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Archive for the ‘Spa Pumps’ Category

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! splay. 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

 

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

 

Hot Tubs & Spas: Cutting Energy Costs

August 21st, 2014 by

green-spa-2There are an estimated 3.5 million spas and hot tubs in the United States, about half a million in California alone! Each spa can use around 2500 kWh of energy per year – that’s almost 9 Billion Kilowatt hours!

This has caused various state and federal energy agencies to look closely at the way spas and hot tubs are designed, and how this affects their energy consumption. Several studies have been done in the last ten years, and they give us a good idea of where manufacturers and citizens can save energy around a spa or hot tub.

From a study commissioned by PG&E, for instance, we know that there are measures that can improve spa efficiency by up to 40% for spas of average to low efficiency. States with scarce power supplies (like California), are very interested in reducing demand on the grid.

The study aforementioned was responsible, in 2006 for the insertion of spas and hot tub standards being inserted into Title 20, California’s energy saving initiative. This set efficiency standards for new spas and hot tubs, similar to the cafe standards, which mandate minimum mpg for automobile manufacturers.

The standards have been revised and tweaked, and as a result of more research we now know more about how spas and hot tubs use energy. Here’s what we’ve learned:

 

Top 5 ways to Reduce Hot Tub Energy Costs

1a LIGHTS: Starting the list are our spa light or lights. Using LED lights, with a consumption around 3 watts, beats out halogen or other bulbs as the way to go. Most new spas are entirely LED, with some exception. Older spas can retrofit to use LED bulbs, in some cases without changing the light housing, or replace with a spa light kit. If your spa light does not have an auto shut off, install an indicator light in the circuit that you can see from the house, to keep off when not being used.

Possible Energy Savings: 5-10%

 

2aCONTROLS: Smarter control systems are now possible, with pumps that have a dozen programmable speeds, and timer clocks that allow you to optimize energy usage with multiple run times, programmed for your usage patterns, and taking advantage of cheaper off peak energy. Most spas are programmable, even if they have a mechanical time clock – but many people fail to optimize it.

It takes a lot of energy to start the pump motor and heater, extra amps aid in the starting-up, so although many daily on-off cycles are good, too many can be too much. For your spa, Experiment by reducing the hours, to find a sweet spot where the water quality or temperature won’t suffer, and you can cut energy costs. You don’t need to run it 24 hours a day!

Run the pump(s) less during the day, to avoid peak usage hours. My spa pump mostly runs on low speed, but it takes a long break in the morning and then another mid-afternoon siesta.

If you have two pumps, you have one smaller circulation pump, and a larger jet pump. Experimenting with run times on these can also result in savings.

Possible Energy Savings:  10-20%

 

3aPUMP: Running your pumps less helps yes, but for those spas out there with the 20 year old pumps, or the single speed pumps, or the pumps that suddenly disabled their low speed, or the failed circulation pump that was never replaced. I’m talking to you!

Replacing with the most current spa pumps will give you a boost in economy with a more energy efficient motors used nowadays. Side discharge pumps also have a boost in efficiency over center discharge.

Possible Energy Savings: 10-20%

 

4aCOVER: Your spa cover can either be saving you money, or costing you money. If you can see steam creeping out of the edges of it, or if your cover has taken on water, it’s not holding the heat in like it should.

The heat retention in a spa cover has to do with 3 things, the density of the foam, the thickness of the foam and the foam core wrap or seal. Although we offer a 1.5lb spa cover, a 2.0 foam density is best for holding heat in, with a taper of 3 to 5 inches at least. And when you order your next replacement spa cover, go for the options of the double wrapped foam core and the continuous heat seal – worthy add-ons that will save heat and protect your core from moisture.

Possible Energy Savings: 15-20%

 

5aINSULATION: And now, drum roll please – the most significant thing you can do to increase your spa or hot tub energy efficiency is to make sure your tub is well insulated underneath and around the sides. There are many portable spas that have virtually no underside foaming, and have a thin sheet of padding on the inside of the  cabinet walls. Hot tubs, true wooden tubs don’t normally have any insulation around the outside and can be extremely inefficient, which is why most are heated on demand, and not kept hot.

You can increase your spa’s efficiency by stuffing bats of fiberglass insulation everywhere you can under the spa, with the exception of the air space around the spa equipment. You can also use spray foam to fill in gaps, and eliminate air spaces and gaps – but it would be easier to use removable insulation, especially for future access to pipes or jets around the spa.

