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Jack Stone's Posts

Spa Cover Factory Tour

February 20th, 2014 by

spa-cover-factory-tourI’m mighty proud of our spa and hot tub covers, and there’s many reasons why we make the best spa covers, and now you can witness the quality construction for yourself.

Below is a nice video with Jerry, one of the owners of Hot Tub Works, taking you on a tour of our state of the art spa cover manufacturing facility. Below that, is the complete transcript of the video.

I hope you enjoy the tour ~

- Jack

 

Hi, welcome to our state of the art spa cover manufacturing facility. My name is Jerry and I’m going to take you on a tour of the facility today. This factory can produce over 1000 spa covers per week, and uses the latest technology and has decades of hard earned experience to make quality spa covers.

I’m going to start with the process of how we receive orders. Now we’re standing in customer service, and literally hundreds of calls come in to this room per day, from people looking for help with their hot tub.

We make it really easy for you to order a new cover, you can order a new spa cover online, you can call us, or you can even fax it to us. No matter how you do it, we try to make it easy, and we’re all experts here at getting you a perfect cover every time. Once the order comes in, it goes to Production Management – let’s take a look at that process and then we’ll go into manufacturing.

hot-tub-works-factory-tourProduction Control takes every order that comes in and produces what’s known as a CAD file, which is basically an automated drawing which is fed to the manufacturing floor. That produces a perfect cover every time, specific to your order.

We use absolutely the best marine grade vinyl on our hot tub covers. This vinyl is 30 oz weight, it’s made for outdoor use. It has UV and mildew inhibitors built in. As you can see, we have a lot of vinyl here in our facility – we offer 10 different colors, all of them on our website for your choice.

Our sewing team has the latest equipment that they use to sew every cover by hand. They have decades of experience, and there are 27 points of reinforcement sewn into every cover.

This big block of foam that you see here, that looks kind of like a giant piece of tofu, is actually EPS foam. EPS stands for Expanded PolyStyrene. Now, EPS foam is often used in floating docks and buoys, and it’s also an excellent insulator product, and it’s what we use for the inside core of the hot tub cover.

We offer three different densities of foam, 1 lb. density, 1.5 lb. density and 2.0 lb. density. And basically what that means is, as the weight changes, the foam gets harder – the insulation value goes up and the cover gets stronger.

The big block of foam you just saw then gets cut down into sheets. This particular piece of foam is made for our Ultra Cover, where it’s 6 inches thick on this side, 4 inches on the other side. Each piece of foam is actually cut, specific to your order.

After the foam is cut into a taper, it is then cut into the shape of your hot tub cover. This machine here is fed the same CAD file that the sewing room is using to sew your cover. The foam is being cut with a red wire, cutting through the foam, creating the perfect shape to meet up with the vinyl skin that has been sewn. After the foam is cut to it’s final shape, a steel reinforcement channel is placed into the foam to add strength to the product. At this point it’s ready for final assembly, so let’s head over to that department.

One of the last stages and a very important one is where we vapor seal the foam. We use a 6 mil plastic to wrap the foam with, and it’s vacuumed down and heat sealed, so moisture can’t get to the foam core. You can even order a double wrap, which is two layers, to give you a longer lasting spa cover.

Now the final step of inserting the foam into the vinyl skin. It’s zipped up, and then final quality control inspections are done, making sure every measurement is accurate and correct. Then it’s wrapped into a protective plastic and placed in a box ready for shipment.

We’re now standing in distribution, and as you can see, I’ve got hundreds of covers around me. This is the last place we touch them before they get shipped out to you. They come in here to get direct and efficient shipment to your home.

We appreciate you watching the video, hopefully it’s answered some questions, and we appreciate your time and consideration of our spa and hot tub covers.

 

Mineral Purification for Spas and Hot Tubs

February 7th, 2014 by

spa-mineral-sanitizersIt’s perhaps the biggest thing since bromine – silver and copper minerals used to purify spa and hot tub water. It’s been around for over 20 years, so it’s not new in the world of spas and hot tubs, and copper and silver ions have been purifying water for eons, so it’s not new to the world.

But maybe it’s new to you – if you haven’t tried mineral purification before, here’s why you may want to start.

  • Use less bromine – up to 50% less
  • Less work required of your spa filter
  • Improved water sparkle and clarity

There are several different manufacturers of spa mineral sanitizers, which all employ an erosive bits of silver and copper ions, packed in activated charcoal.

copper-silverAs the water moves through the 4-month mineral cartridge, ions are released which attack algae and bacteria. The result is that more than half of your sanitation needs are taken care of by natural minerals, leaving less for your bromine and spa filter to deal with.

And unlike bromine and chlorine, metals like copper and silver don’t just kill once and then become useless, they continue to sanitize, attracting and killing contaminants, until the particle becomes large enough to be filtered out.

 

nature2-stickNature2 Spa Stick – Drop the 4-month stick inside the center of your spa filter cartridge, and it goes to work immediately, with enough power to run your spa without bromine, when shocking weekly with MPS.

 

frog-floater-for-spasSpa Frog Floating System – This is a combination bromine floater and mineral cartridge. Both attach easily to the floating pod. The mineral cartridge lasts four months, and the bromine cartridge will last for up to 4 weeks.

 

leisure-time-spa-stickLeisure Time Spa Stick – Eventually the patent expired, and along came some pretty good copy cats of  Mineral spa water treatment. The leisure Time is actually a copy of the very similar looking Filter Frog, but for a buck or two less.

