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alaska_guy

Looking to buy my first hot tub.

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I am very mechanically saavy and I was wanting to purchase a hot tub to see if it's for me or not.  The question I have is I can get a free hot tub.  This tub has a leak, it is fully enclosed in foam.  I have no issues with ripping all the foam out and finding and repairing the leak.  My question...  Is this a good or bad way to get into a hot tub on the cheap to see if I like it?

The tub in question is a 3 person jet setter hot tub.  The tub is a 2011 model and is about 2 blocks away from me.  I already have a hot tub service disconnect.  The owner is giving me the tub, cover and the electric wire to hook into my disconnect for the 220v.

I used to be a commercial electrician, so the wiring of the tub should be pretty straight forward.

Is this particular jet setter 3 person tub worth my effort of finding the leaks and repairing, or are they prone to other issues?  The last owner left state and the tub is leaking due to freezing and pipes breaking is my guess.

He said the tub requires 3 filters and they are fairly expensive.  $180 for all 3?

 

I am leaning towards this tub, due to its small size, location and ease of transporting to my house.  Most other tubs are 6-8 person tubs and would cost around $1100 to transport as I can't get 6 people together at once to get the tub.   I imagine the 3 person could be moved with 3 guys fairly easy once I get it on its side.  I have a flat bed 18' trailer to transport it the few blocks to move it.

 

 

hottub.jpg

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Get a Free Hot Tub Quote

Save time and money by receiving multiple, independent quotes for a hot tub.

Would I be better off buying a used tub in the $2000 range?  I am leaning towards the last tub.  Wife wants me to get the free 3 person tub and fix it.  I prefer to spend money and get something that's known working.

Here are a few local to me.

https://anchorage.craigslist.org/app/d/sundance-8-person-hot-tub/6583903628.html

https://anchorage.craigslist.org/for/d/coast-mountain-spa-hot-tub/6585794137.html

https://anchorage.craigslist.org/for/d/hot-tub/6571621020.html

 

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I have a 1988 model CalSpa, since new.  It developed a small leak - not in the equipment side, about a decade ago.  Of course if the leak is visible, then just repair it.

Two other sides were accessible, I tore those sides open and pulled away blown-in foam, could not find the leak.  I ended up using spa Seal-a-Leak liquid https://www.spadepot.com/Seal-a-Leak-Spa-Leak-Sealer-16oz-P790?zmam=55673001&zmas=1&zmac=1&zmap=MT1018&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjb2WjO-M2wIVAtVkCh2-oQLIEAQYASABEgLO4vD_BwE

I use this as needed, once or twice a year, it does work. 

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After talking to a local dealer in town that sells hot spring tubs and services them and one of the employees owning the jetsetter model I am scheduled to pick up the jetsetter this Saturday.  It's good to know the local dealer here still services them and can get parts if needed etc.  She was even helpful and said there is a drip valve behind the moto jets that can sometimes leak and to check their first.  Even if I have to pay 5 hours of labor to find and fix the leak, its still cheaper than a $2000 used tub.  

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After looking at the tub one side of the wood paneling was missing.  Talked to dealer and the paneling alone was $600! The foam was torn out of that side and looked as though someone already tried to fix the tub.  The dealer quoted me $2000 to find and fix the leak...  So we are up to $2600 if I bought the tub and had them do the work.  I went into the hot springs dealer locally and the kuai is $13,500.  So yes, it would be a good savings to get the free tub....  but if the heater or pump was bad on the tub it would add to the repair cost.  I decided to pass on the free jet setter as it souneed like it could be a money pit.  All the other used tubs I was looking at sold.  So either I buy a new tub or hold off and wait for a used tub to come available.

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Well, the owner really wanted the tub gone.  It took me and one other guy about 5 minutes to load it on my trailer.  Backed my trailer up to his deck, tipped the trailer on its side, slid it into my trailer and then laid it down.  I filled it up with water when I got home to see if there was an obvious leaks.  Both primary and secondary drains leak.  I plan to permanently block off the drains and use a submergible pump empty the water in the future.  Otherwise it seemed to hold water fine.  I need to get the tub moved into place, get it hooked up and verify if the pumps work and when under pressure if the tub leaks.

Here is a picture of the tub with water.

20180519_151938.thumb.jpg.529d210d25f7bf56b37c737a3c501ce0.jpg

 

 

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Hmmm - my spa drain was (originally) a male garden hose fitting; if yours is similar, maybe a new cap and washer from Home Depot could seal ?  Or screw on an on-off valve?

Anyway, since I also have an above-ground pool, I also have a small submersible pump, and I have also used that to drain my own spa, quicker !

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I was able to use a champagne cork to temporarily plug the drain on the right.  I used Teflon tape on the garden hose type fitting and that stopped that leak.  I filled the tub up last night, used a greased pencil to mark the water line and then 12 hours later I checked the water line and it was down a 1/4".  I checked the tub and found where the water seemed to be leaking from.  I need to dig some foam out of the bottom and repair the leak.  Once that is done my next plan is to fill again, do the water line mark test and see if I lose any water.  Then I will run the jets if everything looks good, rinse and repeat and look for leaks.

