Pool and Spa
Here's a quick troubleshooting guide to a
variety of problems that may arise with your swimming pool and spa.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to
check with your local retailer, service technician or supplier for
build up of dirt and other materials in the filter.
or disassemble and clean filter. Make sure there is an
adequate amount of DE in DE filters.
imbalance. Check the chemicals section for more information.
and balance water.
isn't working properly.
motor to make sure it's working properly.
switch is off
breaker switch on.
service tech check for leaks.
head too close to bottom of the pool.
the wheels to bring the vacuum head off the floor slightly.
remains in the hose.
the hose from the skimmer and submerge it again to displace
is turned off.
and dirt build up.
the walls and tiles with appropriate brush and cleaner.
and balance water.
Drain water partially or completely,
clean and refill pool or spa with fresh water.
water flow is impaired.
with a service technician on heater repair.
pilot light is out.
the pilot light.
water near equipment
or clogged drain.
and remove debris from the drain.
with a service technician.
Does Not Function
Is the GFCI reset? Does the air switch work?
If the GFCI trips, is there water in the blower or blower lines? Is
the top of the air loop mounted higher than the water level, as it
Blower Does Not Work At All
- Be sure GFCI is reset and working. If not
working, replace it.
- If GFCI cannot be reset, you probably have
water in the blower or GFCI receptacle. These must be totally
dried out. Try using a hair dryer on these components. If water
is found in the blower line, it may take several hours to dry
out. If water is not the problem, check for improper wiring, and
if this is not the case.
- Check for power where the black wire from
the blower meets the air switch. If power is found, the blower
may be bad. Replace. (Be sure your neutral wire is hooked up and
that you do not have an open neutral condition on the GFCI
before replacing the blower.) If power is not found, the air
switch may be bad. Check the wire powering the air switch and
check the switch for continuity. If no power, check the wire
leading to the switch for continuity and replace as needed. If
you have power but do not get proper switching action, replace
- If none of these things fix the problem,
the blower may need to be replaced.
In effect, we've now traveled through the pump
and are on our way to the filter, which serves to remove dirt and
other impurities from the water. There are three different types of
filters available on the market today, each of which has its own
- D.E. Filters: Diatomaceous Earth
Filters are made of grids of extremely fine mesh that are coated
with diatomaceous earth. The DE acts as an adhesive, trapping
any small or microscopic dirt particles in the water. FYI: DE is
made from crushed petrified bones that, if you were to look at
it under a microscope, would look like a sponge with thousands
of tiny pores. One of the advantages of DE is that it's organic
and non-polluting. In other words, it's environmentally inert.
Do note, however, that some municipalities or other
environmental authorities have strict regulations regarding the
disposal of DE. This becomes a concern when it's time to clean
the filter by backwashing it. For more information on what to do
with the water that has been flushed through a DE filter,
contact your local health department, pool/spa retailer or
- Sand Filters: use -- you guessed it
-- sand as a filter medium. Inside a sand filter is a certain
amount of sand and gravel, which mix with water passing through,
pulling out dirt and impurities. Small microscopic particles can
escape capture in a sand filter. To prevent this, you can use a
flocculant to coagulate the particles into larger particles the
filter can catch before the water is sent back into the pool.
Every several years, you may also need to add new sand to the
filter. But do note: These filters require a very specific type
of grain. For more information on when and how to replace the
sand, contact your pool/spa retailer or service technician.
- Cartridge Filters: like DE filters,
have a grid-like interior to catch pollutants. These types of
filters can contain a number of grid cartridges. Spas usually
require only one large cartridge while pools generally need
either three large cartridges or up to 12 small ones. These
cartridges are made with a fine, pleated mesh material -- and
the pleats are the key to the filter's operation. The tight
pleats, or folds, allow a large amount of material to be used in
a small container. The more material used, the larger the
surface area available to capture unwanted dirt or debris in the
build up of dirt and other materials in the filter.
or disassemble and clean filter. Make sure there is an
adequate amount of DE in DE filters.
imbalance. Check the chemicals section for more information.
and balance water.
Failure - Due to Water Flow
Are the ball valves open? Is the water level
correct? Is the filter cartridge dirty? (remove if in doubt) Are the
jets wide open? Is the impeller clogged? Is the system primed? Are
the fillings tight?
