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Jack Stone's Posts

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

December 8th, 2014 by

It’s that time again – for our twice annual look at spas and hot tubs in the news. Often funny, sometimes sad stories involving hot tubs that made the local or national news.

Let’s dive in then, and see what’s been happening in the wacky world of spas and hot tubs!

 3 ARRESTED AFTER SEXUAL ROMP IN APT. HOT TUB

Associated Press, printed on Tuscon.com, July 30, 2014

peoria-police-dept-photosSeveral arrests for public sexual indecency were made after an alleged romp in a Peoria apartment complex hot tub. The three were seen having sex Sunday night in the apartment’s public spa. Police arrived to find 28-year-old Gina Marie Rayner, her boyfriend, Anthony Vechiola and another woman having sex in the public. They continued to have sex even after the officer told them to stop, according to the statement. While they were being interviewed, an officer heard a child, later identified as Rayner’s, crying for his mother. UPDATE:  Anthony was sentenced this week to 7 yrs of supervised probation. The two women face public indecency and child abuse charges later in the month.

 

WORLD’S FASTEST HOT TUB

Kickstarter.com by Phillip Weicker, August 8, 2014

carpool-deville--5Dubbed the “Carpool DeVille”, a converted 1969 Cadillac has the claim to being the World’s Fastest Hot Tub. This September, the creators of the only car that I’m aware of to be turned into a hot tub. It began as a university science project, when the creators were younger, in fact a lot younger. The original car was built in the late 90′s. But this year, the duo raised over $11,000 on Kickstarter, and took Carpool DeVille to the Bonneville Salt Flats, to race and to prove to the world that it’s the fastest Hot Tub on Wheels. Well, it rained out that day, but they still took it out and had it up to 50 mph – definitely the world’s fastest.

 

MISSOURI MOM CHARGED FOR TOPLESS HOT TUB MOTHER/DAUGHTER PHOTO

CBS News, by Crimesider Staff KMOV, September 13, 2014

CBS-KMOV-videoIn Wentsville, Missouri a small town is up in arms about a picture that was shared on Snapchat by a woman’s 14 year old daughter. As she was exiting the spa, her daughter snapped a picture, shared it online, which was quickly reshared by local high school users. The photo, which showed the mother and her 14-year-old daughter topless in a hot tub. The mother was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment as a result of the picture that here daughter posted. KMOV is not revealing the woman’s name in order to protect her teenage daughter – although this was not the first time she had posted semi-nude pictures on the internet.

 

SPA DRAIN COVER RECALL

Pool and Spa News by Rebecca Roblado, October 29, 2014

waterway-drain-coverThe CPSC announced the recall of approximately 26,000 Designer Pro Series Suction Covers installed in certain hot tub models produced by Catalina Spas, Four Winds Spas, Dimension One Spas and Sunrise Spas from June 2011 to June 2013. The hot tubs were sold nationwide and ranged in price from $3,500 to $16,000, according to CPSC. The black and silver, round-shaped drains are stamped with the number 640-52XX S on the outside edge of the plastic. The recall number is 15-014. The CPSC recommends that consumers stop using the affected spas and contact Waterway for instructions on inspection and how to receive a free replacement cover.

 

WOMAN DIES AFTER BEING RESCUED FROM HOT TUB

OC Register, by Alma Fausto  November 13, 2014

one-of-3-pools-at-2100-city-lights-dr - Google ImagesIn sad local news (local for Hot Tub Works), a 52-year-old Aliso Viejo woman died the day after she was rescued from the spa unconcious, but breathing. CPR was performed on her by bystanders, until paramedics took over and transported her to Saddleback hospital. Neighbors in the apartment complex saw her from the balcony and thought she was falling asleep and ran down to help. The coroner’s office confirmed Thursday that the woman, identified as Julie Ann Caruana of Aliso Viejo, died from drowning Tuesday morning after being in critical condition at Saddleback in Laguna Hills.

 

FORKLIFT USED IN THEFT OF SWIM SPA

Toronto Sun, by   November 25, 2014

arctic-spas-swim-pools - image by Arctic SpasA  swim spa can be as large as a car, so when Arctic Spas left it sitting overnight outside their store, they rightly felt it would be safe. Police say it was snatched shortly after 10 p.m. on Oct. 8. It’s believed that the thieves used a forklift, to steal the Hudson Swim Spa, which measures 14′ x 8′, and weighs over 2000 lbs dry, so it’s unlikely it was lifted by people onto a truck.  The hot tub was left in front of the store so that it could be picked up early the next morning and delivered to a customer, Arctic Spa manager Philip Edey said Tuesday. Edey added whoever is behind the theft had access to the equipment needed to move the massive hot tub, either a forklift or a tilt bed tow truck.

