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Salt Water Spas and Hot Tubs – FAQ

September 22nd, 2015 by

Image Credit: MISES.orgYou’ve heard about salt water spas or salt water hot tubs – as an accessory with a new spa purchase, or an easy add-on to an existing spa or hot tub.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of salt water systems, let me say that right up front. But they do have certain advantages over other methods of keeping your water disinfected, and could be the best choice in some situations.

Here’s answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about salt water hot tubs.



Well, I’m no chemist, but when you add water (H2O) and salt (NaOCl) together, you have all the ingredients needed to make chlorine. But first, you have to separate the molecules, breaking apart the Hydrogen, Oxygen, Sodium and Chloride. This is done through electrolysis, passing the water over two electrified platinum or titanium plates, (the salt cell) one positively charged (the anode) and one negatively charged (the cathode).

The small electric current causes the water and salt molecules to break apart (disassociate), and recombine into HOCl and NaOH, or Hypochlorous Acid and Sodium Hydroxide. Hypochlorous acid is pure chlorine and it instantly begins to sanitize the water. After some hard work killing off any germs in the water, the chlorine converts back to chloride and recombines with sodium, to form salt once again, in a continuous process.

Or, more simply – you add salt to the spa, about 2 lbs per 100 gallons, and hook up the salt chlorine generator device, and pass the water through it. As the salty water passes through the tiny electrolysis machine (electrified metal plates), it comes out the other side with a small amount of chlorine.


They usually do – but there are some times when the technology can fail. Like if you stop heating your spa and the water temp cools way down, below 60°, the salt cell will stop producing chlorine. Also, if the power goes out, or when the spa is turned off, the electrically powered salt cell also turns off, unlike a bromine or mineral floating dispenser.

If the salt cell becomes clogged or coated with minerals (which are naturally attracted to the charged plates), chlorine output can be severely reduced. Salt water systems also need the proper salt level in the water to operate, if too high or too low it affects output and cell life. And good water balance is important, if your pH and Alkalinity is or calcium Hardness is off, chlorine output and cell life are compromised.

If you are in a “hard water area”, where water comes out of the tap very hard (over 400 ppm), you may have a problem with mineral clogging of the salt cell, and a shorter salt cell life. Most manufacturers recommend a low calcium hardness level. If your calcium hardness level is over 150 ppm, look for a self-cleaning salt system.

And finally, your salt cell will eventually lose its mojo, and stop producing chlorine (or bromine) altogether, which can be 1-5 years, depending on the model.


  1. Softer, silkier water – because of the salt added. And if you use Dead Sea salts, you also get potassium and magnesium, and sodium.
  2. No binders and fillers – bromine and chlorine tablets or granules contain additives that just junk-up the spa water.
  3. Fewer chemicals to store and handle. You may still need some tablets and/or MPS on hand, but will only need them rarely.


  1. Salt is corrosive. Even at low levels of 2500 ppm, damage could occur to shiny chrome finishes, or soft rubber parts.
  2. Galvanic corrosion can make it easier for spa staining to occur, if your water has high levels of copper, iron or manganese.
  3. Draining a salt water hot tub can damage a lawn or landscaping, from high salt levels.


In the long run, the cost of s salt water hot tub system is going to be about the same as using chlorine granules or bromine tablets. Salt is cheap (but Dead Sea salts are considerably more), but you’ll need to replace it every time you drain the spa. And the salt cell (plumbed inline, or draped over the spa side) will need to replaced in 1-5 years, depending on the model. Do the math before you buy, and you may find that traditional methods will be cheaper – in the long run.


They all operate the same way, with a Salt Cell and a power source or Control Panel. The traditional cell is installed into the plumbing, where you cut out a foot or so of piping (after the heater, and any other purifier equipment), and plumb the salt cell in place. There is another type with a cell and cable; drop it over the side of the spa, and it just rests a foot or so below water, like the Saltron Mini. Most spa salt systems have a control box, wall mounted or spa mounted, for status and diagnostics, and allow control of chlorine output, with simple Up (^) and Down (v) buttons.


A salt water hot tub can be bromine if you use sodium bromide or chlorine if you use sodium chloride. So you don’t have to switch from bromine, just because you start using a salt chlorinator. It depends on which types of salt you use – sodium bromide salts will convert to bromine and sodium chloride salts (regular salt) will convert into chlorine. The cost of using the Bromides will be higher however, but bromine does have benefits over chlorine in a hot water environment.

super salty~ I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on salt water spas and hot tubs. Salt water hot tubs are quite enjoyable, and have great benefits, as long as you maintain good water balance, proper salt levels, and don’t overwork the cell. Use MPS shock (non-chlorine shock) after each use, to reduce the amount of chlorine needed, which will extend your salt cell life.

Corrosion issues can be solved by using a zinc anode somewhere in the spa, which will protect shiny finishes. Staining and scaling issues can be solved by using a Stain & Scale control.

Give us a call, or leave a comment below if we can help out in any way!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works




Hot Tub Water Conservation

July 21st, 2015 by


Are hot tubs and spas water wasters? The mayor of San Jose thinks so – in May, the San Jose city council voted to prohibit filling pools and hot tubs. And in Santa Clara, California, hot tub owners are allowed to replace hot tub water, but only after agreeing to take fewer showers.

