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About ScubaDave

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    Spa Savant

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    New Jersey
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    Hot Tub Repair
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  1. I wonder how all that stuff gets stuck inside pump impellers, since NOBODY would run their hot tub without the filters in place, right? I've seen a few jet parts in pumps.. Often, jets pop out when the tabs that hold them in place get brittle and break from too much chlorine. When you look inside your pump, if the wet end is bleached, you might consider giving up on chlorine and switching to an MP/ozonator/mineral stick disinfecting regimen.
  2. First of all, is it vibration? Mounts loosen up over time. Make sure everything's tight. While it's running, see if a little hand pressure solves the noise problem. If it's a metallic, scraping noise it's probably the motor bearings. Personally, I wouldn't get a motor rebuilt, you'd be spending $200 to avoid spending $400 to have a 6 year old motor. If the bearings are worn, chances are the wet end will be going pretty soon as well. Just buy the new motor and be rid of the problem. If the problem is the impeller, it would probably impact water flow, although it may have been such a gradual impeller change that you don't notice it. I've never seen damage to impellers bad enough to make noise but not bad enough to impact water flo. Usually, it's the other way around. Sometimes something gets stuck in the wet end - a rock, cigarette lighter, plastic toys, I've pulled them all out. Definitely worth a check before spending money on new parts. You don't have to disassemble the wet end, just remove the suction and discharge pipes and look (and feel around) inside. Aquaflo and Waterway are the two major hot tub pumps you'll see out there. Either is OK, and either has a few duds. I usually try to replace the pump in the tub with the same brand because the footprints can be different. If you have a lot of open space around the existing pump, an inch or two isn't important, you can always make it fit. The Aquaflo and Waterway are currently being assembled in Mexico. Several manufacturers are starting to use LX brand pumps, which are made in China. I've seen what looks like an unusually high failure rate in the LX pumps, both with motors and wet ends. They can be a lot less expensive than the other pumps out there, but I don't recommend them. The wet ends seem to be particularly bad, I've had them fail when only 4 months old. Failure rates on the Aquaflo and Waterway are probably 2 or 3 percent, I'd say 10% on the LX. Just to be fair, I own a repair company, so my experience is definitely skewed towards dealing with failures. But while the average age of a seized Waterway or Aquaflo pump is about 8 years, the average age of a seized LX pump is closer to 3 years. (I said "average failed" pump - there are plenty of 10 and 12 year old pumps out there still working)
  3. I would think that an ozonator would work much more efficiently on a smaller hot tub because there's less water to be treated. The problem with ozone is it has a very short life, decomposing to regular oxygen in minutes if not less, so a smaller tub should be treated better because there's less water to circulate.
  4. Unless there's something that a repair tech would see that we're missing here, you've pretty much eliminated everything except the board.
  5. The winter is the worst time of year for a hot tub failure. Put together an emergency first aid kit to make sure your hot tub can survive winter’s emergencies. You can develop small leaks, a few jets might pop out, a bulb or LED might burn out, but there is only one real Emergency that needs to be immediately addressed: heater failure during sub freezing temperatures. Heater failure can be caused by a bad heater element, an electronic problem in the hot tub or an electrical problem from your home. Regardless, as soon as you stop heating it, the water in your hot tub will begin to cool. And wWhen the water in the pipes inside the hot tub cabinet finally drops to 32 degrees, it will begin to freeze and expand. That’s when the pipes can crack. The perfect emergency first aid kit for your hot tub only needs two items: a screwdriver and a space heater. The screwdriver is to remove the sides or the hot tub, and the space heater is to put inside the base of your tub to keep the water in the pipes from freezing. Get the smallest 1500 watt space heater you can find. You should have no problem finding one that’s smaller than a shoe box. To use the space heater, you must first remove the front of your tub. That’s where the screwdriver comes in. On most hot tubs, directly under the topside control panel, the side is held in by several screws. On Jacuzzi brand, there can be up to 24 screws. on Hotsprings brand, there are only 4. You’re going to have to look in your owners manual, or figure it out for yourself. Maybe you can do it today, before you have an emergency and you’re fighting time. After removing the side, place your space heater inside the tub. It doesn’t matter exactly where you put the heater because it will heat the air inside the hot tub’s compartment, which will heat the pipes. But you have to use a little common sense, don’t put the heater where it will get wet, because that will cause it to short out. We usually put the heater on top of a brick or ceramic tile. