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Jack Stone's Posts

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.




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 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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 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 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 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 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 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


Spa & Hot Tub Chemicals for Dummies

August 29th, 2016 by

spa-chemicals-for-dummies-book2In today’s post, we follow up on our popular Beginner’s Guide to Spa & Hot Tub Care, and get more granular with Spa Chemicals for Dummies.

The book pictured is not a real book, not one that you can purchase anyway. Don’t think I’m calling our blog readers Dumb; just a fun blog title.

Because such a book does not exist, this post will explore some basic hot water chemistry topics that may confuse a novice spa or hot tub owner.

Like how to test spa water, or what chemicals are needed for a hot tub. How to treat common spa water problems, and info about alternate sanitizers like ozone or minerals.

So, without further ado – here’s our beginner’s guide to Hot Tub Chemicals, or Hot Tub Chemistry for Dummies!


Spa & Hot Tub Chemicals

We have over 100 different spa chemicals in our online store, no wonder it’s confusing! Below is a primer on 6 categories of spa chemicals, with a short description of when they are used, and for what purpose.

Balancers: Spa chemistry is not overly complicated, but when I speak about ‘water balance’, some people’s eyes glaze over. Balanced spa water is simply when your spa chemical readings are all within the proper ranges. Specifically, spa chemical ranges are pH at 7.4-7.6, Alkalinity at 80-120 ppm, and Calcium Hardness at 150-250 ppm. When all 3 are in range, your water is ‘balanced’. If you really want to geek out however, you can use a Saturation Index calculator to determine water balance more accurately. Of spa balancer chemicals,  pH down is probably the most used of the balancers, as spa pH and Alkalinity tends to rise, and pH down reduces both. If spa water is soft, raise it with Calcium Increaser, for low hardness levels. For a low pH and/or Alkalinity test, use pH up and/or Alkalinity Increaser to raise the levels.

Clarifiers: If your spa water is cloudy, or lacks clarity and sparkle, it may be time for a new spa filter cartridge, or there may be issues with water sanitation. Clarifiers are polymers that have a positive charge and attach themselves to negatively charged water particles floating around the hot tub. What starts as a microscopic particle eventually ends up as a large clump of hundreds of particles, large enough to get trapped in the filter. So then, clarifiers are used for spa filters that need a little help, or if water conditions turn poor. Be careful not to overdose with clarifier however, or it may have the opposite effect, and it can gum up your spa filter. If your hot tub water is always sparkling, you may have no need to use a clarifier chemical.

Cleaners: In this category of spa chemicals, we have hot tub cleaners for your spa filter cartridges, spa cover cleaner and conditioner, spa shell cleaners and polishers, Leak Seal to seal up small leaks and Jet Clean to purge or strip plumbing lines. Be careful never to use household chemicals to clean your spa or accessory items, with the exception to a mild soap (with lots of rinsing afterwards to prevent spa foaming). In my own spa, I do use spa filter cleaner, spa cover conditioner (my tub gets a lot of direct sun), and I use Jet Clean once per year to prevent a biofilm buildup in the pipes.

Sanitizers: A sanitizer is the everyday chemical used to kill pathogens like bacteria, fungus, mold, viruses, etc. Most spa owners will use either bromine or chlorine as the main sanitizer. Granular chlorine is hand fed (don’t use chlorine tablets in a spa) when chlorine is preferred, or you can use bromine tablets (the easiest route), or add bromide salts and then a small amount of regular shock (chlorine or MPS) to activate the bromide salts into bromine. You must keep an active level of sanitizer at all times in spas and hot tubs. If the level drops to near zero, pathogens, algae and other contaminants immediately begin to grow and multiply, even in hot water, and even when covered tightly.

Shocks: Spa shocks are also sanitizers, but they are used differently in spas and hot tubs. Chlorine or non-chlorine (MPS) spa shocks are quick dissolving and quick acting, and are used to kill anything that your daily sanitizer has missed, or to supplement your daily sanitizer, after a 4-person soak for example. Spa shocks are also used to activate bromide salts, and convert them to bromine. If you use bromine tablets however, this is not necessary, but shock is still useful to give the spa a sanitizer boost after heavy use, or as a weekly or bi-monthly shock treatment, just to be sure the water is sanitary. A third use of spa shocks is to kill algae, or remove foul odors, water discoloration or poor clarity, or variety of water issues with from many causes. For best results, always check water balance and adjust if necessary before shocking a spa. Follow label instructions for treatment info and dosage to match your spa size, in gallons/liters.

