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Spa - heater replaced - breaker still tripping


HTinIndiana
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Purchased a home about 1 year ago that has Royal Spa hot tub. Unit ran fine until just before thanksgiving. Went to get in and power was off and temperature was down to 50’s. 
 

as a new hot tub owner, checked around online and did the troubleshooting one item disconnected at a time. Heater Ohm’d out at 0 and when I disconnect power to the heat tube the breaker does not trip. 
 

inordered a new heater and tube and installed. It ran fine for a few days and I noticed this weekend that the temp was down again. Breaker had tripped again. I found a little corrosion on one of the wires connected the circuit board to the heat tube so I replaced it. 
 

The spa will run for about one minute before tripping the breaker. It does this repeatedly. The spa is an older model (not sure how old). 
 

Any help would be appreciated!

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Post pics of the whole circuit board and wiring diagram.

2 things trip a gfci, a short to ground (water) or heat (from too many amps, worn contacts, or loose/undersized wire). Gfci breakers are sensitive and can be damaged by repeated trips, or just wear out over time. A ground fault will trip as soon as the shorted component is turned on. A faulty/overheating breaker can trip randomly. Disconnecting the heater can cause it to stop tripping even if it is the breaker that is bad. An overheating breaker may not reset immediately after it trips, and can feel warmer than the surrounding breakers.

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Start back at the beginning and disconnect everything except the circulation pump. Run for a few minutes and then add pump 1 and run for a few minutes. Heater last. From what I can see is you have a circ pump, pump 1 and then something plugged into AUX...is that a pump or blower or...? If you get everything to run except the heater and you have inspected all the wiring at the breaker then you might have to pull the circuit board and look on the back for a burnt relay or darkened areas.

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See pictures below. No dark/burnt spots that I see. I went through everything again. I have a 24/7 circ pump (so I have the two heater wires disconnected as it’s been cold here and water to move); main pump 1, light. 
 

there used to be a blower and ozone, but not anymore. Not sure what the Aux is but it does not effect the breaker. Only when the heat is turned on does it trip. Looked for a reset switch of sorts, but don’t see it. no error codes shown on panel. 
 


 

 

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With the heater disconnected from the circuit board do you get 240V coming off the board when the spa is calling for heat? If you have 240V coming off the board without the heater connected then the relays should be good and the issue is likely with the new heater element (it happens) or the GFCI

 

42 minutes ago, HTinIndiana said:

Not sure what the Aux is

Then disconnect it until the breaker tripping is fixed. Find out what it is.

Have you removed and inspected the GFCI and the wiring connections. (Had one last week with similar symptoms. Wires going into the gfci were loose and one hot line was overheating)

 

Not familiar with the pack MFG but love the schematics  

 

 

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Thanks for reply. Will check in the daylight. No excess on breaker when scanned with thermal camera. Haven’t checked for loose wire on breaker. 
 

I isolated (unplugged) each item one at time. The Aux had no bearing either way but will unplug tomorrow. 
 

on the new heating element, do I just check the resistance to see if it’s good?

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Found the troubleshooting guide for the panel online. 
 

-heater element is ready just over 10 Ohm’s when disconnected from power

- when I checked the points 9 & 11 mentioned in the guide(see below) I am getting like .6 volts 

- I tested the k10 relay and the same getting .6 volts

- k1 relay tested sales as k10

 

Is there a way to bypass this relay to see if it will heat up to confirm the relay is bad?

 

This manual says that the relay has to be soldered in. I have never soldered electronics, only plumbing. Is it hard to do? Should I try it or replace the board?

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Need some more help. 
 

Couldn’t find relays so I ended up replacing the entire control panel and heater. Finished yesterday afternoon, was at 94 degrees when I went to bed. 
 

just checked this morning and temp was at 99 but GFCI breaker inside electrical panel was tripped. 
 

disconnected all pumps and reset breaker. Showed a FLOW code. Tripped after about 30 seconds with nothing running

 

i put in a clean filter yesterday. I pulled the filter this morning after Flow code and reset break again. Tripped after 24 seconds. 
 

help, please!

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I just tried that with the circ pump only and it trips. 
 

before I replaced the entire panel the circ pump was running fine. 
 