Santa Clara also has required “Water School” for the edification of water restriction violators. What’s this world coming to? It is the new reality of life in California and other water poor states. Until the drought subsides, or new water harvesting technologies are installed, we will have to comply.

So then, for the hot tub owner who wants to keep their hot tub bubblin’, here are some ways to conserve hot tub water.

How to Extend the Life of Hot Tub Water

It’s a commonly accepted practice to drain and refill a spa after 3-4 months of use. This is due to a build-up of dissolved solids and and oily substances that can begin to “choke” the water over time, which can make water balance and complete sanitation more difficult. However, there are ways to extend the life of your spa or hot tub water…

Beginner Tips:

  • Check and balance the water 2-3 times per week, to keep levels optimum.
  • Replace your Spa Filter every 6-12 months, to keep filtration optimum.
  • Use a Spa Ozonator or Mineral Purifier, as a supplement to bromine.
  • Use Spa Enzymes to dissolve oils and organics.
  • Use Spa Clarifier to improve filter effectiveness.

Pro Tips:

  • Install a secondary in-line spa filter, to improve filtration.
  • Use a Pre-Filter to clean hot tub fill water (excuse my French!).
  • Use a floating foam blanket and a good spa cover to reduce evaporation.
  • Use a Rain Barrel to capture hot tub water (I know, what Rain?).
  • Limit hot tub use, if needed, to reduce solids build-up.

Eventually, you will need to change the water, but if a spa is maintained very well and not overloaded to capacity with users, it is possible to extend the time between water changes for a year, or even longer in some cases.

To protect your hot tub health however, you must always maintain the water balance and sanitation, and over-filter the water by running the filter pump for a sufficient amount of time each day. Periodic shock treatment is also necessary, in addition to keeping a constant bromine residual in the water.

A solid spa cover in good condition is important, to prevent water loss from evaporation. Drag off and splash out can also be controlled, and be sure to fix leaks in the plumbing or around the spa equipment.

The Future of Hot Tub Water

water_faucet_drop_400_wht_11410Some water watchers warn that we are only at the forefront of the current crisis in America and that rationing and cut-backs are sure to continue and escalate in many areas. If your town is under a water use restriction, you probably know about it.

To find out if there are any spa or hot tub restrictions (and not just swimming pool water restrictions), you can do an online search for “City/Town/County water use restrictions”, or visit your local government website and search therein.


- Jack



Spa Error Codes – The Big List

February 27th, 2015 by

spa-and-hot-tub-error-codesThe best thing about digital spas and hot tubs – those with a spa side control panel – is that you are given error codes for most equipment problems. Spa error codes can be somewhat cryptic, but when you have the BIG LIST of CODES, you can immediately define the two or three digit source of trouble.

Problem is – there’s not much consistency among the error codes used by spa pack manufacturers. Each one uses it’s own conventions for naming the various system faults.

Hence the need for the BIG LIST of CODES. The alphabetical list of hot tub error codes below covers all major manufacturers of spa controls, including ACC, Balboa, Brett Aqualine, CTI, Dream Maker, EasyPak, Gecko, Hurricane, Jacuzzi, Len Gordon, Maax, Pinnacle, Spa Builders Group, Spa Quip, Sundance and Vita Spas.

Is it an Error Code, or a System Status Code?

Not all spa codes are errors, to inform you of trouble, but many codes are used to provide information about system mode, status or equipment operation. Some system status codes are identified below as well, with the phrase “system message, not an error”.


