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Archive for the ‘Spa Parts’ Category

Installing a New Hot Tub Control Panel

May 21st, 2015 by

retro-spa-topside-control-panel

The topside control panel is the name for the display and controls, on the top-side of the spa, or where you can see them when you’re in the spa.

I’m old enough to remember having to get out of the spa to turn up the heater or turn on the air blower, or those sticky hexagonal air buttons. Or when a panel like the Omega VII appeared in the early 80′s, so state of the art!

If you have an older spa, I mean a real old hot tub, the spa controls, aka topside control panel is analog, not digital. The way to tell is – if you have a digital temperature display, you will have a digital control panel.

Even if you have a digital topside spa panel, you may one day finding yourself needing a new hot tub control. Trees, weather, insects – can cause failure to the PCB (printed circuit board) or the display, requiring a replacement hot tub control panel, of the same type or different.

Replacing the Same Topside control panel

If you are able to locate the same topside panel that you now have on your control panel, replacement is an easy affair. Before installing however, inspect that the shape and size is the same and that the wire connectors are the same.

Look for any visible screws, bracket or lock nut, usually on the backside of the panel. If none are found, the panel may be glued in place with a bead of silicone. Use a flat screwdriver to pry up gently on the edges of the panel. If you feel strong resistance, check again for something securing the panel face or wires to the spa wall.

Once the topside panel is loose from the spa wall, you can just follow the wires and disconnect it from the spa pack control unit. Pay attention to where it connects and in which direction the plug is oriented. Replace a new topside control panel in reverse order, using a bead of silicone if necessary to hold it in place, and also to keep out moisture.

Replacing a Different Topside control panel

Before you order a new spa pack or a different topside panel, check under the panel area for room to run the cord that connects to the new control box. A standard topside control is 7-1/4″ wide by 3-1/4″ tall, but if you need a smaller one, you can use a 5-1/2″ x 2-1/2″

In many cases, especially on older spas with air controls (aka pneumatic systems), you will need to cut the spa shell to accommodate a panel of different size, to enlarge the hole where the panel sits and the wires come through.

cut-the-spa-shellCut my Spa? Are you Crazy? I know, it sounds like surgery, but is really a minimally invasive procedure that can be done in a half hour. The key is to use a small power tool like a Dremel, Spiral Saw or a Jig Saw. Leave the reciprocating saw and circular saw in the garage, you won’t need them for this job, this requires precision cutting. You could also cut the material by hand, with a drywall saw. Either way, wear a mask while drilling so you don’t inhale the dust.

cut-opening-for-new-spa-panelFirst mark the area to be drilled. Most topside control panels will come with a template or schematic of the layout, showing exactly how big the hole needs to be. It’s important to cut to the exact size and shape, to prevent water intrusion. Try to cut it a little on the small side, and use a rough file or rasp if the hole needs to be a bit wider. You can see my hole isn’t perfectly square, a little over-cut on top right. Sand down the edges to help make a good seal.

newly-installed-topside-spa-panelNow place a bead of silicone or other gasket material around the backside of the new topside panel. You only need a thin bead, not a toothpaste sized bead, which will squeeze out. Drop the wire through the hole and press the new spa panel in place, pushing it firmly to flatten out the sealant. If any does leak out the side, wipe it up quickly with a damp cloth. Now plug in the topside panel cable to the spa controller slot, which is usually labeled.

How long do topside control panels last?

Not long enough unfortunately. Heat and humidity can take a toll on electronic circuits. That said, most topside spa panels will last 10 years. If you have had repeated and mysterious failures to the pcb every few years, it may be a good time to replace the entire spa pack. New spa packs are less prone to circuitry problems.

If your spa pack and control is over 20 years old – it’s a good time to upgrade!