I have a GFCI 50 amp double pole in the main panel in the basement that feeds a disconnect about 8’ from the spa. The the disconnect feeds the spa. 
 

if I kill the disconnect, the breaker doesn’t trip. Wires all look good and all are tight. 
 

this heat and circ pump ran from 3:00 pm yesterday until mid morning today without issue. This is driving me nuts. 

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Two things trip gfci breakers. One is a ground fault, from wet electrical parts, internal shorts, or people touching hot conductors while grounded (the thing they are made to protect). The other is heat, like any other breaker. This heat can be caused by too many amps, loose wire connections, undersized wire, or a worn out breaker.

Ground faults are rarely intermittent, once something is shorted by water or damage it doesn't un-short (until it dries if wet). Components can fail or get wet at any time, but the breaker will trip again as soon as the shorted component is turned on. This means you can track it down with a meter or by disconnecting components. 

Heat trips are often intermittent, but if you try to reset immediately it will trip again, and only reset after a few minutes of cooldown.

Faulty breakers can trip randomly and reset immediately. 

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Today I started over. 
- verified 240v at breaker and disconnect

- removed 240 power from spa panel. Verified 240v and dis not trip breaker

- removed all pumps from controller and disconnected heater. No tripping of breaker when powered  

- hooked up circ pump. Worked great. Added pump 1(jets) no issue

-turned down temp setting to below water temp. Turned power off and reconnected heater power. It trips 20 second after heater being connected and heat is not being called for. 
 

breaker??

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You will need a higher amp in your circuit breaker for example if its 30 amp you will need 60 amp. read the instruction on the heater how many amp it require then add it to the devices amps attached to the same circuit breaker . for exmpale your heater is 30 and if the pump on the same breaker is 20 you will need at least 55 or 60 to handl the power taken from this circuit breaker. Good Luck

Find Fuses and breaker at Dollar Store

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How about checking for continuity between each of the 240 legs and ground at the time the breaker trips.  If there is any continuity, maybe disconnecting The power lines around the heater element might show where it is touching ground.  This of course assumes the breaker itself is not the issue.

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On 1/2/2022 at 2:26 PM, HTinIndiana said:

removed 240 power from spa panel. Verified 240v and dis not trip breaker

That does not mean it's not a bad breaker. 

On 1/2/2022 at 2:26 PM, HTinIndiana said:

removed all pumps from controller and disconnected heater. No tripping of breaker when powered  

Again, does not mean it's not the breaker. Faulty breakers are more likely to trip under load, so disconnecting the load can cause a faulty breaker to not trip.

On 1/2/2022 at 2:26 PM, HTinIndiana said:

turned down temp setting to below water temp. Turned power off and reconnected heater power. It trips 20 second after heater being connected and heat is not being called for. 

Here's the clue. With no load from the heater there should be no change in amp draw from just the pumps. Most boards turn on one leg of the heater immediately after power-up, and the other when heat is called for. So it can still trip from a ground fault even when not "on". 

The strange part is the 20 second delay, since most turn on one leg IMMEDIATELY, and the breaker will trip with your hand still on it. But I'm not familiar with that system, so it may be different. 

Disconnect the heater and test voltage from each leg to ground immediately after power-up and again after 30 seconds. If it has a delay on power to one leg, it's the heater. You can test the heater with an ohm meter, testing either heater terminal to the heater ground while disconnected. Anything other than infinity (no reading) is a bad heater.

It's also possible that it has a high voltage pressure switch or flow switch that is shorting out, but unlikely as every digital system I have seen puts that on the low voltage control circuit where it won't trip the breaker.

On 1/2/2022 at 2:26 PM, HTinIndiana said:

breaker??

Probably not.

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On 1/2/2022 at 3:01 PM, Salma said:

You will need a higher amp in your circuit breaker for example if its 30 amp you will need 60 amp. read the instruction on the heater how many amp it require then add it to the devices amps attached to the same circuit breaker . for exmpale your heater is 30 and if the pump on the same breaker is 20 you will need at least 55 or 60 to handl the power taken from this circuit breaker. Good Luck

Find Fuses and breaker at Dollar Store

Breakers protect WIRE, not equipment. A gfci breaker has the added benefit of detecting ground faults, which is what protects you from electrocution. But the amp rating of a breaker is determined by the size of the wire it's connected to. That wire size is in turn determined by the amp draw of the equipment. Simply putting a bigger breaker on ANY circuit is likely to cause a burned wire, which is likely to cause a house fire. DO NOT EVER UPSIZE A BREAKER WITHOUT FIRST UPSIZING THE WIRE. 