the big list of spa and hot tub error codes



* * *  Flow/Pressure switch either Open or Closed
* * * High Limit switch is faulty
- – - , – - - Water dangerously hot, electronic fault, system shut down
-1 Hi-Limit fault
-2 Temp sensor fault
-3 Flow/Pressure switch open
-4 Flow/Pressure switch closed
-7 Hi-Limit fault
Hi-Limit or Temp Sensor fault, water may be dangerously hot
Temp Sensor Calibration, after system shutdown/startup, not an error
1 Stuck Button on Keypad
2 No Controller Data being received
3 Temperature Sensor fault
4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
7 Stuck Heater Relay
9 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
131 Hi-Limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
A1/A2-ER Auxiliary system error; blower, lights, music
AOH Auxiliary system overheating; Equipment is running hot, or needs air
BJ2P Hi-Limit fault – water may be dangerously hot
BL-ER Blower error, faulty motor or closed valve
C4.4 Hi-Limit fault
C Celsius, used to indicate panel is in Celsius mode
Cd, CLd Cold – Freeze Condition detected
CE 01 Stuck Touchpad button
CE 02 No controller Data Communication
CE 03 Temperature Sensor fault
CE 04 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
CE 05 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
CE 06 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
CE 07 Stuck Heater Relay
CE 08 Temp Sensor Fault
CE 09 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
CL Current Time of Day; system message, not an error
COL Cool – water is 20° below set point; system message, not an error
CoLd Cold – water is 40° or less; system should self-start pump / heater
Cool Cool – water is 20° below set point; system message, not an error
CP-ER Circulation pump error
dr, dy, dry Dry – low water volume detected in heater
E0 Short circuit temperature sensor
E1 Open circuit temperature sensor
E2 Short circuit Hi-Limit sensor
E3 Open circuit high Limit sensor
E4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
Ecdu, Ecn, Econ Spa is in Economy Mode; system message, not an error
EO Short circuit temperature sensor
Er0, Er1 Temperature sensor fault
Er2, Er3 Hi-Limit fault
Er4 Short circuit/closed pressure/flow switch
err 1 Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
err 3 Stuck Button on Keypad
err 4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
err 5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
err 6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
err 7 Stuck Heater Relay
err 8 Temp Sensor Fault
Err Software Program Fault
Error 3 Stuck Button on Keypad
Error 4 Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
Error 5 Temp Sensor, or water is dangerously hot
Error 6 High Limit manual reset on heater is tripped
Error 7 Stuck Heater Relay
Error 8 Temp Sensor Fault
F2 4 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F4 8 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F6 12 hours daily filtration; system message, not an error
F Fahrenheit, used to indicate panel is in Fahrenheit mode
FB-ER Fiber Optic error; accent lighting
FC Filter Continuous mode; system message, not an error
FL1 Water Pressure fault, dirty filter, airlocked pump, low water level
FL2 Pressure switch fault; switch closed while pump is off
FL Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault; water flow problem
FLC Pressure switch fault; switch closed while pump is off
Fldu Spa is in Filter mode; ; system message, not an error
FLO, Flo, FL1 Flow – inadequate water volume sensed by Flow / Pressure switch
FLO2 Flow – short circuit/closed circuit; pressure/flow switch
FLO (flashing) Flow – short circuit/open circuit; pressure/flow switch
Flon Spa is in Filter mode; ; system message, not an error
FN-ER Fan error; cooling fan fault
FP, Fr, FrE Freeze – water is 40° or less; system should self-start pump / heater
H2O Water Pressure fault, pump may be airlocked, or water level low
HFL Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
HiLi, HLEr Water temperature above acceptable range
HL, HH, OHH High limit sensor reading 118°, or above – check flow
Hold Panel buttons pressed to many times or too quickly
HOT Overheating, water over 112° F. Cool down procedure begins.
IC, ICE, ICE2 Freeze Condition detected; Warm up procedure begins.
ILOC Interlock failure; check magnetic contacts on spa equipment door
L1, L2 Panel Lock; enter code to unlock control panel
LF Persistent low flow problems.
LO Freeze Condition detected; Warm up procedure begins.
LOC Panel Lock; enter code to unlock control panel
O3-Er Ozone error; check for operation and output
OH High temperature condition, over 110ºF. Spa may be partially deactivated or low speed pump (and air blower if equipped) may activate to lower temp
OHH Overheat. One sensor has detected 118º. Spa has shut down
OHS Overheat. One sensor has detected 110º. Spa has shut down
OP Open circuit sensor
P1, P2 or P3-ER Pump 1,2 or 3 error or failure
pd Power supply interrupted, unit running on battery backup
PnL Panel error; communication error between panel and circuit board
Pr Priming – pump is starting; system message, not an error
Prh Hi-limit sensor failure
Prr Temperature Sensors Alarm
PS Water Sensor/Pressure switch fault
PSoC Pressure switch open on circulation
PSoH Pressure switch open on high speed
PSoL Pressure switch open on low speed
RH-HR Heater Repair error
RH-NC No Communication error; Panel to Board
RH-NF No Flow in heater
RH-NH No Heat, heater fault or failure
SA, SnA, SnH, Sb, Snb, Snt Sensor Open Circuit or faulty
SE Spa in Economy Mode; system message, not an error
SEoP Sensor open or disconnected. Heater disabled but spa operational
SESH Sensor short, nonfunctional. Heater disabled but spa operational
SH Short circuit on temperature sensor
Sn1 Hi-Limit fault, water may be dangerously hot
Sn2 Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
Sn3 Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
SN Temperature sensor fault, Heater deactivated
Sn Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
Sna Sensor plugged into jack A is not working. Spa is shut down.
Snb Sensor plugged into jack B is not working. Spa is shut down.
SnH Hi Limit circuit open or faulty
SnS Sensors out of balance, reporting different results
SnT Temperature sensor fault, circuit open or faulty
SP-F1,F2 or F3 Fuse 1,2 or blown
SP-HR Hardware error
SP-IN Input voltage low
SP-OH Overheat – water temp over 112°
SP-OT Overtemp – air temp around equipment is too hot, lack of air flow
Std Spa in Standard Mode; system message, not an error

Do you have a spa or hot tub error code that is not on the list?  Make a call to our tech team who can look up the code for you, and decipher it’s meaning and let you know if it is indeed an error code, or a system status message.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


In Ground Spa Covers

January 13th, 2015 by

inground-spa-coversIf you want to keep an inground spa warm for quick heat-up, or have it hot and ready to go – a spa cover is an absolute necessity.

Inground spas can be built of concrete and plaster, or they can be an acrylic spa shell that is placed into the deck.

