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Daniel Lara's Posts

How to Buy a Used Hot Tub

August 5th, 2013 by


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

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


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


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.


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).


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


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.


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.



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!



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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 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.


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.


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


How to Replace a Spa Pump Shaft Seal

May 28th, 2013 by

spa-shaft-seal-replacementSpa pump motor shaft seals – they are meant to keep the water from leaking along the shaft of the pump motor, behind the impeller. When a shaft seal fails, as they do from time to time, you will notice water dripping along the backside of the volute (where the shaft enters the impeller housing), running down and dripping off the bottom of the pump.

A leaking shaft seal can easily be confused with a failed volute (impeller housing) o-ring, or with a leaking union or plumbing fitting on top of the pump. In fact, many leaks around the pump will end up running down – and dripping off the bottom.


SHAFT-SEALS-LEAK-HEREIs Your Shaft Seal Leaking?

To be sure that you have a leaking shaft seal, inspect all areas around the pump closely (with a flash light and reading glasses, if necessary). If you have an open volute (where you can see the motor shaft), a leaking shaft seal will leak where the shaft enters the volute, as shown in the image on the right.

Looking close-up in the area indicated, you will usually see a thin, running stream of water, although in some cases, it could be spraying water in all directions.

Spa pumps with closed volutes (where you can’t see the motor shaft), will be leaking out of a drain hole, in the bottom of the seal plate, or the point where the motor joins the “wet end” of the spa pump.

Identifying a Spa Pump Shaft Seal

Not all spa pumps use the same shaft seal, and seals used for hot tub pumps are usually of a higher grade rubber (Viton or Silicone Carbide), than those used in swimming pool pumps. These materials are more resistant to chemical changes, and if you use a spa ozonator, these materials won’t deteriorate like a shaft seal made with a Buna type synthetic rubber.

The easiest way to order the correct shaft seal, is to order by make and model of the pump. This may not be so clearly marked on many pumps however. If you still have documentation on the spa purchase, an owner’s manual should list the shaft seal, and it’s manufacturer’s part number.

The next easiest way to find out which shaft seal is used on your pump is to remove the pump from beneath the spa (shut off power and water valves first), and disassemble the motor from the wet end, so that the shaft seal can be measured and identified.

Disassembly of the Wet End

Motors can be removed from a spa without too much work. First make sure that the power is shut off on the main breaker. Place tape over the breaker to prevent others from flipping it back on while you work. Close the valves both sides of the pump to hold back the water in the spa, otherwise, you’ll need to drain the spa first before pump removal.

Unscrew the unions on the pipes that come in and out of the pump (there will be some water spillage). Disconnect the bare copper bonding wire from the bonding lug. Remove the power cord from the control box. With the motor removed, and in a location that you can work on it (without stooping or laying on your stomach), loosen the bolts that secure the front plate to the volute.

With the front plate removed, you should be looking at the impeller. Some spa pumps have an impeller shroud, or diverter that will need to be removed first. Remove the impeller by holding the shaft firmly in place, while spinning the impeller in a counter-clockwise direction. For open volutes, a small pair of vice grips can be used to hold the shaft firmly so it won’t turn as the impeller is threaded off of the shaft.

For closed volutes, the trick is to hold the shaft in one location at the rear of the motor. For motors with a removal end cover, a 7/16 wrench can be used on the rear of the shaft. Others have a small shaft cap that can be removed, dead center of the rear end bell of the motor. The shaft is slotted to accept a large flat head screwdriver, used to hold the shaft stationary.

After removing the impeller, you should see your shaft seal, and you can now identify it by type and size.

Measuring your Spa Shaft seal

Spa shaft seals come in two pieces, a round ceramic disk, and the other half, with the spring. One piece will be pressed into the seal plate of the pump, and the other half fits onto the impeller. As the two halves of the shaft seal are drawn close together during impeller rotation, the spring is compressed, and a good “seal” is made. The seal doesn’t actually touch the shaft, if it did, it would burn up in just seconds of 3400 RPM of the motor shaft. Nonetheless, you will notice that many shaft seals mention the shaft diameter of the motor that they fit.