Failure - Other Possible Causes
Are the O-rings in place? Is the bib fitting
tight? Is the thermostat set properly? Is the Hi Limit switch
tripped? (If so, why?) Are the heater wires burnt? Are the contactor
wires burnt? Is there proper voltage to the pack? Is the timer in
control (if so, was pack run long enough?) Are all wires in place?
Is there power to the heater? (Indicator light would be on.) Is the
pack in the proper mode for heater operation? Does the heater work
on high speed? With a 110 volt pack, was the pack run on low speed
only? A 110 volt pack will only heat on low speed at a rate of 2 to
3 degrees per hour.
Lack of Heat
This section applies only to the total lack of
heat, not to the lack of enough heat rise. First, make sure the pack
is in the mode of operation such that it should be heating. (Low
speed pump only is standard.) After each check, if a correction is
made, check heater for amp draw to verify problem or corrected
- Make sure valves are open and water level
is high enough in spa.
- Remove filter cartridge and recheck heater
with amp meter. (120v should read 12.5 amps; 240v should read 25
amps, however this may vary on specific spa models - check your
instruction manual for proper readings for your unit.)
- If #1 and #2 check OK and your water flow
is still weak with air bubbles coming through (the air induction
being closed) check for loose pipe connections at all joints. (A
slow drip may result when the pack is turned off at such a loose
joint.) Also, be sure all jets are open for maximum water flow.
- REMOVE PACK COVER. Using volt meter on a
minimum 240 volt scale (120 on a 120 pack) check to see whether
the power coming in is enough to power the pack: 210-240 on
240v, 110-120 on 120v. If not, have an
electrician look into it.
- On 240v observe contactor or heater relay.
If it activates when the thermostat is turned up and still no
amperage is being drawn, check for 240 volts at the wire ends of
the heater cord. If it does not activate, go to check #6. If 240
is found where the cord meets the relay but not at the element,
check the "Hi Limit’ switch breaking power to one line on
the element. To do this, look to see if the heater indicator
light is on. If not, check to see if the "Hi Limit"
switch is tripped. Press on the red button sticking out of the
bottom or front of the control box. If it resists just a little
before stopping and you hear a "click, it was probably
tripped. The indicator light should now be on to indicate power
to the element. If the light does not come on, check Amp draw on
the heater anyway - the light may have gone bad. If the heater
draws amperage, the light is broken and needs replacement in
order to indicate power to the heater. (No harm will come to the
pack if the light does not work.)
- If heater relay does not activate, check
for proper voltage at the point where the black or red wire
meets the relay coil. (Your specific wiring diagram should
identify the coil voltage.) Also verify that the right relay is
in the unit by checking the ratings against the diagram.
- If voltage is not found at the relay coil,
check flow switch/pressure switch as described in #8. If flow is
OK, check thermostat for power out. The wire leading to the flow
switch from the thermostat should be carrying 120v. When
checking for this voltage, disconnect the wire from the pressure
switch so you do not get test interference from voltage that
might be coming from the other side of the heater relay coil. Be
sure the thermostat is turned all the way to "Hi"
before looking for voltage. Also, make sure the thermostat
sensing bulb is located properly to sense the water temperature.
If the bulb is exposed to air, COVER IT. If out of the well,
insert and center it. If no voltage is found, adjust calibration
on the thermostat by turning Allen screw at top of switch
clockwise until a "click" is heard or you reach 1/4
revolution (whichever comes first). If you turn it around 1/4
way without hearing the click, your thermostat must be replaced.
- If you have a pressure switch, adjust it as
described in Pressure Switch section below.
Heat - Details For Straight Flo-thru Heaters
Heaters are considered Flo-Thru type heaters
because the water flows through unrestricted by elbows or
thermowells. Most are 6kw and are rated for 240 volts. Some have the
elements welded directly to the manifolds such that if the element
wears out, you replace the entire heater assembly. Some elements can
be removed for replacement but are more fragile. If you go to
replace an element, be sure to hold the base of the post with a
1/4" open-end wrench to prevent twisting of the post. Otherwise
you stand a good chance of breaking off the post. Be sure to hold it
tight again when reinstalling the wires on the new element.
To determine if the element in a flo-thru is
bad, test it the same as you would a regular element. If the wires
have been removed, check it for continuity. You should see approx.
9-11 ohms of resistance if it is good, maximum resistance if bad. Be
sure to measure resistance between a post and your ground to make
sure the element is not ruptured. You should see maximum (infinite)
resistance if it is good. If the needle moves at all on the meter,
you have a rupture in the element sheath. You would need to replace
it. The continuity test to ground is best done when the manifold is
full of water.
