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Jack Stone's Posts

Comparing Spa Manufacturers – Which is Best?

August 22nd, 2013 by

spa-manufacturers-3Since we don’t sell spas, we may be in a better position to offer unbiased advice on choosing a spa brand or manufacturer. We’ve seen a lot of ‘em come and go over the years.

We spend considerable amounts of time working with manufacturers on issues of defects and warranty claims. And, since we sell spa parts, we also have an in depth view of parts availability, quality and the parts that are replaced more often than others.

We also get to hear the horror stories from customers who have experienced less than world class customer service, or had difficulty locating replacement parts or warranty service, or had a spa that was troublesome.

surveyWe’ve even done some informal research on our own, sort of a JD Power survey on spa owner satisfaction. I call them the JS Power surveys, to find out for myself, which spas and hot tub brands people are most pleased with, by asking one question “Would you buy this brand of Spa again?”.

bogus spa awardsWe also like to point out, here and there, that while most manufacturers have many awards for their spa from various organizations, that these aren’t necessarily worth the paper they’re printed on.

Here’s my short list of spa manufacturers that I think have a shared respect in the industry. There are other good brands out there, but these are some shining examples of well run spa manufacturing companies.

Bullfrog Spas

Founded in 1996, and based in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bullfrog Spas is known for it’s “Jet Pak” technology – modular, interchangeable jet paks for their spas. Bullfrog is also known for it’s charitable efforts, and seems to have a spa ready to aid weary athletes in a variety of sporting events, or donate to various good causes.

Dimension One

Founded in 1977, Dimension One was recently acquired by Jacuzzi, who plans to continue the brand, calling it New Dimension One spas. Known in the industry by the abbreviation D1, they were the first to make a fully insulated spa for inground or above ground use. They have been consistent in good dealer and customer relations over the years.

Hot Spring

Founded in One of the largest selling brand of spas, Hot Spring spas are made by Watkins Manufacturing, and is based in San Diego, Ca. Their spa Deck Designer tool is a lot of fun to play with, on their website. They have the most extensive dealer network, with over 800 locations worldwide, and are known for having strong dealer relations.

Marquis Spas

Founded in 1980 in the pacific northwest, Oregon based, Employee owned Marquis Spas has a reputation for building quality and technically advanced spas, with luxury surfaces and cool features. They are also a prolific giver, Marquis Spa dealers have granted over 500 wishes to children with advanced medical conditions, and are a Corporate Sponsor for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Saratoga

Saratoga Spas are made near the Saratoga Springs, NY, since 1984. We really like the company around here. Easy to work with, for dealers, customers and even aftermarket retailers, (like us!) and their spas are known to be easy to work on as well. A reputation for reliable, energy efficient operation and features that no one else has.

So, there you have it, my personal and unbiased opinion as to some of the best spa manufacturers in today’s market. If you are looking for a new spa or hot tub, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these brands.

Have you owned one of these spa brands? Would you buy another one? Tell us below in the comments.

- Jack

Spa Parts: Plumbing Parts for Spas and Hot Tubs

August 8th, 2013 by

spa-plumbing-supplies-and-partsSpa plumbing parts. This is going to be a long post, as we have 12 parts categories to go over, so settle in.

This post will help explain each spa plumbing parts sub-category in more detail, so you know how and when they are most useful.

There are many specialized parts in the plumbing category, and parts used only on certain spas and hot tubs, and many parts which are universal.

 

Spa Air Controls

spa-plumbing-parts-air-controlsAir controls are the knobs on the side of the spa that are used as air intakes. Some spas have several air control knobs, which control the amount of air intake (and thus air output) for a certain group of spa jets, or a particular air manifold. It acts as an air valve, to allow the spa user to dial in the perfect mix of air to the water stream, to increase the action and pressure from the spa jets.

We have over 35 different spa air controls, from G&G, Hydro Air and Waterway. They vary by the S hose connection size, and the hole size on the spa. If you’ve managed to lose or break one of these spa air intake knobs, see our selection of spa air controls.

Spa Air Injectors

spa-plumbing-parts-air-injectors

Spa air injectors, or maybe you call them bubblers or aerators in your spa, but this is where the air comes out, not mixed with water. Common on the floor or on lounge portions of the spa. You can replace the air injectors in your spa if they have become broken or missing parts, or you are renovating a spa and adding new or additional air jets or larger capacity jets to your spa or hot tub.

We have over 25 different air injectors, from Air Pro, Hydro Air and Waterway. Air Pro has a model with the Backstop, a check valve that prevents water from entering the air line.  Similar to air controls, the main difference between Air Injectors are in the air S hose connection size and the hole size, or the diameter of the hole through spa shell.

Spa Sealants

spa-plumbing-parts-sealants

This section of our spa plumbing department is stocked with sealants and bonding supplies for making PVC repairs with our Heavy Duty PVC cement, or fastening replacement air injectors, water jets or spa light rings in place with an underwater silicone adhesive. Silicone is also useful for making small leak repairs around the skimmer, air hoses, or on the spa shell, sealing up around leaky jets and fittings.

In the Sealant department, we carry 5 types of hot tub silicone by BOSS to allow you to affix and seal up just about anything on your spa. We also have spray blue RTV gasket maker for pump gasket problems, silicone Grout to use on tile and around spa fittings, and Mr. Sticky’s 2-part underwater epoxy. All in our spa sealants section.

