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Archive for the ‘Spa Pumps’ Category

Hot Tub Jets Not Working?

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hot tub jets not working

 

Why are my hot tub jets not working?! It’s a common spa question that we get asked all the time. One day you’ll get in the spa and notice the hot tub jets don’t feel as strong as usual.

It’s almost always an easy fix, so don’t worry about major problems right away – it’s probably not the case. There is usually a very simple reason that the jets don’t have much “oomph” lately.

Here’s the step-by-step process that we use in our call center to guide spa and hot tub owners through issues when their spa jets aren’t working.

 

 

Is the Pump Working Right?

hot tub pumpThis is an important first question, but it’s really many questions combined into one. The first part being, “Is the pump air-locked?” This can occur if you just drained the hot tub. Some systems need to “burp” out air in the pipes in front of the pump, which is usually done by loosening the union nut or pump drain plug to allow the air to escape.

Some hot tubs have two pumps – a circulation pump for filtration and a jet booster pump. Many hot tubs just have a single, two-speed pump that accomplishes both functions. So another question would be, “Is the jet pump working?” or “Is the pump’s high speed working?”

If the jets seem to have less than the normal volume of water coming through, be sure that the pump is turning on like normal. Digital spas typically have to push the display to enter the jet mode. Older spa controls use an air button to activate the jet pump. The air switch button and the air hose can fail or lose effectiveness over time, and they may need to be replaced.

 

Dirty Spa Filter?

hot tub filterA dirty spa filter can slow water flow down noticeably, but not completely. Your spa heater won’t work if your water flow rate is very low. So if your heater is working, chances are good that your filter is still pretty clean. A dirty spa filter will also allow small bits of debris to pass through. Replace your spa filters every 12-18 months for best results.

 

Clogged Drain Cover?

hot tub drain coverThe drain covers that are located in the foot well area of a spa or hot tub have very powerful suction, and if something like a napkin, plastic wrap, cup or t-shirt comes close, it can block the water flow. Check that your drain covers are not covered with something that’s blocking the water flow.

 

Low Water Level in Spa?

hot tub water levelIf your spa skimmer is drawing in air, or “sucking air,” this will drastically affect water flow. It will also shut off the spa heater. Is the water level OK in the spa? You may need to add more water every so often to replenish the water lost to evaporation and drag-off. Keeping your spa cover straps clipped helps reduce evaporation by pulling the cover tight against the spa.

 

Air Leak in Front of Pump?

hot tub air leakIn the case of an air leak, it’s usually the pump union in front of the pump that is loose, or it could also be that the o-ring inside is out of position. Then again, it could also be a valve or any pipe connection in front of the pump (the pipe that brings water into the pump). If anything before the pump is loose or cracked, the pump will suck in air. The point that is leaking air when the pump is ON will also leak water when the pump is OFF. With the cabinet door open, shut off the pump and look for any spray or drips on the pipe that goes into the pump.

 

Clogged Pump Impeller?

hot tub pump impellerFor most hot tubs with a good spa cover, the tub stays pretty clean. But if your spa was left uncovered and took on leafy or seedy debris, this debris can clog up the pump impeller. The impeller is a closed vane type, and for many portable spas, there is no pump strainer basket to catch debris.

To check your impeller, shut off power and close the valves on both sides of the pump. Remove pump unions (a gallon or two of water will spill), and turn pump to look inside of the pump impeller housing. If it is clogged, you will usually see some debris in the center eye of the impeller.

To proceed further for cleaning, remove the screws or bolts that hold the impeller housing cover in place. With the impeller exposed, use flexible wire or plastic to ream out the impeller vanes and remove the clogging material. Re-secure the impeller housing cover, tighten the pump unions and open the valves.

 

Is the Jet Adjustable?

hot tub jetMany jets are adjustable at the nozzle or by rotating the outer ring Many can be turned almost off, which increases flow to the other jets nearby. You may find it easier to manipulate the jet adjustment while the pump is off, but it’s not necessary. Try turning the jet nozzle left or right, or turn the jet’s outer ring or “scalloped bezel.”

