process is the removing all water from the spa equipment, pipes and hoses. Any water left in the spa can grow stagnant bacteria, or if there is enough to fill a tight space in the pipes, it will freeze and expand, and crack pipes or equipment.

Clean the Pipes

Using a product like Tub Rinse, added to your spa the night before draining will remove bacteria formed in the pipes or jets. If untreated before draining the water from the spa, the bacteria can thrive with just the moisture left in the pipes. This is a very important step that should not be overlooked, or dismissed as spa suppliers just trying to sell another chemical. :-) We do like to sell spa chemicals, but really – this one is a very necessary chemical. Use twice per year, and always before draining the spa for an extended period of time.

Drain the Spa

Open up the spigot on the bottom of your spa, most spas will have one that you can attach a garden hose. A small submersible pump can also be used. A siphon could also be used, with some degree of success. In addition to the spigot, remove any drain plugs you have on your pump or filter, or unscrew the unions on each side of the equipment (don’t lose the o-ring), to allow all of the equipment (pump, filter, heater…) to drain out.

Once the spa is drained completely, and the lines are blown out, use towels or sponges to get any remaining drops of water, and allow the shell to air dry for several hours with the spa cover removed. It’s important to remove every bit of water, from the pipes, seats, floors, equipment – everything.

Blow the Lines

When the spa is nearly drained, turn on the spa blower (if you have one), and let it run for several minutes. If you have air controls for the blower (jets or seats, for example), adjust the controls so that the blower is forcing air into all areas.shop-vac

You can blow the lines out, or suck them out with a wet/dry vac (just reverse the hose). Use a large wet/dry vac, and seal the end of the hose up against the hole in the bottom of the skimmer, and the drain, and on all of the spa jets. Depending how your jets and plumbing are arranged, you may have more success with vacuuming, or vice-versa, with blowing. Usually, some combination of both will be most successful.

In most cases, for the spa jets, you’ll want to start up at the higher jets, and work your way down to the floor jets. Seat air jets or ring jets take some precisely focused air and a dry towel laid across the bench or floor to absorb the water as it spits out of the air jets. When vacuuming, a sheet of plastic may be helpful, to cover other jets connected to the same manifold, to increase suction on the jet you are vacuuming water from. Blow or suck (sorry), the air until you no longer see any water or mist being extracted or pushed out. Important!

Non-toxic RV or Pool antifreeze can be used as a last resort, but it can get a little slimy and smells bad, so I’d advise you to do without, unless you are not certain that all the water has been removed, with no puddling areas inside air or water manifolds or pipe.

Miscellaneous

  1. Use spa filter cleaner It’s crucial to remove scale, minerals, dirt and grime from the cartridge.spa-cover-conditioners
  2. Lubricate union o-rings on equipment connections with a Teflon based lubricant.
  3. Shut down power at the breaker, be sure the spa will not turn on while empty.
  4. Secure the cover tightly, and treat with spa cover conditioner.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Restore or Replace your Spa Skirt?

September 23rd, 2013 by

SPA-CABINET-RESTORATIONThe spa skirt, also known as the spa cabinet, or spa surround, is traditionally made of redwood or cedar for long life and resistance to rot and insects. Nowadays, composite materials are also common. These are mixtures of wood pulp and plastics, which resists rot and fading better than real wood.

In either case, there will come a time when your spa cabinet, or spa skirt doesn’t look so hot anymore. It may be faded, stained or rotting near the base. Moisture from overgrown plants or splattering rain or sprinklers can really damage the finish and appearance within a few short years. If left untreated, the spa skirt will begin to fall apart, like an old barn.

If your spa skirt is stained or faded, but the structure is intact, with very little wood rot – you can refinish your spa cabinet, in the same way you would any outdoor wood furniture or decking.

Restoring a Wood Spa Cabinet

  1. Remove the Panels: Use a cordless drill with a proper size Phillips head to remove panel mounting screws. If you have full access all around the spa, you could leave the panels on, but you can sand and finish the panels more easily when they are horizontal.
  2. Clean the Panels: Use a mild soap and a rough brush, or textured sponge. Scrub the entire panel to remove dirt, grime and oils. Rinse clean and use an old towel to scrub them dry.
  3. Sand the Panels: With a belt sander or orbital sander, and block sander. Start with about a 50 grit, and sand the entire surface. Clean with a shop vac, then sand again with a 100 grit. Clean again and finish with a fine grit, around 150. Clean very well to remove all dust from cracks and edges.
  4. Stain the Panels: Using a brush, rag or spray, apply your chosen outdoor stain according to directions. Minwax makes some nice products for staining hot tub cabinets.
  5. Seal the Panels: Unless your stain is a 1-step product with polyurethane, apply a wood sealer or waterproofing over the dry stain, to protect it from moisture and dirt.