Spa Air Buttons

spa-plumbing-parts-air-buttons

Spa Air Buttons are used to activate the spa blower, lights or jets. They are a safe way to activate a electronic switch when you’re sitting in a tub full of water. Spa air buttons are fairly reliable, but some may fail after many years of use, or become sticky. Like air controls and injectors, replacement air buttons will match up to your current air button by the hose size and hole size.

You can also match up current spa buttons by appearance. We have over 35 spa buttons, in all colors – gold, silver, black, white, taupe, from nearly 10 manufacturers, including Len Gordon, PresAirTrol and Tecmark. Your spa manufacturer likely used one of these specific air buttons, or we also have a universal button on our spa air buttons page.

Spa Drain Covers and Plumbing Fittings

spa-plumbing-parts-suction-plumbing-fittings

We have over 40 Spa plumbing fittings, like sweep elbows, 45′s, 90′s, connectors, reducers, tee fittings.Use these fittings to make repairs or renovations to your spa. Freeze damage repair to a spa will usually involve some plumbing fittings, repositioning equipment, or re-routing your spa plumbing . When plumbing PVC on a spa, be sure to use primer on the pipe and fittings before applying a heavy body PVC cement.

Half a dozen VGB compliant spa drain covers – it’s very important that they are secured to prevent entrapment. Modern spa drain covers or suction outlets have many small holes and improved flow characteristics to make entrapment unlikely. Missing spa drain covers should always be replaced and firmly secured, with both screws.

Spa Flexible PVC Pipe and Air Hose

spa-plumbing-parts-hose-tubing-pipe

This department needs little explaining. We have flexible PVC ‘flex pipe’, in sizes from 1/2″ to 2 inch, sold in long rolls, or by the foot. We just slap a FedEx sticker on the roll of pipe, and ship it without a box – never had a problem. We also carry the clear flexible hose that is connected to air switches or used in air systems.

Spa air hose is sold by the foot, and available in diameters from 1/8″ to 3/4 inch.  And, those little hose clamp clips, that always seem to get lost? We have them also, in two sizes.

Use spa flex pipe when you are fixing major leaks or renovating a spa shell. Spa air hose can be damaged by rodents or heat sources. Whatever the issue, we have your spa flex pipe and spa air hose for small or large repairs.

Spa Plumbing Manifolds

spa-plumbing-parts-manifolds

These are some of the most interesting contraptions I’ve ever seen. They look like props for a science fiction movie. I keep saying that I’m going to make a lamp out of one of these, one day. Spa manifolds are used to split the water and air into several smaller ports attached to pipes and hoses that go to different water jets and air injectors. They are used for air, or for water, and connect to either PVC pipe or clear air hose and reduce from 2″ or 1.5″ pipe, down to 3/4″ or less.

We have over 50 different manifolds for unimaginable uses. You can plumb in 12 new jets into your spa or hot tub, of fix freeze damaged spas with these manifolds. Maybe you can make a lamp, or something else useful out of these spa manifolds.

Spa Skimmers

spa-plumbing-parts-skimmersMany above ground spas don’t have a skimmer similar to a pool skimmer, with a basket and weir. Many spas have a grate, which covers a throttled suction fitting, that slowly draws water from the surface. More or less effective. Other spas may have the more traditional type of skimmer. Either way, your skimmer grate, basket and weirs needs are covered.

We also have entire new spa skimmers, the Hayward SP1099 front access skimmer used on many backyard spas and hot tubs, or can be retrofitted to outdoor spas and tubs that need more skimming action.

Spa Plumbing Unions

spa-plumbing-unionsI’m not talking about the Brotherhood of Plumbers, local 454 – no, here we have connectors for spa pumps and filters that allow you to remove the equipment for service with unions – pipe connectors that can be easily removed. Unions can crack under pressure or from freeze damage. They can also overheat and melt, or if doing considerable plumbing modifications, you may need to replace the unions.

We have union nuts, o-rings and adapters. Over 35 unions available in sizes from 1″ to 3 inches, in every configuration imaginable. Specialty spa unions too, such as reducing spa unions, or barbed hose connection unions. View all of our spa unions.

Spa Valves

spa-plumbing-valvesOur final spa plumbing parts sub-category, is also our largest category, of spa directional valves and check valves. Over two dozen slice valves, aka guillotine valves, by Magic and Valterra. We have diverter valves by Jandy and Waterway, and the hard to find Ortega valves with the iconic brass handle. In this section you’ll find check valves for air and water as well. Valves help control the direction of the water flow, and check valves allow flow to pass through in only one direction.

Valves may need replacing for various repairs, or to replace a defective valve. Check valves also don’t last forever. For this reason, we also stock some of the most popular spa valve parts. Check us out when you need new spa valves.

That’s Ten categories of spa plumbing parts and fittings (I skipped two of them!). Just about everything you need to keep your spa or hot tub humming along.

- Jack

 

 

 

 

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

August 1st, 2013 by

SPA-AND-HOT-TUB-NEWSAnyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that we like to highlight spas and hot tubs in the news. Jerry and I keep our ears to the ground, reading press releases, hot tub blogs, forums and online groups. Here’s a collection of our favorite stories this year, we’ve stumbled onto online. Enjoy.

 

Best of Class Awards

leg-lamp - it's a Major Award!Las Vegas, NV, USA (PRWEB) Just released this morning, is a press release announcing the Best of Class awards for pool and spa builders and manufacturers. I’ve ranted before about the large numbers of awards that are given to various spa manufacturers or spa models. Most of them aren’t real, but instead give top awards to the spa maker that pays the most, or buys the most advertising. So, when you see that this model or that brand of spa has received a Major Award – take it with a grain of salt.

