Properly Open a Hot Tub Spa
First of all, please realize that
most damage that occurs to hot tub spas is caused by improper winterization.
When it comes time to open up your spa in the Spring, this is when these
problems will become evident. While it is strongly recommended to have a
pool or spa professional close your spa, many homeowners do successfully tackle
the job of spa opening themselves. It is much less risky !
The instructions below assume that
your spa has been closed either professionally, or by you - following the proper
Hot Tub Spa Opening
Remove the winter spa
cover (or tarp) that is covering your hard thermal spa cover.
Remove the air pillow (if any) and deflate it. For inground spas, remove
and drain any water tubes as well. Clean and fold and store
away. If you do not store your winter
cover indoors, and you keep it outside or in a shed, then you do not have to
worry about getting the cover particularly spotlessly clean. If you do keep
it in the garage or basement, you may want to clean it to a greater
Remove the hard
Take a look inside the spa. Does
everything seem OK ? Some water or dirt can be expected. Hopefully,
it is not half full of water. If it is, then put your submersible spa
draining pump into the tub and pump out all the remaining water.
Inspect the shell for cracks or splits. If there was water in the tub over
the winter - and it froze - there is a chance that it could have caused serious
damage to the spa shell. If you do notice any cracks or splits in the spa
shell, we suggest contacting a local spa professional to check it out for you
before you go any further. Remove any rubber plugs that may have
been installed in the jets at closing time as well. If your spa shell
appears OK, then move on to the next step.
Clean the spa shell
It is recommended to use an acrylic cleaner to
clean your spa shell - such as NOVUS, SPRAY AWAY, or CLEAN AND BRITE - do not
use soap based cleaners like GLASS PLUS, FANTASTIC, SCRUBBING BUBBLES,
etc. These cleaners contain harsh abrasives that might scratch the
acrylic spa shell as well the fact that they will leave a soap residue on the
spa walls. When you refill the spa, you stand a chance of getting bubbly,
soapy water ! Spray cleaner on the spa shell walls, seats and floor and
then sponge-clean the entire surface. Dirty water will accumulate in the
footwell of the spa. This is OK. Keep your hose and your submersible
pump handy. When the dirty water fills up the footwell, simply drop your
submersible pump in, and plug it in, and pump out that water. Continue
until the spa is very clean.
Clean your spa filter cartridge as
well. Use the special SPA FILTER CLEANER to do this. Do not
use a soap based cleaner on the filter. For more tips on hot tub spa
filters click here.
Wax spa shell.
It is recommended to use an acrylic wax such as SPA
BRITE, NOVUS, HI LITE, etc -
do not use any type of CAR WAX or FURNITURE WAX. Using the wrong wax could
cause troubles with your spa shell finish as well as cause problems with your
water chemistry. Applying spa shell wax with a soft cotton T-shirt works
best. Buff to a nice shine.
Clean your hard thermal
Covers get a lot of abuse and most people do not care
for them adequately. Then they wonder why their cover only last for
2-3 years ! A properly cared for spa cover should last 5-7 years - even in
Clean cover vinyl with any of the
spa cleaners listed above. If you do not have any of those cleaners, you
can use almost any type of cleaner for spa covers. Make sure you clean the
underneath side of the cover as well. Once cover is clean of most of the dirt
and grime, then you need to protect it by applying a cover protectant such as
NOVUS, KOVER KARE or FORMULA 303 PROTECTANT. When properly applied,
these products will significantly increase the life of your spa cover
jacket. It is not recommended to use ARMOR ALL as that product will
prematurely dry out and age spa cover vinyl jackets.
If your spa cover seems very heavy,
the foams may have absorbed some water. If your cover has a zipper around
the outside of the cover jacket, unzip it and remove the foams. Let them
air out for a day or so. This will allow them to dry out. If
your cover vinyl jacket or foam cores smell musty or like mildew, a quick spray
with LYSOL brand disinfectant will stop the odor. Please note that the
construction of many spa covers do not allow you to remove the foams, so you may
not be able to do this with all covers ! Some cover foams are covered with
plastic as well. If the plastic is heat-sealed around the foam core, then
don't unwrap it ! You will break the seal. However, if the foams are
waterlogged, even under the plastic, then you really can't hurt matters by
unwrapping them and letting them air out. After airing out, you may want
to re-wrap the foams in the plastic. If you choose to do this, make sure
that the seam-side is pointed UP, away from the water surface. Use DUCT
TAPE to tape the plastic shut. Re-insert the foams into the vinyl
jacket and zip it up.
Check out Spa Pack.
Now it is time to turn your attention towards the Spa Pack Equipment. If
the spa was closed properly or professionally, there should be a number of
fittings in your spa pack that have been left unscrewed or open. You want
to make sure these are all re-connected and tightened before you attempt to fill
the spa with water. Also make sure any DRAIN PLUGS that were removed are
properly re-inserted. Visually inspect the spa pump, filter container,
valves and any plumbing pipes you can easily see in and around the equipment
area. Does everything look OK ? Do you see any obvious cracks or
splits ? The most common problems encountered at opening time are cracks
in the wet end of the spa pump or filter container. These cracks are
caused by water freezing inside the components and then expanding and then
cracking. Sometimes these are evident before you fill the spa with water,
sometimes they will not show up until the system is full and pressurized.