They can be standalone systems with their own equipment, or can be installed as part of an inground pool/spa combo.

Here’s a quick post on options for inground spa covers ~


Spa blankets which float on the water surface dramatically reduce evaporation and help retain some of the heat in the water. Solar spa blankets will also add heat to the spa water during periods of direct sunlight, but they are thin and not a great insulator.foam-floating-spa-blanket

Foam spa blankets are much thicker, around 1/4″ of closed cell foam, with more than 3x the insulating ability. Foam blankets cost more, but are more durable and effective as far as floating blankets go – but there is a much more efficient and effective way to keep your spa or hot tub – hot.


The same spa cover design used for aboveground spas and hot tubs can be used on inground spa covers, with a few minor caveats.

inground-spa-covers-on-hot-tubsSKIRT: The skirt, the overhang of material on the cover’s edge, is usually shortened or completely eliminated on inground spa covers – depending if your spa is raised above the surrounding deck, or flush with the deck. A raised spa, or spa with raised bullnose coping, or a rough edge may work better with a short skirt of 1-2″.

SIZE: For inground spas, you’ll find it easier to have the spa cover made 6-8″ larger than the inside spa diameter. If only 2-3″ larger, it can be difficult to center the spa cover over the spa, without it falling in – and don’t forget that you’ll be usually be stooping and bending as you install or remove an inground spa cover.

cover-valet-cover-standSTORAGE: A place to put the spa cover safely, when it’s not covering the spa, is important to protect a spa cover from breaking (believe me, I know what I’m talking about). My favorite design is the Cover Stand, by Cover Valet, but you can also build your own cover rack, to keep the cover off the ground, and prevent it from falling over (and also prevent people from falling into the cover!).

STRAPS: Another difference for inground spa covers is that they may or may not have locking straps. I recommend ordering inground spa covers with straps and clips, and installing the plastic clip half into the concrete or wood pool deck. This will hold the cover down in high winds, and prevent unsafe access to the spa water.

wind-straps-for-spa-coversFor covers without straps, you can use our 11′ long cover Wind Straps. Set of two straps to cross over the top of the cover, with edge pads to protect the cover edge. Long straps make it easier to locate the plastic cover clips, and install them into an area that’s not so close to the spa, where they could be a toe stubber! Strapping down an inground cover with over-the-top straps is the better way to go, safer and it helps hold the cover down to the deck, to prevent heat leakage.

spa-cover-safety-strapsFor a heavier duty strapping method, you can use pool safety cover anchors, buckles and springs to secure your spa cover to the pool deck. Fabric stores carry the nylon strapping material, usually called nylon webbing. For each strap, connect two buckles and two springs, one on each end, and connect the springs to brass anchors, inserted into the pool deck. You can find safety pool cover hardware online, to create inground spa cover straps as shown here in the picture.

CUSTOM INGROUND SPA COVERS: are our specialty! We can make a spa cover for any size and shape of inground spa. Single hinge fold on covers up to 8′ across, or a 3-panel design used on spas up to 12′ diameter.

2lb-foamFor the most durable inground spa covers, choose the heavier foam density and foam thickness – this will help hold it down, and protect against most damage from weather, animals or tree branches. We call it “The Works” spa cover, but it’s not a pizza, it’s our top-o-the-line spa cover.


- Jack


Hot Tubs & Brain Function

November 24th, 2014 by

hot-tubs-make-you-smarterSoaking in water soothes the savage beast. Hot tubs are well known for reducing aches and pains, and research has shown that it relaxes muscles as it improves blood flow and raises muscle temperature. But did you also know that your spa or hot tub can make you smarter?

In a study done with 60 mid-aged women suffering from fibromyalgia, hot water immersion and light exercise was prescribed, including mobility, aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises for 16 weeks.

Study participants tested for higher cognitive function after the 16 week study, as compared to tests completed prior to the study, and as compared to a control group. In addition, they had a self reported higher pain threshold and reduction in pain symptoms.

By way of contrast, another study at Kent State showed that exposure to acute cold, lead to pronounced reduction of cognition, before and after soaking in cold water at 55°.  Subjects were tested against various known cognition tests for reaction time, before during and after cold water immersion. Brr… I hope they paid those students well!

Hot Tubs Make you Smarter?

You heard it here first, folks. But, how exactly can we make this claim, and what is making some test subjects test better on cognition skills during and after a soak in hot water? According to a study by Titis Wijayanto, at Kyushu University, “passive heat exposure increases oxygen delivery in the pre-frontal cortex to maintain pre-frontal cortex oxygenation”.

So, in the presence of heat, and more specifically an increase in the core body temperature, the body responds by sending more oxygen rich blood to the frontal cortex. This is why you are so brilliant in the hot tub, and immediately afterwards!

Don’t confuse hot tubs with hot weather, however. The US Army has studied the effects of outside air temperature extensively on it’s soldiers, and both hot and cold environments have an adverse effect on soldier performance in various cognition tests, especially at temperatures below 50° and above 90° F.

Power of Water – Known to the Ancients

cleopatra-being-bathedAs far back as Hippocrates, water therapy was appreciated for it’s effect on the mind. The Greek doctor said that water therapy was necessary to prevent “lassitude”, or physical or mental weaknesses. During the rise of the Roman empire, great baths were erected for the ‘spiritual fulfillment’ of the citizenry.

