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How to Troubleshoot Common Hot Tub Problems

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hot tub troubleshootingUnfortunately, hot tubs don’t always work the way we want them to. Heaters may not heat, water flow will be low or nonexistent, leaks can pop up and water chemistry can go awry. The good news is that most hot tub problems can be remedied with a little bit of troubleshooting and a quick fix or two.

Heater Not Working

Problem: What’s a hot tub without hot water? That’s an easy one – it’s not much fun at all! If your hot tub heater doesn’t seem to be working properly, it’s often the symptom of another underlying issue.

Solution: The first thing to check is your water flow. Is there enough water going through the lines to close the flow or pressure switch and prompt the heater to start heating? If not, continue reading in the next section to resolve the flow problem. If there is adequate water flow, it may be one of the electrical components of the heater – flow or pressure switches, thermostats, high limit switches, heater elements, loose wiring, blown fuses or a tripped breaker. For more information on getting your heater up and running again, check out this article about the Top 5 Hot Tub Heater Problems.

Low Water Flow

Problem: You turn on the jets, and the water pressure flowing through the lines just isn’t as high as it should be. You may even be seeing flow-related error codes popping up on your spa’s control panel. Low water flow is actually one of the most common problems hot tub owners have to deal with. With flow troubles, there could be several different things going on.

Solution: First things first – make sure the filter and drain cover are both clean. A dirty, clogged filter or drain cover won’t allow water to pass through very easily. Also check to see if water levels are where they should be, since low levels can negatively impact flow rates. Open up all of the jets to determine if it’s just a few malfunctioning jets (which will need to be repaired or replaced) or if it’s all of the jets (which might indicate a faulty gate valve). Other potential causes include blockages in the pump impeller, blockages in ozonator valves (if you have one) or air lock, which is next on our list. If your hot tub jets aren’t feeling as strong as usual, you’ll want to read up on this informative blog post: Hot Tub Jets Not Working?

Air Lock

Problem: Air lock happens when air gets trapped in the plumbing and has no way to get out, so the pump is unable to work properly. This often happens after a hot tub has been drained, cleaned and refilled.  If you turn on the hot tub and hear the motor running, but nothing is coming out of the jets, chances are pretty good that you’re dealing with an air lock problem.

Solution: To get those jets flowing again, you’ll need to “burp” the air out of the lines. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first method involves opening the jets and turning the jets on and off a few times, increasing the duration each time. If no air or water is coming out of the jets after three on/off cycles, you’ll need to release the air directly from the pump. More detailed instructions can be found in one of our recent blog posts, How to Fix Hot Tub Air Lock.

Leaks

Problem: You may have stumbled upon a leak as the result of troubleshooting other hot tub problems, such as low water flow or air lock. Or, in some cases, you may not even notice a problem until you see water leaking from the bottom of your hot tub. Rest assured, this is usually an easy problem to resolve.

Solution: The first step is to locate the source of the leak. Check any connections that utilize a gasket or o-ring to form a seal, including spa jets, lights, pumps, unions, filter housings, chlorinators and ozonators. Leaks can also happen where PVC pieces are glued together. If you can’t locate the leak by quickly looking in the equipment bay, you may need to do a bit more digging. Once the leak is found, you’ll know what kind of repair is needed. Hot Tub Works has many helpful articles on hot tub leak repair and how to do it properly.

Error Messages

Problem: The nice thing about error messages popping up on the control panel is that you have a clear direction for focusing your troubleshooting and repair efforts. The bad thing is that there are a LOT of them, and some codes can indicate a variety of different issues!

Solution: The owner’s manual for your hot tub will usually have its own troubleshooting guide paired with a list of error codes for your specific model. But if you’ve misplaced this guide, error code meanings aren’t too hard to track down. They generally pertain to three categories: water flow, heating and sensor errors. Lucky for you, we’ve gathered “The Big List” of Hot Tub Error Codes to help you out on your troubleshooting journey.

Noisy Pump

Problem: No one likes noisy neighbors, just like spa owners don’t appreciate noisy pumps! It’s not relaxing at all, and those noises are a red flag that something’s going wrong with your pump. If your hot tub pump is banging, rattling, squeaking or  squelching, it’s time to open up the spa cabinet and take a look.

Solution: It’s fairly common for bearings to wear out on pump motors, especially if the motor is older than five years old. A screeching, high-pitched whine coming from the motor is usually a sign that the bearings are failing. If so, either the bearings, the motor or the entire spa pump will need to be replaced as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you’re hearing a low-pitched grumbling noise, your pump may not be getting enough water. Make sure the intake valves are open and your lines are free of clogs and debris. Rattling noises are often caused by vibration of the pump while it’s running, which can be fixed with a rubber pad to reduce the rattle. If the pump hums for a little bit before popping the circuit breaker, you’re likely dealing with a faulty capacitor. For more help with troubleshooting various pump issues, check out this article about Hot Tub Pump Problems.