 

sunpurity-mineral-purifierSunpurity Mineral Purifier – Made by Nature2 to fit Sundance spas, the mineral purifier pack locks in place inside of the bromine chamber.

 

Each of these requires replacement every 4 months, and they average about $20 each . So, a year’s supply is about $60 – a small amount to pay for such a huge improvement in water quality. And, if you reduce your bromine or chlorine level to 1-2 ppm, you can cut the amount you use in half, which could possibly pay for the cost of the mineral sticks.

If you have any questions on mineral spa treatment, give any one of our folks here a call, or leave a comment below!

- Jack

 

 

10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy

January 23rd, 2014 by

cloudy-spa-hot-tub-waterWhy is my spa water cloudy? If I’ve heard that question once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. It may be the number one spa water problem plaguing spa owners.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about cloudy spa water – such as, “Bromine will make your spa cloudy”, or “Metals in the water cause cloudy hot tub water”, or the constant sales pitch – that if you just had this super-special-magical spa water treatment, your spa water problems will disappear.

If your spa or hot tub water is cloudy, hazy, milky – turbid, as I sometimes call it, your problem will be one of these situations below, or a combination of more than one.

1. High Calcium Hardness or Total Alkalinity

Your spa water chemical balance may be to blame, and it’s the first place I would check. Take an accurate reading of your calcium hardness, alkalinity and pH levels. In areas where hard water is common, calcium can easily come out of solution and cloud the spa water. If your calcium hardness levels are greater than 300 ppm, use Calcium & Scale Control to tie-up minerals in solution, and keep them from making your spa water cloudy.

If your test for Total Alkalinity shows high levels, in excess of 150 ppm, excess carbonates can come out of solution, and make the spa cloudy. High TA levels will also make it hard to control your pH, or keep it in range. Use pH decreaser to lower TA to around 100 ppm. If your spa pH level is outside of the range of 7.2-7.6, adjust accordingly for easier control of cloudy water.

TDS, or total dissolved solids, is not usually a concern in spas and hot tubs – but, if you have not drained your spa in years, for whatever reason – you may have a very high level of dissolved solids in the water. When water reaches it’s saturation point, where it can absorb no more solids, frequent bouts of cloudy water are the result. Time to drain and refill the spa.

2. Low Spa Sanitizer Levels

Some people are sensitive to bromine or chlorine, and try to operate the spa with as little as possible. That may be OK, if you have other sanitizers working, such as an ozonator, or a mineral cartridge, and your water chemistry is balanced, especially your pH level.

Otherwise, spas should always have a level of 2-3 ppm of bromine, or slightly less if using chlorine. When sanitizer level drops below 1.0ppm, particles and contaminants in the water begin to run rampant or grow at a rate faster than they are being destroyed.

A proper sanitizer level should destroy the particles that induce cloudy water. To help it out, shock the spa water regularly, especially after a several people have used the spa, or if sanitizer levels have mistakenly dropped to very low levels. If a chlorinated spa shock is clouding your water, try using MPS shock instead.

3. Cloudy Fill Water

Maybe the problem is not with your spa, but in your fill water. Nonetheless, balanced and sanitized spa water with proper filtration should be able to self-correct, and clear the water within a day or so. A spa clarifier can help coagulate suspended particles for easier filtration. In most cases, it may be better to use a spa pre-filter, to remove particulates that cloud your spa water. Just attach it to your garden hose when adding water or refilling your spa or hot tub.

4. Air in the System

Small particles of air, tiny bubbles – can make the spa water appear cloudy. If your spa has bubbles coming into the returns, but your air blower and spa ozonator are turned off – you may have an air leak, on the suction side of the pump. The suction side is anything before the spa circulation pump. A loose union fitting before the pump, or a loose pump drain plug can pull air into the system.

Low water level in the spa can also bring air into the spa, and give the water the appearance of being cloudy or hazy. Inspection of the pipes and equipment before the spa pump can reveal the source of the air leak, which can then be sealed up with sealants or lubricants.

5. Spa Filter Problems

This is a common cause of cloudy spa water. A spa filter cartridge may be positioned incorrectly, allowing for water to bypass the filter cartridge. Make sure the cartridge is fully seated on both ends to force the water to go through the pleated spa filter material.

A spa filter cartridge won’t last forever, and each cleaning reduces it’s efficacy a little bit more. After about 15 cleanings, replace the spa filter and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in water clarity. Depending on how much the spa is used, and how much is asked of the filter, you should replace the spa filter every 12-24 months.

Spa filter cartridges can also become gummed up with oils or minerals, drastically reducing their filtration ability. These substances can be very difficult to remove with a garden hose alone. Spraying a cartridge in spa filter cleaner before cleaning will break down greasy or crystallized deposits, and restore full flow to your filter.

DE filters are more commonly used on inground spas, and if a DE filter grid develops a hole, it will allow DE filter powder to come into the spa. This will cloud the water, and leave deposits of a light brown powder on the seats and floors of the spa.

6. Spa Pump Problems

There are a number of pump problems that can lead to cloudy spa water, the first being the amount of time the spa filter is running each day. You may need to increase the amount of time that the spa pump operates, to increase your daily filtering time. Running a pump only on low speed can also contribute to ineffective filtration. Run it on high for at least 2 hours every day.

