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Jack Stone's Posts

Hot Tub Pioneers – Watkins Brothers

April 20th, 2015 by

early-hot-spring-spaIn the seventies, as spas and hot tubs were growing from a California cottage industry, two brothers toiled away in their Escondido garage to create a whole new type of hot tub.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jon Watkins started up a pool service business when he came home after a tour in Vietnam as an Army aviator. While servicing pools in the Escondido, Ca area, he noticed how much his customers loved the pool side spas that were all-the-rage in southern California at the time.

“I thought that I could build a better spa than what was available – a movable appliance that would be hot and ready to use all the time”. Said Jon in a 1987 interview in Flying magazine. In 1976, Jon formed a new company with his brother Jeff, and they rented an old metal building in Carlsbad, Ca to manufacture portable spas.

“The industry was already turning away from redwood and oak hot tubs into prefabricated fiberglass shells. But fiberglass had some problems in performance”. Blisters and cracking was causing a flurry of surface problems for customers.

“Secondly, fiberglass shell designs were easily reverse engineered and made by people who wanted to get into the spa business, crank out a few hundred spas, and disappear – bad for the industry”. On top of that, spa energy usage had begun to be discussed, with the 70′s energy shortage in full steam, and current spa designs were not very energy efficient.early-hot-springs-logo

Jon Watkins recognized that some of the new materials being used in the boating industry should be suitable for spas. The new material Rovel, was lighter, stronger and easier to work with than fiberglass. It also was more durable than the new acrylic spas, being manufactured by Baja.

1976 – Jon & Jeff Watkins form Watkins Manufacturing Corporation and begin to make Hot Spring Spas.

1977 – a new thermoplastic Rovel®, created by Dow, was being developed by Jon and Jeff Watkins, and molded into a one-piece spa shell and cabinet.

1978 – Watkins introduces industry marvels such as a locking insulative spa cover, top load spa filters and underwater lighting.

1986 – Watkins joins the MASCO family of home products, a Taylor, Michigan based company.

1999 – Watkins acquires Caldera, an El Cajon, California manufacturer of spas and hot tubs.

2011 – Watkins company made it’s 1 millionth spa among all brands.

2015 – Watkins acquires Endless Pools, manufacturer of Swim Spas.

Watkins has been a consistent philanthropist through the years, and not only the many Orange County, California charities that it supports such as the local Children’s Hospital and Boys and Girls Club, but national organizations such as the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation.

They employ over 1000 people, and sales estimates have them earning revenues in excess of 200 million for all current brands, including Hot Spring, Caldera and American Hydrotherapy, Freeflow and Fantasy spas.HotSpring-Logo-300x156

That’s a long way to go, from making 3 spas per day, to now cranking out over 300 spas per day! Watkins currently operates through more than 700 retail locations in over 70 countries and all 50 states, with manufacturing facilities in California and Mexico, and distribution centers in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

We salute the Watkins brothers, Jon and Jeff, as two Hot Tub Pioneers that hold dozens of patents and pushed the industry forward at every turn. The Watkins brothers were to hot tubs what the Wright brothers were to aviation!

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Cover Lifter Reviews – Part II

April 10th, 2015 by

animated-spa-cover-lifterI wrote Spa Cover Lifter Reviews Part I, over two years ago, so it seems that this topic is ripe for an update. Also, in Part I, we only showed reviews of half of the spa cover lifters that we have available and, only positive reviews. :-)

In Part II, we look at 5 more hot tub cover lifters, and show more balanced reviews, negative and positive, to give a better overall picture.

These reviews I found by searching our database of hundreds of emails and thousands of phone conversations with customers. Around here, we talk a lot about spa covers and cover lifters!