 

Bookkeeper Sentenced to 3 Years

bustedTOMS RIVER, NJ (nj.com) – Gina Harle, 57, of Loveladies, Long Beach Island,  was sentenced today to a three year State prison term on one count of third degree theft and a five year term on one count of second degree computer theft. The court also ordered restitution in the amount of $52,946.09 payable to Hotsprings Spas of N.J LTD. Ms. Harle was found guilty of inappropriately using the Hot Springs Spa credit card, to pay her own credit card bills, and even paid $26,000 on her Volvo automobile with Hot Springs monies. Keep an eye on the accounting office staff!

Jacuzzi Brands Restructures

jacuzzi-logoCHINO HILLS, Calif.–(Businesswire)–Jacuzzi Brands LLC, announced today the closing of a recapitalization transaction that significantly raises liquidity, materially reduces outstanding indebtedness and extends the maturity dates of its loans out to 2018 and beyond. The transaction will position Jacuzzi to capitalize on opportunities from the recovery of the housing industry and the overall economy. They essentially restructured away $124 million in debt. Great move for Jacuzzi.

 Hot Tub Cinema Next Big Thing?

hot-tub-cinema(Hackneycitizen.co.uk) – For £30 a head you should know what you’re letting yourself in for. Sitting in a tub watching classic films is definitely fun, but to pay so much and then to have to buy the themed cocktails and food on top of that seems like a splash in the face. And if there are not six of your friends in the tub then more likely than not you’ll be grazing the leg of a total stranger, and the more you accidentally do it, the weirder the looks you get. Funny article about the popular new London rage, rooftop hot tub cinema, spreading to New Zealand and Australia I hear, maybe near you?

Jacuzzi Acquires Dimension One Spas

dimension-1 spas covers

(PoolandSpanews.com) This is the second acquisition of another hot tub company by the Chino Hills, Calif.-based firm in less than eight months. In June 2012, Jacuzzi brought ThermoSpas Hot Tub Products into its fold. As part of the deal, the business now will be called New Dimension One Spas and will continue to operate as a separate unit from Jacuzzi with most existing operation remaining at the current site in Vista, Calif. Jacuzzi has a lot of cash on the table. I wish them much luck in their ventures.

 

Balboa sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act

balboa(Salon.com) A lawsuit filed by a Californian manufacturer of hot tub electronic control systems claiming that another California company — the apparent Microsoft of the hot tub world — was restricting competition via aggressive litigation. The bulk of the complaint accuses Balboa of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by using a monopoly (defined by Newport as 75 % of the market for hot tub electronic controls) power to crush Newport’s attempt to get a share of the market. Balboa – the Microsoft of the Spa and Hot Tub world?

‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ Sequel Could Happen

hot-tub-time-machine

(Huffpost.com) “Hot Tub Time Machine,” the cult 2010 comedy that starred John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Chevy Chase, Lizzy Caplan and Jessica Pare may be doing a sequel.

This might be the best hot tub news of the year – or maybe not. But, however you feel about the movie, or the concept – it looks like talks are underway between MGM and some of the original cast, to reprise roles for a sequel, or prequel, or something to do with time traveling with a hot tub.

Stolen Jacuzzi Recovered, Thief In Hot Water

he-stole-the-hot-tub-from-here

(khq.com) A spa on a trailer is stolen and recovered within hours. Jeff Hickethier called Crime Check to report that a hot tub had been stolen from his premises (without water). The spa was on trailer display with a For Sale sign; proceeds benefiting the Deer Park High School archery club.

“One of the deputies was just driving by and saw someone unloading a hot tub off a trailer; had I not turned that report in, there’d be no way I’d be driving my trailer back to Deer Park,” Hickethier told KHQ on the scene.

 

 

The Chlorine Free Spa – Is it Possible?

July 22nd, 2013 by

no-chlorine

It’s a common question that we get in our call center – can I run my spa (or hot tub) without chlorine? My quick and smart answer is usually “sure, you can use bromine!” Then they say “isn’t that the same thing?” It’s not really, as bromine has less of a smell, is not quite as harsh on skin and hair, and has other advantages over chlorine.

But seriously – the real answer is Yes!, you can run your spa without chlorine, or bromine, and still have a safe and sanitary spa. It requires using some modified methods, to make sure that pathogens don’t thrive – but it can be successfully done. Here’s how.

 

Replace your Filter Cartridge More Frequently

For most spas under halogen treatment (chlorine or bromine), I recommend that the spa filter cartridge be replaced every 12-24 months, depending on it’s size, and on how much the spa is used. For those who wish to go chlorine free in the spa or hot tub, I’d recommend that you double the frequency, and replace your spa filter every 6-12 months.

Some spa filters are available with more square footage. When you search for a replacement spa filter, by dimensions, model number or cartridge number, you may see two spa filters listed that have the same dimensions, but one costs more. The more expensive spa cart will have more pleats and thus more surface area, which will do a better job of filtering.

Drain your Spa or Hot Tub More Frequently

Draining the water out of your spa should be done every 4-6 months, depending on your rate of usage, or if the water goes bad. For those using a non-chlorine method in the spa, increase the frequency to every 2- 3 months, or at least every 4 months.

