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Jack Stone's Posts

8 Top Hot Tub Light Problems

June 14th, 2016 by

spa light troubleshooting

Troubleshooting spa lights is just like any other lighting – the problem lies where the power dies.

Spa lighting on new spas presents a bit more challenge with more lights to maintain, since many spas now come with sets of lights, internal and external, not just a single bulb in the foot basin.

Yet, the process for troubleshooting modern spa lights is the same as for traditional hot tub lights. Let’s go through it step by step – here’s a list of things to check when your spa light is not working.

 

Spa Light Switch Not Working

If you have an older tub that uses Air Switches to turn the light on and off, the first thing to check is the switch itself. An air switch is operated by a white button on the top of the spa shell that when pushed, sends a pulse of air to activate the switch. Check that the button functions up and down properly, and that the air hose is connected on both ends. You can blow air through the hose with your mouth to test the air switch operation. Modern spa lights are turned on by pressing the air button on the topside control panel, and usually has an indicator that displays when the light is on (or when it thinks it’s on).

Spa Light Fuse is Blown

spa-light-fuseMany spa packs use a small fuse to protect the lamp and bulb (and spa users), should the voltage rise above safe limits. The typical type of spa light fuse is the tube type – metal ends with a glass center, so you can view the wire inside. If the wire looks ruptured or the glass is discolored or looks like it heated up, replace the fuse with the same type and amperage. You can check a spa light fuse with a multi-meter. Set it to Ohms or resistance and place your probes on each end of the fuse. A good fuse will show ’0′ resistance, and anything higher than ’1′ means a bad fuse. The fuse is usually located inside the spa pack, possibly next to other fuses. Check your spa pack owner’s manual for exact location, it may not be labeled. Make sure power is OFF before opening up your spa pack, and use care when poking around in there.

Spa Light Relay is Stuck

Some spa light systems use relays to control or direct the power to the light. If you push the light button and can hear a small noise, then you do have relays. Many times these are attached to the circuit board, and often look like small ice cubes. Hearing the relay click does not mean that it’s good or bad, but they can get stuck, become corroded or otherwise fail. Again remember the Mantra – the problem lies where the power dies. You can test with a multi-meter, the power coming into spa relays, but it’s often easier to remove the light lamp and check for power at the light, during or just after turning the light on. Most spa light relays are located just before the pool light lamp, or last in line before power reaches the bulb.

Spa Light Transformer Problems

spa-light-transformerMost spa lights are 12V, although some are 24V, and to provide the light bulb with the right voltage, many spas use a small transformer to reduce the incoming voltage to the correct low voltage amount. A transformer is a small magnet, wrapped in a primary and secondary coil, to create an electromagnet. Transformers are fairly easy to recognize and are about 1.5″ square, with wire leads attached. You can measure the power coming into the transformer, and measure power coming out of the transformer, with a multi-meter. The voltage coming out should match what the label states (12V or 24V), and if it’s more than 10% higher or lower, you may need a new spa transformer. Be sure that the wires are not shorted or corroded, and are making good contact.

Spa Light Bulb Failure

Spa light bulbs don’t last forever, and this may be the first thing to check. Even LED spa light bulbs will fail, despite some claims that they last nearly forever, they usually burn out within ten years. What usually happens is a failure of 1 or 2 of the LED’s which shorts out the entire bulb. If you’re handy with a soldering gun, you may be able to bypass the burnt out diodes, but most people just replace the entire bulb, most are fairly inexpensive, but there are a few specialty spa led light bulbs that can cost hundreds of dollars. Spa lights may not always be visibly bad, or you may not be able to tell a bad led by looking at it. You can check a spa light bulb with a multi-meter. Set it to Ohms or resistance and place your probes on the light contacts. A good bulb will show ’0′ resistance, and anything higher than ’1′ is shorted out, or a bad bulb.

Spa Light Lamp Corrosion

spa-light-assemblyBeing that spa lights are typically underwater, corrosion from moisture can affect the contacts made between the lamp and the bulb. Often times, it can be cleaned up with a toothbrush or rag to quickly fix the problem. Other times the spa light lamp will fail if corrosion damages the contacts or the light shell too much. For most spa lights however, the lamp well stays rather dry, and corrosion won’t be noticed. Just give the spa lamp a good inspection, to be sure the contacts for the wire and the bulb are solid and intact. Replacing the entire hot tub light kit with new wires and connectors if often the fix.

Spa Light Wire Shorted

The spa light lamp has a wire connected to it, which can short out by being nicked, or chewed on by rodents or insects, or from being crimped for too long in one position. It’s a very thin wire, and it doesn’t take much to stop the flow of power to the light bulb. Even when these thin wires look good, they could be worth a second look. In some cases, you can find the short, and by wiggling it you will notice the light coming on/off in the spa. Don’t splice with butt end connectors, replace the spa light kit, very cheap and a better long term solution. The light wire connectors and connection can also be the problem, to inspect them, disconnect the wire connectors and clean with a toothbrush and look for any signs of damage.