 

COVER SHELF REVIEWS

  1. cover-shelf-reviews ”Great spa cover for the price, and very simple to operate. It’s really all you need actually, no need for power assist, just open the arms and slide the cover off of the tub.”
  2.  ”When I was installing the arms, I couldn’t find a solid piece of wood to anchor into on the side I wanted to use. Ended up tacking on two 2×4′s and staining them to match the cabinet. Works well.”
  3.  ”The design of the Cover Shelf is good, but over time, the screws worked loose and almost ripped out. My handyman resecured it with some lumber, and it seems to be holding for now…”

COVERMATE EASY REVIEWS

  1. covermate-easy-reviews-2“This is just a bar and a strap, not much for the price, but it does the job. I could make my own for $20 in parts. Maybe next time.”
  2. “I love the Covermate Easy. It is easy, but not really for one person, unless you a very big person, I suppose. For little ‘ol me, it’s a little cumbersome.”
  3.  ”Cool design, but not especially “easy” to pivot into position. Also bows under the weight of my cover, and seems to put a lot of stress with how the cover hangs on the bar.”

COVERMATE 2 REVIEWS

  1.  covermate-2-revierws“Likes: Easy to use by just one person, no stress on cabinet. Dislikes: Cover hanging by a seam, drilling into cabinet.”
  2.  ”We’ve had another type of spa cover similar to this one, but it was harder to lift the cover, and get it balanced just right. Would recommend the Covermate II for any square tub.”
  3.  ”I’m returning this because I don’t want to drill 30 holes (!) into my spa cabinet. I understand that there is a version of the Covermate 2 that slips under the spa? Please exchange.”

COVERMATE 3 REVIEWS

  1.  covermate-3-reviews“Without a doubt, the finest spa cover mechanism I’ve ever owned. The piston arms pop the cover right up with very little effort, and I can tell that the materials and construction is top notch.”
  2.  ”Installation was not as easy as I was expecting, but after 1.5 hr I was ready to test. No go – long story short, the pistons were installed upside down! Took another 1.5 hrs to figure that out and fix it. Quality control is needed, especially on imported products. Come on, guys!”
  3.  ”Even my mom could remove the spa top now. One person can do it, even on large covers like mine (8ft). I actually got this one because it’s the only one that will lock in place. My spa sits on a hill, high winds were always knocking the cover down, onto our heads! Ha ha – but this has fixed that problem.”

COVER VALET REVIEWS

  1. cover-valet-reviews“This cover lifter does not have a solid bar running across the cover, on the cover seam, and is starting to rip the cover! Why there is not a solid bar used I do not know, but we have removed the Cover Valet from our cover and are back to manual lifting and moving – not impressed!”
  2. “Got this as a Christmas present. Installation instruction were fair, but managed to self-install in under an hour. The shocks make it real easy to open the spa cover, now even my wife can do it. Should have bought a spa cover lift a long time ago!”
  3. “If you can decipher the poorly translated and sparse instructions, you can install this yourself, with a full set of hand tools. The gas shocks don’t do much, the poles are a little flimsy, and it still takes some effort to lift the cover. That said, it is more stable and better made than my old spa top lifter.”

I hope you find these hot tub cover reviews useful – I tried to pick out ones that had some nuggets of usefulness! No spa cover is made that comes with only pluses and no minuses, I think the cover lifter manufacturers walk a fine line of quality vs price.

Years ago, there were some $500 cover lifters – very nice products, but too expensive – no one bought them. Or perhaps it’s a bit of planned product obsolescence in practice? If you make something too good, you only sell it once! Either way, hot tub cover lift mfg’s found a sweet spot in the range of $100-$200. Not as good as they could be, but a good value for the price.

See all 10 Hot Tub Cover Lifters we have to choose from ~

 

- Jack

 

Foam in Hot Tubs

April 6th, 2015 by

image purch'd from istockFoaming in hot tubs and spas is a problem that every spa owner will have at one time or another. Even if you take great care of your spa, always ensuring good sanitation and filtration, foamy spa water can become an issue, so don’t be embarrassed if it happens to you! A little bit of foam is normal, especially if you run a bubble blower, but if there’s more than a thin layer…

You could drain the hot tub, and refill with fresh water, but that won’t always fix the problem. Read on for some fresh thoughts about foamy hot tubs and spas – and how to fix the foam!

