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FAQs – Hot Tubs and Spas

How does warranty service on a hot tub work? –

Legally, the manufacturer is responsible for the warranty, as is the case with any product. In reality, the dealer that sells the spa is empowered and to some degree required by the manufacturer to service the warranty. What happens, often times, is that the dealer will outsource warranty work to a 3rd party. This is the situation that most often creates problems for the customer. This 3rd party was not the one that sold the customer on their spa, or their ownership experience. In fact, this 3rd party has very little motivation to make the customer as happy as possible. Black Pin operates an in-house 5-star service and repair department so you know who you’re dealing with and that you’ll be taken care of the way you expect.

Is there a difference between a hot tub and a spa? –

Really, no. From a historical perspective, the old wooden barrel-style hot tubs of the 60s and 70s were called “hot tubs”, and the term “spa” came into vogue as the product evolved to molds with seats and jets. However, short of marketing purposes, they don’t mean anything different today. Most importantly, never believe sales person who says that they “make spas, not hot tubs” to make their product sound more sophisticated and or give their product a different sense of performance. That’s pure gimmick.

How often should I test my water chemistry? –

The standard industry recommendation is to test your water once a week. Of course, if you have a heavy bather load or a temporary increase in usage, it would be smart to monitor the water chemistry more closely.

What is the HP rating on a pump mean? –

Generally, HP refers to “Horsepower”, which is a unit of measure for power of them pump. You will see two terms, “HP” and “BHP”. HP is the average continuous power created by the motor. BHP is the measure of the “Brake” horsepower, which is upper end of the motors power capability. Be sure to know the difference, so you can compare apples to apples when you shop.

How often should I clean my filters? –

Recommendations will vary from bi-weekly to monthly. In either case, be sure to remove the filters and clean out al debris from between the pleats. Once every 3-6 months, we highly recommend a deep cleaning solution for an overnight soak. This will ensure that not only the debris, but also all oils and other biofilm are cleaned off of the filters.

What is an ozonator, and does it really work? –

Frankly, this is an area where a lot of liberty is taken by sales people and the industry in general. The claims are varied, as are the results. Ozonator is a component installed on the spa which creates ozone gas by exciting oxygen. This gas is then delivered to the water, often inefficiently. The truth is, ozone is deadly to bacteria and algae and will kill them on contact. Equally true is that the ozone systems is MOST spas are highly inefficient. Ozone is unstable, and much of the gas is lost as it travels in an air hose prior to ever touching water. Secondly, once it touches the water briefly, it rises to the top and gases off, like any other gas bubble would. What is absolutely more effective, but also more expensive and more time consuming from a manufacturing standpoint, is the use of a dedicated in-line mixing chamber where the ozone cannot escape and spends the majority, if not all, of its “life” in contact with the water.

How often should I drain my hot tub? –

The industry recommendation on this is: 3 months. However, this recommendation is made based on the lowest common denominator in the industry, meaning the spas with the worst water management systems that require the highest amount of chemicals to maintain. A spa with a sophisticated and highly effective innate water management system, will require less chemical intervention form the owner, and the water will last longer. Also, bather load will play a large role in this, as you can imagine. A family of five, using their spa daily, will have to change their water sooner than a couple that might use their spa weekly. If you have any serious water chemistry issues, that are not easily resolved, you may want to start with fresh water to safe.

How long do filters last before they need to be replaced? –

Based on reasonable care, filters are good for about one year. However, often people will get longer life out of their filters by taking especially good care of them. Most importantly, if you can visibly see that the fabric has started to fray, break down, or is stained, then its time.

What is the difference between Chlorine and Bromine, for cleaning spa water? –

It should be noted that there are alternative ways of sanitizing spa water, however, Chlorine and Bromine are the most “tried and true” sanitizers in the industry. Specifically, Chlorine and Bromine do nearly the exact same thing because they have very similar chemical properties. There are three main differences. First, Chlorine has a higher vapor pressure than Bromine, which is why people often smell chlorine more. If they are irritated by the smell, they might then choose Bromine. However, Bromine has a low (acidic) PH, while Chlorine is PH neutral. So, with Bromine, you will have to balance your PH more often, and if not in balance, can experience drier skin. Lastly, Bromine has been proven to be more stable at higher temperatures which is another reason it has gained traction for hot tub use.

What can be done to remove stains and scale from the acrylic surface? –

The only product that we’ve seen work well on this particularly challenging problem, is called TLC Stain and Scale Remover.

What can cause my spa to stop heating? –

Sometimes, you spa will not heat because it isn’t circulating water. So, the problem is not with the heater, specifically, but rather a flow issue. First and foremost, you should remove and clean your filters thoroughly as dirty filters are the most common culprits of flow restriction. If that does no fix the problem, then you want to check the heater indicator light on your spa to ensure that there is power to the heater. If you’re not getting power to the heater, then there might be a problem w/ any of the following: thermostat, limit switch, pressure switch, or flow switch. If all of these switches are functioning, then we would want to check relays and contactors. Realistically, if the flow is no the culprit, it would be most efficient to get a trained technician on site, or on the phone.