Spa Control Board Issue

spa-circuit-boardFinally, the main PCB or printed circuit board could be preventing the light from coming on. As mentioned earlier, it could be the light relay on the board, or the fuse – or it could be any other partial board failure (capacitor, resistor) preventing the light from coming on, even though the control panel may tell you it’s on. In my experience, a problem on the circuit board is the cause of light failure only in a small percentage of cases. If you have gone through all the other spa light troubleshooting steps above, with no success, it could mean that the main spa circuit board is where the power dies, and hence where the problem lies.

 

spa-and-hot-tub-light-troubleshooting>>>> ONCE UPON A TIME… spas and hot tubs were easier to work on, like the mechanical automobiles of an earlier generation. The latest models of spas brag about their “29 points of light” and this alone makes troubleshooting hot tub lights more difficult, in addition to the controlled electrical aspects. You need not be an electrical wizard to find a spa light problem however, just remember to take it step by step and rule out all possible issues – and if we can help you out in any way, let us know!

 

- Jack

 

 

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Hot Tub Ozonator VS. UV Light VS. Minerals

May 16th, 2016 by

OZONE-VS-UV-VS-MINERALS
When it comes to sanitizing your spa or hot tub, you have a lot of choices. When I first started hot tubbing, we didn’t have all these fancy purifiers, and until the 80′s we had to use pool chemicals!

Chlorine and Bromine are an easy way to keep the water constantly protected. But – there’s a dark side! It smells bad, bleaches suits, dries skin and hair, and can be unsafe to store and use.

And that’s why a cottage industry sprung up, offering alternatives to traditional sanitation methods. Let’s talk about all 3 – Ozonators, Ultra Violet light, and Mineral Purifiers.

Hot Tub Ozone

del-mcd50-ozoneHow it Works: Ozone is called the ‘World’s Most Powerful Sanitizer’ and indeed packs quite a punch. An ozonator or ozone generator shoots a small electric charge across an air filled gap to separate oxygen O² into O¹. The singular oxygen atom quickly bonds to a nearby O² molecule, to become O³, or Ozone. The additional oxygen atom makes O³ very unstable, destroying any unfortunate particle that gets in the way.

Down Side: Ozone is cheap to produce, however the circulation pump must be running, to draw the gas into the line. When the pump is off, ozone is not being produced. Ozone also has a very short life, and due to the gaseous state, it will rise to the surface and gas-off quickly.

Maintenance: Spa ozonators require replacement of the ozone tubing and check valve every 1-2 years. CD (Corona Discharge) models require CD Chip replacement every 1-2 years, while AGP (Advanced Plasma Gap) units can last up to 5 years.

Effectiveness: Using a spa ozonator can allow you to reduce reliance on high levels of chlorine and bromine, by as much as 50%, according to manufacturers. Ozone destroys Giardia, Pseudomonas and Crypto and is a powerful oxidizer.

Hot Tub UV Light

spectralightuv-lampHow it Works: UV light purifiers work by irradiating the water, as it rushes by a UV lamp that is producing a specific wavelength 254 nm within the UV-C spectrum. When exposed to UV light of this specific wavelength, living particles actually have their DNA rearranged and become unable to reproduce. This renders the particles as inert, and only from a millisecond of exposure to the UV-C light.

Down Side: Like Ozone, UV light is cheap to produce, but is only being produced while the pump is running, pushing water over the UV-C light bulb or lamp. UV system strength can be reduced by high water flow rates, cloudy water and water temperature. And it has no ‘shelf life’, sanitation only takes place for an instant, while the water is passing under the eerie blue light.

Maintenance: Spa UV light systems use a special bulb to create the UV-C light. In most cases, these bulbs will need to be replaced every 1-2 years, as they begin to lose effectiveness over time. Cleaning the quartz lens regularly is also recommended, to remove dust or grime deposits.

Effectiveness: Like Ozone, UV purification is a tried and true secondary sanitizer, and can reduce your reliance on chlorine or bromine. It also inactivates (renders inert) parasites and pathogens like Ozone, when sized and used properly.

Hot Tub Mineral Purifiers

spa-mineral-sticks-for-hot-tubsHow They Work: Mineral purifiers for hot tubs and spas are slim cartridges that you drop into the hole in your cartridge filter. They’re filled with Silver and Copper pellets which slowly dissolve at a controlled rate. The silver and copper act together as a biocide, with silver oxide as the sanitizer and copper working as an algaecide. Using a mineral stick, like the others, can allow you to reduce chlorine or bromine usage by up to 50%.

