Author Archives: Admin

Plast-Aid, Magic Goop Really Does Exist!

This stuff… is amazing.  I use it more often than just about any specific tool in my tool bag.  If I’m out of Plast-Aid, I’m always concerned that the next service call is going to need it, especially if a leak is involved.  Plast-Aid is a repair adhesive/acrylic/plastic that can repair PVC, Acrylic, and anything that the catalyst part of the combo can make sticky.  Now before I give you a sales pitch, take a look at the image below – this is a horrible situation for anyone fixing a hot tub:

2014-12-18 14.44.19On first look, this is the bottom end of a $160 (internet price) filter cannister.  The supposed ‘flex’ hose connected to it, which doesn’t even flex any more, connects to the suction of the main pump.  How did that thing crack off like that?  Lol.  Well… ahem, long story short:  I had to replace both pumps on this spa due to chemistry damage.  The first pump, well ummm after I loosened the coupler to the pump completely, it was literally ‘glued’ to the pump suction fitting and I couldn’t move the pump at all.  So me, with all my bright ideas, decided to give it a good old fashioned kick, to knock the loosened suction pipe off of the pump.  Instead, the pipe on the bottom of the filter snapped off like a match stick!  In the photo above, the pipe is still stuck on the front of the pump!  (No I did NOT kick that part where it’s broke.  I kicked it right at the pump!)

OMG, it’s mid December nonetheless; and it’s cold.  PVC don’t like cold, and flex PVC doesn’t flex, especially when it’s old, and cold.  That stuff is hard as a rock.  Haha.  Well because I had just received my latest order of Plast-Aid, I just laughed it off, but had to look forward to a bit more work than I had planned.  <<<  Now that is something that most could NEVER say in a situation like this.  There would be a lot more 4 letter words spewed out than could be mentioned here.

On a scale of 1-10 of screw-ups… this one rates a 10.  Enter Plast-Aid, it becomes a 1.  Seriously.  Let’s take a look on the repair:

2014-12-18 15.01.19What you see above, is… the pipe is still stuck to the front of the pump (not shown), but I lined it back up with the crack at the filter.

2014-12-18 15.04.08This is the initial application of Plast-Aid.  It is not pretty, then again it is not supposed to be.  This is a repair under the spa skirt, not cosmetic plastic surgery… well maybe you could call it that but not in the ‘cosmetic’ category of things.  I love Plast-Aid.  Did I tell you that yet?

Going forward… Well, Plast-Aid, like any other adhesive or catalyzing compound, loves heat.  Out here it’s really cold, this day in the 40’s.  So I always have a small butane torch with me to help keep things warm around the area.  Note I didn’t say hot.  Never heat anything like this to where you cannot touch it.  It works best at room temperature or slightly above.  There is an art to heating up components like this in the cold, and if you aren’t experienced with it then use a blow dryer with caution.  A heat gun can get you in trouble as you really want to be in the 60-80 degree fahrenheit range and never higher.  Hotter does not always equal better. (Actually, hotter means brittle and we NEVER want brittle!)

Let’s move on to the next photo:

2014-12-18 15.26.34Note in the above photo, you can see more Plast-Aid on top from the initial application, plus a piece of electrical tape on the bottom 180 of the fitting.  That is actually two pieces of electrical tape – taped together to cover the gap between the edge of the street 90 45 degree ell on the right, and the filter itself.  Because I cannot see behind, or below the fitting (and gravity doesn’t do you any favors when working with Plast-Aid when it’s in it’s most liquid state, I create a dam with the tape, to pour it into and hold the Plast-Aid in place during it’s cure-out.

2014-12-18 15.26.47A close-up view of Plast-Aid in action along with the electrical tape dam to hold it captive while it cures on the PVC fittings.

2014-12-18 16.04.43Last One:

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Overall photo of the installation:

2014-12-18 16.13.20Yeah.. that 2.5 foot section going to pump 1 suction may as well be hard pipe. So, the question really is, replace entire cannister, lose a lot of time – or fix with Plast-Aid which is stronger than all that pvc combined?

Honestly, while to date I experience a 100% success rate with Plast-Aid repairs, on everything from cracked wet ends to pvc manifolds, I have about a 75% success rate on first time in and done repair.  That is, the one you see above, I actually had to go back and apply by hand more Plast-Aid on the back side that I could not see with my eyes because there were small areas that leaked water.  Sometimes it’s just repair – by – feel.  The tape dam is not a be all to end all in guess-work.  It’s just the way it happens in the field.  I’m happy that it worked out this way, much better than having to replace the entire filter cannister, which can take as much as 4 hours depending upon all fittings, flex pvc, temperature and everything else involved.

