Spa Heater –Repair and Maintenance Guide

vita-spa-universal-u100-u200-heaterIf you live in a northern climate, or use your hot tub year round, then you will want to make sure it comes equipped with a heater. Note that some models, especially the plug and plays, do not come with a dedicated heater. While many 120 volt spas may come equipped with a heater, you will only be able to run the spa pump or the heater at any given time – not both together.

On the other hand, most 240 volt hot tubs come with heaters. To control the heater, you simply set your preferred temperature using the spa control panel. Hot tub heaters work in conjunction with your plumbing system, control panel and spa pumps. To keep your hot tub heater running efficiently for longer, follow these tips:

Spa Heater Maintenance

There are several things you need to be aware of to protect your heater. The first is poor spa water chemistry. It is important to regularly (2-3x a week) test your hot tub water with a water test kit or test strips. Keep the pH in balance –between 7.2 -7.8 – and adjust your water chemistry as needed. When your pH drops below 7.2, the water becomes acidic and can cause corrosion or rust on your metallic heater elements.

spa-heaterIf you live in an area with hard water containing lime or calcium, your heater elements may develop scale. This white coating of plaque will build up over time, causing your heater to work harder and eventually cause your heater to burn out. It is always a good idea to get a pre-filter for your hot tub if you live in a hard water area.

Air can also cause issues for your hot tub heater. Low water flow, air bubbles or air inside the heater chamber can mean a shorter lifespan for your spa heater. You will want to ensure that you don’t have low water flow issues.   Check your control panel for messages and regularly clean your spa filter.


Spa Heater Specifications

Despite proper maintenance, there will come a time when your spa heater will need replacement (generally after 8 years). This may occur after it stops heating properly or does not heat at all. You can use an electric meter (available at any hardware store) to test for short circuits or resistance on the heater body or terminals where the wires connect or, better yet, get a repair tech to check out the problem.

There are both high flow heaters and low flow heaters built into hot tubs, depending on what brand and model you have. You will want to get the correct replacement heater since it is part of your entire plumbing system and the wrong replacement will cause further issues down the line. Check the label on your heater for the stats you need to order a spa heater replacement online. The important factors to duplicate are the size and electric specifications (voltage, wattage, amperage, etc.). The most popular hot tub heaters are the 4.0 Kw and the 5.5 Kw universal heaters. However, you also need to match the wattage (1.0/4.0/5.5 etc.) and the voltage (110,120, 220 or 240) so you are choosing the correct heater for your spa.

spa-heater-troubleshootingHot Tub Heater Troubleshooting

Before you replace your spa heater, make sure there isn’t a separate reason why your water is not heating sufficiently. Often, a dirty spa filter can cause water flow problems, so take out and rinse or replace the current filter if it is dirty. There could also be some issues with the plumbing, like clogs or partially closed valves.

If you have a low kW heater, it may have trouble heating the water sufficiently in very cold weather. Unfortunately, you cannot simply buy a bigger heater and install that instead. You have to replace the broken heater with the exact same one, since adding a stronger heater could cause a fire, burn out circuit boards or simply not work.  Invest in a thicker cover to help prevent heat loss so the spa will retain more heat when not in use.

Spa Heater Replacement

If your water is stone cold, then check that the circuit breaker or GFCI has not tripped.  See if there are any error codes on your control panel. Change settings by entering a higher temperature to see if the heater kicks in.   It could be that only the internal heater element is broken, which is cheaper to replace than the whole heater. However, you would have to know how to safely install it and understand it is more difficult to do properly. If your heater is old, it is better to replace the whole thing. A new heater will be more efficient and have newer sensors.  It is easy to replace as long as you order the correct replacement heater.

spa-heatersOpen up your spa cabinet to look at the brand of your spa pack (which is the control pack and heater together). Generally, all equipment will have a label so you can read the brand and the specifications. If you can’t find or read the label, you should still be able to see the information imprinted on the heater unit itself. You will want to take the physical measurements of the heater to make sure it is the same size.

When you are ordering your heater, check if you need any union o-rings, hi-limit or pressure switches. Always make sure that you shut off the power to the spa and close up valves before you try to remove the old heater.