Down Side: Mineral sticks for spas are also not as powerful as ozone, and cannot kill the strongest of pathogens that may come into the water, although they come close.

Maintenance: Most mineral sticks are replaced every 4 months, when the silver and copper depletes. No other equipment involved, so no other maintenance is needed.

Effectiveness: Unlike ozone and UV, mineral sticks create lasting protection by maintaining a residual of silver in the water. You will notice an immediate improvement in water quality and can appreciate using less sanitizer or filter aids to keep the water clear.

 

Your mileage may vary, but having a secondary sanitizer makes sense and is recommended by the MAHC (Model Aquatic Health Code). It can help reduce reliance on harsh chlorine or bromine, and also acts as a nice back-up for those occasional gaps in coverage, if you know what I mean.

In most cases, all of these systems tend to cost the spa owner about $100 per year, but you can realize some savings in other chemical costs, and will enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your spa water is extra-clean, I know I do! I use Nature2 and Del Ozone on my own spa.

 

- Jack

 

 

How to Rotate a Spa Pump Wet End

April 11th, 2016 by

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end

If you’ve ever noticed, some spa and hot tub pumps can be connected to pipes in different directions. While some are fixed at a vertical 12 o’clock orientation, other spa pumps make their return pipe connection horizontally, at 3 or 9 o’clock.

If you replace your spa pump with new, or even if you just replace your wet end, knowing how to reposition the volute will make for a fast and easy repair.

Here we have Drake, our resident spa and hot tub pump guru, rotating a spa pump wet end from top to side, in just 46 seconds.

Transcript from the video is appended to these pictures below, or watch the wet end rotation video :-) for yourself!

 

This is the 56 frame ultramax pump and the wet end rotation procedure…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-0

I want you to loosen all four (4) motor bolts at the back of the pump…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-1
What you want to do is take your thumb and forefinger, depress the spring and rotate either to the 3 or 9 o’clock position…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-2
… and reinsert the motor bolts back into the wet end…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-3
And then you want to tighten harmonically, as to make even pressure from the wet end to the motor. Use a cross bolt pattern and tighten each bolt snug…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-4
Then check the wet end and make sure that the impeller is free to spin…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-5

Now you can plug the motor cable back into the outlet, and thread on the union nut connectors. To replace the power cord, just unplug and remove/replace the wires in the same order as the new pump.

Bleed out any trapped air in the system by loosening the union nut slightly when the tub is full or the valves are reopened.

Rotating the spa wet end is usually done when you buy a new spa pump, and the discharge port comes in a vertical orientation (top), but your pipe connection is horizontal (side).

Piece of Cake!

 

- Jack

 

 

 

5 Hot Tub Filter Problems

March 14th, 2016 by

tired-spa-filter-smSpa Filters are the Kidneys of your spa water, removing impurities and particles to keep systems working. If you were to run your spa without a filter, even a covered spa will quickly deteriorate in water quality.

And that’s exactly why you are here, searching for solutions to your vexing hot tub filter problems, and related water quality issues. So without further ado; here are the top spa filter problems and what to do about them.

 

stained spa filters

pink-filter-cartridgeA stained filter may not be a bad thing, if it doesn’t affect filter capacity, or even dirt distribution, or length of time between cleanings. Metals such as iron can stain a filter with a light brown orange stain. You may find your filter looking gray, green, yellow or even purple at times.

For spa filter stains that don’t hose off easily, the best thing is to give the filter a good cleaning in a good spa filter cleaner. This will remove oils and minerals and most metal stains from hot tub filter cartridges. Never use acid, bleach or other cleansers that contain soapy phosphates; you’ll never get it out and suds your tub.

If some stains remain after soaking and rinsing, these may not affect the ability of the filter cartridge, but depending on thickness, heavy stains can reduce the microscopic filter pore size to the point where areas of the cartridge are not utilized.

The better question may be – what is it that stains the cartridge? Is it in the water like metals or an algae, or a byproduct of certain chemical combinations? Are calcium hardness and pH levels high? Do you need to prefilter your fill water?

holes in spa filters

holes-in-cartridgeBack when I was servicing hot tubs for a living, I was cleaning a filter cartridge and noticed it had stitches. The lady of the house told me that she had ‘stitched them up!’, very proudly. OK, but for the rest of us a replacement cartridge is in order if holes are noticed. Even very small holes will reduce your filter effectiveness.

The better question may be – what caused holes in the cartridge? In this case, the lady of the house had, unbeknownst to her, a large pool pump installed on a small spa filter. It had blasted holes the size of a pencil in the spa filter cartridge. I’ve also heard tale of certain insects that have a taste for spun polyester, so store your spares accordingly.

cracked spa filters

split-filter-cartridgeWhen you speak of a cracked spa filter, what is usually meant is that one of the colored rubber end caps has developed a split or crack. Spa filters can also crack across the central support cage.  Both instances are rare, but if your spa filter has a crack in either end (not tiny crazing, but real splits) you will need to replace the cartridge.