When draining a non-chlorine spa, be sure to use a Spa Purge product to remove any build up inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa. Without a halogen residual, biofilms can form faster and create a bio-hazard in your spa water. I use Jet Clean every other time that I drain my spa, to keep organics and oils from building up in hidden crevices.

Ozone + Minerals

DEL Ozone MCD-50, it's what I use on my spa

For a spa that doesn’t use chlorine or bromine, you need something to kill bather waste and bacteria. My recommendation is to use a spa ozonator and a mineral sanitizer, like Nature2 or Spa Frog. The combination of these two – an ozone sanitizer and a mineral purifier, takes care of most disease causing bacteria.

Check on your ozonator regularly to be sure that it’s on and operational, and replace the mineral cartridge as directed, to keep a proper amount of silver and copper ions working. These two treatments working together will do most of the job in keeping your spa water healthy.

Non-Chlorine Shock

cense

Ozone + Minerals do most of the job, but to be sure, you need to oxidize the water, or shock the spa. Non-chlorine shock has no odor, and does not affect water chemistry. You can use the spa immediately after treating the water.

My recommendation is to use a few tablespoons of non-chlorine shock after every spa use, or at least weekly to control and destroy any pathogenic microbes that are able to get around the ozone and mineral treatment.  Also known as MPS, Zodiac Cense is a great product that will oxidize quickly and also adds a nice scent to the water.

Keep your Spa Water Balanced

This is important no matter what your spa sanitation method is, but especially when you are operating a chlorine free spa or hot tub. Maintain your pH level at 7.2-7.5, your Alkalinity at 80-120 and your Hardness at 180-220. Use fresh test strips or fresh reagents and test your spa water at least twice per week, adding water balance chemicals as needed.

Shower before using the Spa

please-showerI know some people (ok, I’ve done it too) who treat their hot tub like a big bathtub. After working in the yard all day, or dancing all night – they jump in the spa to “clean off”. Well, when you bring perspiration, body oils, make up, or if you’ve gone to the bathroom (#2), without washing yourself, this creates a large sanitizer demand in the water.

I’m not saying you must always shower before using the spa, but if you don’t – be sure to give it a good shocking afterwards with MPS.

It can be awkward to ask your friends to shower before coming over, so using an Enzyme product can help break down oils and organics and retain healthy spa water that all can enjoy.

And that’s it! You can successfully operate a healthy spa or hot tub without using chlorine and bromine, if you follow these steps above.

 

- Jack

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Parts: Electrical Parts for Spas and Hot Tubs

July 8th, 2013 by

spa-and-hot-tub-electric-partsHot tubs and spas contain a lot of electrical parts – so many in fact, that I’m wondering if I have time today to write this blog post!

Hot Tub Works has a full supply of electrical parts for your spa and hot tub – here’s a quick summary of each electric part category, what they control, and how to know if you may need a replacement electric part for your spa or hot tub.

 

CIRCUIT BOARDS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--circuit-boardPrinted Circuit Boards, sometimes called a PCB, for short, is the brain of your spa. It’s job is to mechanically control all of the functions of your spa, through relays, capacitors and resistors, connected by tiny copper strips, carrying tiny amounts of electricity. To some, a PCB looks like a small industrial city, with roads and buildings.

Most PCB problems will throw an error code to indicate a faulty board, and most modern boards cannot be repaired, without advanced micro-electronic skills. In the absence of error codes, many times a PCB will display burned or scorched areas, or bulged or cracked “buildings”. Insect infestation or voltage irregularities can fry your circuit board. We have over 50 circuit boards on our website, but if you don’t see yours, give us a call!

CONTACTORS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--contactorsA contactor is essentially a relay, used for higher voltage applications, like your heater element. Contactors are available in low voltage, usually 24 volts, 110V or 220V, single pole, double pole or sequencing. They operate like a switch, with power coming in one side and out the other. Testing a contactor with a voltage meter (and extreme care), one should have identical voltage on both sides of the contactor. If the voltage tests out OK, but the contactor is not engaging, or closing, one could assume that the contactor, or internal coil has failed.

Insect infestation or dirt on the poles could cause the contactor to not close completely, and sometimes will make a buzzing noise, known as “chattering”. We list over 20 different contactors on our website, to match the specs printed on the contactor label. Give us a call if you have trouble identifying the correct contactor for your spa or hot tub.

CORDS & CONNECTORS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--cords-and-connectorsCords and connectors carry the power from your spa controller to the various equipment of your spa – heater, blower, pumps. There are many types of cords used on spas and hot tubs, with different connector ends – J&J, Amp, Spade, NEMA, in both female (receptacles) and male (plugs). Cords can become damaged by incorrect voltage, physical wear, or from chewing rodents. Connectors can become rusted from the elements or bent and broken from too much handling.

Identifying the correct cord is done by the connection type at both ends, and the length of the cord. Although relatively inexpensive to replace the entire wire harness, we also have certain end pins and connectors, for field repair of damaged cord connectors. With over 70 types of cords listed on our website, it can get confusing, so give a call or send an email (with photos!) if you need help selecting the correct cord for your spa or hot tub.

FUSES, GFI’S AND BREAKERS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts-fuses-breakers-gfisThe purpose of each of these is to interrupt power to the spa equipment, for the purpose of safe testing or repair. They also function to protect expensive spa components by blowing or tripping when incoming voltage is too high. Fuses are available as small as 1 amp, up to 30 amps. GFI’s, or Ground Fault Interrupters, are essentially an electrical outlet, designed to trip the red ‘test’ button when incoming voltage is outside of the preset limits. Breakers, or circuit breakers, are used to ‘break the circuit’, or cut power to the spa for draining, repair or testing.

