Posts Tagged ‘spa heater’

Testing Your Hot Tub Heater

This test is best done with the heater installed and water in the hot tub. If the element is not wet, the test to ground can fail and make you think that the heater is okay!

Please evaluate your skill level before attempting this test.  All tests performed by you are at your own risk

Power Off At Breaker

Disconnect heater element from any wires attached to it.  Be careful when unscrewing the nut holding the wires in place on the element, you do not want to twist the “cold pin” that leads to the element.  There is usually a fixed nut below the removeable one that will allow you to secure the cold pin.

It is not necessary to remove the heater assembly! You want water in the heater manifold during this test!

Continuity Test:

With your meter set on the most sensitive  ” ohms” setting (the OMEGA symbol on the meter)  put one probe on one element lead and the other probe on the other lead.

If you meter does not change,it is showing no continuity, the element is bad

If your meter measures resistance then it is showing continuity which indicates the filament inside is intact, but the heater could still  be bad!

Ground Fault Test

Move one probe to a metal part on the heater casing leaving the other one on one pole of the heater element .  If there is any flicker of continuity from one element lead to the heater casing (ground) the element is bad, even though you may have tested good  continuity above!  This is a ground fault situation and is what your GFCI is picking up and saving you from!

If you have an intact filament and no fault to ground, the heater element  should be good and you may have a different problem.

Since gfci’s are very sensitive, you could still have a bad element and your meter sensitivity may not be allowing you to pick up the fault.

Okay it’s bad, now what do I do?

Now you need to replace the element (if replaceable) or the entire heater assembly.

The most common replacement element is the flow through element.  If your heater manifold is a stainless steel straight flow through tube, this is the element you’ll need.

Even if that doesn’t look like one you need, clicking on the image will take you to our page with all heater elements, popular manifolds and complete heater assemblies.  flothruelement

Identify Your Spa Heater

What hot tub heater is in your hot tub? You'll find and identify it here. Read the rest of this entry »

Heater Help

Electric Heater Troubleshooting for Your Hot Tub

The following exercise involves observations we’d like you to check  before you call! We want you to have identified the type heater you have and that you’ve read  the following:

Does "anything" work?

See the red button? IE, can you activate your pump blower light etc? If it seems like nothing works, check the obvious:  All Breakers, GFCI’s  and Reset buttons on your hot tub equipment pack, or spa pack.  If  you find a tripped breaker, or GFCI breaker, Reset and try operation again, proceeding with caution. Breakers and GFCIs trip for a reason generally.  Many times it is the heater element that will cause this tripping. If the spa trips the second that heat demand is present it probably is your heater element causing this. NEVER BYPASS GFCI"S or "try it without" GFCI protection.  This tells you nothing and is dangerous! If you find a High Limit Reset is tripped ( This is the "red button" found on many spa packs. If you have an older hot tub, the button may be on the heater itself. and possibly covered by a rubber nipple) Go ahead and attempt a reset.  When this button is tripped resetting it will involve a definite "click’  If it wont click in it is just NOT TRIPPED. *note: if you have a digital spa pack you will probably not have a manual High Temp limit switch.  It will be done with sensors.  High Temp limit switches are in place for two reasons.  One to protect the bather from water that could be too hot.  But the other reason is to protect the heater itself from overheating.  Most high limit switches are located with their sensor near the element itself.  If the element is not getting the proper amount of water flow ( pump problems, water level too low in hot tub etc) It will trip even though the spa itself is not hot at all.  Water flow is essential for cooling the element so that it doesn’t burn up.  The high limit may not always protect the heater element because even though it immediately shuts off power to the heater element, the element can overheat quicker than the high limit can react.  * note: Never try to operate a heater if the hot tub is not at its proper fill level!  The pump will loose prime and the heater element can literally burn up in seconds!  Turn off immediately if it sounds like there is water boiling in the heater area.  If your high limit resets, and the hot tub starts normally, check your pump operation closely.  Chances are it was flow problem that cause this issue.  Make sure your pump is operating normally with no leaks or unusual noise.  Also be positive that any shut off  valves are in the open position.  The level of water in your hot tub is critical to your pump operating properly.

Is your Pump Pumping and Water Flowing?