 

DISABLED BOY RECEIVES HOT TUB OF HIS DREAMS

North Devon Journal (UK) by NDJDuncan  December 04, 2014

george-palmer - image by northdevonjournal.co.ukA DISABLED boy is enjoying a new hot tub at his home thanks to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a charity that grants wishes to children with serious illnesses. Seven-year-old George Palmer has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy and visual impairment. Since he loves swimming, and being in the water eases the pain caused by his condition, he asked the Foundation for a backyard spa. Mother Nicki said the tub means that George could get into the water every day and have something fun that he can do with friends and family – which is hard sometimes, due to his condition. Nicki said a queue of friends to visit the tub had appeared overnight, since George took a photo of it to school.

 

Love news stories about hot tubs and spas? Want More…?

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News – June, 2014

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News – August, 2013

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – California Cooperage

December 2nd, 2014 by

california-cooperage-adIn the late 50′s, California was (and still is) an area of the country where a spirit of fun inventiveness took root. The first hot tubs were fashioned from wine barrels and olive vats – cut in half. During the 60′s sales grew, but supplies of spare barrels and vats dwindled. By the time the 70′s rolled around, California Cooperage had set up operations in SLO – San Luis Obispo, a cool central coast college town, near Morro Bay.

The first customers were friends, then friends of friends, and after a year, a mail order catalog was produced, and the company began shipping pre-fab hot tub kits of cedar and redwood, according to Beth Hamil, VP of Del Ozone, but on staff as lead engineer in the early years.

“The original fellow at California Cooperage was Cliff Branch, a marketing genius, in my opinion” says Beth. Cliff is given some credit to the sexy image of the California Hot Tub, and many of the ads had racy themes.cal-coop-ad-1979

According to Branch, “it all started when Playboy magazine did a centerfold of a “California” girl in a Hot Tub. Several other magazines and newspapers, more mainstream than Playboy, soon followed with their own articles and pictorials of the “Hot Tub lifestyle” taking place in California. And then an episode of the television show “Charlie’s Angels” featured Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett in a steamy hot tub, seemed to push it over the top.

“California Cooperage helped to nationally promote hot tubs. Cliff Branch was a wizard of getting onto national TV talk shows. He became an industry spokesperson. I remember him filming programs on “Good Morning America,” sitting in the hot tub with the hosts.”, from Bill Jaworski in the hot tub business at the time.

Evocative and provocative as it was at the time, the use of subtle sexuality was embraced by the public. As Branch told the San Bernadino Courier in 1978, “…there’s a new awareness among the middle class… Back-to nature, getting in touch with your feelings, nudity and sex.”

But the largest publicity stunt ever was probably the pool and spa show, held at Cow Palace, near San Francisco. Although no one admitted to hiring three young women to strip naked and climb into the California Cooperage hot tubs, many had a good idea who was behind it. It made regional and national news, with the commotion nearly shutting down the convention.

early-acrylic-hot-tub-by-california-cooperageCliff Branch partnered with Jim Smith and John King, two local investors, and built a 60,000 square foot sales and manufacturing building. The seventies were good for California Cooperage, and when the eighties were ushered in, California Cooperage began also making acrylic tubs, like the type being made by Jim and Jon Watkins in Vista, Ca – but still using a classic wood frame, barrel style.

In 1985 Coleman Spas bought the company for 10 million, and moved the operations to Chandler, Arizona. They soon stopped making the wood tubs altogether, due to sagging sales and cost and availability of expensive redwood materials. Maax purchased the company some years later, in 1998.

CLiff-branch-in-a-hot-tubCalifornia Cooperage hot tubs can still be purchased today, although they have come a long way from the original barrel tanks used for water storage or wine aging.  Digital controls and a spa pack have replaced wood stoves and a single spa jet. Molded acrylic seats have replaced redwood benches.

They can call it progress, but there’s nothing like a real wooden hot tub. And California Cooperage will ever be known as one of the first companies not only to mass produce a hot tub kit, but export a lifestyle to all parts of the country.

I don’t know what has become of Cliff Branch, I knew him years ago and thought him to be incredibly engaging – the right guy at the right time for a start-up industry like spas and hot tubs. Wherever you are, Cliff – I wish you well, and if you have anything to add to the article – send me an email!

 

- Jack

 

Replacing a Leaking Spa Pump Seal

November 12th, 2014 by

shaft-seal-for-spa-pumpThe mechanical shaft seal in a spa pump is what keeps water from leaking along the shaft, as the shaft enters through the seal plate. A shaft seal is a two part design, which when compressed, prevents leakage, even though it is not touching the shaft. It can’t touch the shaft, whirling at 3500 RPM, and would quickly burn up, if the shaft were rubbing or touching the seal.