GFCI Tripping

Problem: If no power is reaching your hot tub, the first thing you usually check is whether or not the GFCI or circuit breaker has been tripped. When you reset the button or switch and it keeps tripping, there is something else awry with your hot tub or the electrical wiring.

Solution: It’s best to start at the source, making sure that the breaker is not worn out. Moisture and corrosion on electrical components can also cause a circuit switch to trip, so thoroughly check the GFCI box and the inside of the spa cabinet for signs of a problem. Wiring can also come loose or become damaged, causing incomplete circuits or a short in the system. If all of this checks out and no problems are noticed, it’s time to look at the different electrical components of your spa. The heater is the first place most people look, since it’s the most common culprit when a breaker continually trips. If the heating element is tested and appears fine, you’ll need to narrow down the faulty component through process of elimination. Disconnect everything, then reconnect them one at a time – lights, pump, sound system, ozonator, air blower, etc. until you determine which one is causing the problem. There are many reasons power may not be reaching your hot tub. Some of those problems are best left to an electrician to handle. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek out a professional’s opinion!

Cloudy Water

Problem: This is a common hot tub problem, and it’s a good indicator that something is “off” in your water balance or hot tub equipment. Not only does cloudy water look bad, but it’s usually not good for you OR your hot tub, either.

Solution: Calcium levels, total alkalinity, pH and sanitizer can all play a part in water cloudiness. Excess organic materials, biofilm buildup, dirty filters and plumbing malfunctions can also be a source of cloudy water woes. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out why the water gets cloudy, so Hot Tub Works put together a handy detailed guide: 10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy.

Smelly Water

Problem: Just like cloudy water, smelly water often stems from poor water chemistry or hot tub maintenance practices. Foul smells coming from the hot tub indicate that bacteria is taking over, and it’s time to act fast!

Solution: Make sure pH and total alkalinity are balanced, and keep the sanitizer levels consistently within the recommended range. Shocking a spa will quickly kill off any bacteria lurking in the water. If this doesn’t help, it may be time to deep clean your spa. Purge biofilm from the lines with a cleaning product like Jet Clean, drain the tub, clean all surfaces, clean or replace the hot tub filter, and refill with properly balanced and sanitized water. If your hot tub still reeks when you’re done cleaning, check the cover. Mildew loves to grow on the underside of hot tub covers, which can make the whole tub smell musty. Keep your hot tub and cover clean, and maintain proper water balance so you’ll never have to hear, “Your Hot Tub Water Smells Bad!”


These problems (and more!) happen to every hot tub owner at some point or another, so it’s nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. Hot Tub Works has you covered! With countless informational “How To” articles, hot tub parts and chemicals, we have everything you need to get your hot tub back on track.

How to Fix Hot Tub Air Lock

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hot tub air lockIt’s a common scenario. You’ve just spent HOURS draining, cleaning and re-filling your hot tub, and you’re ready to take a soak. You turn on the jets, and although you can hear the spa pump motor running, no water is coming out of the jets. You may even notice an error code popping up on the display. It’s a dead giveaway – you have an air locked hot tub.

What is Hot Tub Air Lock?

Hot tub air lock happens when air gets trapped inside the plumbing, and the circulation pump is unable to prime. This keeps water from flowing through the water lines, preventing the pump(s), heater and jets from working normally.

Anytime a hot tub is drained for regular cleaning and maintenance, it’s easy for air to get trapped in the lines. But not to worry! Whenever hot tub air lock symptoms are noticed, it’s usually pretty easy to fix.

How to Fix Hot Tub Air Lock

There are a couple of easy methods you can use to eliminate air lock in your spa or hot tub. Before you get started, make sure the heater is either turned off or the temperature setting has been turned all the way down. If the heater kicks on while you’re purging the air, it can get damaged from overheating.

It’s worth noting that some newer hot tubs and pumps have a designated bleeder valve, which allows for quick and easy air lock elimination. Check the owner’s manual to see if your hot tub is equipped with a bleeder valve before trying any other methods.

hot tub jets

The first method involves “burping” the air out of the plumbing through the jets. First, make sure all jets are completely open by turning the faceplates counter-clockwise. Next, turn the jets on high for about 10-15 seconds, then turn them off again. Continue turning the jets on and off again, increasing the time by about 10 seconds each time until you see air bubbling out of the jets. When this happens, leave the jets on until the bubbles are gone or the jets are functioning normally. If you don’t see any air bubbles after three on/off cycles, you’ll need to try another method. Otherwise, you can damage your spa pump from allowing it to run dry.

fixing hot tub air lockAnother method is to remove air from the pump directly. This is actually much simpler than it sounds, and it only requires a screwdriver (to remove cabinet panels) and a set of channel lock pliers (to release the air). First, locate your spa pump, using the owner’s manual if necessary. If there is more than one pump, determine which one(s) is air locked. Remove the appropriate panel from the spa cabinet so you can access the pump, and very slowly loosen the large union nut between the spa plumbing and the motor to release the air. Once the air has finished leaking out, water will start to sputter out, and it will soon become a steady flow of water. When this happens, re-tighten the union. Turn the jets back on to see if the problem was solved. If not, you may need to call in professional help or try troubleshooting other hot tub jet problems.