For the ancient cultures of the Inca in South America, water was a deity, and natural hot spring baths were infused with local eucalyptus. The baths are still in operation to this day, known as the Baños del Inca. In North America and Europe, water therapy flourished until the middle ages, when puritan ethics decreed bathing to be something lascivious.

During the 17th and 18th centuries however, this gross misjudgement was corrected, and bathing for health, and well being become popular again.

Hot Water Therapy for Mood Elevation

happy-personMany studies have shown the effects of hot water immersion and an elevated mood, which can last for several hours after soaking, like the runner’s ‘high’. a study in 2020, by Dubois, et al showed that when test subjects (120 persons) were given regular warm water therapy, anxiety was reduced with less prescription drugs.

And in another study on the effects of hot tubs and depression, even the CDC is onboard, stating that hot water therapy improves mood and reduces depression.


Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works


Food & Drink Disasters at a Hot Tub Party

September 8th, 2014 by

food-in-hot-tubsHot Tub parties are a part of owning a spa – at least the occasional small, intimate affair with a few close friends. Or even if you are just enjoying your spa with that special someone, you may want to enjoy some wine and cheese, or other appetizers in the tub.

Now, you should always limit your soaks in water above 100° to no more than 20 minutes at a time, although after a 10 minute cool down, most people can take another session. And, although alcohol drinks in a hot tub are commonly enjoyed, our legal team would like me to remind you that using a hot tub while intoxicated can be dangerous.

With these disclaimers dispensed, let’s get to the worst food and drink of all time, for a hot tub party.


The problem with certain drinks is that they contain sugars and starches, which is a tasty food for algae and bacteria. Alcohol is particularly troublesome for sanitation, and it also sports a very low pH. Soft drinks are also low in pH. And some drinks are thick with creamy dairy products or stuffed with fruit.

  • Soda Drinks – coke, sprite, root beer
  • Smoothies – imagine that floating on the surface
  • Daiquiris – mostly ice, but also lots of fruit, alcohol and sugar
  • Beer – foams the minute it hits the water
  • Wine – too many ingredients to list
  • Energy drinks – could make your spa hyper


You can imagine the kind of foods that you wouldn’t want around your hot tub, don’t serve anything crumbly, powdery, crunchy or juicy. Food is not only messy in a hot tub, but like drinks that spill into your tub, food contains all sorts of junk that messes with your water balance, blocking sanitation while feeding the enemy (algae and bacteria).


  • Crackers, Chips, Cheetos
  • Fruit – unless served as Fruit Kabobs
  • Olives – oil slick on the surface
  • Cheese – unless served cubed and toothpicked
  • Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
  • BBQ Chicken or Pizza
  • Candy or Cake


If you noticed, my lists above leave very little party food to choose from! If you’re having a large party, it may be best to have a No Food or Drink sign posted, and place your food table far away from the hot tub.

hot-tub-signHowever, you don’t want your hot tub guests to become dehydrated, so in addition to limiting session time, place a large pitcher of water with a stack of plastic cups - no glass around the tub, within reach of the tub. Be sure to keep it full throughout the evening, to keep your hot tubbers wet on the inside. Water is the best drink to imbibe while in the hot tub – there’s going to be no problem if a cup of water spills over into the tub.

The best food to enjoy in the spa? Small food, which can be cubed and toothpicked. Avoid finger food, or food touched with hands, which then go down into the water. Avoid eating whole fruit, with the exception of grapes, which are one of my favorite spa foods to serve, or just eat myself. Frozen grapes are a special treat, just pop ‘em in the freezer for about an hour. If you want to snack, try grapes, strawberries, or baby carrots – keep foods on a side table and not balanced on the edge of your spa!


Drain the hot tub? Maybe, if enough food or drink got in. If it’s just one drink, or a single potato chip, don’t worry about it. But if it’s the entire bowl of chips, or a plate full of rice and beans, you may want to drain the tub.

Alternatively, you could clean up any debris with a skimmer net (quickly!), balance the pH and then shock the spa. Chances are you’ll need to shock the spa anyway, so just give it a little extra this time. If you suspect or find broken glass in the tub (!), definitely drain it, or vacuum it very closely.

The best way to prevent a hot tub food or drink disaster is to stick to water, in plastic cups.


I asked this question via chat, around our office, and got some funny responses from the dozens of spa owners here at HotTubWorks. Here’s their best answers (warnings). Ugh!

  • Cheetos bowl flipped over into the tub
  • Bobbing for apples on Halloween
  • Pitcher of margaritas falling into the tub
  • Tray of Jello shots, which instantly dissolved
  • Pepperoni pizza found the next morning



Gina Galvin


What’s the Best Hot Tub Temperature?

August 25th, 2014 by

hot-spaWhen I was younger, the target temperature for hot tubs was 105°, but that’s changed – now the CPSC recommends temperatures no higher than 104°. They also caution that one should always check the thermometer before entering a spa, and be aware that thermometers can be incorrect!

