Jump to content

- - - - -

Diary Of A Free Spa

Posted by op1, 27 October 2011 · 1,864 views

I have always wanted a spa. Every vacation I would always spend as much time as I could in one and always kept wishing I had one at home. Unfortunately the cost of a new spa has always been something that kept me from getting one. So when I found that people were often selling and giving them away on griagslist I hit bingo. So I checked craiglist often and read a lot of the take it away its yours posts. Most often they were in places a little to far to go.

Low and behold one day I saw and add for a free 1992 Sundance Maxxus, just one town over and less than 10 miles. I couldnít pass this opportunity up. So I went and checked out the spa. The lady just wanted gone. Said she didnít use it anymore. It was dry so I couldnít really test it out. The shell looked immaculate and the cover was less than two years old. The controller looked old but the pumps looked pretty good from the outside. If worst came to worse I would chop this up and sell the pumps and cover to recover my time and effort. I said Iíll take it.

Wife and friends.
Everyone (but my son) said I was crazy. Do you know why all those people are giving them away! All the work cost etc. But this is something I always wanted and knew this might be my only chance to get one. I am also very handy and donít mine rolling up my sleeves so I forged forward.

Getting it home.
This was of course the first challenge. This a 600 pound unit, 8 feet by 8 feet. It BIG!!! I rented a uhaul open trailer and called my brother inlaws. Their brawny like me. Took my soon and my cousin also. We met at the ladies house. I was lucky because I was able to drive the uhaul onto her yard and back it up pretty close to the tub. Next part was getting it on to the trailer. Between all of us we were able to get this thing on its side. It was a bit of a challenge since much of the skirting and framing was quite rotted out. But we got it on its side. Used some PVC pipes and managed to roll it on to the trailer. Do you know how high 8 feet sits on a trailer? It scared the hell out of me. What if this thing topples over trailer and all. I could see the news now. I strapped the tub down and braced it as best as I could. I didnít have a long trip home. We had three cars and would drive real slow and take only back roads.
Well we got it home. Fortunately again I was able to drive into my back yard and back this up to my patio where it would be its home. As we moved it again more and more of the skirting came apart. It was also clearer why she wanted it gone. Looks like it had been inhabited by rodents.

The installation begins.
Well first we need to test this out. Oh no is my panel overloaded. I could do most electrical myself but I may need a panel upgrade. I found an electrician through a friend of a friend and didnít need the upgrade. All in all it cost me about $800 to get him to do the wiring and bringing the power out. With the cost of copper these days, a 50 foot run of 4 strand of #6 isnít cheap. We wired up the tub for a trial before doing the permanent install. Filled up the tub and had two issues. Number one, my concrete patio was poured slopping away from the house so it is not level at all. Weíll fix that later. The bigger problem every time we tried to run the tub it tripped the circuit breaker. All trouble shooting point to the controller. Found some minor leaks also.
Well what to do. Do I send the board for someone to refurbish or do I buy a new controller. After much research I decided that with some work and a new controller this spa would be pretty much as good as new. Did my research and ordered an Easypak from Spadepot.com (more to come on this.) In the interim I built a wedged shape platform from pressure treated wood with a two inch rise over 8 feet. I cut 2x4s into wedges, and placed them one foot apart. Covered it with Ĺ inch pressure treated plywood. Lifted the spa with a car jack and then slid the platform underneath voila its pretty dam level.

The New Controller Arrives.
Like a child waiting for Christmas I waited patiently for the new controller to arrive. In the interim I started working on some of the aesthetics. Like I said at this point the skirting was all off and I noticed that most of the support framing was rotted out. Interesting note. Many spas are made in California. They tend not to use pressure treated material and opt for cedar etc. I framed my spa now in 2 x 4 pressure treated wood. Itís a tub and it sits outside so it will get wet and covered in snow. Pressure treated will last a lot longer. I changed some plumbing fittings and I wired the pumps with the new cables, then installed the new controller. It works . woo hoo time for a soak.
Well the maiden soak showed some more issues. It looks like the diverter valves have leaks and the blower isnít working. Well I dug out the diverter valves from all the foam thatís packed around them The best tool to use is one of those new multi vibrating tool with a wood / plastic cutter attachment. Cuts great through the foam. Just go slow as to not to cut into the wrong things. The diverter valves took a lot of research but in short all they needed was a couple of o rings. Leaks stopped. Back to soaking. Oddly enough the temperature is real wacky on the new controller. It always reads hotter than it is and is set for.

