If you have a hot tub that has no heat, that definitely is no fun. Hot tubs are supposed to be hot. Spa heater problems have the right solutions.
Below is a guide to the most common problems affecting spa heaters and the best ways to resolve them.
Some spa heater types work slowly and it could be difficult to check if the heater is working right. You can troubleshoot simple issues before calling in a spa technician and save a bit of money by diagnosing it and finding the right fix.
TOP 5 SPA HEATER ISSUES AND FIXES
“My spa isn’t heating!” This is one of the most common complaints of spa owners. Below is a list of possible causes for spa not heating.
A spa heater that has stopped working could have issues with the spa heater element or the spa controller. Note that for some spas, the heater is built into its spa control.
Your spa heater depends on adequate water flow in order to operate. There is a pressure switch connected to the heater chamber which detects water flow that is too low to protect the spa heater. The heater stops working until the right water flow is achieved.
If it is a flow issue, it is not necessary to repair the spa heater parts. The problem could be due to a dirty spa filter. Remove the spa cartridge, clean the filters, and check the flow rate or pressure. Other causes could be a broken valve, clogged spa jets or pipes, or a broken pump impeller. You will notice this from an obvious reduced flow into your spa or hot tub.
The thermostat is that dial you turn to increase the heat. Most new hot tubs have a solid state thermostat attached to a circuit board. If you use a knob instead of a red arrow, check your thermostat to know if the unit is faulty or if it is a corroded sensor bulb.
This is another switch that is the same as the pressure switch and thermostat. It helps to prevent a spa heater that won’t shut off. It has a preset maximum heat wherein the switch opens and shorts the electrical circuit bringing power to the spa heater element.
You can test your spa components with an ampmeter or OHM-meter.
SPA HEATER ELEMENT
A heater element is like a cooking element but is designed to be immersed in water during operation. A spa heater element burns out fast if it is used without water around it. Hot tub elements can be tested to see if there is a short in the coating that envelopes the heating element.
The spa heating element can also buildup scale from the hard water or salt systems used. If scale develops on the heating element, it will decrease heat and result in failure of the heating element.
Spas that are newer have spa heater elements housed in stainless steel chamber that can be easily removed. For such heater types, you can check the element, high limit and pressure switch for resistance with Ohms. An “open” means the meter has a high reading. “Short” means there is no meter activity. A “short circuit” means there is no resistance and the current leaves the circuit.
OTHER CAUSES OF SPA HEATER PROBLEMS
Check the electrical outlet of the spa pack. Find the red button. If it popped out, just push it back in place.
Your spa cover may need replacement. Warped, ill-fitting, and broken spa covers let heat escape.
Door Interlock Open
Some spas need the spa equipment door fully secured and inserted for the switch to close.
Wires are Loose
Make sure that the wires are not oxidized and are tight. Rodents may also have chewed the wires.
Majority of spa heaters are built into the spa controller. This means they have a heater element that is easy to replace. With just a few adjustments in the plumbing, the replacement spa controllers or heaters will suit your spa.
Controllers/heaters are either pneumatic (air-control) or digital.
Older spas use pneumatic spa controllers. You have to get out of the tub to access the panel to adjust the spa’s temperature. If this bothers you, it may be time for you to upgrade to a digital or electronic spa controller.
Electronic spa controllers are operated by electronics. Just remember that moisture and temperature extremes are not good for electronics. Avoid extreme weather exposure to prevent problems.
SPA DISPLAY SHOWING HIGH LIMIT – WHAT’S THIS ABOUT?
If you are getting an High Limit message, this means your temperature protection system is saying the water temperature has exceeded safe levels and has shut the heater down. The heater won’t come on if the HL is tripped. It also does not mean that the water has overheated as there are other issues that could cause this condition.
You must close the GFCI breaker and wait 10 seconds before turning it back on. It will reboot the system and could clear the HL report. If this happens, re-enter filtration cycles and your other normal settings.
In case the HL condition persists, or recurs after a certain period, request for a service check.