What causes a spa shaft seal to fail? Bad water chemistry or high sanitizer levels can damage the soft rubber and steel parts of a shaft seal. A water hammer effect, caused by suddenly closing a valve while the spa pump is running, can blow out a seal. Using a pool pump shaft seal, made of Buna or another soft rubber will not stand up to high spa temperatures or the degradation caused by spa ozonators. Finally, running a spa pump dry, due to an air lock or low water level can cause a shaft seal to overheat and fail.

Replacing a leaking shaft seal begins with shutting down the power and disassembling the wet end of the pump. Four bolts are removed to open up the wet end and expose the impeller. If your spa pump has an open bracket, where you can see the shaft, hold the shaft stationary while you unthread the impeller from the shaft (counter clockwise). When the impeller is removed, you can pull the seal plate off of the motor.

Remove the old shaft seal halves – the spring half is pulled off of the back of the impeller, and the ring half is pried out of the seal plate with a screwdriver or just your fingers. After removing the old shaft seal, wipe clean the impeller and seal plate, removing any grease or deposits.

REPLACING-A-SHAFT-SEAL--1

With clean hands, press the ring half of the seal into the seal plate. Be careful to keep the ceramic face clean, and press it all the way into the seal plate, as shown below.

SPA-PUMP-SHAFT-SEAL-REPLACEMENT

Next, slide the spring half over the shaft collar on the back of the impeller. The soft rubber side faces the impeller, and the hard plastic side faces the ceramic seal ring half. It’s very common to install the spring half backwards, so be careful to install it in the right direction.

spa-pump-shaft-seal-and-seal-plate

Now you can reassemble the wet end, bolting the seal plate to the motor, and threading on the impeller. If the motor has a lot of white crusty deposits, or if you notice rust on the motor shaft, clean before reassembly with sandpaper or emory cloth. Lubricate any seal plate o-rings, but don’t lubricate the shaft seal.

spa-wet-end-schematic

Replacing a shaft seal can be accomplished in less than a half hour. If you want to complete the job in half the time, replace the entire wet end assembly for your spa pump.

The wet end assembly includes everything but the motor, and in addition to the new shaft seal, it comes with the impeller and complete impeller housing or volute. In short, everything that is in contact with the water (the wet end of the pump), shown here in the picture.

 

If you have any questions about buying the correct spa shaft seals, or which spa pump wet end to use – or if you run into some unexpected complications, see Danny’s excellent post on replacing spa shaft seals.

You’re always welcome to give our spa technicians a call, or send us an email with some info or photos.

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Jacuzzi Brothers

October 27th, 2014 by

Joseph-JacuzziMy wife, of all people, just said “I didn’t know that Jacuzzi was a family name.”  The story of the Jacuzzi brothers, and the origins of the business efforts that eventually became a household name, is simply fascinating, I told her.

Take a look, this is Joseph Jacuzzi, one of the seven Jacuzzi brothers who worked together to create innovations that the world could not live without. “Mmm-hmm” she says as her head tilts to her shoulder.

In his hand, he holds a closed vane impeller, used on their vertical pump design, the one that used the injection pump in the well and a multistage centrifugal pump above ground – and which revolutionized the agricultural well water pump and later spawned the origin of the Jacuzzi whirlpool bath? “Yeah.”

The Jacuzzi Impeller Design created more flow with less resistance, capable of much more lift with less work, than other impeller designs. During the last century, Jacuzzi Bros., inc. patented over 300 designs for impellers, propellers and turbines, for pumps, planes and ships.

jacuzzi-propeller-adThey started with propellers, for airplanes, and patented a very successful impeller, and later designed and built the first high wing monoplane with an enclosed cabin, and sold it to the US Postal Service and to commercial airline operators. They were propeller and aviation engineers before they were ever in the water business.

But, an unfortunate crash of one of their airplanes in 1921, which killed Giocondo Jacuzzi, led to the Jacuzzi brothers directing their knowledge of propellers and air dynamics into the development of impellers and flow dynamics.

jacuzzi-j300-pumpCalifornia farmers during the depression were needing a reliable way to bring up deep water at low pressure, to water crops. The Jacuzzi brothers designed a unique vertical pump design, which is still in use today by many farmers, across the world. It protects the motor from water, while reducing seal problems with the shaft. A multi stage volute, using multiple stack impellers, creates lift and suction from one centrifugal stage to the next.

jacuzzi-j300A scaled down, portable and submersible version of their popular agricultural pump was created for home use, and was found to serve a multitude of industrial and commercial water movement needs, especially for rural Americans. The J-300 pump was introduced in the fifties and became wildly popular for personal hydrotherapy (it’s original purpose) by just dropping it into a hot bath. Many more inventions followed, for marine, agriculture and consumer use.