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Well, I marked the tub where I thought the leak was coming from...  I tipped the tub on its side and started digging...  Here is what I found.  Two pipes that cross each other.  There is no obvious freeze cracks.  I plan to sand around the pipes a little to clean them up and then fill the tub with water and see if I can find which one of the two pipes is leaking.  It was obvious where the leak was coming from after i broke through the hard plastic coating on the bottom of the tub.   The foam was saturated with water and the more I cut out to enlarge and see the pipes the dryer the foam became.  So my guess is that the leak is small and fairly isolated.

IMG_1725.jpg

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After filling the tub again and looking underneath the tub the pipes in question are not leaking.  I wrapped them in paper towels and they are completely dry.  Looks like the foam is acting as a big sponge and allowing the water to travel to the lowest spot of the tub that isn't level and then find a way out of the tub.  It happens to be over by these pipes.  I am going to let the tub leak down to the lowest point to give me a better idea of what might be leaking.

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Ok, well I got inpatient.  The leak was way too small to wait it out.  Would more than likely take 3 months to drain down.  I manually emptied the tub then tipped it back on its side.  I dug a little lower and found the issue!  Looks like some type of molded nipple for a drain line?   The nipple portion broke off that was molded to the tub.

Any ideas how to repair it correctly so it wont leak again?  Can I just block it off?  I was thinking maybe a small 1/8npt threaded connector with some epoxy and a barb end on the other side so I could re-attach the hose?

What are those in the industry doing to fix this type of issue?

IMG_1729.jpg

 

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I went in to my dealer today and they said they did the Devcon repair job in the motojet area.  They suggested I plug off the pipe and the bottom side of the tub.  I went to the store, bought some 2 part epoxy and filled the tube with epoxy along with the bottom side of the molded drain area.  Waiting for the epoxy to set so I can tear out the pvc drain that is broken and then replace that with the proper screw style garden cap plug.  Hoping that remedes my leaks and I can plug the tub in and see how it holds under pressure.

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Managed to fix the broken threaded connector for the drain using PVC coupling 3/4" to a 3/4" PVC piece and then finally to a 3/4" to threaded male connector.  This allows me to thread on a standard garden hose cap.  I then used the 2 part epoxy to fill both the drain nipple and the 1/4" pvc tube that was used as a drain tube.  I filled my tub up and didn't see any leaks.  I used the grease pencil to mark the water line, put on the cover and will check in the morning.  I am hoping that was it!

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Ok, I created a video as this is a little tougher to explain.  After fixing the known issues I knew about I then filled the tub up and checked it this morning.  Water level looks good!  However, there is a leak somewhere by the main light.  Any ideas?  Is there another site I should be posting on to get repair assistance?  Seems I am talking to myself.  Which is very rare in this day and age with the internet.

 

 

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Chasing leaks in a old full foam tub is the worst. Ditch it and get a new one. You can get a good mid level tub for under 3k...Nordic or Viking. Not being handy and having gone through the same its just not worth it IMO.

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I watched your video, and I don't agree with rftsr's post about ditching your tub.

Yes, I think that the light fixture is leaking somehow, and getting down to the white foam insulation where you see it.  You could drain lower than the light fixture and then see if that area remains dry.

My spa also has that blown-in insulation, and if your Alaska climate doesn't make this impossible, after the repairs I'd push flexible foam into the open spaces as insulation instead of spraying in more expandable foam....would make any future repairs much easier.

I have a 30-year-old CalSpa, and I've had leaks and fittings that have needed repair, including a slide-type knife valve that broke in the closed position and I couldn't even open up to operate the spa.  The water losses I've had in the past didn't really bother me with loss of water, just figured that my redwood parts would rot out.  And I've also used Seal-a-Leak successfully for leaks which I could not find that might be in the side 6" away from the house.

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I drained the tub completely last night.  There is still standing water in that area... I used a towel yesterday to soak up what I could and after filling the tub and then draining the tub, the level never seemed to go any higher...  The tub holds water fine after 24 hours...  I imagine it's either old standing water in the tub in that area... Or a small leak.  My gut tells me its a small leak.

Here is a video of me attempting to make sure the controls work and the electrical.  All looks good.  The extension cord tripped as the tub needs a dedicated 20amp and the cord was a 50' cord.  So there was just too much voltage drop and amp draw, it tripped the extension cord.  I don't think the tub is junk.  After 5 years when the warranty runs out these are the types of issues one has to deal with one way or another.  I would either be chasing them or a dealer would be.

 

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Look at the pump itself, should state whether it is 120 VAC or 240 VAC.  I believe that the pump on my CalSpa is 240 VAC, not just its heater.

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