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Maintenance

February 20th, 2015 by

image from ThermospasWell hello again, my dear readers; I would have thought this topic would go to one of our more technical writers, but my hot tub was voted as the most well-maintained, and they asked to know my secret! :-)

Flattery will get you everywhere I suppose,  so here I am with some basic spa and hot tub maintenance information. What do you need to know to take care of a spa or hot tub? Read on, dear reader.

 

Care = Prevention

When we talk about spa care and hot tub maintenance, you really are practicing problem prevention.  There are a number of things that are done on a regular basis, regular hot tub maintenance tasks, and then there are those best practices or methods that are used to keep your spa running well, while being energy friendly and safe for pets and children.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Maintenance

  • Test spa water for pH, chlorine/bromine, alkalinity and calcium levels 2-3x per week.
  • Adjust pH, alkalinity and calcium as needed. Maintain a constant chlorine/bromine level.
  • Clean the spa cartridge filter when the pressure gauge rises 7-8lbs, or 1-3x per month.
  • Set the 24 hr pump timer to run on low speed for a total of 12-18 hours daily.
  • Drain the spa every 3 months to prevent buildup of dissolved solids.
  • Refill the spa using a pre-filter that screws onto a garden hose.
  • Shower before using the spa, and Shock after using the spa.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Equipment Maintenance

  • Spa Covers: Use a spa cover lift, air-out the spa cover 2x per week, clean & condition spa cover 3x per year.
  • Spa Filters: After cleaning allow it to dry fully before reinstalling. Use filter cleaner 2x per year, replace filter every 1-2 years.
  • Spa Pumps: Run on high speed only during use or adding chemicals. Don’t allow pumps to run dry, or with an air-lock, or low water level.
  • Spa Heater: Maintain proper water chemistry and keep a clean cartridge filter to protect your heater element.
  • Spa Cabinet: Protect from direct sun, lawn sprinklers or rain splash around edges. Stain and or seal the surfaces as needed.
  • Spa Shell: Acrylic or plastic spas should be polished when emptied, wood hot tubs require cleaning without chemicals.

 

Saving Money & Energy

  • For daily use, keep the temp at 98°, or 94° if you only use it every 3-4 days.
  • Bump up the temperature to 101° – 104°, and then shower before using spa.
  • Keep your spa cover tightly fitted, and for extra insulation, use a floating foam blanket.
  • For colder areas, add R-30 insulation to poorly insulated spa cabinets.
  • Set the spa timer to operate mostly outside of peak daylight energy use hours.

 

Spa Safety

  • Covered: Don’t forget to always keep the spa tightly covered, with safety clips attached.
  • Locked: Indoor spas should be in locked rooms; lock doors and fences to outside spas.
  • Secure: Be sure that spa drain covers are safe and secure.
  • Spa Rules: Use safety signs and teach children the spa is only used with adult supervision.

dont-forget-2

 

Make a list or set a reminder in your calendar to not forget these important hot tub maintenance tasks. And if you have someone else in your family doing it as a chore, believe me, you better follow up behind them!

I hope I was able to answer all of your questions about taking care of a spa! Leave a comment if you have any other ?’s about hot tub maintenance, or you want more information on any of my tips above!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa Error Codes – Sn, SnS, Sn1, Sn2…

February 5th, 2015 by

balboa-error-code-Sn-Sn1-Sn2-Sn3-SnS---Continuing in my little series on spa and hot tub error codes or trouble codes, today we take a look at Sensor Errors.

These will present themselves in many forms on the display, such as Sn, Sn1, Sn2, and they refer to temperature sensors located on the heater manifold. The controller display is telling you that either the high limit or the temp sensor are open or shorted. There also could be a voltage problem, excessive voltage creates heat. Or, it could be a problem with the thermostat allowing the heater element overheat.

Like our previous discussions on spa error codes, FLO and OH, the sensor codes Sn, Sn1, Sn2… are very much water flow dependent. If water is not flowing through the heater chamber fast enough, it gets too hot, and the safety high temp sensors go into action – just doing their job.