Specialty: Specialty spa chemicals are those chemicals that don’t fit neatly into other categories. Chemicals like Foam Out or Foam Down (removes surface foam) or Metal Gon / Defender (keeps metals in solution), or enzymes like Natural Clear that dissolve oils naturally, or Algaecides to prevent algae growth in hot water spas. You may have some need for these chemicals at some point, to remove foam, stains, oils or algae, or you may be lucky and may only rarely need specialty chemicals – you know where to find them!


How To Test Spa Chemistry

snake-oil-salesman-smThere are two ways to test hot tub water, with Test Strips or a Test Kit. Unless you fancy yourself a chemist, I usually recommend the AquaChek 6-in-1 Test Strips, which test for all the important stuff in just 1-2 minutes. The secret to spa chemistry is not sold in a bottle; test your spa water 2-3 times per week. You will begin to see patterns in your chemical fluctuations, especially if you keep a test log book. But even if you don’t write down your readings, or enter them into an app, over time you’ll come to know your own hot tub chemical personality.


How To Store Hot Tub Chemicals

  1. Keep out of Reach of Children.
  2. Cool & Dry Location 50-80° F
  3. Open Only One Container at a time
  4. Tight Lids Keep Out Moisture, Children and Prevent Spills
  5. Protect Chemicals from Spills and Mixing and Contamination

We’ve covered the topic before with some neat spa chemical storage ideas, but the general idea is to, number one, keep out of reach of children. Secondly, store spa chemicals in a Cool and Dry location, that usually means indoors. 50-75° is best for chemical shelf life and to prevent gas formation or hardening of granules. Always open, use, and close tightly only one chemical at a time; tight lids keep out moisture and children, and prevent spills. Don’t hold onto old spa chemicals, use or dispose of them, and keep chemicals close to the ground, not high on a shelf where they may fall and spill their contents, especially if you live in an earthquake zone. Very Important – never allow spa chemicals to mix with each other, or become contaminated with any substance (dirt, leaf, soda, ashes) that accidentally mixes with spa chemicals. A fire or explosion could result.


What Chemicals Do I Need for a Spa or Hot Tub?

  1. Spa Sanitizer – Bromine or Chlorine
  2. Spa pH increaser and decreaser
  3. Spa Alkalinity and Calcium Increaser
  4. Spa Shock – Chlorine or MPS

As a minimum, you’ll need most of these spa chemicals. You may use primarily pH down and not so much pH up, probably adjusting 2-3x per month. For Alkalinity and Calcium levels, those usually hold steady for a month or more, once adjusted after a spa water drain and refill. And you will use Spa Shock for weekly use and a different Spa Sanitizer for daily use. You may also have a need for other chemicals from time to time such as Filter Cleaners, Metal Removers, or Clarifiers. Many of our customers like the convenience of our Spa Care Kits, complete 6-month chemical packs for Bromine or Chlorine or Nature2 spas that include a water fill Pre-Filter and up to a dozen other items.


What are Natural Spa Chemicals?

  1. Mineral Sticks
  2. Ozone
  3. Enzymes

ozone-minerals-mpsFor those that want to avoid the smell of chlorine or the slightly softer smell of bromine on your skin, you can approach water sanitation from a different angle. Instead of using chlorine or bromine, you can use Spa Mineral Sticks, which use Silver/Copper ions to help purify the water, or you can use ozone, injected into the pipe from an Ozonator. Both of these systems, coupled with regular shocking with MPS, a non-chlorine oxidizer, and some extra filtering and attention to good water balance, can allow you to operate most spas without the use of chlorine or bromine. Also in the natural chemical category are Enzymes, which are natural scum-eaters, helping to remove contaminants in the water by naturally digesting them.



dummies-guyIf you made it all the way to the end of this post, you are now 10x smarter than the average Spa Chemistry Dummy! One good thing about spa chemistry is that if things go really bad, you can always replace the water, and should anyway, every 90 days or so. Remember to re-balance your chemistry, or rebuild your ‘bromine bank‘ after refilling.


Talk to you later;


– Jack

Can a 4th Grader Maintain a Hot Tub?

July 18th, 2016 by

Photo Credit to Carroll Photo via istockphoto
Most hot tubs are not too difficult to maintain, but can a 4th grader do it?

When my grandson Josh to came to stay with us for the most of the summer, I decided to give him some chores around the ranch.

I concocted a little experiment, to see if a 9 year old could manage a spa as well as his grandma could. When I asked him if he’d like to learn how to take care of the hot tub (which he loves), he enthusiastically agreed.