Replacing a Spa Cabinet

If you have advanced wood rot that a simple patch won’t repair, or if you want to change the look of your spa cabinet, you could consider replacing your spa skirt. Here’s a few spa cabinet ideas that you can do yourself – DIY.

  1. Wainscoting: Sold in various size panels, or in more expensive packs of pre-cut cedar or pine tongue and groove boards. Just as you would use them on the bottom half of your dining room, you can apply this to the outside of your spa, and add a pressure treated base board, and molding around the top and sides of each panel.
  2. Replacement Spa Cabinet Kits: Available in 3 colors, these kits are a quick solution to a long lasting replacement spa skirt. Made of composite materials and in 3 colors, our Spa Cabinet Kits make spa cabinets with rounded corners easy to renovate, and will fit radius corners of 5″ to 12″, and any spa up to 96″ wide.
  3. Faux Stone or Brick Panels: and hundreds of other patterns of wood or stone. These panels are interlocking, and join with corner stacks that work well for square spa cabinets. Carry the design to surrounding walls, or add faux boulders, Omni Rocks, around the spa

spa-cabinet-renovation

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

 

Guide to Hot Tub and Spa Chemicals

September 16th, 2013 by

bogus book, photoshop invention, not for sale, lol

 

Hot tubs and spas would be so much more fun if they didn’t need any guides! One of those important care areas is managing the spa water chemistry.

Spa chemicals are used for water balance (pH, alkalinity and hardness), and then there are the sanitizer chemicals, and oxidizers for shocking the spa. And there’s minerals, and ozone, enzymes and clarifiers. And half a dozen other spa chemicals.

 

It’s enough to make you dizzy. To make it easier, we group our spa chemicals into five groups:

leisure-time

 

Spa Sanitizers

Bromine is the usual method, although you can sanitize with chlorine. Sanitizing a hot tub usually means adding sodium bromide, to establish a bromine bank, and then using enough bromine tablets to reach 2-3 ppm. Shocking the spa with an oxidizer is used to help reactivate the bromide ions. This is known as the 3-part system.

Free is a non-chlorine sanitizer by Leisure time that is completely chlorine or bromine free. If you want to operate a spa without either of these halogens, you can use this biguanide based system to sanitize the spa water.

Minerals can help reduce the necessary bromine level to 1.0 ppm in most cases, and provide extra power to fight and kill bacteria, viruses and pathogens in the spa water. Silver and copper ions will seek out and attack these contaminants, and they work continuously, just replace the cartridge every 4 months. We have 3 major brands, shown below, plus Mineral cartridges for Hot Spring and Sundance Spas. spa-mineral-sticks

 

MPS / Shock

MPS, or MonoPerSulfate, is a non-chlorine type of spa oxidizer, an option to using chlorine granules in the spa to remove contaminants and to boost up the bromide bank on a brominated spa.

Most people I know – will shock the spa after a group of people use the spa, but maybe not if it’s just a quick single person dip. Shocking a spa is not like shocking a pool, in such a small vessel, only tablespoons of spa shock is used to quickly do the job.

We carry many types of spa shock, all are either MPS or chlorine granules. A few of my favorite spa shocks are shown below. spa-shocks

 

Clarifiers

Clarifiers are helpful for small, marginal spa filters. If your water ever gets hazy or cloudy, or if you can see particles floating around in the water, above the spa light, you may want to use a clarifier to coagulate and improve filtration.

Algaecides work by invading the algae cells directly and disrupting their processes. An algaecide can be a good back-up to your spa sanitation, helping to reduce effects of low bromine levels or inconsistent chemical maintenance.

Foam Out is used when your spa becomes foamy, although it can also be an indication that it’s time to drain the spa! If you have already drained it, and still get sudsy, adding a small amount will remove surface spa foam.

Enzymes are a great way to eliminate spa foaming. They also digest oils and suds, making your sanitizer more effective with less oily organics and detergents to deal with.

Metal Out is a chemical used to lock up minerals in the spa water, to keep them from staining or attacking shiny spa surfaces. Hard water areas, or spas filled from an untreated well should use a metal sequestering agent.

 

Balancers

Balancers will help you control the water balance of your spa. Test your spa water at least weekly and make any needed adjustments to keep your spa water in balance. This is important for important for sanitizer effectiveness, protecting your spa components and for bather comfort.

spa-balance-chemicals-htw

 

Cleaners

The cleaners category has everything you need to clean your spa, top to bottom. Cleaners for spa covers, cleaners for the inside of your spa shell, spa pipe cleaners, spa filter cleaners.

Don’t use household cleaners on your spa, you don’t want any residue from kitchen, bathroom or automotive cleansers to mix with your spa water. Use only products designed for use with spas.spa-cleaners

 

And that’s all there is to it! 5 categories of spa chemicals. You’ll need to use at least some of these spa chemicals from each category at certain points during your spa maintenance.