CHECKING THE HEATER ELEMENT OF YOUR SPA FOR POSSIBLE REPAIR
After 5 years, the spa heating element may show signs of wear and tear, including:
- burnt or broken spots
- incorrect water chemistry
- failure to heat
- digital programming issues
If a personal inspection does not reveal the problem, you may need to get an electrician to fix the problem. Diagnosis and repairs could run from $100 to $300, depending on the problem. Consider replacing the heating element every 3 to 4 years for maximum performance.
Most hot tub heater elements are universal and would fit most types of tub.
BEST HOT TUB HEATER REPLACEMENT GUIDE
At some point, spa owners will face hot tub or spa heater problems. There are 2 kinds of spa heater problems – not enough heat or totally no heat.
If the spa heater is not giving enough heat, it means a water flow problem from dirty filters or partially closed valves or clogged pumps. It could also be the spa cover allowing heat to escape.
However, it the spa isn’t heating at all, and there are no tripped circuit breakers or error codes, it is possible that the heater element has already failed. In fact, many spa heater elements will stop working, especially after 8 years.
There are different types of spa heaters but the most common are the electrical flow through spa heaters. This type has a heater element enveloped in a heater manifold. There are gas spa heaters and even solar spa heaters.
Actually, spa manufacturers obtain their components from third party manufacturers. You can’t determine the type of heater installed in your spa just by the brand.
You need to look at your heater and determine its proper size and type when you need to buy a spa heater replacement.
DO YOU REPLACE THE HEATER ELEMENT OR THE HEATER ASSEMBLY?
There are 2 ways to replace a failed spa heater. You can choose to replace the internal immersion element or to replace the whole spa heater assembly, including the stainless heater chamber and the union ends.
You can buy the spa heater element for less than $30 and save your dollars from buying a whole spa heater which costs a bit more. Replacing just the heater element means more work and more risks. The new element has to be installed properly to prevent damage and properly positioned so that it does not overheat.
To replace the complete hot tub heater assembly is the best option for spa heaters that are older than 8 years. The galvanic corrosion to the stainless steel tube can lead to pinhole leaks. New and complete heater assemblies also have new sensors that are easier to replace and has less room for installation errors.
SPA HEATER QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR TROUBLESHOOTING HEATING PROBLEMS
- The pump is running but the water is not heating. Is my heater broken?
You will need to check for voltage at the heater terminals. If there is voltage, it is possible the heating element is bad and needs to be replaced. If there is no voltage, follow the plumbing from the heater’s end to the tub. If there is no restriction device like a filter past the heater, the issue could be restriction. Heaters are provided with pressure switches to test for back pressure which allows the heater to come on. If there is no back pressure, it won’t activate. In some cases, a filter may be added or an eyeball restrictor in the return of the tub to allow restriction.
- The high limit trips before the tub gets hot. Do I need to replace it?
Check the flow of water through the heater before replacement of the high limit switch. If the switch is tripped, reset and run the tub. Put your hand on the heater housing and if it gets hot before water gets in the tub, it means a flow problem. Check the returning water to the tub if it is moving. If not, remove the filter and try again. Check where the limit switch mounts to the heater and look for a hot spot in the heater. If an area in the housing is hotter that the other parts, the element may be too close to the sheathing and should be replaced.
- The heat status light is flashing after the temperature I selected is reached. When this happens, nothing works.
The light flashing indicates that one of your sensors is reading an over temperature condition. Check the water movement as it may not be enough to exchange heat correctly in the manifold. This means it is heating with insufficient water flow. Check also for any bad component if it is not a water flow issue.
- What are other causes of improper heat?
Improper heat can be caused by dirty filters, closed or broken valves, clogged impeller, or too many adjustable jets closed down to minimum flow, or air lock in the plumbing.
- What is dry fire?
