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Everything posted by ratchett

  1. It's a new tub - new tubs are filthy from factory assembly/testing. Lots of nasty stuff festers in the plumbing before delivery day. If I were you, I'd grab a purge product like AhhSome, and then purge the hot tub extensively (run jets with purge cleaner for 30 minutes, off for 10 while cleaning scum at water line, run jets again for 30 minutes, clean scum at water line, repeat multiple times until nothing else comes out of the plumbing and settles at water line, then drain/refill).
  2. The lifespan of salt cells depends heavily on phosphate levels in the water. High phosphates can kill an ACE salt cell in as little as 18 months. Since you're the second owner of the home/spa, who knows how the previous owners maintained the spa or how high phosphate levels got when they used it. Personally, I'm not a fan of any trickle-feed sanitizer system as it makes people lazy assuming that it's working when it really might not be producing adequate chlorine to keep your water clean. I prefer dosing my tub with a bit of granular chlorine to clean, and letting my ozonator and silver mineral cartridge reduce my overall need for sanitizer by keeping the water clean when not in use. Yes I need to drain/refill a bit more often, but that's a good excuse to purge the plumbing and reduce biofilm buildup. With my setup I use a spring-loaded dosed sugar dispenser so it's easy for guests - after each soak, add one click per person (per 30 minutes of use, rounding up). Saltwater systems are more hassle (and expensive) than they're worth for the convenience. Water chemistry must be within proper ranges to generate adequate chlorine, which we all know not everyone does properly. Overall I spend around $25 in chemicals plus $90 in silver mineral cartridges per year to keep my water clean - far more economical than any saltwater setup I've seen so far
  3. How old are you filters? Have you replaced them recently? Have you flushed them with filter cleaner? I'm far from an expert, but maybe old filters are reducing flow through the heater, allowing it to get hotter than it should before entering back into the tub?
  4. The salt system test is measuring the electrical conductivity of the water between the two electrodes of the salt cell. This is not a perfect test - the cell's electrodes can give false readings if coated in calcium/scale buildup, or I think even if phosphate levels are too high. Do not trust that salt test report entirely - always get a secondary test kit for saltwater setups to confirm your salt levels are within proper range. You can test the black flakes by putting them in heavy concentrated chlorine solution and see if they dissolve or not - if they dissolve it's biological, if not then it's possibly a seal or something else. Try taking some pictures of these black bits, maybe someone can identify them for you.
  5. Actually that wouldn't be correct - it wasn't planned obsolecense - I believe Hotspring's objective to retain a catalog of replacement parts for Highlife spas up to 25 years old. To keep a very long story short, your Orca board was made by a third party manufacturer for Watkins/Hotspring. About a decade ago, Watkins and customers/dealers were hit blindsided when that company went out of business, taking their proprietary information with them. This royally screwed everyone, including the manufacturer who had minimal inventory and old stock to support existing customers - they were forced to build a new replacement control board from scratch, and unfortunately the two systems cannot communicate with each other due to the proprietary software on the old system. By this point, all new-old-stock inventory has been sold out and people with your generation of Hotspring hot tubs got screwed leaving a bad impression about the brand overall (which is valid - Hotspring should have some sort of discount program for spa owners of that spa generation) So yes, it sucks - but this was out of Watkins control. This is one reason why Hotspring spas use so many proprietary parts - the more they make in-house, the less reliant they are on third parties to continue supplying parts. Well, if it's just the topside LCD you have a few different options. Very often I find people selling or giving away free Hotspring hot tubs in the local classifieds (Because they are leaking or broken due to freeze damage) - you can possibly salavage a replacement part from a tub in your local classifieds (offer the seller $50 to salvage that part), or some people salvage parts from hot tub junk yards (which are apparently a thing) - you might be able to score a replacement part that way if you call around. Alternatively, if you dig deep enough into this, I believe someone else was in your exact same shoes a few years back and published their progress (on this forum I believe). I think that person was able to determine that his LCD screen had failed and the system worked otherwise, so he dug in and extracted the LCD screen then looked up part numbers - if my memory is correct, he discovered it was a cheap LCD screen also commonly used in a few HP PDA devices from the early 2000's, he was able to replace the screen and fire up the controller without any problems. I understand that may be out of your technical realm, but if you find the part numbers - you might be able to buy a replacement LCD screen then take it to a professional electronics repair-shop which could de-solder and replace the screen for way less than the cost to replace the entire controller - naturally I'm sure they wouldn't guarantee their work on something like this - but if the topside controller is shot already - why not take a chance and try to fix it for less than $200
  6. Made in 2018 - https://www.masterspaparts.com/master-spas-year-make-model/
  7. Yep, as CST mentioned - sounds like it could be a circulation pump issue. The ozonator generates ozone via corona discharge - the ozone gas gets "sucked" into the water via a part called a "Mazzei injector" - this part sucks air/ozone into the water as it moves through the injector. This part is actually responsible for creating the bubbles you see emanating from the vent, not the ozonator itself (this is important because many people make the false assumption that if they see bubbles, the ozonator is working, which is false - the ozonator could fail and the mazzei injector is still producing bubbles)
  8. Start a new thread instead of hijacking an old thread. Post videos of the sound, and pictures of the control board and wiring diagrams if you can access them easily.
