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​Can You Repair an Old Hot Tub?

​Can You Repair an Old Hot Tub?

Posted by Pool & Hot Tub Depot on Oct 15, 2021

With colder weather approaching, it’s a common time for homeowners to look into getting a hot tub so you can enjoy relaxing soaks in hot water all winter long. If you’re looking at getting a used hot tub, make sure to have an in depth look at the parts and shell to make sure nothing has been seriously damaged. If any parts need repair or replacement you’ll want to get everything fixed before winter hits, as draining your hot tub to perform repairs during cold weather introduces a freezing risk to your whole hot tub and should be avoided at all costs.

Acrylic Shell

When looking at a hot tub, you’ll generally see two main areas: the wood cabinet surround and the beautifully coloured surface that completely lines the inside of the hot tub - this surface is the acrylic shell. When purchasing a used hot tub, thoroughly examine the acrylic shell for any signs of wear and specifically scratches and cracks. Any damage to the acrylic shell can cause substantial leaks into the whole internals of your hot tub underneath and is quite difficult to fix. Since the shell is one solid piece that has been molded specifically for that hot tub brand and model, replacing the whole thing is not usually a viable option, so any cracks have to be repaired and patched. With the substantial water pressure being put on those cracks constantly, even if you are able to patch the cracks, any fix done is usually only temporary and will not last long term. If looking for a used hot tub, try to find one with a solid and undamaged acrylic shell to save time, money and a big headache in the future.

Wooden Surround

Have a look at the wood surrounding cabinet and check for any signs of damage, rotting, decay or loose boards or screws. While the external surround is mostly cosmetic, it also serves to protect the internal components from harsh outdoor weather such as snow and ice. If the surround is constantly exposed to the elements without any protection or frequent removal of snow/ice, it can wear down over time.

While investigating the condition of the surround, also open up the cabinet to have a look at the structural wood frame underneath. This is what’s holding up your hot tub and it needs to be in sturdy, stable condition.

Any fixes to the wood would involve carefully replacing any unstable wood board with new wood, though if there’s structural damage, it's usually best to contact a contractor or spa technician - the last thing you want is to be soaking in your new-to-you hot tub and have the wood structure collapse! For the external cosmetic cabinet, some may even choose to re-stain and seal the wood colour to suit their backyard design or cover any fading or discolouration from UV damage.

Water Pump(s)

Hot tubs will have at least one pump, frequently two or more. Since these are what’s actually moving the water through your tub, the pump(s) need to be in good working condition. Hot tub pumps have 2 basic components, the electric motor and the plastic piece on the end called the “wet-end”. Have a look at the pump while it’s running and investigate for signs of worn or damaged parts:

  • humming, grinding or whining noises
  • leaks, even small ones
  • low water pressure
  • error messages on the spa topside (the keypad with buttons where you adjust the temperature)

Pump parts can wear down over time and need to be replaced, but before purchase and without opening up the wet end you likely won’t be able to identify which parts are failing. Leaks can signal anything from a simple seal needing replacement to a cracked piece, while grinding or humming noises may signal something like debris or leaves stuck in the wet end which is an easier fix, to motor failure which is ultimately best to just replace with a brand new pump. Ultimately you won’t know until the pump is opened up where the issue is, but watching for these warning signs can help you anticipate if the pump(s) may need to be repaired or replaced.

Control Pack and Heater

The control panel (also known as control pack) and the heater are frequently bundled together as they need to be compatible with each other to work; you cannot interchange different brands or models of heaters and control packs. The control panel is basically a computer that is the brain of your hot tub and controls heat, filtration cycles, water flow, and any other features your spa may have. Similarly to pumps, you may not be be able to tell exactly where problems lies within a control pack, but newer models feature error codes that will give you a good idea of what’s wrong. Some indications of issues with the control panel or heater include:

  • An error code on the topside is the best way to tell there’s something wrong with the spa and it will generally tell you where the problem is as well. Common error codes you may see include:
  • If the control panel/topside is not responding or has no display, it could be a sign one or both need to be replaced. Check for any cracked parts or leaks around the control panel as well as the topside to make sure no water has gotten in - these parts are not waterproof and if any water gets in them they can be permanently damaged.
  • Overall, the control pack and heater can be one of the largest expenses when it comes to fixing an older hot tub, so if you want to avoid it when purchasing a used hot tub look for any sign of an error code, water or damage near the spa pack and topside, and any sign the control panel is not functioning properly (such as no filtration cycle coming on, temperature on topside not matching actual temperature, etc).