 

Is the Jet Clogged?

hot tub jetSpa jets can also become clogged, but it doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it’s usually the broken piece of a part that has lodged itself in the jet and is blocking part of the water flow. In some cases, spa jets can become clogged from clumps of calcium or debris that have pushed through the filter. For many spa jets, the internal jet assembly can be removed (unthreaded) from the jet body for inspection. Inground spas with jets that are not easily removable can use a wire or thin rod to ream out the small orifices.

 

Are the Valves All Open?

hot tub slice valveFor most spa and hot tub systems, there are two diverter valves on either side of the pump. These can be closed for equipment service without draining the entire spa. Sometimes these valves will vibrate into a closed position – especially slice valves, which are used on many spas. Check that the valves inside the cabinet are open.

Another type of valve is used on some spas to operate different sets or banks of spa jets. Usually a large knob or dial will allow a spa user to open and close jets while seated inside of the spa. Some hot tubs or inground spas may require a valve adjustment outside of the spa. For inground spas, there is often no valve or diverters to adjust individual spa jets, but you can often adjust the jets themselves or turn individual jets on and off.

Air valves will add volume to the water. There are often surface knobs, which can be turned to open or close the air intake line. Open them to see if volume increases sufficiently. Air lines should be closed after use so you don’t bring a continuous stream of cool water into the spa. Doing so will make your heater work harder and cost you more money.

Hot Tub Wiring

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Installing a new hot tub? Wiring for a full featured portable hot tub has to be done correctly, as we all know that water and electricity don’t mix. A 50 or 60 amp breaker provides power to a secondary GFCI box, which powers the spa pack controller. Hire an electrician and pull a permit, so that you can be sure it was all done up-to-code.

PERMITTING A HOT TUB

Do you need a permit for a hot tub? Probably. Most local building and zoning boards want to certify that hot tub wiring has been done safely, properly and ‘up to code’. The Permit-Inspection-Approval process is in place to prevent unsafe spa wiring, which can result in electrocution and fire.

Having an inspector certify the work ensures that electricians don’t cut corners like using small wire size, cheap connectors, incorrect or absent conduit, or ignoring important safety regulations. It also ensures that your contractor is licensed in your state to perform hot tub wiring.

Wiring a hot tub is best left to licensed electricians that have experience working with Article 680.42, and with local electrical inspector interpretations of the code, which can vary. Avoid using ‘cousin Billy’s son’, or anyone other than a licensed and established electrician, and if they tell you that you don’t need a permit, run for the hills (find another contractor)! Remember, it’s for your protection and safety, to have hot tub wiring done properly, and up to the most current code.

WIRING A HOT TUB

There are plug-n-play hot tubs that you can literally plug into a 15 amp wall outlet, but if you want a tub with powerful equipment and features, these require hard-wiring to a 50 or 60 amp breaker, on a dedicated circuit (nothing else powered by the breaker).

Square D 50-amp GFCI panel for outdoor installationThe first question is, do you have enough room (spare amperage) in your existing home breaker panel, to add a rather large 50 amp circuit breaker? You can add up the amps listed on the breaker handle, and compare it to the label at the top of the panel, that tells how many amps the panel supports in total (usually 100, 200, or 400 amps).

The second question is, how far away from the main home breaker panel, do you want to place the spa? You will need to run 4 wires in conduit, from the new circuit breaker, to the GFCI power connection in the spa pack. A secondary GFCI power cut-off outside of the spa, but at least 5 feet from the spa, is connected to the breaker in the main home breaker panel. Many electricians like to use this Square D 50-amp GFCI panel, shown right.

Once you get power into the spa from a dedicated circuit, the 4 wires (Ground, Neutral, Hot 120V, Hot 120V) will connect directly into your spa pack. Consult your owner’s manual for specific connections and settings, accessed inside the control box. Once connected, follow your particular spa instructions for filling and starting up your new hot tub or spa pack.

