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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FIRST, You can learn a lot about your spa at

These questions are listed because the are commonly asked.

If you don't see your questions listed, go to Live Chat

Tell me about water quality

How do I clean my spa filter?

What do these coded messages on my spa panel mean?

Why does my spa run all the time?

Why doesn't my spa temperature go above 85 or 90?

How do I know if my motor has failed?

How can I tell if my heater has failed?

Tell me about my PC Board.

Do I need an ozonator?

 

What does "_" on my spa control pad mean?

F Electronic Topside With Dial Temperature

Symptom:
Brief flashing red heater light (Echo models): 
Meaning:
the PC board sees a failure in water pressure. This failure can be:

  1. The pressure switch itself, or

  2. The pump has failed, or

  3. The PC board has failed not seeing the pressure switch properly.

Symptom:
Even flashing: 
Meaning:
PC Board sees an overheat situation. If the water hasn't overheated, then this failure can be:

  1. PC Board turned on heater without water flow which requires replacing the PC board, or

  2. Not enough water is moving over the element which is a flow problem, many times due to dirty filters, or

  3. Failed sensor

Symptom:
Flashing More On then Off: 
Meaning:
PC Board sees a sensor failure. Isolate which sensor and replace. Also may occur if PC Board has failed.

 

F Electronic Topside With Digital Readouts

Symptom:
Flashing "FL"  or "FLO" Code:
Meaning:
The PC board sees a failure in water pressure. This failure can be:

  1. The pressure switch itself, or

  2. The pump has failed, or

  3. The PC board has failed and is not seeing the pressure switch properly.

Symptom:
Solid "FL" or "FLO" Code:
Meaning:
PC Board sees a failure of the pressure switch.
Fix:
Replace the switch. Another possibility is the PC Board itself has failed.

Symptom: OH Code:
Meaning:
This is the Overheat protection mode. The unit saw the problem of HOT water and responded by shutting off the unit. This is your protection from burning down the house. Respect this warning.
Fix:

  1. The unit actually overheated.

    1. If it did, the PC board probably has failed and needs replacing. What can happen is that part of the board just keeps heating and heating past the temperature setting. Eventually the OH side of the board shuts off the unit because it is too hot.

    2. It could also be the sensors but this is rare because the board checks the sensors to ensure that they are operating.

  2. The unit did not overheat

    1. Pull the filter(s) out, leave out and restart. I have seen a number of times that there is enough pressure to turn on the heater but not enough water movement to keep the heater cool;

    2. If the OH returns it's probably the PC board. It could be doing one of several things: a) The board has just failed and always sees OH or, b) The board turns on the heater without water flow (you'll hear bubbling coming from the heater). Either way, same solution, replace the PC Board.

  3. Solar Overheating
    If you place the spa in direct sunlight, insulate well, and have the filter cycle set at mid to late afternoon, or on a long cycle, the unit may overheat. The solution is easy:
    To overcome this simply change the time and/or length of filtering. A typical setting is 2 hours, twice a day. Set the spa to filter 8-10 a.m. and p.m. This will avoid the mid day heat

F Why does my spa run all the time?.

 


Symptom
The most common reason a spa will run all the time is half of the PC Board is trying to heat the spa to the set temperature and the other half won't allow the heater to come on.
Fix:
Pull out the filter and leave it out while running the unit to see if the heater comes on.

  1. If the unit doesn't overheat then your pressure switch can be the culprit.

  2. If the unit still overheats then the problem is the PC Board itself. Also see next topic.

 

F Why doesn't my spa temperature go above 85 or 90?

This usually relates to one thing: a dirty filter. Here's why: pump tries to such enough water through the filter. It can't because it's dirty so the water pressure is too low to allow the heater to come on. So, it keeps running trying to heat.

SOLUTION #1: Pull out your filter and leave out for a day. If that works, see section Filters We have countless customers tell us that the filter is "clean", finally try this, and lo and behold !!!!. What is happening is that although the filters "look clean" they are not unless the paper is free of oil.