Although fuses, breakers and GFI’s can go bad on their own, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker is usually a sign of a voltage problem. If you are ordering a new replacement fuse, buying more than one may be wise – if it blows again, a voltage issue is at hand, and it should be tracked down before replacing the fuse again.

HIGH LIMITS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--hi-limits

High Limits, usually spelled Hi Limit, function to shut off a runaway spa heater. When the upper limit of heat in the spa is sensed, the hi-limit will prevent power from reaching the heater element, saving the element itself, and you – from overheating. Most hi limits have a capillary bulb type sensor, connected to the control by a bare copper wire. Newer spa hi limits, like the Hydro-Quip hi limit (shown), sense overheating through a membrane on the back of the control.

Older hi limit switches used in spas will have a manual reset button, once temperature has cooled below 100 degrees. Newer hi limits may have an auto reset feature. Continued nuisance tripping of the hi limit can indicate incorrect voltage to the heater element, a faulty hi limit switch, or – it could be that your spa filter cartridge is excessively dirty, slowing down the water flow enough to increase the temperature inside the sensing well.

RELAYS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--relaysRelays are a type of switch with an activating mechanism, used in almost all spa and hot tub equipment – pumps, blowers, lights and heaters. Many common relays are now available in a clear view cube style, so you can see the relay activate (or not activate) – this can be immensely helpful in troubleshooting spa relays. A relay can be of many types – contactors and air switches are a type of relay, and among relays there are many styles or types.

Testing relays can be difficult if it’s attached to a circuit board, but if there are exposed terminals, you can test voltage coming in and out of the relay. If the voltage is correct and identical on both sides of the relay, the internal coil is likely receiving and transferring the power correctly. However, the relay can be faulty if this voltage is not engaging the internal switch. We have nearly 40 different types of spa relays at HotTubWorks, to fit any spa pack.

SWITCHES

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--switchesRocker switches or toggle switches may be used on older spas to activate certain functions. Air switches, those which are powered electrically, are more commonly used as a spa side control, to turn on and off jets, blower, heater, etc.. Air Buttons, connected to a small air hose, are not electrical spa parts, but could also be a cause of spa component problems. Switches for your spa can develop dirty contacts, inside the switch, or corroded terminals outside of the switch.

Testing a spa switch with a jumper wire, placed on both in and out wires of the switch can be used to determine if the switch is the root cause of your spa problem. Relatively inexpensive to replace, we have dozens of hot tub switches available. As always, if you need help determining the correct switch to use for your spa, please contact us!

THERMOSTATS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--thermostatsMechanical thermostats work to control your spa temperature within +/- 1 degree. They work by sensing the water temperature from a freon-filled capillary bulb, or thermo bulb, housed in a dry or wet well. When the temperature knob is turned up, you should hear an audible click when the current temperature setting is reached on the dial.

Causes of thermostat problems include corroded bulbs or wells, ambient air reaching the bulb, or the thermostat could be mis-calibrated. Older thermostats will allow adjustments by turning a small hex screw located on the side of the thermostat, but be careful not to adjust it so much that the spa temperature exceeds 105 degrees. We have 15 different spa thermostats on hottubworks.com, with capillary wire lengths from 6″ to 60″, and with capillary bulb lengths from 2.25″ to 4.75″.

And it doesn’t end there! We also carry Time Clocks, Transformers, Spa Light parts and Miscellaneous Hot Tub Hardware.

At Hot Tub Works, Spa and Hot Tub Parts is our Passion. Our staff is knowledgeable about spa parts, and many of our call center staff are former spa techs, so you can get the help you need with a simple phone call or email.

- Jack

 

 

Top Spa Repair Forum Discussions

June 24th, 2013 by

spa-repair-forum

When we started our Spa Repair Forum in early 2009, we did so to add value to our website, to bring to our visitors another layer of information, to go along with our Hot Tub Blog and our Hot Tub Toolbox.

Today, our Hot Tub Forum has over 1100 posts, on over 440 topics related to spa and hot tub care and repair. Currently, as I write this, there are 23 people browsing the system, from all over the country, and the world.

Our Forum is built on the popular vbulletin platform, which has a lot of great features. If you’ve never used a Bulletin Board or an online Discussion Forum, users can view and reply to posts, called threads. You can also attach images, rate posts and search the database for keywords related to your specific spa problem.

Spa owners post their problems, and other spa owners, spa techs or our own moderator MaryH will respond to the posts. The person who starts a thread (by making a new post) gets an email when a reply has been made to the thread.

In today’s blog post, I’ve curated the best threads from the last 4 years. These forum posts were the most popular, in terms of views, replies, and ratings. Click the posts below to view the entire thread.

 

TOP 9 SPA REPAIR FORUM POSTS

 

 #1 – Spa Motor Cycling On & OffAfter a drain and refill, this problem resolved itself. Air lock?

spa-repair-forum-thread-1

#2 – Panel flashes OH, and then Everything Stops. Most likely a circuit board (pcb) problem here…

spa-repair-forum-thread-2

#3 – OH reading, after Spa Cools Down – In this case, the High Limit may be causing the OverHeat (OH) code

spa-repair-forum-thread-#3

#4 – Coast Spa: Blows Filter Off when I start Pump - Turns out the filter lid was installed backwards

Filter lid blows off of spa filter

 #5 – My Spa Heater Has Power, but No Heat – Tested the heater element for volts/amps, then Replaced.