Remove both pieces of your shaft seal from the pump. The mating ring may require a small flathead screwdriver to pry it out, as it is pressed into place. Be sure to also remove the rubber mating ring, if present.

The other half of the seal, with the spring, can be worked off gently with your fingers. Once removed, take the diameter and height measurements, as shown left.



The other distinction between shaft seals is the type of head that the “spring half” of the seal is either Type A, or Type B. Most spa pumps with Type B seal heads will be using a #1000 seal, but check the other measurements of the seal to be sure. Another measurement, if you want to be really sure, is to measure the diameter of the shaft. Calipers would be most accurate, or you can use a rigid measuring tape, and eyeball it very closely.

Spa Pump Shaft Seal Chart

With this information on the shaft seal head type and the diameter measurements, and perhaps the shaft measurement, you can now refer to this handy spa pump shaft seal chart, to confidently figure out the type of replacement shaft seal needed, or the seal number, shown in the left hand column. Most common are the shaft seals #100, 200, 201 and 1000, but your spa pump could use a different one. Measure to be sure, and call us if you have any questions.


NOTE:  The Seal Type numbers in the left column, (i.e. PS-100) are commonly accepted universal seal part numbers, which will correspond in size and type, to the manufacturer’s part number. Again, if you have any questions or concerns with proper shaft seal identification, call us for help.

Installing a new shaft seal

The biggest mistake people make when installing a new shaft seal is installing the seal or the mating ring upside down. As you remove the two halves of the seal, take note of it’s orientation. If this bit of information is not available, take note of how the seal is packed in the box – usually, this is the correct position. Otherwise, know that the ceramic part of the mating ring is meant to contact the hard plastic side of the seal.

When installing Type B seals into the seal plate, use a bit of silicone around the stainless steel cup as you press fit the seal into the plate. Use a very large socket, or a 1″ PVC coupling as a setting tool, to lightly tamp the seal cup fully in place.

When installing Type A seals over the impeller, put the soft rubber side toward the impeller, and the hard plastic side toward the ceramic face of the mating ring.

After installing both seal halves, thread the impeller back on fully, and reassemble the wet end (with no leftover parts!). Reposition the pump and connect the unions, making sure the o-rings are in place. Reconnect the bonding wire and the power cord. If your pump was mounted onto a skid, or base, resecure the pump to reduce vibration and movement.

Fill the spa or open the valves to allow the pump to fill with water. Turn on the circuit breaker and test the pump. If water does not begin to flow immediately, you probably have an air lock in the pump or spa pak. Shut off the pump, and loosen the union on top of the pump just slightly, to allow air to be pushed out, until water begins to flow and spill. Quickly tighten up the union and test the pump again.


  • Never run the pump dry, or without water flowing through it.
  • Maintain your water level in the spa, to prevent air being sucked in.
  • Use Viton shaft seals if you use a spa ozonator.
  • Maintain proper water balance and sanitizer levels.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Replacing a Spa Pak – a How To

May 20th, 2013 by

replacement spa packsA Spa Pack is an integrated unit that contains the spa pump, heater, blower and controls. On average, a spa pack will last around 10 years, before one or more components begins to fail, or give you regular trouble.

Replacing your Spa Pak can be a quick and simple affair. In the worst case scenario, it may involve some light plumbing and wiring, and replacement of the top-side spa control, if purchased with your spa pack.


Selecting the Right Spa Pack

Digital or Air System?


You probably have a “spa-side control”, a small control panel “top-side”, that you use to operate the spa from inside the tub. If you have a digital display, you have a digital control. If your spa-side control has a dial for temperature, and air buttons with air hoses running to the control box – this indicates that your spa has an air system control. Since they are close in price, many spa owners may upgrade their new spa pack to a digital system.

Spa Pack or Spa Control?

Spa Packs are the complete kit and kaboodle – control box, heater, pump(s) and sometimes also a blower. Everything, really – with the exception of the spa filter or ozonator. The Spa Control is just the controller for the spa, although some newer controls also include a spa heater.