Bad advice, and even worse, dangerous advice, is much worse than no advice. If you don't know what you are talking about, you should not offer advice, as you could have been responsible for a house fire that killed the whole family. Your desire to help is admirable, but you need the knowledge as well, or you're a threat not a help.

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A coworker is loaning me his ammeter to check amp draw at breaker before tripping. I am finding pump1=12 amps, circ pump =.75 amps and heater at 25 amps. That’s way less than 50 amps of breaker capacity. 
 

 

Disconnect the heater and test voltage from each leg to ground immediately after power-up and again after 30 seconds. If it has a delay on power to one leg, it's the heater. You can test the heater with an ohm meter, testing either heater terminal to the heater ground while disconnected. Anything other than infinity (no reading) is a bad heater.

——-so each leg should read 120, correct? Resistance- Will check even though brand new heater/panel  

 

what’s frustrating is that it ran fine for almost a day .  

 

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I had a few minutes this evening with the clamp on ammeter. Check both hot wires coming off the breaker with the heater fully connected. Still tripping after the +\- 24 seconds. The meter showed 40 amps when turned on and then hit 50 after the 24 second mark and tripped the breaker. 
 

I was able to disconnect the leads from the heater and verify 240 V on the leads. 
 

hope to have a little more daylight this weekend.  

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On 1/4/2022 at 5:07 AM, HTinIndiana said:

so each leg should read 120, correct? Resistance- Will check even though brand new heater/panel  

Yes. If either leg or both of the heater circuit is on you will get 120v to ground. If you get a voltage reading to ground on the heater circuit it is not a faulty heater. 

What I suspect is that the heater is shorted to ground but not turning on one leg immediately, as do the control systems that I am familiar with, so there is a delay in tripping the breaker. 

18 hours ago, HTinIndiana said:

The meter showed 40 amps when turned on and then hit 50 after the 24 second mark and tripped the breaker. 

 

On 1/4/2022 at 5:07 AM, HTinIndiana said:

I am finding pump1=12 amps, circ pump =.75 amps and heater at 25 amps. That’s way less than 50 amps of breaker capacity. 

There's a discrepancy in those numbers. If you're seeing 50 amps on the amp probe, the breaker is doing it's job. Is the main pump 1 or 2 speed? There is a label on the side of the pump motor that lists the specs. What is the amps or FLA on the pump? Is there a pump 2? Does the main pump turn on immediately when you reset power?

Unplug the main pump and see if it stops tripping and starts heating.

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2 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

Yes.If either leg or both of the heater circuit is on you will get 120v to ground. If you get a voltage reading to ground on the heater circuit it is not a faulty heater. 
——confirmed 120v on each leg of heater wiring. 
 

What I suspect is that the heater is shorted to ground but not turning on one leg immediately, as do the control systems that I am familiar with, so there is a delay in tripping the breaker. 

 

There's a discrepancy in those numbers. If you're seeing 50 amps on the amp probe, the breaker is doing it's job.
——-my electrical guru at work agreed with this statement.

 

Is the main pump 1 or 2 speed?

——-single speed pump1 and a 24/7 circ pump  

There is a label on the side of the pump motor that lists the specs. What is the amps or FLA on the pump?

———see attached pic of pump label  

Is there a pump 2?
——no pump 2. No ozone or blower either  

Does the main pump turn on immediately when you reset power?

——no, pump 1 does not turn on unless you press the button on the top side controller. If the heater wiring is disconnected, you can run the circ pump and pump and the little with no issues   . It’s super cold now, so I have the heater disconnected and the circ pump running. 

Unplug the main pump and see if it stops tripping and starts heating.

——-i isolated all items and tested one by one  it only trips when the heater is wired up. The panel has a red led on it to show when heat is called for. The unit trips at the +\- 20 second mark and the red light is not on . If I disconnect the heater wires, the red heater light comes on around the one minute mark.

trying to see if I can get the amp meter dialed in to show a little more accuracy in reading. 

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