2005 Hot Springs Vista, Problem with flashing power and ready lights. No Heat. Help please!

Tim_B

Well-known member
May 8, 2018
53
Denver, NC
Purchased a new home last winter with this hot tub. Nothing but problems from the start. Previous owner said everything worked. First the keypad went out and the system defaulted to 80 degrees. Spa ran like this through the winter (heated at 80 degrees). Early spring the recirc pump failed so I drained the tub. A few weeks ago I replaced the keypad and recirc pump. I then filled, did ahh-some treatments and drained (3 times). Both power light and ready light flashed from the first fill to the last. Heater never came on. On the 3rd and last fill the breaker started tripping as soon as the pumps were turned on. Checked pumps and found pump 1 is tripping breaker. Disconnected pump 1 and everything works (except heater). Still have both lights flashing. Today I replaced the Control Thermistor and the High-Limit Sensor. Still have problem. When I jumper (bypass) the pressure switch I get a fast blinking Power light only and the keypad becomes unusable but recirc pump is running. If I unplug pressure switch I get the same two lights flashing as I do when it is plugged in. Everything else works great... recirc pump, pump 2 and ozonator. Recirc pump has great pressure. I've tested it with and without the filters. Voltages are all good. Running out of ideas.

PUMP 1 failure theory: The seal around the light was leaking and dripping directly onto the electrical end of the pump. Not sure how long this went on. Thinking it may have some corrosion on the inside and either arched across the leads or just died. Pump turns easily by hand. I'll fix or replace it when I drain the tub. Need to fix the heater issue first, don't think they are related.

What am I missing? Any ideas?
 
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DangerBoy

Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
102
Calgary/Alberta
I think you indicated at least part of the answer when you said "If I unplug pressure switch I get the same two lights flashing as I do when it is plugged in." That tells me the pressure switch is not closing so it doesn't matter if it's plugged in or not.

According to Page 61 of the manual for that tub (https://2vg96i2x6zru3mebxg3fa9hs-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/hot-spring_spas_owners_manual_2005.pdf)

"If the spa is not heating, the red and green lights are blinking, but the pump and light are operating, then the pressure switch may be open."

With the water circulating, use a multimeter to check continuity through the pressure switch. My guess is that it will read open. I don't know what the pressure switch in your tub looks like but in my '95 Hot Spring Grandee, it's very simple to get into the switch and clean it out. Mine had quite a bit of scale build up inside it preventing the contacts from closing when the water flow pressed against them. I just cleaned it out and wedged a little shim in there to make the gap between the free contact blade and the fixed contact post a little smaller so as to make it a little easier for the water flow to cause the two contacts to touch and close the circuit. It works flawlessly now.

So that's the first part of your problem. You either need to fix or replace your pressure switch. But I don't think that's the whole problem. You also said that when you bypassed/jumper the pressure switch you get a fast blinking Power light. According to the Troubleshooting guide on page 63 of the manual, that indicates the circulation pump thermal cutoff has been tripped. That simply requires resetting by powering down the tub for a short period of time and powering back up again.

So try jumpering the pressure switch to bypass it, then flip the breakers tothe tub off for half a minute and flip them back on again. If the tub starts up without any blinking indicator lights or error codes and the heater starts working you'll know you've solved the problem. Then all you've got to do is replace or fix the pressure switch and you should be good to go. If everything powers up normally with no indicator lights and you still get no heat, you've likely got a pooched heater as well.

If you measure resistance through the heater you should get someting around 12 ohms through the element give or take a little. If you get open then that will probably indicate the heater is pooched which could be the case on a 14 year old tub. Also make sure there are no shorts to the heater chassis from either of the power leads going to the heater element.
 

Tim_B

Well-known member
May 8, 2018
53
Denver, NC
I think you indicated at least part of the answer when you said "If I unplug pressure switch I get the same two lights flashing as I do when it is plugged in." That tells me the pressure switch is not closing so it doesn't matter if it's plugged in or not.

According to Page 61 of the manual for that tub (https://2vg96i2x6zru3mebxg3fa9hs-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/hot-spring_spas_owners_manual_2005.pdf)

"If the spa is not heating, the red and green lights are blinking, but the pump and light are operating, then the pressure switch may be open."

With the water circulating, use a multimeter to check continuity through the pressure switch. My guess is that it will read open. I don't know what the pressure switch in your tub looks like but in my '95 Hot Spring Grandee, it's very simple to get into the switch and clean it out. Mine had quite a bit of scale build up inside it preventing the contacts from closing when the water flow pressed against them. I just cleaned it out and wedged a little shim in there to make the gap between the free contact blade and the fixed contact post a little smaller so as to make it a little easier for the water flow to cause the two contacts to touch and close the circuit. It works flawlessly now.