  9. That chase wire to run speaker wire to the optional speaker compartments - the pink line is installed at the factory to make life easy for dealer's techs to quickly run speaker wiring around the tub after delivery. They are not connected to any air lines going inside the hot tub.
  10. Hotspring motomassager jets (the one on your back which moves up and down) is a "consumable" and will fail eventually. It's lifespan depends heavily on water chemistry, but 10 years seems average for a properly maintained setup (or longer if you're lucky). Watch some videos on youtube, but it is easy to replace this jet yourself without calling out a service tech.
  11. Why not replace with an oem Freshwater III High-output ozonator module? I get that the AOP Spa sanitizer system also adds a UV light. However the ozonator output is lower than the Freshwater III system, and you need to replace the UV bulb annually for optimal performance if I'm not mistaken which means more hassles. Between a higher output ozonator system or a 2-in-1, I think I'd still prefer the oem ozonator unit. Nope, you're gonna have to get creative Watkins doesn't want customers tinkering with their hardware - it's a liability concern. They will not share technical specs or schematics directly with end-users regardless how old your tub is. They want you to work with an authorized technician who they know will service the spa using OEM spec parts. This is done for a variety of reasons (liability and quality control), but obviously not ideal for the DIY weekend warrior. As much as I'm a fanboy of Hotspring highlife spas, I advise against them for friends who prefer to DIY service their own spas. I believe that is correct - the Freshwater III ozonator unit runs on 110v, not 240v. OP is gonna need to get creative to tap into power for that unit if they want to use it.
  12. Start a new thread. Take and post photos of everything - the subpanel, the wiring diagram, the control board wiring, etc. The more info you can give, the better chances one of the experts around here can help you troubleshoot the problem
  13. The air control knob might turn, but you may have a clogged air line - a bug or something else might be stuck in the air intake tube causing a clog.
  14. Have you made any changes to the spa? How old is the spa?
  15. I would use stone rockwool fiber insulation - stuff into black contractor bags and carefully place into position. Wear a respirator
  16. Instead of a chemical cleaning, I started using my 3D printing & design experience to try improve how I physically clean the filters. Took me a year of prototypes trying different things but I've finally designed something awesome and universal to turbocharge my filter cleaning. Two years of testing and I'm really happy with my design. I can't wait to share it with the community after I finish all the paperwork and such.