Spa Heater has 240V, but No Heat Output

#6 – Water Level Mysteriously Going Down in Spa – A bad spa cover allows heat loss and water loss.

Water Leak in Hot Tub

#7 – Spa Water Odor – Could be the water, the spa cover, the spa filter, or poor water sanitation.

Spa water smells

#8 – New Spa, Heater Not Always Coming On – Faulty Chip used on PCB caused erratic heating.

Heater Not Always Coming On

#9 – Vita Spa Trips Circuit Breaker - Ozonator or Spa Blower causing main breaker to trip

spa-repair-forum-thread-9

Our Hot Tub Repair Forum is a resource for you! The next time that you are having spa difficulties, be sure to search our forum for problems similar to your own, or start your own thread, and post your problems!

- Jack

 

12 Spectacular Spas & Hot Tubs

June 3rd, 2013 by

luxurious-spas-hot-tubs

 

I have always admired unique designs in spas and hot tubs. There are so many creative ways to enjoy hot water – indoors or out! With much respect to these hot tub designers, who unfortunately will have to remain nameless, as I don’t  know who they are!

Maybe these spa designs will spark some ideas about your own backyard hot springs. For most of us, (myself included), we have these boxy, aboveground spas. Functional, practical, every bit as soothing – but these spas below, they have something special.

 

Here’s a few images of some of the world’s top hot tubs – the most luxurious, alluring and peaceful places of hot water heaven. These are some of my favorite hot tub designs, and I’m glad to share them. You can share these, too!

Round cedar hot tub flanked by large outdoor wood deck.

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Another traditional wood hot tub with steps and lighted surround wall.

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Natural rock spa quarried from behind the house? Built from concrete and stone!

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Vinyl swim spa with auto cover, surrounded by wood deck & bamboo.

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This stone spa is fantastic! Love the unique fence, too.

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Another great use of wood decking to surround a hot tub. This one floats over the lake!

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And this spa floats over the ocean, with hues of blue to match!

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Tranquil, serene oasis overlooking the woods. Very zen.

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For a touch of elegance, the winner of the tile category, with classic roman ends.

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This combination swim spa and hot tub has built in music, tv and bar! Party spa!

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California design? Would love this in my Californian backyard!

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I don’t see this in my backyard, but this resort sure has it going on!

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Thanks for checking out my gallery of spectacular spas and jaw dropping hot tubs! If you know where these tubs are, or were involved in the design of these fantastic hot tubs, we’d love to give you credit – leave a comment below!

 

- Jack

 

Measuring for a new Spa Cover

May 23rd, 2013 by

measure-spa-coverThe easiest way to order a new spa cover is to order by make and model from our database of over 100 different spa manufacturers and over 1000 different models. But, when your not sure, or want to make sure you get the best fitting spa cover, the best thing is to measure your existing hot tub cover.

In just a few steps, and with just a tape measure and our order form, I’ll show you how to order a perfect spa cover every time.

 

The most common question we get is “What should I measure?” If your current hot tub cover is in pretty good shape, you can just measure the existing cover. If it’s in really bad shape, then you’ll measure the tub instead.

The most important thing is that your measurements be from outside acrylic to outside acrylic. Don’t measure to the outside of the spa cabinet, but just to the point where the spa shell ends.

The most common shaped hot tub is a square or a rectangle, that’s about 85% of hot tubs. If you have a hot tub made after 1985, chances are it has rounded corners. The most common hot tub covers we make are rounded square, or rounded rectangle. If you have a different shaped hot tub, don’t worry, these principles will apply as well. spa-cover-measurement-form

The first thing to make note of is where the fold is, or which direction the fold of your spa cover is running. On our measuring form, you’ll notice that the “A” measurement is always cut in half by the fold of the spa cover. So the first measurement of a spa cover is straight across the cover, and across the fold. Write down this first measurement down.

The next measure is the “B” measurement, taken across the cover, perpendicular to the first measurement. Write down this measurement.

C” is the third measurement that we take is to determine the radius, or the curvature of the rounded corner. There are two ways to measure this, with a carpenter’s square, or with a measuring tape. The measure is taken from where the curve begins to the point where it intersects at a 90 degree angle, with a straight edge, or yard stick held on the adjacent edge of the cover, as shown in the image above.

The curve could be very slight, a 4″ radius, or they can be 12″ in some cases. It’s important to carefully measure the corner radius, to have the best fitting spa cover.

 

Spa skirt measuring

Next, we’ll measure the length of the spa cover skirt and the straps. On our website, we have default values – for the most common measurements, but you can enter your own. The skirt should hang down long enough to cover the acrylic on the spa, to protect it from the UV rays. Measure the length of your current spa cover skirt, from the bottom of the cover to the edge of the skirt. Shown in this image, we have a 5″ spa cover skirt length.

 

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Now you can measure the safety strap, in the same manner, from the bottom of the spa cover, and including the skirt, to the buckle – but not including the buckle. Our new spa covers include 2 safety straps, with standard buckles to fit your existing strap locks. We also include the complete hardware kit if you want to change the entire lock. Write down the measurement of your spa straps. Shown in this image, we have an 8″ safety strap length.