I hope that this guide to spa chemicals was useful, and has made the plethora of spa and hot tub chemicals more manageable to think about and work with.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’Daniel Lara

 

Hot Tub Parts: Pump Parts for Spas and Hot Tubs

September 9th, 2013 by

spa-pump-partsContinuing our series of blog posts about the variety and uses for spa and hot tub parts, today we break down the category of spa pumps.

Fortunately, this category of spa parts is not as large as others, so we should be able to dive into more detail about common problems with spa pump parts, and their solutions.

Take a look at the spa pump parts schematic, you can see the parts of a spa pump, one without a strainer basket. Most hot tub pumps have only 15-20 parts, which fit nicely into 6 groups of parts.

Wet Ends

These are the parts of the pump that get wet. In the image above, it’s everything except for the motor, item 24. Contained within a complete wet end assembly is the impeller and shaft seal. In some pumps, a diffuser, or impeller shroud is also part of the hydraulic design, and an impeller wear ring, shown as item 6.

rotating-wet-endThere are two types of wet ends, center discharge and side discharge. Center discharge pumps shoot the water out of the pump at 12:00, and side discharge pumps, as shown in our example above, shoot the water either left or right of center, and can be rotated to different mounting positions.

To order the correct wet end, it’s helpful to know your spa pump make and model. Otherwise, the motor frame type, horsepower. Also whether it’s side or center discharge, and for pipe size, 1.5″, 2.0″, or larger. As a last resort, measure your wet end, and compare it to our pictures.

Volutes

spa-voluteThe volute is also called the impeller housing, and it’s both halves of the wet end assembly. To make it simple to define, we call them the front volute and the rear volute. The front volute has the incoming pipe connection, the rear volute attaches to the motor. Items 2 and 7 in the schematic above.

In cases of a cracked volute, many of our customers prefer to replace only the offending part and not trash the entire wet end.

Motors

In cases of a burned out spa pump motor, many of our customers prefer to replace the motor, instead of replacing the entire spa pump. And that’s not a bad idea – the parts of a wet end do not ‘wear out’, rather they are either broken or melted, but they don’t wear away, with the possible exception of the shaft seal.

spa-motor-blueMotors typically last around 5-7 years, in most situations. To order a new spa pump motor, you need to know several key pieces of information. Horsepower, Frame, Volts, Amps, Speeds. These are all printed, in tiny print, on the motor label. Comparing pictures of our spa pump motors could be risky, give us a call if you are not 100% sure of your particular motor type on your spa pump.

Unions

spa-pump-unionSpa pump unions are the connectors that allow you to disconnect the plumbing from the spa pump. There are split nut unions, with two screws that hold them together, or types with one large nut, that tightens over the threads on the volute halves. Most pumps have two unions, one on the suction intake of the volute, and the other on the discharge.

spa-union-oringUnions have an internal o-ring to help seal them up tightly. These should be lubricated whenever you put them back together. Lost the o-ring? Don’t worry, happens to the best of us – we have lots of spa union o-rings to choose from.

 

Impellers & Diffusers

spa-pump-impellerThe impeller is the turbine that creates the vacuum suction for the movement of the water. A diffuser is another plastic piece that some designers use to increase water volume or pressure. This fits over top of the impeller, held in place by several stainless steel screws around the edge.

Some impellers have a built in wear ring, like this Jacuzzi impeller shown here with the metal band. Other spa pumps will employ a separate part called an impeller wear ring, that fits over the impeller to prevent the impeller from rubbing on the diffuser or front volute. diffuser

The most common problem may be a clogged impeller, which can be cleared with a bent wire, or small screwdriver. Impellers can break, or melt in some situations, which would call for a replacement. Diffusers break much less often, but if you need one, we have ‘em!

Seals, Gaskets & O-rings

shaft-sealSpa pumps have a mechanical shaft seal, which sits behind the impeller, and is the seal that prevents leakage along the motor shaft. It doesn’t touch the motor shaft, otherwise it would burn up, but instead it’s pressed into the rear volute, and seals up to the impeller.

800-770-0292

When pumps are leaking along the shaft, it’s usually a failed shaft seal, which may have overheated, or been damaged from chlorine and ozone. Be sure to use an ozone resistant shaft seal if you use ozone as a spa sanitizer. Identify your shaft seal from the pump owner’s manual, and if you need help identifying your shaft seal, you can always give us a call!

Pumps will always have at least one o-ring or gasket, to seal up volute halves. If you have a pump basket on your spa pump, you’ll also have a pump lid o-ring. Some drain plugs can have o-rings on some spa pump models.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Safety Lessons

August 26th, 2013 by

spa-chemical-safety

Spa Chemicals can be hazardous. Here’s some stories of  “When Spa Chemicals Attack” – or more correctly, when humans misuse or mishandle spa chemicals, and the injuries and fatalities that can result.

