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New to us tub not heating


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New to tubs but not new to electrical and trouble shooting. We picked up an older (1999) cal spa, in really good shape just a couple small leaks at the pump, easy fix. But I bought it knowing it was not heating. Checked element and no ohms…until I got it out then it did…weird. Went ahead an put the new one in, got it filled tonight and still not heating. Checked vac and pressure switches and both seem to be ok. Jumpered the press switch just to be sure bc I didn’t know what voltage should be going thro the switch.  I have 110 volts to both posts of my heat element, BUT nothing when I go across both.  The heating light on the panel is not coming on either, that could be burned out tho. I have no idea which way to go now. Anyone have any ideas? 

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53 minutes ago, Farmy12 said:

(1) Checked element and no ohms…until I got it out then it did…weird.

(2) I have 110 volts to both posts of my heat element, BUT nothing when I go across both.  The heating light on the panel is not coming on either, that could be burned out tho. I have no idea which way to go now. Anyone have any ideas? 

I have a 1988 CalSpa, purchased new.  That said, I look at your post and the sections highlighted above trouble me.  It might help me and others to help you if you can post good clear photos of your equipment area and your heating element.

(1) With wires to my heating element disconnected, the ohms resistance across its two heater terminals is maybe about 15 ohms.  There should be no continuity from either terminal to the metal heater manifold.  Remember: this goes for my 1988, don't know yet if yours is similar.  My heater element shown in photo. 

(2) With wires connected, and spa operating and pumping, I get 240 VAC across the two heater terminals.  My heater light and power to the heater go on when the flow switch activates AND the temperature setting is higher than the temperature sensor measures. 

Are you getting strong flow out the jets when spa is turned on?  Just wondering if one/both of your shut-off valves are in the closed position, or even if a slice valve broke off and is just sitting there essentially stopping flow (happened to me once).

 

CalSpa-Water-Heater-Element-240V-5500-watt.jpg

CalSpa Slice Valve.jpg

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You do not have the same anything except brand name as @Cusser. Nobody does, he's got the only Cal spa that old in existence today. 😉

Your spa has a balboa system, which cannot be fooled by a simple jumper, as it checks for both open and closed pressure switch. If the pressure switch is the issue you will get a flo error, either solid or flashing depending on the malfunction.

Are there any errors on the display? Post pics of circuit board, wiring diagram, and equipment area.

Some Cal spas have a manual reset on the heater, some have an automatic reset. Either can fail intermittently. Also, burned out connections can make contact from handling.

That system, with the "no-fault" heater and pressure switch, is very prone to dry fire from an air lock, which will destroy your heater in under a minute. It is crucial that you use the bleeder on the pipe by the pump to bleed out the air after filling.

4 hours ago, Farmy12 said:

Checked vac and pressure switches and both seem to be ok.

Vac switches will give you a SS (safety suction) error, pressure switch gives a "flo" error. Sensors give sn1, sn3, oh, ice, or dashes.

Heater relays burning out are a common failure. Remove board and check the back for burns/discoloration. 

 

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I was told by another guy at a spa place locally it could be the board or the relay as you said. 
 

I didn’t dry fire it, I made sure I bled the air out of the pipe before I turned it on. And no error codes on the display, it just shows the current temp and the adjustment works as it should. 
 

Connections all seem to look ok, no burned or discolored wires or relays, but I have not removed it to look at the back yet. I figure if that’s the case the board will need replaced anyway. 

image.jpg

63A89CC0-484F-41A5-A604-73015F5A9ABD.jpeg

image.jpg

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No idea why but it decided to start working last night. No rhyme or reason why, went to stick a space heater in the pump compartment and it was hot. ???? I like it when stuff fixes itself but would sure like to know why as I did let mess with it at all yesterday. Just turned the pump on so it wouldn’t freeze. 

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Spoke to soon, it heated to 85 and stopped. Bout has to be a bad connection or something somewhere. I can manually close the heater relay and get voltage to the heater.

What could be telling it to not close that relay? 

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Are you sure it's not in a "Mode" setting like Economy mode. In economy mode it will only turn the heater on during the filter cycle and if you have a 2 hour filter cycle set for each 12 hour period it would likely only get to 85 and stop heating when the filter cycle ends.