Preventing Hot Tub Air Lock

One of the easiest ways to prevent hot tub air lock is to purge air from the lines as you are re-filling the hot tub. Instead of dropping the hose directly into the tub, stick the end of the hose into the filter well, and leave all jets completely open. This will fill the spa plumbing first, eliminating air from the lines as the spa is filled. But even this method has its flaws, and you may still run into air lock problems from time to time.

Help! My Hot Tub Pillows Stink!

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how to clean hot tub pillowsIt’s a common scenario. You open the hot tub cover and settle in for a warm, relaxing soak. Next thing you know, your senses are bombarded by the overwhelming aroma of smelly hot tub pillows…YUCK! Not relaxing at all! Lucky for you, it’s not too hard to eliminate that stealthy stench.

Why Do My Spa Pillows Stink?

Bacteria, mold and mildew thrive in warm, moist environments, making your hot tub a hot spot for the growth of these smell-inducing microorganisms. Left unchecked, they can accumulate and make your entire hot tub – not just the pillows – smell bad.

It’s easier for microorganisms to grow if the water’s pH is unbalanced and sanitizer levels aren’t high enough. Bacteria can also build up over time if the spa doesn’t get drained and cleaned properly. Failure to remove the spa cover and allow it to breathe or “gas off” regularly can also exacerbate smelly spa issues.

How Do I Clean My Spa Pillows?

Regular cleaning will not only keep your hot tub pillows smelling great, it will also keep them looking great and slow down the rate of deterioration. Here are some quick tips to clean your hot tub pillows and get rid of that stinky smell:

  1. Remove the pillows from your hot tub. Some pillows are connected by suction cups, some by screws, and some by a specialized plug or clip. Use caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions so you don’t damage the pillow or attachment pieces.
  2. Prepare the cleaning solution. If it’s part of your regular maintenance, use a gentle hot tub cleansing product. For mild mildew, vinegar and baking soda should do the trick. For more stubborn smells or severe mold and mildew, try bleach and a mild detergent. The use of gloves and safety goggles is recommended when handling strong chemicals.
  3. Use a sponge and cleaning solution to clean the pillow. Gently scrub to make sure every bit of mold and mildew is removed. If your pillow has a cover or can be disassembled, all pieces should be thoroughly cleaned. For hard-to-reach areas, seams, indents or deep textures, use a toothbrush. Don’t scrub too hard, or you’ll damage the pillow.
  4. Rinse pillows thoroughly to remove all cleaning solution.
  5. Allow the pillows to dry completely. This will kill off any remaining bacteria, mildew or mold spores. Warm, sunny days are perfect for this! Any strong scents left over from the cleaning solution (such as vinegar or bleach) should dissipate as the pillows dry.
  6. Clean hot tub surfaces in the areas behind the pillows. Don’t forget this step! Mold and mildew love to hide and accumulate here, so it could be where the smell was originating.
  7. Reassemble the fully dried pillows. When you’re ready to use them again, put them back in the hot tub, and enjoy that freshly-cleaned spa pillow scent!

Other Maintenance Tips

Keeping a close eye on water balance, sanitizer levels and overall cleanliness will help your entire hot tub stay looking and smelling good for many years to come. If you start to notice a smell coming from the spa, don’t just mask it with aromatherapy products – those can come after the bad smell is GONE. Find the root of the problem first, and eliminate the cause. Common sources of strong odors include the pillows, biofilm buildup in the plumbing, a dirty filter, an aging spa cover or even the water itself.

For regular pillow maintenance, gently wipe or rinse away chemical residue at least once a week. This is an easy way to prolong the lifespan of the pillows. If you won’t be using the hot tub for a while and are concerned about mildew issues, simply remove the pillows, clean them thoroughly (using the steps above), and store them in a dry place until they’re needed again.

If you notice that your hot tub pillows have started deteriorating and are smelling bad more frequently, it may be time to find replacement pillows. Hot Tub Works has many different types of spa pillow replacements to fit many models of hot tubs. We might just have what you’re looking for!

How to Drain a Hot Tub…Quickly!

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Knowing how to drain a hot tub is one thing. Knowing how to drain a hot tub quickly is another. It can save so much time in hot tub maintenance! The average hot tub should be drained every 3-4 months, depending on frequency of use, water quality and other factors. Using the drain plug alone or siphoning water through a garden hose can take hours and hours to complete. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to some quicker methods for draining a spa or hot tub in minutes.