If your system is fairly new, and you are mainly having problems with the control, with the other equipment in good order, you can save some bucks and replace just the spa control. If the other equipment items are older than 7-8 years, you may want to consider replacing the entire spa pack, to avoid equipment failure in the near future.

Gathering Information

Before you can order a replacement spa pack, grab your reading glasses and a flashlight, and get up close and personal with the existing equipment. You’ll need to locate and write down the following bits of information, from the name plates on the control and pump.

  • Pumps: One pump or Two? Locate the Horsepower (HP) on the motor nameplate.
  • Heater size: Usually, residential spas are either 1.5kw or 5.5kw
  • Control Voltage: Incoming voltage is either 120 volts or 240 volts (or 115/230).
  • Blower – do you wish to replace the blower also?
  • Pipe Size: 1.5″ or 2″? 1.5″ PVC pipe has an outside diameter of 1-7/8″.
  • Inlet Direction: Is Control inlet on the left side or right side of the pump?

Ordering a New Spa Pack

If you’ve done it before, and you are confident of your selection, by all means place your spa pack order online. If our tech support staff can be of any help to you in purchasing the correct spa pack for your application, by all means, call us at 800-770-0292. We have spa experts standing by from 7 to 7 during the week, and 8 to 5 on weekends.

Spa packs are not cheap, but considering it’s the “engine” of your hot tub, a price of $600-$800 may not seem too severe. You’ll find our prices on spa packs to be among the best, and with a wide variety of brands to choose from. Shipping on spa packs is always fast and free.

Installing your New Spa Pack

1. Shut off the Power, at the main Circuit Breaker for the spa. Read the installation instructions.
2. Close the isolation valves to shut off water before and after the pump, or drain the spa.
3. Loosen the unions before and after the existing spa pack, and remove wire connections from the spa light, ozonator, stereo or other accessory equipment.

spa-pak-locationYour spa pack control and heater must be installed after the pump and before the filter (unless your spa filter cartridge is located in the skimmer well of the spa). Make sure that the pipes are connected to the correct in and out ports of the pump and the heater.

Line up your new spa pack, and determine the plumbing arrangement. In most cases, all of the plumbing fittings and pipe you will need are included, but in some situations, a trip to Home Depot may be in order to pick up a few fittings, or a fresh can of PVC glue and a can of primer or PVC pipe cleaner. blower-installation

Dry fit all of your plumbing together before gluing, to make sure that everything is lined up, and all pipes and fittings can be glued to their full depth. NOTE: A spa air blower is not glued onto the pipe. Fumes from PVC glue can be ignited by a blower, so instead, use a screw or clamp to secure an air blower onto PVC pipe, as shown right.

4. Position spa pack components and secure them to the base or skid.
5. Clean and glue the PVC joints. Use Teflon tape on threaded fittings.
6. Attach wire plugs from spa light or other accessory equipment into the labeled ports on the control box.

spa-wiringMaking the electrical connections is fairly straight forward, and safe – as long as the power is off. Tape the breaker in the “Off” position, to prevent someone from accidentally turning it back on.

Make the hard wire connections from the new spa pack to the wires from the main circuit breaker (which is still Off!). If you doubt your abilities, please contact a certified electrician to make these connections.

7. Fill the spa, and inspect for any leaks in the pipes or equipment (before it gets too full).
8. Install the new Spa-Side control, by mounting in place of the existing top-side controls. If your new control is much smaller than the old one, you can use a small saw or Dremel tool to cut small openings in the current control, and mount the new control right on top of the old control.
9. Turn on power to spa, and set the thermostat to the lowest setting.
10. Run the spa jet pump on high for several minutes to purge all air from system before turning up the thermostat and testing the heater.

And, your done! While the spa is heating up, take some time to read the owner’s manual operating instructions, and send in the warranty registration card.

Once again, if you have any concerns about spa pack selection, ordering or installation, our 100% free spa tech support personnel are here to help you – 78 hours per week!

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Related Information:

Installing your New Equipment Pack
Installing a Spa Equipment Pack (videos)

Prevent Waterborne Illness in your Spa or Hot Tub

May 6th, 2013 by

rwi-in-hot-tubs“Recreational Water Illness” is a term used to describe the effects of different pathogens that can survive and thrive in pools and spas.