Earlier this month, a small explosion occurred in the New Jersey home of Russell Rocca. He was mixing chemicals used in his hot tub, and doing something wrong. He may have added water to chlorine, instead of the other way around – or, the chlorine may have been contaminated with other chemicals or any organic contaminant.

Lesson #1 – Always add chemicals to water (not water to chemicals), and always keep your chemicals clean – never let dirt, leaves or any contaminant mix with an oxidizer like chlorine or bromine.

And just 5 days ago, a hotel employee in Victoria, Canada mixed together two spa chemicals, and the reaction released a toxic gas, resulting in a hotel evacuation and haz mat response. Fortunately no one was injured, although the employee was taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

Lesson #2 – Never mix pool or spa chemicals. Adding an acid and a chlorine together can produce a mustard gas that will dissolve your lungs. Keep chlorine and bromine tablets and shock in a sealed container, stored separately from your acids like pH down or stain removers.

One of our spa techs here has an interesting story. It didn’t make the news, because police and fire were not notified, but it goes like this. He was servicing a spa on a weekly route that he maintained, and needed to shock the spa. Not having a scoop, he cut an ‘empty’ soda bottle in half and used it to scoop out the spa shock from a larger bucket. In a few short minutes, he looked back to see the back of the pickup truck on fire.

Lesson #3 – Never allow any liquids to contact your spa chemicals. Soda pop is very acidic, and alcoholic drinks even more. Use only clean and dry scoops to measure and add your spa chemicals.

According to the CDC, most injuries associated with pool and spa chemicals fall into these groups:

  • Mixing incompatible chemicals
  • Spills and splashes onto skin or into eyes
  • Dust inhaled when opening container

Storage for your Spa Chemicalsfile-box for spa chemicals

Spa and hot tub chemicals need a clean, cool and dry area, out of the reach of children. Some spa steps have storage areas beneath a flip up lid, but these may be unsafe for chemical storage. I use a small plastic file box for mine. Not a large one, but a smaller version that’s just perfect for the upright and narrow bottles used for spa chemicals.

Separate your pH down and other acids from chlorine or bromine tablets, or spa shocks and oxidizers. Sealed plastic chemical containers are safer for storage than bags or boxes. For child safety, make sure that all of your chemicals have child proof lids, and that you store them out of their reach.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

How to Buy a Used Hot Tub

August 5th, 2013 by

would-you-buy-a-used-hot-tub

Would YOU buy a used hot tub? Two-thirds of people surveyed would buy a used tub, especially if they knew the person. You can always find someone trying to sell their spa, for one reason or another. You’ll find used spas and hot tubs on craigslist and local papers by dealers and home owners.

Used spas and hot tubs can still have much life left in them, and can be purchased for less than half of a new spa. Even if you decide to invest in a new spa cover or cartridge filter element, the cost savings can be substantial.

Here’s some tips on how to buy a Used Spa or Hot tub.

Buying from a Hot Tub Dealer

Many spa dealers take trade-ins, much like a car dealer may sell new and used cars. They may sometimes have older models or demo units they are trying to sell.

The advantage of buying from a dealer is that it will have some kind of warranty, and a thorough ’29′ point inspection and detailing. They can also sanitize the pipes for biofilm removal. Plus – they can also deliver it, set it up with proper power, fill it, and show you how to use it.

Just make sure it’s a ‘real’ spa dealer, not a guy working out of a storage unit. And never buy a spa that you have not seen filled with water, hot, and fully operational.

Buy from a Friend you Trust

If you have a good friend whose personal grooming habits you respect, it might be worth a look into his or her gently used spa. There are those however, who say that you never should transact business with friends – if you want them to stay friends. Nonetheless, if you trust them that the spa was well maintained and is in good working order, you can help out a friend and get a hot tub for yourself at a good price.

Making the offer sweeter would be accessories such as a spa cover lifter, spa steps or furniture, spa chemicals and equipment. A spa cover in good shape, one that looks new and is not sagging, faded, water logged or broken – is also a nice asset.

Buy from Some Guy Online

So, you find a good deal, it looks good, but how do you know what kind of condition it’s in? Take a look at the spa, and if it looks operational but you want to be sure, contact a local spa service company to perform a systems check on the hot tub. A spa inspection, along with other information such as overall condition, age or any necessary repairs. If you decide to buy it, the spa tech may also be able to move the spa for you, with specialized trailers and dollies made for the purpose.

Even if you are buying from a friend, having a spa tech do an inspection, and possibly move the spa and set it up in it’s new location, would be a good idea – especially if you are a novice to hot tubs and spas.

