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Weird Cal Spa Electrical Problem Has Me Stumped!


mdmaiorano
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Hey all,

I'm hoping you guys might be able to help out as my limited knowledge has run out of troubleshooting ideas:

I have a 2005 Cal Spa that recently stopped working. No power running to it at all as if the breaker was off (which it isn't). Here's what I've noticed:

About a week before it broke, I went out to use it a noticed it was off totally. Checked breakers and everything was fine. I suspected the outdoor breaker so went back and forth switching both outdoor and indoor breakers on and off in different orders, and finally it kicked on and worked great that night. I didn't think much of it at the time...

A week later I went out and same problem: no power at all, except this time tripping and resetting the breakers didn't work. I'm sure the breakers are good as the outside one is GFCI and trips when I hit the test button. I also pulled the panel off and used my multimeter to assure power was running into the tub. So now having located the problem to something inside the tub, I started to use my multimeter to check fuses, connections, etc to see if anything obvious was broken (which it didn't seem to be). However, the original transformer looked pretty ratty and dated to me, so I ordered a new one and crossed my fingers that was the problem. New one arrived today and still no luck with the power. Now, here's where things get weird:

With the new transformer installed, I started going contact to contact with my multimeter trying to trace the spot in the circuit where power runs out. In the process, I noticed that if I had my multimeter prongs on the board in the spot highlighted in the picture below and set to 200 ACV, nothing would happen but power was running to that spot. Then if I kept contact to that same spot and turned my multimeter dial over to the Ohms settings, the tub will make a little "click" noise and turn on like normal. The display shows an "01" then an "11" then the default temp setting "100" and then to the current temp of the water "86", and then totally loses power like before, all within maybe like 5 seconds...I'm not sure if this is normal or not since any other time I've turned it on from being off at the breaker I have been over at the box and not looking directly at the display. A google search and manual read didn't yield anything helpful about what the "01" and "11" could mean...

MDMaioranoSpa.jpg

I'm pretty stumped at this point. Is there some faulty trip switch I'm not seeing that is getting clicked over when I adjust the power slightly with my multimeter attached? My electrical knowledge is just enough to be dangerous so I don't know what other things it could be.

Thanks for the time reading though my problem and helping out if you can. I really appreciate it!

-Mike

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Ok reading that back to myself and thinking about it some more, could it be related to the heater overloading a fail switch or something I don't see? Since the tub comes on with my multimeter weird trick, looks to go though some initial start up, then when it displays current water temp and the heater (and circulation pumping) would normally kick on, it craps out again...I can't tell where the little "click" noise comes from exactly which might have led me to that fail switch. Orrrrr am I way off base and that thing doesn't even exist?

-Mike

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After "The display shows an "01" then an "11" then the default temp setting "100" and then to the current temp of the water "86", and then totally loses power like before, all within maybe like 5 seconds"

What's the voltage at the main terminal block? between both hots, and then each hot to neutral?

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Genius! I started tracing back the current and could tell the black hot was not at a full 120V+. This led me back into my breaker box and I found a loose connection in the black hot coming from the main into the box. Power to the spa is restored, but now I am getting a switch making a repetitive clicking noise and the spa pumps won't begin cycling water. Sorry I couldn't do more diagnostic since I was doing all this before heading to work this morning, but I did take a quick video to show what is up:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SClSO3nKk2k&feature=youtu.be

You can see that little green switch in the middle clicking on and off over and over if you look close...

I'll do some googling as well when I get a chance today, but figured I would post updates here as well for help!

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Update time: I still have the clicking, and I've noticed that the spa lights are going on an off in time with the click. It's the switch which I've marked on the diagram below. My pump is circulating and the control panel displays current temp, but is unresponsive to any buttons i push on the top. I have taken a picture of the CS5000 wiring diagram and marked which switch is continually cycling:

CS5000WiringDiagram.jpg

For what it's worth, the lights are cycling between all their different color modes as the switch clicks away, and on the board it is listed as "Spa Light R37"

Any ideas? My googling search continues...