The better question may be – what caused the end cap to crack in the first place? Could be the same as for holes in spa filters, a crack in the end cap could result from a spa filter pump that is too large for the filter size. Cracks or holes can also happen from closing a valve after the filter while the pump is running, or in some cases when an undersized filter is extremely dirty.

fuzzy spa filters

The tips of your pleated fabric, are they smooth and relatively fur-free? In some cases, spa filters can become fuzzy on the pleats and this can reduce your filter’s ability to trap dirt by reducing the spaces between pleats. It also creates a lot of turbulence for the water and dirt, as it enters the pleats (on a small scale).

Why does the spa filter cartridge seem to unravel at the edges? It’s usually from chemical problems in the spa, poor water balance or high sanitizer levels. It’s also caused by cleaning the cartridge with too much water pressure. A new spa filter is in order.

clogging spa filters

dirty-to-clean-filtersDoes your spa filter clog up again in a few days after cleaning? That’s not gonna work, in most cases a 2-4 week filter cycle can be expected, depending on the size of the filter cartridge, and how much the spa is used, and to some degree as mentioned above, the water balance.

A filter that clogs up quickly is likely coated with mineral scale, oily films, or both. A cleaning with spa filter cleaner is in order to unclog the microscopic passageways between the fibers of the filter. TSP can also be used for oily filters, but it won’t remove mineral scale from hard water.

If your filter is still clogging quickly after cleaning, it’s probably best to replace it, even if it’s relatively new. Assuming that it’s sized properly for the pump and installed properly, the filter cartridge lose life quickly when cleaning certain substances from the hot tub water.

The better question is – what vegetable, oil or mineral is clogging the spa filter?

 

  • Hot tub filter cartridges naturally degrade over time, the woven fibers separate and they are unable to filter the smaller particles. Or, filter cartridges become coated with oily and crusty deposits which are hard to remove, causing them to clog quickly. Replace your spa filter every 12-24 months.hose-off-the-cartridge
  • A few things you should not do – don’t put your spa filter in the dishwasher, and don’t use a pressure washer to clean it. Just hose it clean, soak it in one of our many spa filter cleaners, and rinse it clean again.

 

- Jack

 

 

 

 

Romantic Hot Tubbing with your Valentine

February 8th, 2016 by

happy-valentines-dayHello folks; I don’t usually get the fluffy blog topics – but here goes, a man’s guide for hot tub romance this Valentine’s day.

I’m not sure how qualified I am to speak on the subject, but there are a few tips I’ve learned on how to create a romantic mood, and I do know about hot tubs!

Nothing new here, but be warned, these soft tips below are powerfully romantic!

 

 

SOFT MUSIC

Pick something soothing and mellow, think Sade or Michael Buble, maybe some Bossa Nova. Whatever she likes, and if you don’t know what she likes, ask her! If your spa area is not already wired, you can relocate a house speaker, use a boom box, or connect your phone or tablet to Pandora and connecting it to small speakers.

SOFT LIGHTING

Colored lighting is even better. You can find a red bulb for the patio light at the hardware store, or use colored plastic or glass filters around lamps. You may be able to do the same for your underwater spa light, with color changing LED spa bulbs or a cool colored snap on lens. Or, go with candles in glasses or vases that will block the wind.

SOFT GIFT

Take the spa experience to a whole new romantic level! Buy her a really nice robe and slippers (soft or sexy), and have the store wrap it with bows and ribbons, real nice. Present it to her or leave it for her upstairs, with a hand written invitation to join you downstairs, in the spa ~

SOFT DRINKS

Ladies like a fancy drink, so skip the Budweiser and create a smoothie tropical like a Pina Colada or Daiquiri – or go traditional with a bottle of champagne on ice. You can get plastic daiquiri glasses and little umbrellas or plastic champagne flutes at the party store. Something soft and cool, or go the other way to soft and warm, with rich hot cocoa or coffee drinks.

SOFT SCENTS

Adding some Spa Crystals will be a great touch, and one that she’s sure to notice. Pour in just before you come outside, or place the crystals (or beads/elixir) in a fancy jar or bowl next to the spa, and with a small spoon, sprinkle the water just before getting in (with great dramatic flair, of course).

CHOCOLATES

Better than a heart shaped box of candies, is a nice box of Godiva chocolates from the mall. Or chocolate dipped strawberries, or other easy-to-eat-in-a-hot-tub foods like small finger-food or appetizers that aren’t greasy, crumbly or hard to handle. A Spa Caddy (shown above) makes a nice table for food and drink.