 

What Causes Hot Tub Foaming?

  • Jokesters adding soap to the hot tub
  • Soft water, Calcium Hardness too low
  • High pH and Total Alkalinity levels
  • Soaps on skin and swim wear
  • Cosmetics and hair care products
  • Certain low grade spa chemicals
  • Body oil or oils from foods

 

How to Control a Foamy Hot Tub

The fast way to fix a foamy spa is to use anti-foam agents. Just spray a small amount over the surface of the water. The silicone based chemical immediately spreads over the entire surface, and destabilizes soaps and foams, popping all of the tiny bubbles!

A better way to control hot tub foam is to not have it in the first place. Using defoamers or anti-foam is just a temporary fix. It doesn’t do anything to solve the problem of how the soaps and oils got into the hot tub in the first place.

 

How to Prevent Hot Tub Foam

  • Balance the Water – pH, Alkalinity, Calcium.
  • Maintain a constant sanitizer residual.
  • Shower thoroughly before using spa.
  • Keep your head above water at all times.hot-tub-foam
  • Observe spa capacity limits, and limit soak time.
  • Rinse bathing suits washed with soap before use.
  • Replace your spa filter regularly.
  • Replace your spa water regularly.
  • Add sanitizer support, like minerals or ozone.

 

Spa Water Balance and Foamy Water

What’s water balance got to do with it? Nearly everything it seems; when pH and Alkalinity are high, and Hardness levels are low, the water becomes “slippery” and fats, oils and dirt combine into soaps. Soap also enters the spa on swimwear, skin or hair and finds it easy to multiply in a high pH, soft water environment.

Good water balance also allows your sanitizers to work more effectively, reducing contaminants and breaking up oils and scum that can become components of foamy water. Soap scum, or a bathtub ring around the spa is another result of poor water balance.

 

Using Anti-Foam in a Spa or Hot Tub

  • Balance chemistry first, for best results.
  • Clean or replace spa cartridge filter.
  • Follow dosage directions carefully.
  • Re-dose with Anti-Foam only after 8 hours.
  • Lock it up, to prevent re-dosing by others.

 

Cloudy Water and Hot Tub Foam

The often go hand in hand, cloudy water and foamy water, and you’ll rarely have one without the other. In fact, may of the conditions and symptoms are the same, and one can cause the other as well. The same tips listed to prevent hot tub foam apply to cloudy hot tub water.

Adding air into the jets, passive air or pumped air (blower) will exacerbate a foaming problem, as it will entrain air (tiny bubbles) into the water, giving an appearance of cloudy water, but also whipping up the water into a foamy froth.

 

Chemicals that Cause Foam in Hot Tub

  • dont-use-household-cleaning-productsLow grade bromine or chlorine products
  • Low grade algaecides (10%)
  • Biguanide sanitizer chemical
  • Household cleaners or soaps

 

Biofilm and Hot Tub Foaming

biofilms-in-spa-plumbingWe’ve reported on Biofilm in Hot Tubs many times on this blog. In cases where hidden biofilm is allowed to build-up, they can provide and endless source of oily scum that can easily turn into a foaming problem. If you’ve tried everything else to reduce spa foam, but it keeps returning, consider using a product to strip the pipes and equipment of any biofilm. Spa Purge or Jet Clean are two good products. Use annually to prevent new colony formation.

 

How much Foam is too much Foam?

Just about every spa will have some small amount of foam, and even on well maintained spas, you may notice foam beginning to develop as your spa water gets older. Yes, foamy hot tub water can be a sign that it is time to change the spa water.