Plumbing

The plumbing lines in your hot tub are what carries the water throughout your spa. When looking for a used hot tub, check all plumbing lines for signs of leaks and especially cracks or freeze damage. Sometimes small leaks can be caused by something as simple as a loose connection or a gasket that needs to be replaced, however obvious large cracks or substantial leaks will require more in depth repair. 

Plumbing is a fairly economical fix if there’s mild damage, however it can be quite a a headache to get in there and replace parts and plumbing lines as the hot tub needs to be drained each time. If the spa has been frozen before, most of the plumbing has likely become brittle and/or cracked and will require quite a bit of work to fix and replace all the parts. There are quite a few pieces of plumbing that manufacturer’s may use in their spas, so if you need help finding specific pieces to work with your plumbing lines, don’t hesitate to email us pictures of the plumbing that needs replacing at parts@poolandhottubdepot.com.

It’s important to note that hot tubs use different measurements than standard household plumbing. A 2” fixture purchased at a big box store for standard house plumbing will not have the same measurements as a 2” hot tub fixture and will not be compatible. All plumbing pieces must be specifically noted for use in the hot tub industry. All plumbing fixtures sold at Pool and Hot Tub Depot are meant for and measured specifically for use with hot tubs.

Filter

The filtration system is your hot tub’s main defence against dirty water. The filter collects any contaminants in the water before it can reach your hot tub pump and heater, plus removes it from the water so you aren’t soaking in it. The filter itself is incredibly simple and inexpensive to replace, and when purchasing a new hot tub it’s a good idea to get a new filter. Filters generally need to be replaced every 1-2 years anyway even with frequent cleaning.

When looking at a used hot tub, you’ll also want to check or ask if there are any missing pieces to the filter system such as the canister, filter rings, filter lids or cover, valves etc. Sometimes after purchasing a hot tub customers can find that there are various parts missing inside, and filtration systems can sometimes require incredibly specific branded parts to replace that may be hard to find. If the hot tub is in need of filter parts, send pictures of the current hot tub set up to our team at Pool and Hot Tub Depot and we can help you find a compatible replacement.

Optional Equipment

Blowers, ozonators, and UV systems are equipment that’s not available on every spa and isn’t necessary for the spa to run properly. If you note any damage or wear to these items or if they simply aren’t functional, they don’t necessarily need to be replaced if they aren’t important to you.

  • Ozonators inject extra oxygen into your hot tub water which helps kill bacteria, germs and viruses when used in conjunction with your chemical sanitizer. Some consumers find that ozonators may lead to clearer water and less chemical use. Ozonators generally need to be replaced every 2-3 years to continue cleaning the water, so if looking at a used spa and you’re interested in the ozonator, keep in mind that it likely needs replacing. Alternatively, the ozonator can simply be disconnected and not used.
  • Blowers are basically air pumps that add air bubbles into the water coming out of your jets for a bit of an extra zing to your massage. If any moisture gets into the blower it will likely suffer water damage and need replacing. When replacing a blower, you’ll need to find a replacement with compatible electrical specifications, plug, and voltage. You may also want to replace the check valve plumbing piece near the blower to help prevent your new replacement blower from suffering water damage as well. Alternatively you can simply remove and disconnect the blower as the hot tub will run perfectly fine without one.
  • UV systems have similar benefits as ozonators, helping to kill bacteria and germs in the water, but UV systems do so by running water through a chamber where the water is exposed to a high intensity ultraviolet light. UV systems are less common and again not a necessary feature, but if you’d like to use it be aware that you’ll likely need to have the UV bulb replaced every 1-2 years depending on the system.

Turn it on! When looking at a used hot tub, always inspect it while it’s turned on, filled with water and running whenever possible. Any abnormal noises or issues with water flow, parts and even leaks will usually only reveal themselves when the spa is actually powered on and running.

When repairing your spa, always remember:

  • Electrical repairs can be extremely dangerous, especially around water. Always shut off the power at the service panel as well as disconnect the spa from power before attempting any kind of repairs or service. Electrical connections and repairs must always be performed by a qualified and licensed electrician.
  • Any structural changes or modifications should be performed by a qualified contractor to ensure all aspects are up to local code and safe for use.
  • If unsure at any point while completing spa repairs, stop and call a local qualified and licensed contractor, electrician or spa technician for assistance.
  • For help locating replacement parts for your hot tub, our Parts department would be happy to help. Simply send pictures to parts@poolandhottubdepot.com and we’ll get back to you with replacement options.