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Jack Stone's Posts

Installing a Hot Tub Ozonator

August 7th, 2017 by

Ozone is a powerful natural sanitizer that requires only annual attention (or less), and can handle the bulk of your water sanitation. And now, new models of Del spa ozonators now have 5 year lifespan on the CD ozone generator.

Installing a spa ozonator is nearly just as easy. Many spas already come with ozone, or are ‘ozone ready’, with an injection manifold already plumbed in place. Even if your spa has never had an ozonator, installing ozone on a hot tub can be an easy job.

With basic hand tools, and the manufacturer owner’s manual or installation instructions, you are ready to install an ozonator in 3 steps.

  1. Mount the Ozonator Unit inside the Cabinet
  2. Connecting the Ozone Hose to the Injection Manifold
  3. Connecting the Ozonator Unit to Power

 

Mounting the Ozonator

Many hot tub ozone installation manuals will advise to install the ozonator above water level, even though check valves and a ‘Hartford Loop’ in the Ozone Hose will protect the unit from water, described below. For most portable aboveground hot tubs, the ozonator is placed under the cabinet, high up on the wall, in an accessible area with good air circulation. For inground spas or for tubs with equipment sheds, if you can mount the ozonator above the water level easily, by all means do, but it is not a strict requirement.

Use all screws to firmly attach the ozonator unit to the wall or stud, high up on the inside wall. A secondary piece of plywood can be used for added strength, and to prevent drilling through the spa cabinet from the inside. Mount in a location that indicator or status lights can easily be seen and future maintenance or replacement can be easily accomplished.
 

Connecting the Ozone Hose to the Injection Manifold

Ozone Ready Spas: An ozone ready spa will already have an Ozone Injector plumbed in place, or may utilize an Ozone Jet Fitting to draw the ozone into the spa. Or you may just need to add an Ozone Injector to the pipe already designated for ozone, both described below, but – check your owner’s manual for ozone details.

For spas and hot tubs that have not had an ozonator before, and are not ‘ozone-ready’, there are 3 ways to introduce the ozone gas into the water line.

  1. ozone-injectorPlumb an Ozone Injector into a 3/4″ Water Hose: For this method, locate the 3/4″ diameter water hose that leads to one of your spa jets. Choose a jet on the ‘end of the line’, or by itself, and preferably near the bottom of the tub if possible, to give the ozone another second or two to work as it bubbles up to the surface. Coordinate the ozonator installation with a drain & refill of the tub, unless you have a valve or other means to stop water flow while the injector is quickly inserted. Cut the hose with a razor knife or shears, and push the hose over the Ozone Injector and clamp firmly in place. The injection fitting, where the Ozone hose connects, should be facing up, and the indicator arrows should point in the direction of water flow. If there are no arrows, the end that you cannot blow air into, is the exit for the water.
  2. Attach Ozone Hose to a Spa Jet Air Intake: Most spa jets are combination Air and Water jets, mixing at the jet for increased force. Some spa jets receive air from an Air Manifold, and on other spas using ‘Stacked Jets‘, the air line runs in/out of each jet, and to the next. If you have a single hose and a single air port on your spa jets, cut the hose at the manifold and at the jet, and plug the manifold end. For a stacked jet configuration, remove one jet from the air loop, bypassing that valve, and use adapters and plugs to connect your Ozone Hose.
  3. Plumb an Ozone Injector Manifold: This method uses a large PVC manifold to connect to your 1.5″ or 2″ PVC plumbing – after the pump and heater. You will need about 24″ of clear space to install the large manifold, or with several 90° fittings, you can create the space. Glue the manifold in place, and you are ready to connect your Ozone hose.

Hartford Loop & Check Valve: In addition to the connection point for the Ozone Hose, you also need to run the hose in a loop above water level, and install a check valve, to prevent water from backing up into the ozonator, which could easily damage or destroy the unit.

A Hartford Loop is simply running the hose above the water level with a 6-8″ wide loop, in between the ozonator and the injector. An ozone check valve is then placed in the ozone hose, between the loop and the injector, as redundant protection against water damage.

All Ozone check valves will fail eventually, and should be replaced every 12-18 months, as a preventative measure. Ozone Hose also becomes brittle in a few years, and should also be on a replacement schedule.
 

Connecting the Ozonator Unit to Power

Most hot tub ozonators are equipped with either a J&J mini plug or AMP plug, to connect directly to your spa controller circuit board, and as such, is controlled by your system to only operate when the pump low speed is operating, instead of running 24 hours per day. If your ozonator comes with an AMP plug, but you have J&J plugs, short ozone adapter cords are used to connect to your spa pack.

For hot tubs without a spa pack controller, or old systems without an ozone connection port, the power wires can be hard-wired directly to the spa pump time clock, to operate only when the pump is operating, preferably only on low speed. You can also connect your ozone hose into the plumbing of a 24 hour circulation pump.

Finally, if your spa has a GFCI outlet powered by the pump or controller, you can power the ozonator directly into the 115V outlet with a regular 3-Prong grounded plug.