 

And that’s it! Just 5 pieces of information necessary to order a replacement spa cover from Hottubworks. You can always order by make and model, but if that information isn’t handy, you can measure your own hot tub in just a few minutes.

Here’s Jerry from Hot Tub Works, in a video about how to measure your current spa cover for a replacement cover

- Jack

Spa & Hot Tub Parts: Air Switches for Spas and Hot Tubs

May 13th, 2013 by

spa air switch informationAir Switches have been used for spa side controls for as long as I can remember – probably after early hot tubbers got tired of having to get out of the tub to turn on jets, air, or lights!

Using an air switch provided a safe means of turning on hot tub equipment with wet fingers. Air switches for spas have come a long way since the early days, and many spa manufacturers are now controlling many spa functions with micro circuits on PCB’s (printed circuit boards).

However, there are still LOTS of spa switches out there; some showing their age. This post has information on troubleshooting, identifying, ordering and installing spa air switches.

 

Types of Spa Air Switches

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Air switches used in spas are used as a break in a circuit, just like a light switch or a circuit breaker. There are several types of switches that are used on spas and hot tubs. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of spa air switches.

A standard air switch controls a single load, that is – just the light or the blower, for example. They are sold in a few distinct types – Single Pole – Single Throw or SPST (one wire in, and one wire out), or the Single Pole – Double Throw SPDT (one wire in, two wires out). A Double Throw can be used for a two-speed pump to operate high speed and low speed, each on separate outputs.

DPDT-air-switchYou may also see a switch that is like a “Double SPDT”, with two wires in, and four wires out. This is known as the DPDT, or that’s right… the Double Pole – Double Throw air switch – pictured here on the left. Multi-function switches can have even more terminal sets, you may have larger switches with 4 sets of terminals, which can turn several items on or off, at the same time, or in sequence.

Air switches will also have a “Spout” or a small ribbed opening – where an air hose pushes on to the air switch. The location of the Spout can make a difference, some are side mounted and some may be bottom mounted, as on our image examples.

Another distinction between spa air switches is in their operation. Latching type of air switches are “Push On – Push Off” activated, such as a single color spa light. These are also known as Alternate or Permanent air switches. Sequencing switches, mentioned above, control several functions at once, such as selecting a “SPA” function, which will turn on jets and blower and heater, for example. Multi-function sequence switches have multiple terminals for wire connections. Momentary spa switches close the circuit (On) only while the air switch is depressed, and opens the switch when the button is released. These are also known as Non-Latching switches for spas.

Trouble Shooting Spa Air Switches

Basic: Your first indication of a problem may be that you push the button and nothing happens, or the result is different than what you expected! First step in diagnosis would be to remove your equipment panel and locate the thin air hose connected to the spa side controls. Make sure that they are all connected, on both ends, follow the hose from the button to the switch.

Next, push the button and listen for the switch to “click”, or make a small noise (you may need to turn off the spa to hear it). If you hear no noise, inspect the air hose for cracks or splits. If OK, inspect the air switch with a flashlight, looking for insects or disconnected wires.

You may have an air switch with an adjustable dial, over a threaded body. Spa air switches come factory calibrated, and there is usually no need for adjustment. However, during troubleshooting an air switch, you may turn the dial in one direction or the other, but track the number of revolutions, so you can return to the starting point if adjustments make no difference. Resistance in Ohms

Advanced: Shut Off power to the spa at the incoming circuit breaker. Use a multi-meter to check continuity through the switch. Place your meter on the Ohms setting, to check the resistance, and place meter leads onto each incoming (common) terminal and also on the terminal just below it. You may need to remove the wires from the terminal, but only do one set at a time, and remember which is which, or label them with masking tape.

While you are holding the meter onto the terminals, have a helper push the air switch button up-top (or clamp your meter leads). While connected, your meter should  read continuity/no continuity, as the button is pushed on and off. If any of the pole/throw sets do not display this behavior, the switch has failed.

Identifying your Spa Air Switch

It’s important to select a replacement switch with the exact type – not necessarily the same brand, but the same number of Poles and Throws, the same voltage and amperage, the same Operation Type and the same Spout location.

If you identify a faulty spa switch, remove and label each individual wire, and unscrew the switch from it’s mounting (power is still Off!). Put your glasses on and write down all identifying information – Volts, Amps, Type and Manufacturer.

Usually, searching these numbers on Hottubworks will pull up pictures of possible replacements. Look at the pictures to try and positively identify your switch. If you have questions, you can always call our tech support center.

Buying a New Spa Air Switch

We sell dozens of air switches every day. Of these, about 10% of orders are returned – with customers selecting the wrong one. We don’t want you to lose any time with your spa, so if you have a question or are just unsure about what type of spa air switch you have, please give our team a call.

Of course, our spa air switches are very easy to order online, with large pictures and full descriptions – and a friendly return policy. So, if you’d rather not call us, make your best selection and let us know if you have any questions while installing the new air switch.

Installing a New Spa Air Switch

You’ll normally find all of your air switches housed in a central control box, with a uniform mounting method. Some are screwed in place or clipped in place. Remember to have the power Off during switch troubleshooting and replacement. Label all wires that are removed, and proceed in a logical forward and reverse order. After removing wires and air hose, the switch can be removed, replaced, re-wired and re-hosed.

Again, if you need any help in diagnosis, identification, ordering or installation of a new spa air switch, you can always call or email Hottubworks for friendly spa support at 800-770-0292, 7 days per week.