In the section above emphasis was placed on proper pump operation.  After checking resets and power, your next target is the pump.   You want to be sure that not only is the pump running, it is pumping.  To check this you want to open your cover and verify that flow is present. If your pump is running but not pumping be sure to check any  valves that may be closed after servicing.  Only open or close valves with the power OFF! Then try pump operation again.  Other things can keep pumps from pumping as well the most common and easy to fix  is an air lock.  Air locks happen sometimes when the hot tub is drained.  All the water leaves the pump during process and when the fill begins a big bubble gets trapped there.  You can try and open the air control or the air relief valve on the filter but sometimes that’s not enough and you have to get wet…lol.  With the power to the hot tub OFF try  opening the union on the front suction of the pump. This is the best place to release an air lock.  Don’t unscrew  the union completely, just crack it enough to break the seal of the oring.  If there is an air lock, you will hear the air hissing out.  Once the air lock is cleared,  water will begin leaking out.  Let it leak for a second to be sure all of air has been dispelled.  Tighten up the union and try the pump again. If your pump operation is normal and there is still no heat…

Have You Waited Long Enough?

Low Price UPS shippingWe get quite a few calls that fall into this category.   Initial fill of a hot tub will take awhile to reach temperature.  Hot tubs operating at 120 volts heat approximately 1 to 2 degrees an HOUR!  You will not feel a difference in the temp of the water entering the hot tub.  Your best bet is to walk away for a good 6 hours at least to check for increases in temperature. Once the hot tub attains temperature, it will maintain it.   240 Volt hot tubs heat about 4 to 6 degrees an hour.  Ambient temperature will effect the heating times of any hot tub.  You need a good insulated cover for your tub as well.  80 percent of a hot tubs heat is lost thru the surface area.  A good cover is a must!  They dont have to be expensive either. Check out "The Soft Cover."  They cost under 200 dollars and can ship UPS!  They use an air bladder to insulate with impressive R values.

You’re pumping, you got enough water, no high limit problems,you’ve waited a friggin week and its still not heating?

Well it might be time to roll up the sleeves and do some electrical tests. Your going to need some tools and good logical head.  You are going to learn some more heater logic and learn about common issues that relate to heating that occur "inside the box."  You absolutely will need an electrical meter and know how to use it.  If you are in anyway not comfortable with power on tests, do not attempt them.  Call a qualified person in your area. The next section will explain more about heater trouble shooting which often gets into control troubleshooting. flowthru2 You might want to identify the spa heater you have.  The majority of the modern heaters are of the Flow Through design.  If your heater looks different  Click on identify your hot tub heater.  If you are ready to move on,  click on Spa Heater Circuits.  We are in the process of revising all of our pages, to our new look and WordPress format.

Spa Care Guide

The Simple Truths About Spa Care

No doubt about it you will get a lot of conflicting advice on Spa Care.  Part of the reason is that a lot of people in the business don’t really bother to understand hot water chemistry.  Chemical manufacturers design kits for spa care that spa dealers then sell to you. The problem is that if you dont have an understanding of your own water, you can actually harm your hot tub using some of the products in a “kit,”  Not because they are bad products, they just shouldnt be used with  “your particular” water values. For instance, Ph up and Ph down are often included in spa kits. The Ph down product is an acid to bring down the Ph and total alkalinity of your hot tub water.  Ph UP reverses low Ph.  You would only use Ph down if your Ph and total alkalinity were extremely high which is almost non existent with a tub treated with bromine.. read on…

Start with a test of your fill water.

fillwater

This is your most important first step.   Test it using test “strips.” The brand is not really important. 4 in 1 spa test stripsWe perfer these over the drop type test because they test more values than the 2 in one liquid drop type test kits you often get in a kit.  Now, when testing your fill water, you are primarily concerned with your PH and total alkalinity, because these values affect how your sanitizers will perform.  Ph and Total Alkalinity are also important to the surface of your hot tub and your equipment. Its important to know and correct for proper Ph and alkalinity before you add sanitizers which will affect the Ph and TA.  Later, when you use the test strips to test your water in your hot tub, you’ll also be concerned with the chlorine/bromine levels as well, but the fill test is to know what your starting Ph and total alkalinity readings are. This is important because it tells you whether your water is scale forming, (high ph and total Alkalinity) or corrosive (low ph and total alkalinity)  If you use city water, you will find that your water will be pretty close to being in the correct range for Ph and total alkalinity.  The reason for this is that the water department had to maintain these values fairly closely to keep the pipes from scaling or being dissolved by aggressive water.  If you are using well water, you still need to balance in order to treat problems like high iron content or tannins. Scroll down for problem water issues. Both extremes, High or Low, can cause damage to your equipment and your hot tub shell.  If your ph and alkalinity are high, scale can form on your heater element and on the hot tub shell itself. It feels like sandpaper.  While the scale on the tub is easily removed with muriatic acid, the scale on your heater element will remain and cause problems with heating.  If your ph and alkalinity are LOW, the acidity of the water will eat into anything metal or plaster (if you have a concrete spa.)  Heater elements are very susceptible to low ph. It eats holes right into them and causes water to contact the electrical part of the element, which will short it out and cause  GFCI tripping.  This can happen in a surprisingly short period of time if your water is aggressive.