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it every couple of hours, at least until you are sure that there is no fire hazard. We always put the heater as far away from any flammable parts as we can. Remember, you want to heat up the air, not the wood or pipes. Don’t have a heater around? In a pinch, you can use a drop light to generate heat. Make sure you have an incandescent bulb in your drop light, as low energy LED bulbs don’t generate any heat. A couple of 100 watt bulbs will keep your hot tub warm enough to avoid a freeze up while you await a hot tub repair technician who can help you out. Whether you’re using a space heater or drop light to keep your hot tub warm, make sure you use outdoor extension cords that won’t melt from the heat generated by the electrical draw. Don’t use the type of drop light that has a coiled wire, it will generate enough heat to melt the wire together. And remember, a 100 watt bulb is going to generate a lot less heat than a 1500 watt heater. It’s better than nothing, but do yourself a favor and go out and invest the $20 in a heater. That way, if your $8000 hot tub has a problem, you’re prepared. For more information about how to take care of your hot tub, visit our website at
  6. I don't understand why it takes 3 tries to reset the spa. Something sounds strange about that. If a circuit board had a damaged relay, it would normally stay damaged. If there were a logic problem with a chip, once again, if it's bad, it stays bad. In your first post, you said the filter was clean, but you didn't say if you tried running the spa without the filter, so try that. Filters can LOOK clean but be clogged with mineral scale, shampoo, skin lotion and probably a dozen other clear contaminants that restrict water but aren't noticeable at a quick glance. The fact that you could get the hi limit to hold after three reset attempts might be due to the first two few second bursts of low flow water being sucked into the filters, just enough to get water into the heater tub, to give a little flow so the tub starts up. I realize I'm grasping at straws here, but to have it consistently start up on the third attempt, even temporarily, is telling us something. If that doesn't work, however, I'm out of ideas. You're getting a hi limit sensor trip and you say the hi limit is good. The Hot Springs folks suggest it could be a heater element and you said that's also good. That pretty much leaves the circuit board.
  7. First of all, almost all hot tub manufacturers use the same pumps, electronic packs and plumbing parts. So, a premature pump failure in Hot Tub Brand A doesn't make it any better than Brand B. It's luck of the draw. You're question is kind of similar to whether it's worth buying a "Certified" used car instead of a new one. It depends on how much money you're saving and how much guarantee you're getting. Figure the warranty serves two purposes: Protects you against parts that are bad due to manufacturing Protects you against the cost of repairs during the first 1 -5 years of ownership, depending on the warranty period. A 120 day warranty on a used spa protects you against anything the dealer did when they refurbished the spa, but you're not getting the same kind of protection as a new tub for something that dies prematurely. The fact that the used tub dealer has a good reputation should be very important to your decision as far as getting service in the future, but the 120 warranty pretty much tells you that they'll guarantee it's working when they set it up, but after that you're on your own. They may be a great company and extremely responsive, but if you had to put $500 or $1000 into repairs in the first year, would the savings still be worth it? If so, sounds like a used tub might be right for you.
  8. The hose between the pump faceplate and the heater is give a path for air to bleed out of the pump. If you fill the hot tub by putting a hose in the footwells, water gets into the drain and all the air in the drains gets pushed through the plumbing, often getting trapped in the pump. By providing that hose, the air has an escape route to prevent an air-lock when you turn the tub on. That's why you always want to fill the hot tub through the filters, because then the water (theoretically) goes to the pumps first and pushes the air out of the pumps and further into the plumbing where it will get pushed out when the pumps turn on. Did the fitting break on the PVC elbow by your heater? It looks like that's got a brass nipple and I'm assuming that's what you put in. I never saw a hi limit sensor burned up like that before. Maybe the heater came on with no water in the heater can, and the pressure switch isn't adjusted properly and let it burn up? On monday, you said the heater came on, but you also said the pressure switch wiring harness was broken. That shouldn't occur. With a broken wire, the pressure switch circuit isn't closed, and the heater isn't supposed to come on. If it does, it indicates a problem with the circuit board. If you remember your message from last week, you said you were working fine until you changed the filter cycle from "always on" to F3. So, with the pump running 24 hrs, the heater can run without getting an error. Of course, since the tub wasn't overheating at that point, the temperature sensor control of the heater was probably working and turning off the heater when appropriate. Which makes me think that the pressure switch logic on the circuit board isn't working properly. Either way, it still sounds like a circuit board issue.