Wonder why it goes up to 85 or 90 in the first place? Just the water movement will add heat. If the outside temp is not too cool, the spa, running all the time, can maintain its temperature.

SOLUTION #2: Tried #1 and still not heating? The most probable culprit is the pressure switch. (On old spas with mechanical systems it's a different situation so email the symptoms to us and we will respond.) What is probably happening (again, presuming the water from the pump is moving the water around) is that the pressure switch isn't closing. The switch can be adjusted for a very temporary fix. The permanent fix is replacement.

Conclusion: the coding is helpful but not always accurate. In 98% of the occurrences, the solution is routine. The other 2% are killers.

 

F How do I know if my motor has failed?  

Motors usually exhibit one of two symptoms when they fail:

  1. They hum and if left humming long enough, will blow the fuse on the PC board (20 or 25a fuse). or

  2. The motor does nothing. You put a meter to the socket and you know the voltage is there, but no operation.

Normally it is not cost effective to rebuild a motor.

 

F How can I tell when my heater fails?  

Usual Symptoms:
The GFCI pops immediately with the application of 240 volts, or

  • On 110 volts units that plug into standard wall outlets, after the pump turns for 5-10 seconds the GFCI pops., or

  • Everything works but the water does not heat. You check the voltage over the leads to the heater and the voltage is correct. (Note: the resistance to a heater should be 11 ohms.)

    The electronic units built from about 1994 to about 2000 usually uses the same model of heater. It is a 110/220v heater rated at 5.5a at 220v.

    The units built 2001 to present use a 110v 4a Heater on the 110v units and a 220v 5.5a heater on those requiring 220v.

    Heaters can fail for a number of reasons:

    1. Occasionally the problem is a manufacturing defect.

    2. Normal wear over a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.

    3. Finally, and most probably for heaters under 2 years old; poor water conditions. Think about this, it's the only metal subjected to your water quality day in and day out. If you water isn't properly balanced... or you are using the wrong type or quantity of chemicals.. The result is a failed heater. The key word is BALANCE.. don't think "If a little is good, well then, a lot is better." Your heater will prove you wrong.

    P.S. If you damage your heater... your pump seals will probably fail soon as well.  See Water Quality

     

     

  • F Tell me about water quality.  

    Bromine: Bromine is a derivative of chlorine, which are both derivatives of salt. Bromine was developed for spas because spa temperatures are higher than pools and because bromine has buffers to protect the acrylic finish of the spa. Expected levels for your spa should be: 1) 5 ppm on spas without an ozonator or 2) 2 to 2 1/2 ppm with an ozonator.

    Chlorine: Use Sodium Diachlor only. Add 1 teaspoon every other day. It's not recommended to use chlorine tablets, any trichlor, Calcium Hypochlorite, or household bleach. These products can discolor your spas finish or affect water quality.

    PH: Check weekly. PH should be maintained 7.4 to 7.8. High or low PH levels will make sanitizers ineffective by burning them off. Check PH before adding bromine or chlorine. Having a ozonator and ensuring its operating will help in maintaining water balance.

    Alkalinity: Most public waters sources are low but acceptable total alkalinity levels. If the TA (total alkalinity) is low after a couple days, add TA UP.

    Calcium in Water: IF you get calcium scale in your spa, a simple way to rid it is to add a gallon of white distilled vinegar. Run all pumps and blowers for at least an hour. Then turn off spa. After 24 hours, drain the spa and refill. If you have a continuous calcium problem, add 1 tbl of vinegar per day for a week. Watch filter for excessive calcium powder requiring the filter to be cleaned.

    Scum: All spas will develop scum lines around the edge. It typically happens after you shock the spa. Wipe the edge of the spa after shocking the spa. Ozonators that are operating efficiently will help in keeping scum down.