I get dry skin from using my spa. Is there a way to improve this? –

Often, low PH can exacerbate the problem of dry skin in a spa. Make sure your PH is at least neutral, if not just a little high. Otherwise, you can use a moisturizing additive. 

My pump is making a humming sound and not pumping water… –

The most common cause is often related to an airlock. This most often occurs upon filling the spa as air gets trapped in the lines. Some spas have designated bleeder valves for bleeding air from the lines. Most often, you have to access the problematic pump, loosen the union to the outflow part of the impellor until all the air seeps out and water starts to run, then tighten it back up. If that isn’t the problem, then you might have a jammed or broken impeller. Or, the bearings of the unit have seized. At this point, and for a few other more technical causes, its best to contact a certified service department for replacement parts. You’re welcome to contact our service department here

My spa water is overheating. What’s going on? –

The failure of some or all of the following components could cause this problem: High Limit Switch, Relay, Contactor, Spa Pack, or Thermostat. Understand however, that if you run your therapy pumps on high speed for extended periods of time, your water is likely to go up in temperature by a degree or two due to the heat generated by the pump. Suspicion of a component failure is appropriate if the temperature suddenly increases greatly or differently than it has in the past.

What if my water temperature is often fluctuating both up and down? –

We’ve seen this in spas where the temperature sensor is not adequately insulated and which allows it to react to ambient temperature outside the spa.

I feel like my jets aren’t as powerful as they used to be when my spa was brand new… –

When any flow issues arise, the first and easiest place to troubleshoot should be the filters. Take out the filters and run your spa. If performance improves, then your filters are too dirty and clogged, and they are restricting flow. Deep clean them in an overnight soak, or replace them, which ever gets the job done. Beyond the filters, we would look at a damaged pump. Broken impellers will move less water. Worn out bearings (you can tell this is the problem because the pump will also run loudly) will move less water. And lastly, you may have a foreign object in the plumbing or the pump head which could restrict flow. If the issue is localized to one particular jet and not an area, then you may want to check that jet for foreign objects (hair, scale, etc.) that might be restricting flow from behind the jet.

Why does my breaker (GFCI) keep tripping? –

Before we get into this too deeply, we need to warn our readers that do-it-yourself electrical repairs and troubleshooting carries a high risk is ideally only handled by certified repair technicians. ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE POWER TO THE SPA IS OFF WHEN CONNECTING OR DISCONNECTING COMPONENTS. What technician would do in this situation will be to turn off power to the spa. Then, disconnect all the componentry from the spa pack. This includes the pumps, blowers, ozonators, lighting boxes, and anything else. Then power the back on. At this point only the spa is getting power. If the GFCI trips, then your pack is bad. If it does not trip, then shut off the power, connect one component, then power back on. If it trips, you’ve found the faulty component. If not, repeat the process of adding one component at a time MAKING SURE TO POWER OFF WHEN RECONNECTING until you’ve found the faulty component that trips the breaker. If none of the components are culprit, then you should look for loose wires, burnt connections, and corrosion. Beyond that, you may simply be dealing with a breaker box.

I don’t want to use Bromine or Chlorine. Is there an effective alternative? –

First and foremost, be careful. There has been no shortage of quack products that have entered and exited the market, claiming to magically solve water chemistry issues, only to fail miserably and leave damage spas or infected spa users in their wake. Being in business for over 30 years, we’ve learned not to trust or recommend anything that hasn’t proven itself over some meaningful amount of time. With that said, the answer is YES, there are alternatives that allow you to significantly lower the need for Bromine or Chlorine, or eliminate them entirely. Our favorite product to this end is Silk Balance. We’ve tested, used, and successfully recommended these products to thousands of our clients that desired to get away from the traditional Chlorine or Bromine systems.

Are all Shocking formulas the same? –

No. There are chlorinating shocks and non-chlorine shock treatments. Chlorinated shock treatments are not compatible with many chemical regimens, but preferred by some. Non-Chlorine shocks are the most commonly used, however, because they don’t product a harsh chlorine odor. Here are two examples of product we’d recommend: Non-Chlorine Sock Renu, and Chlorinated Shock Replenish

I get dry skin from using my spa, but don’t want to cut down on my usage. Is there anything that can help the skin from drying out? –

Although Chlorine and Bromine can dry the skin to some degree, low PH is also a very common culprit. Low PH means the water is acidic. Acidic water will certainly dry the skin and irritate it to varying degrees. Also, if the problem is more serious, consider using the alternative sanitizer mentioned above, Silk Balance  which has been shown to dramatically reduce skin irritation, even in people with chronic eczema.

There is a molding musty smell right when I open my spa cover… –

Most often, this problem is with the spa or water, but insider the cover itself. Try cleaning the inside of the spa cover. If the problem is to grave and does not go away, it may be time for a new cover.

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