It’s all about the Impeller

The impeller, which they also termed a “spider” was unique in design and function. From the original patent, US 2424285 A, filed in 1929 “These spiders are of star-shaped contour, having a plurality of ribs across the upper surface, extending from the points of the star toward the center. The ribs are curved to define passages offering minimum resistance to flow of liquid.”jacuzzi-impeller

Jacuzzi was not the first to use a curved vane, but they continued to refine the art with their dozens of patents filed on improvements in impeller efficiency, creating more output with less energy, and with less wear and tear, pump leaks, both common problems of the day.

A Spa is Born

Jacuzzi-spaAs the Jacuzzi company entered it’s third generation of family ownership, Roy Jacuzzi, fresh out of college, champions a new line of products – personal whirlpools, in 1968. In the seventies, this expanded to larger models called spas, with molded seats, pumps, filters and heaters. The determined Roy Jacuzzi traveled thousands of miles at trade shows and county fairs, building enthusiasm for this new lifestyle product, which caught on quite well I’d say. Through the eighties and nineties Jacuzzi Whirlpool sales represented 80% of company wide sales, completely overshadowing the swimming pool and agricultural line of products.

The Jacuzzi Brand

jacuzzi-logoSo yes, Jacuzzi is a family name, (Hi, Honey) – a brand name and not just a generic term for a hot tub. They are credited with the creation of what we call hot tubs and spas, and although the Jacuzzi family has long ago sold off the family business, the company continues to inspire with creative whirlpool and bath design and quality construction.

 

- Jack

 

How to Find a Good Hot Tub Repair Service

October 13th, 2014 by

spa-repair-forum-guy

 

At Hot Tub Works, we like to think of ourselves as a friend to the DIY spa or hot tub owner – which is why we write so many posts about troubleshooting spa equipment, identifying spa parts, and making DIY spa repairs.

However, there comes a time when an experienced spa tech can be invaluable. Locating electrical faults precisely and quickly, isolating a bad component is one strength of a  good spa tech. Regular maintenance services, to clean and maintain spas and hot tubs can also fill part of most spa technician’s day.

Leaking spas can trigger a spa service call. Spa heater problems are about half of all spa repair calls for a typical spa technician. People want a hot spa, what can you do? In many cases, there are no failed components, just a dirty filter, closed valve, tripped breaker – something easy to fix.

Hiring a spa service repair technician isn’t cheap – hourly rates range from $95-$150 per hour, depending on region. The rate is proportional to the number of spas and hot tubs in your areas. In regions where spas and hot tubs are plentiful, and there is local competition, repair rates will be cheaper.

To keep spa repair costs as low as possible, check these things below, before you call…

BEFORE YOU CALL FOR SERVICE:

  • Is the GFCI test button on the electrical outlet tripped?
  • Dirty filter, clogged lines, or closed valves?
  • Water level is high enough?
  • Spa is clean and sanitized?
  • Spa cover is being used?

 

How to Find a Local Hot Tub Repair Company

1. GOOGLE

Use a search query like “Spa and Hot Tub Repair” or even more specific “Hot tub heater repair“. You can add the negative operator -pool after your search string, to omit results that are primarily swimming pool related. You can also add your city or region to the search, i.e., “Hot tub repair in Syracuse“.

2. YELLOW PAGES

Although you can also refer to your local printed Yellow directory book, under the heading of Pool & Spa to find local spa repair companies, I’m speaking of using yellowpages.com. It has a clean layout and lots of good results in their Spas Hot Tubs Repair Services category, along with a map, and reviews.

3. APSP MEMBERS

APSP, the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, is the main trade association for pool and spa technicians. It is not guaranteed that a member business will be any better or faster than a non-member – but it’s a good place to find a certified professional. Enter your zipcode and select a radius to see APSP members near you.

4. BBB

The Better Business Bureau has information on just about every business in the country, if they’ve been around long enough. If a consumer places a complaint against a company with the BBB, they contact the company and try to help create a mutually agreeable solution. You can search the BBB database by keyword, to find local spa techs, and see if there have been any complaints made.

5. SPA MANUFACTURER

Your spa manufacturer (Hot Spring, Jacuzzi, Sundance…) likely maintains a list of their spa dealers, with a locator utility on the main website. Just search online with a phrase like “Jacuzzi hot tubs dealer locator” – or find the manufacturers website, and if they have a dealer search function, you should be able to find it easily in the top level navigation of the home page.

 

When You Have Many Choices:

too-many-choices---pmmediaDo some research on the best spa service companies in your area – if you have many choices of local spa repair companies, drill down to individual searches on them, to find out more information like:

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. Are they spa and hot tub specific, or is it a sideline business?
  3. Are there any reviews posted online about the company?
  4. Any local or community news about the company?
  5. Do they have a local brick and mortar office, or store?

 

When you Have Few Choices:

1. Pool Service Company – many pool service companies are also spa service companies, but they may not employ a full time spa tech. If they advertise for spa and hot tub repair, then you can call or email to ask if they will do a service call to your spa or hot tub, for your particular problem.

