Am I screwed? Hot tub breaker shot, freezing weather for days.

GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#1
Murphy's Law in effect.

Outside GFCI breaker for hot tub is shot. ( CH250GF )

Earliest I can get it delivered is Sunday. Water in tub itself was 99 degrees when last the water circulated, around 1 PM. Current temperature is 27, feels like 22, with snow on the way. Temps won't be above freezing for the next few days ( https://weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/l/USVA0140:1:US ).


Water in the plumbing and/or the pump and heating element is sure to freeze, right? If I go outside now at 9:15 at night, is draining it my only option here to avoid catastrophe?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
3,811
Northern NJ
#2
Your sig shows an 8000 gallon fiberglass pool. Is that we are dealing with or a different unit? More details on exactly what you have would help ideas.

Can you tent it and put an infrared heater on if it is a standalone spa?
 

Jimrahbe

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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,947
Bedford, TX
#3
gp,

I would have stuck in a standard CB and just not used the tub for a few days..

Thanks,

Jim R.

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That said, how could you possibly know the CB is bad, without replacing it? They do go bad, but not too often..

Jim R.
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#4
This is my hot tub, a 500 gallon, 2002 Cal Spas 2100.

Not sure when it was installed, I believe 2006. Came with the house we bought in 2012. So the breaker is most likely 12 years old, and had been working fine earlier in the day and the day before, as I had been switching it on and off recently in dealing with a heater issue.
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#7
So I should have tried disconnecting wires before messing with the GFCI? Great, I SCREWED myself!

So what is my best course here. The new GFCI won't be here until tomorrow, and probably late in the day. Until then, it's going to be freezing cold. If I drain my hot tub this morning, will that be enough to make sure I don't have burst pipes or other damage?

Any help or advice appreciated. Ugh.
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
725
Stuart/FL
#8
Guineas,

As Allen mentioned above can you tent it and add an electric heater via extension cord? Or take a panel off and put the heater inside... one of the kind that has a blower would be best so it doesn't have exposed element. Also, pipe freezing doesn't depend on "feels like" temp, only the actual temp.

I hope this helps and good luck.

Chris
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#9
gp,

I would have stuck in a standard CB and just not used the tub for a few days..

Thanks,

Jim R.

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That said, how could you possibly know the CB is bad, without replacing it? They do go bad, but not too often..

Jim R.
OK, I tried this....

but what about the ground wire? What do I do with that?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,947
Bedford, TX
#10
At this point you are just trying to run the tub to keep it from freezing.. The Green ground wire does not go to the GFCI.. I assume you are talking about the White Neutral wire.. If so, you can "temporarily" attach it to the Neutral bus with the other white wires in your circuit breaker panel..

I would never let anyone get in the tub in this emergency condition..

Jim R.
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#11
Right. OK, so I got the non GFCI breaker in. The wire I was talking about was the ground wire from the hot tub. I attached that to the ground bus bar, and now hot tub turns on and circulates.

No one will be going in the hot tub.

I had the assistance of my hot tub repairman giving me instruction by phone. So for now, crisis averted. Hot tub is 91 degrees and circulating. Replacement GFCI switch should be here tomorrow.

Question:

Does this tell me anything about the problem? Since now I'm using a non gfci breaker and it turned on, does that show that my initial thought that the old gfci breaker was toast? Or could it still be a ground fault?....and that there was nothing actually wrong with the original GFCI?, (until I idiotically broke the hard wired neutral wire on the back when I was trying to get it out).
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#12
another update:

I turned the jets to high, and then back down to low circulate, and then the heat indicator light came on again. Does this lean to the idea that the pressure switch is faulty?>
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,947
Bedford, TX
#13
gp.

What was the original problem? If the Hot Tub was popping the GFCI, the most likely cause is the heater has a very small "electrical" leak to ground..

Jim R.
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#14
The original problem was hot tub not heating. I had been switching breaker on and off numerous times over the past week in trying to figure that problem out, which is what led me to turning off the breaker yesterday. When I came out a couple of hour later to turn the breaker on, it didn't have the "click" in it that it did before, and the hot tub didn't come on at all. It's not that the hot tub came on and then tripped the GFCI, it just didn't come on at all. That is what led me to believe the GFCI had worn out.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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Jul 7, 2014
10,947
Bedford, TX
#15
gp,

That makes much more sense to me.. They are not really made to used as a switch.. I "assumed" the GFCI was popping, but I can see that was not the case.

The hot tub not heating, intermittently, sounds to me like the relay that turns the heater on/off is bad... To troubleshoot, I put a volt meter across the heater input.. If you have 220 volts and the heater is not heating, then it is bad.. If you don't have 220 volts, then you have to work backwards to find out why.. The next step is to see if the heater relay is being told to close, when the heater should be on..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#17
So the hot tub continues to heat, but only sometimes. I've noticed that if I turn the breaker off for a few minutes (in order to get a water sample), and then turn it back on again, the hot tub will heat. I just received a replacement pressure switch. Should I just switch out the pressure switch and see if that solves the problem? If it was a ground fault or a faulty relay, wouldn't it not ever heat?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,947
Bedford, TX
#18
gp,

The ground fault will not show up unless you have a GFCI circuit breaker..

If the problem shows up with a standard breaker, it is not because of a ground fault issue..

Relays can be intermittent, but pressure switches are known problem areas.. I would install the new one, just so that you can eliminate that device.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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GuinnessPhish

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2012
434
Herndon, VA
#19
To clarify the above post, I am still running the hot tub on a regular, non-gfci breaker. I did receive the gfci breaker the other day, I just haven't had a chance to install it.

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Thanks, Jim.

Should I install the GFCI breaker before I install the new pressure switch?