FLOWERS

Pick up a few dozen red carnations and a few dozen red roses at the grocery store and place several vases around the hot tub. Pick a few roses, pluck the petals and put them in a box, so you can float them on the surface, and sprinkle petals along the pathway to the spa.

 

~ Well there you have it, tried and true methods to turn a regular old soak in the hot tub, into something really special and memorable.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

- Jack

 

 

Spa Chemical Dosage Charts

January 11th, 2016 by

trutest-strip-reader-spa-lgI’ve heard it said that “spas and hot tubs are not just small pools” – indeed, they are very small pools.

So small in fact, that the equivalent of 4 people in a spa is like having 200 people in a pool! Wacky things happen to water chemistry when even one person is using the spa or hot tub – pH jumps, alkalinity drops, and sanitizer is pummeled.

But you know this – if you take care of a spa or hot tub, regular water testing confirms irregular water chemistry, in most hot tubs. And you know how to take care of it too, a little bit of this, a little bit of that… and your spa water is balanced once again.

Today’s post is designed to be a resource for the busy spa owner, a printable reference sheet of how much spa chemical to add, for an expected result. Print Out the image below and tape it inside the spa cabinet door, or on the lid of your chemical box. Plastic sleeves or report binders will keep it dry and readable.

OverDosing the Spa is very common. Measure spa adjustment chemicals carefully, using 1/8 cup (1 oz) or 1/4 cup (2 oz) kitchen measuring cups. Another useful tool, the kitchen tablespoon is 1/2 ounce, and the tablespoon is 1/6 ounce, or 0.17 oz. Add small amounts and test again after an hour or so of circulation. Keep a log book of chemical test strip readings and adjustment chemicals used – I know, sounds geeky – but it can be very helpful in getting to know your spa’s chemical personality, and how it reacts to people chemistry.

Not sure How Many Gallons is in your Spa? Mathematical formulas exist, but can wrongly estimate the gallons in a portable spa, due to the varied internal seats and shapes. The best way to calculate the number of gallons in a spa is to time exactly how many seconds it takes to fill the entire spa using a stopwatch. Then time the exact amount of time it takes to fill in five gallon bucket, in seconds. Divide Spa Fill time by bucket fill time to determine spa capacity. For example, if it takes 1800 seconds (30 minutes) to fill your spa, and 30 seconds to fill a 5 gallon bucket, then… 1800 ÷ 30 = 60 buckets x 5 gallons = 300 gallons. Another way to find out is to consult the owner’s manual, or search online by make/model – if the spa was built by a known manufacturer.

Spa Chemical Dosage Charts

Print out this chart and place it near your spa chemical storage area, for quick reference. Write or circle the number of gallons in your spa or hot tub.

spa-chemical-dosage-charts

spa-chemical-dosage-charts

One more tip: Always add one chemical at a time, allowing 15 minutes of circulation before adding other spa chemicals. Adding chemicals right on top of each other can affect the effect!

 

- Jack

 

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

December 7th, 2015 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWSDecember is here already, and that means that it’s time once again for our semi-annual look at hot tubs and spas in the news.

Real stories from news sites around the globe, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Today’s round-up of news stories has a few laughs, a head shake and an Oh My!

 

Japan obsessed with French wine holiday

By  

haruko-wine-hot-tubWhile the French still produce and consume the most wine per capita, Japan is continuing to grow as one of the biggest wine markets in the world — and they’re not afraid to show their passion for the beverage. It’s one thing to drink wine, but it’s another altogether to have it poured freely into a pool, into your cupped hands, and over your head. Nonetheless, that’s just what happened at a hot-springs resort in the Japanese city of Hakone as revelers celebrated the wine-filled holiday Beaujolais Nouveau this year. Full Story.

 

California Hot Tub filling ban has owners steaming

By Nicholas Weiler May 10. 2015  San Jose Mercury News

hot-tub-water-conservationFor their part, some hot tub retailers resent that their product is being lumped in with pools. Lynda Sisk of Hot Springs Spas of San Jose, said she uses her hot tub several times a week and has to add only 10 gallons a month. Many use their spas for therapy, she said, and would otherwise take long showers or baths to ease aching muscles. In part because of Sisk’s lobbying efforts, Santa Cruz decided to remove the spa-filling restriction from this year’s drought rules. Full Story.

 

UCLA removes hot tub from QB Josh Rosen’s dorm room

By Chip Patterson  October 27, 2015 CBS Sports

josh-rosen-hot-tub Image by @azcsportsThe life of a college football quarterback is pretty sweet, especially when you are UCLA Football Quarterback Josh Rosen and a hot tub gets installed in your dorm room. But with great power comes great responsibility (or something) and once the world got a sight of Rosen enjoying the luxurious life, the school needed to take action. Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA Dorm official, confirmed to TMZ that the hot tub had been removed from Rosen’s room. Full Story.