 

First Things First

Before getting started, check local ordinances to make sure you are able to legally drain the spa. Can you drain it into the yard? Can the water drain into the street? Is there a sewer hookup nearby? Perhaps there’s a draught in the area, and water conservation measures are in effect. Knowing this info before getting started will save you from headaches later on.

jet clean hot tub cleanerchange or clean the hot tub filterA couple times a year (or more), it’s a good idea to purge the plumbing in your hot tub. Bacteria, body oils and other organic matter form layers of nasty biofilm, which can lurk in the pipes and cause skin irritation or illness. Using a cleansing product like Jet Clean breaks down the biofilm so it can be removed while draining. Just add the chemical, turn on the jets, and let it circulate for 20-60 minutes, following label instructions on time and dosing. Don’t fret if brownish, foamy goop comes to the surface – this means the cleaner is working!

After the lines have been purged, turn off all hot tub functions and flip the circuit breaker; you don’t want the pump or heater to come on while the water level is low. Remove the filter for cleaning, and assemble your supplies…it’s time to drain the hot tub!

Draining the Hot Tub

There are couple of easy ways to quickly drain a hot tub. Either method can be used in addition to the drain plug or combined with other draining methods for maximum efficiency.

use a submersible pump to drain a hot tub

Submersible Pump

The fastest way to drain a hot tub is to use a submersible pump. Personally, I like using the AquaPro APC3000 submersible pump. This 1/3 HP pump can be used with a ¾” garden hose or a 1¾“ sump pump discharge hose to remove up to 30 gallons per minute (1,800 gallons per hour). The math is pretty simple – a 450 gallon spa can be emptied in as little as 15 minutes flat. Yes, you read that correctly!

The AquaPro is nice, because it includes a sensor to automatically turn off once the spa has been emptied. Since you won’t have to babysit the pump, use this time to clean the spa filter or get started on the spa cover. There should only be a little bit of water left in the bottom, which can be removed manually or with a wet/dry vac.

Shop Vac Siphon

wet/dry shop vacuumAnother fast method for draining a hot tub is using a wet/dry vacuum to get a siphon started. Drop one end of a long vacuum hose into the spa, and connect the other end to the wet/dry vacuum. Turn it on for a few seconds – just long enough to let the hose prime and get the flow moving. Turn off the vacuum, and quickly disconnect the hose so the water can flow out onto the ground.

Though not quite as fast as using a submersible pump, this method can still empty out an average-sized hot tub in a matter of minutes. The large hose diameter makes it much more efficient than a garden hose siphon. The nice thing about using the vacuum hose is that while water is being siphoned out of the spa, you can use the “wand” end to remove dirt and debris from the floor and seats. Once the water level is low enough that the siphon isn’t pulling water anymore, hook the hose back up to the wet/dry vacuum to remove the last puddles of water from the tub.

Final Tips

hot to drain a hot tubIf you’re going to be leaving the spa empty for a while, don’t forget to remove water from the lines, too. A new layer of biofilm can build up quickly if the water is allowed to stay in the pipes, and you’ll be right back at square one when you refill! This can be done with a wet/dry vacuum to blow and/or suck the water out. Or, if your spa has one, briefly turn on the air blower, making sure all jets are open first. Remember to turn the power back off once you’re done with the air blower.

Thoroughly dry the tub with a soft towel. Next, use a spa cleaning chemical to remove tough scum and protect the tub surface. Finish cleaning (or replace) the filter cartridge, clean and condition the cover, and hose off the spa cabinet if it’s looking dirty. If you’re not refilling the hot tub right away, allow the filter to dry completely, and store it indoors.

 

Of course, you can always just use the bottom drain on the hot tub and wait for several hours. Then again, the faster the hot tub is drained and cleaned, the sooner you can get back to using it! Hot Tub Works has everything needed to clean and maintain your freshly drained spa, from cleaning chemicals and replacement filters, to water balancing chemicals and test strips. Have questions? Give us a call!

Hot Tub Pros & Cons: In Ground vs. Above Ground

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hot tub pros and cons

Looking to buy (or build) a new spa or hot tub? There are two basic types to choose from – in ground hot tubs and above ground hot tubs. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and there are many styles to choose from within each category. To help decide which one will work best for you, we’ve put together a handy list of hot tub pros and cons.

In Ground Hot Tub

If you’re considering an in ground spa or hot tub, chances are that you’re either looking to purchase a house with one already installed, or you’re thinking of installing one in your own backyard. These hot tubs can be attached to a pool as a pool-spa combo, or they can be completely independent of a pool. If you live in the snowbelt but would like to use your hot tub over the winter, avoid pool-spa combos that share the same pump and filter system or allow spa water to overflow into the pool.

Pros

  • in ground hot tubAesthetically pleasing addition to backyard. Perfectly complements any pool.
  • Permanent fixture – durable and built to last.
  • Can add value to home.
  • Easy maintenance if pool and spa share the same pump, filter and sanitizer system.
  • Hot tub doesn’t have to be drained if sharing water with the pool.
  • Customizable design options – shape, seating, lighting, jet placement, water features, spillover into pool, building materials used, etc.
  • Easy to get into and out of spa.

