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Archive for the ‘Spa Pumps’ Category

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.

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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

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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

 

The Winterized Spa – How to Close a Spa for Winter

December 12th, 2013 by

hot-tub-in-winter

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

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

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

How to Winterize an Above Ground Spa in 4 Steps

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Other Thoughts on Winterizing a Portable Spa

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

 

- Jack

 

 

How to Replace a Spa Pump Shaft Seal

May 28th, 2013 by

spa-shaft-seal-replacementSpa pump motor shaft seals – they are meant to keep the water from leaking along the shaft of the pump motor, behind the impeller. When a shaft seal fails, as they do from time to time, you will notice water dripping along the backside of the volute (where the shaft enters the impeller housing), running down and dripping off the bottom of the pump.

A leaking shaft seal can easily be confused with a failed volute (impeller housing) o-ring, or with a leaking union or plumbing fitting on top of the pump. In fact, many leaks around the pump will end up running down – and dripping off the bottom.

 

SHAFT-SEALS-LEAK-HEREIs Your Shaft Seal Leaking?

To be sure that you have a leaking shaft seal, inspect all areas around the pump closely (with a flash light and reading glasses, if necessary). If you have an open volute (where you can see the motor shaft), a leaking shaft seal will leak where the shaft enters the volute, as shown in the image on the right.

Looking close-up in the area indicated, you will usually see a thin, running stream of water, although in some cases, it could be spraying water in all directions.

Spa pumps with closed volutes (where you can’t see the motor shaft), will be leaking out of a drain hole, in the bottom of the seal plate, or the point where the motor joins the “wet end” of the spa pump.

Identifying a Spa Pump Shaft Seal

Not all spa pumps use the same shaft seal, and seals used for hot tub pumps are usually of a higher grade rubber (Viton or Silicone Carbide), than those used in swimming pool pumps. These materials are more resistant to chemical changes, and if you use a spa ozonator, these materials won’t deteriorate like a shaft seal made with a Buna type synthetic rubber.

The easiest way to order the correct shaft seal, is to order by make and model of the pump. This may not be so clearly marked on many pumps however. If you still have documentation on the spa purchase, an owner’s manual should list the shaft seal, and it’s manufacturer’s part number.

The next easiest way to find out which shaft seal is used on your pump is to remove the pump from beneath the spa (shut off power and water valves first), and disassemble the motor from the wet end, so that the shaft seal can be measured and identified.

Disassembly of the Wet End

Motors can be removed from a spa without too much work. First make sure that the power is shut off on the main breaker. Place tape over the breaker to prevent others from flipping it back on while you work. Close the valves both sides of the pump to hold back the water in the spa, otherwise, you’ll need to drain the spa first before pump removal.

Unscrew the unions on the pipes that come in and out of the pump (there will be some water spillage). Disconnect the bare copper bonding wire from the bonding lug. Remove the power cord from the control box. With the motor removed, and in a location that you can work on it (without stooping or laying on your stomach), loosen the bolts that secure the front plate to the volute.

With the front plate removed, you should be looking at the impeller. Some spa pumps have an impeller shroud, or diverter that will need to be removed first. Remove the impeller by holding the shaft firmly in place, while spinning the impeller in a counter-clockwise direction. For open volutes, a small pair of vice grips can be used to hold the shaft firmly so it won’t turn as the impeller is threaded off of the shaft.

For closed volutes, the trick is to hold the shaft in one location at the rear of the motor. For motors with a removal end cover, a 7/16 wrench can be used on the rear of the shaft. Others have a small shaft cap that can be removed, dead center of the rear end bell of the motor. The shaft is slotted to accept a large flat head screwdriver, used to hold the shaft stationary.

After removing the impeller, you should see your shaft seal, and you can now identify it by type and size.

Measuring your Spa Shaft seal

Spa shaft seals come in two pieces, a round ceramic disk, and the other half, with the spring. One piece will be pressed into the seal plate of the pump, and the other half fits onto the impeller. As the two halves of the shaft seal are drawn close together during impeller rotation, the spring is compressed, and a good “seal” is made. The seal doesn’t actually touch the shaft, if it did, it would burn up in just seconds of 3400 RPM of the motor shaft. Nonetheless, you will notice that many shaft seals mention the shaft diameter of the motor that they fit.