Dry fire is a common cause of spa heater failure. This is caused when spa water flow does not reach and flow through the heater or when the heater is turned on with no water or too little water in the housing. This leads to the element rising above the safe level until it fails and destroys the heater element. You will notice that the housing is cracked, bumpy, or spotted. You will need to replace the heater.
These are but some technical questions about spa heaters. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the heater rather than just the heater element for safety reasons. Improper installation of a heater element could lead to heater failure, damage to the circuit board, fire, or damage to the spa.
ORDER THE RIGHT SPA HEATER REPLACEMENT
It is important to replace the exact duplicate spa heater but there are many choices to electrical size, watts, volts, amps, and dimensional size. It is important to buy the right fit.
Many spa owners ask if they can upsize their spa heater or get a heater with more ability than what they are presently using. Unfortunately, the existing heater matches your spa electronics and your replacement part must be exactly the same.
If you install the wrong spa heater, it will not work or worse, it could cause damage to your circuit boards or cause an electrical fire.
Below are ways to order the right spa heater replacement from Spa911. You can order by most popular, by make and model, or by taking measurements of your old heater and provide nameplate information.
ORDER BY MAKE & MODEL
When ordering a new spa heater, you can buy based on the brand of your old spa pack. We carry spa pack brands like Balboa and Gecko so you can select the right spa pack combination of control and heater from our collection of heater models.
ORDER BY POPULAR BRANDS
We make many buying decisions on products that are popular. Majority of spa heaters we carry are complete. Check your voltage and wattage to match the heater size of your spa.
MEASURE YOUR HEATER DIMENSIONS
To be sure of the right fit for your new spa heater, use a measuring tape. Shut the power off and close the valves to avoid water loss. Remove the heater assembly and label the wires then loosen the unions from each end.
Remove the union nut ends and measure beginning from the flange end. Take measurements from points A, B, C. D, etc. and write numbers down. Keep measuring until you get to the H and I as spa heater tubes must be similar.
Take all 9 measurements and check the electrical size that matches your existing heater.
We carry Balboa heater units and other spa heaters available at discounted prices.
You can place your order for your spa heater using our secure and easy online payment. For any questions about your order, you can also contact our customer service for assistance.
SAVE ENERGY AND MONEY WITH THESE HOT TUB HEATING TIPS
Relaxing in a spa at home is the best stress-buster. You can, however, keep your electric bill down with these smart tips for heating your spa.
Below are a few practical tips to keep the bump in your energy bill reasonable.
- Set your thermostat consistently at 38.8 C
- Enjoy your outdoor spa with a windbreaker to help with heat loss
- Put spa pumps on “economy” setting if the spa is not in use
- Use a well-insulated spa cover that is tight-fitting and in good condition
Enjoy a hot tub soak in winter or any time of the year without going broke with smart and practical spa heating tips.
And in the summer, you can turn your hot tub into a cool tub simply by turning the heater off. For quicker cool down, take the spa cover off and let the jets run.
7 FAST FACTS FOR SPA CARE TO PREVENT HOT TUB MALFUNCTION
You will find these hints and secrets about keeping your hot tub in tip top shape useful.
- Most spa heaters have a reset button and this keeps your spa from overheating. The recommended water temperature is 104 degrees.
- Filters should be cleaned every month or at least every 2 months. Portable spa filters must be replaced every year while in ground spa filters every 2 years.
- Your spa water will not heat right without a good spa cover.
- Leaving a spa empty is the worst thing you can do to a spa.
- Spas with 110 volt systems will not heat at high speed mode. Only 200 volt systems can do this.
- The simplest way to drain a spa is to connect a garden hose to the faucet while placing the other end in the spa. Turn the faucet on for about 30 seconds, turn it off and unscrew the hose. Water will flow from the hose with a natural siphon.
- It is best to run your spa on 24 hour cycle instead of a timed cycle.
And last but not the least, the best way to keep your hot tub in tip top shape is to keep its components in good working order and replace spa parts like spa heater when needed.
You can obtain all spa parts and accessories from Spa911. We deliver all across Canada and offer free shipping within 48 hours.