When there is more than an inch of foam however, it begins to get annoying, but the larger reason to deal with spa foam is that foamy water becomes an ideal transport medium for bacteria, emulsifying it to the surface where it can be more readily absorbed by bathers.

 

FOAM PARTY IN A HOT TUB

too-much-spa-foamIf you were a victim of a joke, or have a teenager who thought Foam Party in a Hot Tub would be a good idea – drain the hot tub, flush the lines out several times and clean all surfaces before it’s refilled. After refilling, balance and shock the water. If you still have soap residue, use Jet Clean or a similar Purge chemical to clean the pipes.

Foam hot tub parties may be fun, but you really need to clean well afterwards, and there may still be soap residue after draining the spa several times. Plus, it can be unsafe – so do yourself a favor and just say no to hot tub foam parties!

 

- Jack

 

 

How to Clean a Hot Tub without Draining

March 10th, 2015 by

green-hot-tubFirst off… I have to say that draining the spa is usually recommended every 3-4 months, to replace with fresh water that contains far fewer dissolved solids, wastes and disinfectant byproducts. Fresh water is easier to filter, sanitize and is healthier for bathers.

But… I understand that there are times and places where draining the spa is not appropriate. Like when refill water is limited or unavailable, or when your city or county has water restrictions in place, prohibiting the draining of swimming pools, and hot tubs.

So… if you can’t drain the spa as often as you should here are several ways to clean a hot tub without draining it completely, or ways to reduce draining.

1. RECYCLE THE HOT TUB INTO THE POOL

lil-giant-water-wizard-pool-cover-pumpThis option only works if you also have a swimming pool, or can borrow a neighbor’s pool. With a small submersible pump, empty the spa into the pool, and after wiping down the spa interior, and cleaning with our Spa Cleaner chemical, and for a finishing touch, polishing with Fast Gloss spa polish.

2. RECYCLE THE HOT TUB INTO THE BATHTUB

This option only works if you have a bathtub within garden hose distance of the hot tub, and spa water that’s not gross. Using a small submersible pump, empty 50-60 gallons into the tub, and use it for bathing. Do this for a whole week and you can empty the entire spa.

3. FILTER SPA WATER THROUGH EXTERNAL POOL FILTER

This option only works if you have access to a pool pump and filter, like an aboveground system that mounts on a skid, with a plug in cord for the pump. Hook up a pool-size filter and pump and you can turnover filter all of the water through a large filter in just a few hours. Rinse, Repeat.

4. FILTER SPA WATER WITH REVERSE OSMOSIS

This one only works in the driest parts of the country, where a new type of service company has sprung up. Mobile water recycling trucks can visit your home and pump out the pool or spa water, run it through the super effective truck mounted filters, and return it to the spa in minutes, perfectly clean and clear.

5. Balance the Spa Water and Shock

This one you probably know all ready – test and balance the pH, Alkalinity and Calcium levels, and then shock the spa with a granular chlorine shock. Read the label for dosage instructions, and then double or triple the amount, if your hot tub water is in really bad shape.

6. SCRUB THE SPA

Use a soft brush to scrub off any film and dirt, then use skim net and a spa vacuum to remove the debris, which will clog the spa filter quickly. A large hose can also be used as a siphon vacuum, by filling the hose with water, capping one end, and pulling it down to a point lower than the other end.

7. SCRUB THE PIPES

ahh-some-biocleaner

How do you scrub the pipes you say? Using a spa purge chemical to dissolve built-up bio-film lining the pipes and jets. A toothbrush can be used around the jet openings, but to clean a spa that has been sitting – it’s necessary to remove the bacterial films inside the pipes and equipment. Problem is – after using Jet Clean, or other spa pipe cleaner like Ahh-Some, you’ll need  to drain the spa! You may want to do this step earlier….

 

>>> It’s best to drain the spa every 3-4 months - if you can. If you are unable to refill the spa, try one of the other solutions above, or call for trucked in pool water – you’ll need about 1/10th of a load – they’ll probably still charge you full price… ah, water.

