Taking the stress out of hot tub repair

July 2014 Feature Michael Duelley

After a great day on the water, especially when the temperature drops a little, it’s time to heat up the hot tub and relax your cares away. Unfortunately, like any system onboard with complex inner workings, something can—and often times does—happen the moment you want to jump in and warm up. The truth is, you can't go on enjoying your hot tub if you don't take a little time to perform a little preventative maintenance here and there. Luckily, there are a few good tips and some things to look out for, so keeping your houseboat hot tub up and running doesn't have to become an unbearable chore.

Check Your Fittings

Ever walk through, doing the normal rounds from bow to stern, and notice some leaks coming from seemingly nowhere? A hot tub has a lot of fittings. There are several seals, O-rings and connections throughout the hot tub that will wear out over time. Once that happens, you may find water pools where the rubber O-rings have rotted, seals and silicone bonds may have deteriorated or you may even find that some of the components are no longer working.

To fix these fittings, you may have to drain the hot tub completely in order to keep from exacerbating the water leak. You may also want to remove electrical power to the hot tub. It may not seem like a potential hazard, but water and electricity never mix well and keeping yourself safe from electrical shock is a must. Next, disassemble the leaky fittings or connections and inspect the rubber seals. For some permanent fittings, ensure that the adhesive bond has no cracks and the bond is still holding strong.

One issue you may find is cracking and degradation of these seals. These seals will have to be replaced completely. Once all of the seals and fittings have been checked, it's time to take a look at the jet bodies. The jet bodies house the jets, and have seals that may also crack and wear out over time. If this is the case, you may have to change out the old jet body and install a new one. Once that's taken care of, if you still see a little bit of leakage coming from your spa, take a moment to locate your heater assembly manifold. These can rattle loose during shipping, or over time lose integrity, so checking it can be vital. Once all of the leaks have been sealed, fill the tub back up and enjoy a relaxing evening, courtesy of all your hard work. If things still aren't going as planned, it may be time to replace a few parts.

Replacing The Jets

When a hot tub puts on a few years, like anything else, parts tend to fizzle out. If you're noticing that some of your jets aren't working, there are a couple possible culprits to take a look at. First, if there are any serious leaks going on behind the jet, it may not be getting enough pressure to function properly. If you take a look and there are no leaks to repair, the jet itself may be in need of replacing. When you remove the jet, be sure to check the O-rings and the inside of the jet housing for any wear or cracks. This may have been the cause of the jet failure in the first place. If everything checks out, then replace the old jet and run it again. If there's still a problem and the jet isn't functioning, it may be time to take a look at some of the electrical connections and make sure that they're all conducting energy.

A lot of times, when things aren't going the way they should but there doesn't seem to be any visible cause, the problem is usually somewhere in the electrical system. If it turns out that your spa is malfunctioning due to an electrical failure, it's best that a trained technician come in to do the necessary repairs. While replacing some of the smaller components and wires may seem like a simple task, connecting them incorrectly could have disastrous effects, so hiring a trained professional not only saves time and effort, but adds precious peace of mind.

Another thing to look out for is the tub body itself. With all of the fixtures, jets, and the body's unique design, cracks and punctures can turn up and be almost impossible to see. Where a puncture is better to find with the water removed from the spa, a crack may be easier to spot while there is still a little water inside. To fix these cracks or punctures, you must first ensure that the area in need of repair is dry and clean. Once the area is prepped and ready to go, use a silicone based adhesive and apply a thin layer over the damaged area. Then, after the area has had a few hours to cure (check the label on the bottle for curing instructions), it should be safe to refill the tub and begin operation.

Use The Right Tools

To make sure that any repairs you do to you houseboat hot tub hold up and work properly, be sure to reference your owner's manual for information about which sealants, hoses and tools to use during repair. There are a lot of quick fix solutions on the market, but some can be a little too good to be true. While the manual may list some more expensive replacement parts and sealants, it's far better to make a proper investment and enjoy your hot tub experience, than to try and make a quick fix and potentially lose out on time.

While repairing a hot tub can be a lot of research and work, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Manufacturers have made owners manuals easy to navigate through and have laid out detailed schematics of the hot tub to show you where each part is located. If looking through the manual still hasn't cleared the air, it may be a good time to get a repairman to come in and help give you some of the details about your specific hot tub. Taking the time to understand how each system operates and familiarizing yourself with your spa can make repairs a breeze, and keep you enjoying nice nights in the hot tub more often.

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