Hot Tub Pump (Troubleshoot, Repair, & Maintain)

How To Maintain, Troubleshoot, And Repair Hot Tub Pump

Over time, you will discover that your hot tub pump is wearing out and getting out of shape. The pump is that component of a hot tub, upon which its wellness and longevity depend. What the pump does is pump water into the shell and out of the shell. It is essential to be proactive by spotting the trouble and fixing afterward. This will guarantee your tub a good life span. 

The pump’s usefulness to your hot tub is akin to how useful the engine in a vehicle is. If your vehicle’s engine is not properly serviced and taken care of,  you will not enjoy that vehicle. Instead, you find yourself repairing one component or the other, which is very frustrating and annoying. The same applies to your hot tub pump. In this article, we will discuss how to detect and repair faults emanating from the pump’s components.

hot tub repair fix troubleshoot

Terminologies associated with the workings of a hot tub pump

Before we dive into the inner workings of a hot tub pump, first, we have to get familiar with the following terms:

  • The Pumpis the part that contains other components that are responsible for water intake and discharge. It also includes the impeller.
  • The Motor – this component uses a shaft to connect to the pump. It is an electrical component. 
  • Impellerthis part of the pump is housed by the wet end. It moves water through the hot tub circulation system.
  • Voltage – the voltage of your pump varies; depending on the type of pump your tub has. One distinct feature in figuring out your pump’s voltage is the wiring. A pump with two wires will have a voltage of 110 – 120V, while a pump with four wires will have 220 – 240V.
  • Priming – this is what you do by pushing the air out of your circulation system. This is mostly done after refilling the hot tub in order to let water circulate correctly.
  • Wet End it is where the impeller is found. It prevents water from getting to your pump’s motor. 
  • Dry Endit is where the motor is housed. It prevents moisture from getting to the motor.
  • Variable Speed PumpAn essential factor to consider in how a hot tub works is the pump’s ability to power the jets for good water circulation. To circulate water, variable speed pumps have to regulate between low and high speed.
  • Single Speed PumpHot tubs with single-speed pumps have two pumps available. One of the pumps operates at high speed to power the jets while the other runs at a lower rate for the purpose of circulation.
  • DischargeThis is the part of your hot tub pump where water is discharged from. The part varies for different pumps depending on the orientation. For some, You can find the discharge port at the side and others at the top.

Helpful tips you need to keep your pump in good shape

If you want your hot tub pump to be in good health and last long to serve your hot tub well, there are some essential guides you must adhere to.

  •  Your hot tub uses chemicals to make its water give you that soothing feeling. It is essential to ensure that the water chemistry of your hot tub is balanced correctly.
  • Always keep your ears to the ground when around your tub. Carefully examine the noise and sound it makes.
  • Avoid obstructing airflow in your pump by taking it away from dusty places or places where you can have debt and debris easily. 
  • Keep the pump away from water in order not to damage the pump’s motor.
  • Check your water level and be sure that the tub is filled correctly.
  • Check for possible leaks in your hot tub pump. Always look for loose nuts, bolts, and components that are not in place.
  •  Clean your filter regularly and get rid of debris that will impede the impeller from turning.                

How do I know if my hot tub pump is bad?

When you troubleshoot and discover any of the following issues, know that your hot tub pump is likely bad. Some of these hot tub problems are:

  • Pump leaks water
  • Nothing happens when motor runs
  • No water pressure
  • The pump doesn’t turn on
  • The motor turns on and off
  • The pump doesn’t prime
How To Maintain, Troubleshoot, And Repair Hot Tub Pump

How do you troubleshoot a hot tub pump? (Learn how to fix them)

Just as you are using your tub, other users are also using theirs. Most of the time, most of the users complain about some of these problems. When you pay enough attention to your hot tub to detect that something is obviously wrong with the pump, these are the few problems you will notice with how to correct the issues.

Pump leaks water – A water leakage in your tub’s cabinet or close to the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) can make your hot tub pump not function properly. It can cause corrosion to the electrical components, damage the motor, and can sometimes trip the hot tub breaker. You may not notice leaks in your tub’s cabinet, especially if it’s slow until the problem escalates.

Open your tub’s cabinet and look out for where the moisture is coming from. It is advisable to use a torchlight when doing this. Check around the pump seals for moisture. 

Nothing happens when Motor runs – If everything is turned on, and the water is not circulating, your circulation system could be clogged, or the impeller is stuck. A grinding noise is an indication that you should check if your impeller is rotating correctly. Since it’s a circulation issue, you also need to check to see if your filters and leaf traps are okay.

To check your impeller, cut off all power to your hot tub pump by turning off your ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Clean the impeller properly if it’s not damaged; else, you replace the impeller because a damaged one will not rotate properly.