Another issue could be with the spa impeller. It could be clogged – full of pebbles, leaves, hair or any number of things. The vanes on a pump impeller are very small and can clog easily, which will reduce the flow volume considerably. Another possibility is that the impeller is broken – the pump turns on, but the impeller is not moving, which will reduce flow rates to zero.

If you have no flow from your pool pump, there could be an air lock, especially if you have just drained and refilled the spa. To fix an air lock, shut off the pump and loosen a union on the pump and allow air to escape, tightening it when water begins to leak. If the pump doesn’t turn on at all – well, there’s your cloudy spa water problem. There could be a tripped GFI button, loose wires, bad contactor or relay, or another control problem.

Air leaks before the pump, as discussed above, also makes the pump less efficient by reducing the overall water volume. Water leaks after the pump is also a problem, in that your water level will soon drop below the skimmer intake, begin to take on air, lose prime and stop pumping your water through the filter.

7. Biofilm Problems

Biofilm is a slimy bacteria that coats the inside of pipes and fittings. In extreme cases, it will cloud the water, and you may notice slimy flakes floating on the water, or have severe issues with spa foaming. Biofilm forms quickly in a spa that has sat empty and idle for some time. If you suspect a biofilm contamination, lower the pH to 7.2 and use spa shock to raise the chlorine level above 10 ppm. Follow this up with a treatment of Jet Clean, to remove biofilm deposits.

8. Salt System Problems

Salt systems are becoming more popular with spa owners, although they are much more prevalent on swimming pools. The issue with salt systems is that it is possible to place too much reliance on them, and never check your chlorine level. Spa salt cells also need occasional cleaning to maintain chlorine output.

Adding salt to your spa when needed may cloud your spa temporarily, until the salt becomes fully dissolved. When adding salt, be careful not to overdose, and run the jets on high for greater agitation of the water.

9. Biguanide Problems

If you use a non-chlorine, biguanide sanitizer in your spa, and have difficulty with cloudy spa water, you are not alone. This is the main complaint of using a PHMB sanitizer. You may find relief by draining and refilling the spa, and changing the spa filter, which is probably gummed up with residue. Using spa chemicals with any amount of chlorine, or using algaecides or any non-approved chemical will not only cloud the water in a biguanide treated spa, but can also create some wild colors, too!

10. Soaps, Lotions, Cosmetics and Hair Products

This problem is common to just about every spa, unless you are careful to shower well before using your spa. Everything we put on our body and in our hair can end up in the spa, and can bring oils, phosphates and detergents into the water, and a hundred other undesirable chemicals. These can consume sanitizer, clog spa filters and make the spa water cloudy and foamy. If your spa has a high bather load, or is used as a giant bath tub, you can expect issues with water clarity. Adding spa enzymes can help control greasy gunk, and reduce sanitizer demand and clogging of your spa filter.cloudy-spa-water

Cloudy spa water is not so difficult to find and fix – but remember that you may have more than one of these issues working against you. Consider each cause of cloudy spa water carefully – it’s likely one or more of these situations above. Draining the spa regularly is one more piece of advice to prevent cloudy water – depending on how much the spa is used, draining it every few months is a good preventative way to keep your spa water from becoming cloudy in the first place!

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Parts: Spa Jet Repair & Replacement

January 10th, 2014 by

lighted-spa-jets are way cool

Spa and hot tub jets – the nozzles where the water and air comes out are really are for me, the distinction in a spa and a hot tub. The jets used in most traditional round wooden hot tubs are neither fancy or numerous. They may not even have a blower, and are more about the hot soak.

A spa on the other hand, can have dozens of spa jets. Some newer spas can have as many as 80 or 100 different jets. Even lighted spa jets, shown here. If you have that many jets, or even far less – eventually you’re going to have some maintenance issue with a few of them.

Full disclosure; we carry over 100 different Spa Jets and over 250 Spa Jet Parts for names like Waterway, Hydro-Air, CMP and many others for easy spa jet repair by the spa owner. Shameless plug complete, moving on…

 

spa-jet-body-jet-insertWHAT IS A SPA JET?

Most jets consist of a Jet Body, which seals up to the backside of the spa wall with a large lock nut ring and lots of silicone. It has the pipe connectors for air and water lines. The inside of the Jet Body houses a Jet Internal, which includes the diffuser insert, escutcheon (bezel or beauty ring) around the jet, and the nozzle or eyeball.

 

IDENTIFYING SPA JETS

As mentioned above, there are hundreds of spa jets, and newer spa jets come in endless configurations of jet type, eyeball type, size and color. Most modern spa jets will allow you to remove the Jet Internal, or Thread-In Jets, as Waterway calls them, by turning counter clockwise on the outer ring, and pulling outward. Inspect the Jet Insert for any part numbers or stampings that would indicate manufacturer. If you need help, give us a call.

Group of 10 different spa jetsMost spa jets are identified by Make – Model – Jet Type – Hole Size – Pipe Size – Color, and other variances. Measuring the outside diameter of the bezel is sometimes sufficient on simple spa jets, while more information may be needed for more advanced jets.

If you don’t know any of the manufacturer information on your spa jet, you could always browse our spa jet pictures to help you visually ID your spa jet. If you still don’t see it, please call us or send a picture by email, with spa jet measurements, and any other information you have about the jet.