 

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Ok. That's not a "no-fault" heater, it's a standard flo-thru element. There is no reset in that heater.

I assume you have removed the pressure switch bypass? You can't trick this system that way, as it checks that the switch is open before turning on the pump and checking that it closed. It will not heat with a bypass, unless you install the jumper after the pump is on, then it will heat until it reaches temp and turns off the pump but will have to be tricked again to get it to heat again. Also, bypassing the pressure switch long-term is a bad idea on that system. Test pressure switch to verify that it is open (infinity ohms) when pump is off and closed (0 ohms) when on.

Since that is a little older than I thought it likely has the small display with red led numbers, not the black lcd display. That may not throw sn errors, I can't recall. Unplug the sensors and take an ohm reading on each in the 20k ohm range. Post results.

Test voltage between the two yellow wires from the transformer (square-ish thing on the top right of the box).

Remove circuit board and check the back for discoloration.

 

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Haven’t got the board off to look yet as it’s icy and cold. But did take the time to check sensors, zero ohms thro both switches and I can physically see the press switch doing it’s thing and connects when it closes. Vac switch I assume would need to be removed to check for sure. But I have to replace the press switch anyway as one of the connectors broke off. Looks like it got bent one to many times. I also tried fooling it the way you said and no dice. Why it did it the one time still baffles me. 
 

I also manually closed that relay with a piece of rubber yesterday to heat it all the way up, it was nice and we wanted to sit in it. Temp sensor is correct, I stuck a thermometer in it.  When it gets nicer in a day or two I’ll pull the board. 
 

Even if the board is bad, looking like it’s impossible to get one. Grabbed the number off it and got the subbed numbers and everyone is out of stock. What would be the best route to go? Replacing the whole pack doesn’t look like a great idea for me but might be the only option. 

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4 hours ago, Farmy12 said:

Vac switch I assume would need to be removed to check

Vac switches shut down the pumps. They are normally open, and the only failure that will show up is a leak that shorts it closed. Just unplug it and everything works again. Will not effect the heater so long as tbe pumps are working.

4 hours ago, Farmy12 said:

But did take the time to check sensors, zero ohms thro both switches

Sensors aren't switches, they are thermistors, which are resistors that changes resistance based on temperature. They are usually between 5k and 25k ohms. 0 ohms, does not happen. If your tester is in a low ohm setting, it will read infinity, which is the same reading you get with the tester probes not touching anything.

4 hours ago, Farmy12 said:

Even if the board is bad, looking like it’s impossible to get one.

Depending on the damage, they can often be repaired by a computer/electronics shop.

4 hours ago, Farmy12 said:

Replacing the whole pack doesn’t look like a great idea for me but might be the only option. 

If you had to buy the board, I'd recommend a new pack even if you could find it. Alot more bang for your buck. New Balboa vs systems are about $450 or so, and include the topside (another thing you may not be able to get for yours), heater, sensors, cords (though only the gray ozonator cord would need it, and since it probably doesn't work anymore it's moot), even a new light assembly.

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The press and vac on this are just simple micro switches, on/off. There was no In between on them. I was on the 20k ohms when checked, since they’re micro switches there wouldn’t be any resistance unless the coil was in bad shape. 
 

Talked with spa depot today and ended up just buying a new balboa pak. 449 for one with a new ozone, Problem solved now, should’ve just gone this way in the first place. Could’ve had it fixed up 2 weeks ago. 
 

Regardless I do appreciate the help and direction.  I did learn plenty about them thro this little bit. 

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On 1/19/2022 at 6:45 PM, Farmy12 said:

The press and vac on this are just simple micro switches, on/off. There was no In between on them. I was on the 20k ohms when checked, since they’re micro switches there wouldn’t be any resistance unless the coil was in bad shape

Yes, the switches are switches, and you are just checking for continuity, though worn contacts can give you an ohm reading which will cause intermittent problems. But the sensors are variable resistors, and an accurate reading is necessary to diagnose sensor related issues. Since I am not sure if that topside will show a sn error, I recommend you test them. A reading of 0 ohms on a sensor is not possible. 

Glad you got it going.

 

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