Ph and Alkalinity Perfect values:

  • Ph 7.2 to 7.8  
  • TA 80 to 140

If you have a concrete hot tub, you’ll want to maintain above minimum values. Plaster can very quickly become a victim of acidic water causing pitting and erosion

  Everyone needs to think about correction at minimum values above.

Correcting High Ph and Total Alkalinity

If your Ph and TA are in the very high ranges  (Ph 8+ akalinity 140+), you’ll need to add some kind of acid to lower it.  You can use white vinegar, or the ph down from your “kit”  The key is to go SLOWLY.  You do not want to over correct because you’ll be in the far more dangerous side.. corrosive!  IF you are using bromine in your hot tub, the Ph and alkalinity will come down due to the fact that bromine is very acidic. You may not want to treat it at all, just let it drift lower gradually unless you are off the scale on the high side.   You’ll  need to run your hot tub for at least 6 hours after corrections have been made to determine the effectiveness.NOTE: If you are using bromine as a sanitizer and a test kit that uses drops of phenol red to test pH, you can be tricked into thinking that your pH is high when in fact it could be LOW…Use test strips and always verify both values pH and Total Alkalinity!  typically if the Total alkalinity is high, so is your pH, if yout total alkalinity is low, your pH either is low, or will be low soon!

Correcting LOW Ph and Total Alkalinity

The only chemical to use for this in my opinion is Sodium Bicarbonate. If you dont recognize the chemical name, fear not, you probably have a yellow box in your refrigerator that says Arm and Hammer on it. Yep, Bicarb is good ole Baking Soda!   A related chemical, Soda Ash or Sodium Carbonate, is much to0 harsh to use in the hot tub environment.  Be sure its Bicarb you are using.  Bicarb feeds the total alkalinity of the water, which will raise the Ph slowly and buffer it against change.Keep in mind that EVERY product you add to your hot tub has a Ph value..I just completed a new blog post on the use of baking soda in your hot tub.  Feel free to check it out. 

Sanitizerssodium dichlor

Now that your Ph and alkalinity have been adjusted to the proper range, its time to consider sanitizers. Sanitizers are a MUST to keep the water free of bacteria!   The most common sanitizers for hot tubs are Chlorine and  Bromine.  Both of these chemicals are in the halogen family.  Bromine being more stable in heat and  turbulence  became popular for hot tubs.  The convenience of a tablet was also nice.  However, after a long time in the field being exposed to hot tubs treated with bromine, i’ve come to detest its smell and the problems associated with using it.  Bromine has a very low Ph.  This erodes the Ph of the water.  Add to that the feeder gets stuck up against the skimmer and the corrosive water is being sucked right into the pump and  then through the heater.  Causes a LOTA damage to a LOTA hot tubs IF you arent aware of it!   Any hot tub being treated with bromine needs constant addition of bicarb to maintain the Ph and total alkalinity.  It also needs regular shocking to eliminate the “bromamines” that form with exposure to ammonia, a common waste product of bather load.

Bromamines are very irritating to the throat.  Sometimes the overwhelming chemical smell coming from a hot tub treated with bromine has people wondering what do do to get rid of it. Removing the floating feeder and leaving the cover off and letting it run on high with air blower on will help dissapate some of the built up bromine.  Shocking with a non chlorine shock like potassium monpersufate  (MPS)  can reduce the bromamines that are strangling you when you open the cover .  You can even use dichlor as a shock with bromine.  I know you’ve heard that you cant “mix” chlorine and bromine. That is true>>>>>>IN A BUCKET.   But in a hot tub.. yes you can.  They enhance each other.   Leave your cover off so some of this sea of chemical  can gas off.  And dont hang around breathing it.