Cons

  • in ground hot tubFewer hydrotherapy jets.
  • Concrete spas are more abrasive on skin and swimsuits.
  • Most have basic bench-type seating around the spa, which isn’t as comfortable or accommodating.
  • Must be heated each time it’s used, which consumes a lot of energy.
  • Expensive to install.
  • Excavation and construction process takes time – 2 weeks to 3 months (or longer).
  • If using a cover, it’s more difficult to remove without a cover lift.

Above Ground Hot Tub

Also known as a portable spa, above ground hot tubs are a common choice for people purchasing a spa for their home. A portable spa doesn’t require any special permits, construction or extra equipment – just set it on a flat surface, fill it up, plug it in, and it’s ready to use! With a little creativity and planning, you can help it blend into your backyard setting and boost its visual appeal.

Pros

  • above ground hot tubComfortable ergonomic seats at varying levels to accommodate people of all heights.
  • Smooth acrylic finish is gentle on skin and easy to clean.
  • Many hydrotherapy jets with varying settings for a full body massage.
  • Lower purchase price, and costs less to operate and maintain.
  • Simple installation.
  • Building into a deck or other elevated landscaping can provide the illusion of an in ground spa.
  • Well-fitting spa cover conserves heat, keeps water cleaner and can be easily removed with a cover lift.
  • Always heated and ready to use; no waiting period for the water to warm up.
  • Most spas come with pre-installed extras – color-changing LED lights, water features, built-in stereos, etc.
  • Placement near home provides convenient winter access.
  • Can be moved to another location at any time.

above ground hot tub

Cons

  • Does not blend into landscape as easily.
  • Must be drained every 3-4 months to maintain water quality.
  • Not customizable. Fewer options for size, shape and interior materials.
  • Must use steps to get into and out of the spa.
  • Requires extra care to make sure the cabinet and cover stay looking new.
  • Must use specifically labeled spa chemicals. Pool chemicals are stronger and will damage your tub.
  • Filter cartridges need regular cleaning, which equals twice the work if you also have a pool.

Which is Better?

There really is no clear winner here. Both styles have their own merits, so it all comes down to personal preference. If you want to add extra dimension to your backyard, enjoy hosting social events at your home, or you just want a relaxing soak every once in a while, an in ground hot tub will likely suit you best. On the other hand, if you place more value on comfortable seating, powerful hydrotherapy, relatively simple upkeep, and you plan on using it frequently, you might opt for an above ground spa instead.

How to Keep a Hot Tub Clean While on Vacation

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how to maintain a hot tub while on vacation

If you’ve owned a hot tub for any length of time, you know that it requires daily maintenance to keep the water clean and sanitary. But what do you do when you aren’t home to clean the spa for a few days or weeks? How do you keep the hot tub clean while you’re on vacation? Not to worry – we’ve got all your answers right here!

 

First Things First…

No matter how long you’ll be away from home, what the outdoor weather is like, or what time of sanitizer you use for your hot tub, some procedures will stay the same across the board for vacation-proofing your hot tub:

  • Test and balance the water.
    • Test the alkalinity and calcium hardness of your spa water, and balance it accordingly.
  • Clean or replace the filter cartridge.
    • change or clean the hot tub filterThis is one of the most important things to do before you go on vacation. Clean or replace the filter cartridge before you leave.
    • If you leave for a week or two with a dirty filter, you’re going to have dirty water to contend with when you get home.
  • Sanitize the water.
    • Make sure there’s enough sanitizer to get your spa through vacation, and lower the output levels as needed.
    • Since there will be no people in the hot tub while you’re gone, the sanitizer won’t be used up as quickly.
    • Before you leave, treat the water with spa shock, and run the pump for about 30 minutes to ensure the water has been well circulated.
  • Secure the spa.
    • No matter how long you’ll be away, make sure to keep your hot tub cover or entrance(s) locked down.
    • If an uninvited guest goes for a dip in your spa and something bad happens, you may be held liable. Keeping the cover firmly closed will also keep dirt out and heat in.

Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s look out how this maintenance plan will change depending on a number of different factors.

 

Planning According to Duration

Short Vacation

If you’re only leaving town for a couple of days, there’s no need to do much else besides the basic instructions listed above. Enjoy your trip, knowing that when you return home the hot tub will be in the same pristine condition you left it in!

hot tub vacation

Long Vacation

Here, it mostly depends on how long you will be gone. A week? Two weeks? A month or more? For 1-2 week vacations, preparation work is extremely important. If you have a friend or neighbor who can drop in a couple times to monitor water quality and add more sanitizer, this will make it easier to keep the water clean and clear while you’re gone. As incentive for adding sanitizer for you, allow them to use the hot tub while you’re gone! To save on heating expenses, you can also decrease the temperature by 10 degrees.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be gone for quite a while, or if it’s been a few months since the spa was last drained and refilled, you may be ahead to just clean and drain your spa before you leave. Be sure to use a product like Jet Clean, which will clear the lines of biofilm and other hidden gunk. Drain the tub, and turn on a blower or low pressure air compressor to completely clear the water out of the lines. This will prevent freezing damage or yucky bio-growth taking over the plumbing. Once the tub is fully drained, thoroughly clean and dry the tub with a soft towel or sponge. Leave all drain plugs off to release any remaining water in the system, and put the spa cover back on to keep the tub clean and out of direct sunlight. It will be ready for a fresh refill when you return!