 

 

– Jack

 

 

Spa Cover Review on a Custom Spa Cover

July 17th, 2017 by

spa cover shapes, standard stuffWe make thousands of spa covers every month and most are straight forward, but there are a few each month which keep us on our toes. Custom spa covers require careful measuring on the customer’s end, but very careful handling on our end to ask all the right questions, and match the measurements and images to fit snugly, yet still be manageable.

This was one of those spa covers, because when the specs are very tight-  due to waterfalls, custom rock designs, uneven stone coping, all while being over-sized, it’s critical to get it right the first time.

The client was kind enough to send a picture back and let us know how happy they are with their new hot tub cover. We can crank out Hot Tub Sovereign and Jacuzzi J-300 hot tub covers blindfolded with one arm tied behind our back, because they are made to manufacturer specs.

Custom Spa Covers however, require a dedicated team, with focus on the smallest details, to produce the best fitting custom spa cover, for inground spas, swim spas, or any custom shape or oversized hot tub. Trust your custom spa cover to the experts at Hot Tub Works, we come through every time!

But when we mess up, we fess up! It hasn’t happened in a while, but if it does – we stand ready to admit our mistakes and make it right by the customer.

HOT-TUB-COVER-REVIEWS

 

Actual Customer Review:

Hi Drake,

Just wanted to thank you guys for a great job on the spa cover. I was a little nervous about it properly fitting my custom sized spa, but as you can see from the picture, it turned out perfect. I hope you guys keep the template on file in case I would need to reorder another cover in the future (hopefully many years from now). Thanks again for your help and for making this process relatively pain-free.

Regards, Saba

Another Custom Spa Covers Satisfied Customer! Give Drake a call when you are ready to take the next steps in having a custom spa cover made – perfectly!

 

– Jack

Earth Day Hot Tub Tips

April 15th, 2017 by


>>> In honor of our fragile island home, 3rd rock from the sun – here are 3 ways to make your hot tub more eco-friendly this Earth Day – April 22! Saving Energy with improved insulation, Reducing Chemicals with alternative sanitizers and Saving Water by improving your spa filtration. Make your hot tub more eco-friendly >>>

Save Energy: Improve Insulation

Spas and spa covers are made for mild, moderate and severe winter climates. Spas and hot tubs that are not as well insulated as they could be, around the sides and on top, take more energy to maintain hot water and overcome radiant heat loss. This becomes more pronounced during very low temperatures and high winds. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to add more R-value to a poorly insulated spa. The Pink Panther brand (Dow-Corning) has lots of boards and thin bats that can be retrofitted into a spa cabinet to increase spa insulation.

On the topside, look at our Ultra or Works spa covers, for the best performance in a thermal spa cover. Replacing a thin, ill-fitting or waterlogged cover with a heavier weight 1.5 lb. or 2 lb. foam, in a 6-4″ taper, will really improve your spa or hot tub insulation, and save money on heat loss around the cover. For high winds, which can seep in under a spa cover and cool your spa, our High Wind Straps keep your spa from lifting up slightly during heavy winds. Finally, adding a floating foam spa blanket traps heat in the water where it belongs, and the added heat barrier helps reduce heat loss.

Reduce Chemicals: Secondary Sanitizers

When you reduce your use of chlorine and bromine, the Earth wins, because when you reduce your demand for chlorine or bromine, the supply (and production, and transport) slows down to compensate, as supply always adjusts to meet demand. Adding secondary sanitizers to your spa can cut your usage of chlorine or bromine by as much as half. I’m speaking about adding Minerals or Ozone purifiers to your spa, to remove the majority of the contaminants in the water, allowing you to use a much lower level of bromine or chlorine in the spa. Many people use Minerals and Ozone together, along with regular use of MPS shock, for a completely chlorine free hot tub.

Mineral sanitizers for spas are so easy to use, just drop the Nature2 Spa Stick or other brand mineral stick into the hole in your filter cartridge. Water passing by picks up the minerals, instantly purifying copper/silver ions. Connecting a spa ozonator like the Del Spa Eclipse is a piece of cake on any ozone ready spa or hot tub. For tubs without a Mazzei injector manifold, or other port to connect the ozone hose, you can install your own Mazzei injector into 3/4″ or 1″ water hose leading to a low-water ozone jet. It’s best to push ozone out of a dedicated ozone jet near the floor of the tub, but ozone can also be introduced through certain low wall jets.

Save Water: Improve Filtration

anti-microbial-filter-spasYour spa filter is the most important part of maintaining good water. And a good spa filter can be the difference between a water change every 3 months, or every 4 months, or even longer – if you have a really good spa filter. There are some things you can do to improve water filtration, for longer lasting water, and fewer chemicals needed to maintain water quality.

Firstly, many spa filter cartridges are available in the standard square footage size (25 sq. ft. for example), but also you can find the same size filter cartridge with more square footage (37.5 sq. ft. for example). Same dimensional size spa filter cartridge, but it has more pleats, for more square footage, or greater filter surface area. Secondly, many spa filter cartridges are also available in the blue Microban cartridge, which kills bacteria on contact, and it never wears off, although the cartridge itself will not last any longer than normal. Another thing you can do to really improve your spa filtration is to add a second spa filter. We’ve blogged about that before in more detail. Having two spa filters can drastically extend the time between water changes, and with a large spa filter, a spa could conceivably go an entire year between water changes! Finally, remember that filter cartridges should replaced every 12-24 months, depending on how big your filter is, and how often the spa is used. Regularly replacing your filter cartridge is the first step to maintaining water quality, and preventing excessive water changes.