    Foam: Caused by soap from you and your trunks or even algae. You can minimize by showering before using the spa and using the same trunks. 1 tbl of vinegar a day will cut the foam down or by adding chemicals designed for reducing foam.

    Odor: Usually caused from low bromine or chlorine level. Check level and shock with a non-chlorine shock. As the water gets older, it could smell. Simply drain and refill with new water if shocking doesn't remove the smell.

    Black Spots: Caused by algae due to low sanitizer.

    Cloudy Water: Either the water is simply old and needs changing OR a type of algae and needs to be shocked OR the ozonator is causing a reaction to water additives you are using. Also maintain your filters and if you have an ozonator confirm its operating correctly. Or install an ozonator.

    Jelled Water: If you have an ozonator, a polymer based product is reacting to it. Add 1 gal of white distilled vinegar, run the spa jets and blower for an hour, let it sit 24 hours, and drain. Refill with fresh water.

     

     

    F How do I take care of my water? (water chemistry)

    I won't enter into this arena of debate without advising you that it is hotly contested. Check other web sites or ask a couple of people to get opposing opinions. The following is a commonly proven method of managing your water chemistry. It doesn't address unusual water problems. Nor does it lead you to purchase unnecessary materials. Consider the suggestions and modify them based on your own experience. A qualified, honest hot tub store can be a wonderful source of information specific for your area. Generic volume national stores don't have that help. But I have also seen the local guy sell bottles of worthless chemicals to customers. Get a feel for the honest local supplier and make him your friend for life.

    Perhaps the most common experience that we have is that people claim they follow this routine but don't. It's your spa. It's your money. And once you develop a routine.. it's easy.

    I have found women take care of spas better than men. I will use myself as an example. As a man, if 1/2 cup is good, 1 cup and a bit more is better. That is not true. If 1/2 is good, 1/2 is good. I also can't bake. Too specific. I cook, it allows me freedom. That freedom will harm your spa either quickly or slowly but either way, it will. So too spa care; give what is needed and only what is needed and you will get long life out of your spa and its parts.

    Caveats/Pondering points:

    1. These are only suggestions. Success is your best guide. Treasure the local, honest spa store for chemicals.

    2. If you lost a heater or pump early in it's life, consider what you have done in the past and don't do it again. Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Heaters and pumps typically last about 5 years or more. Water quality can shorten that to one.

    3. Do you get knocked over by the smell when you open the cover? If the smell is chlorine like, cut back. If its burn sweet smell and you have an ozonator, see Ozonators. If its a stick, look at your chemical treatment or ozonator for its effectiveness.

    4. Is the inside of the cover "melting" or blistering? Same as #3

    5. Is the plastic inside the spa changing color? Same as #3

    An Effective Routine

    Start-up:

    a. Fill spa

    b. Pour in a PH balance product to equalize ph and stabilize. For most municipal water supplies these work well. (experience: our water is mildly hard. These products cause a lot of calcium to become obvious and create residue everywhere and on the filter. We actually like this because it allows us to remove the calcium from the water. If you don't like this, then you'll have to do it the old fashioned way with ph up or ph down and calcium remover.

    c. Later check ph and total alkalinity. Your PH and Total alkalinity levels will probably be OK. Adjust if you need to.

    d. We usually wait till the spa is hot to check the bromine or chlorine level. It's just that the level of chlorine in municipal water supplies are high and we want that gone by the time we check the water. Also, once you get an idea of what the level of bromine or chlorine should be, you will have adjusted the dispenser and the level will be fairly correct.

    (experience: always use a floater to dispense the chlorine or bromine. Use a brand that looks like a mushroom, not a cone. The mushroom is easier to adjust.)