Spa Error Codes: Sn, Sn1, HL, E2, E3, Prh

For these trouble codes, the high limit sensor is open or shorted. It could be a loose plug connection or bad wire, or it could be a problem related to water flow. Clean or replace your spa filter cartridge as a first step. Make sure that all jets are open, and nothing is blocking the spa drain cover flow. Underneath the spa, check that all valves are open (handles up). If the flow rate still seems less than normal with all jets and valves open, you may consider inspecting for broken valves (closed when they appear to be open), clogged impeller inside the pump wet end, or something stuck in the skimmer pipe. Of course, be sure that you don’t have a pump air lock, and that the spa water level is filled high enough.

Spa Error Codes: Sn, Sn2, Sn3, EO, E1, Prr

With these spa sensor codes, the Temperature Sensor is open or shorted. The temp sensor and the high limit are usually located on the heater housing, with 1-2 small wires coming off and connecting to your controller. With the system powered off, you normally unscrew the sensors from the heater manifold, and unplug the wire from the panel. Inspect the wires for any heat or rodent damage, and the sensor face for corrosion or scaling. However, the usual cause for spa temp sensor error codes is that the water flow is insufficient, and when water moves too slowly through the heater, it doesn’t remove the heat fast enough, which triggers all sorts of error codes for flow rate and overheating. HOT, OL, HL, FLO, Sn…

SPA TEMPERATURE SENSOR ERROR CODE FLOW CHART

Here’s a Cal Spa troubleshooting chart for when your spa topside display shows a sensor error code Sn, Sn1, Sn2, Sn3… As you can see, it could be a nuisance tripping, or the wires could be absorbing excess heat, need calibration, or simply be faulty.

cal-spas-Sn-error-code-flow-chart

In addition to the Sn, Sn1, Sn2 type of error codes, other codes for Smart Sensor spas, such as SA, Sb, SnA, SnB error codes are used on many spas and hot tubs. These are similar to the Sn1 and Sn2 codes, signaled from the high limit or water temperature sensors.

cal-spa-smart-sensor-troubleshooting-flowchart

In summation; when you have spa trouble codes of Sn, SnA, Sn1, Sn2. Sn3, HL, EO, E2, E3, Prh, Prr – these all refer to the heat sensors that are usually attached to your heater manifold. Inspect the wire and plugs, check the spa water level and make sure water is flowing free and fast. If you confirm all those things, and it still throws an Sn error at you, test the sensor as described above; it may be faulty.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Error Codes – OH, OHH, OMG

January 6th, 2015 by

balboa-control-OH-errorIn our series on spa and hot tub error codes, we turn our attention today to the HOT messages that your topside control may be trying to give you.

OH, or OHH, or OHS (Overheat) all mean that a temperature sensor has detected unsafe water temperatures of 108° – 118° F, and your spa is in an emergency cool down mode, shutting off the heater, and turning on circulation pumps and blower to help dissipate heat.

Open the spa cover to allow excess heat and steam to escape. The spa obviously should not be used when OH or OHH is flashing on the topside control; as the water could be scalding hot for several more minutes. After the water cools, a high limit switch may be need to be reset on some spa packs; look for a red reset button. Press any topside button to reset a digital spa after the water has cooled to 100° F.

What causes a Spa to Overheat?

Low Water Flow (LF, FLO), is the usual cause of an overheating (OH, OHH) spa or hot tub. When water doesn’t flow fast enough through the heater, it removes less heat, and the temperature of the water increases. Eventually, the temp sensors or high limit switches will detect the increased water temperature, and shut everything down. The causes of low water flow in a spa include:

  • Dirty spa filter cartridge
  • Closed or partially closed valves or jets
  • Pump has an air lock, or has lost prime
  • Low water level in spa, skimmer sucking air
  • Spa drain cover is obstructed or pipe is blocked

What else causes a Spa to Overheat?