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

– Jack

 

 

Troubleshooting Spa Circuit Boards

February 27th, 2017 by

spa-circuit-boards
Printed Circuit Boards, often abbreviated PCB, are the brain of a spa controller system, allowing intelligent switching on/off of spa components from a user friendly topside control panel.

Circuit boards control your spa components (pumps, heater, blower, light, ozone) and apply the chip programming which controls safety circuits, user interface and operation modes for the spa. Hot tub circuit boards handle all of the spa program modes, monitors the operation of spa equipment, and most importantly, keeps the spa hot and ready to use.

To allow the spa user to communicate with the board and vice versa, a compatible topside control panel is used to view spa component status indicators, program modes, water temperature and error messages. Circuit boards and topside control panels must be compatible with each other, in order to communicate.

Circuit Board Troubleshooting Tip #1 – It’s Not Usually the Circuit Board

Balboa topside controls9 times out of 10, when your topside control panel has gone out-of-control, or one of your pumps, or heater stops working, it’s not a circuit board problem. It’s most often a problem with the topside control panel, and when it’s not, it’s a problem with the transformer, or a blown fuse, a tripped circuit breaker, or a problem with the component, like a bad pump or blower motor or a bad heater element.

Circuit Board Troubleshooting Tip #2 – What Does the Topside Panel Say?

If you have no display on your topside control panel, check the cable for damage, following it right to where it plugs in, on the circuit board. Unplug it from the board and the low-speed pump will come on within 1 minute, on both systems. If that doesn’t happen, either the pump or the circuit board is bad.

cal-spas-flo-errorIf you do have a display visible on the topside panel, what does it say? You can find common spa error codes for spa controls on our blog, or consult your spa owner’s manual. FL, FLO or — codes refer to low water flow, Sn, SnS or Sens refer to high limit or temp sensors, OH or HOT refer to overheating.

Aside from error codes, an important clue for spa troubleshooting is – when you turn on a component (heater, pump, light…) on the topside panel, does the indicator also turn on? An icon or indicator light should display, when you activate any component on your spa. If not, the trouble is with the topside control, but if you do see the icon/light come on, but the pump/heater/blower/light is not actually working, the issue could be with the spa component, or the spa circuit board.

Circuit Board Troubleshooting Tip #3 – Testing a Spa Circuit Board

spa-controllerSo assuming that your topside control panel is operating properly, and there are no error messages that indicate a water flow issue, overheating issue or other potential issue, the next step is to put your eyes on the circuit board itself.

First, cut off the power to the spa, then open up the Spa Controller, usually located under the spa, above the heater. You should be able to find the screws that allow you to remove or open the control box cover, to access the circuit board.

When you first see it, it’s a confusing array of resistors, relays, capacitors and wires. The longer you stare at it, you’ll begin to see where the power come into the terminal block, and where the heater connects to the board. You can also see where the other spa components are connected. A large square or rectangle computer chip is usually central, marked with the chip number and a date code. Circuit boards also often have indicator lights that can provide a clue that may not be displaying on the topside control.

spa-control-circuit-board-diagram

Take a long look at your circuit board to inspect for any signs of burning, melting or cracking. Often you can smell a burnt circuit board. Check all of the bits on the board for any signs of damage, looking closely also at the wire or cable connection points on the board. Check that all the wire connections are tight, and look for any signs of water damage to the board. Some damage may be only visible on the opposite side of the board.

Transformers and fuses are often mounted directly on spa circuit boards. A transformer changes voltage (transforms it) to a lower voltage, whatever is needed to power the circuit board. Fuses are in place to protect your circuit board from irregular voltage, and if your fuses are blown, check all contacts, the GFCI,  and incoming voltage.electrical test meter

Transformers and spa fuses can both be tested with a multi-meter, set on 220V for the transformer, and set on the lowest Ohms setting for fuses, to check for continuity. You can also test across the incoming terminals to verify transformers and fuses all at once. With power off, and meter set to the lowest Ohms setting, place one meter probe on L1 (line 1), and the other meter probe onto Neutral. On 120V wired boards, you should get about 20 Ohms, or 40 Ohms for 220V wired boards.

Circuit Board Troubleshooting Tip #4 – Replacing a Spa Circuit Board

If you find that your circuit board is damaged, pay close attention to where it was damaged, and think hard about why it was damaged. Common causes are loose wire connections, loose heater connections especially, insect or rodent damage, water damage, or relay or transformer failure. As mentioned above, blown fuses may seem like you dodged a bullet, but you still want to find out what caused fuse failure, or it may happen again.

buy new circuit boards at hottubworks.comWhen replacing hot tub circuit boards, the most important thing is to make sure that you have the correct part number, serial number and chip number revision. Many boards are compatible with one another, however many spa circuit boards that look identical, are not. Most circuit boards are printed with the part number, and the chip number. If you have any doubt, call our spa techs to help you order correctly because, once a circuit board is removed from the sealed anti-static bag, they are non-returnable!