 

How to Buy a Spa Cover

May 2nd, 2013 by

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Spa covers last for many years, but eventually – they become broken or water logged. Replacing a spa cover, or buying your first cover, can be a simple, fast and inexpensive purchase ~ if you know what to look for.

In this post, I’ll tell you how to quickly find your exact fit hot tub cover online, and how to decide on the many features and options – so you can compare spa covers from many dealers, and find the best price on the best fitting spa cover that best fits your needs.

Discover Your Spa Cover

Spa Cover Make & Model

Spa Cover Make and Model

Every spa or hot tub has a make and model, just like an automobile. “Make” refers to the manufacturer of the spa, and “Model” is the name of the spa. Most online spa cover stores will allow you to choose your Make, and then provide a list of Models made by the manufacturer.

This is by far the easiest way to order a spa cover. If you don’t see the Make and Model listed on the outside of the tub, open the service panel to look inside for a placard or sticker. Or, if you have the original spa invoice or owner’s manual or a brochure, this should also give you the information needed.

 

Spa Cover Shape & Dimensions

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It happens that many folks can’t find the Make & Model of spa, so you’ll find that most hot tub cover sites will allow you to order a spa cover by choosing the shape of the spa cover and then filling in some simple dimensions.

Our website asks you to pick from 11 common spa cover shapes, and also has an option for “Unusual or Oversized” cover shapes, which are used more for freeform inground spas, than for portable hot tubs.

After you pick the shape of spa cover that you have, you will be asked to take 2-4 measurements – of the spa shell, not of the existing spa cover, but the outside to outside measurement of the spa shell.

We’ll also ask for the measurement of the existing spa cover skirt length and strap length. The skirt is the material that hangs down to help seal up the spa. Most skirt lengths are about 4″, but you can specify, from 2 – 6 inches. The spa straps are sewn onto the skirt, and these have clips that attach into buckles attached to the spa sides. 7 inches is standard, but you can specify longer or shorter spa straps.

 

Spa Covers Features & Options

So that you can compare Apples to Apples, you’ll want to understand the various features of better spa covers. Some of these may be included “standard” on your spa cover, or may be an optional expense.

Spa Cover Colors

A color choice is standard with all hot tub cover dealers. You should have at least 8 colors to choose from; at Hottubworks, we have 14 colors available, from Almond to Walnut. Choose a color that complements your patio decor, or your particular taste.

spa-cover-color-choices

Foam Density & Thickness

Inside of your marine grade vinyl spa cover are rigid foam panels, which taper to a smaller thickness near the outside of the cover, to allow water to run off easily. The thickness of the foam panels will affect it’s strength and it’s heat retention ability. Thicker spa covers are stronger and keep more heat in the spa, but they’re also a heavier when moving. We have 3 thickness available – 4 inch tapering to 2 inches on the side, or a 5 inch tapering to 3″, or our thickest, a 6″ foam panel, tapering to 4″ inches.

Foam Density is another selection to make. Denser foams hor heat retention, and can resist damage more easily. Denser foam panels also resist water absorption better than a foam with more air pockets. We also have 3 Densities available – 1 lb. foam, 1.5 lb. foam and our 2 lb. foam density.

Hottubworks always use virgin foam core stock, made without any ozone depleting CFC’s or HCFC’s

Spa Cover R-Value

The R-Value of a spa cover is a measure of it’s thermal resistance. You’ve seen R-value on other products as well, such as windows, wall materials and home insulation. Essentially, the R-Value of a spa cover is it’s resistance to heat loss. I like to also call it the “Retention Value”, for how much heat a spa cover will Retain.

The R-Value for hot tub covers is influenced by 3 things – the Foam Density and the Foam Thickness, discussed above, and the Continuous Heat Seal, discussed below. Here’s a chart I made containing R-Values for spa covers, from 12 – 30, depending on the foam thickness and density.

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Continuous Heat Seal

Every spa cover has a fold, and some larger spa covers can have more than one. At this junction of the two foam panels is a weak spot for heat retention. Most spa covers use two pads at each end of the fold, to keep heat from escaping, but this leaves a large gap through the rest of the fold. A Continuous Heat Seal keeps heat from escaping through the hinge, or fold of the spa cover. It’s a dense pad that runs the entire length of the hinge, sewn in place, and it really improves heat retention, especially in colder climates.

Double Wrapped Foam Core

double wrapped foam core

The foam core on spa covers is wrapped in a thick plastic to prevent moisture from working it’s way into the foam. If you’ve ever struggled with a soggy, water logged spa cover, you know how important this plastic cover can be. Having a Double-Wrapped foam core simply means that the core is wrapped twice, for more moisture and vapor resistance and protection from accident prone people who may nick, burn or tear the plastic.

Spa Cover Dealers

Finally, to make the best comparison of hot tub covers, consider the expertise and reputation of the company that you are buying a spa cover from. There are many ways to make cheaper spa covers, simply by using cheaper materials, weaker construction and lax quality control. Using cut-rate shippers is another way that some spa cover dealers shave a few bucks off their cover cost.

Hottubworks uses computer aided design and manufacturing processes, top grade materials and quality construction. All covers go through a 16 point quality inspection and are shipped with national carriers that you know and trust.

Here’s Drake, from Hottubworks, with some video tips for you on How to Buy a Hot Tub Cover. You can see more spa cover videos on our YouTube Channel.