Category Archives: Service

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’.

 

 

 

 

Waterway Mini-Jet Replacements.

Waterway redesigned the mini-jet several years ago, so it was an assumption that to replace one of the faulty jets… (with the ball bearings falling in the water and all that), you had to purchase both the outer jet nozzle, and the inner jet valve as well.

Today we had a customer that needed 13 of these hot tub jets replaced.   I was in the process of removing the support piece from the outer jet housing, and the customer was removing the old jets.  Low and behold, he was already installing the new jets, with the old valves with no modification at all!

That was really great.  You really don’t need to replace the valve and the new face plate and jet orifice, just the outer part will do and it’ll save about 10 bucks for every jet.  I’ll post photos of what I’m talking about soon.

Or you can use the contact form at the upper right of the screen + You can always reach us: spaxpert at gmail.com

Brands we service

I guess you could say we specialize in everything right?  Well… here’s a list, and it’s not all inclusive:

Leisure Bay Spa Repair

Cal Spa Spa Repair

Hot Springs / Watkins / Tiger River Spa Repair

Caldera Hot Tubs and Spas

Jacuzzi Spa Repair

ALPS Spas… Service & Repair

Infinity Spas, Service & Repair

Sundance Spa Parts, Service

For the few Vita Spa owners in this area, yes we service these too!

and many others.

We even work on spas/hot tubs from China, and hot tubs with no name!

We’ve been servicing hot tubs and spas in the metro Atlanta area since 1996 and have hundreds of satisfied customers.  Phone consultations and Q&A for your hot tub are available at no charge to you!  Call us anytime…

Or you can use the contact form at the upper right of the screen + You can always reach us: spaxpert at gmail.com

Questions about repairing your Hot Tub / Spa

We get this one all the time:  “this may be a dumb question but..”

If you want to call and ask questions related to fixing your hot tub, please call me.  I may be able to save you a lot of time and money just with a simple phone call.

There is no dumb question.  Every question is important, and we’ll do our best to help you on the phone at no charge.  Over the years we’ve saved a lot of people big bucks with this one simple service.  If the advice we give you on the phone helps to fix your spa, it’s still a win win.  I’ve gained the respect of a future customer, and you’ve gotten your spa fixed without having to have pay someone to come out.

Call us anytime with your dumb question.  These are among our favorites!  If you know nothing about a hot tub we’ll help to make you as good as we are.  We love to teach!  🙂

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