With the correct replacement spa circuit board in hand, you can carefully replace it into the control box, being careful to handle it only by the edges. Wire connections should be firmly connected, and heater wires should be torqued to 35 lbs, to prevent vibration problems. Be sure to correct any issues with moisture, insects or wiring that led to the original circuit board failure.

Bonus Tip – if facing replacement of your spa circuit board, consider replacement of the entire spa controller. Spa Controls are not much more (maybe double the cost) than the cost of a circuit board, but you also get a new heater and topside control.

 

– Jack

 

Hard Water Issues in Spas and Hot Tubs

January 29th, 2017 by

water-hardness-map-of-US

Do you live in the “Red Zone”? Having hard water means that you have a lot of calcium in your water, and soft water means that you have less, as it comes out of the tap. Hard water is less sudsy in the shower, and it can leave scale deposits in your sinks, shower and also in hot tubs.

In most cases, a little scale is no problem, but in some cases, calcium hardness levels can reach levels of 400 ppm or more, which can lead to problems.

Hard water problems in hot tubs start when calcium begins to come out of solution, giving you frequently cloudy water and scale deposits on your spa. Scale can deposit in out of the way places, like your heater element or less frequently used jets, or can build up along the water line of your spa or hot tub.

 

How Hard is Too Hard?

The water hardness map of the US shows the generally accepted maxim that anything over 180 ppm is classified as “Extremely Hard” water. However, many spas and hot tubs can operate effectively with much higher levels. If you have a test kit or test strips that measure for calcium hardness levels in your spa, you can easily check your spa water to see if you have hard (or soft) spa fill water. Most spas and hot tubs will be fine with calcium hardness levels of up to 400 ppm. After that, and you may begin to see signs of scaling and cloudy water conditions.

 

So What, Who Cares?

OK, fair question, and a great SNL skit phrase. How about this? You don’t care if you don’t have a calcium hardness problem. If your hot tub water is very hard, you’ve seen scale deposits before, and know that these salts leave ugly waterline deposits, but they can also scale inside of a spa heater, filter or ozone injectors. Hard hot tub water can be corrosive and when high enough, excessive calcium can interfere with sanitation and filtration. Hot water temperatures makes the calcium more active, causing cloudy water and scale deposits more easily, as opposed to cooler pools.

 

Treatments for Hard Hot Tub Water

They used to say there was nothing you could do, but nowadays there are several ways to manage hard water levels in a spa, so it doesn’t become a problem. The most important thing is a LOW pH and Alkalinity, which helps keep calcium in solution, so it won’t come out to cloud the water or deposit as scale. For hard water hot tubs, keep your pH in the 7.2-7.3 range, and Alkalinity in the 80-90 ppm range.

Pre-Filter1. Filter the Calcium. Maybe you have an expensive home water softening system, and can fill the spa after it’s been treated. Many outside hose spigots are not connected to home water treatment systems. Fear not, you can use the Pleatco Spa Water Pre-Filter, to take out minerals, metals, chloramines and other particulate contaminants in your fill water. Just screw it onto your hose and turn on the water, the Pre-filter traps sediment, metals, minerals, and removes foul odors! Good for 2-3 fills.

2. Combine the Calcium. There is a pool chemical called CalTreat, by United Chemical Co., which bonds to calcium carbonate, until a large enough particle is created to be removed by your filter cartridge. Follow the instructions carefully, and over a period of one to two weeks, you may reduce calcium hardness levels by up to 200 ppm (results and reviews are mixed for Cal Treat). Afterwards, soak your cartridge in a spa filter cleaner, or replace with a new spa filter. calcium-and-scale-control

3. Control the Calcium. Calcium and Scale control, like Spa Metal Out, are chemicals that keep calcium and other minerals (and also metals like iron and copper) tied-up in solution (sequestered), keeping them dissolved, so they don’t precipitate out to make the spa cloudy or deposit as scale or crystals. After the initial dose, just add a maintenance dosage weekly, to keep minerals in a “sequestered” state. It will also loosen and dissolve some scale deposits from heater elements and filter cartridges.

 

Treatments for Soft Hot Tub Water

Hard water is a common issue for spa and hot tub owners, but so is Soft Water. If you live in one of the purple, blue or white areas on the map, add a Calcium Hardness Increaser to your spa or hot tub, each time you fill with new water. Whereas hard water can produce stains and scale, soft water can be corrosive to the soft and shiny parts of your hot tub. It also leads to excessive spa foaming problems.

Add Calcium Hardness Increaser when your spa or hot tub is less than 150 ppm. Try to maintain at least 180 ppm in your spa, for proper water balance, equipment and surface protection and preventing spa foam. Each time you drain and fill your tub, you’ll need to add calcium again, but once you add it, calcium does not deplete, but stays in the water.

 

– Jack

 

 

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Spas & Hot Tubs in the News

December 12th, 2016 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWS

I always look forward to curating a new episode of spas and hot tubs in the news, which we do twice annually. News stories (no fake news here) from around the world, that have a spa or hot tub element to them.

There are always some similar stories and always some new and interesting news about hot tubs in popular culture. Today’s collection is no exception, with 5 stories to help you pass the time, or have a laugh or two.