SHAFT-SEAL-MEASUREMENTS

Remove both pieces of your shaft seal from the pump. The mating ring may require a small flathead screwdriver to pry it out, as it is pressed into place. Be sure to also remove the rubber mating ring, if present.

The other half of the seal, with the spring, can be worked off gently with your fingers. Once removed, take the diameter and height measurements, as shown left.

SHAFT-SEAL HEAD TYPES

 

The other distinction between shaft seals is the type of head that the “spring half” of the seal is either Type A, or Type B. Most spa pumps with Type B seal heads will be using a #1000 seal, but check the other measurements of the seal to be sure. Another measurement, if you want to be really sure, is to measure the diameter of the shaft. Calipers would be most accurate, or you can use a rigid measuring tape, and eyeball it very closely.

Spa Pump Shaft Seal Chart

With this information on the shaft seal head type and the diameter measurements, and perhaps the shaft measurement, you can now refer to this handy spa pump shaft seal chart, to confidently figure out the type of replacement shaft seal needed, or the seal number, shown in the left hand column. Most common are the shaft seals #100, 200, 201 and 1000, but your spa pump could use a different one. Measure to be sure, and call us if you have any questions.

spa-pump-shaft-seal-chart

NOTE:  The Seal Type numbers in the left column, (i.e. PS-100) are commonly accepted universal seal part numbers, which will correspond in size and type, to the manufacturer’s part number. Again, if you have any questions or concerns with proper shaft seal identification, call us for help.

Installing a new shaft seal

The biggest mistake people make when installing a new shaft seal is installing the seal or the mating ring upside down. As you remove the two halves of the seal, take note of it’s orientation. If this bit of information is not available, take note of how the seal is packed in the box – usually, this is the correct position. Otherwise, know that the ceramic part of the mating ring is meant to contact the hard plastic side of the seal.

When installing Type B seals into the seal plate, use a bit of silicone around the stainless steel cup as you press fit the seal into the plate. Use a very large socket, or a 1″ PVC coupling as a setting tool, to lightly tamp the seal cup fully in place.

When installing Type A seals over the impeller, put the soft rubber side toward the impeller, and the hard plastic side toward the ceramic face of the mating ring.

After installing both seal halves, thread the impeller back on fully, and reassemble the wet end (with no leftover parts!). Reposition the pump and connect the unions, making sure the o-rings are in place. Reconnect the bonding wire and the power cord. If your pump was mounted onto a skid, or base, resecure the pump to reduce vibration and movement.

Fill the spa or open the valves to allow the pump to fill with water. Turn on the circuit breaker and test the pump. If water does not begin to flow immediately, you probably have an air lock in the pump or spa pak. Shut off the pump, and loosen the union on top of the pump just slightly, to allow air to be pushed out, until water begins to flow and spill. Quickly tighten up the union and test the pump again.

PREVENTING DAMAGE TO SHAFT SEALS

  • Never run the pump dry, or without water flowing through it.
  • Maintain your water level in the spa, to prevent air being sucked in.
  • Use Viton shaft seals if you use a spa ozonator.
  • Maintain proper water balance and sanitizer levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Replacing a Spa Pak – a How To

May 20th, 2013 by

replacement spa packsA Spa Pack is an integrated unit that contains the spa pump, heater, blower and controls. On average, a spa pack will last around 10 years, before one or more components begins to fail, or give you regular trouble.

Replacing your Spa Pak can be a quick and simple affair. In the worst case scenario, it may involve some light plumbing and wiring, and replacement of the top-side spa control, if purchased with your spa pack.

 

Selecting the Right Spa Pack

Digital or Air System?

spa-side-control

You probably have a “spa-side control”, a small control panel “top-side”, that you use to operate the spa from inside the tub. If you have a digital display, you have a digital control. If your spa-side control has a dial for temperature, and air buttons with air hoses running to the control box – this indicates that your spa has an air system control. Since they are close in price, many spa owners may upgrade their new spa pack to a digital system.