Possible Energy Savings: 25-30%

 

Other things you can do to prevent heat loss include:

  1. Build wind blocks around outdoor spas
  2. Use a floating spa cover in addition to your regular spa cover
  3. Avoid using the air blower, which cools the water
  4. Turn down the heat if you won’t be using the spa for a week or more
  5. Replace the cover promptly after using the spa

 

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

 

 

Help! My Spa Pump is Leaking!

June 9th, 2014 by

leaking-spa-pump-causes It happens to all spa and hot tub owners at one time or another. You first notice that the spa seems to be needing more refill water than usual, and then you notice a wet spot around the spa pack equipment, and it hasn’t rained in a while…

The spa pump is just one of the areas that can leak in your spa, but it is one of the most common. That’s because your pump shaft is spinning around at speeds of up to 3450 rpm – that’s a lot of friction and a lot of heat generated.

Spa pumps can also leak from freeze damage or from experiencing a water hammer effect. Let’s delve into 3 places a spa pump could be leaking – and what to do about it.

LEAKING SHAFT SEAL:

The mechanical shaft seal wraps around the spinning motor shaft, at the rear of the volute. The design of the two piece shaft seal allows the shaft to spin freely, without leaking. Spa pump seals can fail, especially if the pump was run dry, or if valves are closed while the pump is running, known as deadheading, which creates a water hammer effect when the water suddenly stops in the pipes. If the shaft seal is leaking the water will be running down the backside of the volute and dripping off of the bottom center, in tell-tale fashion.

To order replacement shaft seals, you first need to know which type your pump uses, we have dozens of different shaft seals, give us a call or email with your pump make/model and hp and we can look it up for you.

shaft-seal-for-spa-pumpTo replace a hot tub pump shaft seal, you need to open up the wet end of the pump, known as the volute. Clamp the shaft tightly while you spin off the impeller. There you will see one half of the shaft seal (the spring half) on the impeller stem, and one half of the seal is press fit into the back of the volute, where the motor shaft enters. Remove the bolts that connect the volute to the motor. Knock out the rubber and ceramic ring in the volute, and press fit the new seal half in place, being careful to keep it clean. Slide the other half of the seal, the spring half, off of the impeller, and slide the new one on in the same direction. They should both fit very snugly, if you have the right shaft seal (these are not universal, each pump has it’s own seal).

LEAKING UNIONS:

The unions are those large white rings that are threaded onto the pump, one where the water enters and one where it exits. A spa union is a 3-part connector, with two halves – and a large ring or nut to tighten the halves together. One side usually has male threads which screw into the pump. In between the two halves sits a very important o-ring, which can become dislodged if the union is opened or tightened while there is water rushing out. spa-unions

Another type of leaking union occurs when the threads that are screwed into the exit of the pump have heated up and shrunken slightly. This can happen if the pump runs dry, or otherwise generates enough heat. The tell tale sign to look for is water leaking around the union which carries water out of the pump. When it happens on the incoming union, the one that brings water into the pump, this will usually draw air when the pump is running, and leak water when the pump is off.

In both cases, you can quickly repair a leaking union, by reseating or replacing a union o-ring, or replacing a union half that has shrunken. If you have trouble finding the right spa union parts (there are a number of different union types), please let us know!

LEAKING VOLUTE:

The third and final type of leaking spa pump is the leaking volute, aka impeller housing. The volute can become cracked if left full of water at freezing temperatures, which then drains the spa for you as it thaws.

The volute can also become damaged by a water hammer effect, caused by closing off valves after the pump while the pump is running. If your volute has cracked, that should be obvious, it’s usually a fast leaker that is hard to miss, and different than a leaking union or shaft seal. spa-wet-end-schematic

To repair a cracked volute; you can replace just the volute parts that are cracked (front or rear volute half) or you can buy the entire wet end, center discharge wet ends or wet ends for side discharge pumps. The entire wet end includes both volute halves, impeller, diffuser and seal; use if you are more comfortable replacing the entire shebang.

 

~ Spa and hot tub pump parts are always urgently needed, that’s why we triage orders that contain certain pump parts, to meet our goal of shipping pump parts within 2 hours of your order. If your spa pump is leaking water, it’s either a bad shaft seal, bad union or bad wet end.