BONDING A HOT TUB

Bonding for hot tubs is an important part of electrical safety. A bare copper wire is attached to bonding lugs on metal and electrical spa equipment. Bonding captures stray voltages or short circuits that any one load (pump, blower, heater) may be producing. The large gauge bare copper wire creates an easy pathway for fault currents to flow, to protect spa users from electric shock.

Equipotential bonding is another type of bonding that connects a body of water (pool or spa) to the rebar steel used in the pool deck. In 2014, the NEC amended Article 680.42 to permit spa and hot tub installations without equipotential bonding, but with these exceptions:

  • Must be Listed as a “Self Contained Spa” on the certification label.
  • It cannot be Listed as “For Indoor Use Only” on the certification label.
  • It must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • it must be installed 28″ above any surface within 30″ of the tub.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Replacing a Hot Tub Circulation Pump

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hot-tub-circulation-pumps
Spa circulation pumps are low flow, single speed pumps that run 24 hrs to keep your water filtered and heated. They run all the time, but are low energy use, drawing between 0.5 and 1.5 amps.

Running all the time does accelerate wear and tear, and makes the average circ pump lifespan about 7-9 years. If you need to replace a hot tub circ pump, here are the steps taken to do it yourself.

Do I need a new circulation pump?

Before you run off and buy a new replacement circ pump, you want to check a few things first, namely power and water flow. See our earlier post on circulation pump troubleshooting to see if you’ve checked all of the simple stuff first.

Which Circulation Pump do I need?

There are two main types of hot tub circulation pumps, high flow circ pumps and low flow circ pumps.

iron-might-circ-pump High Flow Circ Pumps look more like jet therapy pumps, and are often confused with such because of their size and appearance. They use a 48 frame motor, with a connected steel foot, and have 1.5″ union connections. They can be 115V or 230V, but only use up to 1.5 amps. The most common high flow circ pumps are the AquaFlo Circmaster and Waterway Iron Might, shown here.

 

tiny-might-circ-pumpLow Flow Circ Pumps look more like large aquarium pumps, and operate in the 6 to 15 gpm range, to work with low flow spa heaters. They have hose barb connections to fit to  3/4″ or 1″ flexible hose, with clamps. They can be 115V or 230V, and less than 1 amp. The most common low flow circ pumps are made by Laing, Grundfos and Waterway.

 

The circulation pump that you need, is the exact replacement, in voltage, amperage and hose or pipe connection type and location. High flow pumps can be center discharge or side discharge, and low flow pumps can have 3/4″ or 1″ connections, and may have a left or right side discharge. If you need help finding your replacement, just give us a call or send an email.

Hot Tub Circulation Pump Replacement

1aShut off the Power: Hit the main breaker or cut-off switch to kill all power coming into the spa pack. Wires will be exposed and water will spill, so don’t take any chances and play it safe. If water splashes on any circuitry or wire connections during the process, take the time to dry it up before energizing the spa.

2aShut off the Water: Most circ pumps don’t have isolation valves on either side; slice valves that can be closed to shut off water, although common on jet pumps and on high flow circ pump systems. You can drain the spa to make the repair, if you need to drain anyway, but it’s not necessary. The hoses can be plugged using wine corks or stoppers, or pinched using large needle nose locking pliers (Vice-Grip type). Or you can do a quick swap, described below, and spill a few gallons.

3aWiring the Circ Pump: Circ pumps don’t usually come with a new power cord, so you’ll use the existing one. If you have a plug-in type of connector at the end of the cord, disconnect it from the spa pack. If the power cord runs directly into the control box and connects to terminals, leave those connections intact, and remove the wires only from the back of the existing motor – or you can just cut the wire where it enters the old motor, strip back the casing and the ends to put into the new motor.

Insert the wires into the new circ pump, tighten the cord collar or strain relief where the cord enters the motor, and insert the stripped wire ends into the spring loaded tabs. The black wire will plug into L (Line), white wire will connect to N (Neutral), and the green wire goes to G (Ground). Disconnect the bare copper wire that is connected to the outside of the old motor, this is the bonding wire, that you’ll connect to the new pump once it’s in position.