According to the CDC, “Recreational water illnesses (RWI’s) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans”.

Of course, in this discussion, I’ll focus on preventing RWI’s in hot tubs and spas.



The two largest Recreational Water Illnesses that we see in poorly maintained spas and hot tubs are Pseudomonas and Cryptosporidium. The first is a form of dermatitis, or skin inflammation (a rash), and the second is a germ that causes diarrhea.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

Pseudomonas is sometimes referred to as “Hot Tub Rash”, although I don’t particularly like that term! It is a form of bacterium that is present everywhere in nature. It is naturally occurring in soil, air and in all bodies of water. It produces a red rash, with small dots to the size of a pea, which resemble chicken pox. Hot tub folliculitis can be painful and is quite itchy, similar to poison ivy. The rash usually lasts about 7 to 10 days, but can leave marks on the skin for several months. Antibiotics and ointments may be prescribed in some cases. The extent of the rash depends on the length of exposure; those who soak longer in an infected tub may display more acute symptoms.


Crypto, as it’s known for short, is one of the most common Recreational Water Illnesses, and is spread through Fecal matter. It has a hard outer shell that makes it incredibly resistant to environmental factors, including chlorination. It can survive days in chlorinated water, until a sufficient oxidation potential is reached with bromine and/or ozone treatment. Crypto can remain in the lower intestine for up to five weeks, and can be transmitted from the feces of an infected person to a new host.


For most of you reading this, you’ll never have to worry yourself about these germs and bacteria in your home hot tub. Public pool and spas, with large bather loads are the more likely place you can pick up one of these water illnesses.

With spas and hot tubs, we filter, circulate and treat with sanitizer, to prevent bacterial colonies from forming. Let me say that again – In hot tubs, we control Pseudomonas and other germs – with proper Filtration, Circulation and Sanitation. RWI’s only survive and thrive in poorly maintained spas and hot tubs.

I should also say that Crypto, in particular, is primarily released in the spa from users that don’t shower thoroughly before using the spa. We all know, toilet paper doesn’t get everything – and if you go into the spa with a dirty behind, and you are infected, you will release the germs into the hot tub. The germs can be absorbed by others by water that gets into their mouth, nose or eyes, or even through small cuts on the skin.

Adding an additional form of spa sanitation, such as ozone or mineral sanitizers, can aid your primary sanitizer (Bromine or Chlorine, or Biguanides) in fending off the onslaught of bacteria that escalates quickly when several adults get into the tub, and the sanitizer level takes a nose dive.

Protect Your Spa

  1. Keep a constant residual of sanitizer in the tub, at a high enough level to control Pseudomonas. Chlorine – 2-4 ppm, Bromine – 4-6 ppm.
  2. Limit guests to 30 minutes per soak, and no more than the recommended user load. Shock the spa after use, or at least twice per month.
  3. Drain and Refill your hot tub every 3 months, or 30 uses, whichever comes first.
  4. Filter your Spa continuously and effectively. It should never stagnate longer than a few hours.
  5. Clean your spa filter regularly, and replace the cartridge every 12-24 months.

Protect Yourself & Others

  1. Take hot showers before using the spa, being sure to wash “thoroughly”.
  2. Don’t drink the water! Remember “Montezuma’s Revenge?” Same thing.
  3. Shower after using a public pool or spa, and remove wet swim clothes.
  4. Don’t use a pool or spa if the water quality looks questionable, or there are too many users.
  5. Don’t use a pool or spa if you have had diarrhea in the last two weeks.

You can prevent Recreational Water Illnesses by following the tips above, in your own spa, and in your water activities outside of the home. Have questions? Leave a comment below.

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Hot Tub Pump Problems

April 25th, 2013 by



Spa and Hot Tub Pumps. They provide the circulation for the spa filter and heater and give an extra boost when turning the spa jets on high. And when the spa pump ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy – that’s because without water flow, there is no filtration, no sanitation and no heating.