Spa Pack or Spa Control?

Spa Packs are the complete kit and kaboodle – control box, heater, pump(s) and sometimes also a blower. Everything, really – with the exception of the spa filter or ozonator. The Spa Control is just the controller for the spa, although some newer controls also include a spa heater.

If your system is fairly new, and you are mainly having problems with the control, with the other equipment in good order, you can save some bucks and replace just the spa control. If the other equipment items are older than 7-8 years, you may want to consider replacing the entire spa pack, to avoid equipment failure in the near future.

Gathering Information

Before you can order a replacement spa pack, grab your reading glasses and a flashlight, and get up close and personal with the existing equipment. You’ll need to locate and write down the following bits of information, from the name plates on the control and pump.

  • Pumps: One pump or Two? Locate the Horsepower (HP) on the motor nameplate.
  • Heater size: Usually, residential spas are either 1.5kw or 5.5kw
  • Control Voltage: Incoming voltage is either 120 volts or 240 volts (or 115/230).
  • Blower – do you wish to replace the blower also?
  • Pipe Size: 1.5″ or 2″? 1.5″ PVC pipe has an outside diameter of 1-7/8″.
  • Inlet Direction: Is Control inlet on the left side or right side of the pump?

Ordering a New Spa Pack

If you’ve done it before, and you are confident of your selection, by all means place your spa pack order online. If our tech support staff can be of any help to you in purchasing the correct spa pack for your application, by all means, call us at 800-770-0292. We have spa experts standing by from 7 to 7 during the week, and 8 to 5 on weekends.

Spa packs are not cheap, but considering it’s the “engine” of your hot tub, a price of $600-$800 may not seem too severe. You’ll find our prices on spa packs to be among the best, and with a wide variety of brands to choose from. Shipping on spa packs is always fast and free.

Installing your New Spa Pack

1. Shut off the Power, at the main Circuit Breaker for the spa. Read the installation instructions.
2. Close the isolation valves to shut off water before and after the pump, or drain the spa.
3. Loosen the unions before and after the existing spa pack, and remove wire connections from the spa light, ozonator, stereo or other accessory equipment.

spa-pak-locationYour spa pack control and heater must be installed after the pump and before the filter (unless your spa filter cartridge is located in the skimmer well of the spa). Make sure that the pipes are connected to the correct in and out ports of the pump and the heater.

Line up your new spa pack, and determine the plumbing arrangement. In most cases, all of the plumbing fittings and pipe you will need are included, but in some situations, a trip to Home Depot may be in order to pick up a few fittings, or a fresh can of PVC glue and a can of primer or PVC pipe cleaner. blower-installation

Dry fit all of your plumbing together before gluing, to make sure that everything is lined up, and all pipes and fittings can be glued to their full depth. NOTE: A spa air blower is not glued onto the pipe. Fumes from PVC glue can be ignited by a blower, so instead, use a screw or clamp to secure an air blower onto PVC pipe, as shown right.

4. Position spa pack components and secure them to the base or skid.
5. Clean and glue the PVC joints. Use Teflon tape on threaded fittings.
6. Attach wire plugs from spa light or other accessory equipment into the labeled ports on the control box.

spa-wiringMaking the electrical connections is fairly straight forward, and safe – as long as the power is off. Tape the breaker in the “Off” position, to prevent someone from accidentally turning it back on.

Make the hard wire connections from the new spa pack to the wires from the main circuit breaker (which is still Off!). If you doubt your abilities, please contact a certified electrician to make these connections.

7. Fill the spa, and inspect for any leaks in the pipes or equipment (before it gets too full).
8. Install the new Spa-Side control, by mounting in place of the existing top-side controls. If your new control is much smaller than the old one, you can use a small saw or Dremel tool to cut small openings in the current control, and mount the new control right on top of the old control.
9. Turn on power to spa, and set the thermostat to the lowest setting.
10. Run the spa jet pump on high for several minutes to purge all air from system before turning up the thermostat and testing the heater.