  17. So it sounds like you're asking the difference between a cheap inflatable spa verses a portable hardshell hot tub (there is also a third category of hot tubs which are built into in-ground pools, but that's less common for a variety of reasons). Here's my take: Inflatable spas are very budget-friendly. They hold water and *eventually* get kinda hot. You might get jets to circulate water, but don't expect any sort of therapeutic massage from the jets. Inflatable spas are poorly insulated and do not adequately contain heat. Thus they are energy inefficient and lose temperature fast when the cover is removed for use. Inflatable spas are not constructed to be serviced. The seams are heat-welded together. They have a limited lifespan of roughly 1-3 "seasons" before some seam starts to wear out and air or water leaks where it's not supposed to. You might find someone who has one which lasts for a few years, but it's rare to find. Inflatable spas have a pitiful tiny filter which clogs up frequently (at least weekly cleaning is essentially necessary to keep the unit working) - portable hardshell spas typically have larger filtration systems which need less frequent cleaning (weekly is suggested, but monthly works fine for many users). Inflatable spas have poor to no quality control in the construction process. Unlike hardshell hot tubs which are tested in the factory (filled with water, powered up, etc), inflatable spas are constructed and placed into a box for packing. I have seen complaints ranging from defective dead-on-arrival pumps to water connection valves heat-welded shut. One person even found after a month that their water had developed a low-voltage electrical charge which shocked her when touching the water!!! That should totally not be possible with any UL/CE certified product. Portable hardshell hot tubs are typically built to be serviced to have a longer lifespan. Industry average for these hot tubs is 7-14 years, although some of the top-tier flagship spas might last 20-30+ years with proper care/maintenance. Many hot tub brands even use the same industry-standard off-the-shelf components (heaters, control boards, jets, motors, etc) making it easy to find replacements if you're a DIY weekend warrior. Personally, I think it's better to spend $2000 to buy a used (but fully working) hot tub in the local classifieds, than spend $500 on an inflatable spa. You'll get a better and more comfortable therapeutic experience. The only case I see inflatable spas making sense is if you're a medical patient and a doctor has advised heat therapy in hot water for several months for treatment, and you don't have a budget for anything nicer than an inflatable spa.
  18. When you plug in the tub, does anything happen? Do you hear anything clicking on? Are there any led lights on the board? How old is the tub? The guys around here like to see a photo of the wiring diagram and photos of the control board/wiring - they can usually spot something if it looks suspicious.
  19. I've had this issue as well when trying to post links to other posts in the forum as well, I'll try to send you a link with a screenshot next time I see one
  20. First, adjusting pH takes time to fully balance throughout the water. I personally test pH once a month - and only in the morning before using the tub, when the water has been sitting for hours (with only the circulation pump keeping water moving around). Second - it's a new tub. The glues used in construction are acidic and pull pH down for the first 6-8+ weeks while things pH neutralize internally. I too noticed the same thing (except as a spa geek doing my research, I was expecting it) - I had to constantly boost my pH every few weeks for the first few months. Fast forward a few months (and a refill later), no more problems with pH/TA - much easier to maintain.
  21. Thanks for the tag @cranbiz Actually my 2019 Hotspring's motomassager are still going strong. I'm just an obsessed engineering geek who loves to study how things work including these awesome jets. I tend to "soak" up irrelevant knowledge randomly - especially when I find it interesting. In this case the interesting part was the choice of silicone tubing which is totally non-standard. You are correct - I can't find my source anymore - but there is an image of the silicone tubing utilized by Hotspring in the construction of their motomassager jets - it looks like either oval shaped, or they shaved down the walls on 2-sides of the silicone tubing to give it two flat sides (and rounded on the other two sides). I'll try to keep digging to see if I can find that photo of the OEM silicone tubing. Some people have dis-assembled and rebuilt the jets using regular standard round tubing, however it's not a 100% perfect fit. And given the price for replacement jets and their lifespan (10+ years with proper water chemistry), it's more of a hassle than it's worth to rebuild these jets. I've even seen a few people who tried to rebuild their Motomassager jets only to fail and destroy the jet in the process because they kept tinkering trying to fit the silicone properly. The Motomassager jets are a "consumable" product. They will wear out over time and eventually stop moving all together (the cause is due to water pressure seeping out through worn/broken tubing) - lifespan depends HEAVILY on water chemistry - excessive chlorine use for example or low pH will cause the jets to fail sooner. Basically there's a tear or break in the tubing which opens slowly over time - first it starts as a small hole which slows down the oscillation speed of the jets. Eventually over time the jets stop moving all together - they "feel" like they have full pressure, but they actually aren't - because some of the water is escaping through a failed section of silicone tubing. Yes it's true some people have rebuilt the jets to get them working again. Unfortunately the exact silicone tubing utilized in construction of these jets is not available commercially from any of the suppliers I've researched (including McMaster) - you can follow the videos online and you *might* get lucky and the jets will move up and down partially. However I have never once seen any feedback from anyone who's done the repair and follow up with longevity to confirm how long they lasted - you might do all this work and only get 6-12 months before the jets fail again. My vote: replace the Motomassager jets in the seats you use most for now, and replace the other ones later so they will wear out at different times. Watch your water chemistry and you should get 10+ years out of those jets before they need replacement. As a fellow engineer, there are some battles worth fighting. Personally, rebuilding motomassager jets to save $100 per seat isn't worth my time especially since it's not a guarantee you'll be successful. Time is money after all - my time is worth more than tinkering on something which isn't guaranteed to work.
