Hot Springs Hot Tub not so Hot

Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
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Vinyl
Chlorine
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I have an old (1999) Hot Spring tub that won't heat. We turn the temp down during the week to 85, then turn up on Friday to enjoy the weekend use. It has been turned down since the first week of Feb, too cold to use it. This past Thursday I turned it up to 104 like usual. Friday afternoon I went to check chems for Friday night fun, and it was cold. For some strange reason, the tub won't show the temp, but has ready light when its up to temp.
Friday afternoon I opened the control cover, and heater power light was on, no blinking lights or warnings. Water level was a little low, not below filters, so I topped it off. I reset the breaker and let it be.
Saturday it seemed to heat up to 95, so I thought all was good. Later Sat I checked again, and the temp was lower. I reset the breaker again, cleaned filters (not too bad), and verified the circulation pump was running.
The water in the heater hoses did feel warm, and I thought it might be good to go.
Sunday it was cold again 88. I pulled the filters and reset the breaker. Sunday evening it wasn't heating. Was going to bring meter from work, but forgot. Will bring home tonight to check heater.

I believe @RDspaguy just got done rebuiling the same tub.

Anything else to check?
 

CuckooChris

Well-known member
Sep 14, 2016
89
Coplay, PA
If you know how to use a meter, that will help pinpoint it. First thing is to check how much voltage you have at the element. Assuming it's 220v, go across the two element connections and see if you have 220v. If you do and you have an amp probe, see how many amps it's pulling. If you don't have an amp probe, cut the power and disconnect the wires to the element and check the resistance. If you don't have 220v at the element, then you'll have to start checking the relays.
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
1,409
Cabool, Mo
Well put, @CuckooChris .
This will tell us if the issue is the heater itself or something in the controls.
The heater relay board (small one on the left) is a common failure in these. Often worth rebuilding the old ones, as the new ones have a bad reputation.
But with no display, you clearly have another issue. I don't assume coincidence until I have some proof, so would suspect they are related. Unlike most brands, hot springs controls are linked and the topside can cause control issues unseen in other brands, including a no heat condition. You can call hot springs tech support and they will walk you through some tests to run, but my guess is they will tell you to buy a new controller and board. That seems to be the fallback answer, and it can't go wrong. So anything that can be eliminated is, then you pick and choose between board and topside, as there is often no way to know which it is. On one that old you probably can't get it anymore and will have to buy a new system anyway. Just one of the many things I love about hot springs. ;)
 

Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Well put, @CuckooChris .
This will tell us if the issue is the heater itself or something in the controls.
The heater relay board (small one on the left) is a common failure in these. Often worth rebuilding the old ones, as the new ones have a bad reputation.
But with no display, you clearly have another issue. I don't assume coincidence until I have some proof, so would suspect they are related. Unlike most brands, hot springs controls are linked and the topside can cause control issues unseen in other brands, including a no heat condition. You can call hot springs tech support and they will walk you through some tests to run, but my guess is they will tell you to buy a new controller and board. That seems to be the fallback answer, and it can't go wrong. So anything that can be eliminated is, then you pick and choose between board and topside, as there is often no way to know which it is. On one that old you probably can't get it anymore and will have to buy a new system anyway. Just one of the many things I love about hot springs. ;)
Thank's for the replies. I do have 220 at the heater. The display does work. This model doesn't show the current temp just the set temp.
I checked resistence across the heater wires and showed nothing (not zero, blank) on the pos meter. I'll have to get a better one.
 

CuckooChris

Well-known member
Sep 14, 2016
89
Coplay, PA
Digital meter? As long as you are measuring correctly and getting 220v to the element, it should be working (if it was good). The resistance is just a double check. If the meter is reading volts correctly (test an outlet), it sounds to me like the element is blown.
 
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Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Just out of curiosity, which is it?
Some hot springs heaters have a manual high limit built in. There will either a small red pencil size button or a finger size rubber plug on the black box part of the heater. Push in to reset if it has one.

I have 220 at heater, and checked a house outlet to confirm meter working.
I do have a manual reset on the heater. I pushed it, but it didn't seem to do anything.
 

DangerBoy

Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
155
Calgary/Alberta
@Kidswimin I have a '95 Grandee which had an older control system in it than you've got. If you have a '99 Hot Spring, you should have the IQ2000 control system right? Or has it been upgraded to an IQ2020? I now have one of those IQ2000 systems in my tub.

And what heater do you have? The newer No-fault 6000 (6KW) or 4000 (4KW) or something older? My tub came stock with a 5.5KW heater but those are obsolete. Watkins now goes with the No-fault 4KW heaters for smaller tubs and the 6KW heaters for larger ones. Those heaters are made by Hydroquip and you can buy them a lot cheaper under that brand name vs buying the same heater with Watkins' stickers on them.

When checking resistance at the heater you need to connect your meter probes to the two hot leads going to the heater. If the element is good you should read something in the order of 9 - 11ohms through the element. If you get infinite/open the element is gone. If you get zero that would indicate a dead short and your 30A GFCI breaker should've tripped.

Are we dead certain that you've got 220V coming out of the output end of the heater relay going to the heater?

The reason I ask and the reasons I would like to identify what heater and what control system you have is because the heater relays Watkins used in the IQ2000 system and maybe earlier IQ2020 systems (not sure of this) are prone to failing when powering the newer 6KW heater Watkins uses. Mine never last a year before they fail. If you check out my thread on relay upgrades, you'll see I've just had another heater relay fail and I'm now going to upgrade the system with a much more robust contactor relay that RDSpaguy put me on to.
 