If you ever have any questions about Plast-Aid, you can either call the company that makes it or even give me a call any time.  I’ll be really happy to tell you how fantastic this product is.  It has saved my customers over the years THOUSANDS of dollars in re-plumbing costs.

This stuff, IS magic goop in a bottle.

Other recent repair examples:

 

2015-01-31 13.38.42See that crack on the suction fitting?  Yeah.  I’m out in East Point, and it’s either drive back 40 miles to supplier, pick up new wet end and drive all the way back to put it in.  No Way I’m doing this.  Bring out Plast-Aid.  Fix crack in 30 minutes, go home.

2015-01-31 13.38.53Look at that lovely mess – Plast-Aid saves the day (and me a LOT of  driving time for no reason!).  Plast-Aid by the way, is stronger than the material it is fixing.  There is no other repair material available anywhere at any price that is better than this stuff.  It also saved my customer about 250 bucks.  My customer loved this stuff, and watched as I demo’d the product to him.  (This stuff is fun to show off).

Plast-Aid will, reduce your plumbing problems to a minimum, allowing you to move on to more business, save your customers money, get you more referrals because you saved them money.

Even if you don’t need me to fix your spa/hot tub, buy Plast-Aid just to have it. You can get this product from the same place I do.  Plast-Aid.Com

There are a lot more links to Plast-Aid on this blog than I’d like but I couldn’t help myself.  By the way did I tell you I LOVE Plast-Aid?   There is no better tool in my truck than this stuff.  Get it, got it, GOOD!  It’s amazing.

If you EVER have any questions about this product I encourage you to call me immediately, it doesn’t matter if you’re up north or down south, or out west… call me.  I use it every week and it saves me many hours of un-necessary work, and many $$$ of charges to my customers.  Note that I make no money from promotion of Plast-Aid.  These people don’t even answer my complimentary emails either.  I have no idea who they are but what they got here WORKS, and my business cannot live without it!

Ok Folks, have a wonderful Plast-Aid day!

:^)

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Spa & Hot Tub Leaks: The difficult ones.

Plumbing work in this business is usually not a big deal.  It’s simple and straight-forward and usually follows this sequence:

  1. Cut out offending PVC (broken/bad leaking stuff).
  2. Obtain new fittings from local supplier or Home Depot.
  3. Using PVC Primer (the clear not purple stuff), and heavy bodied PVC cement, prepare fittings and pipe/flex hose and install the replacement.
  4. If it’s cold out, warm up the joints and parts with a heat gun…. (NOT hot).
  5. Wait ample time for the PVC cement job to complete it’s cure cycle.
  6. Fill up spa and test under pressure.

Many times though, it’s not this simple, and you really need to try to figure out a much different way to solve the problem.  (Take that to mean the cure could be worse than the disease).

Case in point.  1990’s model Sundance spa.  Nice spa, really nice thru the deck installation and has been a family treasure for many years.  Using common sense and intuition, it was determined that the leak that was draining the spa down 2-3 inches per day was located in a specific corner area of the tub.  For the uninitiated, this model of Sundance spa is a full foam tub, which means that you’ll need to dig through a lot of foam to find the leaking pipe.  Squirrels had moved into this spa and dug out a ton of foam, so it was initially thought that the squirrels had dug through the foam, found a specific pipe and chewed a hole in it.

I don’t like having to trouble-shoot leaks in full-foam hot tubs.  They can really be resource hogs.  But the water soaked foam in the area I was digging was soft and easy to remove.  Yes it was really messy and not fun but digging with a crow-bar worked well.   Eventually the leak was found and it was in a really tough area, with tight parameters for ‘fit-ment’.   I mean, there’s just no way to cut out the bad stuff and just insert some new stuff and the leak is gone.

Here’s what it looked like, the spa was leaking at the blue glue area (top of the image) where the PVC  connector meets up with the tan colored flex-PVC:

2014-03-05 15.40.25

Going the conventional route, the standard answer to this situation is cut it all out, and replace the fittings and all that it connects to.  But in this situation you just can’t do that.  If you’ve ever worked with older flex PVC, you’ll know it doesn’t flex anymore, that’s 1.  2 is that everything else that it connects to are proprietary fittings/devices – like a Sundance diverter valve that controls which jets get the most water flow.  There’s nothing wrong with those things so they need to stay in place, and 3 – omg, the foam man the foam!  Everything is fixed in place by this stuff so you don’t have the liberty of moving stuff around to make it fit with new PVC.