 

- Jack

 

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Brett Aqualine

February 16th, 2015 by

brett spa pack em-100Hot Tubs took a giant leap forward when in 1977, when Jim Brett cobbled together the first spa pack, a single system that united the pump, heater, blower and controls onto one skid.

At the time, spas were being heated and treated with swimming pool equipment, which was oversized and overpriced. Another problem was that a portable spa market was being born, and to be truly portable, it needed a small, compact and portable, filtration and heating system.

“The problem with the first portable [spas] was that they were sold as a true portable that could be plugged into a 20-amp circuit,” said Jim Brett, president of Brett Aqualine.  However,  when you used the jets, the heater had to be turned off or the breaker would trip, and the spa temperature cooled rapidly without the heater, especially if you use an air blower or venture air intakes.

Brett designed a system capable of balancing high amperage loads with a controller, coupled with a spa side panel and a very compact spa package. The “Spa Pack” was born, in the late seventies, and Brett Aqualine dominated the business for many years.

There are still spas and hot tubs that are not capable of running the blower and the heater at the same time, any spa that you just plug into an outlet. Full featured spas require a larger dedicated circuit, hard-wired to the main panel, to power all of the modern span components.

Named to the Inc. 500 list as he #9 fastest growing company in 1987, Brett Aqualine grew sales from just $100,000 in 1983, to nearly $15M by 1987, an amazing growth spurt!

In 1998, Len Gordon purchases the assets of the Brett Aqualine corporation, expanding their products and reach. Just 3 years later, the Brett Aqualine company was sold along with Len Gordon’s other business units to Spa Builders Systems Group, which then reformed the growing company into a new entity – Allied Innovations.

brett aqualine logoToday,  many of Brett Aqualine products are available as Brett Aqualine by Allied Innovations. Truly one of the Pioneers of the Hot Tub industry, Jim Brett, along with co-founder Jim McNicol, helped usher in a more consumer friendly era for home spas and hot tubs.

We salute you!

 

- Jack

 

 

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Safety – Drain Cover Recalls

January 22nd, 2015 by

RISING-DRAGON-DRAIN-COVERYour spa drain can kill! Numerous entrapment injuries have occurred, where the powerful suction of a spa drain has trapped persons under the water. They are either suctioned onto an unsafe drain cover, or have hair or hands stuck in the pipe, when drain covers go missing.

The number of entrapment fatalities over the years prompted the CPSC and other agencies to demand safer standards for pool and spa drains. Commercial spas are now required to have dual drains set far enough apart to prevent entrapment, and drain covers must be of a safe design, to diffuse the suction and prevent entrapment.

In 2008, manufacturers produced redesigned drain covers which would diffuse the suction around the top and sides of the drain cover, reducing the chance of entrapment. Most of these early spa drain covers were voluntarily recalled, in 2011, as not meeting rate of flow requirements.

Here’s a summary of some of the more common spa drain covers that have been recalled. Check your own spa or hot tub to be sure you don’t have these drain covers, and also check that your drain cover is securely screwed in place. Missing or broken drain covers are more dangerous than an unsafe drain cover.

spa-drain-covers-recalled

recalled-drain-covers

Most portable, aboveground spas are plumbed in such a way that the drain and skimmer are connected to the same pipe. This design is inherently safer, because if you block the drain cover, it will automatically start sucking more from the skimmer. However, this does not reduce the danger of entrapment. Be sure that your spa drain covers are safe, and secured in place at all times.

Never use a spa or hot tub without safe drain covers in place – and if your spa has separate spa and main drain pipes, as many inground spas do, a dual drain system should be installed, far enough apart so that coverage of both at the same time would be unlikely. For added protection, install an SVRS (suction vacuum release system), to automatically shut off the pump when suction or vacuum pressure increases (indicating that something is blocking the drain cover).