 


 

JAPAN’S HOT TUB THEME PARK

beppu-city-hot-tub-roller-coasterA city in Japan is teasing plans of the world’s first spa-themed amusement park. In a concept video, Beppu City on Japan’s Kyushu island showed off an idea for a new “spamusement park.” The video featured visitors at typical amusement park attractions—a carousel, ferris wheel and roller coaster – but instead of seats for each ride, there were hot tubs. Beppu is already an onsen tourist destination – there are more than 2,000 hot springs for visitors to choose from. However the city recently launched an initiative to become the “spa city of the world.” Last year, Beppu welcomed nearly a half million foreign tourists. No completion date for the project has yet been announced. Full Story.

 

INTRUDER FOUND HIDING IN BACKYARD HOT TUB

hiding-in-a-hot-tub-nbc-los-angelesSan Diego Police say multiple 911 calls Thursday led them to a man hiding in a backyard hot tub in Rancho Bernardo. The man was in custody, accused of breaking in or attempting to break into several homes. The suspect ducked his head when NBC 7 showed up but he couldn’t hide for long as officers pulled him out of the cruiser to have witnesses confirm they’d gotten the right guy. The suspect, whose name was not released by police, lives in Los Angeles and was driving home from Mexico. For some reason, police say, he made an inland detour into this neighborhood – he was going from backyard to backyard when police finally caught him. Full Story.

 

CHILL BEAR SOAKS IN BACKYARD HOT TUB

bear-in-hot-tubA homeowner’s backyard security cameras caught a bear making itself at home last weekend in a hot tub. The bear wandered into the backyard Saturday night of the La Crescenta residence in the foothills east of Los Angeles and other than taking a long thirsty drink, the bear basically ignored the pool, opting instead for a relaxing dip in the hot tub. The stealthy visitor soaked for a few minutes, enjoying a solo pool party. The bear appeared to pluck something from a tree, possibly a snack, before pawing open a gate and lumbering back into the Pickens Canyon area. Bears like water, be sure to keep your backyard safe from entry, for bears and people! Full Story.

 

THIRSTY ELEPHANTS CAUGHT DRINKING HOT TUB WATER

By User Submission December 10, 2016, DailyMail.co.uk

elephants-drinking-from-hot-tubIn the African savannah, elephants are a common sighting. They are not especially fearful of people, and when no one is around, they don’t mind taking a dip or a drink of cool water on a hot summer day. This woman was startled when she saw a group of elephants drinking water from her pool. She slid her door open and watched as the majestic mammals dunked their trunks into the pool and sprayed their mouths. Taking video while speaking what appears to be Swahili, she calmly films and narrates the scene for the viewer. The water in this hot tub doesn’t look especially inviting, but the elephants don’t seem to mind.  Full Story.

 
 

HOT TUB HOPPERS CAUGHT ON CAMERA

By Staff Writers July 16, 2016, ABC6 Philadelphia

hot-tub-hoppers-in-paModern technology ended the fun times for a group of hot tub hoppers. A trail camera at a home in Montoursville, Pennsylvania caught the uninvited guests. Police say four young women were trespassing when they used a hot tub without permission, late at night. Investigators posted the pictures on social media. Within 15 minutes, tipsters identified them. Neighbors say they’re glad more people have cameras out and on at night. Elizabeth Labacher, a Montoursville Resident said “Trespassing when you’re twenty-years-old and in both of our opinions they are kids, but they also know not to do something like that.” Resident Steve Sheare added, “Thirty-some years ago, I’m glad they didn’t have cameras, have that stuff, because I was a teenager, too.” There’s no word yet if the hot tub hoppers will be charged. Full Story.

 


 
Want more News Stories about Spas and hot Tubs? See our earlier 6 episodes.

 

– Jack

 

Replacing a Hot Tub Circulation Pump

November 29th, 2016 by

hot-tub-circulation-pumps
Spa circulation pumps are low flow, single speed pumps that run 24 hrs to keep your water filtered and heated. They run all the time, but are low energy use, drawing between 0.5 and 1.5 amps.

Running all the time does accelerate wear and tear, and makes the average circ pump lifespan about 7-9 years. If you need to replace a hot tub circ pump, here are the steps taken to do it yourself.

Do I need a new circulation pump?

Before you run off and buy a new replacement circ pump, you want to check a few things first, namely power and water flow. See our earlier post on circulation pump troubleshooting to see if you’ve checked all of the simple stuff first.

Which Circulation Pump do I need?

There are two main types of hot tub circulation pumps, high flow circ pumps and low flow circ pumps.

iron-might-circ-pump High Flow Circ Pumps look more like jet therapy pumps, and are often confused with such because of their size and appearance. They use a 48 frame motor, with a connected steel foot, and have 1.5″ union connections. They can be 115V or 230V, but only use up to 1.5 amps. The most common high flow circ pumps are the AquaFlo Circmaster and Waterway Iron Might, shown here.

 

tiny-might-circ-pumpLow Flow Circ Pumps look more like large aquarium pumps, and operate in the 6 to 15 gpm range, to work with low flow spa heaters. They have hose barb connections to fit to  3/4″ or 1″ flexible hose, with clamps. They can be 115V or 230V, and less than 1 amp. The most common low flow circ pumps are made by Laing, Grundfos and Waterway.