If you are unsure which replacement spa heater to order, then simply send a photo of your heater label/heater along with the dimensions and model of your spa to: info@hottuboutpost.com. We will send you back a ling to order the correct heater for your spa make and model.  We have discounted prices on all the most popular models including Gecko, Balboa, HydroQuip, Hot Spot, etc. You can also find spa heaters by hot tub brand. We also carry spa packs, controls packs, O-rings, and other hot tub spare parts, so there is no reason to be left out in the cold!

Spa Pumps Online

spa pump parts onlineOrdering a replacement hot tub pump online is easy if you know a few things about the existing pump.

First, you will get free shipping on most pumps (they can be expensive to ship because they are heavy).

To order a pump, check the label on the existing pump.

Is the pump 1 or 2 speed?

Is it 48 frame or 56 frame?

What is the voltage?  120v or 230v?

What are the connection sizes 1 1/2″, 2″, 2 1/2″?

Will the wet end orientation line up with your existing plumbing?  Most wet ends on through-bolt type pumps can be rotated in 90 degree increments in case you need to line it up once you receive the replacement pump.

hot tub spa pumpsIf you know the brand and model, you can replace it with same or newest model. But there are many compatible pumps with existing brands as long as the specifications are right.

Check the amperage ratings for low and high speed on the pump label. If the amp draw is similar on the replacement pump and the other specs match, then it may be a good match.

Hot tub pumps are made by several different manufacturers including Waterway, Aqua-Flo/Gecko, Pentair and others.  Note that some outfits may send you a cheap motor with a brand name wet end, so be sure to shop at reputable online retailers such as Hot Tub Outpost.  When you see a Waterway pump, you know you will be getting the correct replacement model and not some puzzled together pump parts.    If you really need to save money, HTO also offers off-brand name pumps, but then you will be able to read about it in the description.

Besides main 1 and 2 speed pumps, you can also get circulation pumps online. These are the 24 hour circ pumps that keep the water flowing 24/7.  They are made by Laing, Gecko and others.

Replacement Spa PumpsNeed just the wet end or impeller, you can buy spa pump parts online too.  If you don’t see the pump you need, ask!  There are thousands of them and the big outfits can get you most any part.

Save time and money getting replacement spa parts online and get free shipping too!  Pay no tax on online purchases too depending on what state you are in.

Spend less time running around and more time enjoying your hot tub.

What are the Best Hot Tub Features?

Hot tub spa featuresWhen it comes to hydrotherapy, QCA Spas offers a wave lounger so every spot on the body gets massaged as the moving massage goes row by row.

One consideration is how much hydrotherapy or how many jets are desired? Up to about 40 jets works with a single pump spa. Any more than that should have 2 pumps in the spa. Another pump is the air blower that is also found in the higher end spas.

Zoning is a system that moves water flow from one section of the spa to another. This helps a one pump spa provide more power to a particular side of the spa as needed.

The deluxe spas with air blowers also feature turbo charging where the water gets another boost from the forced air of the blower that can be routed through the water lines or through the dedicated air injectors for a more champagne like bubbling that spas are known for.

Many quality hot tub features are hidden such as quality, name brand components, pumps, controls and heaters. Other features are out in the open for all to see such as the waterfall feature or LED lighting.

A sound system can also be added to most any spa. There is the lower end sound system with speakers and the high end Vibrasound system that turns the spa shell into the speaker creating a uniform sound field no matter where you sit in the spa. The Vibrasound system also adds the subwoofer for true bass.

Hot tub featuresAlthough an aromatherapy canister can be added to most spas that are outfitted with a spa blower, the most popular form of aromatherapy comes in liquid or crystal form that can be added to any hot tub, even those without a dedicated aromatherapy system.

Another nice feature is the integrated chemical dispenser inside the filter. This avoids having to use a floater to hold the bromine or chlorine tablets.

Want a salt water spa? Almost any mid-range or higher end QCA Spas can be upgraded to a salt system by adding the bromine salt system. Just buy the Bromicharge sodium bromide and put a reserve in the spa water, then the chemicals to kill bacteria and sanitizer the water are manufactured automatically by the bromine salt system cell.

