Spa Repair Thread - Pump bearing, leak, and new cover. With pics!

jseyfert3

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Oct 20, 2017
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Alright, so not many pics yet. But I'm finally going to be tackling a few things I've been putting off, and documenting them.

First off, here's our spa.


The cover is in sad, sad shape. It was not sealing well last winter, and steam could be seen leaking out when the wind blew. That's just money down the drain. So I'll be measuring for and ordering a new cover, but that's fairly boring stuff.

Of more interest to people is probably the process of fixing the other two issues. First, there's a leak, or at least one. Ever since we bought the house last year it's been leaking, know it's a leak as even during dry stretches in the summer the concrete on the low side is always wet. So we'll be digging in, quite literally, to find the leak, which I suspect will be hidden under lots of factory spray foam.

And finally, the real kicker for getting me off my butt is that a bit over a week ago a bearing started making noise. It got bad fast and I eventually shut the power off a few days ago until I could fix it. But note the ice on the cover, winter is coming and I need this fixed! Unfortunately the bad bearing is on the primary two stage pump used to circulate water for heating on low speed and half the jets on high speed, and not the second pump with is only used for the other half of the jets and filter cycles.

So stay tuned, and tag along for a picture filled thread as I figure out exactly what is wrong and fix it before winter really hits!

EDIT: I also need to fix the waterfall, the valve o-ring popped out and now we can't shut it off, so it's always on and I find it to be annoyingly loud when the pumps are on high and my head is next to the waterfall.
 
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cowboycasey

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If I may I do have a recommendation :)

I had to replace my top because of hail damage and I found a great place, they hand build them and man are they nice, really helped keeping the tub hot and dropped the heating cycles and 0% of steam came out with 50 mph winds at 104 degree water with temps at -15 degrees... true story is was cold enough to instantly freeze my hair in 104 degree water :eek:


These are the upgrades I did and would recommend, it turns the top into a bullet proof cover :)


ULTRA cover 6 inches thick AND FLAT (no taper) - R29.88 - $25.00
Upgrade: Long Steam Stopper - additional insulation seals under the fold View - $29.00
Extend the life of your cover a year or more - 82% of covers fail from waterlogging Upgrade: Double Thick & Double Wrap - twice as thick as Standard and wrapped twice - $41.00
Increase cover strength with more dense foam cores Ultra Deluxe 2 pound - (Takes 5-7 days longer) Shear strength 33-37 psi (Estimated 4-2 taper static load limit - 370 pounds) - $67.00
Split corner skirt Upgrade: Split corner skirt View - $24.00
Reinforce the fold/hinge for additional strengthUpgrade: Strengthen the fold/hinge View - $18.00
Add a spa cap to protect your new cover from UV, harsh environment and animal damage.Stock size fits up to 88 x 88 cover. Two 1" wide adjustable straps with quick release buckles tighten to the cabinet. - $87.88
 

jseyfert3

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Thanks. I'll look into them. Do you have something that keeps the rain/snow off the lid? I noticed you did a flat instead of tapered cover. I don't have anything like that, so I'd get the standard taper cover, but they do look like pretty solid covers.

Priced one out, $606 without a spa cap (cause I know I'd never put the cap on).
 

cowboycasey

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Thanks. I'll look into them. Do you have something that keeps the rain/snow off the lid? I noticed you did a flat instead of tapered cover. I don't have anything like that, so I'd get the standard taper cover, but they do look like pretty solid covers.

Priced one out, $606 without a spa cap (cause I know I'd never put the cap on).
the rain comes right off but the snow will stay there no matter if it is sloped, I had both...

They did not have the cap when I did it... I think I would get the basic one and use it during the summer unless you use your tub year round :)
 

jseyfert3

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I've currently only been in down to 1 °F, with NO wind, and I still wished I had a hat! -15 °F and 50 MPH winds? That's crazy!