Spa drains or suction outlets can be dangerous – check that your system is safe by contacting the manufacturer of your drain cover, and by having your system certified safe, or modified to be safe.

 

- Jack

 

In Ground Spa Covers

January 13th, 2015 by

inground-spa-coversIf you want to keep an inground spa warm for quick heat-up, or have it hot and ready to go – a spa cover is an absolute necessity.

Inground spas can be built of concrete and plaster, or they can be an acrylic spa shell that is placed into the deck.

They can be standalone systems with their own equipment, or can be installed as part of an inground pool/spa combo.

Here’s a quick post on options for inground spa covers ~

FLOATING SPA BLANKETS

Spa blankets which float on the water surface dramatically reduce evaporation and help retain some of the heat in the water. Solar spa blankets will also add heat to the spa water during periods of direct sunlight, but they are thin and not a great insulator.foam-floating-spa-blanket

Foam spa blankets are much thicker, around 1/4″ of closed cell foam, with more than 3x the insulating ability. Foam blankets cost more, but are more durable and effective as far as floating blankets go – but there is a much more efficient and effective way to keep your spa or hot tub – hot.

RIGID INGROUND SPA COVERS

The same spa cover design used for aboveground spas and hot tubs can be used on inground spa covers, with a few minor caveats.

inground-spa-covers-on-hot-tubsSKIRT: The skirt, the overhang of material on the cover’s edge, is usually shortened or completely eliminated on inground spa covers – depending if your spa is raised above the surrounding deck, or flush with the deck. A raised spa, or spa with raised bullnose coping, or a rough edge may work better with a short skirt of 1-2″.

SIZE: For inground spas, you’ll find it easier to have the spa cover made 6-8″ larger than the inside spa diameter. If only 2-3″ larger, it can be difficult to center the spa cover over the spa, without it falling in – and don’t forget that you’ll be usually be stooping and bending as you install or remove an inground spa cover.

cover-valet-cover-standSTORAGE: A place to put the spa cover safely, when it’s not covering the spa, is important to protect a spa cover from breaking (believe me, I know what I’m talking about). My favorite design is the Cover Stand, by Cover Valet, but you can also build your own cover rack, to keep the cover off the ground, and prevent it from falling over (and also prevent people from falling into the cover!).

STRAPS: Another difference for inground spa covers is that they may or may not have locking straps. I recommend ordering inground spa covers with straps and clips, and installing the plastic clip half into the concrete or wood pool deck. This will hold the cover down in high winds, and prevent unsafe access to the spa water.

wind-straps-for-spa-coversFor covers without straps, you can use our 11′ long cover Wind Straps. Set of two straps to cross over the top of the cover, with edge pads to protect the cover edge. Long straps make it easier to locate the plastic cover clips, and install them into an area that’s not so close to the spa, where they could be a toe stubber! Strapping down an inground cover with over-the-top straps is the better way to go, safer and it helps hold the cover down to the deck, to prevent heat leakage.

spa-cover-safety-strapsFor a heavier duty strapping method, you can use pool safety cover anchors, buckles and springs to secure your spa cover to the pool deck. Fabric stores carry the nylon strapping material, usually called nylon webbing. For each strap, connect two buckles and two springs, one on each end, and connect the springs to brass anchors, inserted into the pool deck. You can find safety pool cover hardware online, to create inground spa cover straps as shown here in the picture.

CUSTOM INGROUND SPA COVERS: are our specialty! We can make a spa cover for any size and shape of inground spa. Single hinge fold on covers up to 8′ across, or a 3-panel design used on spas up to 12′ diameter.

2lb-foamFor the most durable inground spa covers, choose the heavier foam density and foam thickness – this will help hold it down, and protect against most damage from weather, animals or tree branches. We call it “The Works” spa cover, but it’s not a pizza, it’s our top-o-the-line spa cover.

 

- Jack

 

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