4aPlumbing the Circ Pump: For very old and crusty connections, a heat gun or hair dryer can be used to soften the vinyl hose or tubing, which makes it easier to remove from the pump without a lot of pulling and jerking. The circ pump is also likely screwed into the base of the equipment bay, remove the screws in the pump base, and set aside to use later on the new pump.

Since there commonly are no cut-off valves on either side of a low flow circ pump, if your spa is full of water you will spill some water while installing a new circ pump. As mentioned above, if the spa is full of water, you can crimp the hose with locking needle nose pliers, or plug the hoses with corks until you are ready to switch, or if you have snipped off the power cord and reinstalled into the new pump already, you can make a quick swap, and spill just a few gallons.

Loosen the hose clamp and slide it down the hose. I usually pop off the top (discharge connection) first and cork it, then separate the incoming hose from the front center and very quickly swap pumps and insert the incoming hose over the front center hose barb. Then the top discharge hose can be unplugged and connected, also quickly, with minimal water loss.

If you have a high flow circ pump or a Waterway Tiny Might pump, you will loosen the unions and quickly make a swap with your new pump, being sure that the union o-rings stay in place while tightening up the union nuts.

5aFinishing Up: Now that you have reconnected the hoses on your pre-wired pump, the only things left to do is reconnect the bare copper bonding wire to the lug on the new circulation pump, and replace the screws to secure the pump, to reduce vibration. That, and testing your new circulation pump, followed by a hearty self-congratulation for diagnosing and fixing your hot tub problem!

 

– Jack

 

 

 

Hot Tub Circulation Pump Troubleshooting

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HOT-TUB-CIRCULATION-PUMPS
Circulation pumps used in spas and hot tubs, also called Circ Pumps or Hush Pumps, are low-flow pumps that constantly circulate the water (24/7) very slowly, to continuously filter, heat and chemically treat the water. Common spa/hot tub circulation pumps are made by Aqua-Flo, Grundfos, Laing and Waterway.

spa-circ-pump-motor-labelNot all spas have a circulation pump however. Many spas use a 2-speed therapy pump, with low speed used for constant circulation, and high speed used for turning the jets on high. The way to tell if a spa pump is a Circ Pump, and not a Therapy Pump, is by the Amps listed on the motor label. Anything under 1.5 Amps would be a Circ pump. Therapy or Jet pumps have much higher Amp usage, and you would see at least 6 Amps listed on the motor label.

Circulation pumps tend to last 5-10 years, although your mileage may vary. I’ve seen them last only a few years, and I’ve seen them last 20 years, and I wish I knew the secret to a long life, but it seems random. One thing for sure however, is that at some point in the life of a spa or hot tub, a circulation pump will develop problems.

Here’s how to troubleshoot a circulation pump on a spa or hot tub, to determine if the circ pump needs repair or replacement.

CIRCULATION PUMP IS DEAD

If there is no action at all from the circulation pump, your topside control panel should be giving you an error code, perhaps a FLO or OH. Check that power is on, and the breaker or GFCI test button are not tripped. Check that all valves are in the open position. For slice valves, the handle should be Up, and for ball valves, the handle should be parallel to the pipe. Follow the circ pump plumbing, and look for any possible kinks in the hose. Pull out the cartridge filter, to see if flow improves and the circulation pump is doing better.

CIRCULATION PUMP IS MAKING NOISES

One of the best things about a hot tub circulation pump is quiet operation; they make almost no noise. Gurgling, humming or grinding noises on a spa circulation pump are good indicators of a problem. It could be Air, Scale or a Clogged Impeller. Maybe a dirty spa filter. Or, it could be the bearings in the motor going bad.

AIR IN THE LINES: If you have just drained the spa, you may have an air lock on the circ pump. Some circ pumps have an air bleeder knob, or you can loosen the union nut to release the air. Open the lock nut slightly until you hear air hissing, then tighten up again as water begins to leak. You can also pull out the spa filter and insert a garden hose into the hole, sealing around the hose with a clean cloth or sponge, to force air out of the lines.

