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Spa Pumps Troubleshooting

Pumps are the heart of your spa system. Without them, your spa would be nothing but an over-priced bathtub. So when something goes wrong with a pump, it's time to act (unless you're really into sitting around in stagnant, unsafe water).

Common Symptoms:
  • Your jets are turned on but there's no water flowing out of them
  • Your pump hums or vibrates but water isn't flowing
  • Water is leaking around the pump shaft
  • Water is not hot
Warning! WARNING: Electricity and water are a dangerous cocktail. DISCONNECT THE POWER AT THE GFCI SWITCH AND/OR THE MAIN PANEL CIRCUT BREAKER or FUSE BEFORE INSPECTING OR INSTALLING SPA PARTS. Do not attempt to install any powered spa part unless you are qualified. If you have even the slightest doubt, call a spa technician or electrician before proceeding.

Typical Equipment Bay
Typical Equipment Bay: enlarge

Typical Spa Pump
Typical Spa Pump
Troubleshooting Your Spa Pump

  1.  1. First, let's open up that equipment bay and see what's up.

  2.  2. Locate your main spa pump. (in larger spas there may be two; follow this procedure for both). If you have recently drained your spa or your water level got very low, it's possible you have an airlock which occurs when air enters your pipes and your spa shuts down to protect it from running without enough water. Loosen but do not remove one of the plumbing unions on your pump until you see just a little water and listen for escaping air. If you hear air escaping, you have released the airlock. Tighten the union and retry your jets to see if they will work. If not, go to number 3.
  1.  3. Determine if the motor is working. Is it plugged in? Does it hum or vibrate when you turn on your jets? If it's plugged in and you are sure you are getting juice and yet you can't hear or feel anything from your pump, you may have an electrical problem. This is probably time to break out your Yellow Pages and call a spa tech. If it hums or vibrates but is not pushing water, it's time to take the pump out and examine it further.

  2.  4. After turning off the electricity, drain your spa or, if your spa is equipped with shut off valves — close them now. Valve handle Up = Open, handle Down = Closed
Disconnect the plumbing from the the inlet and outlet
Disconnect the plumbing

Disconnect the copper grounding wire (if present).
Disconnect copper wire

  1.  5. Disconnect the plumbing from the the inlet and outlet. There will be a little water spillage.

  2.  6. Disconnect the copper grounding wire (if present).

  1.  7. Disconnect the pump's electrical plug from the side of the control box.
  2.  8. Remove the mounting screws and put the pump on a bench.

  1.  9. Inspect the pump wet end for evidence of corrosion of leakage. PLEASE NOTE: Wet ends vary. Here are just a few types of commonly used wet ends. Threads and overall size can vary greatly.
Inlet - see if the pump's impeller can be moved
Inspect the impeller and inlet

  1. 10. CAREFULLY reach inside the inlet with two fingers and see if the pump's impeller can be moved... slight resistance is okay, it should be smooth and consistent all the way around. Look inside the inlet to make sure nothing is inside blocking the flow of water.

  1. 11. Remove the front wet end cover attached with machine screws or bolts.
  2. 12. Remove back of motor (plate or cover) exposing the shaft.

  1. 13. Using the appropriate tool, secure the motor shaft from spinning. In this picture we are using a large flat screw driver, some motors will require a 7/16 wrench.

Using the appropriate tool - secure the motor shaft from spinning.
Secure the motor shaft.

  1. 14. Visually inspect the impeller by looking at the threaded shaft on both the impeller and the motor's shaft. If anything breaks, order a new wet end.
  1. 15. Plug the motor only back into the pack and see if it activates without the wet end. No this won't hurt the pump. Try HIGH and LOW jets — you don't need to run this very long (a second or two) — you're just trying to see if the motor will run without the load of the seal and wet end. If your motor looks like this, get a new pump assembly (don't let the shaft seal leak for long or this is what your pump will look like).

If your motor looks like this, replace the pump/motor assembly.
Replace your old pump/motor.

  1. 16. If you hear clicking or feel a vibration or if it starts slow or not at all, replace the pump/motor assembly. If it starts right away and runs smoothly, replace the wet end (they come with a new seal assembly).

Important note: This is a dry test and and even if it tests OK on the bench, when you add the extra load of the water into the pump with an older motor, it still may not work correctly. This is due to the extra load the water puts on the impeller that we can't detect in the dry test. So, if the motor is 5 years old or more, consider replacing it anyway, even if it passes the dry test.

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