How much Should You Pay for a Used Spa?

odometer for spas?Unfortunately, there’s no mileage indicator on a spa, to see how many hours of use it has, or how long it’s been in service. There may or may not be a record of regular service, repairs and maintenance. If you can identify the spa model, you can try some online searches to find a retail price. If not, you can take some measurements, count the number of jets and other features and try to find comparable models to figure a base price for a new, similar spa.

Generally, the price for a used spa should be about 50% of the retail cost, or the cost paid by the current owner, for a spa less than 10 years old. If it needs a new spa cover, or the shell or skirt look worn and faded, or if the spa pack, pumps or blower look aged, the price should drop another 10% or more.

Moving a Spa to a New Location

spa-dollyNot as easy as it sounds, depending on the size of the spa. A 6 ft spa is much more manageable than an 8 footer, which hangs over the edge of most trailers and is too large for standard dollies. And they’re heavy! Drained of water, and with the spa cover and spa pack removed, a large spa can still weigh 500-800 lbs and be quite unwieldy.

Moving a spa to an indoor location presents even greater challenges, involving moving through doorways and possibly steps. If it’s possible to pull a large trailer right up to the existing location, and also pull it right up to the new location, the job is much easier.spa-moving

Electrical for the spa will need to be planned for in advance. Most spas require a 230V plug, like what you have for a dryer or washing machine. In addition, you may need to have a power cut-off box installed near the spa. An electrician can power up a spa in most cases for  under $300 dollars.

Deep Cleaning a Used Spa

citrabrightWhen buying  a used spa, you’re gonna want to disinfect it really well, am I right?

Once in the new location, start by filling the spa with water, testing the operation of the spa, then super-chlorinate with a granular spa shock product. After circulating for several hours, use a purge product such as Tub Rinse to strip off hidden bacteria and biofilms that may be hiding in the pipes and hoses.

Drain the spa after this treatment, and use a hot tub cleaning product (never use household cleaners) such as Tub Rub or Citrabright to remove grime from the spa jets and surfaces. Refill again and adjust the pH, Alkalinity and Hardness for perfect spa water balance.

Replacing the spa cartridge filter would be a good idea, and if the cover smells musty and looks old, it may be best to start out with a new spa cover.

If the opportunity to buy a used spa or hot tub comes your way, you are now a bit more prepared for the conversation.

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara

 

 

5 Important Spa or Hot Tub Care Tasks

July 15th, 2013 by

spa-hot-tub-care

Owning a spa or hot tub is not so complicated. Compared to a swimming pool, there’s a lot less work involved. But there is some work required, and maybe your spa has been a bit neglected lately, as sometimes happens during summertime.

Depending on your level of spa use, the frequency of these tasks will vary. Following each task below, follow a task frequency, mirroring your hot tub usage.

 

  • High – Daily use by several people; or commercial spas and hot tubs
  • Medium – A few times per week, by a few people.
  • Low – A few times per month, by a few people.

1. Spa Water Care

spa-water-testsTesting the Spa water, balancing the chemistry and visually checking the water clarity. Pretty basic stuff? Yeah, easy to do – and easy to forget to do. Most spas and hot tubs have something of a “chemical personality”, and are usually fairly consistent in what needs to be chemically managed – as long as you are consistent with your water tests and adjustments.

Not even a “spa guru” like myself can avoid the sometimes mundane task of testing the spa water quality and making micro-adjustments to the water balance. pH, Alkalinity, Hardness all need to be checked every time the spa is used. Neglect this task, and your spa water clarity and health can quickly spiral downward.

Draining the spa should be performed on a regular basis, every 1-4 months, depending on your usage, or even weekly, for high use commercial spas. You’ll find the water much more manageable if you set a schedule to drain it regularly.

2. Spa Filter Care

spa-filter-cartsNext up on our list of Hot Tub maintenance items – cleaning your spa filter cartridge. This task is simple enough for my 8 year old to do, once I showed her how to remove the spa filter and spray deeply into the pleats from top to bottom. It’s one of her weekend chores, and only takes a few minutes with the garden hose.

To help us remember, I created an email reminder to myself to make sure it’s done weekly, and another every 4 months, to soak the filter in our Filter Fresh spa cartridge cleaner for a deep cleaning.

Spa filter cleaners remove oils and mineral deposits that clog up the cartridge, reducing water flow and dirt holding capacity. Just soak the cartridge in a solution of filter cartridge cleaner, or use the spray on type of cleaner. Then, hose it off very thoroughly to flush out the deposits and the cleaning chemical.

Over time, even this loses it’s effectiveness, and it’s time to replace the cartridge. If everything is going well with the spa water, I buy a spa filter replacement every 18 months. High use hot tubs may need to replace the cartridge every 3 months, depending on the size of the filter cartridge.

3. Spa Pipe Care

spa-biofilmI’m not talking about leaks, although you should inspect for leaks in your spa, and promptly repair any that occur. I’m talking about bacteria deposits, sometimes called Bio-Film, that can develop and grow inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa.