I do agree though, my favorite time to be in is cold (but calm) winter nights!
 

jseyfert3

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Okay, so I got this idea that tracking down the leak may work better if there was something besides wet foam to track. So I got some pool coloring. Recommended dose worked out to 1/2 tsp, but that seemed a little light. So I added an extra 1/2 tsp. Still seemed a bit light for my idea, but we'll see what happens. Don't want to stain my spa green either.




The idea I'm going for is as the water leaks out it stains the foam green, making a super obvious trail through the foam to dig through until I reach the leak. And perhaps as a back up if I don't get these repairs done and need to shut the spa down and drain for the winter, I'll still know where the leak is without water making the foam wet. No clue if it'll work, you get to find out when I do!

I tried to upload a sound file, but audio files aren't allowed for some reason. The bearing noise is bad. The bad bearing is louder on low than the other pump is on high.
 

CuckooChris

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Sep 14, 2016
28
Coplay, PA
I mentioned this in another thread, but I got a new cover from America's Spa Mart a few months ago and had a great experience. I went with the deluxe cover and the value max package. It's 5" to 3", 2# foam, 6 mil double wrap and reflective covering on the foam. I picked them because they actually listed the R value and what mil plastic they used to wrap the cores. Also, because they didn't have any complaints with the BBB. They also brought the cover in their own truck, not a shipping company! Not sure if you're in their delivery area, so you may want to check with them. The delivery guy said that they are only one of two companies that manufacture their own covers. Oh, and the best part is that I got it in four weeks!! Other thing I did was ditched the old cover lifter. I got the cheap one with the rollers that you just fold the cover and then slide it off. You get a little more view and it shouldn't wear out the seam in the joint. A little more work though.
 

RDspaguy

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Mar 21, 2020
925
Cabool, Mo
Before you go digging, are you familiar with the dowel rod trick?
I notice in your pic that the water level is a bit high on the low side and could be flooding the air control, which has a cheesy flap valve that wrinkles up after a few years. Could it be that?
Drains are another common leak point, and sometimes hard to determine. Check those first, and replace cap o-rings.
That said, most leaks are in the equipment area. Check it THOROUGHLY before looking elsewhere.
 

jseyfert3

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Before you go digging, are you familiar with the dowel rod trick?
Are you referring to what is also called the "screwdriver trick" on cars where you use something to isolate noises to a particular location? At work we had a stethoscope with a rod instead of the usual thing for listening to humans, worked a lot better than any of the times I've tried a screwdriver.

If this is NOT what you mean then no, I'm not familiar with the dowel rod trick and please explain!

I notice in your pic that the water level is a bit high on the low side and could be flooding the air control, which has a cheesy flap valve that wrinkles up after a few years. Could it be that?
Where would the air control be located at? I've not yet pulled off any panels except the equipment bay panel a few times (and not yet for this thread, as I've unfortunately been stuck in bed or resting most of the last week, but I should be able to start working on this again soon).

Also wouldn't the water stop dropping once the water dropped below this control? The water is at the spec'd height, or close to, for the skimmer. If the water is much more than about an inch lower, the pumps start sucking air during filter cycles when nobody is in the tub, but the water has regularily gotten as much as 3" lower than pictured there. Unfortunately the previous owners just plunked this on the back patio which has the standard sloping for water drainage, so that far side always has a higher water level. It's the first side that overflows when we have 4-6 people in the spa. :LOL: (after which I need to refill, obviously).

Drains are another common leak point, and sometimes hard to determine. Check those first, and replace cap o-rings.
The drain line comes to the equipment bay, where there is a mountable drain plug that's not mounted through the wall of the spa and just tucked inside. It was not leaking last I was in the equipment bay.

That said, most leaks are in the equipment area. Check it THOROUGHLY before looking elsewhere.
That was the first place I checked a long time back, and there WAS a leak in there. In addition to the drain in the tub, both of the motor drain plugs have hose barbs instead of plugs with the hoses run to the main drain line. One of the barbs was cracked (I suspect freezing if it wasn't age). It was visibly leaking when the pump ran. I replaced the barb, and afterwards the equipment bay showed no additional leaks and the floor in the bay dried up, but the water issues persisted. At first I was unsure if it was evaporation in the winter with a bad cover, but it persisted into summer and with a few weeks of summer dry spells the concrete on the low side remains wet, so it's definitely leaking.