The hi limit and thermostat bulbs are usually
positioned under a protective metal insulated cap secured to the
manifold by a wing nut. Make sure the sensors are fully under the
cap and that the cap is tightly secured. If insulated properly you
should not be able to see the side of either bulb under the cap once
the nut is tight. If you can see it, ambient air can get to it and
affect the temperature control performance. If you are sure the
bulbs are straight in the grooves on the manifold, and that the cap
is tight, you could add some insulating tape or something to help
block ambient air from that area of the heater for more consistent
Grounding of the heater is achieved through
the use of nuts with external tooth lock washers securing the
manifold to the control box. Be sure to reuse the same nuts if you
remove them. The lock washer breaks through the protective coating
in the box to establish ground.
Works but Tub Does Not Reach 104 Degrees
- Be sure thermostat is turned all the way up
and that the equipment area is well ventilated. Hi ambient
temperatures around the pack will effect thermostat calibration.
Also make sure the thermobulb is properly located and protected
to sense water temperature.
- Slowly turn the thermostat from "Hi’
back toward "Low. See if you hear a click.
- If a small click is not heard, the
thermostat may be set too low. To adjust, insert a properly
sized alien wrench into adjustment screw found just below the
shiny silver plate on top side of the thermostat. Turn the screw
clockwise to raise the setting. One quarter revolution is equal
to a rise of 100. If you have to turn the screw more than 1/4
revolution to achieve the desired effect, replace the
thermostat. If the "click" is still not heard, replace
- If replacing the thermostat does not
correct the problem, call a spa professional.
Gets Too Hot
Water that is too hot can be caused by several
- Thermostat out of calibration: Recalibrate
as described under Heat
Works, But Tub Does Not Reach 104 Degrees, only in this case
turn the calibration screw counterclockwise to reduce the
- Thermostat sensing bulb not applied: Make
sure the sensing bulb is applied to the manifold under the heat
tape (older models) or inside a thermowell if provided. If in a
thermowell, make sure the bulb is centered in the well.
- Heater relay contacts may be stuck closed:
Replace relay and determine cause (could be chattering
thermostat, low voltage, bad pressure switch, or pump cavitation).
If contacts are damaged, install a suppressor on new relay coil.
- Hi speed pump may have been run for too
long: If water exceeds 122 degrees and equipment includes new hi
speed shutdown relay, check circuit and hi limit operation.
- Hi limit may be defective: If water exceeds
122 degrees and includes the hi speed shut down circuit, the hi
limit probably needs to be replaced. If it does not include the
new circuit, see if the hi limit is tripped. If the limit is not
tripped, it is out of calibration and must be replaced. NEVER
RECALIBRATE A HI LIMIT SWITCH.
In the context of a pool or spa, the motor's
function is to drive the circulation system. More specifically, the
motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy which is
then used to operate the pump. Unless you are a mechanic, you should
not get involved in any hands-on maintenance of the motor. However,
it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with when it's set to run,
and to watch for any symptoms -- such as grinding or other unusual
noises -- that may indicate trouble. If the motor fails to operate
properly -- or at all -- contact your retailer or a professional
service technician for more information and assistance. As with any
complicated piece of electrical equipment, troubleshooting and
repairs are best handled by an expert.
Servicing - Various Problems
If you have a problem related to the wet end
of the pump, this is the section to be in. Please note that these
are generic instructions for the "average" pump. Your unit
- The impellers must be matched to the
motors. Do not mix them up. 1-1/2hp impellers must only be used
with 1 -1/2hp "full rate" motors (those that have a
service factor of 1.0) and 1 hp impellers with 1 hp "full
rate motors" Mixing them up will result in improper motor
amperage loads and subsequent premature failure of the motors.