Spa pumps need to operate every day to maintain clean and hot spa water – so when your hot tub pump has problems, it’s an emergency. If your spa cover is kept on, you may have 1 day before it cools off, and perhaps only a few days before bacteria and pathogens begin to thrive.

Shock the spa with your favorite spa shock when the sanitizer level gets low. You can continue using granular spa shock, or a spa floater with tablets, for several weeks, but if you go without filtration longer than a few weeks, you should consider draining the spa after your pump troubles are fixed.

Some spas have two pumps, one is the circulation pump and the other is the jet pump. If you have two pumps, chances are it’s one or the other – either your jets don’t work, or the spa circulation isn’t working. Spas and hot tubs with one pump usually have a 2-speed motor, operating on low speed most of the time, and on high speed when using the tub with the jets.

Spa Repairs can be Dangerous! Be sure to disconnect power. ONLY qualifed personnel should attempt spa repairs. Accidents can be fatal.

Spa Pump Trouble F.A.Q.

Here’s a simple way to troubleshoot your spa or hot tub pump. Hot Tub Blogs should do this more often – These are our most Frequently Asked Questions about spa pump repair.

Q: My Spa Pump is Dead – No Noise, No Action!

A: When you hit the switch or button, and you don’t hear your spa pump come on, there are a few things simple things you can try.

First, are other equipment items powered, are the indicator lights on? If not, the Circuit Breaker may be tripped. Second, the GFCI breaker may have tripped. Look for a red “TEST” button on an electrical outlet near your spa equipment. If the GFCI was tripped, but the spa still won’t come on, check the system Fuse in the spa pack panel. If you replace the Fuse and it pops again, you have an short in the wiring equipment of your spa.

Third, check your time clock or remote spa controller, if you have one, to make sure it is not over riding the switch you are using. Fourth – is a faulty switch you are using to turn on the spa pump. Air switch buttons are often used on older spas, and you may have a problem with the switch or the hose. Modern air switches are electronic, and you can test the power coming in and out of them, to determine if the switch itself is faulty.

Q: My Spa Pump is Not Pumping!

A: If your spa pump is coming on, but not pumping any water here’s some steps to troubleshoot.

First, have you just refilled your spa? If so, there is probably and Air Lock in the hot tub. In some spa systems, when you completely drain the spa, air gets trapped in the pipes and equipment. You need to bleed the air out and replace it with water before the pump can catch

To bleed air our of your system, first look for a drain plug on the pump and filter. Place a small pan or cookie sheet underneath to catch any water. Slowly open the drain plugs until water begins to run out. If you don’t have drain plugs, you can slowly loosen the union on the pump (but don’t remove it, or the o-ring may pop out of place). Listen for escaping air, and then once the water begins to drip, you can tighten the union up again.

Second, if your tub is full, and still no water runs out, look for any closed valves before or after the pump. Third, is something blocking the lines? Look for something stuck in the skimmer or blocking the spa drain. Fourth, is the water level high enough? Low water will allow the skimmer to suck air, and cause the pump to lose prime. Fill spa to the middle of the skimmer opening.

Q: My Spa Pump Only Works on High Speed

A: First, rotate your timer clock and turn up thermostat to high to see if this resolves the problem.
Second, check the power at the low speed and high speed terminals, which should be either 110V or 220V, +/- 10%. Third, check the air switch button that you push to switch speeds. Check for voltage coming in an out of the switch, or for mechanical air switches, check that the device is not clogged with debris or insects, and that the air hose is in good shape and connected on both ends. Fourth, the mechanical switch in the back of the motor could be stuck in the high position, due to broken parts or insect infestation.

Q: My Spa Pump Only Works on Low Speed

A: When your 2-speed hot tub pump only works on low speed, and never kicks into high speed, there are four possible solutions to check.

First, if you are pushing an air switch button, check that the air hose is not crimped or disconnected. Newer, electronic air switches can be tested with a multi-meter, to see that power is passing through, on both sides of the switch. Second, If the pump was recently replaced or rewired, the wires could be reversed on the back of the motor.