 

The circulation pump that you need, is the exact replacement, in voltage, amperage and hose or pipe connection type and location. High flow pumps can be center discharge or side discharge, and low flow pumps can have 3/4″ or 1″ connections, and may have a left or right side discharge. If you need help finding your replacement, just give us a call or send an email.

Hot Tub Circulation Pump Replacement

1aShut off the Power: Hit the main breaker or cut-off switch to kill all power coming into the spa pack. Wires will be exposed and water will spill, so don’t take any chances and play it safe. If water splashes on any circuitry or wire connections during the process, take the time to dry it up before energizing the spa.

2aShut off the Water: Most circ pumps don’t have isolation valves on either side; slice valves that can be closed to shut off water, although common on jet pumps and on high flow circ pump systems. You can drain the spa to make the repair, if you need to drain anyway, but it’s not necessary. The hoses can be plugged using wine corks or stoppers, or pinched using large needle nose locking pliers (Vice-Grip type). Or you can do a quick swap, described below, and spill a few gallons.

3aWiring the Circ Pump: Circ pumps don’t usually come with a new power cord, so you’ll use the existing one. If you have a plug-in type of connector at the end of the cord, disconnect it from the spa pack. If the power cord runs directly into the control box and connects to terminals, leave those connections intact, and remove the wires only from the back of the existing motor – or you can just cut the wire where it enters the old motor, strip back the casing and the ends to put into the new motor.

Insert the wires into the new circ pump, tighten the cord collar or strain relief where the cord enters the motor, and insert the stripped wire ends into the spring loaded tabs. The black wire will plug into L (Line), white wire will connect to N (Neutral), and the green wire goes to G (Ground). Disconnect the bare copper wire that is connected to the outside of the old motor, this is the bonding wire, that you’ll connect to the new pump once it’s in position.

4aPlumbing the Circ Pump: For very old and crusty connections, a heat gun or hair dryer can be used to soften the vinyl hose or tubing, which makes it easier to remove from the pump without a lot of pulling and jerking. The circ pump is also likely screwed into the base of the equipment bay, remove the screws in the pump base, and set aside to use later on the new pump.

Since there commonly are no cut-off valves on either side of a low flow circ pump, if your spa is full of water you will spill some water while installing a new circ pump. As mentioned above, if the spa is full of water, you can crimp the hose with locking needle nose pliers, or plug the hoses with corks until you are ready to switch, or if you have snipped off the power cord and reinstalled into the new pump already, you can make a quick swap, and spill just a few gallons.

Loosen the hose clamp and slide it down the hose. I usually pop off the top (discharge connection) first and cork it, then separate the incoming hose from the front center and very quickly swap pumps and insert the incoming hose over the front center hose barb. Then the top discharge hose can be unplugged and connected, also quickly, with minimal water loss.

If you have a high flow circ pump or a Waterway Tiny Might pump, you will loosen the unions and quickly make a swap with your new pump, being sure that the union o-rings stay in place while tightening up the union nuts.

5aFinishing Up: Now that you have reconnected the hoses on your pre-wired pump, the only things left to do is reconnect the bare copper bonding wire to the lug on the new circulation pump, and replace the screws to secure the pump, to reduce vibration. That, and testing your new circulation pump, followed by a hearty self-congratulation for diagnosing and fixing your hot tub problem!

 

– Jack

 

 

 

How to Measure for a Hot Tub Cover

October 17th, 2016 by

spa-cover-replacementsHot Tub Cover measurement guide, with pictures, video and transcript.

Hot tub Works is the leading supplier of replacement hot tub covers. Ordering a replacement cover online has never been easier.

In just a few steps, I’m going to show you how to order a perfect spa cover every time.

Before we do that, let’s talk about the tools you’re going to need to measure the hot tub cover.

 

 

how-to-measure-hot-tub-covers

Hot Tub Cover Measurement Supplies

First is a tape measure. The second tool you’ll need, if you have a rounded cover is a carpenter’s square. Now, this makes measuring around a cover corner a lot easier, but its not necessary, I’ll show you how to do it with just a tape measure as well.

And the last too that comes in real handy is this hot tub measuring guide, which you can print right off our website, allowing you to fill in the information as you measure the hot tub itself.

So, let’s get started on this easy job.

Now before I start measuring, let me answer the most common question we get about how to measure, and that is, what should I measure?

Now, if your old hot tub cover is still in pretty good shape, what I’d like you to do is measure the old hot tub cover. If your hot tub cover is in just too bad of condition, and we see some of that as well, then your going to have to measure the hot tub itself. But the most important thing is that your measurements be outside of the tub to outside of the tub. This is called the Acrylic, so outside acrylic to the outside acrylic. If you do that you’ll get a great fitting hot tub cover.

The most common shaped hot tub is a square or rectangle, that’s about 85% of hot tubs made. Now, if you have a hot tub that was made after the year 1995, most likely it has a rounded corner as well. So, the most common hot tub covers we make are rounded squares or rounded rectangles. In this particular case this is a rounded rectangle and well measure this in just a minute.