The problems begin.
It wasnít long after I started using a new Easypak from Spa Depot, (made by Hydroquip) that I had inconsistencies with the water temperature. I have been on and off with Spa Depotís technical support with a couple of issues. First issue the ozzonator doesnít work. The smart jack lights up but not the ozonator. No problem they will send me a new one. In the interim I discuss the temperature issues. I keep it set to 80 and only raise it a couple of hours before using it but it always reads high. Then one morning I woke to find the spa had overheated. I called Spa Depot and spoke to the tech,. (however actual spa water did not seem that hot). I ended up having to turn off power, letting it cool. After about two hours with cover off and power off I was able to run the pumps and blower again and got it to cool. I set the temperature way below the read out and noticed that the heater light stayed on. Called Spa Depot again. Turned temp all the way down. Turned power off and on and the system seek to reset and it seemed to be functioning correctly. Tech advised that it was probably a fluke of the controller. Ok I'll work with it. But skeptical. I set it to 85 and kept a close eye on the temp. Next morning I checked it, and was at 85, great. So I set it to 95 so that I could go in for a soak at night.
Later I got ready for a soak took the cover of. Spa said 95. So far so good. But it didn't feel that warm. Had my soak. Turned it up to 100 and covered it up.

Next morning checked the temp, it showed 95!!! WTF? Checked the setting, it was set for 100. Most of the time in the past the temp was higher then what I set it for. This time it was 5 degrees lower. The spa has a pretty good cover. In addition to the Sundance insulation I added 2 inches of foam board. I cleaned the filter no less than 2 weeks ago. So it shouldn't be losing heat. Tried resetting power all over again and setting temperature to max, but could never get temp past 95
In addition Spadepot is replacing an Ozonator which stopped working a few days earlier. This may be a coincidence but it sounds like there is something seriously wacky with this controller.
I contacted Spa Depot, they contacted the manufacture Hydroquip who in turn issued a call tag for the equipment. I drained the spa, packed up the controller and heater along with a note explaining everything as above and sent it back to Hydroquip. It takes a week for the unit to get there and a week to get back to me with a few days while it is there. In short no less than three weeks without use of my spa. Arggg

The saga continues
I get the controller back and found a work order that came with it. It advised that the heating element was bad and that it had been replaced. The unit was bench tested for two hours and heated the water to 100 degrees ran well. Somehow I didnít have warm and fuzzies. Ok I reinstall everything, and refilled tub. New ozonator not working ! The water temperature is 59 degrees so it will be a while before its hot enough for a soak. Best if I leave it overnight. Do I set it to 100degrees and went to bed. Got up in the morning had my coffee and went to check on my spa. OVERHEATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I called spadepot. I was asked to put some cold water down the filter port in order to cool the temp probe quickly and be able to run the pumps. This worked. However despite the water hotter than what the temperature was set for, the heater continues to stay on. I shot videos of the controller and heater continuing to heat even after the water temperature setting is exceeded. In addition even after the pumps turns off the heater continues to stay on. This causes and overheat condition. I am now waiting to hear back from Spa Depot and Hydroquip as to how to proceed. This unit is only a few months old in short it has spent more time in transit that it has installed..

To be continued......
Well I just got off the phone with Spadepot. They seem to have a real interest in making sure I am happy and are working with me to resolve correct the issue. More to follow in the coming week.

August 2016

21222324 25 2627

Recent Entries