With that in mind, I pretty much have eliminated bromine from my list of recommendations. Sure it works, and being able to put some tablets in a feeder and forget is agreeable to many i’m sure. BUT  I prefer and highly recommend Sodium dichlor as a primary sanitizer for hot tubs.   It is completely soluble in water, it is a stabilized chlorine product, and the best part about it is that is it has a neutral Ph.  It will not affect the Ph balance of your water.   for hot tub use, it is inexpensive as well.   The disadvantage is its granular form.  It must be added regularly as needed a couple of tablespoons at a time.   Use your test strips to determine when chlorine levels are falling below 1 ppm.  Chlorine combines with ammonia and nitrogen as well forming chloramines. They can irritating too, and often are mistaken for High Chlorine levels.  But it is amazing how shocking  the water with a good ole dose ( like a third of a cup) of dichlor will straighten everything out. With spas under covers there is always a bunch of chemical laden steam that rises up to you when you open the cover.  Dont stand there breathing it.  let it gass off a little before everyone jumps in 

Dichlor is not the only type of chlorine on the market. Other chlorines can do the job of sanitizing but their Ph values vary greatly!   Liquid Chlorine has a Ph of 13!  That will effect your hot tub PH balance to the high side!  Another chlorine on the market is Trichlor.  This product comes in a granular form and tablet form.  It has a Ph of 2.  VERY LOW  and will bring your PH down very quickly and can cause damage to your heater and other metal parts.  Dont use it!   Lithium Hypochlorite is a granular chlorine that is usable for hot tubs.  It also has a neutral ph but is harder to find and little more expensive than dichlor, and perfectly acceptable for hot tubs. 

Keep in mind that chlorine and bromine are oxidizers which means they react to organic materials.  always use a clean dry scoop for handling them.  Keep them away from fertilizers or other organic items like motor oil etc.  They can cause fires if not protected from organics. Never mix two chemicals together in the same container.

Ozone Generators

If your hot tub came equipped with an ozone generator, you will find that you will need very little additional sanitizer to keep your hot tub in good shape.  Ozone is a gas that is injected into your hot tub thru various means.  It kills only when in direct contact with the water, there is very little residual effect.  That’s why it is necessary to provide backup sanitation.  Again, Dichlor is the perfect backup sanitizer for an ozone treated hot tub.  You still and always need to maintain your Ph and alkalinity levels according to the values above.   But, using dichlor with ozone will greatly reduce your efforts at maintaining PH and Alkalinity because you wont be adding products that increase or decrease your water balanc

Ozone can build up under spa covers and as a gas it will cloud around you when you take the cover off.  I’d be kinda careful breathing this. Its nothing you want to linger around. Try turning the pump on high.. blower on too and let it run a while with the cover off, so it can gas off.  Also. If you have ONE jet that feeds ozone to your hot tub, you might not want to sit in front of it.  Ozone is an oxidizer.  You don’t want it oxidizing your calf. 

Alternative Sanitizers

There several alternative type sanitizers out there.  One is Baquacil a hydrogen peroxide based system.  I’m not really a fan, and it’s expensive.    Dichlor is my favorite. Salt chlorination systems for hot tubs are not extremely popular YET, but i feel it is coming.  A salt chlorinated hot tub uses a salt base in the water.  A chlorine “generator” converts this salt to chlorine by using a small electrical charge.  It’s pretty amazing and is becoming very popular for pools.  Spas do not need to be emptied as often and maintenance is at a minimum. UV Sterilizers are also being tried on hot tubs.  If you have one,  you  still need maintain some backup chlorination with dichlor. This can be as little a 1 PPM which is barely noticable. Mineral Alternatives include products like Nature 2 and the Spa Frog.  These products are actually pretty good to cut back on chlorine use.  They contain silver (a bacteriacide) and copper (an algacide)  They dont replace chlorine but you can often reduce the amount of residual chlorine in your hot tub.  They share the job, so the chlorine goes further.  These products come in canisters that fit into your spa filter.  They last about 3 months.