No water pressureIf you see that the water in your tub is not moving, then it’s a circulation problem. Make sure that your filters and leaf trap are well cleaned. Prime your hot tub pump to see what happens, and if the problem persists, drain your tub with a flush product and clean it while the jets are turned on to full.

The pump doesn’t turn on If you put on your hot tub pump and it refuses to turn on, follow this guide:

  • Locate the breaker box at your home and reset it.
  • Open the breaker box to see if the hot tub breaker is out of place. Put it off and on. Try turning on the pump.

If the breaker flips when the pump is turned on, disconnect the pump and reset the breaker. IF the pump is not connected and the breaker doesn’t trip, then it is the problem.

The motor turns on and off – Sometimes, your hot tub pump’s motor may need replacement due to random power loss. Resetting the breaker sometimes fixes this problem. If it persists, check the wiring using a multimeter to check if the motor is getting steady power. If the issue is still not fixed, check out for any corrosion on the wiring and get rid of it or replace the wiring. Check for possible leaks if there is corrosion on the wires.

The pump doesn’t prime – Sometimes, you hear bubbling noises in your hot tub after refilling your hot tub. The noise may be a result of air trying to leave the circulation system. If you don’t hear a bubbling noise, proceed to make sure your filtration system is free of debris or other things that disturb the filters and leaf trap. If you prime the pump and the problem persists, follow this procedure:

  • Turn down the heat and open the jets onto full.
  • Let the jets run on high while turning it on and off. You are to do this 3 times. For the first time, you let them run for 15 seconds, the second time 30 seconds, and the third time 45 to 60 seconds.
  • Air will start bubbling out of the jets. Let the jets run until it stops bubbling.

You can decide to call in a professional if you’re not sure what to do and don’t want to worsen the situation, mainly because you are not comfortable handling the pump’s electrical problem.

Repairing and fixing the components of your pump

The components of your pump come together to make the hot tub pump function properly. It is advisable to handle them with care as a problem with one piece can affect the rest. The workings of your hot tub pump’s components can be seen as a sort of chain reaction. Outlined below is how to fix and repair your tub’s components. These are identified problems and how you can remedy them.

How to remove or reposition the wet end of a pump

To do this, you need a socket tool and a torque wrench.

  • Use the socket tool to remove the four bolts used to fasten the wet end to the hot tub pump.
  • Check and ensure that the gasket is fitted correctly because when the wet end comes off, it may shift the gasket. So, move the gasket into place before putting back the wet end.
  • When putting back the wet end, the discharge port‘s position determines the sequence in which the bolts will be fastened. When you screw in the first bolt, the next bolt to go in is the opposite of the one you screwed in. There are 3 positions that the discharge port can adopt. Each position has a different sequence for screwing the four bolts in. The positions are 3’O’clock, 9’O’clock and 12’ O’clock.
  • When the discharge port of your pump is facing up (12’O’clock position), follow this sequence to fasten the bolts:
    • First bolt – The bolt at the top first goes in.
    • Second bolt – The bolt at the bottom.
    • Third bolt – The bolt on the right.
    • Fourth bolt – The bolt on the left goes in last.
  • After screwing the bolts in, you need to use the torque wrench to check the four bolts’ settings. Set each bolt between 70 and 75 inches.

How to repair a leaking pump bleeder plug

If you detect a leak at your pump’s bleeder plug, it is probably because the O-ring inside the plug might be faulty. Follow this procedure to change the plug out: 

  • The O-ring is placed in the plug, and that is what you need to check out.
  • Turn off the hot tub breaker and unplug the pump.
  • Take out the plug and replace the O – ring with a good one.
  • Open the slices of the pump. The slice is a T- shaped component near your pump.
  • Plug the pump and power it back on 

How to clear an airlock from your pump

This happens mostly after you drain and refill your hot tub. Do the following to clear the airlock:

  • Turn off your hot tub pump.
  • Take out the wet end of the pump and find where the bleed valve is.
  • Get a pair of pliers to take out the bleed valve.
  • Gently and slowly, take out the valve halfway because if you take it all out, water will splash all over. Gradually take out the valve until you start hearing a hissing sound that shows that air is coming out. Wait for the water to come out, and then put back the bleed valve.
  • If the process of letting the air out through the bleed valve doesn’t work, then proceed to the union (a component that covers the discharge port).
  • Gradually loosen the union until you start hearing a hissing sound of air and water starts gurgling out.
  • Tighten back the union and turn on your pump. 
  • Turn on your hot tub and cycle the pump from low to high speed and back again to purge out air from the system. 