If your water flow is perfectly fine, then you could have a problem with the thermostat or high limit switches used on older spa packs, which could fall out of calibration, or become too sensitive. Digital spas have electronic sensor circuits, which are more durable than mechanical switches, however temperature sensors, hi limit sensors, relays and circuit boards also eventually fail on modern spas.

In most cases, for newer spas anyway, the water flow problem can be quickly remedied and the spa will cool, reset and start again on it’s own. Some panels need a prompt from you to restart. For spas without digital controls, you may need to manually reset the high limit switch near the heater housing.

Spa Overheating Troubleshooting Flow Chart

Here’s a Cal Spa troubleshooting flow chart that has some other possible triggers of seeing OH, OHS, OHH or HH blinking on your spa panel. Open the spa cover and let the spa cool down for 10 minutes, then touch the control panel to reset the circuits, or push a red reset button on air systems.

cal-spa-OH-OHH-OHS-HH-error-code-trouble-chart

OH, HH or HOT trouble codes, or a hot tub overheating is not usually a spa heater problem - it is almost always a flow problem, and when it’s not a flow problem, it’s a bad temp sensor, high limit or a stuck relay.

Here’s another Cal Spa troubleshooting flowchart for spa error codes OH, including testing the spa heater element for excessive resistance, done with the spa heater and all systems powered Off, and only by someone qualified to test safely.

cal-spas-OH-spa-heater-code-trouble-flowchart

So, the next time your spa throws you a OH, OHH or some other Overheat error code, you know what to do. Clean or replace the spa filter, open all the jets and turn the pump on high. If you still have problems, check over your temp sensor and hi limit circuits for wire or plug or sensor problems.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Error Codes – FL, FLO, FLOW, LF

December 12th, 2014 by

balboa-LF-low-flow-error-codeEvery digital spa control is designed with some diagnostics, to self-diagnose problems with pumping and heating your spa or hot tub. Topside controls also give lots of information about your spa status, which are not to be confused with spa error codes.

There are 3 groups of error codes; Flow codes, relating to water flow, Heater codes, and Sensor codes. Let’s start at the top, today’s post is about water flow trouble codes on your spa panel. These are usually presented as FL, FLO or FLOW on your display, although it may be LF, for Low Flow, or PS for Pressure Switch.

LF, or Low Flow error codes on a spa or hot tub is really a self-preservation exercise for your hot tub. When water isn’t flowing fast enough through the heater, the FLO error code shuts things down, to avoid a total meltdown (well, not really a melt-down, but you know).

Flow problems are the number one source of trouble for the spa or hot tub owner. When the water isn’t flowing like it should, the heater stops working, equipment overheats and water quality quickly suffers.

So – FLOW. very important. Here’s what to do if your spa throws a FL, FLO or FLOW error code at you.spa-error-codes-FLO

For Low Flow spa error codes, check the filter, check the pump and check the valves to find something that is obstructing the water flow. Could be a dirty filter, a clogged impeller, closed valve, or a piece of plastic film covering the spa drain. Could also be low water level. Sometimes, it’s actually a bad pressure switch or flow switch, or loose connections or damaged wires or wire connectors.

Proceed step by step, and you should be able to find the cause of the FL, FLO or FLOW error code. If you need assistance with spa trouble codes, you can call us anytime at 800-770-0292 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Time for a new Hot Tub Spa Pack?

November 20th, 2014 by

balboa-digital-spa-pack-is-wifi-readyHow do you know when it’s time to install a new hot tub spa pack? Your spa shell and the PVC plumbing can essentially last forever, but the pump, heater, blower and controls – being electronic and mechanical, will fail after awhile.

Most spa packs will perform flawlessly for the first five years. In years 5-10 they have one or two problems, and after 10 years they tend to become an annual headache. A switch here, a plug or wire there, and then a circuit board, heater element or new pump motor.

clunker-car-clipIt’s like those old junkers that I used to drive when I was [much] younger. I never felt secure or safe in those old cars, and was always worried about reliability – would I make it home? Every since I could afford it, I have been driving late model automobiles, so I no longer have to worry about repairs or break downs.