So what do you do?  Cut it out and start a nightmare of a ride to nowhere or just try to fix the leak without all that insanity?

I like simple solutions.  In this case, we decided to use an old-fashioned approach with a bit of a twist.  They do make PVC repair couplings/fittings for this purpose, but they are hard to find, especially in the 2″ variety like this one was.  I took a 2 inch PVC coupler, and cut it in half.  Then I cut it in half again.  The end result was this:

2 Inch PVC fitting, cut in half.

The leak was a lot of water coming out of the edge of the 2 inch fitting, so the idea was to target THAT.  This fitting that was created out of a 2 inch PVC coupler from Home Depot was designed to butt-up next to the leaking PVC fitting in the spa, and it’s size, with good preparation and PVC cement, would stop the leak completely.  With this repair option you’ve got a PVC fitting edge butting up next to the edge of the existing PVC fitting that’s in place.  Hmmm what about that tiny gap between the edges of the fittings?  Well I decided to do the standard leak repair (on top of the repair) by using Plast-Aid.  So, I’ve got a new half-circle 2 inch PVC fitting up against the old 1990’s 2 inch fitting, with a lot of good prep work, (drill wire brush to clean, along with PVC Primer), It’s all sealed with medium or heavy bodied PVC Cement.  In this case I used “Weld-On” Brand Hot PVC Cement.

2014-03-10 16.11.21

It is not a pretty job.  But you can see the Plast-Aid over the top of the edge where the two PVC fittings meet.  It looks like blue and white mixed together.

The end result was a complete success!  A lot of money was saved using this method of fixing a hot tub leak.

And that’s just one of the more difficult jobs that we face daily.  Each job can be a challenge!  If you have a problem with your hot tub and don’t know what to do just give us a call anytime!

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Spa and Hot Tub -SLOW- Leaks

Let’s face it, most hot tub and spa leaks are quite obvious once you take the spa side panel off and take a look… (here we’re talking about most portable hot tubs that are outside, not in your bathroom). But slow leaks can be a real pain.  Anyway, standard leaks are really easy –

The usual culprits are going to be:

  1. Pump Seals deteriorated due to old age, or bad water chemistry.
  2. Pump and heater union gaskets getting old and deteriorated.
  3. Heater leaks.
  4. Everything else.

The top three are easy and quick to fix.  However, when faced with a really slow hot tub leak, let’s say one that drains down about an inch or two a day with no power applied, the problem can be quite perplexing.

There is one thing you need to have when trying to find a slow leak… patience.  Then add in persistence.

To help find a slow leak some of the best tools you have in your arsenal are going to be food dye, and your eyesight.Hot Tub / Spa Leak Detection

The above shows a leak test performed on a roto-molded spa with limited access to the back side.  No leaks were detected.

But the below photo exposes the slow spa leak culprit.  There are actually two jets in this photo.  The first is a Waterway mini-jet that is easily seen at the top.  The second is a cluster jet enveloped in blue food dye that’s about 7 inches below it.

Spa leak detection What happens is this… and you really have to look CLOSE and be PATIENT when you squeeze the dye into the water.  The dye will be drawn into the leaking orifice.  It’s akin to finding a virus or trojan on your computer.  Only this is analog, not digital.

Cracked Spa Jet

This spa was fixed quickly after 2 service calls, and we didn’t even have to cut a hole into the outside of the roto-molded plastic spa shell.  The failure was in the jet retainer ring.. It was cracked.

If you’ve got a leak problem that just won’t go away,  and you don’t know what to do then give us a call.

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Hot Springs Prodigy Converted.

In this instance we were faced with an early 90’s Hot Springs Prodigy with a dead circulation pump and control system.  This was easily converted to an ACC Compack Jr… which is a 115V control system that provides all the options and power we were looking for to get the customer’s spa up and running again.

Hot Springs Prodigy Early 90's

The above photo is after the old Laing circulation pump and Hot Springs heater was removed.  Note the water is draining from the spa through the hoses.  The original jet pump, (an Aqua-Flo 1 HP pump) was still operational.

Hot Springs Prodigy with ACC Compack.

When we changed out the circulation pump, we opted for the very reliable Grundfos circ pump, which has 1″ suction and discharge ports.  Since the Hot Springs Tub uses 3/4″ plumbing everywhere, we used special adaptation to work with it.  Once everything was leak free, we cut a new mounting hole for the topside control panel for the spa, installed it, and watched the spa work flawlessly.