The first part of the hot tub education is what to touch, and what not to touch.

  1. Electrical: I showed him where the power cut-off is on the wall, and we traced the cable into the spa pack underneath. Then is showed him the exposed terminals on the spa heater and told him they could be shocking if he touched them. Also told him to stay out of the controller box, after lifting the lid to show him the inner workings (just to satisfy any curiosity).
  2. Plumbing: I showed him the two cut-off valves under the spa, and how to close and re-open the valve, and then asked him not to touch them again, after explaining the problems (burned out pump, broken pipes) that could happen if the valves were left in a closed position with the spa pump running.
  3. Chemical: I told Josh some horror stories of explosions and fires that I’ve heard about over the years, from chemicals mixing with each other, or being contaminated with dirt, liquids or nearly anything! My spa uses very few chemicals; I only have bromine tablets, MPS shock, and pH and alkalinity chemicals, all kept in separate bins. He sensed the importance of spa and hot tub chemical safety and pledged to follow the spa chemical rules sign I posted:
  • Open one chemical at a time, tightly closing one before opening another.
  • Always read and follow label instructions.
  • Store chemicals carefully in the correct bin.
  • Keep Chemicals dry and clean, and never mix.
  • Ask Grandma if you have questions!


Josh is exceedingly bright, of course, all my grand children are! I showed him how to test the water with a spa test strip, and then compare the colors carefully, to the chart on the bottle. Then I told him to write down the chemical readings in a Spa Log Book which I made up from a spiral notebook.

He tested the chemicals every other day, and when a chemical went out of range, he would let me know. The first month we did all the chemical adjustments together, so he could see me carefully reading the label, adding one chemical at a time, and replacing it safely.htw-spa-ph-minus

My spa only needs bromine tablets every 2 weeks, and a weekly shocking, which we do after our last weekend soak. The pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels are usually OK between water changes, but once or twice we had to lower the pH level by carefully adding pH decreaser.

Now into our second month, Josh is still testing the water every other day and jotting down his readings in the book. He refills the brominator, and adds pH down when needed, which he also notes in the log book.


spa-filter-cartridge-smOur spa filter usually goes 4-6 weeks between cleanings. It’s a top load style, so when we cleaned it the first time, I showed him how to remove the cover, and he stood on a step ladder and pulled out the filter cartridge.

Then I told him to take off his shoes, and have a seat in the sunshine. “Spray this cartridge from top to bottom, pleat by pleat, all the way around. Then flip it over and do it again. It takes about 15 minutes…”. Well, proud to say that he spent 23 minutes on it, and it looked really clean.

We’ll clean the filter again in a few weeks, I think he’s got it!


Like most Jacuzzi tubs, they stay pretty clean, especially since it’s covered most of the time. But we still do get some sandy grit, and a light scum line around the water line.grit-getter

Even though it doesn’t really need it weekly, Josh gets in the tub (supervised by me or my husband), and uses the Grit Gitter to get rid of the grit and then a Tub Scrubber to clean the waterline.

Cleaning the spa takes Josh about 15 minutes, which is our maximum spa time anyway, so it’s perfect that way.


i-can-take-care-of-hot-tubsJosh, 9 yrs. old; has definitely proven that a spa can indeed be maintained by a fourth grader (so proud of him!). But before you draft your kids or grand kids into the spa service, think about the hazards or potential problems that could happen around your particular spa, and adjust any tasks to their age and aptitude.

Talk to you later;


Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works






Spa & Hot Tub Noises

July 11th, 2016 by

loud-hot-tub-vibration-noiseSpas and Hot Tubs are not too dissimilar to automobiles, and I’ve made that reference before. And just like cars, a hot tub making funny noises is enough to make you sit up and take notice.

Today’s post is all about noisy hot tubs and spas, or sounds that spas make – what might be it, where to look, and how to reduce or correct hot tub noise.

Vibration Noise on Spas

Vibration noise coming from a hot tub is all too common, and the source of much friction between neighbors. Hot tub noise nuisance or noise from a neighbor’s hot tub can lead to noise complaints. But there are ways to reduce hot tub noise and save your neighborly relations.

There are two causes of spa vibration noise, 1. Hot Tubs sitting on small wooden decks, and 2. Hot Tub equipment vibration, underneath the spa.