Just like with hot tub spa packs – eventually you get tired of the annual headache, and want a reliable hot tub, hot and ready when you want to use it!  Say goodbye to those spaghetti air hoses and hard to push buttons that never seem to work. Call our spa technicians if you need advice on replacing an air spa pack with a digital spa pack.

balboa-spa-appWant even more reasons to replace your spa pack? New Balboa spa packs are wifi-enabled, and allow you to control all spa functions from a smartphone, tablet or desktop app. And, consider the extra ports for plugging in new equipment like ozonators, lighting or music – plug and play! Digital spa packs, in addition to precise temperature control, offer smart filtration modes, including standard freeze protection.

One more benefit, I almost forgot to mention. Replacing a spa pack gives you the chance to increase the size of the pump, filter, heater or blower. Check with our spa technicians before purchase, but if you have ever found your spa to be lacking in some areas, our Build-a-Pack tool allows you to build a hot tub spa pack especially suited to your needs.

Complete Hot Tub Spa Pack Prices*hot-tub-spa-pack

So, you can see – with the exception of the dual pump 4hp Balboa packs that are over $1000, most new spa packs are not as expensive to buy as you may have thought.

With free shipping, and our award winning Hot Tub Works technical support, you CAN replace a hot tub spa pack yourself, for about $700. That’s less than half of what a repairman would charge!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

*As of today ~ Spa Pack Prices subject to change! :-)

Replacing a Leaking Spa Pump Seal

November 12th, 2014 by

shaft-seal-for-spa-pumpThe mechanical shaft seal in a spa pump is what keeps water from leaking along the shaft, as the shaft enters through the seal plate. A shaft seal is a two part design, which when compressed, prevents leakage, even though it is not touching the shaft. It can’t touch the shaft, whirling at 3500 RPM, and would quickly burn up, if the shaft were rubbing or touching the seal.

What causes a spa shaft seal to fail? Bad water chemistry or high sanitizer levels can damage the soft rubber and steel parts of a shaft seal. A water hammer effect, caused by suddenly closing a valve while the spa pump is running, can blow out a seal. Using a pool pump shaft seal, made of Buna or another soft rubber will not stand up to high spa temperatures or the degradation caused by spa ozonators. Finally, running a spa pump dry, due to an air lock or low water level can cause a shaft seal to overheat and fail.

Replacing a leaking shaft seal begins with shutting down the power and disassembling the wet end of the pump. Four bolts are removed to open up the wet end and expose the impeller. If your spa pump has an open bracket, where you can see the shaft, hold the shaft stationary while you unthread the impeller from the shaft (counter clockwise). When the impeller is removed, you can pull the seal plate off of the motor.

Remove the old shaft seal halves – the spring half is pulled off of the back of the impeller, and the ring half is pried out of the seal plate with a screwdriver or just your fingers. After removing the old shaft seal, wipe clean the impeller and seal plate, removing any grease or deposits.

REPLACING-A-SHAFT-SEAL--1

With clean hands, press the ring half of the seal into the seal plate. Be careful to keep the ceramic face clean, and press it all the way into the seal plate, as shown below.

SPA-PUMP-SHAFT-SEAL-REPLACEMENT

Next, slide the spring half over the shaft collar on the back of the impeller. The soft rubber side faces the impeller, and the hard plastic side faces the ceramic seal ring half. It’s very common to install the spring half backwards, so be careful to install it in the right direction.

spa-pump-shaft-seal-and-seal-plate

Now you can reassemble the wet end, bolting the seal plate to the motor, and threading on the impeller. If the motor has a lot of white crusty deposits, or if you notice rust on the motor shaft, clean before reassembly with sandpaper or emory cloth. Lubricate any seal plate o-rings, but don’t lubricate the shaft seal.

spa-wet-end-schematic

Replacing a shaft seal can be accomplished in less than a half hour. If you want to complete the job in half the time, replace the entire wet end assembly for your spa pump.