Using a product like Tub Rinse, add it to the spa before you plan to drain the spa. High use spas should use this every time the hot tub is drained. This will reduce the amount of organics in the spa, which allows the sanitizer to work more effectively, and keep your spa water looking clear, even after heavy use. For my medium-use spa, I use it every other time I drain the hot tub.

Just pour it in and allow it to circulate for an hour – before you drain the spa. The first time you use it, you’ll be shocked at all of the nasty brown gunk that it removes and foams to the surface. It would be similar to a person who finally brushes their teeth after months of only using mouthwash. Yuck!

4. Spa Equipment Care

spa-equipmentYour spa pack is the main control center for your spa or hot tub, and includes your spa heater. To care for your equipment, remove the access panel at least monthly to inspect for leaks, the presence of rodents, rust or corrosion. Use bug spray or mice baits if you notice evidence of either. Check your time clock and reset it if there has been a power outage.

Electric terminals can be coated with a dielectric grease (shut off power first) to keep oxidation from forming. If there is nothing out of the ordinary spotted, this job will go quickly.

If something looks amiss with your spa equipment, and you’re not quite sure which steps to take, give us a call for some spa troubleshooting help.

5. Spa Cover Care

spa-cover-care-tipsSpa covers need to “breathe”, and should be removed from the spa several times per week, to allow the spa to gas off – any accumulated odors and gases. It also gives the spa cover a break from the hot water and chemicals. Remove the spa cover completely, and store it folded and upright, to allow any water to drain out.

Inspect the underside of your spa cover for any rips in the plastic, cracks in the insulative foam, warping or water retention. If any of these has occurred, you should plan on replacing with a new spa cover soon.

Cleaning and conditioning the vinyl of your spa cover will keep it looking new and it can often double the lifespan of your spa cover. My spa cover gets a quarterly “spa treatment” – I use the 303 spa cover cleaner and conditioner wipes. It only takes me about 10 minutes to clean and protect the spa cover. This shines it up real nicely, blocks UV rays and helps keep it clean, but the best advantage is that it keeps the vinyl supple and soft.

Ignore this spa task, and your spa cover material will start to shrink, shrivel and eventually it will crack and become threadbare.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Using Bromine in a Spa or Hot Tub

July 4th, 2013 by

when-to-shock-your-spa

For spa sanitation, you can use chlorine, but why – when bromine is superior? Bromine has several advantages in a hot tub:

  • More stable than chlorine at high temperatures
  • More stable than chlorine in wider pH ranges
  • Bromine has much less odor than chlorine
  • Unlike chlorine, combined bromine is still effective

In using bromine, there is one small but important, and often misunderstood difference from chlorine.

BUILDING A BROMIDE BANK

To be effective, a residual of Bromides must be present, also known as a Bromide Bank, or Reserve. Notice that I said Bromide, not Bromine. Bromides are converted to Bromine in the presence of an oxidizer, such as spa shock, liquid chlorine, or ozone.

Bromine tablets are actually a mixture of chlorine and bromides. It can take several weeks for enough bromine tablets to dissolve, to build an effective level of bromides in the spa – so that bromine can be created. Each time you drain the spa, the bromide level drops to zero.

The best way to build a bromine bank is to add Sodium Bromide to your spa, each time you drain and refill. After building your Bromide Bank, shock the spa with your preferred oxidizer to activate the bromide ions, and convert them to hypobromous acid, the killing form of bromine.

2-Part and 3-Part Bromine Systems 3-PART-BROMINE-SYSTEM

A 2-Part Bromine system is basically adding Sodium Bromide (Step 1) and Shocking regularly (Step 2) to re-activate the Bromide ions into Bromine. A 3-Part system is also adding Bromine Tablets (Step 3) as a way to prevent gaps in sanitizing.

If you just add bromine tablets, without first adding Sodium Bromide, you will have trouble getting a good reading for Bromine levels in the spa, and the water could be unhealthy. Build a bromide bank first, of 10-15 ppm of Sodium Bromide, shock the spa, and then add a few tablets to a bromine floater to maintain a bromine residual of 3-5ppm (or 1-3ppm for Spas using mineral purifiers or ozonators).

HOW TO USE BROMINE IN HOT TUBS

In Summary, using Bromine in your spa or hot tub is best, but to be effective, there needs to be a good level of bromide ions in the water. Regular oxidation, or shocking is also important to convert the bromide into bromine. Use bromine tablets to more easily maintain a consistent bromine level.

  1. Add sodium bromide to your spa, following the label instructions, each time you drain and refill.
  2. Use spa shock after building your bromide bank, and weekly thereafter, to activate bromine.
  3. Use bromine tablets in a small floater, to help maintain bromide and bromine levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Installing a Cover Valet Spa Cover Lifter

June 17th, 2013 by

spa-cover-lifts

How to Install a Cover Valet

The Cover Valet cover lifter is our best selling hot tub cover lift, with these unique benefits.

