Free Shipping on all Spa Covers and orders over $100 Up to 30% Off Chemicals and Aromatherapy!
1-800-770-0292
Sunday - Saturday
7am - 7pm CST

Archive for the ‘Spa Pumps’ Category

How to Rotate a Spa Pump Wet End

April 11th, 2016 by

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 Jets Not Working?

February 15th, 2016 by

rotating-spa-jets

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 that you have major problems, you probably don’t. There should be a 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 a spa or hot tub owner through a Hot Tub Jets Not Working issue.

 

 

is the pump working right?

spa-and-hot-tub-pumpThis is the important first question, but it’s really many questions. Like, is the pump “Air-Locked”? Which can occur if you just drained the hot tub. Some systems need to “burp” out the air in the pipes in front of the pump, usually by loosening the union nut or pump drain plug, to allow air to escape.

Some hot tubs have two pumps, a circulation pump for filtration, and another jet booster pump. Or, many hot tubs have a single, two-speed pump that accomplishes both functions. So another question is, 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.

 

Dirty Spa Filter?

filter-cartridge-for-spasA 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 your filter is pretty clean. A dirty spa filter can allow small bits of debris to pass through. Replace your spa filters every 12-18 months for best results.

 

Clogged Drain Cover?

spa-drain-cover-twoThe 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 will block the water flow. Check that your drain covers are not covered with something blocking the water flow.

 

Low Water Level in Spa?

spa-skimmer-levelIf your spa skimmer is drawing in air, or sucking air – this will drastically affect water flow, and also shut off the spa heater. Is the Water Level OK in the spa? You will need to add some replacement water every so often, to replace water lost to evaporation and drag-off. Keeping your spa cover straps clipped helps reduce evaporation further by pulling the cover tight against the spa.

 

Air Leak in Front of Pump?

spa-pump-union-and-drain-plugUsually it’s the pump union in front of the pump that is loose, or the o-ring inside is out of position. But it could be a valve or any connection on the pipe that is in front of the pump, or the pipe that brings water into the pump. If anything is loose or cracked in front of the pump, the pump will suck in air. The point which is leaking air when the pump is On, will also leak water when the pump if Off. With the cabinet door open, shut off the pump and look for any spray or drips on the pipe coming into the pump.

 

Clogged Pump Impeller?

spa-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, it could clog 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 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 holding the impeller housing cover in place to expose the impeller. Use flexible wire or plastic to ream out the impeller vanes, to remove the clogging material. Re-secure the impeller housing cover, tighten the pump unions and open the valves.

 

Is the Jet Adjustable?

spa-jetMany jets are adjustable at the nozzle or by rotating the outer ring, and many can be turned almost off, which increases the flow to the other jets nearby. You may find it easier to manipulate the jet adjustment while the pump is off, but should not be necessary. Try turning the jet nozzle left or right, or turn the jet outer ring or ‘scalloped bezel’.

 

Is the Jet Clogged?

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

 

Are the valves all open?

open-spa-valvesFor 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 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 banks of jets, or sets 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.

On 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, and are often surface knobs that 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, which will make your heater work harder.

 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Hot Tub Pump Motor Replacement

July 13th, 2015 by

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 Maintenance

February 20th, 2015 by

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

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

 

Care = Prevention

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

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Maintenance

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

 

Spa & Hot Tub Equipment Maintenance

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

 

Saving Money & Energy

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

 

Spa Safety

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

dont-forget-2

 

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

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

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

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

December 12th, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Time for a new Hot Tub Spa Pack?

November 20th, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

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

Replacing a Leaking Spa Pump Seal

November 12th, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

REPLACING-A-SHAFT-SEAL--1

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

SPA-PUMP-SHAFT-SEAL-REPLACEMENT

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

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

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

spa-wet-end-schematic

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

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

 

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

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

 

- Jack

 

Frozen Hot Tub!

October 6th, 2014 by

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

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

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

WAYS TO PREVENT SPA FREEZE DAMAGE:

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

STEPS TO UNFREEZE A FROZEN HOT TUB:

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

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

IDENTIFYING FREEZE DAMAGE:

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

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

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

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Spas: Cutting Energy Costs

August 21st, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

 

Top 5 ways to Reduce Hot Tub Energy Costs

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

Possible Energy Savings: 5-10%

 

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

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

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

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

Possible Energy Savings:  10-20%

 

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

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

Possible Energy Savings: 10-20%

 

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

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

Possible Energy Savings: 15-20%

 

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

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

Possible Energy Savings: 25-30%

 

Other things you can do to prevent heat loss include:

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Replace or Renovate an Old Hot Tub?

August 4th, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s your Type?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s your Threshold?

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

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

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

 

Spa Renovation Ideas:AquaRock Morocco 90 Spa

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

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

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works