How to rotate the wet end on your pump

  • Doing this depends on the kind of pump you have. If you look at your hot tub pump’s wet end, you will see that four bolts fasten it, and the bolts are extended to the other end of the pump.
  • Turn to the other end of the pump 
  • unscrew the four bolts halfway
  • Turn to the end where the wet end is and rotate the wet end with the discharge port facing your desired direction.
  • Turn to the other end and screw the four bolts back in.

How to take out your pump 

Sometimes, you want to give your hot tub pump a close-quarter examination to see what might be wrong with any of its components. Follow this guide to learn how to take your hot tub pump-out

  • Remove the front panels of your hot tub to gain access to the controller and the pumps.
  • Shut off the circuit breaker to the hot tub. Open the control box beneath the tub to access the wiring to the pump. Inside the cover of the control box, you’ll see a wiring diagram. 
  • Use the diagram to find where the pump you want to remove is, or trace the wire from the pump and follow it to see where it plugs into the board. Take out the connectors by clipping their prongs with your thumb and your index finger.
  • You will see that the pump wire is clipped to the board by a wire keeper. Unscrew to keeper to take out the pump wire from the control box.
  • Isolate the pump to shut off water to it by closing the slices completely and locking them in. Unscrew the pump from the bottom of the hot tub frame. Use a wrench and take out the bolts from the front and back of the pump.
  • Unscrew the ground wire from the motor, and unfix the air bubble generator from the pump. Once you remove the pipe, block the opening to hold off water from gushing or spilling out.
  • Loosen the hot tub pump’s union and take out the pump.

How to access the impeller

You may be having some trouble with water circulation and want to make sure that the components responsible for circulating water are okay. If you’re going to access the impeller, which is one of such components, here’s how to go about it

  • Detach the hot tub pump’s wet end to expose the impeller, which is attached to the shaft that runs throughout the pump from end to end.
  • Go to the other end of the pump where the motor is, and you will find a small screw that needs a flat-head screwdriver to rotate. Use the flat-head screwdriver to rotate the small screw, and you will see that the shaft is turning along with the impeller attached.
  • Get some screwdrivers in to hold the cooling fan. Stick the screwdrivers carefully, so you don’t cause damage to the fan. Use the space between the impeller housing and the motor to slot in the screwdrivers to hold the fan in place.
  • Get a wrench, clip the impeller and turn it counter-clockwise until the impeller comes out gently.

How to replace bearings on your pump

If there is a shaft seal leakage case and you want to replace the bad bearings in your hot tub pump, follow this guide.

  • Detach the pump’s wet end by unscrewing the four bolts that go through the motor into the wet end.
  • Take off the impeller from the shaft and get the rotor out of the assembly by tapping on the rotor’s end with a hammer, lightly pushing a pointed tool onto the rotor’s end.
  • Set the rotor aside and clamp it down firmly. Take off the front flange of the motor to expose the front bearing. If the bearing is stuck, you can apply a lubricant to loosen it up.
  • Use the hammer to tap lightly on the front flange, and be mindful not to break the fan behind the front flange. The front flange will gradually come off, and the front bearing will be exposed. Use a bearing puller to pull the bearing off. A close look at the bearing will show you its number, so the one you will be using to replace the old bearing must have the same number.
  • Take out the new bearing and slip it over the shaft to where the bearing’s collar is.
  • Use a bearing installer to apply pressure to the new bearing. 
  • Push it in by tapping the installer’s end lightly with a hammer until the bearing sits against the larger end of the shaft, where it can’t go any further.
  • Pick up the detached front flange and clean inside of it. Apply a lubricant to the inside of the front flange, and put the flange back in its position. Put the rotor back inside the motor, and line up the holes for the bolts to go through. Attach the wet end and tighten the four bolts.
  • Plug the pump, and it will run fine.

How to replace a broken pump union

The part of your pump called union is a round plastic that is usually white.  Sometimes, having a broken union leads to cutting the plumbing and other things that will disorganize the setup. If you have a broken pump union and don’t want to cut the plumbing, follow this procedure to fix your pump union that got freeze-damaged and split into halves

  • You will require a pair of cutters, a split nut with a thin flange, and oil filter pliers.
  • You will use the split nut to replace the union.
  • Get the damaged half of the union that is attached to your pump and take it out.
  • For the other half, use a pair of cutters to cut and take it off.
  • Get the split nut and place it into where the union is supposed to be. Fasten both split ends of the nut while it is fitted into position, and screw the split nut firmly into place with a pair of filter oil pliers.

How to open and close slice valves

One common issue pumps usually have is not getting flows out of the pump motors. If your pump is not getting flows out of its motors before you call a technician to come to check it out, check the slice valves. The slice valves are used to shut off water to the pump. 