Third, is the switch in the back of the motor, that changes to motor from low speed to high speed. With power off, manually operate the switch, looking for something loose, broken or misaligned. Insect or ant infestation could also prevent the switch from operating correctly. Fourth, is the contactor/relay that switches the pump speed. With power off, make sure that the connections are tight, and the terminals are not rusty or corroded.

Q: My Spa Pump is Humming, and Then the Breaker Trips

A: If your spa pump never actually turns on, it only makes a low noise, until the circuit breaker trips, check these things.



First, would be the capacitor on the motor. This cylindrical “battery” provides extra starting power, and these can go bad after many years. You can test the capacitor, or simply replace it with an identical size. Second, Check the shaft for rotation. If you have an open volute, where you can see the shaft, use straight pliers to manually turn the shaft, to rule out a locked up motor, or something stuck in the pump impeller. Third, Check that input voltage is correct, either 110V or 220V, +/- 10%. Fourth, it is possible that the breaker itself is in need of replacement.

Q: My Spa Pump is On, but Barely Pumping

A: First, check the spa filter, it may need cleaning. Second, look for any obstructions in the skimmer or over the drain cover. Third, something could be clogging up the pump impeller, especially if a spa cover is not used, and lots of small debris has entered the hot tub. Fourth, an air leak, before the pump can cause this issue. Check the union in front of the pump, and look for any water leaks when the pump shuts off.

Q: My Spa Pump is Making Loud Noises

A: There are a few types of funny noises that a hot tub pump can make – none of them good.

First, if the noise is a screeching, high pitched whine, the motor bearings could be failing. Bearings can be replaced, or if the motor is very old (more than 5 years old), you may consider replacing the hot tub motor. Second, if the noise is a low pitched, grumbling noise, the pump could be starved for water. Check that the valve in front of the pump are open, and that nothing is clogged in the suction lines, including the spa filter. Third, a rattling noise – could be vibration that can be solved with a rubber pad beneath the pump. If something is broken inside the motor, it doesn’t take long (at 3400 rpm) for broken spa pump parts to be worn down to nothing. In this case, the noise would not last more than a few minutes.

Q: My Spa Pump is Leaking Water

Leaking Spa Pumps

A: First, and most probable, is that the shaft seal of the pump has failed. This is located behind the impeller, and would leak along the shaft, just behind the volute. Second, is the union on top of the pump. If water is dripping or spraying from where the union connects, the PVC threads may have shrunk (from running pump without water), or the threads may be loose and simply need to be tightened. Third, if either incoming or outgoing unions were loosened recently, the internal o-ring may have come out of place, and not be positioned properly. Fourth – is the o-ring that seals up the impeller housing, or volute. Dry-rotted, out of position, or possibly loose, along with loose screws around the face of the pump.


I hope that this FAQ of Hot Tub pump problems has been helpful to you. If your question was not answered here, feel free to post a comment below, or call our helpful spa tech support personnel at  800-770-0292.

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Is Bio-Film Lurking in your Hot Tub?

April 15th, 2013 by

BioFilm in spas and hot tubsWarning: Unpleasant subject coming up! This post is about biofilm bacteria that can form in the plumbing and equipment of spas and hot tubs.

The good news is that biofilm is removable (in most cases) and preventable. But first, we have to know more about the hidden bacteria BIOFILM.

What is BioFilm?

According to the BioFilms: The Hypertextbook

“A biofilm is composed of living, reproducing microorganisms, such as bacteria, that exist as a colony, or community. In other words, biofilms are alive and have a complex social structure that scientists and engineers are still trying to unravel, a structure that both protects them and allows them to grow.” Alfred B. Cunningham, John E. Lennox, and Rockford J. Ross

Biofilms are naturally occurring, everywhere. Algae on your hot tub walls is also a biofilm, but were not talking about algae in the pipes, this is more of a mixture of bacteria with solids, oils and other organic matter. Ewww, I warned you!

Today’s aboveground spas have lots of plumbing pipe, running to numerous spa jets all around the shell. Most have well over 100 feet of pipe. The interior surfaces, never getting a wipe down, develops a film of solids that coats the pipes, or finds other areas to attach itself, inside almost every part of the spa that you don’t see.