  22. I assume you're talking about an ozonator. Does the tub have a circulation pump to keep water flowing 24/7? Ozone burns off organic contaminants through oxidation (like shock) but is such a strong oxidizer that it even reacts with chlorine. This means you can chlorine shock after use and not have to soak in a bleach bath the next day, because the ozone will burn off most all of the chloramines and most of the chlorine overnight. Ozone does not build up in the water and is most effective when paired with a circulation pump for continuous injection. New tubs are *filthy* from factory assembly/testing. Water chemistry is a nightmare on the first fill while everything pH balances internally. Think of it like rolling down the windows to air out a new car for the first few weeks. Regardless the brand of tub, it's suggested to perform a purge/drain/refill after the first 4-8 weeks. Water chemistry is always much easier after a the first refill.
  23. I'd first start by looking for any dealer info or paperwork from the purchase left by the previous owner. If not, look for the nearest authorized Bullfrog dealer. Support them since they're the one's you'll lean on for future service repair needs (and to get replacement parts such as different jet-packs). The dealer will have the replacement parts for the cover lifter, and they will be able to inspect the spa for any maintenance needs at that time (leaks and such) - there will likely be a dispatch fee involved. If you find a good dealer (not all are created equal, some care more than others), they may even have a recommended care routine with a cheat-sheet and be willing to teach you while they're out performing service to fix that cover lifter. Regardless, here are a few things I'd do to start: Figure out filter size and buy replacements (if there's no part numbers, measure length, outside diameter, and inside diameter then shop around online) - you don't know how old those filters are, and you don't want to know how they've been maintained. Grab a jetted spa purge cleaner and review instructions (I'm a huge fan of AhhSome, but there are other brands on the market, maybe something your local Bullfrog dealer prefers). Purge the heck out of that plumbing so you can start with a "Clean" tub inside and out (the cleaner you keep the spa, the less sanitizer/chemicals you need to keep it clean). Drain, refill, install new filters, and start practicing your watery chemistry (there are many different water care routines on the market, some prefer bromine, some prefer chlorine, etc - there are pros and cons to every method). Know that hot tubs have the best lifespan when filled with water, balanced, maintained, and heated to temperature - it keeps the rubber seals warm and supple. Leaving a tub dry/empty or turned off for prolonged periods of time is the easiest ways to kill a hot tub. If the maintenance becomes too daunting, consider selling while it still holds water/functions before leaving it to rot away on the patio like so many people do haha
  24. Is it the middle of summer where you're located? Your tub might be staying hot because it's insulated and the summer sun is cooking the tub causing it to stay heated beyond set temp
  25. Have you tested the flow sensor with a multimeter to confirm you're getting correct readings? What about the temperature sensors - have you tested them to confirm they're reading? Does the control board have LED lights to indicate when it's calling for heat? Is the board calling for heat or not? I'm far from an expert, but if there is a flow sensor error, that would indicate the hot tub thinks that the heater is dry, so it's not going to even try sending power to the heater and risk damage. Until the flow error is cleared, the system will never kick on the heater. I know you said you replaced the flow sensor, but are you positive it's working correctly? Might be worth using a multimeter to confirm it's getting a reading when closed.
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