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Thread: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

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    Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    So I'm trying to get a spa going to do a decontamination flush. I filled the spa and when I plug the large spa plug into the outlet, the power indicator on the plug comes on, I hear what I think is the spa low flow pump come on, the spa control panel lights up(power light, ready light ,and display back light), but then a second or two later the spa turns off. No lights on the control panel, maybe I hear a relay(s) click, and the power light on the large plug goes out. If I hit the reset button on the large plug then the same thing happens as before with the power coming on momentarily and then shuts off again.

    One guess is the system is tripping the GFCI feature.

    I'd appreciate any hypothesis on what's going on and next steps for troubleshooting. Thanks in advance. This forum is great

    I'm going to try and add a link to a video of what's happening. Sorry I'm not showing the spa control display. I'm over by the plug pressing it's reset button. I also removed the cover to the wiring panel and you can see some of the lights that come on and go off as well.
    Please let me know if you are able to view the video.
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/i...96545311747202
    here's the video on skydrive
    https://skydrive.live.com/#cid=B614D...F33AAB66%21544

    Okay, Here's some more info. If I start the jets during that small window there is power to the spa, the power stays on. When I turn of the jets the power goes out again.

    In the owners manual it mentions that for a 115 volt wired spa, which this is, it will not run the jets and the heater at the same time. So as long as the jets are running the heater will not turn on. That tells me when I turn the jets off the heater is coming on and then perhaps something heater related is kicking off power to the spa including the power light on the large GFCI plug.

    So what might be my next steps for troubleshooting the heater?
    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    I would like to clear something up before I throw an answer in for ya.

    The large plug that has the two buttons "reset" and "test" is a LCDI plug. Is that would keeps tripping causing you to lose power? Or are you resetting something else?

    Oh yes, also a model number for the spa, and equipment would be helpful too.
    69,000 Gal gunite indoor IG pool.
    5 HP Emerson - Pentair Triton II Commercial TR140c Sand Filter x2
    5,000 Gal gunite outdoor IG hot tub
    2 HP Sta-Rite - Pentair Triton II Commercial TR140c Sand Filter

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Quote Originally Posted by Linkterfur
    I would like to clear something up before I throw an answer in for ya.

    The large plug that has the two buttons "reset" and "test" is a LCDI plug. Is that would keeps tripping causing you to lose power? Or are you resetting something else?
    No it is not an LCDI plug to my knowledge. The owner's manual. labeling on the outlet cover, instructions/warning stickers in the equipment area and molded into the large plastic plug casing along with other print are all mentions of GFCI. Yes when the power is loss to the spa the power led on the large GFCI plug also goes out. Then when I press the yellow button labeled "RESET" on the large plug the power light on the plug and power is restored to the spa for r 1 or 2 seconds and then power is out again. So I surmise that the it is something tripping the GFCI as resetting it restores power, if only for a short while.
    Quote Originally Posted by Linkterfur
    Oh yes, also a model number for the spa, and equipment would be helpful too.
    It is a Tiger River Spas Sumatran model N, early 2000s.
    Here is a close up of the GFCI plug

    Here is the back of the GFCI plug. If you look close is says GFCI.

    Here is the Model sticker in the equipment area

    Here's the heater model number

    Here's the model on the casing of the control panel. Please let me know if you'd like pics on the inside of this.

    The owners manual states it has a Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump, which should be the one that feed the heater. The Wavemaster pump that runs the jets appears to be in working order.
    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Okay I found something else going on now.

    I connected the hose to the main drain last night and opened the valve to drain out the higher chlorinated(100ppm) water that was used for the decontamination flush. Remember the power to the spa will remain on if I turn the jets on right away and so I did go through the decontamination process.

    Well when I checked the spa the water level had not gone down. I disconnected the hose and no water was coming out the main drain. I flipped the valve on the drain outlet the other way just in case and still no water drained. I reached in the drain and confirmed the valve was open when in the direction I had it last night.

    Less than a week ago when I attempted to fill the spa for the decontamination run, it was about 1/3 full and I notice a leak near the heater fitting. I drained the spa to address that issue and the main drain worked just fine along with the secondary.

    So something must have occurred since then and or during the decontamination flush to where the main drain is now blocked. Now this may or may not be related to the GFCI being tripped. I guess this depends on where the blockage for the drain is occuring and if the system can detect and lack of water or water flow somewhere and would intentionaly trip a GFCI. My thought is if a system detected lack of water or lack of flow it would not trip a GFCI but might cut power to a device (heater, pump, jet pump) and then blink some status lights on the user control panel with maybe a message or error code.

    So my guess at this point is that the GFCI tripping is not directly related to the drain being plugged not draining. What do you guys think?

    Also how do I go about unclogging this drain? I'm going to try and drain what I can through the secondary drain.
    Update: I live in a cold climate and may be that there was some water left in the drain that froze but I left that drain open for a long time when draining it last week and would not expect anything left in the lines like that. I had also drained the secondary drain last week as well. I say this as got down level with the drain opening with the valve open and thought I could see some ice in there. Well the spa is draining slowly via the secondary drain now. I'll have to think of some way of applying some heat/warm water near the main drain and see if I can tell any difference or if it starts to drain some.
    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    don't know what to say about it not draining.

    as for the other problem.
    you should trouble shoot the heater and small pump first.
    you should be able to do a ohms test on the heater and small pump. unplug them from the powerpack and use the ends of the plugs. i haven't tested that type of heater before so i can't say what the reading should be. but if it reads infinity it's shot.

    after it's filled again you could trouble shoot this way.
    since it works with the pump on. so after you refill it, unhook the power to the heater and see what happens. if it still trips unplug the small pump too and see if it still trips. don't have the heater plug in with the small pump unhooked. it might fry it if it's still good.

    my guess is the heater or small pump housing cracked and is letting water hit the power. so when power is applied to them it trips the gfi. i've had heaters, powerpacks and motors go without tripping the gfi.

    ps: i'm not a electrician but i've wired and had to trouble shoot my tub and did all repairs for the last 11 years. it can be a pain finding the problem, but a ohm meter is a must for most things.
    Pool
    12,000 IG vinyl
    hayward c900. 90 sq.ft cartridge
    1hp motor flow rate?

    spa
    400 gallons
    2012 hotsprings vangard

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Thank you TIMMAH for the troubleshooting steps. I will go through those and get back with the results.

