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Jack Stone's Posts

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
  • 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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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 ~


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.


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!


Associated Press, printed on, 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 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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

george-palmer - image by 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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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…


  • 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


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“.


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 It has a clean layout and lots of good results in their Spas Hot Tubs Repair Services category, along with a map, and reviews.


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.


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