Place spa pump parts orders early in the day, and remember you can always email us for a fast reply or call a spa tech from 7-7 M-F and until 4pm on Saturday to be certain that you are ordering the correct pump parts to fix your leaking spa pump.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

When to Replace a Spa Pack

May 9th, 2014 by

spa-packs-hot-tub-worksThere comes a time – in the life of every spa or hot tub, when the gears stop turning. It’s usually a minor glitch, something a new pump, or new heater element or relay can fix fast.

But then there are those times when it makes sense to replace the entire spa pack, and take advantage of modern spa pack features and efficiency.

For those of you who aren’t hip to the lingo, a spa pack is a self-contained unit, that contains the controller, heater, pump and sometimes a blower, all mounted on a skid to slide neatly under your spa or hot tub.

When should you replace your spa pack? There are several situations that make it more cost effective or a better long term decision, to replace the entire spa equipment pack.

  1. Your spa pak is old, and it develops a mechanical problem. It could be an inexpensive fix, but soon after, there’s another repair expense. When packs reach 7-10 years of age, they start breaking down.
  2. Your spa controls operate with air buttons, and you would like to have a state of the art digital controller, with backlit display board and function controls and status.
  3. Your heater is broken, again! Breaker is tripping or there are other annoying electrical nuisances.
  4. Your spa system runs continuously without filter cycles; runs only on low speed or only high speed.
  5. A repair company came out for a diagnosis; gave you an estimate that could reach $500. Ouch!

 

SELECTING A NEW SPA PACK

Buying a new spa pack can be confusing, here’s some questions to ask yourself, or call us – and we’ll ask you the questions!

SINGLE OR DUAL PUMPS?

Some spas or hot tubs have a single pump, usually a dual speed (low and high), to accomplish circulation, filtration and high pressure jet action. Other pumps have a low speed circulation pump, and a separate jet pump for the jet action.

PIPE SIZE?

Most spas and hot tubs have 1.5″ plumbing, which has a 1.9″ OD, or outer diameter to the pipe. Larger spas, or custom hot tubs may use 2″ PVC plumbing, which has an OD of 2.375 inches. When ordering a new spa pack, we need to know which pipe size you have – 1.5″ or 2.0″.

INLET ORIENTATION?

Is your spa pack a lefty or a righty? As you look at your current spa equipment pack, is the pump inlet on the left or right side. Put another way, is the wet end of the pump facing to your right or to your left, as you look at the spa pack?

VOLTAGE?

110V or 220V – that is the question – regarding your pump. You may have a 220v spa pack, but have 110V pumps. Check the label closely (with a flashlight and magnifying glass if necessary), to be certain of the voltage for your spa pack pump(s).

HORSEPOWER?

How many horses is your spa pump packing? This is another label check, look for the abbreviation HP to indicate the pump motor horsepower. Spa packs can have pumps with a small 1.0 hp, all the way up to 5.0 hp. Don’t buy a spa pack with a larger hp pump, without speaking to one of our spa techs first. An overpowered spa pump can be worse than an underpowered one.

BLOWER?

Some spa packs have a blower mounted on the skid, and other spas will have a blower mounted elsewhere under the spa skirt, or even in a remote location. If your blower is located on the skid, select Yes – to add a blower to your spa pak, or No – if it’s mounted elsewhere, or you prefer to soak without bubbles.

DIGITAL OR AIR?

A digital spa pack has an digital display of the water temperature, and probably a few status lights. An air system or pneumatic spa control operates with air buttons on the control panel, and you will also see thin air hoses connecting from the  control panel to the control unit. You can switch from air to digital. Contact one of our spa techs if you have any questions.

spa-pack-

 

With the information above, you can buy a new spa pack online, or if you’d like to be sure that you’ve selected the right spa pack, and maybe want to ask a few installation questions, please call our spa techs at 800-772-0292, or send an email with your questions.

 

- Jack

 

Increasing the Energy Efficiency of your Hot Tub or Spa

April 10th, 2014 by

thermospas-hot-tub-instlation-cutaway

Hot tubs and spas are more energy efficient than ever, and manufacturers have made great gains in efficiency in the last ten years. New insulation materials and better methods of applying it, and energy star certified pumps, blowers and heaters are leading the charge.

How energy efficient is your spa or hot tub? A spa uses electricity to power the pumps, blower, heater and lights. A well insulated spa, with a good spa cover should be able to operate for about $20 per month in electricity. If you spend more than that – read-on for tips on greater hot tub energy efficiency.

