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Hot Tub Life Articles

The Spa Guy Answers Questions - Part 1

If you have a Hot Tub Spa question that you would like answered in an upcoming column, write to the Spa Guy c/o Poolandspa.com, 672 Los Feliz Street; Las Vegas, NV 89110.

Dear Spa Guy,

My spa has small holes in the seats that air bubbles come out of when I turn on my blower. The problem is that they seem to develop a dark black ring around them. I can clean it off when I drain the spa, but they soon come back. What is this black stuff and where does it come from (my water is otherwise crystal clear).

A.L., Sound Beach, NY

Dear A.L.,

This problem occurs when the air blower in you spa is not often used. I bet a nickel that you usually use the spa with just the high speed jets only. Those holes in your spa seats are filled with water until the air blower blows air through them, creating those powerful bubbles in the spa. Many people find those bubbles too strong and don’t often use them. When the water in those holes is allowed to stagnate, algae develops. The black ring you are seeing near the holes is that disgusting algae ! A good quick fix to this problem is to make sure you turn on the air blower and let it run at least five minutes once per week. It is best if you do this after you shock the spa, so that heavily shocked water settles back into the air channel. Following this procedure weekly will keep those ugly black rings away...or you can just start using your air bubbler more often !

Dear Spa Guy,

When I first got my spa, it used to heat up to 104 degrees - which was too hot for us to use. We always found ourselves having to turn the heater down (electric heater). Now that the spa is 5 years old, it just does not get hot enough any more. If I let it run all day, it only gets up to about 98 degrees. Do I need a new heater, or what?

B.H, Phoenix, AZ

Dear B.H.,

This is a common problem, but luckily, it does not usually mean that you need a new spa heater. The first thing to check is to make sure that your thermostat is turned up all the way. The thermostat is usually located on the heater element manifold under the cabinet of your spa.

If it is up all the way, try removing your spa cartridge filter and running the spa through a 24 hour cycle period with no filter (make sure that you have removed any floating items from your spa such as Scumballs or thermometers before removing the filter). Many times, a dirty or old filter will cause a degradation in your heater’s ability to heat to its maximum temperature.

If your spa heats up by the next day, then you know it is time to get a new filter. This is the case with 75% of these heater problems.

If you see no difference with the filter removed, it means that you must replace the thermostat for your heater. After years of running, the thermostats often go out of whack, and need to be replaced. You think that its maximum setting is 104, and it thinks that maximum is 98 (or 95 or whatever your current maximum is). If you are handy, replacing the thermostat is not a big deal, but if you have any doubts about doing it, call a Hot Tub Professional to ensure correct installation and your personal safety !

Dear Spa Guy,

Every time I drain and refill my spa, I have to reset my high limit switch on my heater in order to get it to heat. I often forget to do this, and only realize that it is not hot when I decide to go for a soak (surprise!). How can I avoid this from happening ?

L.G., Mastic, NY

Dear L.G.,

You can probably only avoid this situation by firmly placing a string around your finger to help you remember to reset the high limit switch!

The high limit switch is primarily made to turn off your heater if the spa gets to hot (usually at 106 degrees). With some spas, the high limit switch located on the electric heater manifold will automatically pop if it senses a power surge too. When you drain and refill your spa, you most probably turn off the circuit breaker to the spa (which you should do!). When you are finished refilling, and throw the breaker back on, the high limit often senses that electric power as a "surge" and thinks it is doing the right thing by popping off. This is a safety feature and unfortunately, you’ll just have to remember to check it when you are done draining and refilling. Better safe than sorry !