Now if you have a different shaped hot tub don’t worry, all the principles that we’re going to go through right now still apply.

Measuring Spa Cover Dimensions A & B

The first thing to make note of is where the fold is, on this particular cover, the fold runs closest to you and away, so the fold is running in this direction. And on our measurement guide you’ll see that the “A” measurement is always cut in half by the fold. So the first measurement I’m going to take is straight across the fold, and I come up with 75″. That’s my “A” measurement, and I’m going to write that down.

The next measurement I’m going to take is the “B” measurement. Simply just measure from the outside of the cover to the other side, and I come up with 88″. 88″ is my “B” measurement – I’m going to write that down.

Measuring the Cover Corner Radius

Now the last measurement I’m going to take is the rounded corner, what is the radius. There’s two ways to do it. The easiest way is with a carpenter’s square, because I can simply put it right up here to the edge and I can measure the distance from the 90° point back to where the curve begins. On this particular hot tub cover it’s 8″ from the 90 degree point, back to where the curve begins on the cover.

Now if you don’t have a carpenter’s square, don’t worry about it. You can measure the corner with a tape measure, by doing the same thing. I’m going to open the tape and measure the distance from where the curve begins, out to that imaginary 90 degree point, and again I can see that it’s 8″ on the tape measure. So using either tool, I can come up with that measurement.

And that’s about it! You just measure your “A”, your “B” and “C” dimensions. Next, we’ll measure the skirt and the strap length, and you’re all done!

Measuring the Skirt & Strap Length

So the only thing we have left to do is to measure the skirt and the safety strap. But before I do that, let me explain what the skirt is. The skirt’s main intention is to protect the colored plastic, called Acrylic, which is affected by the sun’s UV rays. It’s really important that this flap come down far enough to cover that colored plastic.

One other point about modern hot tub covers. Early covers were made with a skirt that was called continuous, meaning it didn’t have a seam [on the corners].  All the covers we make have a seam here nowadays and the reason for that is to make it easier to put the hot tub cover back on, and not get the skirt caught up under the hot tub. So every hot tub cover we make will have these flaps.

Now to measure the cover skirt it’s really simple, from the bottom of the cover down to the edge of the skirt, is the measurement I’m going to take, and that’s 5 inches. Now I’m going to measure the safety strap and it’s basically the same premise. From the bottom of the cover down to the beginning of the plastic buckle. And this particular hot tub has a 9″ safety strap.

Let me write that down before I forget. The skirt has a 5″ and the safety strap is 9. Now a lot of people ask, does the hardware come with the straps, and the answer is yes. We provide you with a male and female parts of the clip and the stainless steel screws to mount the hardware to the cabinet.

One safety note to let you know about, and that is that every cover we make comes with 4 safety straps. That’s a safety requirement and we never deviate from it. And we encourage you to put the safety straps on the hot tub cover as soon as you get it.

With that all said, this is exactly how you order a perfectly made hot tub cover. If you have any questions, give us a call we’re happy to be of service.

 

– Jack

 

Watch the Video “How to Measure a Hot Tub Cover”

Spa & Hot Tub Plumbing Fittings Explained

September 27th, 2016 by

spa-and-hot-tub-plumbing-fittings
Spa and Hot Tub Plumbing Fittings are made of PVC or ABS, and are those bits of spa plumbing that are used to connect the sections of pipe running from the skimmer and drain, thru the pump, filter and heater, and back again thru the spa jets, in just a matter of seconds.

Today I’ll explain spa and hot tub plumbing fittings, with pictures and words, so that you can identify them, and know when to use them, on your next spa repair.

90’s – The classic elbow fitting is available in 3 flavors, With SlipxSlip aka SocketxSocket, the pipe goes on the inside. The other two are known as ‘street 90’s (don’t ask me why). SlipxSpigot has one side that glues into a union, adapter or coupling, and the SpigotxSpigot 90 degree elbow is ‘slip male’ on both sides.

90-fittings

 

45’s – Half of an elbow, the 45 degree elbow is used a lot on octagonal spas, and two 45’s can be used in place of one 90° fitting, with less resistance. Like the 90’s, they are available in 3 flavors, to suit almost any repair situation, where 1/2 an inch matters.

45-fittings

 

Air Intake Fittings – You’ll find these connected to a pipe or hose that connects to an air intake valve. These versatile side outlet 90 with 3/4″ side port are also used to direct water to smaller jet lines.

air-intake-spa-fittings

 

Sweep Elbows provide less resistance to the flow of water than regular 90 degree fittings, and are often found installed on the exit of the spa pump. Sweep elbows are SxS, or use the versatile street sweep 90, which glues directly into a pump or heater union.

sweep-elbows-have-lower-resistance

 

Pump Unions are a half union really, just the tailpiece with o-ring and the lock nut. The most common size is 1.5″, followed by 2″, but larger and smaller are also available. A split nut union, shown below, is held in place by two small screws, after being screwed or placed into position. Union o-rings and locknuts are sold separately.

pump-union-for-hot-tubs

 

Pipe Couplings are used to join together sections of pipe or hose. SxS couplings are glued around the pipe, while insert ‘pipe extender’ fittings are glued inside of a pipe and inside of a coupling, for no-space repairs. Barbed fittings are primarily used inside of hose lines to connect them together.