2. Jetted Tub – Whirlpool – large local companies that refurbish bathrooms, often have a person knowledgeable in jetted tubs or whirlpools, which are quite similar to a portable spas or hot tubs. Even if they have not worked with your particular model spa before, a good bath water tech could figure out your issue.

3. Home Appliance Repair – a spa or hot tub is really just another home appliance, and those familiar with working on dishwashers or clothes washers or other small home appliances may be able to also work on spas and hot tubs. It can become complicated quick, however on many spas.repairman

 

And one more thing – don’t be afraid to give the little guy a call – the new guy, the young guy starting a small business. Sometimes they try harder than the large established firms.

 

- Jack

 

 

Stupid Questions about Spa & Hot Tub Covers

September 25th, 2014 by

Ask a Stupid Question DayI’ve heard lots of funny questions about hot tub covers over the years, and in honor of National Ask a Stupid Question Day, which takes place tomorrow – here’s a list of questions and answers about spa covers.

We’ve had a lot of questions about spa covers over the years, none of them actually stupid. So, I challenged a few staff members around here this week to send me their favorite questions about hot tub covers.

This is what we came up with – I hope it’s informational!

 

How much weight do spa covers hold?

That depends on the integrity of two things, the foam density and the strength of the support channel that runs across the fold. Spa covers can crack across the foam panels, or the support channel can become bent when overloaded. We like to brag that our spa covers will hold over a ton (and they will, if you place a large, evenly distributed weight across the top). But if we’re talking about a person or pet standing in a 1 sq ft area, our spa covers will support between 100-200 lbs, depending on the foam density chosen.

What options are there?

Among the basic options, we have 14 colors of marine grade vinyl, skirt length, strap length, weight and density of insulation foam. We also offer a double-wrapped core to protect from moisture, the number one spoiler of spa cover foam, and a continuous heat seal, to prevent heat loss along the fold. New this year are our heavy duty wind straps option.

What type of spa cover do you own?

Currently, I have one of our top of the line spa covers, called The Works, on my own home spa. Over the years, I’ve had better and worse, sometimes taking home mis-ordered spa tops that almost fit my tub. The spa cover I have now is performing beautifully, in it’s fourth year of service.

How long did your last spa cover last?

My very last spa cover was hit by a tree branch during a storm (one day I’ll get around to that gazebo). So, it only lasted me 2 years. I once had a cover that I kept for 10 years, until the vinyl started to split, then one of the panels cracked. If you take care of it with regular cleaning and conditioning, and “air it out” twice per week for an hour, you can expect 5-7 years from a good spa cover, if you don’t get hit with a tree, or carried off in high winds!

Dirty secrets about hot tub covers?

Most are made in Mexico or Canada – is that a dirty secret? How about the vast differences in construction techniques? I have heard of some groups that use flimsy aluminum or pvc support channels, or foam panels with less than the stated density rating. Using cardboard caps on the foam corners, to give the illusion of a thicker core. Not vacuum sealing and heat seaming the foam core, exposing the foam to constant moisture. There are ways to make a cheap spa cover, but we don’t cut corners here.

What are hot tub covers made out of?

They are made with two tapered panels of closed cell foam, wrapped in one or two layers of 6-mil polyethylene. Two or more panels are joined together, both with support channels embedded into the edge of the foam panel to provide rigidity across the center of the tub. The two panels are slid into a custom sewn ‘bag’, which is zipped up tight around the foam cores. The top and skirt material is a marine grade vinyl to resist rain and weather. Materials: Foam, Plastic, Steel, Vinyl, Nylon.

How are spa covers manufactured?

Ancient Chinese Secret! Not really, we are mighty proud of our state of the art design, manufacture and shipping facility. Your spa cover design and manufacturing is computer controlled with specific cad dimensions fed into our foam cutting, and bag sewing machines. Expert technicians vacuum wrap and heat seal the foam cores and insert them into the bag. The seam team sews it up tight, and inspectors run a 27-point drill before it’s boxed up by the shipping department.

What’s the largest spa cover ever made?

We once built a spa cover for a waterpark (read more), that was 10 separate panels, covering an outdoor hot tub that was 20′ diameter! It was quite a job, and expensive as I recall – but, they made their money back in reduced heating costs in 8 months. Not sure if it’s the largest ever made, but the largest we’ve ever done!

How much snow can a spa cover hold?

More than you think. Because it’s spread out over the top of the cover, the weight is evenly distributed. Anything under 24″ shouldn’t be a concern. Even more, if the snow is dry and light. Heavy layers of ice mixed with snow is more of a concern. If you want to remove snow from a spa cover, use a plastic shovel without metal edges.

Do wild animals damage spa covers?