Thanks for the help!

-Mike

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Double check the wiring under load- it's either a bad supply (bad breaker, loose connection), or the PCB has failed. You can disconnect the main wires, and hook up a hot and the neutral to... anything 120v. A lamp, drill, whatever. And see if whatever appliance works. Once you've tested one hot and and the neutral to the appliance, do the other hot, and the neutral. And turn on the appliance. If the appliance works, bad PCB. If it doesn't, bad electrical run, or breaker.... or something in the run. BE SAFE, do not shock yourself. You'll have exposed wiring and it's dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. An electrical run that tests fine under no load, doesn't mean it's 100%. You must test it under load to be sure.

Great pics and vid btw, lol

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Ok tested the two hots and neutral coming into the tub, and my blender worked fine for both. Crap...so we're looking at a PCB problem. Any recommendation on a fix or replace? Cheapest I could find online was like $340 for the same board. I'll search the forum since I'm sure there must be another post on PCB fixing.

Does this essentially confirm a PCB problem or is there another diagnostic I could be doing? Just want to be sure before I head down the expensive road of PCB fix. Seems weird it would have popped up when I traced the original problem back into the breaker box. I must have fried something with all those breaker flips...

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Do you have an aux control panel? It sounds like a button is stuck preventing any other inputs from reaching the board. The board is functioning correctly in that the tub is running and your light relay is clicking away. Try unplugging your topside panels and see if the relay stops. If it does you have a topside issue and not a PCB. Do some more diagnostics before jumping to the board right away.

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Sounds good. I will try unplugging the top side board (only have 1) and also the ozone generator. I did install a new one of those a couple months back so maybe that has something to do with it. I don't think anything would have gotten wet recently as we haven't overflowed it or had any spills in recent memory.

Will try the suggestions when I get home tonight and post any updates! Thanks for the continued help.

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Update: Tried both unplugging the ozone and the control panel, and still the same clicking error like in the youtube video...did notice that if I plugged the top side control back in, and then try hitting either the jets or lights buttons, there would be a momentary stop in the clicking before it went back to cycling the lights. Basically the regular beat of the clicks stayed the same, it would just miss the click when I pressed the button...

Thinking about having someone come take a look at it since I seem to be close to the end of the line about what I can do myself...Any last thoughts?

Also, can someone tell me what that part is exactly that is clicking on and off? I'd like to know what the name of it is...(it's also circled in the wiring diagram above).

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Ok talked to my uncle who is an electrical engineer (but has no hot tub experience) and he said it seems the part making the clicking on and off is a solenoid of some kind, and thinks that maybe my new transformer is not outputting the correct current to keep it open. The new transformer is the same product number and all as the old one as I replaced, and as far as I can tell by checking description and model numbers, exactly the same but newer (it has a different case on it).

Is there a way I can test the new transformer to make sure the voltage coming out of it is correct? I tried to repair the old one and plug that back into the PCB to check, but all that did was blow one of the fuses so I'm sure I didn't fix it correctly...

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Ok talked to my uncle who is an electrical engineer (but has no hot tub experience) and he said it seems the part making the clicking on and off is a solenoid of some kind, and thinks that maybe my new transformer is not outputting the correct current to keep it open. The new transformer is the same product number and all as the old one as I replaced, and as far as I can tell by checking description and model numbers, exactly the same but newer (it has a different case on it).

Is there a way I can test the new transformer to make sure the voltage coming out of it is correct? I tried to repair the old one and plug that back into the PCB to check, but all that did was blow one of the fuses so I'm sure I didn't fix it correctly...

Is that a trick question? Just use a multi-meter.

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No, you must leave the harness plugged in. You'll be able to identify the line voltage coming into the transformer (ac 120v or 240v depending on the trans), but it may take some guesswork to identify the output. Typically 5 or 12v ac or dc- you'll have to read the trans voltage rating.

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