pipe-couplings

 

Check Valves – one way flow valves that keep water (or air) traveling in only one direction. Check valves protect a spa blower, or prevent cycling of water in loops. They often fail under normal conditions.

spa-check-valves-2

 

Spa Valves or Hot Tub valves if you prefer, control the direction and flow rate of the spa water. Some valves handles turn left or right, some pull up and down or spin all the way around. Spa valves can fail over time, some can be serviced others are replaced whole.

spa-valves

 

Spa Unions or the complete union, as shown below right, joins together two sections of pipe, usually located on either side of spa equipment like the pump, heater or filter. Half unions, as shown left, are also called pump unions, and also used on spa heaters.

spa-unions-for-hot-tubs

 

Spa Manifolds are some of the most interesting designs, used to split water or air into smaller branches, terminating at a spa jet or air bubble zone. Highly specialized, but many spa manufacturers use the same ones. We carry over 50 different spa plumbing manifolds.

spa-manifolds plumbing

 

180-deg-fitting-or-double-90

180 fittings are used in a spa blower plumbing, specifically for the Hartford Loop, employed on the air line attached to the blower, which takes a vertical run up 2 ft, then 180’s and comes back down to connect to the pipe again. Used to help keep water out of the blower.

If you didn’t have a 180° fitting, you could of course, use two 90 fittings, or four 45’s, but spa builders like this handy fitting, which has really only one use.

 

We have other plumbing fittings besides these listed here for spa and hot tub plumbing. I hope you enjoyed reviewing these fittings, you are now more qualified to do your own spa plumbing repairs!

 

– Jack

 

3 Enemies of Hot Tub Heater Elements

September 6th, 2016 by

hot-tub-heater-enemies
Hot tub heater elements are similar to the electric immersion elements used in household hot water heaters and washing machines, with a few important distinctions. Hot tub water chemistry tends to vary and it swings widely when 4 people jump into the tub. Spa heater elements are also subject to issues from low water flow or air inside the heater chamber, and all of these variables can lead to a shorter spa heater element lifespan.

Air Bubbles and Air Pockets

The main enemy to all spa heater elements, besides low water flow, are air bubbles & air pockets that can reduce element life. Air that comes in contact with the element, allows the outer sheath to rapidly heat unevenly, which breaks the protective sheath and exposes the filament. Low flow heaters are mounted vertically, so the bubbles are constantly exiting the chamber without entrapment. Tube heaters like the Laing design do not trap bubbles, so they can be bent into bizarre shapes, & even lay on the floor.

Spa pumps are designed to be flooded & should not leak air or be allowed to cavitate by drawing in air, then sending the air through the hot tub heater. Ozone injectors should not be placed before the heater, which would reduces heater element lifespan and confuses hot tub heater sensors.

Bad Hot Tub Chemistry

Poor hot tub water chemistry is damaging to spa heater elements, particularly low pH and Alkalinity and high hardness levels. Additionally, fill water that is naturally high in salt, lime and calcium can also promote a slower, but still premature death. Corrosion is an etching and rusting effect that happens to ferrous metals (made with iron). As water becomes acidic (low in ph) high in TDS or overly chlorinated, corrosion is accelerated and your heater element is most at risk.

Hard Water Problems

Hot tubs in hard water areas, or those that are filled from an onsite well can have trouble with metals and minerals. Lime & calcium can naturally collect on a heater element surface, forming a white coating. This layer of scale will slow heat transfer, resulting in lower efficiency, longer heater run time, and a higher internal element temperature. The plaque buildup will not let heat escape efficiently, and in time the element will essentially cook itself to death. Use a Pre-Filter to fill your tub with pure water, a lot cheaper than 300 gallons of mineral water!

High Flow Heaters

No matter what shape the heater is, a high flow heater (typical name flow thru) utilizes a hi-watt density element (hwd) that requires a minimum 22.5 gpm to keep it cool. A typical 2 speed spa pump provides this minimum flow at low speed. When flow is restricted below 22.5 gpm, the element runs hotter than designed, and the spa heater element life is shortened. Bath and Jetted Tub heaters are always high flow and use the high density element (hwd), as bath pumps always exceed 25gpm. HWS heaters come in many shapes like Flow Thru, Tee, L-shape & Canister. You will not find hot tub parts catalogs separated into high flow & low flow heaters, but you do need to know this info to be a true hot tub expert.

Low Flow Heaters

Low flow heaters are designed for vertical mount operation. The exception is the tube or Laing spa heaters we supply. Either design is made with a much longer, cool running low watt density element (lwd) These heaters & elements are made to operate on flows greater than 9+ gpm. It makes perfect sense that low flow heaters are paired with low flow circulation pumps like the Waterway, Laing & Grundfos spa pumps, which provide minimum 9+ gpm with a spa ozone injector. Low flow heaters contain more material & labor, this is why they cost more money.

Some repair techs either don’t know, or try to save money by placing a high flow heater into a low flow circulation plumbing system. It actually works for a while, then the element burns out, along with plastic parts, piping & wires. Be sure and confirm that you are using the correct heater for your spa.

 

– Jack