If it’s a leak, go ahead and call…
If you turn the tub on and hear a hum, turn it back off and call…
However, if you attempt to turn it on and you hear NOTHING, do this first (it could save you $Money):
Normally, a jetted bathtub (or Jacuzzi brand Whirlpool Bath) is supplied by an electrical circuit that has a GFCI circuit breaker, or a GFCI type electrical OUTLET. The latter is more often what is referred to as a ‘BLANK FACE GFCI’, meaning, it looks like it would be an outlet, has the test and reset buttons, but there are no holes to plug into it.
Frequently, these are found in the bathroom. If your toilet is isolated from the rest of the bathroom, and it is next to the jetted bathtub in its own room, look in there first!
Otherwise, look for one somewhere by itself in an odd location, like at eye level (to prevent children from playing with it). That said, I was at a house the other day and the GFCI for the bathtub was about 18″ from the floor – (go figure).
If you have one of these, you need to push TEST, and then RESET. Sometimes you may need to use something like the head of a pen to push the reset especially with newer ones. If the GFCI will NOT reset – then I would first recommend having the GFCI replaced before calling. $20 bucks can go a long way at Home Depot, Lowes, or your local hardware store. These GFCI’s are cheap and are much more prone to fail on their own, than a pump having an actual ground fault (which is very very rare).
If you can’t find a wall mounted GFCI, then you probably have a GFCI circuit breaker in your main box – it will have a ‘TEST’ button on it.
These things can be a little tricky. A standard Cutler-Hammer GFCI (Tan/Brown colored handles), will absolutely shut the handle back to the off position when they trip.
But others, such as GE, Siemens, Eaton etc, will not. If one of these is tripped, you can push it on, but it just kind of ‘mushes’ to the on position. If you jiggle the switch handle a bit it may come to rest in a middle position – indicating that it is tripped. It can actually trick you to think that it’s actually ON, when it is off.
These types of breakers ALSO FAIL. Having seen perhaps TWO bathtub pump failures in over 20 years that would actually cause a ground fault condition – I highly recommend replacing the breaker FIRST. These breakers are anywhere from 35-80 bucks.
If you can’t get this figured out for yourself or are in a hurry, just give us a call! Real Estate closings and short timing issues go to the top of our list.
I do a lot of bathtub spa repairs, and on one particular job the pump fittings were faced away from the service ‘port’. They (pump unions) were almost impossible to get to, and definitely impossible to loosen. There was very little room to put any conventional tools – I mean, anything that would fit, would be too long to even manipulate inside that small space.
Well, yesterday I was at Harbor Freight looking for a different version of a channel lock style pliers, that would have jaw openings large enough, but handles that I could possibly make shorter with a sawzall. Right when I came up to the check-out counter, the end-cap display had these things:
For like 8 bucks. Hmmm, this looks very interesting- I like the ‘teeth’ on this sucker. The jaws are designed for circular fittings, the handles are SHORT! It’s an OIL FILTER WRENCH! I’m guessing this product is new as I cannot find it on the Harbor Freight website. I put back the channel lock set I was planning to chop up and bought this thing instead.
Once I got out of the store, I got a 1.5 inch spa pump union and wrapped this thing around it. Holy COW! It grabs the outside of a pump union perfectly, the teeth on this tool are fantastic for this particular application!
Little did I know when I went back to this job today how essential these teeth are. Normally with channel locks, you need to be at a 90 degree angle for them to be effective. And based on how much access I had there was no way this was going to happen. Access and difficulty for this today was a 10 on a 1-10 scale and I could not take a picture because it was just too small an area. So to make the point, here is shown on a later job today how effective these oil wrench pliers are on a pump union fitting, without being at a 90 degree angle:
These pliers grab and loosen/tighten this fitting with very little effort. Here I’m at about 45 degree angle to the fitting and those ‘teeth’ are hanging on to the pump union perfectly.
Without the ability of using this very high ‘angle of attack’ on a pump union in an extremely tight space, this bathtub would have had to been removed just to change the pump, as the left side was the outside wall of a commercial/residential building.
Successful job completed. Thank you Harbor Freight! This crazy oil filter wrench is PERFECT and will forever be a mainstay in my tool box!
I just checked the Harbor Freight website for this tool. They must be just about ready to publish the product, as the URL comes out as:
But says the page can’t be found. So the page is on the way!
I entered this industry in 1996 – as a former electronics technician servicing hot tubs. Seeing the world of Balboa Instruments and such in a Morgan Spas store got to me. Unfortunately for me I had never learned how to plumb a garden hose in my entire life, so learning plumbing on hot tubs was my A.D.D. issue for about a year. Having graduated the school of hard knocks of plumbing – one thing loomed in the back of my head for the next ten years… Water Chemistry. I HATE chemistry. My son takes in in college now and I hate it even more.
What’s worse, just go to any pool/spa store in any town and you will find the it LOADED with TONS of chemicals and all other sorts of things to spend yet another 18 bucks for something else with the back of the bottle in such micro-type it makes an industrial MSDS look EASY! Not only that, but the bottle might be light grey, and the print in medium grey, further rendering the product a useless purchase, especially if you need reading glasses and light to even read the insanity that is printed on these things.
After servicing hot tubs for more than 20 years, the one thing I can say is that the industry is destroying itself with bad chemistry, bad chemicals, and bad advice.
Let’s start this conversation with this photo, from a 1984 Watkins Hot Springs Spa placard, in the equipment compartment I found in my customer’s hot tub two years ago:
So basic right? Why don’t we just eliminate EVERYTHING that the pool store sells for hot tubs, and sell two basic things! Sodium-Dichlor, and Baking Soda.
Now to allay fears of collusion with Hot Springs (lol) Here are photos of this really old Hot Springs Spa, but still working in perfect condition…
Now, at this point this is where I must chew off my right arm having slept with the ugliest person in the room last night – the hot tub industry. It is a joke. This insanity must stop. The people at the top (you know who you are) that are pushing for dealers to sell anything and everything to consumers to bolster their bottom line is total bullshit.
I am the dude the real people deal with every single day. I actually used to listen to you higher ups in the industry – for years I did this, and never gave out advice on chemistry, until I got sick and damn tired of my own hot tub’s equipment going to hell because of BAD CHEMISTRY ADVICE!
So, I went back to ground zero, and let me tell you, I had to rewind my brain back to the late 90’s, when I was working with Dimension 1 spa owners, and how they were taking care of their own spa water. Some were going overboard following multiple confusing instructions from pool/spa stores, and others were not. The ones in the ‘NOT column, had the best equipment condition I had ever seen!
Why was this?
Because they weren’t dumping massive amounts of chemicals into their hot tubs. Simple.
Less chems in your water is better than more. OK?
A hot tub is basically your personal fun bathtub! But if you keep injecting all types of industrial crap into it it’s gonna be a nightmare and you will eventually end up calling me or another service to fix this or that because of it.
So what’s the answer? Rewind to 1984. Problem solved.
Another post to follow on water chemistry guidelines.
AAAAAnd…. I finally got a round tuit.