Bears seem to be attracted to some particular scents contained in spa foam. We’ve done a post (with pics!) on the topic. This is very rare, and it’s never happened to one of our hot tub covers – every since we began infusing them with shark scent!

What’s the worst thing you can do to your spa cover?

The worst thing you can do to a spa cover….? Is use it as a stage, or clean it with automotive care products. Or take it on the water, for some stand-up Hot Tub Cover Boarding

Pitfalls to avoid with hot tub covers?

High Winds can fling a spa cover halfway across the county! Keep it secured. Make sure that the roof eave or gutters don’t drain directly onto your spa cover, and if you have more than a few hours per day of direct sun, put up some shading. When ordering, don’t guess at dimension, but run a measuring tape. Use a cover lifter, a lot of damage is caused by not using one – usually someone falls into the cover when it’s leaning up against a wall. Crack!

Sad stories about hot tub covers?

There are plenty of sad stories about not using a spa or hot tub cover. Preventing access of small children to hot tubs is one of the best features of a spa cover. When properly affixed, they can be an effective barrier, but when they are not used properly…

Do I really need a hot tub cover lift?

Yes, not only to save your back, but to prevent injury to the spa cover. Moving an awkward and wet spa cover around is not easy. And when they are not stored up and out of the way on a spa cover lifter, they tend to get damaged, especially at parties. They also may not be positioned optimally for drying, as they are when folded over a spa lifter arm.

Hot tub cover accessories?

Aside from cleaning and conditioning chemicals, some other nifty spa cover accessories are the Cover Cap, and the Heavy Duty Wind Straps. Floating spa blankets are an accessory worth looking at, to protect your spa cover from excess heat and moisture.

 

- Jack

 

Autumn is Here – is your Spa Cover Ready?

September 11th, 2014 by

spa-cover-enemieThe weather is cooling down, and leaves are already falling. And, if you thought last year was snowy and cold, NOAA has put out an official El Niño watch, which will bring more snow, rain and generally colder weather than usual.

Autumn is the time of year when our customers get their spas and hot tubs ready for winter – in fact, it’s our busiest time of year for spa covers!

And Hot Tub Works is not alone in that regard. According to our trade association and other industry sources, spa cover sales soar during fall, as the swim season ends and hot tub season begins.

I say bring it on! We have planned for the onslaught by hiring extra help for our ‘seam team’, and stocking up on bolts of 30 oz. marine grade vinyl and truckloads of high density foam. Our warehouse chief is interviewing daily for an increase in staff, and our call center is all hands on deck, ready to handle over 1000 calls per day.

So, we’re ready, but my question to you - is your spa cover ready?

 

Most hot tub covers last about 5 years; longer if they are protected from the elements and given certain care like cleaning and conditioning and regular time-off the tub, when they can shed some of the moisture and heat that they dutifully retain 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Other products to protect your spa cover include Heavy Duty Wind Straps, Floating Spa Blankets and Spa Cover Liftersspa-cover-caps

For the most protection from winter’s worst, consider buying a Spa Cover Cap. Yep, it’s a cover for the spa cover – kind of ridiculous to think about I know, but nothing keeps your spa top cleaner and drier.

It’s been said that using a spa cover cap can double the life of your spa cover. I don’t know if I’d go that far – but there is a grain of truth to everything, I suppose.

 

69-ford-galaxieThe problem is, like most good things – is that you have to use it for it to help. Doesn’t do a bit of good laying in a rumpled pile next to the spa. Kind of like the car cover I bought back in ’03, which was going to preserve my old Galaxie, if not outright restore her. I think I used it twice, maybe three times, until a big wind blew it out into the cow pasture, and well, I wasn’t going out in that minefield to retrieve it. I like to think that it’s become a nice shelter for a family of deer.

 

Back to the matter at hand, if your spa cover has suffered a bit over the summer. If the vinyl is beginning to thin, maybe a crack across the panel panel insert, or if you start to see steam seeping out the sides of your hot tub cover – it may be time for a new one. You won’t be alone – we plan on providing over 50,000 spa covers between now and the end of the year – shipping them all around the country, from Sarasota to Seattle; from Needles to Nantucket.

Hot tub covers can be ordered online, by fax, email or if you prefer the old fashioned way – give one of our spa cover specialists a call. If you’ve ordered from us before, as over half of our customers have – just let us know you need a replacement spa cover, and we’ll pull up your previous order and start the ball rolling.

Order a new spa cover today – before old El Niño turns ugly!

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tubs & Spas TOC – Total Cost of Ownership

August 15th, 2014 by

total-cost-of-spa-or-hot-tub-ownership

 

I hear the question all the time – “What’s it cost to own a hot tub?” The real cost of operating a spa includes a lot more than just chemicals.

In this post, we break down all of the costs in owning a hot tub, and add them all up.