Unlike an ozonator that can be retrofitted later, the bromine salt system is best when factory installed at the time of ordering to avoid a costly service bill.

hot tub spaWhen using the spa outdoors, always use a hard cover instead of a flexible soft cover that may come standard with the lower end spas.  Get a free hard cover upgrade on those spas as well from Hot Tub Outpost. They believe in offering quality from the get-go to avoid any unpleasant surprises. After all, you want to get into your spa and enjoy it from day 1, and not receive an incomplete kit.

Have any questions about buying the right hot tub? Contact the folks over at Hot Tub Outpost for knowledgeable assistance.

Hot Tub PH and Chemical Maintenance

chemical for maintaining hot tubGetting the chemicals balanced in the hot tub does not have to be a chore.  Using the Monday-Wednesday-Friday program, spa water maintenance is easy.

Some things to be aware of about pH and hot tubs.

The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 with pH of 7 being neutral.  Anything higher than 7 is base and lower than 7 is acid.

Low pH Problems

Running the spa with low pH is very bad for the hot tub and can cause equipment damage.  Problems with pump seals, o-rings, gaskets, heaters and pumps as well as leaks may be a result of operating the hot tub with water that has low pH.  The solution is to keep an eye on the pH level with test strips and add Spa Up or PH increaser to maintain the 7.4-7.6 ideal pH range.

High pH Problems

This can put mineral deposits on the shell and make your spa feel like sandpaper.  High pH can cause calcium carbonate to precipitate creating a white coating all over the spa.

Operating a spa with high pH also causes cloudy water and is not good for the spa.

Ideal pH Range

The ideal range to maintain hot tub water in is between 7.2-7.6.  Better is between 7.4-7.6 just so there is no danger in the spa slipping into acid water mode below 7 pH.

Have Spa Up and Spa Down on hand and add whichever one is needed to keep the pH in the ideal range.

What about Sanitizer?maintaining a hot tub

This is the other very important chemical for maintaining hot tub water.  Be sure to have enough bromine or chlorine in the water.  The amount of sanitizer can be somewhat reduced if using either a bromine salt system or ozonator.  If using a mineral stick, they can also be reduced, but never eliminated.

QCA Spas has a chemical dispenser for tablets right inside the filter and the amount of bromine or chlorine added can be regulated on the device.  Alternatively a floater can be used to dose bromine or chlorine.

Find filters, covers, spa chemicals and accessories and supplies from the Hot Tub Outpost, www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Hot Tub Plumbing Repair Parts

hot tub plumbingWhether you are plumbing up a horse’s trough or fixing a hot tub, you’ll need the right PVC plumbing parts and glue to do the repair.

PVC fittings for spa repair include elbows, tees, connectors, reducers and maybe some pipe or hose.

Plumbing parts on a hot tub also include suction fittings, unions, manifolds, jets and valve parts.

Finding the leak is the first step to ordering the right parts to fix it. In spas with removable cabinet panels, it may be pretty quick to identify where the water is coming from. In spas that are fully foamed, this task can be more daunting.

So you found the leak and ordered all the parts you need from the Hot Tub Outpost.

You may need to cut out the old plumbing parts with a hacksaw or cutting tool, then smooth the edges and try to put the new pieces together without glue to make sure everything fits first. Clean and prime the connections, then apply the PVC cement to both sections, give a quarter twist and hold for about 30 seconds until dry. If you glued it well, your horse should be able to drink from the trough again, or you can go back to enjoying your hot tub.

Hot Tub Plumbing Part Types:

Elbows can be regular slip connection elbows where the pipe or hose fits inside the elbow, or if it is a “street” elbow, one of the connections will be where the hose or pipe goes over the connector.

Reducer bushings allow for the reduction of say 2 inch connections to 1 1/2″. There are reducer bushings all the way down to 1/2″.

Manifolds come in various port configurations starting with a 2 port manifold.  Common manifold types are 4-port, 8-port and 16 ports. 4s can be grouped to create a larger manifold as well. You may need plugs for any of the ports that do not need to go anywhere or for which there is not associated jet hose.

Manifold plumbing allows for even distribution of water through several lines, commonly used to route water from the main pump hose line to the individual jets.

hot tub plumbing partsThere are water manifolds to route the water and air manifolds for systems that use an air blower.