So that's the first part of your problem. You either need to fix or replace your pressure switch. But I don't think that's the whole problem. You also said that when you bypassed/jumper the pressure switch you get a fast blinking Power light. According to the Troubleshooting guide on page 63 of the manual, that indicates the circulation pump thermal cutoff has been tripped. That simply requires resetting by powering down the tub for a short period of time and powering back up again.

So try jumpering the pressure switch to bypass it, then flip the breakers tothe tub off for half a minute and flip them back on again. If the tub starts up without any blinking indicator lights or error codes and the heater starts working you'll know you've solved the problem. Then all you've got to do is replace or fix the pressure switch and you should be good to go. If everything powers up normally with no indicator lights and you still get no heat, you've likely got a pooched heater as well.

If you measure resistance through the heater you should get someting around 12 ohms through the element give or take a little. If you get open then that will probably indicate the heater is pooched which could be the case on a 14 year old tub. Also make sure there are no shorts to the heater chassis from either of the power leads going to the heater element.
Thank you for helping out. After checking a few things here's what I found. If I jumper the pressure switch with the temp set below current water temp, I get a steady power light and everything looks normal. When I start to run the temp up, the ready light comes on when its within 2 degrees of the water temp (also normal). As soon as I go over the water temp and the heater is requested, the power light goes to a fast blink and the control panel locks. It does this with or without the heater being connected, no power is being sent to the heater at any time. Checking resistance across the black and white wires on the heater, the ohms just keep going up and fluctuating, nothing solid but it's definitely not 0.

I believe my heater is sealed and is not serviceable. Its the Watkins 4k no-fault heater. Hot Spring Spas 73791 No Fault Heater - 4 kW
 
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DangerBoy

Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
102
Calgary/Alberta
Okay, I think that clearly shows that problem no. 1 is the faulty pressure switch.

After jumpering the pressure switch, did you reset the system by powering the tub down for a short period of time? It kind of sounds like you did but I just want to make sure.

The heater isn't serviceable. If it fails, you get a new one. The heater is actually made by Hydroquip so if you need to buy a new one you can probably save some money buying a Hydroquip 4K heater from just about any hot tub parts seller vs buying a Watkins labelled one from Watkins or one of their dealerships. EDIT: I just realized your tub is as big as a Grandee. For a tub that size I recommend you go for the 6KW heater instead if you have to buy a new heater. It won't have to work as hard as the 4KW version and will probably last longer.

When the system was calling for heat, did you unplug the heater and ensure their was 220 VAC across the pins in the plug socket? If you have 220 V there then it has to be the heater. If there's not 220V then either the something in the system is preventing the heater from getting voltage (i.e. the high limit sensor is giving a wrong signal) or perhaps the relay that delivers power to the heater is bunned. On my tub the relay is a non-latching normally open single pole double throw relay that operates on a 12 V DC signal. What that means is that the signal current that calls for heat is 12V DC. When this is applied to the relay, the switches on the other side of the relay close and power can now get to the heater. As soon as the desired temp is reached, the 12VDC signal current is cut off, the relay unlatches and power is cut off from the heater.

Your tub is much more modern than mine so I'm not exactly sure what type of signal voltage your relays use but I'll bet they use the same relays for the jet pumps as they do the heater. I would need to see a wiring diagram/schematic for your system to be able to give you guidance on how to troubleshoot that relay.

Here's what I suggest you do: Call Watkins at 1-800-999-4688 then 3, then 2 for tech support as though you were a technician calling from the field. I have done this several times and they've been very willing to talk with me and help me troubleshoot/diagnose my hot tub even though they knew I was just a customer and not one of their technicians. Give them all the facts about what's happened and happening with your tub. They might be able to figure out what's causing you to get the flashing light and no heat when it calls for heat or tell you exactly what you need to do to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem. It could be that you have a faulty heater.

Hang on, I just remembered something. What temperature is the water in your tub that you're trying to heat? I doubt this applies but Watkins doesn't publish the fact that it has a low temp cutoff which will prevent the system from fully powering up and heating if the water temp is below a certain level. That's one of the things I learned from calling the tech support line. It actually applied in my case. I rather doubt it does in yours uness you have pretty cold water in that tub.
 
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Tim_B

Well-known member
May 8, 2018
53
Denver, NC
Current water temp is 95 degrees. Spa is in full sun all day with the cover on and maintaining 90-95 degrees with no heater.

I did reset power after jumping the pressure switch. I also tried pulling the jumper while it had power and it gave me the double flashing lights, re-jumpered and it went back to normal power light on only.