Draining and cleaning

heavy bather loadDepending on the Bather load,  hot tubs should be drained and fresh fill water added at least once a quarter.  Heavy use could indicate more frequent draining.  Hot tub “parties” definitely require a drain and fill! Keep in mind that 4 people in a 400 gallon hot tub is like having 400 people in a 15×30 swimming pool.  Anytime you start having problems with water balance, smell, clarity etc, its always okay to drain and start over!  Total dissolved solids build up over time and a good drain and fresh water fill eliminate them and get you back into sparkling water. Another sign that its time to drain your spa is the appearance of the water coming out of your jets when they start up.  When the bubbles start to look almost like smoke and if your spa is foaming heavily,  its time to start over. Its not really hard to maintain your hot tub specially if you dont fall prey to a lot of auxilary chemicals that may do more harm than good.  Keep the basics in mind and keep it simple!

Sometimes when you cant drain the whole spa,  Diluting will help.. drain about half  or even a third and fill it back it up again.

Problem Water Issues

If your water isnt from city sources and you have high levels of iron or tannins, or calcium you will need to take some additional steps to make water water crisp and clear.  Metals in the water require a product made for such issues.  There are two types.  One sequesters the metals so they can be filtered out.  This requires attention to your filter!  the small filters in many hot tubs can become clogged with the sequestered metal quickly. You’ll want to monitor your filter after adding a sequestering agent, clean it as needed! The other type chelates or surrounds the metal to keep it from sticking to the walls or other surface.  Both may lower your ph somewhat.   Once you get your water clear you can proceed with other steps.  

Tannins are organic and can be bleached out using Dichlor.  It may take a little more than a normal dose but it will correct itself eventually.

Surprises 

You go out and shock your hot tub with a heavy dose of chemicals and it turns blue, or orange.  Blue is probably copper in the water.  Now most likely, this copper was not there in your fill water.  It is most likely coming from a copper heat exchanger which is bad… very bad for a gas heater!  My guess is bromine treated hot tub, didnt know about the PH thing and your water has been nibbling away at your heat exchanger atom by atom.  Any seemingly “sudden onset metal” most likely has come from something metal the water is in contact with in an aggressive state.  If the Ph is raised, it comes out of solution where you can see it.  Precipitation,  this is called.  You’re going to need to drain and fill to really remove the copper.  Be sure water is balanced towards the high side of normal.  

Cloudy Water

If your water just isnt looking clean and clear the best course of action is to shock it.  Manytimes, cloudy water is caused by contaminants that need to be removed before using your hot tub.  Dichlor in a heavy dose can correct any bacterial problems that may exist.  Clarifiers do not sanitize cloudy water! Always start with a shock of some sort.  Potassium Monopersulfate can be used as well.  This product is sold as a “non-chlorine shock”   It acts by reducing the combined chlorines in your hot tub and freeing up the chlorine molecules so that they can go back to work disinfecting your hot tub.  A chlorine (or bromine)  base must be present however for it to work as advertised.   One of the things i love about dichlor is that it can do this same job just by adding extra.  Draining is also an option, specially if its been awhile.  You may have a buildup of total dissolved solids that aren’t easily shocked away.  Sometimes a fresh fill is your best option, with a heavy dose of dichlor at start up to eliminate bacteria in the lines.

Algae

A covered hot tub with adequate sanitizer should not get algae.   So if there is algae present in your tub you need to dose it hard with dichlor.  a third of a cup, and run it for a couple of hours on high speed should knock it out.  You may not be able to use the same day because of high chlorine levels but it will do the job.

A Warning

Hot tubs are maintained and used at a very friendly temperature to bacteria and viruses.  Sanitation is essential. If it doesn’t smell clean and fresh, if its cloudy, with a lot of dirty foam, it probably isn’t safe to use.   there are several diseases associated with hot tubs, but not nicely maintained and sanitized ones.  Sanitation  is the cornerstone  to safe  hot tubbing! 

Spa Heater Symptom and Cure

Troubleshooting Spa Heater Components

Here we discuss the main components of the heater circuit and the specific symptoms that may be associated with each.  Testing techniques and possible fixes are listed.

Note! Digital systems with printed circuit boards typically do not use mechanical thermostats and high limits, They use electronic temperature sensing devices.  They may use a contactor and pressure switch, and GFCI tripping issues may still involve the heater. Some tests will be the same.