TROUBLESHOOTING SPA JETS

By my count, there are some 5 problems affecting spa jets today; and these are Low Flow, No Flow, Broken, Leaking and now a new one – No Lights.

low-flow-spa-jetsLOW FLOW SPA JETS: Check that your pump is on high speed and the jet is not closed by a diverter valve. Many spas have knobs on top that allow you to change the flow between banks of jets. You also need to have air intakes open, especially for spinning jets. If you can remove the spa jet internal, pull it out to inspect the diffuser or mixer assembly for any obvious clogs, from hair or lint. Leaving the most obvious for last, make sure that your water level is high enough and your spa filter is clean.

NO FLOW SPA JETS: Same here, check that the jet pump is on high speed and the jet is not closed by a diverter valve or knob. If you have just drained the spa, and you have a no flow situation, you probably have an air lock in the plumbing system. This can be released by loosening a drain plug or union to allow air to escape. When water begins to leak, tighten up again and retry the tub.

spa-jet-problemsLEAKING SPA JETS: If you have traced a wet spot under the spa as originating from one of your spa jets, there is a fix for that. It may need a new gasket, or sometimes just a dab of Boss silicone will fix it up. Repairs can be made in the front or rear of the jet, to keep water from getting in between the jet and the hole in the spa shell. Check that the ring on the back of the spa jet is very tight. You can use a strap wrench to tighten the lock nut ring on the back of the spa jet, but it’s best to use a lock nut wrench,which also allows you to do the job without a helper.

BROKEN SPA JETS: The eyeball fitting on the inside can become damaged, or can pop out, or be unable to hold position. The threads on a insert spa jet could become stripped, or the bezel ring can become cracked. If you can’t turn the eyeball to a direction you want, try twisting it first to loosen it. Some spa jets have particular methods of adjustment. If you can locate the owner’s manual, in print or online, these can be a big help in some cases.

first-world-problems - spa jet lights not working :-(

NO SPA JET LIGHTS: Spa jet lights not working? My, you really have some first world problems. These are LED and it’s unlikely that the bulb has burned out. More likely to have a problem with the power wire, or the end connectors. Find the cord, and inspect for damage, and be sure that the end plugs are firmly seated, and in the correct spot.

 

SPA JET REMOVAL TOOLS

spa-jet-tools-spa-jet-wrenchesRemoving and replacing the jet body from the shell of the spa, for resealing or replacement, can be accomplished with one specific wrench, made specifically for your spa or hot tub jet. Spa jet tools or spa wrenches are important to make removal easier, without damaging soft plastic edges. For installing a new jet, or resealing a leaking spa jet, they are absolutely essential, to give you the leverage to tightly fit the spa jet body against the spa wall.

Other Spa Jet Tools help you to remove eyeballs or retaining rings. It can be confusing to know which spa wrench to use on your particular spa jet, there are over 30 different tools, and each one works with specific spa jets. Please contact us if you need any help.

1000 words about spa jets. I hope this was helpful to whatever spa jet problem you are having. Most issues are small, and can be fixed quickly.

If you’re having larger problems, and need help identifying which spa jet part or spa jet tool to use – please call our tech department, or send a photo/info by email. You’ll find out team happy to assist in your spa jet repair.

- Jack

 

Most Common Spa Parts Sold

December 23rd, 2013 by

HTW-spa-parts-awards

It’s that time of year again – the year end, where we take a deep dive into our product sales numbers for the year. Spa cover sales were off the chart in 2013, but this article is about the most common spa and hot tub parts for the year.

Who cares, right? Well, this little ‘information snack’ can give you a clue as to what items might be most likely to fail on your own hot tub or spa. It can help you in diagnosis to at least know what these spa parts are, and a little bit about how they function, or don’t function, as the case may be.

So without further ado, here are this year’s winners “The Most Popular Spa Parts” for 2013.

May I have the envelope please?

 

 

SPA-PARTS-HEATER-ELEMENTS

HEATER ELEMENTS

A worn spa heater element is not usually the most common cause of spa heater problems, until 2013. I think that a voltage spike must have gone off somewhere, and killed thousands at a single time. Our heater element sales doubled this year – something is going on!

 

spa-relays

RELAYS

A spa relay is an electrical switch, which relays power from one component to another. Contactors are another type of mechanical spa relays, for larger loads like your spa heater. Cube relays, shown here, were a big winner in 2013, over 1000 sold in all types of sizes.

 

spa-filters-

SPA FILTERS

Your spa filter is not meant to last forever. We recommend changing it every 12-24 months, depending on how much you use the spa, and if the cartridge is big enough to do the job. I guess people started listening to this advice, we actually ran out of some spa filters for a few weeks last month. Ordered more!

 

spa-pump-wet-end

WET ENDS

The wet end of your spa pump is the end of your spa pump that contacts water, or gets wet. The other end is the motor, and it should be kept as dry as possible. A new wet end can cure all sorts of spa problems that usually include leaking water around the pump area. Includes volute, seal and impeller.

 

SPA-PARTS-PRESSURE-SWITCHES

PRESSURE SWITCH

They say, that most spa heater repair calls are due to a dirty filter, not allowing enough water to flow. The pressure switch is what senses the low flow and prevents the heater from turning on. Don’t want to clean your spa filter? Must be a faulty pressure switch – replace it!

 

SPA-PARTS-ORINGS

O-RINGS

The most popular o-rings for a spa are inside the unions. When a union is opened, the o-ring often flushes out to an unreachable spot, under the spa. There are also o-rings in some spa filters, chlorinators or used in the wet end of the pump.