    Funny, I thought it was going to be easy to get this spa going, but not having an exact history of it I think I set my expectations too high.
    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Okay I disconnected the blade connectors connecting the heater wires to the to electrical board and also the 3 blade connectors connecting the circulation pump(it's labeled as circ pump on the board) wires to the board. I tested the ohms or each device and here are the results

    Heater- 10.0 on the 200 setting not 200k setting
    Circulation(small) pump - 47.8 on the 200 setting

    I then filled the spa most of the way. Reconnected the circulation pump wires back to the board, plugged in the large main power GFCI plug and the power stayed on with out running the Jet(large) pump running. I noticed a green led on the board and a red led glowing. On the board next to the red led it read heater. I could hear the circulation pump running and it appeared to be working normally. When I turned on the jets the red led on the board for the heater went out and then came back on when I turned the jets off. This behavior is what I was expecting as my 120v wired spa will not run the heater and the Jet pump at the same time.


    I would appreciate any tips on the next steps to troubleshoot the heater and/or confirm it's dead and not salvageable.
    I also would appreciate anyone who knows what or how I could get the expected resistance ratings on the circ pump and heater to compare with the measurements I took. Thanks in advance.

    I did notice something else the power wire from the control box to the heater is tightly looped and I figure it's been that way since from the factory. It's also really cramped going into the heater as it bends up against the circulation pump housing. Well, where it makes this tight turn just before entering the heater casing and on the outside of the bend where one would expect the most pressure to be on the wire insulation there is a break in the insulation. I'll have to get a mirror to get a better inspection of it, but from my first looks the internal wires don't seem damaged so I don't expect any two of the three wires are shorting together.

    Here you can hopefully see what I'm talking about.


    And hopefully you can see better what I'm talking about how it's cramped up against for circulation pump. Circulation pump is on the right in this pic. It just seems like too tight a turn for this size wire, but it seems like the heater and circ pump placement are a predetermined mass produced layout.

    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Those ohm readings look about right for those items. The heater you have is a 1.5kw on 120 volts.

    It looks like the insulation is broken on that cable and if so then the internal carriers are probably damaged as well and are either shorting against each other or ground. Either will trip the GFCI.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Those ohm readings look about right for those items. The heater you have is a 1.5kw on 120 volts.
    Thanks for confirming those ohm readings. I appreciate that.

    It looks like the insulation is broken on that cable and if so then the internal carriers are probably damaged as well and are either shorting against each other or ground. Either will trip the GFCI.
    I'm draining the spa and will be removing the heater, at least unscrewing it from its install location to get a better inspection of the wires. I know I have not been near that area of the wire with my hands or any tools since working on this spa. Of course I don't know its full history either. Whether any of the internal wires are damaged and shorting, my hypothesis is that a break in the insulation could allow enough of a current loss to trip the GFCI even with undamaged wires. What do you think of that hypothesis?

    There is plenty of wire length to where I'm hoping I can cut off the bad end and reconnect the wire to the heater past the point of the break in the insulation, but this may depend on how that heater housing is sealed and if it can be disassembled and reassembled easily enough for rewiring and still be leak free afterwards.
    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Wiring bent that sharp would fail over time without any mechanical damage.

    The insulation is part of the integrity of the conductor, so if the insulation is also damaged on individual wires it could certainly leak enough current to trip a GFCI.

    That's an old style heater and it's replaced by a newer model so if you can't fix the wiring you'll have to buy a new style heater.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Okay I disconnected the heater from the other plumbing lines and unscrewed it from where it was mounted so I could get a better look at the out insulation and how bad it was damaged. It still just bugs me that this could have been prevented if the wire wasn't not routed with such a site turn from the factory. Thanks Tiger Rivers Spas/Hot springs


    I also noticed there was a tight turn of the power wire going to the circulation pump, but that is a smaller gauge wire so I don't think its outer casing has been affected, yet?

    Well once I had the heater out I opened its casing, just a couple screws, and look what I found inside. Now this is likely the cause of the GFCI tripping. Water leaking inside the heater itself would provide a nice path for current to escape.
    I indicate where a plastic piece and o-ring have backed out from the connection point of the metal tube and plastic internal fitting. This is likely the leak, source of the water causing the GFCI trip, and the lovely rust coloring.


    What's interesting, the plastic piece and o-ring that backed out is similar to what happened at the other end of the metal heater tub where it connected to another plastic fitting, although not near as far as in the pic above. Thread on that issue here. I guess this is not the most reliable long term connection design.

    I also cut away the whole wire insulation where it had already started to break open and inspected the 3 wires inside and found no damage to their indivifual insulation.

    Next I'm planing on a further disassemble of the heater, clean of the rust, and inspection of all the parts in that connection. Then I'll see if it's something that can be reassembled and/or repaired.
    Spa - Tiger River Spas Sumatran, 2003(I think) 310 gallons, Filter - Cartridge, Type - Acrylic, Pump Motor - Silent Flo 5000 circulation pump & a Wavemaster jet pump, Other - Has a Ozonator. Owners Manual

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Spa electrical comes on for second then off again

    Any moisture in that box would most likely cause the gfci to trip. I suspect it's time for a new heater.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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