Last edited:

Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
@Kidswimin I have a '95 Grandee which had an older control system in it than you've got. If you have a '99 Hot Spring, you should have the IQ2000 control system right? Or has it been upgraded to an IQ2020? I now have one of those IQ2000 systems in my tub.

And what heater do you have? The newer No-fault 6000 (6KW) or 4000 (4KW) or something older? My tub came stock with a 5.5KW heater but those are obsolete. Watkins now goes with the No-fault 4KW heaters for smaller tubs and the 6KW heaters for larger ones. Those heaters are made by Hydroquip and you can buy them a lot cheaper under that brand name vs buying the same heater with Watkins' stickers on them.

When checking resistance at the heater you need to connect your meter probes to the two hot leads going to the heater. If the element is good you should read something in the order of 9 - 11ohms through the element. If you get infinite/open the element is gone. If you get zero that would indicate a dead short and your 30A GFCI breaker should've tripped.

Are we dead certain that you've got 220V coming out of the output end of the heater relay going to the heater?

The reason I ask and the reasons I would like to identify what heater and what control system you have is because the heater relays Watkins used in the IQ2000 system and maybe earlier IQ2020 systems (not sure of this) are prone to failing when powering the newer 6KW heater Watkins uses. Mine never last a year before they fail. If you check out my thread on relay upgrades, you'll see I've just had another heater relay fail and I'm now going to upgrade the system with a much more robust contactor relay that RDSpaguy put me on to.
I'm pretty sure its the IQ2000. It does have the No-fault 6000. I pulled the heater connections off the relay and put the probes on the relay and got something like 238 volts. I then pot the meter on ohms and stuck each probe in the disconnected heater wires and got nothing.
I have been looking at the Hydroquip heaters, going to order one soon, about $250 is best I can find.
Thanks for the replies
 

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DangerBoy

Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
155
Calgary/Alberta
I'm pretty sure its the IQ2000. It does have the No-fault 6000. I pulled the heater connections off the relay and put the probes on the relay and got something like 238 volts. I then pot the meter on ohms and stuck each probe in the disconnected heater wires and got nothing.
I have been looking at the Hydroquip heaters, going to order one soon, about $250 is best I can find.
Thanks for the replies

It's weird that you get nothing when checking resistance through the heater element. If there's no continuity through the element you should get open/infinite. If there is continuity through the element you should get some resistance. If you get 0 that means a short. Does it make your 30A GFCI breaker trip when you try to power the heater?

I have to head out now and replace my blown up heater relay. I'll need to replace some wires too because a couple got melted when the relay blowed up. Blowed up real good. :mad:
 
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Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
It's weird that you get nothing when checking resistance through the heater element. If there's no continuity through the element you should get open/infinite. If there is continuity through the element you should get some resistance. If you get 0 that means a short. Does it make your 30A GFCI breaker trip when you try to power the heater?

I have to head out now and replace my blown up heater relay. I'll need to replace some wires too because a couple got melted when the relay blowed up. Blowed up real good. :mad:
Breaker does not trip. Heater should be here Friday.
Have fun fixing yours. 🤟
 

DangerBoy

Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
155
Calgary/Alberta
Mine is fixed now. See my other thread about relay upgrades to see a pic of how spectacularly that heater relay failed. Between now and Friday, be sure to keep the circulation pump going. Being a Hot Spring, your tub is well insulated so it will take a while for the temp to drop far enough that you need to worry about freezing if you keep it circulating.
 

Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
I think by "nothing" he means no change on the meter which is infinity ohms.
New heater installed. Filed up tub. Leaking from t fitting above pump. There is a small (1/4"?) Tube coming out of heater circ pump that t's off. Not sure where either goes. The plastic t broke. I will source one, but what it's it for? Ozone maybe. My ozone gen is long gone. Do I need it. @DangerBoy
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
1,409
Cabool, Mo
It is likely an air bleed, priming line, or a water drain, depending on where it goes, and you can bypass it for now, but plan on replacing it. Post a pic and maybe we can help you find one, if the local home depot doesn't have it.
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
1,409
Cabool, Mo
Oh, right. Hot Springs...
You mean the elbow with a barb just above the circ pump? Just build it from home depot plumbing aisle. They drilled a 90* elbow and glued in a barb for an air bleed to prime the pump and prevent air lock, which can damage heater and pump. Use 3/4" threaded barb adapters for the big hose and 3/8" for the small. A threaded tee and a reducer and you are in business, no glue needed, just teflon tape.
You can also use 1/2" pvc for the 3/4" barbs but you need that 3/8" barb either way.
Heat the hoses up with a hair dryer for easy removal/installation and to avoid breaking anything else.
 

Kidswimin

Active member
May 4, 2015
36
Madison, WI
Pool Size
13000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Oh, right. Hot Springs...
You mean the elbow with a barb just above the circ pump? Just build it from home depot plumbing aisle. They drilled a 90* elbow and glued in a barb for an air bleed to prime the pump and prevent air lock, which can damage heater and pump. Use 3/4" threaded barb adapters for the big hose and 3/8" for the small. A threaded tee and a reducer and you are in business, no glue needed, just teflon tape.
You can also use 1/2" pvc for the 3/4" barbs but you need that 3/8" barb either way.
Heat the hoses up with a hair dryer for easy removal/installation and to avoid breaking anything else.
Thanks that helps a bunch. The elbow out of the heater has what looks like jb weld on it from previous owner. Then the small line goes up from the pump and t's off. That t is broken. I'll change it all out.
Thanks for the help
 

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