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Thread: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Making this thread for suggestions and to document the process of trying to fix the current issues with my spa.

    History:
    New-to-me outdoor firberglass spa, 345 gallon GL700 Shoreline Spa. Specification from flyer is (2) 4 HP pumps, 46 total jets with ozonator purifier (but wiring for ozonator was severed by previous owner, so not operating) Main service panel in house has 50 AMP breaker servicing only the spa. Also have external subpanel mounted outside of house, roughly 20 feet from spa. External subpanel is 50 AMP breaker with GFCI protection. Spa was new about 5 years ago. Prior to that another spa was there. Age of external subpanel versus age of main service breakers indicates that the external subpanel was likely added when spa was replaced. Ran without issue from April of this year until mid-summer.

    Current issues:
    Spa runs normally most of the time. When spa has both pumps running, sometimes both on low speed, sometimes one or both on high speed AND is attempting to heat water, breaker at main service panel inside house trips off. Subpanel breakers have never tripped out and GFCI has also never tripped. Have reset subpanel GFCI a few times. Both sides of 50 AMP breaker inside are warm, even hot to the touch when checking breakers after spa shuts down. The top breaker of the pair inside seems to be hotter to the touch than the bottom.

    Likely problems:
    1 - Could be faulty/aging 50 AMP breaker at main service panel.
    2 - Could be aging/corroded heating element causing higher amperage draw.

    First suggested steps, by my reasoning:
    1- Because main panel breaker are hot and are the only point that has exhibited failure and are older than the rest of the components, I'm leaning toward having these two breakers replaced to see if that remedies the problem.
    2- If problem persists, will replace heating assembly with new part. Could be causing the excessive amperage, but unsure why this would cause main breakers to trip before external breakers.
    3- If problem persists, will look into external breaker, but seems less likely.

    Any other troubleshooting advice is appreciated. I do have access to a non-calibrated multi-meter for testing. Wanting to sort this out sooner rather than later as I'd rather not have my spa shutting down during the highest demand, highest risk season: a cold MN winter.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Read through owners manual again, thoroughly. It indicates for North American installations, it should be on a dedicated 240 Volt, 60 Amp breaker with GFCI... interesting.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    I would say you have done an excellent job of troubleshooting and identifying the probable causes. Your course of actions appears sound.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Will have a licensed electrician replace the inside breaker, maybe also the external with the recommended 60 amp breakers, depending on their thoughts. However, out of curiosity I looked on YouTube for breaker replacement. One video is of a gentleman replacing a breaker on a LIVE panel with main power on. Not calling that guy...
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Quote Originally Posted by JVTrain View Post
    Will have a licensed electrician replace the inside breaker, maybe also the external with the recommended 60 amp breakers, depending on their thoughts. However, out of curiosity I looked on YouTube for breaker replacement. One video is of a gentleman replacing a breaker on a LIVE panel with main power on. Not calling that guy...
    Actually it's not that hard/dangerous if you know what you are doing. I have replaced them hot many times. Just gotta take it slow and know what is hot. You will find that most electricians will replace a breaker hot, generally no need to to trip the main. I just had an electrician over to swap about a dozen circuits back and forth between two main panels so I could hook up my back up generator. He never tripped either main but you could tell he was cautious, deliberate and respected the panel.

    Remember, a breaker is designed to protect the wire. If you have a 50a in the panel the 60a in the sub means nothing other than you just spent $100ish retail for something that is doing nothing. A 60 downstream from a 50 will never trip, the 50 will go first.

    Now, nothing I have said should be construed for anyone who is not comfortable/competent to remove the dead front from their panel and start swapping breakers. Everyone should know their limitations and work within them.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Yep. I'd do both at 60 or just the 1 at 50. Does seem odd that it was installed differently than recommended. Probably because the original spa was 50 and they didn't want to replace both then.

    I am surprised that electricians would replace hot, but have no direct experience with wiring panels, only outlets, switches and lights which I've done way too many...
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Quote Originally Posted by JVTrain View Post
    Yep. I'd do both at 60 or just the 1 at 50. Does seem odd that it was installed differently than recommended. Probably because the original spa was 50 and they didn't want to replace both then.

    I am surprised that electricians would replace hot, but have no direct experience with wiring panels, only outlets, switches and lights which I've done way too many...
    Depending on the wire you may not be able to swap to a 60 without pulling new wire. It will depend on the existing wire and length of the run.

    You can use a wire size calculator to see if you can do what you want without replacing the wire.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    One thing to clarify to those not familiar with them is that a GFCI breaker will trip under two different conditions - current over the breakers rating OR a difference in current between the supply and return lines indicating a situation where some or all current is sneaking to ground.

    GFCI breakers on systems with pumps can be a bit tricky because inductive motors can create enough RFI on the lines that it can cause the GFI to trip the circuit. Make sure any GFCI breaker replaced is rated to work with motors.



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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Actually it's not that hard/dangerous if you know what you are doing. I have replaced them hot many times. Just gotta take it slow and know what is hot. You will find that most electricians will replace a breaker hot, generally no need to to trip the main.
    I tend to agree with Tim here, as i have replaced/wired up breakers with my electrical panel energized (im building my own home and have done all electrical myself). As he said.... Take your time. know what you can touch and what you cant. All poles in a residential electrical box are 110v. 220v is just two adjacent 110v poles.

    And as Tim also said, if you dont feel confident and comfortable doing it, get a qualified person to do it.