  • Requires only 6″ of clearance to hold spa cover
  • Gas shocks assist with lifting your spa cover
  • When lifted, your spa cover makes a privacy shield

The Cover Valet is also one of the more difficult spa cover lifts to install, because the brackets are held in place by bolts screwed into the spa cabinet. Other spa lifts either slide under the spa or install without measurements or drilling into the spa cabinet.


STEP ONE:
TAKE INVENTORY OF ALL PARTS

A Cover Valet ships in a fairly small box (for FREE, I might add!). When you receive your Cover Valet, check the box contents before beginning the installation. Count all of the brackets, arms, pistons and each bit of hardware, to be sure that it’s all there. Although it very rarely happens, if anything is missing, call us right away, and we’ll have a replacement Cover Valet shipped out to you.

COVER-VALET-BOX-CONTENTS-3


STEP TWO:
PRE-ASSEMBLY OF COVER VALET PARTS

To get ready to install the Cover Valet, there are a few parts that need to be connected together. All of the parts are clearly labeled, with a very descriptive installation guide.

  • Attach the Ball Studs (cvB) to the Channel Brackets (cvBB), with Lock Nuts (cvF). The round side of the Ball Stud should be on the inside of the Channel Bracket.
  • Attach Ball Studs (cvB) to both Pivot Arms (cvCC) with Lock Nuts.
  • Thread the Fingers (cvB) into the Extension Arms (cvDD). The other set of Fingers should be threaded in the opposite direction, to create a right and left side.
  • Slide the Rubber Sleeves (cvG and cvH) over the Fingers and Stabilizer Bar (cvFF), respectively.

Now that the hardware is partially assembled, you can lay the spa cover on the spa, if you had it removed. We’re ready to start installation!

STEP THREE: MOUNT THE CHANNEL BRACKETS

cover-valet-instructions

The first step is to find the proper location for mounting the Channel Brackets. The end of the brackets should be 2 inches from the outer edge of the spa shell. Use a carpenter’s square or use two yard sticks to measure and find this location. Mark the spa cabinet with a pencil, and make sure the brackets, one on each side, are both flush against the spa shell, and running parallel to each other.

Pre-drilling pilot holes into the spa cabinet is recommended, to help prevent the wood from cracking or splitting when you drive in the lag bolts. Screw in the lag bolts flush to the cabinet, until they are completely tight.

STEP FOUR: ATTACH THE GAS SHOCKS

Having a locking gas shock is a great feature of the Cover Valet. Install the locking gas shock on the side of the cover you will most often be standing on when you close the spa cover. The other non-locking shock is installed on the opposite side.

Press the bottom of each shock into place by pushing it into the Ball Stud on the Channel Bracket. The other end will be attached at the very end of the Cover Valet installation.

STEP FIVE: ATTACH THE PIVOT ARMS

Connect the Pivot Arms (cvCC) to the Channel Brackets, using the Long Hex Bolts (cvC) and Lock Nuts. Insert the Hex Bolts pointing down, so that the Lock Nuts are on the outside of the Channel Brackets, and the Pivot Arms move up and down easily. Don’t overtighten the Lock Nuts, to allow for easy movement.

STEP SIX: ATTACH THE EXTENSION ARMS

Slide the seam of the spa cover between the Fingers, with the Extension Arms (cvDD) pointing towards the Pivot Arms (cvCC). The “end” Fingers should slide inside of the spa cover, while the “high” Fingers should be on top of the spa cover. Be sure that the “knuckle” of the Extension Arms should be facing up, as shown in the images below.

CORRECT-INSTALLATION-OF-EXTENSION-ARMS

Align the Extension Arms, so they slide easily over the Pivot Arms. Slowly slide the Pivot Arms into the Extension Arms until the spa cover is centered over the spa.

STEP SEVEN: ATTACH THE STABILIZER BARS

Secure the Stabilizer Bars (cvFF) and the Extension Arms to the Pivot Arms, using the Medium Hex Bolts (cvE). Tighten only enough so that the Extension Arms will no longer slide in and out of the Pivot Arms and the Stabilizer Bar is – stable, and doesn’t move. Be careful not to overtighten the bolts.

STEP EIGHT: FINAL CONNECTIONS

Fold the spa cover onto itself (in half), and lift the cover into an upright position by pushing the Extension Arm until it reaches an upright position. While holding the cover upright, attach the top of the gas shocks to the Ball Studs on the Pivot Arm. Tie the elastic Ball Strap (cvJ) to the End Finger, on the same side that the Locking Gas Shock (cvLS) is used. The Elastic Ball Strap is useful to help lower the spa cover, instead of pulling on the cover straps. Cover Valet, America's Favorite Spa cover lifter!