The wet end assembly includes everything but the motor, and in addition to the new shaft seal, it comes with the impeller and complete impeller housing or volute. In short, everything that is in contact with the water (the wet end of the pump), shown here in the picture.

 

If you have any questions about buying the correct spa shaft seals, or which spa pump wet end to use – or if you run into some unexpected complications, see Danny’s excellent post on replacing spa shaft seals.

You’re always welcome to give our spa technicians a call, or send us an email with some info or photos.

 

- Jack

 

How to Find a Good Hot Tub Repair Service

October 13th, 2014 by

spa-repair-forum-guy

 

At Hot Tub Works, we like to think of ourselves as a friend to the DIY spa or hot tub owner – which is why we write so many posts about troubleshooting spa equipment, identifying spa parts, and making DIY spa repairs.

However, there comes a time when an experienced spa tech can be invaluable. Locating electrical faults precisely and quickly, isolating a bad component is one strength of a  good spa tech. Regular maintenance services, to clean and maintain spas and hot tubs can also fill part of most spa technician’s day.

Leaking spas can trigger a spa service call. Spa heater problems are about half of all spa repair calls for a typical spa technician. People want a hot spa, what can you do? In many cases, there are no failed components, just a dirty filter, closed valve, tripped breaker – something easy to fix.

Hiring a spa service repair technician isn’t cheap – hourly rates range from $95-$150 per hour, depending on region. The rate is proportional to the number of spas and hot tubs in your areas. In regions where spas and hot tubs are plentiful, and there is local competition, repair rates will be cheaper.

To keep spa repair costs as low as possible, check these things below, before you call…

BEFORE YOU CALL FOR SERVICE:

  • Is the GFCI test button on the electrical outlet tripped?
  • Dirty filter, clogged lines, or closed valves?
  • Water level is high enough?
  • Spa is clean and sanitized?
  • Spa cover is being used?

 

How to Find a Local Hot Tub Repair Company

1. GOOGLE

Use a search query like “Spa and Hot Tub Repair” or even more specific “Hot tub heater repair“. You can add the negative operator -pool after your search string, to omit results that are primarily swimming pool related. You can also add your city or region to the search, i.e., “Hot tub repair in Syracuse“.

2. YELLOW PAGES

Although you can also refer to your local printed Yellow directory book, under the heading of Pool & Spa to find local spa repair companies, I’m speaking of using yellowpages.com. It has a clean layout and lots of good results in their Spas Hot Tubs Repair Services category, along with a map, and reviews.

3. APSP MEMBERS

APSP, the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, is the main trade association for pool and spa technicians. It is not guaranteed that a member business will be any better or faster than a non-member – but it’s a good place to find a certified professional. Enter your zipcode and select a radius to see APSP members near you.

4. BBB

The Better Business Bureau has information on just about every business in the country, if they’ve been around long enough. If a consumer places a complaint against a company with the BBB, they contact the company and try to help create a mutually agreeable solution. You can search the BBB database by keyword, to find local spa techs, and see if there have been any complaints made.

5. SPA MANUFACTURER

Your spa manufacturer (Hot Spring, Jacuzzi, Sundance…) likely maintains a list of their spa dealers, with a locator utility on the main website. Just search online with a phrase like “Jacuzzi hot tubs dealer locator” – or find the manufacturers website, and if they have a dealer search function, you should be able to find it easily in the top level navigation of the home page.

 

When You Have Many Choices:

too-many-choices---pmmediaDo some research on the best spa service companies in your area – if you have many choices of local spa repair companies, drill down to individual searches on them, to find out more information like:

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. Are they spa and hot tub specific, or is it a sideline business?
  3. Are there any reviews posted online about the company?
  4. Any local or community news about the company?
  5. Do they have a local brick and mortar office, or store?