 

 Vanishing hot tubs are here! Vanish Spa

By Leo Lutero  October 6, 2015  PSFK.com

vanish-spaInspired by his son’s inflatable pool, Jet Capps created an inflatable spa that lets you relax Jacuzzi-style virtually anywhere. The Vanish Spa does look like a child’s pool but a step into the heated, bubbling water will prove it is a much more sophisticated affair. Also, it comes in an interesting pattern so you won’t help but be able to take it outdoors. The Realtree and Max 5 are for marshy to tropical outdoors. The AP Snow is especially stealthy for use in the snow. The Vanish Spa has a Kickstarter campaign. Full Story.

 

World’s Chillest Bear Hops from Pool into Hot Tub

By Ed Mazza  05/19/2015  The Huffington Post

bear-in-hot-tub-10A Canadian couple had a bear of a scare on Monday when a furry invader busted down their fence and decided to go for a dip in the pool. After floating in the pool for a bit, the black bear then hopped into the adjacent hot tub for some more relaxation. “It’s just amazing,” North Vancouver homeowner Tony Diering told CTV. “You see funny things on YouTube, but to have it happening in your own backyard…” Diering told the network that possibly the same bear was spotted eating birdseed a month ago. Full Story.

 

- Jack

 

How to Sell a Used Hot Tub

November 19th, 2015 by

see-my-used-spa-1Buying a new hot tub and not sure what to do with your old tub? Selling a used hot tub is not much different than selling a used car, in many ways.

The reason that an automotive analogy works so well with spas is because they are so similar; with shiny surfaces, bucket seats, an engine, filter, heater, and lights. And like cars, some spa models have more features, or a more inspired design, or a bigger engine and more jets.

If your hot tub is an old clunker, chugging along with some fluid leaks and a few features that no longer work, there’s not much value left. If your spa or tub has been sitting empty, and has major equipment or cosmetic problems, it has almost no value.

Continuing the used car analogy, let’s assume that your lovingly-cared-for spa has not been sitting empty, but has been maintained continuously. It may have a scratch or two, but it heats up fully and the spa equipment all works (pumps, blower, light, heater, controls). Now you have some value, you have something to sell.

 

How To Sell a Used Spa

1. Trade it into a Spa Dealer: Like the trade-in value of a car, you’ll get much less than if you sold it on your own. But for those looking for a turnkey solution, having them pluck out the old and slap a new one in place all in one day, is nice. Average trade in value for a 10 year old spa is $1000, and maybe only $500. Sometimes it’s just Free removal, with no trade-in value, so be sure to check for all the details.

junk-spa-covers-sm2. Sell it to Friends or Family: This can be a fast way to sell a tub, especially for friends or family that have enjoyed your tub in the past. However, you’ll want to be nice on the price, won’t you? The neighbor that’s always commenting on the hot tub, he or she could be a good candidate. Pick 2 or 3 targets and approach them with an offer to join you and millions of other Hot Tub enthusiasts!

3. Sell it on Craigslist: Optimize your ad for best results. Put in spa gallons, size dimensions and equipment data, number of jets, features and accessories. Exact make and model information and Spa Pak Controller information. Age and condition of spa cover and cover lifter. Note any blemishes or leaks in the plumbing. Note any recent repairs or new equipment you’ve replaced. If you can offer delivery on a trailer for a fee, list that in the ad, otherwise tell them the spa / hot tub is Cash and Carry.

craigslist-screenshotThe more detail you put into the ad, the better response you’ll get. If you can find the manufacturer model brochure or information online, you can post their specs, details and features. Images are also very important, post 6-8 images for best results, highlighting the best features of your spa. Be sure to include pictures of the spa pak (with good lighting). Shots of the entire spa from above (on a ladder or deck) make a good picture.

Be sure to polish everything before taking photos, especially underneath in the equipment area, use a wet rag to wipe down pipes and equipment. And it must be full of water and operating, if you want to get more than $100, so be sure the pictures show it full of water, hot and steamy.

camera-iconIf you’ve never uploaded photos before, connect your camera or smartphone to your PC’s usb port. While on Craigslist, click the Add Image Button, on the second screen, which will open up your pictures folder (usually). Look left to My Computer and locate your device, listed as a Drive. Click on the link to the Camera, Phone, Tablet, and select the photo you want and click open.

 

How to Price a Used Spa

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a KBB for spas and hot tubs.

Like automobiles, spas and hot tubs are sold to appeal to a wide demographic, so there are standard base model roadsters, and there are also luxury custom sedans. The spas at Hot Tub Works are priced like a Chevy, in the $4-$7000 range. Recognized brand names like Jacuzzi, Hot Springs, Baja and others are sold at Cadillac prices, in the $8-$12000 range.