ACC Topside Control installed on a Hot Springs ProdigyThe image above shows the new controller, and the cover for the old Hot Springs control system, which consisted of large round knobs and big buttons.

Once this was done, new deck work was completed to make the spa safe and a pleasure to be around.

Converted Hot Springs Prodigy, to digital system.

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If you’ve got a situation like this, just give us a call and we’ll do our best to advise you the best way to bring your Hot Springs Spa back to life again.

Bath Spas & Jetted Bath Tub Repairs, Service.

We service all bathtub spas and ‘jetted tubs’ in the Metro Atlanta area.  Most often, we receive calls on these bathtubs when a house is being sold, or going up for sale soon.  More often than not, jetted bath tubs are seldom used for the original intent.

Jetted Bath Spa

Jetted Bath Tub Spa

Most common faults are:

1.  Switching (pump on/off) mechanisms, circuits or push-buttons are inoperative or broken.

2.  Pumps are locked up from lack of use.

3.  Leaks have occurred in the plumbing fittings at the bath pump or the jet fixtures.

Jetted Bath Spa Pipe Leak Repair

Jetted Bath Spa Pipe Leak Repair

 

Bath spas are their own unique animal, and quite rightly so.  Usually there is simply a small access hole to get to the pump, and it can be really tight to get into these spaces to affect proper repairs.  We do the best we can, as fast as we can to get your bath tub spa up and running again quickly to pass inspection and be used the way it was intended.

We have great relationships with a lot of real estate brokerages, agents, and regular customers all over the metro area, and are quite understanding of the expediency of getting your bath spa repaired quickly.

Leaking jet joint repair with pvc pipe and flex pvc in a bath spa / jetted bath tub.

Leaking jet joint repair with pvc pipe and flex pvc in a bath spa / jetted bath tub.

If you’re one of those people that’ve made a lot of phone calls looking for help and gotten no-where, we’re here for you!

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Phone above or you can use the contact form at the upper right of your screen and we’ll get back to you asap.  We have a pretty quick turn-around time, (especially when real-estate closings are imminent).

 

 

Grundfos Circ Pump on Hot Springs

Grundfos Pump Mounted in Hot Springs Spa

Grundfos Circ Pump Mounted in Hot Springs Spa

Grundfos Pump Mounted in Hot Springs Spa

 

Since the Laing circulation pump uses a 3/4″ fitting and the Grundfos circulation pump uses a 1″, a strengthening adapter is made from a 1″ long piece of 1/2″ pvc pipe.

This pvc pipe is inserted into the existing 3/4″ hose on the spa.  It provides a strong base so that a piece of 1″ ID flex hose can be fashioned around the old hose, and a pipe clamp used to seal it.  In the photo above you can see the piece of 1/2″ pvc sticking out of the old hose.  The new 1″ diameter hose fits over the Grundfos fitting on the right, and over the old hose on the left.  Existing clamps can still be used (shown in photo).  Typically a standard 1 1/2″ hose clamp fits over the the Grundfos nozzle.

It is easiest to perform this substitution without water draining out of the hose, (ie empty spa).

If you have trouble manipulating the old hose… heating it up works wonders.  In really tight situations, it may be necessary or a lot easier to install if you use a piece of 1″ hose a few feet long to get it to feed into the heater (ie looping it up and around etc).

One last thing: on rare occasion, it may be necessary to remove the cover from the front of the Grundfos pump to rotate it to a better position to get the discharge fitting in the optimum spot for installation.  This is usually not required, but if it is, it takes about 10 minutes to do it.  You’ll need an allen wrench to remove the screws.

Your mileage may vary.

SpaXpert

We Rebuild All Swimming Pool Pumps

Announcement: Due to the problems associated with cheaper quality motors being imported from Mexico, China and other countries over the last 18 years, we have ceased rebuilding operations.  If you want to take the job on yourself to replace pump bearings, pump seals, wet ends etc, there are MANY videos available on YouTube.Com that show you how to do it yourself. To do this type of repair is not rocket science!

That said, if your pump motor is more than 4-5 years old, your best option is a NEW replacement motor that can be found online much cheaper, than having a shop do it – unless you’ve found a small mom/pop type of motor shop that would be willing to do the bearing work for a minimum charge.

Just don’t try to hold them accountable if your pump motor quits or starts shooting flames out of the back within a few days or weeks of the repair.  It is not the shop’s fault. Take my word for it… I had to pay out of pocket many times to back up my own warranty. That’s why I dumped more than 3000 pounds of motor parts to a recycler in 2015, and just stopped.