And, your done! While the spa is heating up, take some time to read the owner’s manual operating instructions, and send in the warranty registration card.

Once again, if you have any concerns about spa pack selection, ordering or installation, our 100% free spa tech support personnel are here to help you – 78 hours per week!

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Related Information:

Installing your New Equipment Pack
Installing a Spa Equipment Pack (videos)

Hot Tub Pump Problems

April 25th, 2013 by

spa-pump-problems

 

Spa and Hot Tub Pumps. They provide the circulation for the spa filter and heater and give an extra boost when turning the spa jets on high. And when the spa pump ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy – that’s because without water flow, there is no filtration, no sanitation and no heating.

Spa pumps need to operate every day to maintain clean and hot spa water – so when your hot tub pump has problems, it’s an emergency. If your spa cover is kept on, you may have 1 day before it cools off, and perhaps only a few days before bacteria and pathogens begin to thrive.

Shock the spa with your favorite spa shock when the sanitizer level gets low. You can continue using granular spa shock, or a spa floater with tablets, for several weeks, but if you go without filtration longer than a few weeks, you should consider draining the spa after your pump troubles are fixed.

Some spas have two pumps, one is the circulation pump and the other is the jet pump. If you have two pumps, chances are it’s one or the other – either your jets don’t work, or the spa circulation isn’t working. Spas and hot tubs with one pump usually have a 2-speed motor, operating on low speed most of the time, and on high speed when using the tub with the jets.

Spa Repairs can be Dangerous! Be sure to disconnect power. ONLY qualifed personnel should attempt spa repairs. Accidents can be fatal.

Spa Pump Trouble F.A.Q.

Here’s a simple way to troubleshoot your spa or hot tub pump. Hot Tub Blogs should do this more often – These are our most Frequently Asked Questions about spa pump repair.

Q: My Spa Pump is Dead – No Noise, No Action!

A: When you hit the switch or button, and you don’t hear your spa pump come on, there are a few things simple things you can try.

First, are other equipment items powered, are the indicator lights on? If not, the Circuit Breaker may be tripped. Second, the GFCI breaker may have tripped. Look for a red “TEST” button on an electrical outlet near your spa equipment. If the GFCI was tripped, but the spa still won’t come on, check the system Fuse in the spa pack panel. If you replace the Fuse and it pops again, you have an short in the wiring equipment of your spa.

Third, check your time clock or remote spa controller, if you have one, to make sure it is not over riding the switch you are using. Fourth – is a faulty switch you are using to turn on the spa pump. Air switch buttons are often used on older spas, and you may have a problem with the switch or the hose. Modern air switches are electronic, and you can test the power coming in and out of them, to determine if the switch itself is faulty.

Q: My Spa Pump is Not Pumping!

A: If your spa pump is coming on, but not pumping any water here’s some steps to troubleshoot.

First, have you just refilled your spa? If so, there is probably and Air Lock in the hot tub. In some spa systems, when you completely drain the spa, air gets trapped in the pipes and equipment. You need to bleed the air out and replace it with water before the pump can catch prime.spa-pump-wet-end

To bleed air our of your system, first look for a drain plug on the pump and filter. Place a small pan or cookie sheet underneath to catch any water. Slowly open the drain plugs until water begins to run out. If you don’t have drain plugs, you can slowly loosen the union on the pump (but don’t remove it, or the o-ring may pop out of place). Listen for escaping air, and then once the water begins to drip, you can tighten the union up again.

Second, if your tub is full, and still no water runs out, look for any closed valves before or after the pump. Third, is something blocking the lines? Look for something stuck in the skimmer or blocking the spa drain. Fourth, is the water level high enough? Low water will allow the skimmer to suck air, and cause the pump to lose prime. Fill spa to the middle of the skimmer opening.

Q: My Spa Pump Only Works on High Speed

A: First, rotate your timer clock and turn up thermostat to high to see if this resolves the problem.
Second, check the power at the low speed and high speed terminals, which should be either 110V or 220V, +/- 10%. Third, check the air switch button that you push to switch speeds. Check for voltage coming in an out of the switch, or for mechanical air switches, check that the device is not clogged with debris or insects, and that the air hose is in good shape and connected on both ends. Fourth, the mechanical switch in the back of the motor could be stuck in the high position, due to broken parts or insect infestation.