What can you do with this information? Well, if you are thinking of buying a spa, or purchasing a home with a spa, you may want to know the cost of this backyard appliance.

If you already own a spa, I’ve included several cost savings tips, or ways to reduce your hot tub expenses.

 

Electricity

The largest energy user is the spa pump. Two-speed pumps are designed to run on low all the time, except for a few hours per day on high during off-peak hours. You can experiment with run times, and short periods of off times, to reduce operation costs, but be sure to filter the water every day for at least 12 hours on low speed, and 30 minutes on high speed. Maintaining good water balance and sanitation levels can reduce your filtration demand.

Your spa heater is  also electrical, and depending on it’s size, it can draw as much amperage as the spa pump. Reducing the temperature in a spa can save money, but not much unless you keep it below 95°. A good spa cover, floating spa blanket and good levels of insulation around the spa or inside the cabinet are ways to improve heat retention, and lower  consumption.

Spa blowers also consume energy, and your spa pack circuitry uses a small amount.

How much electricity will the average spa consume? Depending on a host of variables, most spas use around 2000 kWh of juice every year. The national average for electrical cost is currently 12 cents per kWh, Annual Electricity Costs – $240

Spa Chemicals

Most spas need very few chemicals to maintain water quality. You’ll need pH control, and some form of spa shock or oxidizer. If your water is soft, you may need to raise the calcium hardness level, and if your water is very hard or has high mineral content, you can use a stain & scale control chemical. Enzymes are a good chemical for spas that are used almost daily, by many people.

Many spas use an ozonator or mineral sanitizer. These are excellent purifiers and reduce the amount of bromine needed to keep the water sanitary. Mineral sticks last for 6 months, and ozonators usually need a ‘recharge’ in 18 months.

Bromine tablets are a usual expense, and a bottle of bromide booster to use after draining the spa. This builds a residual of bromide ions, which continuously convert to bromine with the addition of tablets.

Let’s say you have a bromine spa, and you test it, balance and shock it twice weekly, and you use either a mineral stick or an ozonator as a secondary purifier. This is what I do, and for me, my Annual Chemical Costs – $150

Hot Tub Tools

I’m speaking about spa cleaning tools mainly – skim net, vacuum, hose nozzle or a pre-filter if your fill water is hard or mineral rich. These tend to last for several years, so the amortized expense may be close to Annual Tools Cost – $10

Spa Accessories

These are items that also last a long time, such as spa steps or spa furniture, which is usually a one time expense. Recurring expenses could include a thermometer or a bromine tablet floater, or waterproof playing cards. Annual Accessories Cost – $10

Hot Tub Parts

Spas don’t normally need spa repair every year, and then you have a year that requires several hundred dollars in spa parts. At some point in the life of a hot tub, repairs are inevitable, I suppose. You may get lucky, but I would plan on Annual Parts Cost – $40

Spa Cover

Spa covers that are well built and well maintained are likely to last 5 years on average. Spa cover prices vary, but let’s say you spend $400 every 5 years for a new cover. Averaged out per annum, we have the Annual Spa Cover Cost – $80

Spa Filters

The spa cartridge filter won’t last forever. Each time they are cleaned they lose a little bit of their filtering ability. Replace your spa cartridge every 12-24 months, or after 12-15 cleanings. The cost of replacement spa filters is low in most cases. At $20 a pop, every 18 months, the Annual Spa Filter Cost – $12

Fill Water

The cost of city water varies dramatically around the country, but if your average monthly water bill is $50, and you drain your spa every 3 months, your spa is only using 1-2% of your total household use. Annual Fill Water Cost – $8

 

Let’s Add it all Up!

CALCULATE-YOUR-POOL-HEATING-COSTS

Electricity 240
Chemicals 150
Tools 10
Accessories 10
Parts 40
Cover 80
Filters 12
Water  8
         Total    $550

Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on the variables such as the size of your spa, climate, how much it’s used, how hot you keep it, how well insulated your spa is … your total cost of ownership for a spa or hot tub could vary either way by $100 or more.

 

- Jack

 

Leaking Spa Jets – How to Find & Fix

July 28th, 2014 by

spa-leak-JD-FinleySpas and hot tubs are not supposed to leak, but over time, it’s not uncommon for a leak to develop in an older spa. Knowing where to look for spa leaks is the first step in leak detection.

Spas and hot tubs can leak in many locations, including from the spa jets themselves. Rarely do spas leak from the shell itself = they are simply too strong, rather leaks are almost always found in plumbing junctions, gaskets or seals.

A spa can evaporate several inches of water if left open and uncovered, or used for several hours per week. But, if you are adding more replacement water than normal, and perhaps using the spa less lately…you may have a leak.