If your motor has a service factor (SF on the data plate) of
other than 1.0, it is an up-rated motor. In this case, match the
impeller based on amp rating. To be sure you have matched them
correctly, once the impeller is installed and the pump is
running under full load, take an amperage reading while on high
speed. The reading you get should be within 10% of the high
speed amp rating on the data plate. If it measures higher, the
motor will prematurely burn up. If it measures lower, you simply
are not getting as much out of that motor as it is designed to
- If a motor seems to run fine but is not
putting out the water like it should, remove the faceplate and
check the blades of the impeller. If debris has gone through the
pump, some of it may be stuck in the blades which will reduce
the effectiveness of the pump. Also, while the impeller is
accessible, check the tightness of the impeller on the shaft. To
hold the motor shaft, remove the cap at the corded of the motor
such that the metal shaft is exposed. The motor shaft has a
large screwdriver slot in it. Insert a screwdriver with one hand
and while preventing the shaft from moving, check to see that
the impeller does not turn with the other hand. WARNING: USE A
RAG AT THE IMPELLER. THE IMPELLER MAY HAVE EDGES THAT ARE VERY
SHARP!! You will not need a tool to hold the impeller to check
tightness. Hand tight is all it needs. A stripped shaft will be
- When changing an impeller, it is best to
examine the motor shaft and remove any build up of rust that
might have occurred during the life of the pump. If not removed,
the rust may prevent proper tightening of the motor shaft
resulting in rubbing, leakage, or stripping of the impeller
threads inside the impeller. The impeller should glide on easily
and turn onto the shaft easily until the threads bottom out with
a very solid stop. If it turns hard, remove the impeller and
check the motor shaft threads for debris from the previous
impeller or dents that would prevent their mating with the
plastic impeller threads. If damaged, correct the threads with a
thin metal file or a shaft thread file designed just for this
purpose. (A motor repair place may be able to help you obtain
this. A thread file makes shaft repair very quick and accurate
with little effort.)
- When replacing a pump seal, wet the
impeller shaft a little with water to make sliding it on easier.
WARNING: DO NOT LUBRICATE WITH ANYTHING BUT WATER. The rubber
doughnut on the seal will displace the water and a secure seat
on the shaft will result. Other lubrication will allow the seal
to spin on the shaft once the pump is turned on. This will melt
the impeller shaft with the friction it creates, thus causing a
new leak. Once applied, the stainless steel side with the rubber
doughnut should be against the impeller blades while the carbon
ring side should face the shaft end of the impeller. The rubber
cup on the ceramic 1/2 of the seal can also be lubricated with
water in the same fashion in order to be pressed into the
housing. The white flat side of the ceramic should be facing the
impeller after installation in the housing. (The side of the
ceramic facing the rubber cup has a groove in it.) It is
important that the seal be pressed squarely down into the
housing. If crooked, a leak will often result. NOTE: The
Waterway and Martec seal set parts have reversed location, that
is, the spring portion is in the housing and the ceramic portion
goes on the impeller. Still use water to easily seat the
ceramic, but you may want to apply a thin film of silicone
sealant (not to be confused with silicone lubricant) to the
steel cup before pressing it into the housing. BE CAREFUL NOT TO
GET SILICONE ON THE BLACK SURFACE THAT PRESSES AGAINST THE
CERAMIC RING. The contamination could cause premature failure of
- When mounting a housing to the motor, be
sure to center the motor shaft inside the ceramic. Tighten the
motor bolts carefully and once all are tight, check once more to
make sure the shaft is centered. If too close to the ceramic,
the impeller will be more difficult to mount and will often rub
enough to cause damage to the impeller and/or motor. It may even
rub enough to prevent the motor from running at all. As a
"rule of thumb’, always check the motor shaft for free
movement after applying the impeller to the shaft and after
assembling the face of the pump.
- Be sure to re-install the eye seal to the
impeller before applying the faceplate. Without it, the pump
will not move as much water, and will cavitate causing it to run
noisily. Be sure to mount it with the wide side of the seal
facing the pump faceplate.
Will Not Run At All
Is the pack supplied with the proper voltage?
(Most 1 hp require 120v, 1-1/2 hp require 240v.) (Check motor data
plate.) Is the timer set to have it operate (low speed only)? Is the
GFCI tripped? (120 volt packs have GFCI protected pumps.)
Runs But Does Not Move Water
Is the spa filled above all intake ports? Is
the impeller clogged with debris? (see Pump Servicing.) Is the pack
plumbed to the spa correctly? (Skimmers to front of pump, Jets to
Speed Pump Does Not Function
Is the tubing attached between the spa and air
switch? Is the pump flood primed? Is the impeller clogged with
debris? (See Pump Servicing.) Is the air switch set for low speed
operation? Is the pack set for timer operation? (See Timer Trouble
Speed Pump Does Not Function
Check each of the things under LOW SPEED PUMP
DOES NOT FUNCTION except the last one about timer operation. Is the
hi limit switch tripped? (See section on Hi Speed Shutdown Circuit.)