SCALE DEPOSITS: Calcium or lime deposits can built up and create noise that makes a ‘hush pump’, not so quiet. The impeller housing or the wet end cover plate of a circ pump can be removed to inspect the impeller. Be sure to cut off power first, and close valves on each side of the pump. If there are no valves, you can use a hard clamp on soft hoses, or plug a 3/4″ line with wine corks. Inspect the hoses (pipes) and the impeller surfaces for any deposits. They can be removed with a stiff brush, or a chemical like CLR.

CLOGGED IMPELLER: Circulation pumps usually pull water from the skimmer/cartridge filter, and it’s not uncommon that bits of debris, or even parts of the filter itself get sucked into the pump, clogging the impeller. Open up the circulation pump as described above to check this possibility. Other possible clogs include downstream obstructions, in an ozone injection manifold, or specifically the Mazzei injector, or if a return fitting or drain cover is used, where the water returns to the spa, it could be clogged on the inside.

BAD BEARINGS: Inside of a normally quiet circulation motor are two bearings that ensure smooth rotation of the rotor within the stator. When these bearings age, they begin to shriek and squeal, or grind loudly. A test to confirm is to disconnect the plumbing and turn it on very briefly, to see if it still makes funny noises. At this point, you either need to replace the bearings, replace the motor, or replace the entire circ pump.

CIRCULATION PUMP IS BARELY PUMPINGpump-system-spa-hot-tub

Spa circulation pumps don’t wear out and pump less water over time, they either work or they don’t. If you feel low volume of water coming out of your heater return, the first thing to do is to remove the spa filter and see if the flow improves. If after cleaning the spa filter, the problem reoccurs, replace the spa filter.

Secondary causes of extra low flow on a low flow hot tub circulation pump include the items mentioned above; either there is air in the line, or something is blocking flow before the pump on the suction side, or after the pump on the pressure side.

 


 

If you decide to replace your hot tub circulation pump, the job of actually replacing a circ pump seems to be less trouble for most people than ordering the correct replacement circ pump for your particular hot tub. In my next post, I’ll cover Replacing a Hot Tub Circulation Pump, or how to select the correct make and model of circ pump, and install it yourself.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Electrical Safety

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hot-tub-catches-fire-in-coldstream

We’ve talked about hot tub safety before, in a more general sense, and today I want to speak directly about spa electrical hazards.

We all know that water and electricity don’t mix. Indeed, spa electric hazards can cause electrocution, or they can also cause fires (see above).

Proper Power Supply

electrical-symbol-by-ocalThe first thing for a spa to be safe is that it needs to have the proper power supply. Portable spas and hot tubs in the US run on either 120V or 240V. The second thing is that your GFCI breakers, outlets and spa pak gfci works properly. Test your GFCI’s monthly. Just push the Test and Reset buttons, to be sure they are working.

There are small hot tubs that are plug-n-play, 120V, they also need to be plugged into a GFCI circuit. This means that the breaker in the main house panel or electrical box, is a GFCI breaker, with the yellow test button, or the outlet itself is a GFCI outlet. Plugging it into a regular back patio outlet may not be safe.

For larger spas, 240V is required, often coming from a 50 amp breaker on the main circuit panel. In addition, an external cut-off box, located between the main panel and the hot tub, is often placed, but at least 5 feet from the water, to prevent touching it while in the hot tub water.

If your plug-in hot tub is tripping the breaker, you may need to upgrade the circuit amperage or even better, install a separate GFCI breaker and outlet, at least 5 feet from the spa. Small spas that plug into an outlet should always be plugged into a GFCI circuit, and never used with an extension cord.

If your 240V hot tub is tripping the breaker, you probably have a bad heater element, 9 times out of 10. Remove the heater from the circuit and see if the breaker holds steady, to verify.