Here's some pics from the equipment bay back in Feb when I located the pump drain leak (I don't have pictures after the repair). Pump on the left pulling water through the heater is the one that's wired for two speed operation and is the one making noise.








Actually, on that last picture there. There's a small tan tube coming down from the top. I assume this is an air inlet to one of the valves. If an air control valve was leaking, then I'd expect to see water dripping out of one of these tubes, correct? Is there more than one tube usually, or just one for all the air? Tub has four air control valves.
 

jseyfert3

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Before you go digging, are you familiar with the dowel rod trick?
OHHH! I think perhaps I figured it out just now. Would this be sticking a dry dowel into the foam, then pulling it out to see if it's wet? In other words, locating the leak without tearing away half the foam?
 

jseyfert3

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Oh yeah, I also need to fix the waterfall, the valve o-ring popped out and now we can't shut it off, so it's always on and I find it to be annoyingly loud when the pumps are on high and my head is next to the waterfall. Should be an easy fix but need to dismount the waterfall and to do that you need to pull the side panel off below the waterfall and I just haven't gotten around to doing that yet.
 

RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
925
Cabool, Mo
No paper towels needed. The dowel rods will show where it's wet without soaking it up so you can better locate the leak(s). You"ll want a handful of 1/4" up to 3/8". A hair dryer makes them re-useable.
Depending on the valve design, that may be your leak, too.
 
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RDspaguy

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Mar 21, 2020
925
Cabool, Mo
Sorry, I somehow missed this.
Where would the air control be located at? I've
They are the small knobs on top that mix air with the jets. They extend down 2-3 inches below the shell. Some have pipes that feed them air, and some just draw from the undercabinet. These pipes can go back to the equipment bay or down to the bottom edge of the spa. Some end in check valves or little air filters. I don't recall specifically on a calspa.

Also wouldn't the water stop dropping once the water dropped below this control
No. It can create a siphon effect that drains the spa down until a jet on that air control reaches air and kills the siphon.

There's a small tan tube coming down from the top. I assume this is an air inlet to one of the valves. If an air control valve was leaking, then I'd expect to see water dripping out of one of these tubes, correct?
That could be, and likely is, the air control inlet pipe. And, if so, that is where you would see the water leaking.
 
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jseyfert3

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So I've as usual been putting this off. The pump locked up last night. I'm going to order a replacement pump from SpaCare.com, it's listed as a drop in replacement for the OEM pump in the spa, so I don't have to worry about sizing the pump.

I did confirm that there is still no water in the equipment bay while I was in there.

I'll try to measure for a new lid tonight at least.
 

jseyfert3

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Ordered this pump, along with an anti-vibration mounting pad, a new power cord, some new gaskets, and a new drain hose barb. Hopefully nothing gets damaged with the lows around 29 °F the next couple nights, but I think it should be fine. The tub was at 99 °F when the motor seized up yesterday evening.
 

RDspaguy

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Mar 21, 2020
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Cabool, Mo
it's listed as a drop in replacement for the OEM pump in the spa, so I don't have to worry about sizing the pump.
I see you are a man of faith... :rolleyes:
Just make sure the amp draw on the new motor is close to the same as the old.
Put a small space heater or shop light with an old school incandescent bulb in the equipment bay and put the side back on. If it's empty you can put a heater in the tub, but make sure it doesn't point toward the side.
 

jseyfert3

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I see you are a man of faith... :rolleyes:
Just make sure the amp draw on the new motor is close to the same as the old.
I can be...

To be clear, it's listed as a replacement for my Power Right PRC9094X pump, not just a pump for a random Cal Spa.

The new one is rated at 12.2/2.2 amps, current one is 13.6/2.7 amps. So it may be slightly less powerful, unless it's more efficient.
 
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