Because of this, I sleep better at night, and with a new motor, you will too.  The rest of the text on this page will remain as a place holder, as it is still informative. If you still have questions, feel free to call us and ask away, (yes out of state calls are welcome as well, we get them all the time!). There is no dumb question!


Original Post:

phoneWith the price of copper and other raw materials at an all time high, motor prices have gone up, plastics manufacturing costs have gone up – over all – everything has gone up!

Swimming Pool Pumps by the very nature of their size, shipping costs and construction are expensive to buy and replace outright.  So what causes pump failure?

The #1 issue is corrosion.  Excessive chlorination, overburdening of the equipment with too much salt doesn’t help much either, and especially these days with so many swimming pools running salt systems, it’s no wonder.  Salt systems and conventional pump seals aren’t really compatible – as well, salt and aluminum, or for that matter almost any metal – are never  compatible.  So when the seals, o-rings, and gaskets fail due to salt (or excessive chlorine – not one in the same btw), then bearing failure ensues, followed by corrosion of the motor housing and if it goes far enough, a loss of integrity of the motor housing to the point to where it’s unsafe to operate electrically.

When pushed to the limit, a motor that is forced to do double duty – pump all the water required, plus overcome the excessive resistance posed by the failed bearings – over time the pump motor windings will burn out as well.  At that point, the pump motor cannot be saved and must be replaced.

If you’ve got a pool pump motor that just hums, or makes noise, or screams so bad that the neighbors are calling the cops, then you need to shut down the power to the pump and call us to see if we can save you some serious money.  Typically rebuilding versus replacing is 30% to 50% less than the cost of a new one.  We’re fast and have a turn around time of typically less than 48 hours (in critical cases we can get the work done the same day).

We’re pros with Hayward, Jandy, Waterco, (Supa-Tuf), Aqua-Flo, Jacuzzi, and 48 or 56 frame motors, as well as C-Flange,   Square Flange, and regular through-bolt pool pump motors.

Don’t buy a new pump when all you need is a repair!  Call us today, the worst thing you’ll find out is if it can’t be fixed.

Updated Content:

Don’t buy a completely new pump. Most of these expensive pool pumps can be repaired by purchasing a relatively inexpensive pump motor, with a seal kit to match up with it.  The motors will usually be what are called ‘C-Flange’ or ‘C-Frame’ motors, or Square Flange types.

Square flange motors are very distinct! They have ears on the front part of the motor using 4 bolts to attach it to the plastic pump assembly.

With C-Flange motors you will not be able to see any bolts attaching the motor to the plastic pump assembly.  We are working on a new post to explain how and what to buy when it comes to replacing a motor.

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We service all areas of North Georgia, and Metro Atlanta.

 

Hot Springs Heater Relay Circuit Boards.

Hot Springs Blown Heater Relay BoardI’ve been trying to contain my brand criticism for years – it’s not an easy task.  But after a call today from a father with limited funds that has a quadraplegic son from a dui accident today – I just had to get this one out.  He owns a Hot Springs Sovereign and the heater has stopped working.

I’ve been rebuilding Hot Springs Heater Relay Boards for years now.  They have one inherent flaw – they route too much heater current through the circuit board traces, which causes them to literally blow out – ie, the relay terminals get so hot and they gas up so much inside the relay cavity that they end up exploding the terminals through the circuit board.  (This also happens on newer Balboa Instruments designs and Gecko too).

I still don’t get it.  To this day it makes no sense to me.  Circuit designers know darned well that a 5500 watt heater draws somewhere between 22-26 amps, (depending on voltage supply) and early designs of this board utilized relays that were of the 20 amp variety.  Perhaps they would rate at 30 amp resistive, and even newer designs should be using 40 amp relays, (over-rating can only help), but the contact rating (nor the method connecting mains power to the board as they claim) has NEVER been the problem!

It’s the way the relays are connected to the circuit board, and how the power in and out get there and do their business that matters.