 

SPA-PARTS-LED-LIGHT-BULBS

LED SPA LIGHT

For those of you that forget to turn off the spa light when you close it up, I thank you. Sales of LED spa bulbs were up so much, I suspect that most of the halogen spa light bulbs have finally burned out in America. Lots of upgrades to LED spa light bulbs this year.

 

SPA-PARTS-SPA-COVER-CLIPS

SPA COVER CLIPS

Must have been windy this year too, as something bumped up spa cover strap clip demand above the usual few hundred sets sold each year. These clips can also be used to add additional straps to the skirt, or over the top of your spa cover, for extra safety and wind resistance.

 

spa-check-valve

OZONE CHECK VALVE

The ozone check valve keeps ozone traveling in one direction, out of the ozonator, and doesn’t allow air to flow the other way. Check valves are also known as one-way flow valves. For spa ozonator optimum operation, replace the check valve and maybe some hosing, every year or two.

 

spa-timerTIME CLOCK

I wonder if time clocks have an internal time clock, that tells them when to quit? If so, a lot of them went off this year, and another surprise superstar category is being recognized here today. Replace your clock when the internal motor or battery fails.

 

Congratulations to all of our winners today at the 2013 Spa Parts Awards ceremony. These hard working spa parts my not be recognized for large contributions to capital, but their unit sales figures have catapulted them to our list of the most common spa parts of the year. :-)

 

- Jack

 

The Winterized Spa – How to Close a Spa for Winter

December 12th, 2013 by

hot-tub-in-winter

There comes a time for many hot tub lovers in the north, when they need to ask the question – close the spa for the winter, or keep it operating?

If you think you’ll use the spa occasionally, even if it’s only a few times per month, I would suggest that you keep it open. But, if no one is using it, or worse – maintaining it. You may want to winterize the spa.

For many spa owners, it’s the fear of extended power outages that will warrant emptying the spa. Heated and covered, a hot spa should be able to resist freeze damage for 24 hours, but beyond that you could face  expensive repairs to plumbing and equipment.

How to Winterize an Above Ground Spa in 4 Steps

step1 to winterize a spa or hot tub Step One: Remove the spa filter cartridge, and clean it thoroughly with spa filter cleaner like Filter Fresh, and allow it to dry for winter storage. Next, apply a spa purge product like Jet Clean, to clean biofilm and bacteria from the pipes, which will continue to grow in the moist interior of your pipes, unless cleaned before you drain the spa. Don’t skip this step, or you may have funk and gunk in your pipes when you start up the spa again.

 

step2 for spa and hot tub winterizingStep Two: Now it’s time to drain the spa. Shut off power to the spa, and switch the heater off. Find your drain spigot and allow the spa to drain completely, through a hose, so the water drains away from the spa. When almost empty, turn on power again, so you can turn on the air blower (if you have one), and let it run until no more droplets spray out the jets. Use a sponge or shop vac to get every last drop from the bottom of the spa. If you have air jets in the seat or floor, lay a towel over them to absorb water mist as it sprays out.

 

step3 to winterize a hot tubStep Three: Use a powerful shop vac, to suck and blow air through the system. Place a sheet of plastic over a group of spa jets and use shop vac suction on one of the group’s jets. The plastic will suck to the other jets, so you can pull water out of one jet. Repeat until all jets are vacuumed. Switch the vac to a blower, and blow air through all the jets. Now blow air through the skimmer and spa drain. Under the spa, open all unions (don’t lose the o-rings), and use the shop vac to blow and suck air in both directions. Remove the drain plugs on the pump(s), and filter.

 

step4 in winterization of a spaStep Four: Spa covers perform an important function during winter, keeping any rain and snow melt from getting inside the spa. Over winter, some areas can receive two feet of precipitation, and it’s important that this doesn’t get into the spa. If your spa cover is a leaker, and in bad shape, cover it with plywood cut to shape, and then wrap it tightly with a sturdy tarp that will repel water. If your spa cover is in good shape, use a conditioner like our Spa Cover Cleaner, to protect it from winter weather. Use a Spa Cover Cap for the best spa cover protection.

 

Other Thoughts on Winterizing a Portable Spa

  1. Consult your owner’s manual, or find it online, to read specific tips for winterizing your particular spa.
  2. Using non-toxic antifreeze is discouraged, but if you must, refill and drain the spa before use.
  3. Draining a wooden hot tub is discouraged, but if you must, leave a foot of water, to resist shrinkage.
  4. Be sure to shut off power at the breaker, so there’s no chance that the pumps will run without water.
  5. If you have doubts and worry, consider calling a spa service company to winterize your spa.
  6. Inground spas require different procedures, not covered here.

 

- Jack

 

 

How to Make a Cheap Spa Cover

November 11th, 2013 by

Don't buy a spa cover from this guy! - purchased thru istock

There’s a lot of cheap spa covers out there. Do a Google search for discount spa covers and you’re hit with some pretty low prices. $195 for a spa cover?

How can you sell a spa cover so cheaply? To sell cheap spa covers, you have to make cheap spa covers.