Spa Insulation

The price of a spa, in part, depends on how well it is insulated. Top of the line models have “Full Foam” insulation, injected between the spa shell and cabinet. When the quality and density of the foam is very high, that temperature loss out the sides and bottom is very low. A cheaper method of spa insulation is to simply spray the underside of the spa shell with half an inch spray foam. Lining the cabinet interior walls with foil covered fiberglass insulation or a rigid insulation panel is another way to reduce spa insulation cost, and spa efficiency.

To improve your spa insulation, you can buy DIY spray foam kits, or use rigid insulation panels to line the inside of the cabinet. You can also use fiberglass insulation bats, laid around the spa shell or up against the cabinet.

Spa Coverdollar_sign_with_wings_150_wht_13589 - purchased from PresenterMedia (PM)

How’s your spa cover doing? What’s on top of your spa makes a big difference in the energy consumption of a spa. It’s unfortunate that most spa manufacturers include a flimsy spa cover with their new spas. It’s common that these last only a few years, and that’s good, because the R-value of such spa covers is very low. A waterlogged spa cover is even worse. If you can feel steam or heat coming out of gaps in your spa cover, imagine it as dollar bills with wings.

A new spa cover is a sure way to dramatically effect your energy usage. The thicker the foam, the more heat trapping ability a spa cover has, so get a good one! Another way to reduce heat loss from the top is to use a floating spa blanket. It floats on the water, reducing the workload of your spa cover, while also protecting your spa cover from excess moisture.

Spa Heater

Most spa heaters are electrical immersion elements. These heat up, like a coiled electric cooktop burner, and transfer the heat to the water. Most spa heaters are as energy efficient as they can be – it’s up to you to use your spa heater wisely. Do you really need to have it cooking at 105° if you only use it on weekends? Or when airing out the spa cover, or after shocking the spa – might you turn down the heater?

Keeping your spa at 95 degrees, and then heating up to 105 just before getting in makes sense, unless you’re like me, and use the spa nearly every night. I turn the spa heater way down to 75 during vacations or short trips away from home. This is not only to save electricity, but to discourage anyone from using the spa while I’m away.

Spa Pump

Some spas have one two-speed pump, and some spas have two pumps, a low speed pump for circulation, and a high speed pump for jet action. Modern variable speed pumps are popular on pools, but I’ve not seen them used on spas. When your spa pump eventually fails, look at energy efficient spa pumps as a replacement. These operate with reduced amperage draw and larger capacitors to be up to 50% more efficient than standard pump motors. spa-timers-can-save-money

Spa pumps may typically run on low speed for 18 hours per day and high speed for 4 hours. You can however, make adjustments to the timer, to operate less on high speed, or have a few hours daily where it doesn’t run at all. If you experiment closely with pump run time, you can determine the minimum requirement, just before the water starts looking a little hazy. Increase run time above this threshold, and you optimize the energy usage of your spa pump.

Spa Blower

The spa blower injects bubbles into the spa jets, for real hydro-therapy. It makes the water force feel stronger, but at the same time, is gentler than water alone. Using your spa blower tends to cool off the spa water somewhat, requiring your spa heater to work a little bit harder.

When your spa blower eventually fails, you can look to an energy efficient spa blower, or downsize to a smaller blower, or just go without one! To me, a nice hot soak, without all the turbulence, is more relaxing than using the air blower. You can always open up the passive air intakes, to add air without operating a blower motor.

 

In summary, to increase the energy efficiency of your spa or hot tub:

  • Buy energy efficient pump and blower motors; look for the Energy Star logo.
  • Use a quality built spa cover, and a floating foam blanket.
  • Add extra insulation around the spa shell or cabinet.
  • Experiment with your pump run time; and operate it less.
  • Turn down the heat! 10 degrees can save 20%!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Installing a New Spa Pump

April 3rd, 2014 by

spa-pump-installation

 

I have heard that the industry average for spa pump motor is about 8 years. When the motor goes, you have a choice – replace just the motor, or buy the entire pump.

The same with the wet end, or the opposite end of the pump, you could just replace a new wet end onto the existing motor. We have a large inventory of parts for spa pumps, to fix almost any pump problem.

But…if you’d rather not get your hands dirty, and prefer to just replace the entire pump – motor and wet end, then this post is for you. Here’s how to replace a typical spa pump, wired into a spa pack.