It is best to know the original purchase price of the spa (not including delivery/installation). If you don’t have records of the amount paid for the spa (and spa cover, if in good shape), you will have to use a different formula for pricing your used spa.

After you calculate the amount you think it’s worth, cut that amount in half! Here’s where spas are not like cars. Spas and hot tubs are more of personal item, you know what I mean? People don’t want to pay a lot for a used spa.

Look on craigslist.org and search in the For Sale category for Spa or Hot Tub (click Owners to rule out for sale by Dealers), and you’ll see how people in your area are pricing the spas. You’ll see some real ugly spas out there!

ugly-spa-contest

I spent quite some time on Craigs List, searching from Coast to Coast, and found a wide variety of prices, From Free to $75, for non-working spas that needed a lot of TLC, up to $5000 for Luxury spas that are 5-10 years old. But most spas are priced in the $2500 range. Spas with some visible wear and tear, or with more mileage are selling in the $1500 range.

For most spas that I looked at (and I looked at hundreds today), I would estimate that people are asking between 25% to 33% of what they paid for the spa, if it’s in full operational condition. Here’s a nice spa for sale on Craigslist, listed for $3500.

nice-spa-for-3000

So don’t expect a lot a money, when selling a used spa. Depreciation on spas and hot tubs is much faster and cuts deeper than automobile depreciation, and that’s just the way it is.

 

- Jack

 

 

 

Hot Tub Not Heating Enough? 10 Reasons Why

September 28th, 2015 by

hot-tub-not-heating-tooIf the water temperature is warm or hot-ish, but not quite the skin searing temperature you like – you’ve come to the right resource.

When your spa heater takes too long to heat the hot tub, or if your hot tub won’t get hot enough like it used to – here’s the troubleshooting steps to take. Some Hot tubs can heat-up to as high as 105°, although the recommended temperature for healthy adults is 104°.

Let’s Assume that you are receiving No Error Codes on the display panel. Everything seems normal, but the water is not as hot as it used to be, in the past.

Thermometer is Incorrect

digital-thermometer-2First Off, thermometers can be wrong – they are not usually “precision instruments”. Even digital display temp readings can be wrong (see #5 below), and off by a few degrees. A digital spa thermometer can be considered more accurate than the rubber ducky spa thermometers.

Hot Tub Cover is Inefficient

An economy spa cover is not going to provide the type of heat trapping efficiency of thicker and denser spa covers. The R-value of the best spa covers can be 3x the R-value of a basic spa cover.

bowed-spa-cover-smSecondly, as spa covers age, they can start to take on water, and sag in the middle. other covers can begin to rip on the edges or along the fold. If you see any steam leaking out of the sides of your spa cover, this can be enough heat loss to reduce overall spa temperature.

Finally, you have to keep the hot tub cover on the tub while heating, or the spa will never heat up. For extra heat trapping, use a floating foam spa blanket.

Thermostat is Mis-Calibrated

mechanical-spa-thermostat-adjustmentOn older gas-fired spa heaters, and old hot tubs with mechanical thermostats (without any digital panel display), the spa thermostat can be adjusted. These thermostats have a copper wire and capillary bulb used to sense the water temperature. On the end of the switch is a 1/8″ hex head adjustment screw. Turn it 1/4 turn clockwise, and give it a few hours to see how high the temperature rises.

Test water temperature before using and be careful not to raise the temperature above 104° – which is possible to do on some hot tubs. Adjusting the set point too high can be dangerous or unhealthy for spa users. It’s also possible that the thermostat is defective, they don’t normally just go out of adjustment by themselves.

Outside Temperature Too Low

spa-under-snowSome spas are just not able to overcome low outside temperatures. Especially for 110V plug-in portable spas, or spas built without a lot of insulation, a small 1-3 kw spa heater can not heat up fast enough to overcome heat loss.

Also true for spas and hot tubs that have small heater elements, under 4 Kw, or 4000 watt. The fact is – less expensive spas will have more trouble keeping up with low outside temperatures.

Using a top quality spa cover, floating spa blanket and improving insulation underneath the spa, even wrapping the outside of a wood hot tub, can all help to compensate and correct for low air temperatures. Spa heaters can also be up-sized.

Bad Temperature Sensors

balboa-temp-sensorModern spas use electronic temperature sensors and high-limits to constantly check water temperature, inside and outside of the spa heater. These are connected by wires to a plug-in on the main control panel.

On digital spa packs, you will usually see an Error Code (Sn, Sn1, HL, Hot, OH), when a temp sensor is causing the heater to shut off, but if they are off a few degrees, a temperature sensor or thermostat can shut off the heater, thinking the spa is hotter than it is.

Using the Air Blower

Using a forced air blower or opening the air intake knobs will always cool the water, because the air temperature is much colder than the water temperature.