*Please note that wooden hot tubs cannot be drained for extended periods.

 

Planning According to Weather

Warm Weather

warm weatherIf weather conditions are pretty warm in your area, the main thing you’ll need to worry about while you’re gone is algae growth. Keeping sanitizer levels up is your best defense against an algae outbreak, and shocking the spa before you go will certainly help. If needed, use a spa algaecide to treat and prevent algae. It’s OK to turn off the pump and heater while you’re out of town if there’s no risk of the water freezing.

Cold Weather

cold weatherIf temperatures are consistently below freezing, you’ll need to ensure the hot tub and plumbing will stay thawed while you’re away. As long as the spa is properly heated, it’s alright to drop the water temperature by 10 degrees to save on heating costs. Leave the pump and heater on to keep the water warm and circulating. If you have freeze protection for your hot tub, it will automatically turn on the circulation pump when temperatures approach freezing.

 

Planning According to Sanitizer Type

Bromine or Chlorine Sanitizer

Bromine is the most popular sanitization chemical for hot tubs and spas, and it’s actually pretty easy to manage while you’re out of town. Just load up a bromine floater with 1” bromine tablets, and turn the output setting down to the lowest setting to keep the chemical flow to a minimum.spa bromine and chlorine

For chlorine, just remember to NEVER put 1” tri-chlor (stabilized pool chlorine) tabs into a spa floater. Tri-chlor tablets are intended for use in pools only, but di-chlor granular chlorine can be safely added to spas. If you rely solely on chlorine granules for sanitizing the water, you may need to have a friend or neighbor help out until you get back home. On the other hand, if you have a chlorine hot tub, it’s likely that you also supplement the chlorine with a mineral sanitizer or an ozone system. If that’s the case, keep reading to learn more!

salt chlorine generator for spas and hot tubs

Salt Chlorine Generator

If you have a salt water hot tub, you won’t have to worry too much while on vacation! Just make sure salt levels are sufficient for chlorine generation, and shock the water before you go. The chlorine will not be used up as quickly while the spa is closed, so the generator will not be working as hard to maintain free chlorine levels.

Mineral Sanitizer

mineral floaterMineral sanitizers are valuable in that they can supplement most other sanitizer systems – bromine, chlorine and ozone, included. Some mineral sanitizers are packaged as floaters and paired with bromine or chlorine, while others can be dropped directly into your spa filter. Aside from the standard pre-vacation spa maintenance, you’ll just need to make sure that your mineral cartridges are good to go. Most mineral cartridges last about 4 months, so if needed, just replace them before you leave.

Ozonator

spa ozone generator

Just like a salt chlorinator, an ozone generator won’t require much extra effort before you close up the hot tub. Just ensure everything is working properly and the water is properly balanced and sanitized before you go. You won’t have to worry about overdosing the tub on ozone, so you don’t even need to adjust the timer if you don’t want to.

 

With a little extra planning and preparation, your hot tub will be ready to use in no time once you return. Don’t let routine hot tub maintenance keep you from enjoying the vacation you deserve!

 

16 Funny TV Ads Featuring Hot Tubs

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Hot Tubs are a favorite theme for advertisers, because of their appeal to the emotions. In this collection of 16 product ads featuring hot tubs, spas are portrayed as sexy, relaxing, awkward – or all of the above. Take a look, and share this post if you chuckled, even just a little bit.

 

 

Too Funny ~ Hot Tubs as popular culture! Hat Tip to Bullfrog Spas blog who first posted their Funniest Hot Tub Commercials on TV, and inspired this updated version.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

15 Hot Tub Deck Surround Ideas

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cool-hot-tub-surrounds
Spas and hot tubs by themselves are wonderful, but when they are just plopped onto the back patio, they can look kinda plain.

For designers, the spa or hot tub is a focal point, and hot tub surrounds are used to dress it up and provide conveniences and privacy.

Today we look at some elegant ways to add a hot tub surround, or custom hot tub decks to ‘frame and set’ your spa or hot tub.