So, 104° for the regular hot tub soak – but that comes with a disclaimer. High temperatures over 100° are NOT recommended for pregnant women, hypertensive persons (with high blood pressure), or those with heart disease.

High temperatures can also irritate certain skin conditions, and temperatures of over 100° are not recommended for children, who overheat more easily than adults.

But what about all those other spa activities, besides a spine-tingling hot soak? There are other recommended temperatures, depending on the use of the spa, hot tub or whirlpool.



Exercises such as Yoga, or various types of core workouts or stretching can be exhausting in a hot spa. If you use your spa for exercise, especially active exercise, you’ll find a temperature below 90° to be more comfortable. It’s also safer, to prevent overheating and hyperthermia.


For conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases, warmer water increases circulation to the joints and allows for a more comfortable therapeutic exercises. Also helpful for rehabilitative movements or therapies. For most warm water therapy, a temperature below the body temperature 98.6° is desirable, something between 92-94°.

Special Conditions

Children, obese persons and those with MS can overheat easily, and should not exceed 100° in a spa or hot tub. In addition, it’s important to limit your spa session time to 15-20 minutes, and take in non-alcoholic beverages to cool the body.

Pregnant women should take care not to exceed 92 degrees in the spa or hot tub, and take in plenty of water or juice before and after hot tubbing, according to the Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute.

Those recovering from accidents or stroke can use a warm spa to slowly regain movements, by practicing simple flexion and extension exercises. Every patient may prefer a different temperature, but most will fall in between 88-92 degrees F.

Air Temperature

Also a factor in how hot or warm the water feels, is the air temperature outside. An air temperature of 75° may feel nice walking around outside, but can feel chilly as one sits in water that is below body temperature. 88° may be perfect when the air temperature is above 80°, but feel too cold when air temps are just above 60°.

~ So, whatever temperature you like, whichever feels most comfortable, that’s usually the ideal temperature. Just remember that the hotter the water is, the shorter the soak should be. Don’t want you overheating!


Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works


Replacing a Wet End on a Spa Pump

July 24th, 2014 by

SPA-PARTS-WET-ENDSWet End Replacement – a wet end is the part of your spa pump that gets wet – the volute halves, and inside, the impeller and shaft seal. It’s sold as a complete unit, for quick field replacement, in the case of volute, impeller or seal failure.

Here’s pictures of Drake replacing a wet end in about 75 seconds, along with the transcript I also lifted from the video. :-) Enjoy!


Here’s a quick change wet end for the 56 frame Ultramax spa pump


What you want to do is take all five bolts out of the volute, and remove the volute, or impeller housing from the front of the wet end. Some models may have only 4 bolts, some have six.


Take a slotted screwdriver, and insert it into the rear of the motor shaft (you may have to remove a cover plate), to hold the shaft stationary. Now spin off the impeller (counter clockwise). If it’s stubborn, you can use a pair of large Channel Lock type pliers, to assist in removing the impeller from the shaft. It can also be helpful to have a second person hold the screwdriver (or wrench) on the rear of the motor shaft.


Once the impeller is removed, you need to take note of the color bands on the impeller, that dictates the horsepower of the impeller, which should match the motor hp, and match your new wet end as well.


Now you want to remove all four motor bolts by loosening with a 5/16″ nut driver and release the tank from the motor. If the motor shaft is rusty, dusty or crusty, clean it up with some sandpaper.


Your replacement seal will come already in place inside your new wet end – you want to make note that you have the right color bands, which will dictate the horsepower for this particular motor.


Position the new wet end over the shaft, in the same orientation as your previous wet end (pointing either up, or to the side).


Use a slotted screwdriver on the back of the motor shaft and turn the shaft, pulling tight the new wet end against the motor, threading the shaft into the impeller and compressing the spring.


Insert the motor bolts and tighten them all the way by hand, and then use a 5/16″ nut driver to tighten them up in a harmonic cross pattern. Now reach in the front of your new wet end, and be sure that the impeller spins freely.


Reconnect the wiring and the union connectors, and your wet end replacement is complete!

Remember to use only the exact and correct replacement wet end  – if you have any questions on selecting the right one, feel free to give us a call, or send an email, and we’ll help you out.


Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works


Spa & Hot Tub Information for Realtors

July 14th, 2014 by

home-for-sale-with-hot-tubLocal area Realtors have come to my husband and me for years, to perform hot tub integrity inspections, or to remove spas from homes being sold.

Surprisingly, very few people take their hot tub with them when they move, even though most are portable.

Listing a home with a hot tub or spa can be good or bad – good if it’s a beautiful, fairly new spa in a great location, but bad if run-down; in need of some TLC.

Some wise realtors may ask the seller to remove the spa if in very bad condition, while other spas can be spruced up with a new spa cover, and a quick coat of stain on the cabinet.


spa-movingMoving a Spa: Most moving companies can handle the transfer, although folks moving locally may use a local spa company with special dollies and trailers to transport it, who then can also hook up the spa at the new location, if proper power is available. Moving a spa usually costs $400-$600, depending on the size of the tub and the distance being transferred, more if electrical work is needed.