 

When you Have Few Choices:

1. Pool Service Company – many pool service companies are also spa service companies, but they may not employ a full time spa tech. If they advertise for spa and hot tub repair, then you can call or email to ask if they will do a service call to your spa or hot tub, for your particular problem.

2. Jetted Tub – Whirlpool – large local companies that refurbish bathrooms, often have a person knowledgeable in jetted tubs or whirlpools, which are quite similar to a portable spas or hot tubs. Even if they have not worked with your particular model spa before, a good bath water tech could figure out your issue.

3. Home Appliance Repair – a spa or hot tub is really just another home appliance, and those familiar with working on dishwashers or clothes washers or other small home appliances may be able to also work on spas and hot tubs. It can become complicated quick, however on many spas.repairman

 

And one more thing – don’t be afraid to give the little guy a call – the new guy, the young guy starting a small business. Sometimes they try harder than the large established firms.

 

- Jack

 

 

Frozen Hot Tub!

October 6th, 2014 by

frozen-hot-tubWinter is coming! And with El Nino predicted, it could be a cold, snowy winter indeed. That’s good for the spa parts salesmen, I suppose – because it means lots of freeze damage to spas and hot tubs.

But hold on there ~ as long as you have your spa operating, at least on low speed, with all valves/lines open, and the water isn’t allowed to freeze across the surface ~ you needn’t worry about freeze damage to your spa or hot tub.

Most digital spa controllers will have a freeze monitor that will turn on the pump if the outside air temperature reaches 40 degrees. Some will even turn on the heater if the water temperature drops too low. But many air controls or simple hot tubs or inground spas don’t have built-in freeze protection.

WAYS TO PREVENT SPA FREEZE DAMAGE:

  1. Set an Temperature Alert on your Phone: There’s an app for that! Instead of relying on the weather report, you can use one of the many apps that will alert you (via smartphone) that temperatures below a certain set point are expected. Then, make sure the spa is hot and operating.
  2. Install a Digital Spa Pack with Freeze Protection: As mentioned earlier, if you have Air Controls, or an inground spa, you may not have built-in freeze protection. Upgrading to a digital spa pack, or for inground spas, installing a digital timeclock, will allow your system to automatically turn on the pump when low outside temps are sensed.
  3. Keep the Spa hot during Winter: For protection from power outages, keeping your spa hot all winter long will give you the most amount of time. A spa that is kept at 100 degrees and covered tightly can keep it’s heat for 24-36 hours during a power outage. An unheated spa, with very low temperatures, can freeze up solid in only an hour of not circulating.
  4. Keep your Spa Cover Tightly in Place: In some parts of the country, it’s so cold… “How cold is it, Johnny?” – It’s so cold… that leaving a spa cover off for just a few hours can cause the spa water to actually begin to turn slushy… Daiquiri anyone?

STEPS TO UNFREEZE A FROZEN HOT TUB:

Get the Hot Water and Blankets! We’re not having a baby, the hot tub is frozen solid! If you find that the hot tub or spa has ice on the surface, and is not operating…

1. Shut off Power if the pumps are not moving water, until all the ice thaws.
2. Break through Ice on the surface, add hot water from hose, or buckets from the bathtub.
-  Some utility sinks will allow you to attach a hose, or you can connect it to your hot water heater drain.
3. Closely Inspect with a utility light, or large flashlight, the pump, filter, heater, and pipes for cracks.
4. Use a heat gun, or place a small ceramic heater under the spa cabinet that you can monitor.
-  Plug into a GFCI outlet. Raise it up off the ground, and keep away from insulation or wires.
5. Use heavy blankets to help hold the heat in under the spa, if needed.

IDENTIFYING FREEZE DAMAGE:

Most cracking or damage from the expansion of ice happens to the heater body, usually a stainless steel cylinder, mounted horizontally, or the filter body or lid, a vertical plastic cylinder that holds the filter cartridge, or to the pump body or lid. Pipes tend to spider-web crack, not a clean split, but they shatter along long lengths, or through fittings.