Nearby Metal Objects

unsafe-hot-tubConsider metal objects that may be near your spa, within touching distance. If they are attached to something other than the spa, the possibility exists that they could become energized by something unseen, and make ground with a person in the hot tub who touches it. Inspect any metal objects near the hot tub to be sure there’s not nearby power source. It’s safest to just not have any touchable objects around the spa at all, especially metal. Unlike this picture here, how many electrical hazards do you see in the photo?

 

Nearby Power Sources

There should be no electrical outlets, outdoor lighting or other electrical appliances or supply within reach of the spa. Do not plug in your phone, and have it next to the spa. Same with small space heaters or fans propped up next to the spa. Keep all electrical products and power away from the hot tub. Use battery operated items instead.

Bonding & Grounding

These are two different things, bonding is a bare copper wire that connects the outside of the electrical equipment (pumps, heater, blower, ozonator), to prevent an electrical short in one item from energizing other parts of the spa. Grounding is a wire that accompanies all power wires leading to the electrical equipment (pump, heater, blower…), and connects to the green ground screw on the load. On the other end, the ground wire is connected to the ground bar in the breaker box.

Spa Pack Wiring

scary-spa-pak-wiringThe most common spa and hot tub electrical hazard is not being shocked while in the tub, it’s being shocked while under the tub! I have seen some scary wiring of spa packs in my day, and if something looks hazardous, it probably is! Wires cut by sharp door edges, rodent damage, bare terminals, insect damage, are just some of the things that can be dangerous. A bad ground or incorrect bonding can energize the entire control box in some cases. Proceed with caution, and call an electrician if your spa pack wiring is not right.

 

Spa Lighting

SPA-PARTS-LED-LIGHT-BULBSSpa lights are sealed units, that are self draining, and for most portable spas, there is little danger of electrocution from defective spa lights, which are usually low voltage 9-12 volts. However, if your spa light should leak, and it did not self drain, and your GFCI did not work properly, or if the spa light was wired incorrectly, yes – spa light hazards could exist. If it worries you, remove the light!

 


So that’s it for me today on electrical safety, take a few minutes to look over your spa or hot tub, and if anything looks unsafe – it probably is!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

How to Rotate a Spa Pump Wet End

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rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end

If you’ve ever noticed, some spa and hot tub pumps can be connected to pipes in different directions. While some are fixed at a vertical 12 o’clock orientation, other spa pumps make their return pipe connection horizontally, at 3 or 9 o’clock.

If you replace your spa pump with new, or even if you just replace your wet end, knowing how to reposition the volute will make for a fast and easy repair.

Here we have Drake, our resident spa and hot tub pump guru, rotating a spa pump wet end from top to side, in just 46 seconds.

Transcript from the video is appended to these pictures below, or watch the wet end rotation video 🙂 for yourself!

 

This is the 56 frame ultramax pump and the wet end rotation procedure…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-0

I want you to loosen all four (4) motor bolts at the back of the pump…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-1
What you want to do is take your thumb and forefinger, depress the spring and rotate either to the 3 or 9 o’clock position…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-2
… and reinsert the motor bolts back into the wet end…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-3
And then you want to tighten harmonically, as to make even pressure from the wet end to the motor. Use a cross bolt pattern and tighten each bolt snug…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-4
Then check the wet end and make sure that the impeller is free to spin…

rotating-a-spa-pump-wet-end-step-5

Now you can plug the motor cable back into the outlet, and thread on the union nut connectors. To replace the power cord, just unplug and remove/replace the wires in the same order as the new pump.

Bleed out any trapped air in the system by loosening the union nut slightly when the tub is full or the valves are reopened.

Rotating the spa wet end is usually done when you buy a new spa pump, and the discharge port comes in a vertical orientation (top), but your pipe connection is horizontal (side).

Piece of Cake!

 

– Jack

 

 

 

Hot Tub Pump Motor Replacement

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spa-motor-and-wet-endReplacing a spa or hot tub motor saves about 40% over the cost of replacing the entire pump, and there’s no plumbing required!

Hot tub motors are as easy to replace as the entire pump, and can be done in under an hour. Another benefit to re-using the existing wet end is that you can reduce waste around the home. Why throw out something that’s perfectly good?