In the interest of science (and corporate espionage), we ordered a few of these discount spa covers, to see what they’re made of, and how they’re made. We were pretty excited when these 2 covers arrived at our offices, ready for their dissection. What we found however, was nothing short of shocking…

Manufacture of a Cheap Spa Cover

Poor Materials

Let’s start with the foam, that’s where the cost cutting begins, by using a cheaper grade of extruded polystyrene, more prone to premature water absorption and breakdown. Secondly is the rigid support channel that runs across the fold, instead of using steel, substitute the cheaper aluminum, or even use PVC.  Third, use a thinner foam core wrap to save more money – 3 mil wrap is much cheaper by the roll than 6 mil wrap. Cheaper zippers and scrim, cheaper thread used for stitching and cheaper vinyl used for covering, are other ways that a spa cover can be made more cheaply.

Poor Construction

Or more accurately, a lack of workmanship or craftsmanship.  A cheap spa cover looks like a cheap suit. Not a good fit, poor stitching, and the liner hanging loosely inside. These spa tops had single stitching (not even straight), taped or stapled seams (not heat welded), loose fitting foam core wrap, and lightweight hinges or support channels. The vinyl is a single ply (no backing), and is as thin as you would expect. The weight of these spa covers – incredibly lightweight. That’s because they are made of cheaper, thinner and well, much less  material.

Poor Warranty

Question: If a spa cover has a warranty is for 5 years, and is pro-rated, and you have to pay to ship it back (both ways), is it really a warranty? Most of these so called warranties on these cheap spa covers only cover defects in materials or workmanship for one year. Longer warranties can be pro-rated so heavily that it makes the shipping costs prohibitive. And be sure to read the fine print, the exclusions, and you’ll find that most damage to the spa cover is not even covered.

Poor Service

Question: If you can’t even get in touch with them, how are going to lodge a warranty claim anyway? Many low budget spa cover dealers shave costs by not having customer service staff, or spa cover designers that you can speak with, chat with, or get a fast email reply from. They may or may not have a sales line, answered by a call center – somewhere, which will be “happy to take [another] message for you”.

Poor Selection

Even local dealers are getting in on this disposable spa cover market, advertising ‘basic’ spa covers, in only two or three sizes. Don’t buy a spa cover that isn’t an exact match to your specific spa. Color doesn’t matter, but a proper fit is essential to keeping your spa hot and as energy efficient as possible. Spa covers that don’t fit perfectly are also more susceptible to damage to the foam core.

 

How to Make a Good Spa Cover

Making a quality spa cover is what we do at Hot Tub Works. We’re proud of our materials and craftsmanship, and the reviews we get from satisfied spa cover customers say the same thing. And with prices starting at $269, you don’t have to shell out big bucks for a good spa cover.

Four Panel Spa Cover

Here’s how to make a spa cover that won’t fall apart in a year or two. These are some of the things that sets our spa covers apart from the “competition”.

  • Our spa covers meet or exceed ASTM safety standards
  • Computer aided design and manufacture process
  • 30 oz Marine Grade Vinyl is super tough
  • Double stitched with heavy Dacron thread, Quadruple stitched hinges
  • Vacuum heat sealed 6 mil Double-Ply foam core wrap
  • 20 ga. steel reinforcement channel on both spa cover halves
  • 5 year warranty, non-prorated, covering water absorption and shipping
  • Free shipping on every spa cover

 

- Jack

 

Cleaning Tools to Make Spa Maintenance Easier

November 4th, 2013 by

pleatco-cartridge-guyCleaning your spa or hot tub can be a bit of a chore. In my house, I was only able to pawn off some of the spa duties when I brought home some of these spa cleaning tools and supplies. Such as vacuuming the spa or cleaning the spa cover.

If you’re tired of certain spa maintenance tasks, and you are having trouble pawning them off on others, or making the spa off-limits until the spa is taken care of – take a look at some of these workload reducing hot tub tools.

Spend more time enjoying your spa, not cleaning it!

 

Easy Clean Filter Spray Nozzleeasy-clean-spa-filter-spray-nozzle

Some pool cartridge spray tools are too large for small spa filters. I always used my regular multi-purpose spray nozzle, and would have never thought to use anything else, until we had a manufacturer’s sales rep come to our office, handing these out.

I told him that I really didn’t need it, but he insisted, and left it on my desk. I took it home about a week later, and finally used it several weeks after that. I was so impressed, that I called him up to thank him. It makes an adjustable sharp or fan spray, which really gets in between the pleats.

Grit Getter

grit-getter-spas

This is the simplest little device, one of those things that I kick myself for not inventing. Squeeze the Grit Getter and it pushes out the air and water, and creates a strong suction that’s perfect for grit like sand or dirt.

The debris gets trapped in the body, just twist it to open, and dump out the grit. Made of a soft rubber-plastic, it floats when not being used, and is pretty much indestructible. Easy to use, and even kind of fun, everyone wants to give it a try. Also available with an extension pole, for use when you’re not in the spa.

 

Pool Blaster Spa Vac

spa-vac

For something beyond the manual vacuum power of the Grit Getter, this vacuum power vacs your spa, operating on 3 “C” batteries, which gives about an hour of cleaning time, which should last for several months, assuming you keep your spa covered, and your guests are clean!

There are several types of spa vacuums on the market, this one is the most maneuverable and easiest to set up. It also has an internal valve to keep debris inside, should you begin to lose battery power, a feature not shared by other spa vacs.

Comes with 3 extenders, which can extend the spa vac up to 8 foot in reach.

 

Spa Fill Water Filter

spa-pre-filterIf you pre-filter the water that you use to fill your spa, your spa water will be pure to start. This puts less demand on your spa filter and sanitizers, and mineral control chemicals. Helps reduce foaming and staining by removing impurities, minerals, salts and scale. It also removes organic contaminants, chloramines, and sulfides, which make water smell bad.