Q: My Spa Pump Only Works on Low Speed

A: When your 2-speed hot tub pump only works on low speed, and never kicks into high speed, there are four possible solutions to check.

First, if you are pushing an air switch button, check that the air hose is not crimped or disconnected. Newer, electronic air switches can be tested with a multi-meter, to see that power is passing through, on both sides of the switch. Second, If the pump was recently replaced or rewired, the wires could be reversed on the back of the motor.

Third, is the switch in the back of the motor, that changes to motor from low speed to high speed. With power off, manually operate the switch, looking for something loose, broken or misaligned. Insect or ant infestation could also prevent the switch from operating correctly. Fourth, is the contactor/relay that switches the pump speed. With power off, make sure that the connections are tight, and the terminals are not rusty or corroded.

Q: My Spa Pump is Humming, and Then the Breaker Trips

A: If your spa pump never actually turns on, it only makes a low noise, until the circuit breaker trips, check these things.

spa-pump-capacitor

Capacitor

First, would be the capacitor on the motor. This cylindrical “battery” provides extra starting power, and these can go bad after many years. You can test the capacitor, or simply replace it with an identical size. Second, Check the shaft for rotation. If you have an open volute, where you can see the shaft, use straight pliers to manually turn the shaft, to rule out a locked up motor, or something stuck in the pump impeller. Third, Check that input voltage is correct, either 110V or 220V, +/- 10%. Fourth, it is possible that the breaker itself is in need of replacement.

Q: My Spa Pump is On, but Barely Pumping

A: First, check the spa filter, it may need cleaning. Second, look for any obstructions in the skimmer or over the drain cover. Third, something could be clogging up the pump impeller, especially if a spa cover is not used, and lots of small debris has entered the hot tub. Fourth, an air leak, before the pump can cause this issue. Check the union in front of the pump, and look for any water leaks when the pump shuts off.

Q: My Spa Pump is Making Loud Noises

A: There are a few types of funny noises that a hot tub pump can make – none of them good.

First, if the noise is a screeching, high pitched whine, the motor bearings could be failing. Bearings can be replaced, or if the motor is very old (more than 5 years old), you may consider replacing the hot tub motor. Second, if the noise is a low pitched, grumbling noise, the pump could be starved for water. Check that the valve in front of the pump are open, and that nothing is clogged in the suction lines, including the spa filter. Third, a rattling noise – could be vibration that can be solved with a rubber pad beneath the pump. If something is broken inside the motor, it doesn’t take long (at 3400 rpm) for broken spa pump parts to be worn down to nothing. In this case, the noise would not last more than a few minutes.

Q: My Spa Pump is Leaking Water

Leaking Spa Pumps

A: First, and most probable, is that the shaft seal of the pump has failed. This is located behind the impeller, and would leak along the shaft, just behind the volute. Second, is the union on top of the pump. If water is dripping or spraying from where the union connects, the PVC threads may have shrunk (from running pump without water), or the threads may be loose and simply need to be tightened. Third, if either incoming or outgoing unions were loosened recently, the internal o-ring may have come out of place, and not be positioned properly. Fourth – is the o-ring that seals up the impeller housing, or volute. Dry-rotted, out of position, or possibly loose, along with loose screws around the face of the pump.

 

I hope that this FAQ of Hot Tub pump problems has been helpful to you. If your question was not answered here, feel free to post a comment below, or call our helpful spa tech support personnel at  800-770-0292.

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Sundance Spa Pumps and Jacuzzi Pumps

June 3rd, 2011 by

Sundance Wet End

 

 

We are now offering a new line of wet-ends called the Piranha that have 8 mounting legs instead of the typical 4 leg style. This will allow you to clock the wet-end into 8 different positions including those 45 degree angles that Sundance and Jacuzzi brand spas used on their models for a number of years.