Thermostat:  (Symptoms: no heat, too hot, not hot enough)

Mechanical thermostats consist of a switch, control knob, and temperature sensor.  The temperature sensor looks like a copper wire when in fact it is a tube connected to a bulb which is filled with freon which expands and contracts with temperature.  It is this expansion and contraction that activates the switch.  If your spa is too hot and does not respond to a turning down of the thermostat, this bulb could be corroded.  Check it.  If so, the gas may have escaped and thus while the switch will activate you'll have no sensing capabilities so it won't turn off at any designated temperature.  Bulbs cannot be replaced.  Time for a new Thermostat.  If your pump does not respond to thermostat demand you may want to check through the thermostat with your meter on ohms and power off to be sure the switch is opening and closing. You can usually hear this if your ears are good.  The switch will make a faint click as it is engaged and disengaged.  If it is engaging your problem may be up or down the line.  A power on check will assure you the T-Stat is getting power.  Meter to AC volts check each side to ground. 

If your spa is not hot enough, you may find that the thermostat is out of adjustment.  If you remove it from the heater (power off of course)  you'll find an allen screw adjustment on the bottom.  a quarter turn clockwise will usually  increase the temperature to comfortable levels... A word of caution here.  

It is UNSAFE to use your spa at temperatures above 104 degrees! It raises your core body temperature and can cause flu like symptoms.  It can also kill you!  Even at 104 degrees you should limit your time in the spa to no more than 15 minutes.  Some people shouldn't use a spa that's hotter than body temperature.  Consult your doctor!!!  Drugs and alcohol do not mix with spas either!  If you turn up your thermostat it's your responsibility to be sure your spa is not too hot for safe use.  Get a good thermometer that will give you an accurate reading.


High Limit: (Symptoms:  no power, no heat, high limit trips too soon)
High limits are also temperature sensing switches. They also use sensing bulbs so the same problems that exist above can influence your high limit.  If your high limit is tripping within a few minutes of activating the heater CHECK FLOW! Little or no water flow will cause this. 

If it trips at the end of the heating cycle it's probably because at the end, when the thermostat turns the pump off,  the element is still hot, and the water is hot.  The temperature at the element  can go up for a few seconds and will sometimes trip the high limit.  It's best to replace the high limit if this happens all the time. The high limit has an adjustment screw also.  If you choose to try this it is a counter clockwise turn and it should barely be tweaked.  You need this safety switch to interrupt if there is a problem. 

This adjustment is at your own risk!  Remember flow is critical!  If you adjust your high limit and your pump impeller is full of leaves you could have a complete meltdown of all pipes in contact with the heater.  Not a pretty sight!  If you have no power this can also indicate a "high limit tripped" condition.


Pressure Switch: (Symptoms: contactor not closing, no heat.)
Obviously, flow is going to come up again here!  You must have flow for the pressure switch to activate!  To check for activation:  with power off, disconnect the leads going to the pressure switch.  Make sure they aren't touching anything.  Power up and turn on low pump. With your meter on ohms, check across the poles of the switch. You should have continuity. If not and you know flow is not the issue, most pressure switches have an adjusting collar that will vary the pressure it takes to activate it.  Counter clockwise turns decrease pressure required.  Turn the power off  before attempting any adjustment!  Make all adjustments slowly and try again. WARNING, if you go too far the pressure switch may activate with the pump off. 

This is the last thing you want to happen!!!  Always check to be sure that the heater goes off when the pump does!   If you are certain flow is present, but your pressure switch isn't activating you may want to remove it and be sure no debris is clogging it up.  Pressure switches are in contact with the water, when you remove it water will come out (or should).  Power off!  Close valves. 

Sometimes the location of the pressure switch is such that removal is impossible without removing other components (I hate that!) Some use a plastic base and must be unscrewed very carefully or the darn thing will break off. Now you'll have to dig out the old threads and replace your switch.


Flow Switch: (Symptoms:  GFI trips, no heat)
I haven't said too much about these as they aren't as common as pressure switches.  They are usually in the plumbing close to the heart of the action.  They are gray or white with a small cord coming out of them that goes to the controller. They utilize a little paddle type device that is pushed by water flow until it activates a little switch.  The switch should be isolated from the water. 

If, when you open your flow switch water comes out, you must replace it.  Otherwise, with the power off remove the leads to the terminals, make sure they aren't touching anything and power up.  With flow established check the switch to be sure it is closing using your meter set on ohms.  You should have continuity through the switch.  If not, time to replace. The wires, though small, carry 120 volts.  Don't leave them hanging.