If you think you are losing water in your spa – open the equipment access and check these areas first:

  1. Water dripping off of the pump (unions, drain plugs, shaft seal)
  2. Water dripping off of heater (unions, pressure switch)
  3. Water pouring out of blower (check valve failure)
  4. Water leaking from valves (valve body or gasket failure)
  5. Water leaking from spa light (gasket failure)
  6. Water leaking from jets (internal cracks or bad gasket)

 

spa-jets-leaking=Still Leaking? If you got through 1-5 and found no puddles or dripping water, it’s time to look at the spa jets, which leak rarely, maybe 10% of the time. Spa jets can leak where the flex pipe attaches (shown Green), either the larger water pipes, or the smaller air line.

They can also lose the seal made by a rubber gasket (shown Red) against the back of the spa shell. These rubber gaskets, compressed by the locking nut or the jet body, can deteriorate over time – or it could just be a loose locking nut.

 

spa-jet-tools-spa-jet-wrenchesSpa Jet Tools. Many spa jets have a special wrench used to tighten their particular jet lock nut. Others have a tool that is inserted on the spa side, to keep the flange from spinning while the lock nut or valve body is tightened up on the gasket. Without the proper spa jet tools, some of them are nearly impossible to seal up.

 

FULL FOAM INSULATION:

For spas that have full spray insulation on the underside of the spa shell, finding the source of a spa leak can be challenging – but not impossible. If you have spa jets at different levels, around the spa (as most do), you can shut off the pump, and let the spa leak until it stabilizes at one particular level – or stops leaking. At the point that it stops, which may be at the bottom of one of your spa jets, is the point to start looking.

leaking-spa-jets--sideIf you see water coming out from under your spa on one side of the spa, that can be the logical place for exploration. Removing the cabinet on that side would be required; a razor knife and putty knife are useful tools to score and pry off a panel, if there are no visible screws. Proceed slowly to avoid damaging any side panels while removing them for access.

Once access is made behind the panel, the insulation can be cut with a drywall saw or serrated kitchen knife, at the level of suspected spa jets. Open many small holes if you have many jets to check on that side. Proceed cautiously as you near the jets, to avoid cutting pipes or wires.

After a repair to jets or pipes buried in insulation foam, replace any large blocks of foam you managed to remove intact, and then fill in any gaps with a spray foam insulation. I like to use Touch ‘n Foam 2-part, which you can get at most Home Depot type stores. Or you can stuff it full of fiberglass insulation, the pink stuff.

A QUICKER METHOD TO REPAIR LEAKING SPA JETS

You may have already wondered, “can’t I just put a sealant on the inside of the spa, around the jet fitting?” If the leak is the gasket and not the pipe connections, which it usually is.

spa-jet-problemsfood-coloringTo verify, you can dye test around the spa jets with food coloring. Shut off the pump, and with bright lighting and a mask or goggles, squirt small drops of dye underwater, around the jet face or flange. Sometimes the leak is too small to pull enough dye through, and sometimes the jet gasket only leaks when the pumps are on.

You may want to try to seal up around a suspected spa jet, using BOSS® silicone, or similar products, but – it may not fix the problem and can be messy looking unless you are careful and skillful during application.

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Cool Tub – Using Spas During Summer

July 7th, 2014 by

steamy-spaDo you lower your spa temperature during summer? Or keep it blazing hot all year ’round?

I wondered about this, so I took a short office poll, and I asked people on our facebook page this question.

Do you ever use your spa for cooling soaks, with lower water temperatures?

I  didn’t control for location, spa type, or any variables at all, actually – so not a ‘scientific’ study on spa use.

 

Nonetheless, the results were interesting! cool-spa

Of the adults surveyed, 80% of them prefer to keep their spa or hot tub – hot all year around. Assuming of course, that there are no spa heater problems! 18% of respondents indicated that they do use their spa for occasional cool water soaking.

Of course I had some follow-up questions for those who said Yes! to cool water soaking. I asked them what they used it for, and compiled the comments. Most were related to “cooling off!“, and quite a few mentioned exercise, or using cool water to perform low impact stretching or calisthenics.

 

spa-temp-lgrI also wanted to ask a multiple choice question: “What’s temperature is best for cool water soaks?” Some said they don’t even check, they just shut off the heat, and it seems to stay around 70-75 degrees. But for those that I could pin down to a 5 degree range, most preferred the water to be 70-85° – except for the few polar bears out there, that are still using it with water temperatures in the 60′s.

 

So how about you? Do you like to use your spa or hot tub at a lower temperature as a way to beat the summer heat? Or as a way for a low impact exercise, especially for illness or injury recovery?

Give it a try if you’ve never done it before! You can still turn the blower on, and put the jets on high for some hydrotherapy, and add some tropical spa scents to the water to enjoy it even more!

During the survey, I tried a cool spa myself, and I have to say it is great when the night air is hot.

 

- Jack