As the spa starts to warm up, from the heat beneath and the hot water above, condensation will drip from the spa, don’t be alarmed. But running water… (not slow drips), and you may have some broken equipment or pipe. After identifying that hot tub parts are needed, you can proceed to drain the spa completely, by opening all drain valves or plugs, and using air to blow out pipes and equipment.

smiley---yeaIf you don’t see any running water, and you don’t see any cracked spa equipment or pipes, you can turn the spa back on – to check again for running water while the system is under pressure. If it sounds normal, and looks to be running properly, relax – you caught it just in time!exploded-spa

Most freeze damage is minor – a pump wet end, a bit of pipe, maybe an entire spa pack – but rarely does it total the entire spa. There are cases where a spa has been frozen solid for weeks however, and it’s literally exploded. Even when some parts are reusable, the cost to re-pipe the spa is prohibitive. If you discovered a frozen hot tub early, consider yourself lucky with a few hundred dollars in spa parts.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Replace or Renovate an Old Hot Tub?

August 4th, 2014 by

old-ugly-spaMost spa owners grapple with this question, if they live in one place long enough.

It usually happens like this – one day a spa repairman hands you an estimate for repair, in excess of $1000, and in addition to that, it’s time for another spa cover, and the cabinet is looking, well – less attractive than it once looked.

The manufacturers life expectancy of a spa, even good spas, is only 10-15 years.

However, you could keep renovating the spa every 10 years, and keep the same spa shell forever. A new spa pack every 10 years, maybe a new topside control. Excluding any catastrophic damage from extreme neglect, you could operate this way for 30 years, easy.

However, you just happened to catch a glimpse of the glitzy new spa models, with so many jets and features, and you think it may be time for a brand new spa. I know many people that do it like this; every 10 years, they just go out and buy a new spa.

 

What’s your Type?

It all comes down to what type of person you are. Take my little quiz below:

[] Yes  [] No – Do you prefer to replace or repair other home appliances, when they need repair?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you buy a new car every 3-5 years?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you enjoy DIY repair projects around the home?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you own 3 or more flat screen Televisions?

If you answered Yes to 3 or more of these questions, you are what experts call a “replacer”. If you answered No to 3 or more questions, you are what we call a “repairer“.

 

What’s your Threshold?

New Spas range in price from about $3000 to $9000, with the average price falling just north of $5 grand. For many people, they would consider a new spa when repair costs exceed half of the cost of a new spa. Like an insurance actuary, you analyze the risk and benefit of repairing, renovating and refurbishing your existing spa, versus ‘totaling’ the spa, and plunking down some cash on a new one.

sick-carThe comparisons to automobiles are intentional, and here’s another one; keep in mind that your old spa has very little trade-in value. You may sell it to a close friend or family member, but really, no one else wants to buy somebody’s used spa. Some spa dealers will take it off your hands, if they are in the business of refurbishing, or if you buy a new spa from them – but  don’t expect them to write you a check for it.

It’s mostly a financial decision, or it should be, but often some emotion creeps into the equation. You may start to weigh the benefits of a new spa such as high tech features, warranty, appearance, size or seating configuration. Go ahead, add in these benefits, crunch the numbers again and see where you stand.

 

Spa Renovation Ideas:AquaRock Morocco 90 Spa

  • Refinish the wood Cabinet exterior
  • Construct a Pergola or Privacy Screen
  • Replace the Spa Pack and Control Panel
  • Clean and Polish the Spa Surfaces
  • Replace the Spa Cover
  • Replace the Spa Filter

You can do all of these things above for less than $2000, so if it were me, I’d Renovate my spa, until the cows come home. But then, I guess I’m just a repairer at heart. But I also have a threshold – I’m in year 11 now with my current spa – I think I can make it to 20 years…!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works