Removing a Spa: The same spa service companies can be called for a removal price. If the spa is in good condition, they may even remove it for free, if they are in the business of refurbishing and reselling used spas. If not, the cost for removal to a landfill should be less than the cost to move a spa to a new location, which any junk removal company can do.

When a spa or hot tub conveys with a home sale, it has to be clean, hot and in full working order to be an asset to the home.

[] Spa pump(s) should operate on command, and be fairly quiet.
[] If equipped, blowers should operate on command; and be fairly quiet.
[] The water should be 104°, hot and steamy when the cover is lifted.
[] The water quality should appear clean and clear.
[] Cabinet, cover and interior surfaces should be clean and bright.
[] Inspect electrical connections and look for any leaks or puddles.

Other advanced features that you may find on late model spas include small waterfalls, lighting and music. Some even have small televisions that pop up from beneath the cabinet.

If the seller is not occupying the home, you can arrange for a pool or spa service company, or your knowledgeable handyman, to clean and maintain the spa water. A basic spa service call would include: spa-repair-forum-guy

[] cleaning the spa filter
[] cleaning the spa
[] testing the chemistry
[] balancing chemistry
[] adding sanitizer
[] checking heater, blower
[] adding water if needed
[] Securing the spa cover
[] Report any problems

When a spa or hot tub conveys with a home sale, the buyers may want to know that an average spa uses $100-$200 per year in electricity, $100 per year in chemicals, and another $100 per year for replacement of spa covers or spa filters, and the occasional, hopefully rare spa component repair. Total ownership costs for a spa or hot tub should average around $300-$400 per year.

What’s the difference between a spa or a hot tub? Well, we wrote an entire blog post on the topic, but basically, a hot tub is a wood structure with a simple bench and a few jets. A spa is an acrylic or fiberglass tub or shell, with a blower, and multiple jets, some with as many as 90 jets!

A word on the spa cover. An ugly spa cover really makes the entire spa look junky and funky. Insulated spa covers can last 5-7 years before needing replacement at $300-$500. A spa cover in good condition will fit the spa well, and attach to the cabinet or floor via locking strap clips. It should not be waterlogged, or excessively heavy, nor have any tears in the material, on the outside or underside of the cover.

Dull & ugly spa covers can be spruced up with our spa cover cleaners and conditioners, to like-new condition. Covers that are broken, waterlogged or torn can be replaced quickly using our online spa cover order page.

One more tip – if the spa pump or heater is not working, it may be better to drain the spa, if it cannot or will not be repaired. Then gives buyers the option to ask for spa repair or removal before closing, or take it in as-is condition.

When Should a Realtor Advise a Seller to Renovate or Remove the Spa?

:-) Here’s some examples of when you might want to have that conversation – from uglyhousephotos.com

ugly-spa-1 ugly-spa-2 ugly-spa-3




































Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works


Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

June 3rd, 2014 by



Spas and hot tubs make the news headlines from time to time. Some wacky stories, some sad, some just make you shake your head.

Today’s post is our bi-annual round-up of news stories that have spas and hot tubs as a central focus.

Diving right in, so to speak, here’s a reverse chronological run-down of this spring’s top stories involving spas and hot tubs.



Boy, 4, drowns in hot tub after hand gets stuck in suction drain

June 2, 2014 – Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – A 4-year-old San Bernardino boy drowned over the weekend after his hand got caught in a spa filter, authorities said.

The boy, Cameron Nunez of Highland, was playing in a backyard in-ground spa at about 11:45 a.m. Saturday when his hand got stuck in an uncovered suction drain, according to the San Bernardino County coroner’s office.

Firefighters arrived at the home in the 2600 block of Mercedes Avenue and found Cameron in the spa, according to the San Bernardino City Fire Department.

They freed Cameron’s arm from the drain and pulled him out of the water, but he was unconscious and unresponsive, the fire department said in a statement.

Firefighters performed CPR on the boy and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

San Bernardino police are investigating.

Hurricane Guide 2014; Shock the Spa and Strap Down the Cover

June 1, 2014, Miami Herald

MIAMI – For hot tubs and small spas, Bill Perrish, repair manager at All Florida Pool and Spa, said super-chlorinating the water and securely strapping a cover on will hold down the spa, protect its interior and preserve a source of clean water.

“The spa cover is cheap and replaceable, and in the event that you get flying debris, it’ll damage the cover instead of the spa,” Perrish said.

Next, spa owners should turn to their pumps. If it is not already bolted to the ground, it is important to secure it in place to keep it from dislodging and to take measures to prevent the equipment from becoming an electrical hazard. [or move your spa pack indoors, if there is a danger of flooding]

“Hit the breaker for all of the equipment and the lights in the backyard in case something gets dislodged, so that you don’t have live wires,” Ibarra said.

Odd Incident Involves a U-Haul, a Hot Tub and a Machete

May 23, 2014 – Statesman Journal, Salem OR

SALEM -Riley was arrested on Dec. 30 after a string of odd incidents involving a U-Haul, a hot tub and a machete.

It started with a house fire. The home, in the 7200 block of Silverton Road NE, was reported to authorities engulfed in flames at 5:20 a.m. Dec. 30. The family that lived there was on vacation at the time.

