tips

Prevent or limit freeze damage to your spa

By November 15, 2018 No Comments

Find out how to prevent or limit freeze damage if you find your spa not heating and review several tips for prevention.  Common problems leading to freeze damage include dirty/expired filter(s), water level too low, circulation pump failure, tripped GFCI causing no power to the spa, or other technical failures such as a bad heating element, temp sensors, pressure and flow switches or a failure on the PC Board.  For specific instructions or advice, call the service department at The Hot Tub Store.

If all else fails, place a space heater in your spa cabinet.  A small space heater is something I think everyone who owns a spa should have on hand, just in case.  Placing a small space heater, set on low, inside the spa cabinet, will keep the cabinet area warm enough to prevent freezing indefinitely in most circumstances.  Obviously, you need to use common sense, keeping safety in mind, to ensure the heater is not going to start a fire or cause other damage; for example, keep it away from anything it could melt or overheat. 

If all else fails, place a space heater in your spa cabinet.  A small space heater is something I think everyone who owns a spa should have on hand, just in case.  Placing a small space heater, set on low, inside the spa cabinet, will keep the cabinet area warm enough to prevent freezing indefinitely in most circumstances.  Obviously, you need to use common sense, keeping safety in mind, to ensure the heater is not going to start a fire or cause other damage; for example, keep it away from anything it could melt or overheat.

Ceramic Heater

It is 1,500 watts and will easily heat your spa cabinet.  Choose a small ceramic heater and avoid heaters with sophisticated timers; you simply want to set it on low fan, medium temperature and let it maintain that temperature indefinitely.  Plug it into a GFCI protected cord or outlet for safety and do not use the spa with the space heater under it.  Close the cabinet after placing it inside and check it often until your spa can be repaired or winterized. If you have a Beachcomber Hybrid Hot Tub, you must set the heater under the step and re-position the step for a tight fit after the heater has been installed.  In most Beachcomber tubs there is ample room to set next to the control head.

DO NOT simply drain your spa.  This is most likely the worst thing you can do because simply draining your spa will NOT remove all of the water from your spas plumbing lines, heater and/or pump housings.  Smaller amounts of water remaining in these places will freeze more quickly, especially without whatever remaining warmth which may have existed in the spa water prior to draining.  Should you choose to drain the spa, it must be fully winterized.  All water must be removed from the plumbing and is most commonly done by blowing through the lines until you see water come out of every jet; and then by blowing pool antifreeze through the lines to ensure any remaining water is displaced and/or diluted by the pool antifreeze, ensuring no freeze damage can occur.  Professional winterization is offered by The Hot Tub Store and you may be better off placing a space heater under the spa until the spa can be professionally winterized.

If your spa has power and is running but not heating, it could be a water flow problem.  Your spa is designed to monitor proper water flow and shut down the heater for safety if it senses inadequate flow.  Water flow can be reduced by dirty/clogged filters, inadequate water levels causing air to be drawn into the pump and/or too many jets in the spa in the closed position.  If this occurs, most spas built in the past 15 or so years will display an error code at the spa side control (i.e. FLO, DRY, 3 dots flashing).  First, ensure the spa is filled to the proper level and all jets are in the open position.  Then shut the spa down and remove the filter(s) from the spa.  After ensuring there is nothing floating in the spa that could be sucked into the plumbing (including items such as a chemical dispenser, scum ball, or debris) turns the spa on to run with no filter at all.  If the spa begins heating normally again, you probably have a dirty or expired filter; filters should be chemically cleaned often (monthly is a rule of thumb) and replaced annually (not longer than two years).  Monitor the spa closely for the next few days to ensure the problem does not reoccur.

Check your spa programming.  Many spas have features built into their controls which enable spa owners to set back the water temperature during certain times of days, or even for extended periods of time.  Ensure your spa is not somehow in a special mode (i.e. economy or sleep mode) which could cause it to maintain a lower temperature, or maybe even only heat during filter cycles.  Also, be sure the temperature is set properly on your control.  Some spas have a low temperature range which will make higher temperatures (such as 80 degrees and up) unavailable.  Sometimes low level/technician programming can be accidentally modified by curios children pushing buttons or by people sitting on the spa control; this may require a technician to reprogram the spa.  Also, a button can become stuck on the topside control causing the temp to be turned all the way down; sometimes pushing the button can get it unstuck, but most often the control will need to be replaced (even if it becomes unstuck).

Reset the power to your spa.  If your spa has power, but is not heating, or has an error code or something weird displayed on your spa side control (such as “- – – -“ or “HL”) try shutting the power off at your electrical breaker for a few minutes and then power it back on.  Sometimes this will reboot the spa and allow it to heat.  However, if there is a problem which causes the spa to overheat, a safety switch called the hi-limit will cause the spa to stop heating again once things get too hot.  You will need to monitor the water temperature to make sure it does not overheat and/or return to the same not heating status you originally found it in.

If your spa GFCI breaker is tripping, this is most often caused by a short in a failed spa equipment component, but can also be caused by a defective GFCI.  You can try resting your GFCI.  If it trips right away, you will likely need to call a spa service tech or an electrician depending on if you think the problem is most likely in the spa or in the electrical system leading to the spa.  If the GFCI holds until a specific function (pump, heater, blower, ozonator) engages on your spa, and then trips, that component is likely the one with the short in it.  Depending on your technical ability, you may choose to disconnect that component from the spa pack and then power the spa back on; if the GFCI does not trip, you have likely identified the failed component; and if it was not the heater or circulation pump, your spa should begin heating again.

Closed Spa
Opened Spa
Heater in Spa
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Step Spa
Opened Step Spa
Step Spa Heaater
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