Eight steps to installing the Cover Valet. It seems complicated, but no more difficult to assemble than other household helpers. It’s the best selling spa cover lifter that we offer, even though the installation is more involved than other cover lifts. In the end, a Cover Valet should take you only 30 minutes or so to install, and you may be surprised at how easy it is to operate, even for water logged spa covers!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Parts: Blowers for Spas and Hot Tubs

June 10th, 2013 by

bubbles

What’s a Spa without bubbles? A Hot Tub!

Bubbles can enhance the massage effects of your spa jets, increasing the amount of force you feel on your aching muscles. Spa air blowers, also called bubblers or air pumps in some parts of the country, are included as standard equipment on most new spas, and spa equipment paks.

Hot tubs, in their classic wooden form and design, are often installed without air blowers, although a spa or hot tub can be fitted with a blower at anytime in the future.

This post is focused on how to replace a spa blower, and how to install a new spa blower, when you’ve never had one before on your spa or hot tub.

Hot Tub blower problems

Spa Blower is not turning on:

  • Tripped circuit breaker or GFCI outlet Test button is popped.
  • Air switch is faulty or air hose is disconnected.
  • Loose wiring or connections from spa pak to blower.
  • Spa blower motor is shorted across the windings.SpaBlower

Spa Blower is Noisy:

  • Vibration noises onto floor or spa cabinet wall.
  • Motor bearings and brushes are worn.
  • Broken air fan, or debris in blower

Spa Blower is On, but No Air is Blowin’:

  • Debris caught in air blower intake.
  • Blower disconnected from air manifold(s).
  • Broken, stuck or incorrect check valve.
  • Broken or stuck air fan.

Spa Blower Works for a few Minutes, then Shuts Off:

  • Over sized spa blower.
  • Excess voltage into motor.
  • Excess heat from motor.
  • Broken, stuck or incorrect check valve.

Spa Blower Sizing

spa air blower label

Replacement Spa Blowers: Buying the exact replacement spa blower is important. Fortunately, all you have to do is look on the existing blower to locate some pieces of information. The most important pieces of information are the horsepower (hp) and the voltage (volt) of the blower. Other info that can be useful is the FLA, or full load amps that the motor draws.

spa-hot-tub-blower-plug-types

The power cord connection type is also important. All of our Air Supply blowers ship with a AMP type plug. If you need a J&J type plug, or need a regular type outlet cord, we have adapter cords available to convert the plug type. Shown below are the common type of connectors or plugs used on spa blowers.

Measurements of the air flow, in cubic feet per minute (cfm on the nameplate), and on air pressure, expressed as 115″ h2O on this nameplate. Both flow and pressure, or cfm and inches of water column, are used to measure the output of the blower.

New Spa Blowers: If your spa (or Hot Tub) has never had a blower before, and you wish to install one – sizing the spa blower becomes a more complicated exercise. To size a spa blower correctly, some calculations should be done, to ensure the blower is large enough, but not too large. Too large, and your blower may could overheat and become damaged, and if too small, it may not have enough air flow and pressure (oomph) to overcome the resistance of the air system.

The best way to determine proper blower size is to calculate the resistance of the entire system. This is done by adding the water depth (above the lowest air hole) to the plumbing and piping resistance that the air has to push through. But for most applications, you can use an easier method. CONVERSION-CHART-FOR-SPAS

If you have air holes in the floor or seats, measure the size of the air holes. They are usually either 1/8″, 3/16″ or 1/4″.  Use the chart on the right to convert hole size to it’s decimal equivalent. Add up the total area of the holes and refer to the chart below to help you select the right spa blower size.

For spas that have the air coming out of the jets, size a new spa blower according to the number of jets in the spa, as shown in the chart below. Just count up the number of wall and seat jets, for a quick way to size a new blower to a spa or hot tub.

spa-blower-sizing-charts

Spa Blower Installation

Replacement Spa Blowers: Replacing a spa blower is easiest when you replace with an exact match. If you do this, simply unplug the power cord from your spa control or spa pak, unbolt the blower if mounted, and if a clamp is used to secure the blower, loosen the clamp and you should be able to pull the blower off. Reinstall the new blower in opposite fashion and you should be ready to test.

check-valve

New Spa Blowers: Installing a spa blower where one never existed? You’ll also need to install a Hartford loop in the plumbing, and a one way check valve, shown right – both designed to keep water from entering the blower. Blowers should be permanently mounted where possible, and if possible mounted vertically, to further help to keep water out of the blower.

Be sure that any ground wires are properly connected, and if your spa blower has a bonding lug, that the pump is bonded, in accordance with the National Electric code.

Questions?

If you have any questions about spa blowers, new or old – give us a call, we’d be happy to help. You can reach us, 7 days a week, at 800-770-0292.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works