The way these circuit boards are manufactured is by wave soldering, in a single pass.  The culprit relays are the types that are sealed from the manufacturer.  So you only have one side of the circuit board that actually gets soldered, (the bottom).  The top side of the circuit board (A FULL ONE HALF OF THE CURRENT CARRYING CAPACITY), never sees the wave soldering action.  So the top half of the circuit board needed to carry half of the 23 amps of current, never really sees the light of day – therefore, on these circuit boards, they eventually overheat at the soldered connection point, and generate so much heat that the relay literally explodes it’s terminal out the backside resulting in a failed heater circuit.  The photo below shows exactly this phenomenon: HotSpringsHeaterRelayBoard

It’s not easy to see, but it’s there.  Click the image for a full size view.  If you were to remove this relay yourself, you’d notice that the top side of the circuit board (under the relay itself), has virtually no solder on it, which limits the current carrying capacity of the circuit board.

This is why these boards fail, plain and simple.  If the manufacturer were to actually spend a little more money and install these things using ‘Trace Saver’ techniques, these boards would last a heck of a lot longer.Hot Springs Heater Circuit Board with Trace Saver.This is a typical repaired Hot Springs/Caldera heater circuit board using trace saver wiring to reduce excessive current draw through relay circuit board pins.  We don’t buy new (defective) heater boards from the manufacturer to install in your spa only to have the same problem repeat itself a few years later….  we only install a genuine board re-manufactured by us to the specifications that the relay manufacturers have specified for like… years, and the manufacturers refuse to follow!

If you need a lot of current delivery through a relay on a circuit board, then split the path with duplicate circuits using the top terminals, then  VENT the relay (which also requires human interaction), and finally watch as time passes… it works year after year.  No  more blown circuit boards.  Just look at Balboa Instruments (prior to the VS-series) and Sundance (850+) circuit boards which use ‘Trace Saver’ designs since the early 90’s.  These relays NEVER blow terminals through the board, and seem to last forever.

When it comes to high current delivery to a hot tub/spa heater, you definitely get what you pay for.  If you find this circuit board replacement online for $115… it’s not worth the ebay ad it’s printed on.

This is the typical advertising content on these new boards which is selling you a bill of goods, and this is I think, reprinted from the OEM (and found on internet websites everywhere!):

It’s upgraded design provides a more efficient method of connecting the heater’s power cord to this board. The black wire from the heater’s power cord now connects into the H1 position on the large gray terminal block. The heater’s white wire (neutral) connects onto its own separate gray terminal block. This will reduce stress on the relays and increase their lifespan due to better transfer of voltage. The ground wire connection remains the same. This upgraded circuit board replaces the first and second generation boards in the IQ 2020 Control Box found in Caldera, Hot Spring and Tiger River spa models.

Somebody please tell these guys they’re still doing it wrong.  The power connectors and heater connectors have NEVER been the problem!  It’s the relay connections!  Anyone with a minimal education in electronics technology will recognize this blather for what it is.

If you’re looking for more help or advice regarding your Hot Tub, please call us anytime.  We’re here to help.

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My Spa/Hot Tub Pump is making a noise.

What’s your definition of spa pump noise?

Let’s try this:

  1. The hot tub pump hums, doesn’t do anything. Then stops humming.  It repeats after a few minutes.
  2. My spa pump sounds like a fire alarm in high school!  (REALLY LOUD, vibrating slamming noise).
  3. When my hot tub/spa pump is running, it sounds like metal on metal.
  4. My hot tub pump screams like a banshee when it’s running.
  5. My spa pump makes no noise whatsoever.  But the jets work!

One by one, we’ll explain what to expect based on the above.

1.  Hums, does nothing, gets quiet, then repeats…  This is the most classic symptom for a faulty pump motor.  You could actually duplicate this problem simply by putting vice grips on the motor shaft and applying power.  It won’t go anywhere.  A few things that may be causing this:

  • Bad/Stuck bearings (especially important with bathtub spa pumps that rarely get used).
  • Bad Start/Run capacitor (yes I have had motors with only run capacitors go bad refuse to start).
  • Burned/Fried contacts on the centrifugal switch.
  • Improper voltage; (only a few motor manufacturers will have this issue, as most 230V motors will run fine with no load on 115V).

2. Hot tub/Spa Pump sounds like a school fire alarm!  This one is unmistakable.  It sounds like a Freightliner driver slamming on his brakes, and all his brake pads are gone.  Stopping a 80 ton tractor trailer rig with metal on metal.  It’s the loudest sound your hot tub will ever make for faulty equipment.  If the above doesn’t get it, then do you remember what the fire alarms sounded like when you were in K-12, and had to go outside and count everyone?  That’s the sound.  AAAAANNNNNNNKKKKKK!!!!