Valves help route the water or air and service valves may also be installed to help shut the water flow off around the pump or main spa pack/heater to allow for servicing of those components without the need to drain the spa.

Unions are usually glued on one side and allow for a component such as the pump or heater to be connected to the plumbing without hard-gluing it. This allows that part to be removed and replaced without needing to glue in plumbing, but sometimes the unions themselves need to be replaced and that involves glue.

PVC Glue: the best type is fast drying PVC glue such as by Weld-On.

Get all your hot tub plumbing parts at www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Wave Lounger – QCA Spas Wave Max and Ultra Lounge

wave lounger outfitted hot tub spaThe luxurious GT500 features an Ultra Wave Lounger with separate wave massage control.  The wave sequencer allows for different rows of jets to sequentially massage the entire body.

For pure luxury, try the wave lounger found on the GT500 or Paradise Ultra models by QCA Spas.

The difference between the Wave Max seat found in spas like St. Maarten XL or Paradise XL and the Ultra Wave Lounger is that the moving massage is applied to the entire body in the lounger vs. the upper body only at a Wave Max Seat.  Some spas have both of these features such as the Paradise Ultra.

The patented wave lounger comes with its own 4 button controller that allows for the pausing, changing or program or direction of the moving massage.  Different rows or different speeds are possible, or even freeze the massage on your lower back for a more spot intensive massage. Go row by row, up and down and enjoy.

There are 6 different sequences at 3 different speeds as well as a pause button.  The controller has an LED light to show what system or sequence you are on.  Set your speed and enjoy the affordable GT500 with lots of power and 2 jet pumps.

wave lounger outfitted hot tubThese types of spas come with a lot of jets and a lot of contact points to the body for maximum massage.  Contrast that to a standard hotel Jacuzzi that may have only a few jets and you will have a true resort spa in your own backyard oasis featuring the GT500 hot tub spa.

Get the best deal on a wave lounger outfitted hot tub from Hot Tub Outpost at www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Using Hot Tub Replacement Parts To Repair Your Spa

Installing a hot tub or spa in your backyard can be an amazing source of relief from stress and an oasis for relaxation, especially after a particularly long and hard-working day. It is incredibly convenient to be able to access a hot tub right in the comfort of your own home.  Day or night you can reap the hydrotherapy benefits that hot tub spas offer.

In order to be able to enjoy water therapy for a long time, you need to care for your tub and repair any parts that need repairing or replacement. Doing so will extend the life of your tub, and will prolong the enjoyment it gives you. In addition, obtaining hot tub replacement parts for your spa will give you an economical alternative to having your tub fixed by a professional, or replacing the entire hot tub altogether.

Who Do You Call For Quality Hot Tub Replacement Parts?

If you are looking for specific parts for your tub, or simply aren’t sure what you need, call the professionals at TheHotTubSuperstore.com for knowledgeable and friendly customer service and advice. They will be able to help you find the exact hot tub replacement parts that you need to repair your hot tub.

TheHotTubSuperstore.com is a Toronto, Ontario based company who manufactures, distributes and supplies a wide range of high quality parts for all spa makes and models of hot tubs. They have a large inventory of parts and accessories in stock, which allows them to fill orders immediately.  Online ordering is easy and you can have your spa parts shipped right to your front door anywhere in Canada.

Some of the parts and accessories that they supply include the following:

Covers and cover lifters;
Safety rails;
Towel racks;
Spa bars;
Steps;
Spa packs;
Umbrellas;
Spa fragrances;
Ambient Lighting to add a soothing and relaxing element to your spa experience;
Ozonators;
Topside controllers;
Bromine generators;
Air blowers;
Water care products

TheHotTubSuperstore.com offers everything you could possibly need to repair or maintain your spa.  No matter your make or model, you can get hot tub replacement parts for your spa. If you can’t find what you need on their website, call their friendly customer service representatives who will track that part down for you. Call them today and take advantage of their FREE shipping policy (for orders over $250) to anywhere in Canada.

They also offer discount hot tubs if your spa is beyond repairing.  Get discount hot tubs online at a low price with free shipping!