Is the impeller spinning inside the pump? (See Pump Servicing.)
Will Not Go From Low To High Speed
- The equipment may be equipped with a
special safety circuit that activates when the pump is left
running on high speed for extended periods of time. This would
cause the water in the spa to reach temperatures high enough to
cause the hi limit switch to trip, disengaging high speed
operation (as well as the heater.) If this is the case, when the
air switch is in the position intended for high speed operation,
the low speed pump will not shut off with the timer operation
(turning the bypass). When the air switch is in the position
intended for low speed operation, the timer will be able to shut
the low speed pump off. If this accurately describes the present
operation of the equipment, reset the hi limit switch, make sure
the high speed pump now works. If the hi limit switch is not the
problem, follow the instructions below.
- Check wiring inside to be sure nothing came
off. If so, use the unit's wiring diagram to put wires back. Be
sure they fit tightly on the air switch. If not, crimp down on
the edges of the connector carefully. (If overdone, it will not
go on without breaking the air switch.)
- If wiring inside is OK, check for loose
wires at rear of pump. Correct if necessary as described in #2.
- If wiring inside is OK, the air switch may
be faulty. Using your volt meter check to see that power is
alternated from your high to low pump wires when the air switch
actuator button is pressed. (Usually, black for low and red for
high.) Be sure that the air hose is not pinched between the
button and the air switch, and that there is no water in it. If
the air switch does not work, remove actuator button and blow
into the line as the button may be bad. If power does not
transfer from Hi to Low, replace the air switch and try again.
- If power does transfer but the pump does
not respond, check for power at the pump and if it is there,
replace the pump. If it is not, replace the cord to the pump.
HINT: Make sure common wire is hooked up before replacing pump
or cord. If power is found at the rear of the pump but the pump
does not respond, replace the pump.
Low Speed Pump
- If your pack is not equipped with a timer,
and your air switch is in the low speed mode:
- Check wire (Black) leading from air
switch to the pump for 120 volts, if voltage is not there,
replace the air switch.
- If power is there, check the back of
the pump (the Black wire) and see if you have 110Ov. If not,
replace the cord.
- If you have 120v and your common wire
is hooked up, replace the pump.
- If your pack is equipped with a timer, your
timer interrupts power between the air switch and the pump (low
- Be sure you have power coming to the
timer (Black wire) from the air switch. If not, replace the
air switch. (Before replacing, make sure the air switch is
in the low speed mode.)
- Be sure you have power to the pump from
the timer. If not, check to see that the bypass is not
activated. (See Section on Timer Operation.) If the bypass
is not on and power is not coming through, replace the
- If power is coming through timer, check
the Black wire at the back of the pump for power. If it is
not there, replace the cord. If it is there, replace the
pump. Check your common wire on the pump to be sure it is
hooked up before removing pump for not operating.
Will Not Come On At All
First, determine what voltage the pump you are
troubleshooting requires to work. The plate on the side of the motor
will tell you this. Then also check to make sure the pack it is
connected to is wired appropriately for this pump to be used. (Some
replacements are improperly applied in the field.)
Once you are sure the motor requirements match
the wiring method, check for proper voltage at the air switch where
the pump wires attach to it using the method described under VOLTAGE
TESTING. If proper voltage is not found, check the wire that powers
the air switch for voltage. If proper voltage is found where the
wire feeds the air switch, and not where the pump wires attach,
replace the air switch. (A continuity check of the air switch
function will verify this problem area.) If power is found at the
pump wires, check the back of the pump for voltage. If none is
found, replace the cord. If proper voltage is found, replace the
Troubles - Various
Most trouble associated with timers involves
the lack of understanding of how it works. Here are the general
- The timer only controls the low speed pump
- NOT THE HIGH SPEED.
- When the pack leaves the factory, the timer
switch controlling the low speed is open such that the low speed
pump will not come on. All trippers are in the OFF mode so the
low speed will not come on unless the bypass is used or the
trippers are pulled and lined up with the arrow on the dial.
- The only way the low speed pump should come
on without the use of the timer (if the pack is fresh out of the
box) is if the installer happens to push the air switch and
instead of high speed they get low speed. This can happen if
during shipment the equipment is stored in a room or truck that
gets very hot inside, in which case the hi limit will trip and
engage the hi speed shut down circuit (see HI SPEED SHUT DOWN
- Usually, each tripper on the timer is good
for only 30 minutes of low speed operation, however this will
vary from unit to unit (some are good for 15 minutes). If
continuous low speed operation is desired, all trippers must be
pulled to the ON position.