The wet end for this pump can be adjusted to all these positions, so you can more easily make a replacement to the volute of your spa pump. Reducing the number of 90′s is always a good idea for decreased resistance in your spa system.

Here’s the new offering of Sundance Spa Pumps

PirWE20

Complete Sundance Wet End for 4.0/ 2.0 Hp Pumps.
Contains: front and rear housing, 2.0 Hp impeller, o-ring, seal and screws.  For use on a 48 Frame Pump which Sundance used on 1998-2005.
Current Replacement Pump Wet End for these old part numbers: 6500-257, 6500-262, 6500-264, 6500-265, 6500-266, 6500-757, 6500-762, 6500-764, 6500-765, 6500-766, 6500-769, 6500-347, 6500-349.
Used on Sundance Spa Models: Altamar, Bahia, Calypso, Calypso II, Cameo, Certa, Chelsee, Hamilton, Hartford, Hawthorne, Majesta, Marin, Madison, Maxxus, Montego, Optima, Palermo, Telluride
Used on Jacuzzi Premium Spa Models: J-325, J-330, J-335, J-340, J-345, J-350, J-355, J-360, J-365, J-370, J-375, J-380, J-385

PirWE25

Complete Sundance Wet End for 4.2/ 2.5 Hp Pumps.
Contains: front and rear housing, 2.5 Hp impeller, o-ring, seal and screws.  For Use on a 48 Frame Pump which Sundance used on 1998-2005.
Current Replacement pump wet end for these old part numbers: 6500-254, 6500-257, 6500-260, 6500-261, 6500-262, 6500-263, 6500-264, 6500-265, 6500-268, 6500-754, 6500-757, 6500-760, 6500-761, 6500-762, 6500-764, 6500-765, 6500-768

Used on Sundance Spa Models from 1998-2005: Altamar, Austin, Bahia, Burlington, Calypso, Calypso I, Calypso II, Cameo, Camden, Capri, Caprio ST, Cayman, Certa, Corum, Cyprus, Hamilton, Hartford, Hawthorne, Madison, Marin, Majesta, Maxxus, Montego, Olympia, Optima, Palermo, Rio, Telluride.

Used on Jacuzzi Premium Spa Models: J-325, J-330, J-335, J-340, J-345, J-350, J-355, J-360, J-365, J-370, J-375, J-380, J-385

PirWE15

Complete Sundance Wet End for 1.5 Hp Pumps.
Contains: front and rear housing, 1.5 Hp impeller, o-ring, seal and screws. For use on a 48 Frame Pump which Sundance used on 1998-2005.
Current Replacement pump wet end for these old part numbers: 6500-122, 6500-135, 6500-259, 6500-258, 6500-293, 6500-759, 6500-758, 6500-793, 6500-345

BN50-15-PIR
6500-345, Sundance Spas Pump, 1.5 HP, 120 Volt 2 Speed. 1997-Present

Current Replacement for these old part numbers: 6500-122, 6500-135, 6500-259, 6500-258, 6500-293, 6500-758, 6500-759, 6500-793.
Used on Sundance Spa Models: Aspen, Bali, Cheyenne, Denali, Dover, Metro, Solo, Suntub, Tango, Tacoma, Vail

BN62-25-PIR
6500-341 & 6500-355, Sundance Spas, Jacuzzi Spas Pump. 2.5/4.2 HP Rated, 240 Volt, Replacement Pump for 1997-Present Sundance Spas and Jacuzzi Premium Spas.

Used to Replace: old part numbers: 6500-126, 6500-128, 6500-131, 6500-254, 6500-261, 6500-263, 6500-266, 6500-269, 6500-754, 6500-763, 6500-766, 6500-769
Used on SUndance Spa Models 1997-2011: Altamar, Bahia, Calypso, Calypso II, Cameo, Certa, Chelsee, Hamilton, Hartford, Hawthorne, Majesta, Marin, Madison, Maxxus, Montego, Optima, Palermo, Telluride
Used on Jacuzzi Premium Spa Models: J-325, J-330, J-335, J-340, J-345, J-350, J-355, J-360, J-365, J-370, J-375, J-380, J-385