  9. To say a ten year old hot tub with a new circuit board has no more parts to break down is incorrect. You have a heater, circulation pump, ozonator, and at least one jet pump, plus sensors and control panels. At ten years of age, anything is susceptible to wearing out. I assume you want to be honest with your buyers, so I just threw that in there. As far as pricing, it's really what the market will bear. I'm in New Jersey, so I can only tell you what's going on here. In most of New Jersey, you can't put a hot tub at the curb and have the municipal trash pickup take it away. You have to arrange that yourself. It would cost $600-$800 to have a disposal service remove the hot tub from a ground level deck. Closer to $1000 for a second or third floor deck. Craig's list has quite a few listings for hot tubs saying "Free but you have to come pick it up." To put a hot tub in a yard that doesn't have electrical wiring in place, it can cost thousands to have the wiring run by a licensed electrician. Of course, it depends on how far the tub is from the panel. So, when someone takes your "free" hot tub, they are going to have to pay to transport and install it, and could easily be looking at a bill of $2000. Versus the cost of a new hot tub with a warranty, a free hot tub may not be such a great deal. I occasionally get calls where someone says something like "I can get a used hot tub for $500, does that sound fair?" I doubt if many used hot tubs go for much more than that, although I'm sure there are probably a few exceptions. It's like this: you can pay $800 to have the hot tub taken away, or you can give it to someone for free and save the $800. However, the Florida market may be different, I'd definitely look at Craig's list and google local web sites that list garage sales, flea markets and penny-saver ads and see what other's are doing. As far as being responsible for damage in transit, that's a legal question I don't know how to answer, but if I were buying a used hot tub, I'd insist on seeing it running to establish that it worked, and I'd advise a buyer to look underneath it for signs of leakage. I don't know if Florida law applies, but if the buyer can see that it was in good condition before he takes possession, I'd guess they would be less likely to accuse you of hiding damage. One final thought, it sounds like you have a good relationship with the your service company. Would the service agent who's been taking care of it for you be willing to provide a guarantee that it's in "perfect condition" like he told you? (I doubt that) Or would he be willing to allow the buyer to contact him and tell the buyer "I've been servicing this tub for 10 years and it's in perfect condition?" As a service company, I couldn't guarantee a 10 year old tub, but I would let the seller share my phone number with the buyer, and offer to share the tub's service record and let the buyer know what he might or might not have to deal with in the coming years.
  10. 1) The new pump should have plugs where your old pump has nipples. Just remove the plugs and re-use the old nipples in the new pump. 2) The bonding wire can be coupled to an additional length of wire to make it longer. You can also move the bonding lug to another part of the new motor, as long as it's attached to metal, and obviously not to anything electrically active. 3) Sounds like your old seals are either gaskets with an imbedded O-ring, or just plain O-rings, and they sent you flat gaskets. The flat gasket with the o-ring molded into it is sometimes difficult, because their are several different sizes of 2" couplings and you have to have a perfect fit. The flat gaskets are much better because they fit everywhere. Regular O-rings only give you about 1/16" of sealing surface where the flat gaskets give you 1/2" (or whatever size you received.) I always remove the o-rings and replace with flat gaskets. Also, I suggest coating the flat gaskets (or o-rings) with a thin layer of silicone lubricant, which will help them last longer. If the leak is from the pump connections, than your gaskets are either misaligned or the coupling needs to be tightened. Mind you, all that threaded coupling does is hold the gasket against the pump - it's the gasket that makes it watertight. In other words, you shouldn't need a monkeywrench and the strength of Zeus to make it watertight. A sixteenth to a quarter of turn with a wrench should do it. If your shutoff valves are leaking, it has nothing to do with the pump gaskets. Shutoff valves are notorious for leaking, they sit in the tub unused for ten years and the day you go to use them, the rubber parts inside have deteriorated and they break. Welcome to the world of being a hot tub repairman.
  11. I've been in two spa factories and at both different companies they wet test it, check for leaks & motor/electronic operation, than drain and blow/vacuum out the plumbing. It's conceivable that some water could remain behind, but I'd contact your dealer, both by phone and email (or mail) so you have it documented in case the tub turns out to have problems down the line. Especially if it's a floor model. Just so you don't think I'm accusing anyone of everything, it could have been transported through rain/snow and just gotten wet on the way to your house. Did you notice if it was shrink wrapped?
  12. OK. You were saying "tripped " and sometimes people use that phrase when the circuit breaker closes. Just wanted to make sure I understood what you were saying. Interesting that cycling the power off a couple of times brings it back, but only cycling it once doesn't. When you reset power, how long does it take until the hi limit error message comes on? Is the rest of the spa inoperative?
  13. adamrich - let me ask a stupid question. How do you know the hi limit sensor trips out? By flashing LED's, error message? What are you seeing?
  14. Several thoughts: I can't picture what you mean about breaking the pump impeller fitting and having to tap a new one. I assume that since you said you repaired it, it's not part of the problem. I'd love to see a picture of what you're talking about if you have a moment to share that.
  15. Just a quick question adamrich - are you sure we're talking about the hi-limit sensor and not the temperature sensor? As to the acuraspq controllers, make sure you get one that can accomodate the type of heater & circ pump you have. 2" heater cans require more water flow than mini-circ pumps can provide. If you have 2" plumbing with pump 1 providing heater water movement, my personal spa controller preference would be a balboa or gecko pack, mainly because they are good quality products made by hot tub companies. I see acuraspa controllers in some do-it-yourself'er tubs and my impression is that just because they are cheaper doesn't necessarily mean they're better. With Balboa and Gecko packs, but the kit that includes the controller, topside and heater. Can you post a picture of your current heater and pack? We work on a lot of Hot Spring tubs, but I don't believe I've seen many Mallorca models.