Just attach the hose water pre-filter to your garden hose, and turn on the water. You’ll notice a difference immediately if your water contains silt, is colored or has a strong odor. Each pre filter lasts for 3 spa fills, plus as many top offs to the water level as you need.

A must to use if you are using well water, or if your water comes from old systems or travels very far to reach your home.

 

Spa Skimmer Net

spa-skimmer-netIt’s tempting to think that you may never need a skimmer net for your spa or hot tub. After all, it’s covered most of the time, and probably out of the way of most large trees. But, a skimmer net can be a handy tool to have on hand. Leaves, bugs, fibers or dust can be quickly swept from the surface.

You might use it to scoop off loads of foam out of the spa, retrieve tossed toys or the floater. It can also be used to scoop leaves or items from the floor or benches of your spa. Our spa leaf skimmer has a large head and a telescopic pole that extends from 3 to 8 feet. Frame is weather resistant plastic, with urethane handle and polished aluminum tubing.

Earlier this summer my spa skimmer nets kept disappearing. After my third replacement, I found them down by the creek behind my house. Apparently these also work great for catching tadpoles and turtles, as my grandsons taught me.

 

Tub Rub

hot-tub-scrubber-pad-tub-rubThis is like a Magic Eraser for hot tubs and spas. You can use it by itself, or along with a spa cleaning chemical (never use household cleansers to clean your spa shell). It has a textured surface and is soft enough to get into the many grooves and curves of spa surfaces. Can also be used for your spa cover, although I normally prefer to use the 303 Spa Cover Wipes for cleaning the spa cover.

Textured sponges could be too harsh for some delicate spa surfaces, and may scratch like steel wool. Tub Rub is a textured fabric – not plastic, so it’s always gentle, and works great for scum removal, or for high gloss polishing.

 

These are some of the most useful tools and hot tub accessories that I use around my spa, to reduce the maintenance, or at least make it more manageable. It may even help you pawn off some spa duties to others! Or you could start charging admission, to use the spa! Yeah, right.

 

- Jack

 

Spa Cover Lifter Repairs

October 24th, 2013 by

animated-spa-cover-lifterBroken spa cover lifter? Cover lifters can often be repaired, if you have the time and inclination. Sure, a new hot tub cover lifter is only one to two hundred bucks, but if you’re counting your pennies these days, many damaged spa cover lifters can be fixed quickly and cheaply.

Damage to spa cover lifters may result from water logged covers, improper use, acts of God, or teenagers.

Spa cover lifter repairs are usually to the mounting system, the lift assist system, or to the pivot arms or tubes that support the cover.

Replacement parts for some spa cover lifters can be scarce and in some cases, not available – forcing you to replace a damaged spa cover lifter with new. In some cases, you may be able to find suitable replacements for the parts your cover lifter needs, in a good hardware or home store.

Spa Cover Lifter Mounting System Repairs

If you have an undermount spa cover lift, with a metal plate that slides under the spa, you usually avoid complications such as this. Spa cover lifters that are screwed into the spa cabinet, via a mounting bracket, can suffer broken brackets, stripped screws, cracked bushings. It’s recommended to tighten spa cover lifter bracket bolts and check connections twice per year.spa-cover-mounting-bracket-repairs

If the wood of the cabinet has begun to rot, and there are soft spots in that area, could you remount the bracket on the opposite side of the spa? Or, can you empty and turn the spa to remount the brackets?

If not, maybe you can add a mounting strip to the spa cabinet. Glue and screw – a 2x4x8 piece of finished and stained wood or composite material from one end of the spa to the other. On top of the strip, or on the side of the strip, remount your brackets, following manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Broken or bent mounting brackets, bushings, or pivot points attached to the mounting system will put tubes out of alignment and create stress on attached parts. Metal brackets may be able to be returned to new shape with the use of a vice and a small torch to heat the metal. If not, replacement brackets are generally available online.

Spa Cover Lifter Lift Assist Repairs

Many spa cover lifters utilize a gas shock, also known as a gas spring or gas prop, with many uses. Although these may look the same as the one on your storm door, or car hatchback, they have different diameters, lengths, and output force of the piston. They also have different end fitting types. I wish that all spa cover lifter manufacturers would use the same shock for their lift assist systems, but most are different and specific to the model of spa cover lifter.

spa-cover-lifter-repairsGenerally, you will need the exact OEM shock, but if you are having trouble finding the ‘factory’ replacement gas shock for your spa cover lift, you could take the shock into an auto parts store to see if they can match it up [exactly]. They are usually sold in sets of two, and it would be best to replace both, so that their piston force and size will match.

Other cover lifters may have Lift Assist in the form of a fulcrum device. Heavy winds or accidents can topple a cover while it’s in the up position, and bend the bend of the fulcrum. Heavy wind or cover ‘accidents’ can be especially hard on joints, pivot points and fulcrums.

Spa Cover Lifter Arm Repairs

The arms of your spa cover lifter, those that go alongside the spa and over the hinge, or fold of your spa cover – could be the most fragile part of your spa cover lifter. Heavy, soggy spa covers can cause the tubes to sag under the weight. Heavy winds, as mentioned above, can also do damage, especially for covers that are stored in a position above the spa.spa-cover-lifter-arm-repair

If your tubing, or spa cover lifter arms become bent or crimped, you may be able to find replacement parts from the dealer you purchased it from, or directly from the manufacturer. If you can’t locate replacement parts, and don’t want to buy a new lifter, some spa cover lifter arms can be replaced with steel tubing of a very similar diameter. Steel or PVC electrical conduit of slightly smaller or larger diameter could be measured, cut, inserted and screwed down – to replace bent portions of the pivoting arms or connecting tubes.