1. Marquis Spas accessory package paired with some big pots makes this spa blend well with the surrounding open patio.

Marquis Spa Hot Tub Surround Kit

2. Attractively designed wood spa surround wrapped in sturdy foliage that adds color and comfort all year long.

Hot Spring Spa with wood deck surround

3. Stone hot tub surround with a cinder block foundation, wrapped in faux stacked stone and topped with flagstone.

hot-tub-surrounds-3

4. Hot tub surround is capped with a cabana and wrapped with a wet bar and wood step and box planter.

Caldera hot tub surround

5. Jacuzzi wrapped in rocks is set 2 ft lower and hidden with large boulders and colorful plants.

Baja Spa with rock surround

6. This lighted Pergola roof with lattice privacy wall is extended to include a side table, or with large pillow, a lounge.

Jacuzzi spa with wood pergola and lattice

7. Wrap the spa in stained planks and add a stack of steps with down lighting. Add a custom fence and bamboo planters.

wood cabinet and steps plans for spa shell

8. When your neighbors are this close, a proper privacy fence can help you enjoy your spa more.

wood hot-tub-surround and deck with seating and privacy wall

9. And for privacy at home, use large hedges, vine trellises, ornamental grass or bamboo around the hot tub.

hot tub surrounded by tall hedge, grasses, bamboo

10. Two more examples of a 4-post structure to mount lattice walls and side tables around a hot tub.

Hot tub with Pergola and Cabana

11. Close slat fence is capped with a vine trellis. Separate seating area, just off the Master bedroom. Sweet!

hot tub deck wood surround, off master bedroom

12. Inground tile spa kit by Signature with a beautiful hot tub surround and seating area. Tiki torch!

Inground tile hot tub wrapped in wood

13. If you have a real hot tub, wooden barrel type, wrap around wood stairs are popular.

classic wood hot tub step and wrap around

14. Japanese inspired spa gazebo surrounds the spa with sliding window panels and roll screens for a quiet retreat.

Hot tub gazebo, classic Japanese Hot House style

15. Hand Carved Concrete by Artiststone, created this impressive hot tub surround to blend with the natural surroundings.

hand carved concrete spa steps, faux stone

 

I hope these ideas on how to surround your hot tub was what you were looking for! If you’ve grown tired of your current hot tub surroundings, dress it up with wood and stone, and wrap it in plants to soften the surround.

 

XOXO;

 

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Olympic Divers Love Hot Tubs

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nbc-video-olympic-divers-using-hot-tub Photo by NBC Universal
If you’ve been following the Rio Olympics this past week, you may have noticed that Olympic divers take to a hot tub after their dives, awaiting their scores and looking, oh so relaxed.

What is this Olympic athlete pampering? I don’t know of other sport besides diving where the participants can relax in bubbling bliss after their events. Why do Olympic divers get in a hot tub after their dives?

Twitter has caught fire with the question, and trending on Google last week was the query “Why do Olympic divers get in the hot tub?”. The people want to know!

tweets-about-why-do-olympic-divers-get-in-the-hot-tub

The reason why divers jump into a hot tub after a dive is simply to keep the muscles warm and limber, in preparation for their next dive. Indoor pool stadiums filled with spectators can become too warm, so officials lower the water temperature and the air temperature.

So while the pool water is fairly cool (79°F or 26°C), the ambient air temperature near the pool surface is near 72°, and this gives wet divers a chill after their dives.

Unlike swimmers, who may only swim 1 event per day, divers compete in rounds of several dives. Competitive divers typically take a warm shower, followed by a hot tub soak and a toweling off with a tiny towel. (what’s up with that tiny towel?)

But not all Olympic divers jump in the hot tub, some opt for a short warm shower, and a long insulated coat between dives. Maybe some divers were purposely avoiding the hot tub in Rio, given the color and clarity of the spa water [below].

Video screen shot, credit NBC Universal

Maybe you thought they were rinsing off from their dives in the green water at the Rio Olympic diving pool? After struggles with returning the water to blue after green algae infested the diving pool, Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said, “We first learned that chemistry is not an exact science”. What?

nbc-green-diving-poolRio 2016 officials have resorted to draining the 3.7 million gallon diving pool, which they blame on the introduction of 160 gallons of Hydrogen Peroxide into the water by a technician.

There is another recent diving pool complaint in the news, are you ready for this? That the entire indoor diving pool facility ‘smells of far..’ [rotten eggs]. That could be a water problem or chemical reaction, off-gassing some sort of sulfide.  The training pool, located right next to the diving pool, is blue and clear.

 


Anyway, the reason why divers take a shower and get in a hot tub after their dives – is to prevent muscle cramping, and maintain the body core temperature, so they can perform at their best! Most have hot tubs at their home training facilities, and it becomes part of their routine!

Enjoy the rest of the Rio 2016 Olympics!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Replacing a Spa Pack

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balboa-vs-spa-pack-newToday we cover, in detail – how to replace your spa or hot tub “Spa Pack”, the combination Controller, Heater and Pump system that connects to the Top Side panel and controls all of the functions for filtering, heating, lighting and purifying your spa; automatically.

The controller and heater of a Spa Pack (without the pump) can be installed separately; but if you want a complete upgrade, install the Balboa VS Spa Pack with 1 or 2 pumps, which will include the new digital Topside Panel, LED spa light and all new wiring. Blower is optional.