  • Turn of any power going into your tub by heading down to the control box beneath the tub.
  • Remove the slice keepers attached to the Slice.
  • You will see a T-shaped component. Push it down to close the valve and pull it up to open the valve.

How to change the fuse of your pump

Sometimes, you may try to put on your tub and realize that some jets are not responding. If you have a tub that uses two pumps and you have difficulty turning on the jets of one of the pumps, make sure to check the pump’s fuse to see if that is where the problem is coming from.

  • Power off and shut off any power going to your tub by heading down to unscrew the control box found beneath the tub to access the wiring.
  • Ensure that there is no power in your tub by using a multimeter to test the wiring components in your control box. If the multimeter reads zero, then it means there is no source of power.
  • When trying to turn on the jets with the control at the top of your tub, you must have noticed which pump’s jet has refused to turn on. Locate the fuse of the pump and take it out. Get your multimeter, adjust it to the diode setting (bottom-right), and check for continuity.
  • Put the two prongs (black and red) of the multimeter at both ends of the fuse that you removed, and listen for a beep. If you do not hear a beep, it indicates that the fuse is dead. Replace the dead fuse with a fuse of the same amperage, and use the multimeter to check the new fuse to see if there is electricity flowing through it.
  • If you hear a beep, that indicates that the fuse is good. Put the new fuse in place, and close the control box.
  • Power the tub back on and try all the pump jets, and you will see that they are all working.

How to replace the capacitors in your pump

If you power on your tub and instead of the pump’s motors to run, you hear a humming sound, then the problem might be the capacitors. To take off the capacitors in your pump.

  • Look for a hump on the side of your pump or top of it. The capacitor is fitted into that hump. It is a small, tank-shaped cylinder.
  • Unscrew the hump and take out the capacitor. If you turn the unscrewed hump upside down, you will see the capacitor pushed further down into it.
  • Take out the capacitor and unfix the wires attached to its head. A capacitor usually has a charge for about 5 minutes after disconnecting it.
  • Drain the capacitor of the charge left in it by using a tool with an insulated handle. A screwdriver with a flat end will suffice for this. Place the flat end of the screwdriver at the top of the capacitor and leave it there for a while.
  • Use a multimeter to check if the capacity can still be useful. If not, replace it with a new one.
  • Put your tub on and try working the pumps, and everything will run fine

How to replace the seal in your pump.

The seal is a delicate round component made of ceramic and rubber. It is about the size of a bearing and can crack easily. If you mistakenly crack your seal, and you want to replace it with a new one, here’s what to do

  • After taking out your pump, proceed to unscrew and detach the wet end of the pump.
  • Once the wet end is detached, you’ll see the part that houses the seal. It is the component that the discharge port is attached to. Unscrew it to get access to the shaft.
  • It is important to note that when replacing a seal, the rubber side is the part that goes down, while the ceramic side is visible when the seal is fixed. Careful not to touch the ceramic part of the seal; so as not to avoid getting it burnt up.
  • It is advisable to use a piece of paper to firmly push down the seal into its position and push it down gently to avoid cracking it.
  • If peradventure your hand touches the ceramic side, clean it with some alcohol.

Humming sound

If you put on your hot tub and all you get is a humming sound, check to see if the breakers are turned on. If you still get the hum, check underneath the tub and see if the green light on the GFCI switch is on. If the humming persists, do the following.

  • Go to the part where the motor of your pump is. Unplug the motor from the power source and examine the motor.
  • The motor has an impeller which is like a fan that rotates at a high-speed rate and causes the air that comes out of the jets. Sometimes, after a period of not using your tub, the pump’s motors get built up around the copper coils inside the motor.
  • When you hear the humming noise, it indicates that the motor is getting power and trying to turn on but can’t spin. When you look at the motor, you will see a flat-head screw extended throughout the motor. It is this screw that the impeller is attached. Get a flat head tool, preferably a screwdriver, and loosen the screw enough to free up the motors.
  • Plug your motor back to the power source and turn the jets; it will start spinning, and the humming sound will stop.

When dealing with your hot tub pump, you must be careful not to damage any component in it. The pump is delicate and should be treated with utmost care if you want to get the best out of your hot tub.  If you are not comfortable with any of the illustrations in this article, especially the electrical aspect, you can get a technician in and check out the problem. Always make it a habit to check your pump from time to time.

It is that vital component of your hot tub that differentiates your hot tub from the regular bathtubs you have lying around in the bathrooms. Always refer to your owner’s manual if you are not sure what to do. That manual contains your tub’s specifications, so some essential things you need to know about your tub are in there.

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