Contactors: (Symptoms:  no heat, buzzing, GFI trips)
Contactors close when the control loop is complete. They consist of a coil which when energized should pull down the contacts so the voltage to the element can pass through.  Troubleshooting a contactor consists of checking across the coil (not the contacts) to see if the circuit to it has been completed.  Coils can be 120 volt or 240 volt with 120 being the most common.   This is a power on test so be careful.  With your meter set to AC volts activate all controls necessary to activate your heater. Turn up the thermostat to engage your low pump. 

Check across the coil of the contactor for voltage (neutral and hot side for 120 volts).  If you find the proper amount of voltage present and your contactor is not engaging it is bad.  If you do NOT have voltage at the coil there is an open switch somewhere in the control loop, you'll need to go back through your switches.  If your contactor is buzzing replace it. There may be more than one contactor.  Make sure you are checking the heater contactor by tracing back the wires from your element.


The Element: (Symptoms:  GFI trips, no heat)
Before we start it is important to note that if the spa is heating AT ALL it is not the element. See thermostat.  Assuming this is not the case continue with the power off, disconnect all leads connected directly to the element.  With your meter on ohms test across the element terminals for continuity.  If there is no continuity your element is bad.  If  you have continuity it should be around 9 to 12 ohms.  If your GFI is tripping, check from ground to each element terminal.  The slightest flicker of continuity indicates a fault to ground and your element is bad even it it has continuity between the terminals. It may have a pinhole in it or be otherwise corroded and leaking current to ground. This is a potentially lethal situation and your GFI is doing it's job. Do not bypass GFI (ever!), even if your element looks okay! 

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Smartouch E Pack

When the diagnosis is complete,we're here with the right hot tub part, spa pack, or equipment at discount pricing! Our spa parts and equipment catalog is easy to navigate, with a great selection of complete hot tub and spa packs, spa controls, spa covers, spa heaters, spa heater elements, pumps, motors, relays and more.  SpaPartsnet.com THE source for all your hot tub equipment needs is a click away!

Just so you know...SpaPartsNet.com has the best selection of spa packs and spa control systems in the industry at great pricing.  If you click on the image to your left, It will take you to the page with our ACC control systems, One of our favorite brands.  But we have more too: Balboa control systems, Hydroquip control systems, Spa Builders Systems Group Controllers, and more! So plenty of selection, plenty of good help with the choice,  based on your equipment configuration.

Want to try and  figure it out?  There is a lot of info right here!

The Glossary is a great place to start.  It goes through common hot tub and  spa equipment  and components, item by item, with helpful hints along the way.  If you are unfamiliar with your hot tub, you'll find it much easier to communicate with us once you've glanced over it.

The Spa Babes Spa Care Guide contains good simple advice for balancing water and and keeping your hot tub sanitary.  It is our most popular page at Spa Babes.

Our hot tub discussion board, SpaForums.com  is one of the most popular hot tub bulletin boards online.  You'll be suprised at  the custom in depth info you can find here.   Just lurking there and exploring the many posts will fill you in on many aspects of hot tub repair and problem solving.  Want to post?  register and please do so!

Spa Heater Problems? Don't feel alone. Heater issues have to be the most common call our support staff gets!

Heater Problems?

If your hot tub isn't heating, isn't hot enough or is too hot, click  "Heater Help" and  find an easy checklist for solving common problems with hot tub heaters.  You'll also find common hot tub  heater logic and wiring diagrams.

The tech support staff always appreciates it if you have read the check list so you are familiar and have checked for common problems that may not be directly related to your heater. Are you troubleshooting a spa control switch or relay? You'll learn to identify important switches in your hot tub or spa, how they are wired and why they are there by checking out our switch and relay section

FREE Tech Support is only a phone call (or Email ) away. We are always glad to walk you through your hot tub or spa system and share our troubleshooting techniques. That's what we're here for!

Just click "Contact us." Hey!  Are you a pool or  spa service techs? We're here for you too !  Just let us know who you are and we'll get you on our Service Technician Site: spatechs.com, and are here to help with any thorny hot tub problem you might run into.  Call from the field!  We'll be here.

Want to buy or sell a hot tub? Check out our new FREE Classified Ads!

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