Some Jetted Tubs, common in today’s high end master bathrooms, are especially vulnerable to biofilm formation. They are used briefly, without sanitizer, and then drained until the next use. If all of the water does not drain from pipes and pumps, and it’s common that it does not – all sorts of things can grow.

Where does Biofilm come From?

Biofilm can form in spas that have been sitting unused, either full of water or drained, but still with water in the pipes. Biofilm can also come from active, normal use of your hot tub. Our own dead skin cells, body oils, cosmetics and other organic matter are used as building blocks by biofilm, as they establish colonies in low turbulence areas of your circulation system, and attach to surfaces when the pump shuts off.

Spas that are maintained poorly, such as those with old filter cartridges, or the sanitizer – not enough, inconsistent or incorrect use of (don’t use pool tablets!), or water not balanced and not shocked regularly – these practices can also lead to biofilm formation. Also, spas that have high usage, hot tubbin’ every night, with many users – can have fast colony formations, if the spa sanitation and filtration is lacking.

Even new spas can come with biofilm from the factory, although most reputable manufacturers sanitize and air dry the piping now after water testing, to ensure that while sitting in storage they are not breeding grounds for bacteria.

Used spas? You may find a low price on a used spa, but if it’s been used and abused, or neglected, it could have a big problem with biofilm inside of the pipes and equipment. I hear of this happening all the time.

Testing for Biofilm

It’s almost impossible to test for and identify as well. It’s nearly microscopic in it’s young stages. If you can empty the spa, a Q-tip swabbed inside of a few jets, main drain, the filter body or inside the pump drain plug may turn up some funny colors.

If you can disassemble part of your spa jets, you can inspect inside for any thin layers of oily or slimy substances, usually in a brownish shade. Spas with a scum ring that develops around the water line or behind the spa pillows, may have a biofilm problem.

In my earlier days of spa scrapping, I have cut up old and neglected spas for refurbishing, where all of the pipes, jets, equipment, everything – is full of a slimy film. Really unpleasant, and unfortunate, as we would have to cut all of it out, down to the spa shell, and replumb the whole spa with new pipe, fittings, jets and spa pack to restore such spas.

Biofilm in Spas

  • Reduces pipe diameter in acute cases
  • Consumes Sanitizer, affects pH and spa balance
  • Can harbor harmful bacteria colonies
  • Causes foaming and water problems

Removal of Biofilm in Hot Tubs

Spa Shock – First, lower the spa pH to 7.2, and lower the spa temperature to an unheated state. “Super Shock” the spa with a 4x normal shock dosage of non-chlorine spa shock. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to shock the spa with even more, to kill the bacteria and weaken the organism.

Spa Flush – Use a Spa Flush product, such as Rendezvous Spa Rinse or Leisure Time Jet Clean. Just pour in 1 pint and circulate the spa for an hour and then drain the spa. These products break apart the biofilm, from every hidden area.

Spa Rinse – Give the spa another additional rinse and flush with your garden hose. Spray water into every jet and orifice that the nozzle will fit into. Drain remaining water and refill the hot tub. Balance the chemistry and begin sanitation and filtration.

Replace your spa filter cartridge, to be sure that bacteria is not hiding deep in the pleats of the spa filter.

Prevention of Biofilm in Hot Tubs

  • Change the water every 3-6 months – based on frequency and number of users
  • Use Spa Rinse or Jet Clean every time you drain the spa
  • Maintain proper water balance and continual sanitizer level
  • Replace your spa filter cartridge every 12-24 months
  • Shock the spa or hot tub after heavy use, or twice per month
  • If you drain the spa or jetted tub and don’t refill immediately, use air to blow the pipes dryBiofilms-hot-tub-bacteria


BIOFILM – sounds like a bad fifties movie, but it’s real. If you maintain your spa well, you’ll have nothing to fear – as long as you are using a Spa Flush product regularly to strip the pipes and hidden interior spaces of BioFilm!

See Carolyn’s related and more recent article: Bio-Film in Spas & Hot Tubs ~ How to Deal, for a fresh look an unpleasant subject.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works