The Wet End to which I refer, if you don’t know, is the plastic front half of your hot tub pump, the end that gets wet. The “Dry End” then, although we don’t call it that, is the metal cased electric motor, the back half of your spa pump.

Replacing the motor involves separating the motor from the wet end and removing the wires or plug, and then reversing the process to connect a new spa motor! Let’s get started!

1. Disconnect the Pump: Unplug the spa pump cord from the outlet, or disconnect the amp or pin connector on the spa pack. Next close the valves on both sides of the pump. If you don’t have valves, you will need to drain the spa before pulling the pump. Afterwards, loosen the spa pump unions, turning counter-clockwise by hand. If more force is required, use large Channel Lock type pliers or a Strap Wrench to disconnect both unions on the pump. If your pump happens to be bolted down to the base or floor, I’m sorry – bust out your socket set or wrench set to remove the nuts, otherwise lift the pump carefully out of it’s location to a well-lit work bench or counter.

2. Remove the Through Bolts: On the back of the motor are 4 carriage bolts, at 10, 2, 4 and 8 o’clock. Spray a little WD-40 on both ends of the bolt, on the head, and where the bolt screws into the plastic wet end, on the other end of the motor. Loosen these with a small nut driver , or straight pliers, and slide the long bolts out. In some cases where the bolts are severely corroded, they may snap on the threaded end. If so, proceed to the next step, and once the wet end is separated, soak the bolts ends again with penetrating oil and try to twist the broken bolt end out of the plastic wet end.

3. Remove the Impeller: This is the part that baffles and confuses many DIY spa owners, but it’s not really so hard to accomplish. The trick is to hold the motor impeller stationary while unthreading it from the end of the shaft.

separate-pump-from-;wet-endUsing two large screwdrivers, insert a large Phillips head screwdriver down into the top water port of the pump (where the water comes out). and into one of the vanes of the impeller. Use a flashlight if necessary, to insert the screwdriver about an inch into the side slots of the impeller to lock it into place. Now open up the back cap of the motor and turn the shaft counter-clockwise with a large slotted screwdriver, or alternatively, grab the shaft with pliers just behind the impeller, and turn the shaft counter-clockwise, to spin the shaft off of the impeller, in 4-5 turns.

4. Replace the Motor: Step 4 is just the reverse of step three. Once you separate the wet end from the motor, you can slide the old motor out of the way, and slide the new motor in place.  Push the wet end gently onto the new motor shaft, and tighten the shaft at the back of the new motor with a large flathead screwdriver. Turn the shaft until you feel it tighten onto the impeller fully. When it starts up it will spin itself tighter. In most cases a new shaft seal is not needed, but if your old seal was leaking, take a look at another post I wrote on how to replace a spa pump shaft seal.

5. Replace the Spa Motor Cord: The motor power cord from your old motor can be removed and reused on your new motor, barring any defects or wear and tear that would suggest replacement.

wiring-a-spa-pump-motorTwo speed motors have 4-wires, and single speed motors have 3-wires. Typical wire harness colors have black and red as Hots, White as Common and the green wire is for Ground. In most cases, you will hook up the wires exactly the same onto the new motor. Labeling the wires, or making a small sketch before removal can be helpful to remember the wire connections. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove spade connectors, or a small flat head screwdriver can be used as a lever to push connectors off of the terminals.

~ And that’s all there is to it! If you are looking at a failed spa pump, or one that is giving you trouble and may give up the ghost soon, consider replacing only the motor – rarely do any other parts need to be replaced.

new-spa-pump-motorsSave 40% over buying the entire pump, and replace just the motor! Prices for Hot Tub Pump Motors start at $129.

For help selecting the correct spa pump motor, put on your glasses and grab a flashlight – crawl up under there and write down HP, FR, SF, and Voltage information, and any brand names printed on the pump. Then give us a call or shoot us an email, and we’ll give you the options for your spa pump motor replacement.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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

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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?

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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

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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