- The bypass (if you have one) will only
affect operation until a tripper set in a position that will
nullify the effect of the bypass function comes in front of the
arrow. That is, if the tripper in front of the arrow is pushed
in, and the next several trippers are also pushed in, turning
the bypass to have the low speed pump come on will only be
effective until the next consecutive tripper pushed in comes in
front of the arrow, or a maximum of 30 minutes. If you wish to
have the low speed remain on, you must either turn the bypass
again when it shuts off, or pull the next several trippers to
their "ON" position for as many minutes as you desire
the pump to run. The opposite is true for the use of the bypass
in conjunction with trippers pulled out in the "ON"
position. The bypass would only keep the low speed pump off
until the next pulled out "ON’ tripper lines up with the
- The clock on the timer is rarely going to
be bad. If it loses time, consider whether there may have been a
power outage or if someone is welding nearby. A neighbor’s
welding can affect your timer’s ability to keep time. The
arcing has an affect on the cycles (usually 60Hz) and can change
them. If it gains time, someone could be changing the dial
position on the timer. Simple adjustment of the tripper
positions can inadvertently affect the timer dial setting
whether you are aware of it or not. If a time clock is
legitimately not keeping good time, it should consistently need
the same time adjustment every 24 hours. Monitor it’s
performance untouched for a period of several days. If you truly
have a bad clock, consistent time loss or gain will be evident.
A pressure switch will allow power to pass
through it as long as there is a measurable amount of pressure in
the cavity to which it is connected. This pressure can be created
whenever the pump is running and as long as there is some water in
the bottom of the pump housing whether the rest of the pack is full
of water or not. That is, as long as the valves are shut creating a
sealed cavity in order to build pressure. Therefore, when the valves
are open, the heater will not come on when there is not enough water
in the plumbing to maintain pressure.
If you see that you have good water flow and
your heater will not operate, check to see that the thermostat makes
a "click" noise. If you hear the "click" and the
contactor will not close, check (with your volt meter) to see that
the power is found at both terminals on the thermostat. Disconnect
the thermostat wire leading to pressure switch before checking
thermostat for voltage. Then, check for power at the coil where the
wire from the pressure switch meets it. (Double check as to what
coil voltage should be.)
If you have proper voltage at all three
points, the pressure switch is not at fault. If you do not find
power at any of the three points, your air switch may be at fault or
you may be expecting the heater to operate when it is not supposed
to be in the first place.
If you find power on one side of the
thermostat and not the other with the thermostat turned all the way
up, the thermostat is either defective, out of calibration, or the
spa water is already hot. If you find power at both terminals on the
thermostat and none on the contactor coil, the pressure switch is
either out of calibration or is not functioning and must be
To check calibration, see if the black toothed
gear on the back of the pressure switch is turned as far
counter-clockwise as it can be. With the pump running it should turn
the heater on. If it does, turn in clockwise now until the heater
shuts back off and re-loosen it one-and-one-half turns. If it does
not turn the heater on, replace it.
On the other hand, if you cannot get the
heater to shut ‘off while the valves are open and the pump is
running "dry", then the switch is either broken or frozen
shut and must be replaced, or the contacts of the heater relay are
To replace it, first shut off the power and
then remove the two wires going to it. If you have service valves to
the equipment pack, shut them off. If not, and the pressure switch
is of the type that has a barbed fitting and a hose connecting it to
the heater, have the new switch close by and proceed as directed in
the next paragraph. If you haven’t any valves and the switch
screws directly into the heater manifold, you will have to drain the
spa in order to change the switch.
If your switch is connected to the manifold
with flexible tubing, pull the tubing off of the switch and cap,
plug, or clamp off the tubing to prevent water spillage. (If you
have service valves to shut off, you won’t need to worry about
this.) Then remove the retaining nut holding the switch in place on
the control box. Remove the switch from the control box, install the
new switch, re-attach the nut, and re-attach the tubing.
If your switch screws directly into the heater
manifold and you have service valves, you might want to drain water
from at least the heater before removing the switch. Otherwise,
depending on how the heater is oriented, you may get water inside
the control box and on your wiring.