    Weekly:

    a. Check chemistry. If done right, the PH should stay correct most of the time. Also the Total Alkalinity should slowly be inching upward. Usually when it reaches the high mark it's time to drain the water.

    b. Soak filter(s) in cleaning solution. See Cleaning Filters

     

    As Needed:

    a. If the spa starts to foam, add a small amount of "foam out" and watch the bubbles disappear.

    b. Use a NON-Chlorine shock. Most manufacturers recommend using weekly. It doesn't seem necessary. Basically the Shock is a great killer. If you have a lot of people through the spa, then by all means Shock. If it's just your family, every 4-6 weeks seems adequate.

    c. If your water isn't crystal clear, something is making it that way. Usually we recommend that you try shocking first; it's a "couldn't hurt" approach. If this doesn't work next step is getting a 'water clarifier". It will attach to the "whatever it is" and make it big enough to be caught in the filter.

    Common Problems:

    a. Brown waxy stuff. Time and time again we have this discussion. The customer insists that the pump or seal or something is coming apart and this oil/grease is from that. I assure them there is no such "stuff" in the mechanical parts. So, where does it come from. Well, it's possible it is the residue from swimming trunks and skin oil. There are actually float devices that collect such things. But often its "alive"... growth in the spa. So it indicates the proper water chemistry isn't being maintain. Often in requires giving it a good "shock" then later draining and scrubbing, and then filling and shocking again. My take has been that if' this stuff is growing in plain sight, then it can very well be other places not so visible. So the word to the wise... keep your chemistry correct and not suffer from these things.

    b. Water whitish or greenish or smelly. Shock, shock again and then drain and fill. You can try clarifier but if you water that is deteriorated to this point, it almost seems a waste to save it. If it's good water, shock then clarify.

    c. Stains, rust, scale. See your local spa and discuss with them. An honest supplier is worth its weight in gold. They know the common problems in your area and what works and doesn't. Just a note: if you see streaks of rust coming off your air controls, the metal in the controls is corroding. A good indication that your water chemistry is too strong.

     

     

    F Do I Need an ozonator?

    Easy to answer: Do you need air conditioning? No, but its nice.

    Ozone is the a powerful oxidizer, better than chlorine or bromine in a spa.

    During the 90's making spas "ozone ready" came into vogue for good reason; it makes maintaining water quality in a spa easier. In short, ozone gas attacks what can make a spa smell or change color or even scum. Its a sanitizer. So those who use an ozonator can use less chemicals to maintain the water.

    Several problems occur though. First is length of time the ozonator is on. On most spas, the ozonator operates when the #1 or Low speed pump is on. So it the spa isn't heating or filtering the ozonator is not on. The pump and the ozonator work hand in hand or more correctly, the ozonator needs the #1 pump on for it to work. So because of that design the ozonator is limited in effectiveness.

    Therefore if you have an ozonator make sure its working. Traditionally the rule of thumb was if it glowed it was working. It has been found that ozonators can even glow and make little effective ozone gas. So DelZone ( a major manufacturer of ozonators) recommends you replace the ozonator or if your ozonator has kits, install the kit, every 3 or 4 years. There is a test kit that will also determine whether you have ozone gas present but that's a bit costly. You can see at: Ozonators.

    The newer generation of spas mostly have small 24/7 circulation pumps that are in tandem with the ozonator. With this you get full and effective use of the ozonator. The concern about amount of ozone gas that is being made is still true on ozonators over 3 years of age.

    As to whether to have a BULB (UV) or the newer Corona Discharge (CD) type, see the link directly above about the ozone wars and make your decision.

     

    F How do I clean my filters?  

    Just spraying your filter with the hose won't work. Just soaking in bleach won't work. Spraying is OK on a weekly cycle; soaking in bleach might kill the germs. But the oil has to be stripped. So you must emulsify--fancy way to say break down the oil. The cheapest product is tri-sodium phosphate (TSP). You can get it at any hardware store. You take a handful, dump it into hot water, stir, and drop the filter in. Voila.. several hours later, rinse with hot water and you are done. Some customers buy a new filter every couple of months. If you rotate one in and one out, you will get good use of your filters.

     

     

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