In the first case, outdoor wood decks act like a drum and resonate a low frequency that sounds like a constant drone, even with pumps on low speed. The sound can be amplified as it conducts through nearby fences or reflects off exterior walls. To correct this situation, the wood deck can be cut-out to fit the spa, with a 4″ thick reinforced concrete slab poured for the spa to rest on. Another option would be to place thick rubber mats, or patio squares underneath the entire spa, on top of the wood deck. These can also be used on concrete patios that are connected to the house to reduce hot tub vibration noise. In addition to these two sound solutions, tall planters or short fences can be used adjacent to the hot tub/spa, to reflect sound away from the house(s) toward a more open area.

In the second case, vibration can come from the equipment located under the spa cabinet. Circulation pumps and jet pumps are the usual suspects, check that the base bolts are tight on each pump, or install them if they are missing. Alternatively, you can place a thick rubber mat underneath to dampen pump vibration noises. The Spa Pack or blower could also be the culprit. Placing your hand on pumps, valves, spa pack – you should be able to feel what you hear, and can tighten the equipment to the base, or use dense dampening rubber squares beneath. You can also use sound dampers or insulating material on the inside of the cabinet wall panels to contain spa equipment noise.

There is a third case, and that’s hot tubs that are up on a concrete slab, located against the house, or under a bedroom window. Even on low speed operation, they can be annoying to light sleepers. In this situation, you could adjust the timer to run only during day time hours, or add a dampening sub-floor to absorb some of the sound. A small enclosure around the hot tub, either a pavilion or large wooden wall planters, can be used to contain and deflect the sound away from the house.


A spa or hot tub that makes a clicking sound may be working just fine, but if the pump won’t turn on high speed, and all you hear is clicking, or the heater is not heating and you hear a clicking noise, they may be coming from spa relays or contactors. If you try to locate the offending part – do so carefully, with the power turned off, as a shock hazard may exist.


A spa or hot tub that makes a squealing noise will usually have a pump that is nearing the end of a lifespan. The motor bearings specifically, eventually wear out after a number of years, and will begin to shriek like a banshee! The sound becomes progressively louder over time, and not fixing it will lead to motor failure. To verify that the sound is bad bearings, close all valves and remove the motor from the wet end. Turn on power for a few seconds and if it still makes the noise, you need a motor rebuild from a local motor shop, or replace your motor with a new motor, or buy a whole new pump.

Softer squeals may be heard on spas coming from open air intake jets or some spa ozonators make a low squeal when they are operating.


A pump motor that is not starting may make a humming sound, from the motor capacitor. Sometimes the humming noise precedes the popping of the circuit breaker. Another usual source for a spa humming noise is vibration – either of the sub-floor beneath the spa, or the equipment housed beneath the spa. As suggested above, check that all equipment is tightly secured, or strapped if needed. Rubber patio squares can also be used to


Now a buzzing sound… that may also be the same as a squealing or humming sound, and can even be a variation on the clicking sound. In other words, it could be the pump or blower motor that is having trouble starting, a heater contactor or relay. Some ozonators have a faint squeal to them. To find out what’s making all that noise, first check your control panel for any error codes, and barring that, stick your head under there with a flashlight, and listen…


stop-look-listen-againAnd that’s really the secret to troubleshooting a noisy Jacuzzi or hot tub, look and listen – and you will likely find the cause of any spa or hot tub noises or odd sounds.


– Jack



8 Top Hot Tub Light Problems

June 14th, 2016 by

spa light troubleshooting

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

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

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


Spa Light Switch Not Working

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

Spa Light Fuse is Blown

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

Spa Light Relay is Stuck

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

Spa Light Transformer Problems

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

Spa Light Bulb Failure

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

Spa Light Lamp Corrosion

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

Spa Light Wire Shorted

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

Spa Control Board Issue

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


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


– Jack










Hot Tub Ozonator VS. UV Light VS. Minerals

May 16th, 2016 by

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

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

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

Hot Tub Ozone

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

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

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

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

Hot Tub UV Light

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

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

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

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

Hot Tub Mineral Purifiers

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

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

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

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


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

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


– Jack



How to Rotate a Spa Pump Wet End

April 11th, 2016 by


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

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

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

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


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


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

What you want to do is take your thumb and forefinger, depress the spring and rotate either to the 3 or 9 o’clock position…

… and reinsert the motor bolts back into the wet end…

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

Then check the wet end and make sure that the impeller is free to spin…


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

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

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

Piece of Cake!


– Jack




5 Hot Tub Filter Problems

March 14th, 2016 by

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

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


stained spa filters

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

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

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

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

holes in spa filters

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

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

cracked spa filters

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

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

fuzzy spa filters

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

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

clogging spa filters

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

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

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

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


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


– Jack