 

REMOVING THE OLD SPA PACK

1. DRAIN THE SPA

Unless you have valving on either side of your existing spa pack, you’ll need to have the water removed to replace your spa pack.

2. SHUT OFF ALL POWER

Disconnect completely at the circuit breaker in the panel or breaker box, and also at any secondary cut-off boxes that may be located nearby the spa or hot tub. Lock the boxes or place tape over the breaker to keep anyone from turning it on again, while you are working. Use a voltmeter to be sure that power is completely Off.

3. UN-PLUG THE PACK

Start by disconnecting the incoming electrical wiring (checking first with a voltmeter to be sure power is Off). Remove the front panel and simply unscrew the nuts or disconnect the wiring from the main terminal block, inside your existing spa pak control.

Next you can remove the accessory items that are plugged into the spa pack. Pump(s), blower, lights, panel, ozone, stereo, sensors. Fold over a piece of masking tape on each wire and write the port code, or write a color – code legend on paper, so you remember which wire goes where.

Look for a bare copper bonding wire that connects to the bar outside the control box. Remove or clip off with wire cutters.

4. UN-PLUMB THE PACK

Disconnect the plumbing unions that connect in and out of the heater, and the spa pack should slide out, mounted on a small skid made of plastic or plywood. Disconnect the unions on the pool pump or blower if necessary.

Inspect the floor beneath the old spa pack for rots and damage which is not uncommon, if the floor is not bare concrete, but a frame.Sweep up around the area, removing any dust or leaves, or excessive water loss.

 

INSTALLING THE NEW SPA PACK

1. ASSEMBLE THE PAK

balboa-spa-pack-partsThere’s some minor assembly required to connect the controller to the pump, via the double-90 fitting arrangement. The heater connection is made with the white gasket and the pump union is sealed up with the black gasket. Be sure that the o-ring and gasket is sitting in place properly and don’t overtighten the union nut on the pump or the split nut union on the heater.

2. PLUMB THE PACK

Connecting the plumbing in and out should be pretty fast, just position the new spa pack in place so that the plumbing lines up, the connection into the heater and the connection out of the pump.

plumbing-a-balboa-vs-spa-packFor the suction line, bringing water into the heater and then the pump, tighten the union together, using the old union, or cutting the pipe and gluing into the new split nut union.

For the return line, coming out of the top of the pump, this is a standard 2″ threaded pvc fitting or union, often a 90° fitting is used. Put Teflon tape or RTV silicone (or both) on the threads before hand tightening, very snug, and lined up with the pipe.

Use the same fitting from the old pump, if possible. If you cannot loosen the fitting in the old pump by hand, use very large channel lock type pliers to remove, or use a strap wrench. Or you can gently tap the ridges counter clockwise, with a small screwdriver and hammer.

Once your plumbing is connected, check that the skid is level using a small carpenter’s level. Shim the pack if necessary, with steel or plastic, and secure it the floor by running a  screw through the corners of the mounting base, into a wood frame or directly into the concrete.

3. WIRING THE PACK

All wiring is done with the power still Off. Double check with a voltmeter to be certain that power has not been mistakenly turned back on again while your plumbed the new spa pack in place.

Open the front cover of the Spa Control by loosening the top two cover screws, the bottom of the panel is hinged, swing the door down and open from the top.  On the inside of the panel door or cover you will see the wiring diagram for the receptacles, switches and components. Main power wires enter through the upper left side access hole, below which is the grounding and bonding bar on the left side, outside the cabinet.

balboa-vs-control-panel-wiring

New power cords are included for the various components, it’s best to replace the cords rather than use the old ones, even if they look intact. Plug in the cord to all the electrical loads like secondary pumps, blower, ozonator, lights, topside panel and the other end into the labeled slot on the motherboard. For single pump spas, or twin spas without a blower, the VS501 circuit board below is used.

balboa-vs-spa-pack-wiring-diagram

Wire the panel by bringing the wires inside on the upper left and connecting the power and the ground wires. Pumps, blowers and ozonators should also be bonded in accordance with your local codes. This is essentially connecting any metal component within 5 ft of the spa to the bonding grid or buss bar. Make sure that ground connections are solid. Torque to 27-30 lbs, which is pretty tight!

TEST DRIVING YOUR NEW SPA PACK

balboa-VS-spa-pak-installation-smFill the spa to normal level and check underneath the new spa pak for any leakage around the new plumbing connections. Turn on power to the spa pak and follow the quick start guide included with your  spa controller.

That’s it; 1001 words about how to replace your spa pack. We’ve just got a truckload of new Balboa spa packs and spa controllers in, and can have a new one shipped to you this week for the swap!

If you have any questions about replacing your old worn out spa controller pump and heater with a brand spanking new spa pack, you can order online, or give us a call to ask any questions about ordering or installing.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works