This is one nasty destructive beast too.  If your hot tub is making this sound, DO NOT turn on the power again unless someone qualified in servicing appliances like this is present.  It’s not the noise that does the damage, but the excess current traveling through the control pump relays, and the pump centrifugal switch contacts.  What causes this problem with your hot tub pump:

  • You mis-wired the two speed pump that you bought off of ebay (or other online retailer) when you installed it.  Common, Line (common), should always be WHITE.  Be sure what you have hooked up works with the diagram on the side of the motor.  The common line is the most important.  Mess this up and you could end up buying a new controller or having your board repaired due to fused relays.  You can always reverse the black and red wires without harm, but if you EVER get the white wire wrong, you are in very damaging territory.  If you find this, fix it, and it still works, consider yourself very lucky you dodged a bullet.
  • Your spa control has a stuck relay, and is sending high and low speed power simultaneously.  This one is a dog; No kidding.  What’s happened usually, is that a previous miswire (like above) or other high current situation has fused the low speed relay closed, and when you switch the pump to high speed mode, it’s getting both high and low speed voltage at the same time.  This requires a circuit board repair, and possibly a pump repair.  This could also be cause by a lightning strike, (a MASSIVE power surge),  or a pump motor designed for 2hp duty, being used with a 4hp wet end… (too much work, draw too much current, burn/fuse relays).
  • Lastly, and I ran into this condition yesterday.  The pump bearings are so bad, that the armature is making physical contact with the stator (field coils).  This one is rare as it requires at least 1/32″ or more vertical movement in the shaft to physically make contact with the stator.  It doesn’t sound like much, but in this domain, it’s a lot.  And it is really nasty when it sounds the alarm.

3.  Metal on Metal Sound –  Noisy Spa Pump Motor Bearings.  That is, the pump works and all that, but it’s really noisy.  You need to get this fixed asap.  This is the most common problem you will ever encounter and it is cause by the water being caustic or acidic enough to do damage to the pump seals, so much that that same water ends up going into the front bearings of the pump motor.  Crappy water and grease don’t mix well.  Eventually the bad water wins the game, and the resultant damage is that you’ve got ball bearings running around at 1725 or 3650 RPM, with NO GREASE!  This is just like a toothache.  If you don’t fix it, you will lose it.  Your motor will not only have to generate the work force necessary to move the water in your tub, but it also has to generate enough energy to get past the resistance of the now defective bearings with no grease, and after time are increasing the work load just to make the armature turn.  Given enough time, you’ll end up having to replace the entire pump motor (it will be non-repairable) because the windings are smoked because of the excessive load simply because of the bad bearings.

4.  My Hot Tub Pump Screams like a Banshee.  Due to #3 above, you are at the cusp of either fixing this thing now, or waiting for imminent destruction.  Fix it now. Or just buy a new one online.

5.  Spa Pump makes no noise, but the jets work.  Perhaps there’s a definition conflict.  There are two types of spa pumps.  Jet Pumps, and Circulation Pumps.  In many cases there is one two speed jet pump that does both heating/filtering /circulation (on low speed), then gives lots of water action on high speed.    There may be a second pump, (old school we call this a booster pump).

So you end up with one pump that’s two speed, and does all heating/filtering/jetting depending upon speed selected for one set of jets.  And you may have a second pump that controls another division of jets.

OR – you have what is called a dedicated circulation pump, and you’ve got one or two single speed jet pumps for your hot tub jet output.  Most dedicated circulation pump system designed have their own discharge port.  If you have this you may be getting flow or pressure errors, and no heat at all.

In any event, you’ll have the typical symptom that the water is cold.

If you’d like more information on troubleshooting your spa/hot tub problem, please give me a call.  We’re here to help.

 

What’s the best hot tub?

The answer to this question is one that doesn’t really have a definitive answer, and there is nobody out there that can answer it (genuinely) authoritatively with a simple “brand x” is the best.  Everyone is biased to what they own and know, therefore everybody’s experience will be different.

One thing about this industry, is that it really suffers during difficult economic times.  After all, the money spent in this business is fun money.  The more extra money you have in your budget, the more fun money you have to spend.  Some people have a lot more of this than others, but that doesn’t always mean that they’ll spend it.   Still – this is an important thing to understand.

As far as I know in this area, there are very few factory stores left, except for the couple of Recreational Factory Warehouse outlets in the Atlanta metro area… plus a Hot Springs, Sundance, and Dimension One outlet or two.    There are still a few other local franchise type dealers, (ie dealers that sign flooring agreements with manufacturers in order to get/maintain this business), but so many have come and gone in the past 20 years it’ll make your head spin.

What’s the best hot tub? 