Once removed, we suggest you replace the
switch with one that has stainless steel threads. (The one you
removed may have plastic threads as they are less expensive.) To
install a plastic thread switch properly with a mass of wires around
may prove difficult if not impossible as the threads are prone to
cross-threading if it doesn't go in perfectly straight. This will
result in a leak, either now or later. A stainless steel pressure
switch is easier to install with a little PTFE applied to the
In either case, once the new switch is
installed, re-attach the two wires and BE SURE TO OPEN THE SERVICE
VALVES. Now turn the power back on. With the system running, you
must calibrate the switch as previously described.
Relays look significantly different depending
on the brand of the spa pack. On many packs, the small "ice
cube" looking things in the packs are called relays, while the
larger, open-circuit counter parts are called contactors. They each
do the same thing, allow control over a circuit that can’t be
controlled directly by the component powering the relay or contactor
coil. This could be due to high amperage (such as in a heater) or
due to a GFCI protected circuit needing control over a non-GFCI
Either way, they each have two things in
common, a coil, and a switch or set of large contacts. A relay coil
is always identified as terminals A and B on the relay while the
switch terminals are numbered. The contactor coil and switch
terminals are generally more obvious.
The thing to remember is always be sure to
replace a relay with one of the same coil voltage and equal or
greater contact rating. Check the wiring diagram to be sure the
relay you are removing is of the correct coil voltage in the first
place. If the contacts of the component are burnt up, it is usually
due to problems with the component controlling it such as a
chattering pressure switch or thermostat. You will however run into
the occasional burnt coil or lightning strike victim. If the relay
is mounted with the protective shell facing down, drill a small hole
in the bottom of the shell so that condensation cannot collect
inside and short out the contacts. Water leaking into the pack can
collect and cause this as well.
- Mechanical vs. Electronic
Mechanical thermostats have been used on
equipment forever. There are some electronic types available, but
they are usually more expensive and therefore not so widely used.
Mechanical thermostats are prone to calibration swings due to
changes in the temperature around the switch body, capillary tube,
and sensing bulb. Electronic types only respond to temperature
changes at the bulb, generally the very tip of the bulb. In both
cases, a thermostat gives the best performance if the bulb is inside
a dry-well (also known as a Thermowell), completely surrounded by
the spa water.
The next best location is under the insulated
cap of a flo-thru manifold. This is only true provided the cap is
kept tight and the air around the manifold remains at a somewhat
constant temperature. If the air temperature changes, the water
temperature will swing too. The colder the air around the manifold,
the warmer the spa because that cooler air takes away the heat being
transferred to the sensing bulb under the cap.
As for calibrating electronic thermostats, it
is usually not possible. They must be replaced. They generally have
trimpots inside that are very easily broken. A little too much
pressure on the screw could create more problems for you.
There are many, many different types of Spa
Side Controls, and each can have their own specific problems. Here
we will consider the most common ones. There are three manufacturers
of basically the same 6 pin spa-side control. They are Tridelta, Len
Gordon, and Press-Air-Trol. Each will plug into a socket provided on
the control box of many models. Which one will be used depends
largely on the preference of the spa manufacturer.
There are two methods of sensing the
temperature with these controls. Some controls still have the
mechanical bulb and capillary thermostats in them. Most now have
electronic temperature controls (called a Thermistor) available with
the spa-side control heads. The mechanical have historically proven
to be unpredictable and subject to the same problems as thermostats
mounted directly in the equipment packs because that is in fact what
they are. Electronic temperature controls are generally more
reliable. They employ thermistors in their bulb-like sensing units.
These bulbs are shaped just like the mechanical sensing bulbs in
order to fit into the same applications. Instead of the fluid used
in the mechanical units, the electronic models have wire leads
conveying a small electrical current from the thermistor in the
sensor. The two controls are otherwise the same with the lights
inside working as they always have.
Over and above the problems you may have with
the mechanical thermostats, the common problem you will occasionally
encounter with either control is a faulty harness that they plug
into or a bad cord going to the control. In many cases, the spa side
control sometimes cause nuisance tripping due to water getting
inside the socket on the control box. This normally will occur
sometime after installation. When you have trouble with this
tripping upon installation, it is often due to a problem inside the
cord of the control itself such that one of the light supply leads
is touching the ground lead.
In order to determine if one of the leads is
shorting out against the ground, simply do a continuity test between
each terminal and the ground terminal. If any continuity with the
ground terminal, you will have trouble.
If your Spa Side Control is not like those
described above, contact a local spa professional to check it out