 

1. Check the Frame, Horsepower, Voltage & Speed

You don’t want to install the wrong pump, so get out your reading glasses and a flashlight, and inspect the label on the pump motor. Look for FR which indicates frame type (48 or 56), HP for horsepower(1 – 5), Voltage (115 or 230) and Speed (single or dual). Replace your existing pump with the same size and type spa pump. adjustable spa-pump-volute

Also pay attention to how the pump discharge is oriented, is it on the side, or on the top center? These are two different wet ends. The side discharge spa pump can be rotated to different locations by loosening the volute screws, but the center discharge is top dead center – 12:00.

If you have questions on selecting the correct spa pump, please call or email us!

2. Shut off the Power

Don’t take chances, find the correct circuit breaker that feeds the spa and shut it off. Use a piece of tape over the breaker so that no one accidentally turns it back on. After shutting off the breaker, test to be sure that power is off, then you can proceed to disassemble and remove the existing pump.

3. Disconnect Old Spa Pump

Start with removing the bare copper bonding wire that is attached to the pump. Now, assuming that the spa is drained, or you have valves closed to prevent the water from running out, slowly loosen the union nuts on the incoming and outgoing water connections of the spa pump. 1-10 gallons of water will drain out, so be prepared if your spa is located indoors.

If your spa pump is bolted to the floor, use a wrench or socket to remove the bolts on the motor footpad.

Once you can move the pump, position it to give you easy access to the wires coming into the rear of the motor. Open up the cover plate and you will find 3-wires for a single speed pump, and 4-wires for a two-speed spa pump. With a screwdriver, nut driver or needle nose, you can remove the wires from their terminal screws, and after loosening the cord clamp on the motor, gently pull the wire cable out from the existing motor.

spa-pump-replacement

For a two-speed motor, note or label the high speed and low speed wires, to wire correctly to the new motor. Get out your glasses and flashlight again, you’ll find the terminal screws are labeled in very tiny print.

4. Connect New Spa Pump

You’ll find it easier to wire the motor before you slide the pump underneath the spa. Make identical connections to the new pump. For two-speed motors, low speed is usually Red, common is White and high speed is Black, and green is of course green. However, if the wires are not an actual spa pump cord, the colors may be different. Match up the wire color to the markings on the terminal board.

Remove the pump cord clamp from the old motor and screw it into the wire access port of the new motor. Insert the pump cord through the clamp, and connect the wires to the terminals. You can either wrap the bare wire around the post, underneath the screw or nut, or use spade connectors crimped onto the end of the wire. Make sure that your connections are tight, and no wires are touching each other.pump-cord-clamp

Tighten up the pump cord clamp where the wires enter the rear of the motor, and replace the motor end cap or cover.

Next, you can thread on the union nuts to the new spa pump, making sure that the o-ring is still intact, and has not fallen out. Hand tighten the union nuts firmly. The final step is to re-secure the bolts that hold the motor foot pad to the floor or base. This helps cut down on vibration noise. Using a rubber pad beneath the pump can help reduce it even further.

Finally, reconnect the bare copper bonding wire to the bonding lug on your new spa pump.

5. Testing a New Spa Pump

spa-pakOnce the plumbing on the pump is tightened up, you can begin to fill the spa. Once you have the spa about half full, open the valves and loosen the incoming spa union to allow any air lock to escape, and tighten up firmly when water begins to drip. Continue to fill the spa full, while looking for any leaks around the new spa pump.

When the spa is full, turn on the breaker to test your spa pump, running through it’s paces. Make sure that your heater kicks on and that everything looks and sounds proper.

A fairly simple procedure, but if you need any assistance in replacing spa and hot tub pumps, we have spa techs standing by waiting for your call or email !

 

- Jack

 

6 Embarrassing Spa Problems to Avoid

January 2nd, 2014 by

spa-problems - image purchased thru PresenterMediaWhen you own a spa or hot tub, you want it to be in tip top shape, especially if friends come over to enjoy it. They may not understand all of the complex mix of water chemistry, filtering and heating that is going on – they just magically expect the hot tub to be… magic!

A spa or hot tub is not that much work, maybe 30 minutes per week, to keep the water clean, and all systems go, ready for any spur of the moment entertaining you may do.

Based on my years of being a spa owner, and just as many years working for spa companies in customer service, I have curated this list of the Top 6 most embarrassing spa problems.