Lets consider one aspect of this question.  National brands.  First there’s the name that started it all,  Jacuzzi.  After this, starting in the late 70’s and 80’s gave birth to popular brand names such as CalSpas, Hot Springs, Morgan, Regency, Sundance, Dimension One, Haughs and many others (Mr Spa – oh boy what a design-, Jericho! -thin acrylic shell no fiberglass- this list could go on forever) .

In those days demand was growing among the elite, and these manufacturers were bringing elite type pleasures to  everyday homeowners all over the USA.  At the same time, pool builders were getting into the act, finding a nice niche business to help fill their empty fall/winter seasons.

Local / Regional builders (mom & pops) also got into the act.  To go into the hot tub manufacturing business, you really need just a few things:

  • A little start up money
  • A place to build them
  • A source for decent hot tub shells (many would design their own molds and create their own shells).
  • A source for jets, plumbing parts, control systems, and pumps.
  • A local carpenter to build the frames and skirts.
  • Perhaps a spray foam jig to insulate and secure hoses and things.
  • A market that wants to buy your hot tub.

Nationwide, there were probably over a thousand of these types of operations that would try to fill the local niche back then and compete with the national brands; many succeeded – but over time, most did not.

Again, What’s the best hot tub?

Seriously, you may as well ask your next door neighbor what’s the best car to buy; (somebody please tell me when that question has a definitive answer! Lol!)  After being in this business for 17 years, I can answer this with an easy assessment:

  1. The best hot tub is one that you like to use.
  2. The best hot tub is one that you have had positive & pleasant experiences in.
  3. The best hot tub is one that you would go out and buy again, after using it for 10 years.
  4. The best hot tub is one that after the warranty expires, it’s easy to fix.
  5. The best hot tub is one that after the manufacturer goes out of business, you can still get parts for it in the after market.

This list is the most important imo when considering which hot tub or spa to buy.  As a service person, the last two are the most important to me, especially when considering which direction to go when I have to explain the options (and expense) when repairing your hot tub.

Let’s try this again  with the above in mind… What’s the best hot tub?

Now I’m here on your patio troubleshooting your hot tub problem.  Heater doesn’t work.  Pump is making noise, or the pump is dead.  Recurring air-lock.  Pressure Switch won’t activate, or flow error.  Topside display shows nothing, buttons stopped working.  Some unknown error code showing up on the topside control panel of your spa, or it turns to a Chinese looking display every new years eve.  The ground fault trips off every time you try to turn it on. You called me because you lost your paperwork and you don’t know the manufacturer’s phone number, or you bought this thing off the internet, and it turns out it was made in China and has Chinese made controls, Euro pumps, or – you have your paperwork and the number no longer works for warranty service, the manufacturer has changed to a new corporate identity and doesn’t cover your warranty expense, either that or you just don’t know what to do because nobody answer’s their phones.

Ok… Given the above,  you’re hoping that it’s going to be a quick and cheap fix right?  Well – now you will find out for sure, what’s the best hot tub.

You’ve used this tub for years, it’s worked fine and it meets the qualifications 1-3 in the assessment above, and now you’re praying for 4 and 5 to be yes!

If you’re the lucky owner of what many in forum-speak online call a sub-standard spa/hot tub brand, then congratulations.  You don’t own a dead BMW.  You own a spa that meets 4 & 5 above; which means cheap parts, easy access… and everything’s available everywhere.  But what if you own one of these so-called ‘premium brands’?  With (oh and patented features are good right?) custom manufactured controls, sole source jet replacements, circuit boards, air controls… ie you ain’t getting that part from the local supplier.  This is the  nightmare that many will face.

So… from my perspective, to answer the “What’s the best Spa/Hot Tub?” question, it’s the one that’ll keep you up and running with the least cost in repairs 5-10 years after you bought it, so that you’ll think kindly of the repair costs and be happy that you did business with me, instead of one that left you a massive debit in your checking account stinging because you also have a house payment due.

Yes I’m in this business to make a living, but I really love it when everything between you and I (logic of repair costs + emotions of your hot tub experiences) can meet in the middle and it all makes sense when it comes to fixing your hot tub.  Honestly, I really hate having to give you a bill that says you need a new control panel for $380.. plus installation, all because it’s ahem… special, ie sole source.

I have been asked so many times.. when I go out to repair a tub, what’s the best hot tub, and my answer is always a qualified one that encompasses the items 1-5 above.

Hope this helps.  Coming soon:  ‘The Least Expensive Hot Tubs/Spas to Repair’.