Spa cover lifter repairs are usually successful, if you use the right materials and take your time. OEM (original equipment manufacture) parts can be expensive however, so you’ll to weigh the costs of repair parts, vs. buying an entire new identical cover lift, and using the old lift for future spare parts.

If you haven’t been really satisfied with the cover lifter performance and are facing a repair, maybe now is the best time to look at other cover lifter models. We have ten spa cover lifters, and depending on your spa shape, there are usually 2-5 models that will fit your spa and spa cover.

 

- Jack

 

Spa and Hot Tub Parts: Controls and Spa Pak Parts

October 10th, 2013 by

spa-packs-before-after-replacing-spa-pak

 

Today, we look at parts for your Spa Pack and Spa Control. These can be either air button controlled, or digital. If you have a digital temperature readout, yours is digital. If you have a temp dial, and no digital readout, you have an air control.

The Control for your spa or hot tub is the main brain that controls all of the components of your spa – namely the pumps(s), heater and blower. It connects to the top side controls that allow you to turn on jet pumps, lights, blowers and adjust the heater temperature.

Newer systems can allow you control over different banks of spa jets, or activate waterfalls or turn on some music to soak by. Controls include the heater element (either 1.5kw or 5.5kw), and a new topside control that will replace your current control panel.

 

spa-packThe Spa Pak (or Spa Pack), includes the Control (which includes the heater), and also includes the pump(s) and blower. Spa Paks and Controls are available for Air systems and Digital systems. A spa pack includes all of the equipment, with the exception of the spa filter or lighting. So, then parts for spa packs actually means parts for spa pumps, heaters, blower and controls.

 Panels

spa-pack-spa-control-parts-topside-controlsPerhaps your spa side panel has failed or been smashed by a tree limb. If you only need the panel that is topside, or accessible while in the spa, we have over 50 to choose from on our Topside control panel page. We also have replacement labels for some panels, if yours has worn away.  Replacement spa control panels come with a wire to plug into your control, and are available in Air or Digital. If you don’t see your panel listed, give us a call while you’re near the spa and we can figure out if your panel is still available, and if not, which substitute would be best to use.

Controls

spa-pack-spa-control-parts-controlsThe Spa Control, that’s the big square box inside the cabinet. It usually sits on top of the stainless steel heater tube. We have controls for Air or Digital systems that include the heater, or for spas with heaters located elsewhere, our Flex Fit Digital Controls are available. We offer a value priced HTW line of controls, as well as the highly sought after Balboa controls.You can upgrade from an Air control to Digital, and enjoy advantages like freeze protection and other convenience modes.

Selecting a control requires some information beyond whether you have an Air system or a Digital System. Our web page will ask you to select the incoming voltage (110 or 220) and the blower and pump(s) voltage (110 or 220), It also asks for your plumbing size (1.5″ or 2.0″) and the heater size (1.5kw or 5.5kw). All of this info is (should be) printed on the equipment. Take a pad of paper(or a tablet) and get the info, and our database will return you the correct control for your spa. If you have questions, please call!

Heaters

spa-pack-spa-control-parts-heatersIf your heater element has failed, and is not producing heat, you could test the unit for continuity, (with all power off). If the heater element has failed – you can replace just the element. Other parts of spa heaters include the union end pieces, and o-rings, as well as the heater housing, which we call the heater manifold. Spa heaters are available in their entirety too, you can replace the whole shebang with a replacement heater assembly.

 Blower

spa-pack-spa-control-parts-blowers

There aren’t a lot of parts available for spa blowers. We have the pipe clamps or unions available that connect the blower to the pipe, and we have spa blower motors and check valves. And, of course, we sell the entire blower unit, selected by horsepower, voltage and pipe size diameter. Blowers typically last 5-10 years, depending on how much they are used. Replacing the blower motor usually doesn’t save any money, and it’s usually best to replace the entire spa blower, especially if it has some age on it.

Pumps

spa-pack-spa-control-parts-pumpsThe filter pump, circulation pump, jet pump – many spas have more than one pump. And spa pumps have lots of parts! We detailed them in fact, in a blog post dedicated to spa pump parts. When you buy an entire spa pack, you specify how many pumps you have and their horsepower, voltage and pipe size. Many spa pump repairs involve either replacing the wet end, or all the plastic pumping parts, or just the motor. If you need to replace both, you may as well replace the entire pump. Most pumps also last 5-10 years, and then they can be either rebuilt or replaced. You can replace spa pump parts, individual spa pumps, or the entire spa pack. If you need help, call us up!

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There are other parts related to your controls or spa packs. Wire connectors, temp sensors, circuit boards. Whatever spa pack parts you need to keep your spa running, we have it. And, we specialize in parts for older tubs, and in helping customers retrofit new Digital spa packs into an older, air activated spa control. As shown in our feature image (above), newer systems are cleaner, more compact and more efficient.

If you need help with control parts or spa pak parts for your tub, and want fast help, give us a call, we’ve got spa techs standing by!

 

- Spa Jack (or Spa Jak)