Smelly Spa Cover

Woo-Wee! What is that smell!?! If your spa has a smelly, musty odor of mildew, chances are – your spa cover is to blame. Remove it from the tub completely so that you can give it a good whiff, away from the spa. If the smell is coming from the spa cover, you have some cleaning to do. Spray the inside plastic and vinyl with a diluted bleach solution, to kill any external mold and mildew. Then allow it to dry, with the spa cover off of the tub, for several hours. For extreme cases, you may need to gently remove the inner foam panels, and apply the treatment to the panels and to internal surfaces. If you have any rips or separations that is allowing moisture to get inside your spa cover, patch them properly, or start thinking about replacing your spa cover!

Foaming Spa Water

cloudy-spa-water-smWith the jets on full blast, a small amount of surface foam is nearly impossible to avoid, and is completely normal, like the white caps on ocean waves. What I’m talking about here is when the foam begins to build on itself, and become noticeable. Hint: When children begin giving themselves foam beards in your hot tub, it’s reached a problem stage; time to take action. First, check your pH and Alkalinity and adjust if necessary, to 7.5 and 100, respectively. Be sure that your test strips are not expired, old strips can give false readings.

Second, use a spa filter cleaner to will remove oils and grime. Advanced spa foam can be caused by excess biofilm – use a spa purge like Jet Clean to strip the pipes and jets clean. Afterwards, drain the spa, refill and balance the water. If your spa is used heavily, begin using an enzyme like Natural Clear to control organics. I don’t believe in using Foam Out, by the way – that just covers up a problem.

Noisy Equipment

When something doesn’t sound quite right, just like in your automobile, that’s a good clue that something is wrong. Loud spa pumps are the most common noisemaker, and this usually means that the bearings are shot. At this point, you can have a motor shop rebuild the motor, or you can replace with our spa motors. You could also replace the entire pump, for a simpler, but more expensive repair. Spa blowers can also become noisy over time. They also have motor bearings and brushes, internal to the motor. Most blowers are inexpensive to replace, so they aren’t usually repaired, but some motor shops will work on them. A loud chattering is usually the sound of a contactor and a quieter clicking is often a relay. This could be a connection or voltage problem, or these spa parts could be defective.

Privacy Problems

namarata privacy panel

If your spa is visible from other people’s houses, that’s kind of a bummer. There are a few spa cover lifters that will hold the spa in an upright position, providing a nice bit of privacy, but only on one side of the spa. Other ideas are cheap window treatments, like bamboo blinds, or using lattice wood, to block some light, but still allow a breeze to blow through. Using a pavilion or a pergola around an above ground hot tub helps to design more privacy around the spa. It goes both ways remember – your neighbors want their privacy too, so make efforts to block noise from the spa – like loud laughter, music and other sounds of frivolity. Having the Police called to your hot tub at midnight, by a tired and sleepless neighbor, is definitely best to avoid!

Heater Problems

No one likes a cold spa, and even worse is a spa that’s only 95 degrees or so. Most spas will begin to lose temperature when the cover comes off, and people enter the spa, soaking up the heat. If your spa heater is having trouble maintaining the heat in your spa, it could be a problem with the thermostat, or some other part. Daniel wrote Top 5 Spa Heater Problems, which covers some common mechanical failures, and some embarrassingly easy fixes to the problem.  Low heat could also be caused by a very cold night, and a very small spa heater. Some spas just don’t seem to hold their heat in very cold weather. If this spa problem happens to you, consider upsizing your heater element (call us for help). Another cause of heat loss in the winter, is the lack of sufficient insulation under the spa, around the tub. Some spas are packed in with insulation, and some have barely nothing.

Itchy Rash

spa-rashes-
Uh-Oh! If your guests complain to you hours or days after using the spa, of a red, pimply rash on their skin, your spa may be harboring some recreational water illnesses. We go into it in much more detail in our article about waterborne illnesses in spas and hot tubs. Essentially, you want to drain the spa and do a complete and deep clean. Use Jet Clean in the pipes, and replace your spa filter. Most importantly, to prevent it from happening again, maintain good water balance and keep enough sanitizer in the water – at all times. Shock weekly, or at least every other time you use the spa to kill such things as pseudomonas aeruginosa in your spa.

Don’t sweep spa problems under the rug, these symptoms are your hot tub’s way of telling you there’s a problem. If we can be of any help to you sorting out your spa problems, give us a call or send an email – spa techs are standing by!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works