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Our Hot Springs hot tub is about six weeks old and we have yet to get ALL of the chemicals right at the same time. Finally got ph alk correct. Salt is now off the charts in the tub (light flashing yellow, from solid yellow). Although stick test for salt says just right. 

My dealer is not very pleasant to speak/deal with. Hence reaching out for assistance. 

please help! 

Midwest Mama

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If the built in test is reading high there are 3 scenarios:

1: Salt is high

2: Filter is dirty.  Dirty filter will restrict water flow resulting in a false high reading. Remove the filter with the gray cap, run jets for 5-10 minutes and test again with filter out.  If the salt reading drops, thoroughly clean filter.

3: High TDS (total dissolved solids).  The built in test is a conductivity test and as such cannot tell the difference between salt and TDS.  I would be shocked if you had high TDS after 6 weeks since that should take 6 months plus to occur but it could be possible.

Unless your filters are dirty you should probably have your water tested by your dealer.  High pH, high hardness and high phosphates can result in scale build up on the salt cartridge.  I don’t think this would cause a false high salt reading but I suppose it’s possible.

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This will be the fifth time we will have to drain and refill. 

we have been taking the water to be tested. Did have very phosphate. Changed to a different spigot, problem solved. 

Changing to a different spigot also changed the hardness. Bc of the high hardness we had been trying several ways. Before we knew it was the water our filters were beat up. We did a filter soak to expand the length of those very expensive little ******.  Really looked better after soak. Thoroughly cleaned and reinstalled. 

Everything was great. Hardness down.  Ph and alk. manageable to correct. Store says salt is great. Couple days later the yellow light is solid. Tub says high. Stick says just right. Or even a little low. Added 1/6 of the original fill amount of salt. Stayed yellow for about a day. Then went to flashing yellow. 

And here we are today. At my wits end!!! 

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You've drained 5 times in 6 weeks? What a nightmare! I'm so sorry this is happening to you. 

If your test strips and dealer agree that the salt is fine then there is clearly another issue. Contact the dealer, in person with a water sample is best. Present the issue just as you have here. Even the unpleasant dealers have warranty obligations, and want happy customers. Unhappy ones are far too much of a PITA. 😉

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I would invest in a portable water softener if your hardness is high.  In the long run it’s worth it vs having to continually use the Vanishing Act.  

See if your dealer can test TDS.  Good tap water should be close to zero.  I’ve been told that when TDS reaches approximately 3,000 ppm it will trigger that high salt reading regardless of what the salt level is actually at.

I haven’t encountered any scenarios like yours let but I have had two customers I refused to sell saltwater too because their well water was horrible and they didn’t want to deal with a water softener or pre-filter.  

I don’t want to speculate because I don’t have all the information but you might be better off with ozone, chlorine, and Nature2.

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I appreciate your help. 

when I wrote a bad review due to other things, I received a call from a guy who was above the guy who was above the salesman. This should not be the person who calls. All he did was blame me, talk over me and tell me how spas he’s filled or tests he’s completed. Blah blah blah Never really did listen to me. Was to have called me last Wednesday to check on an appt I had with my water guy bc I still had no resolution (at the time) to my hard water issues. 

can I contact Watkins wellness directly? 

in addition, the the store is several hundred miles away. I have resorted to a local spa store who has bent over backwards to help me.  

I am afraid if we don’t get this figured out pretty soon; they can either have the damn thing back or our warranty will be void bc of something we did or didn’t do. 

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We do have soft water in our home. We do have a well and therefore extremely hard water. It was also one of first issues we went up against. 

not sure why but they did not test our water prior to filling it. 

Not sure why they didn’t.. oh yea this is why. the guy who called said “if he had to test water for every tub they sell...blah blah blah” and so on. He sells 1000’s of tubs   You get the point. 

The guy from the water place confirmed our house levels we correct. Then refilled the tub again with soft water. Bingo. No hard water. Ok one thing down. Next was pH and alk. With the soften water pH and alk was fairly simple to correct for. Ok on the next thing. John salt. 

again this is how I got here. 

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I don’t let a salt water hot tub get delivered without a water test of the source water.  I’m in the Midwest, but I generally have high phosphates, can have high hardness, metals, super high alkalinity, etc.  A water test prior to delivery eliminates a ton of questions and headaches after delivery.

The salt system is pretty simple and consists of a salt cartridge, a housing that it sits in and a salt controller (power supply).  If there are issues with the system, it has to either be the cartridge or the controller.

You can call Hot Spring customer service if you want to leapfrog your dealer, their number is 1-800-999-4688.  Customer service will end up reaching out to your dealer so it will go full circle but if your dealer isn’t helping, might as well run it up the flagpole.

I’ve never had a cartridge inaccurately read high, just an FYI.  Just a thought, your softened water, test the salt level on it prior to adding any salt.  I had a customer whose softener was messed up and he had 600 ppm salt in the water initially.  This obviously through off how much needed to be added but also resulted in a higher starting TDS.