If you see any obvious cracks or other problems with the equipment, then we
suggest contacting a local spa professional to check it out for you.
If all looks OK, then simply tighten
all quick disconnect fittings that may have been unscrewed. Check the
front and top of the pump - in and out of the filter - in and out of the heater
- and check to see that the air blower is still connected to its pipe as
well. Make sure any drain valves are closed. Make sure that any
SLICE VALVES are in the OPEN, or UP position to ensure adequate water flow to
If you have an external gas heater,
make sure the gas is properly connected and that any drain plugs or petcocks are
properly seated and installed correctly. IF YOU SMELL GAS WHEN YOU TURN ON
THE GAS FOR THE HEATER, IMMEDIATELY TURN THE GAS OFF AND CONTACT YOUR GAS
COMPANY OR A LOCAL SPA PROFESSIONAL. IF THERE IS ANYTHING ABOUT THE
GAS HEATER THAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND - STOP - AND CALL YOUR GAS COMPANY OR A
LOCAL SPA PROFESSIONAL. DO NOT PLAY AROUND WITH GAS
Fill the spa.
Take a deep breath and start to fill the spa. Put a hose inside the tub
and turn your water on. This is the time when you should be the most
attentive to this whole process (especially if your spa or any of the equipment
are indoors and are in any area where a small flood could cause a problem
!). As the tub starts to fill up - and the water gets up to various levels
in the spa, the jet piping will slowly start to fill with water and the water
will start to reach each piece of equipment in your equipment pack.
THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL MOST PROBABLY SEE A FEW SMALL LEAKS !!!
Keep an eye on everything as tub is
filling. If you see any leak (or flood) anywhere, turn off the water
until you have located and repaired the leak. The most common leak areas
are around the pump and at all quick disconnect fittings by the spa pack.
These drips or leaks can usually be fixed by tightening the fittings
better. Sometimes you may need a new gasket or o-ring to stop the
leak. In any event, make sure all leaks and drips are FIXED before you
continue to fill the tub.
Power up spa.
Assuming that the filling procedure went well, you are now ready to power the
tub up, and hopefully it will work ! Make sure the spa pack area is dry
and that you are not standing in any puddles of water when you first power up
the tub. Make sure the spa heater thermostat is turned ALL THE WAY DOWN,
or to the OFF position before you turn on the tub. Go turn on the circuit
breaker that controls the electric power to the tub. Go back to the spa
pack and check the GFCI to make sure it TESTS and RESETS. Not all
spa packs have a built in GFCI, but most of them do - and this is a very
important safety device !!! You want to make sure that the GFCI and/or the
main house CIRCUIT BREAKER that controls the electric to the spa are functioning
properly. If the GFCI and/or BREAKER works, proceed to the next
Start pushing buttons !
See if the spa pump goes from high to low speed. Does the air blower come
on and off ? The light ? The booster pump (if you have one) ? If all
things seem to be working well, then turn the heater on and turn up the
thermostat. DO NOT TURN THE HEATER ON UNTIL YOU ARE 100% SURE YOU HAVE
WATER FLOW THRU YOUR PIPES !!!!! YOU COULD BURN OUT YOUR HEATER IF YOU
TURN IT ON BEFORE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE WATER FLOW.
If you are getting good flow through
the jets, then turn on the heater and heat the tub to the temperature you
desire. If you are not getting good flow thru your jets, or the pump does
not seem to be running well - or not priming - you could have a number of
different problems. For the solutions to various service problems, see the
INFO/TIPS section under SPA PACK TROUBLESHOOTING for more details.
The one VERY COMMON problem that
many people have at their spa opening is that the pipes become air bound and you
get what's called an "air lock" in your system that causes the jets to
appear not to work well (or at all).
Your symptoms will be that the pump
goes on and off OK, but no water (or very little water) is coming out of the
jets. What is happening ? Why, oh why is this happening ? Make it
work, please make it work!
This is how an air lock can
happen...If you are filling the tub up fairly rapidly, air can get trapped in
the pipes that go to the suction fittings and the jets. The water level
raises up past the openings in the spa. The air becomes trapped (locked)
in the pipes. Then when you go to start up the spa pump, it tries to suck
in water, but only air is in the pipes. The pump cannot PRIME itself at
that point. So it just runs, but does not pump any water.
The way to fix this is to loosen the
quick disconnect fitting in front of the pump. This will allow some air to
get in and will break the "air lock" seal that has developed.
You should hear a hissssss noise and then see some water start to come out of
the pump fitting. Once you see the water start to come out, simply
re-tighten the fitting. Turn the pump on. It will surge for a
few seconds, but then it should pick up the prime and start to pump
properly. If it does not, you should repeat this procedure again. If
it still does not work, you could have some other problems. At that point
we would suggest contacting a local spa professional to check it out for you.
Adjust water chemistry.
Once the tub is filled, running, and heating - then you will have to set up the
water chemistry. See our E-Z SPA CHEMICAL INSTRUCTIONS
for more details.
Once the tub is chemically adjusted and hot, jump right in ! See Tips
for using your Hot Tub for more details.
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