    Have you touched your breakers at the sub panel after the house panel trips. It could be that they are about to trip but the house panel is just slightly "weaker" and therefore trips first and removes the power.
    Randy H.

    Intex 18' X 48"
    G.A.M.E. Sandpro 75 Sand Filter (Single Speed 3/4 HP, 75 lbs sand, 2650 GPH, 7-way valve)

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    I have touched the subs. They seemed slightly warmer than room/outside temp but not like the main.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    So that would seem to indicate that the house breakers are "slightly weaker" than the sub breakers. Slightly weaker could mean that they are tripping at alot less than the rated amperage and would be deemed defective.
    Installing a 60 amp in the house and leaving the sub at 50 GFCI might solve the problem providing that your wire size is proper. It would put you below the suggested rated amperage, although if the breaker in the sub is getting warm it also means you are almost at its rated capacity. I know this is mostly common sense and you know this.
    Randy H.

    Intex 18' X 48"
    G.A.M.E. Sandpro 75 Sand Filter (Single Speed 3/4 HP, 75 lbs sand, 2650 GPH, 7-way valve)

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    I don't believe that I can or should install a 60 Amp breaker without pulling new wire. Current wire is 6 AWG and bumping up to a 60 amp over a 50 amp dictates that I should have 4 AWG wire based on the wire size calculator. I'll have to see how it responds to a new 50 Amp and the main panel. Probably will be getting it done tonight.

    Also as an update, the main panel breaker is tripping almost constantly now with the colder air temps at night even though I have the spa in Economy mode most of the time, where it's only keeping the spa at 85 degrees.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Also as an update, the main panel breaker is tripping almost constantly now with the colder air temps at night even though I have the spa in Economy mode most of the time, where it's only keeping the spa at 85 degrees.
    A breaker that is already weak will get weaker through prolonged use. I dont doubt that the cooler temps may have influenced it, but it could also be the combination of the two. Lets just hope that installing a new 50 will get you through the year.
    Randy H.

    Intex 18' X 48"
    G.A.M.E. Sandpro 75 Sand Filter (Single Speed 3/4 HP, 75 lbs sand, 2650 GPH, 7-way valve)

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    Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    You mentioned it in your list of possible fixes, but how easy is it to pull the heater? Are there replacement heaters for it?

    Given the spas age, the constant tripping makes me think you should tackle that one next.



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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Just installed the new 50 amp breaker. I bit the bullet and installed it myself. I have done quite a bit of rewiring of outlets, switches, lights, etc. so... get after it. I did end up replacing it with the main hot. I was extremely careful, wearing my thickest rubber sole boots and stood on a 2 x 12 board and stuck to the one hand rule. No big deal, was just difficult to get the wires into the new breaker. The old breaker had deeper receptacles for the wires and they were in about 5/8" up to the insulation. The insulation was slightly charred and made the wires sticky. I don't think the wires should have been installed that deep or more insulation should have been stripped. The new breaker had shorter receptacles so now there is roughly 1/4" of bare wire exposed so insulation is no longer touching the receptacle. I was nervous about the melted insulation but it was fairly minor with just a residue on the wire and old receptacles. Was much easier to install the wires on the new breaker, then seat it into the panel. Those are some monstrous wires.

    Closed things up and turned on the breaker. Spa started up normally and is now heating. New breaker not warm to the touch, yet. I'll check it after the spa has been running for a while. I'll check the sub breaker as well.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyOptimism View Post
    You mentioned it in your list of possible fixes, but how easy is it to pull the heater? Are there replacement heaters for it?

    Given the spas age, the constant tripping makes me think you should tackle that one next.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Heater is fairly straightforward to remove and replace and they are available. They are roughly $175 though. Much more expensive than a $15 standard 50A breaker. The only difficult part about replacing the heater would be that the tub is sunken into a deck with only about 3 feet of clearance between ground and deck. Working flat on your stomach is rough on the neck and shoulders. I found this out when de-winterizing this spring.

    Felt the temperature on main breaker. Cool to the touch after running for 30 minutes. Temperature had slid to 77 with spa off for about 24 hours, is now up to 81 degrees. Subpanel breaker was warm to the touch, but not much more than ambient.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Quote Originally Posted by JVTrain View Post
    Heater is fairly straightforward to remove and replace and they are available. They are roughly $175 though. Much more expensive than a $15 standard 50A breaker. The only difficult part about replacing the heater would be that the tub is sunken into a deck with only about 3 feet of clearance between ground and deck. Working flat on your stomach is rough on the neck and shoulders. I found this out when de-winterizing this spring.

    Felt the temperature on main breaker. Cool to the touch after running for 30 minutes. Temperature had slid to 77 with spa off for about 24 hours, is now up to 81 degrees. Subpanel breaker was warm to the touch, but not much more than ambient.
    $15 versus $175 and the new breaker seems to be working out....sounds like a winner to me

    Here's hoping for no more tripped circuits!!



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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Excellent job, I also hope this fixes it. I think that you had the right idea to start with, just needed some reassurance or some organized opinions to reaffirm what you suspected.
    Randy H.

    Intex 18' X 48"
    G.A.M.E. Sandpro 75 Sand Filter (Single Speed 3/4 HP, 75 lbs sand, 2650 GPH, 7-way valve)

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    After 2 hours, temp up to 88. I have had cover open to get some UV. No breaker issues. Main breaker cool to the touch, sub breaker is warm to touch.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Intermittent Spa Shutdown

    Great job. Sounds like it is working out. I've got my fingers crossed.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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