I’m sorry you are having these troubles both with the system and the dealer.  Whatever the outcome I could keep things as professional as possible because this dealer is the only one obligated to perform warranty work on your hot tub.  Even if you hate them now and think their idiots, they are still your service provider for the next 5 years.  I also wouldn’t rule out bailing on the salt system in lieu of either ozone/mps/nature2 or Frog @ease.  I personally like the salt system but it is particular in regards to water chemistry and some water sources are just not worth the hassle of making right.

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12 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

I would try a new cell for starters. Maybe with all the water issues it was damaged.

@castletonia, is the salt sensor in the cell??

Maybe @waterbear has some advice.


50 minutes ago, Midwest Mama said:

I can look at it.

It drops down into a compartment. It’s a cartridge type plug. 

what would it look like if it needed to be placed?

Usually when a salt cell is bad or reaches end of life it will give an error on the display that reads “inactive / low status”.  Anytime that error comes up, test the salt level with the salt test strip.  If the test strip indicates low salt, then add salt.  If test strip indicates a normal salt level, remove filters and retest on the hot tub.  If still getting that error, then replace cartridge.

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This is all awesome information. Thank you so much!

This morning we removed some of the hot tub water. Not all of it. Replaced the water and the yellow flashing light has turned to a solid yellow light. We are moving in the right direction. Again the salt test strip shows all is well. We are not going to try to adjust anything for 24 hours. Try to let salt do it’s thing. 
The other test strip and the water vile test shows everything is in the appropriate range. Cross your fingers. 

I will look at the salt cartridge as well. 

As for the info for the dealer. I understand. It is really unfortunate that I was swayed by the sales pitch with all the promises. In hindsight I am very disappointed with myself. 

There was no testing of the water prior to delivery. The head guy said he does not test any water for new tubs His explanation was 99% of all water tested in the past has been “ok” and therefore everyone’s water will be fine. According to him he sells 1000’s of tubs and this has never been a problem. 

My water is well water run thru our water softener. Yes is is very hard. The delivery person filled the tub with well water. No one asked if we had hard water nor a softener. 

That was the beginning of our problems. The hard water was over 500ppm. It took the local spa store to determine the water was not run thru the softener.

I did call the company that handles our softener. He did confirm our water is right where it should be. His only recommendation was to was the available soft water when filling the tub. Which we are doing. One problem fixed. 


Yes, it would have been very beneficial for the to be tested and saved us four refills of our tub and hours of exacerbation. 

We were sure we wanted a Hot Springs salt water system. I would like to try to figure this out. It was indicated to me the maintenance for this system would be minimal. 

I did feel as I had reached out with my frustration to the “head” guy. But again I was let down. I anticipated a return call from someone to check in on me that we had figured everything out. Yet again no interest in making sure the customer is happy with the purchase. I would think that should be normal business practices. 


Is there a specific department at my dealer for this situation? A way to bypass the salesman? Someone to walk me thru the issues I am having. I understand calling the service line will send me back to the dealer. 

This is the first tub we have owned. I do enjoy it very much. I want this to be my therapeutic escape from reality. This has been reality slap in the face. This was a major purchase for us. I would like to know I am not just a number to reach a monthly goal for a stipend to the salesman. 

Thank you again for your knowledge and suggestions.  

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If you reach out directly to Hot Spring it will get back to your dealer.  Hot Spring wants to do right but they also need the dealer to be the facilitator since they are the ones available to actually service you.

I would politely ask to speak to the owner at your dealership if the salesman is not useful.  A reputable dealer will want to make this right ASAP.  If you don’t want to publicly say who your dealer is, pm me and if I know the dealer I can see who to put you in touch with with.

I won’t ever defend a dealer but if they also sell pools, this is a crazy time of year.  I resort to emailing customers and sales leads between 8-10 at night because I don’t have time during business hours.  Granted this is only a 6-8 week scenario, but still makes communication stressed.

I would ask whomever is doing your water test to test your tap water so that whenever you have to do another drain/refill you know your starting point.  Calcium hardness, phosphates, pH, alkalinity, cyanuric acid, salt, TDS (if possible), everything.  Makes life so much easier.

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  • 1 year later...

Did you ever figure out an answer to your high salt readings? We are also in the Midwest and are having the exact same issue on a new tub. The actual salt levels is good if not on the lower end of normal, around 1600 ppm using Taylor test and salt test strips. Water is soft, pH/alk balances, zero phosphates after balancing everything. But tub thinks salt level is sky high and light keeps blinking. 

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  • 1 month later...

I am in the Midwest also, although I think that's irrelevant.  We have had our Hotspring Spa for 18 months.  Every time I put in a new salt cartridge I have the same issue.  I make sure the water is "perfect" before I even take out the old cartridge. Then I put in the new cartridge and it reads "high status" every time!!!   I test and test and test and adjust everything I can think of.  My dealer technician has me take out the filters and run them through the dishwasher (no detergent)  and pull the little metal contacts outwards on the salt cartridge to make sure they are coming in good contact with the housing. So far it has  "somehow" resolved itself within a week or two.  Today I am going on 2 weeks dealing with this issue again and becoming extremely frustrated as well.  Its such a pain to have to go out and fiddle with this stuff day after day in these cold winter temperatures.  The spa is supposed to relax you, not be a constant source of stress! I feel like I got talked into this jacuzzi because of the "ease of care" and it has been far from easy!

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