Spa Heater Not Running Long Enough

Spas and hot tubs heat slowly, some as low as 1 degree per hour, although most can do 2-4 degrees per hour. If the timer is not set to run long enough each day, it can have trouble keeping up, especially with low outside temperatures.

To bring it up to speed, run the circulation pump and heater continuously. It can take up to 24 hours – depending on starting water temperature, outside air temperature, spa cover efficiency and most importantly, the size of your spa heater.

Spa Filter is Dirty

SPA-PARTS-SPA-FILTERSEarlier in the article, we agreed to assume that there are no error codes – and a dirty spa filter should produce an Error Code (FL, Flo, FL1) if the pressure switch is sensing low flow and keeping the heater off.

You can remove the spa filter (spa cartridge) to see if flow improves because of a dirty spa filter. You may need to hit the heater element Reset button in this case. Replace spa and hot tub filters every 12-24 months to keep the water flowing and filtering well.

Spa Was Just Drained and Refilled

For spas that have been drained and refilled, you may want to run the heater continuously for a day or two, until the water gets hot, then reset the timeclock to run for 4-8 hours daily, or as much as it needs to maintain most of the heat.

Also, be sure that the spa circulation pump is fully primed, and not in an air lock condition, or drawing in air – both of which will cause the heater to overheat and shut off. You may need to hit the heater element Reset button in this case.

Spa Water Level is Low

spa-water-level-over-skimmerIf your spa skimmer begins to draw in a steady stream of air in a vortex inside the skimmer, or gulps down air because of a stuck skimmer door or thermometer, this will cause the heater to overheat and shut down. You may need to hit the heater element Reset button in this case.

Add water regularly to your spa to keep the level from dropping too low and drawing air into the suction intakes.

 

- Jack

 

 

 

Save 4 Ways with a New Spa Filter

August 21st, 2015 by

unicel-cartridge-guy-with-htw-logoSpa cartridges are one of our fastest moving products here at Hot Tub Works. We ship over 50,000 spa filters per year to spa owners all over the country. So it’s only natural that we’re going to talk about them on the blog!

Yes, we like to sell hot tub cartridges, but it’s a product that feels good to sell, because I know that it’s improving water quality and health, and reducing energy and water consumption. It’s a win-win for us both!

So for those spa owners out there that still think their cartridge can last another few months (we recommend changing it every 10-15 cleanings or every 12-18 months, whichever comes first), here’s some ways that a new hot tub cartridge saves.

save-money-2SAVE MONEY:  A new hot tub cartridge filters so much better than a worn filter cartridge that you will find you need less chemicals to keep it clean like MPS, clarifiers or foam-out. A new spa filter can also reduce staining, or deadly deposits on your heater core. New cartridges on schedule can allow you to run the pump less, while using fewer chemicals. Using an old cartridge requires more pump run time and more chemicals to compensate for the inability of older cartridges to trap fine particles. You’ll save more money than you spend on regularly replacing a spa filter cartridge.

saving-water-is-coolSAVE WATER: If you are under water restrictions in your area, or would just prefer to reduce the frequency of draining and refilling the tub (which also saves money), buying a new spa filter on schedule will enable you to increase the length of time between water changes. For those of you under extreme hot tub water restrictions, changing water only once or twice per year, we recommend a new cartridge every 6-12 months. Some of our customers are finding success with draining only halfway every six months, but also replacing the spa filter cartridge at the same time.

world-energySAVE ENERGY: Everyone likes to save energy. Spas and hot tubs are not huge energy hogs, but every little bit helps. As mentioned earlier, new or almost new hot tub filters are so much more effective than old or almost old cartridges, that you can actually run the pump 1-2 hours less per day, and maintain the same water quality. As a filter cartridge ages, the constant battering from the water flow and from periodic cleanings forces open small gaps between the woven polyester fibers. This allows small particles to pass through unfiltered, requiring – you guessed it, more filtering (and or more chemicals) to keep the water clean and clear.

your-precious-timeSAVE TIME: Why do you save time? A new or almost new spa filter cartridge will filter the water more effectively, which means that your water will stay clean and balanced more easily, with less water problems. It also can last twice as long before it needs cleaning, as compared to a 24 month old spa cartridge, which clogs quickly from oil and mineral deposits that don’t come out, even with chemical soaking. What’s worse is that as spa filters age, they can’t trap the small particles anymore. New filters can filter down below 20 microns, but an old cartridge may not trap sizes of 35 micron particles, which is where particles become visible to the human eye.

 

In case you’re wondering, I change my spa filter every 15 months, like clockwork. Set yourself an email reminder with the link to your particular spa filter, so you can reorder your spa filter on schedule. Maybe we should start a spa filter subscription service!?!

 

- Jack