Later that day, police in the area found an abandoned U-Haul truck on 72nd Avenue that had knocked over a road sign and ended up in a ditch.

According to a police affidavit, a deputy with the sheriff’s office was in the area searching for a suspect for both the fire and the U-Haul when he received a call. Someone who lived nearby was reporting a suspicious person hiding in his hot tub.

The deputy tracked the suspect and encountered Riley coming out of a truck. Upon confirming he was the man hiding in the hot tub, the deputy then arrested him. A machete that had apparently been stolen from someone else was also located in the hot tub.

CHP: State worker tormented women with phony Craigslist sex ads

May 22, 2014, News10 ABC – Sacramento, CA

SACRAMENTO – A civil engineer with the California Department of Water Resources has been charged with identity theft for tormenting two women with sexually-explicit ads posted on Craigslist from his work computer.

The initial Craigslist ad, placed in mid-June 2013, was relatively innocuous: “I have a free hot tub to the person who shows up first. I am moving and must get rid of it today. Call 916-XXX-XXXX.”

Murray was apparently unaware of what Debra does for a living: She’s a cyber security specialist who suspected, based on the time of day many of the ads were placed, Murray was posting them from his downtown Sacramento office at 1416 9th Street.

“I think he knows now,” she said with a smile.

Researching Spas and Hot Tubs before Purchase

May 20, 2014, Action 9 News – Charlotte, NC 

CHARLOTTE – You may be shopping for a pool, spa, or hot tub, but be careful.

Stephen Beleau spent time and money making his yard relaxing. He shelled out $8,000 for a Dr. Wellness hot tub from RecDirect.

“We basically had problems with it from the beginning. It was overheating,” he said.

He says he couldn’t get the water below 106 degrees, a temperature the Consumer Product Safety Commission considers dangerous.

“It’s unusable,” Beleau said. Then, he says, the tub started leaking.

Mason City has new rules for residential spas and hot tubs

May 15, 2014, Globe Gazette – Mason City, IA

MASON CITY – Mason City has adopted new regulations and permitting requirements for residential pools, hot tubs and spas.

Curt Sauve, the city’s chief building official, said permits are now required for the placement and installation of permanent and portable above-ground swimming pools, spas and hot tubs that are 24 inches or deeper and located on the lot of one or two-family dwellings.

The new regulations contain provisions for a barrier or fence surrounding the water area and entrapment protection for suction outlets to reduce the potential for drowning of young children.

Deer Gets Stuck in Hot Tub

May 14, 2014, ABC-3 – Palm Harbor, FL

PALM HARBOR – A doe takes a swim in a Florida family’s hot tub then has to be rescued to get out. It was all caught on camera Deputy Timothy McTaggart of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says the doe knocked herself out cold. “It wasn’t pleasant watching her struggle,” McTaggart said.

After about a half hour, two deputies and a trapper managed to pull the doe out to safety. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years and i’ve never seen anything like this,” McTaggart said. “I immediately responded to just take care of the deer. That became my priority.”

They put a blanket over her head trying his best to keep her calm. When the trapper arrived, they eventually got the doe free by lifting her out of the spa.

Homeowner Mike Wyers says it’s not uncommon to see deer running around his yard and he’s just glad this story has a happy ending. “to see her kind of trot off into the woods, it felt really good,” Wyers said.

The homeowners say this isn’t the first time surprise visitors have stopped by. They’ve found alligators in their pool on three separate occasions.

Man Arrested in Theft of Three Hot Tubs

May 7, 2014, Great Falls Tribune – Great Falls, MT

GREAT FALLS – A Great Falls man sought by police in connection with the April theft of three hot tubs has been arrested, court documents say.

Jeremy Walraven, 37, was arrested Tuesday on a single felony theft charge. An earlier attempt to apprehend him April 22 resulted in the brief closure of 8th Avenue North during a foot chase in which he eluded officers, GFPD spokesman Sgt. Bryan Slavik said.

According to charging documents, three hot tubs valued together at about $9,000 were reported stolen from All Season’s Spas at 1205 Central Ave. the morning of April 8.

Detectives reportedly tied Walraven to the theft through tips provided by multiple confidential informants, including a Crime Stoppers hotline call April 21 that said Walraven had been planning to steal hot tubs from All Season’s Spa since last summer.

Slavik said shortly after Walraven’s initial alleged escape that they had reason to believe the hot tubs were being moved from out of town to an undisclosed location and were attempting to intercept him and the merchandise when he fled. All three hot tubs were reportedly recovered and returned to All Season’s at that point.

Walraven was ultimately apprehended Tuesday at 412 4th St. N., court documents say.

Canadian Ice Fishermen Keep Warm in a Hot Tub

March 9, 2014, Toronto Sun – Simcoe, Ontario

SIMCOE, ONTARIO – Some inventive ice fishermen in Simcoe, Ont., tried to liven things up by making themselves a hot tub out of plywood. They towed it out to their fishing hut by snowmobile, heated it with a wood burning stove and then proceeded to enjoy their excursion and the incredulous looks from other sportsmen out on the ice.


Sad or funny stories about hot tubs and spas – they never stop coming!


- Jack