By John Duval
Hot tubs with multiple jets, limited access and numerous connections can make plumbing repair a major undertaking. Once the leak has been located, using the following tips will make hot tub (and even swimming pool) polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plumbing repairs much easier.
Keep in mind the more fittings, hose and pipe sizes technicians have on their trucks, the more options they will have in performing the repair.
Flex pipe repairs
Before cutting the PVC flex hose, the first step is to determine which parts are involved in the repair and how they will be accessed. When a glued flex pipe joint leaks, the pipe should be removed rather than repaired, as this type of piping moves, making it difficult to glue in a new fitting. If there is room to cut it out, a drill bit for reaming plastic pipe can be used to bore out the existing fitting, leaving it clean and ready for solvent welding, allowing it to be reused while remaining in place.
The other option is to ‘dig’ out the old piece by using these steps:
- Cut the flex pipe flush with the socket. Using a hacksaw blade, make four cuts inside the remaining piece of pipe at 12, three, six and nine o’clock positions.
- Using a heat gun, apply heat to the inside of the pipe while holding a cool, damp cloth on the outside of the PVC fitting to prevent heat transfer.
- Using needle-nose pliers, wedge the tip between the hose and fitting and twist the pieces out. Rather than gluing in another piece of flex pipe and adding a coupler, glue in a pipe extender or a 38-mm (1.5-in.) PVC pool adapter (spigot & barbed). The remaining end of the hose will now insert over the fitting. Apply glue and clamp.
Rigid pipe repair
When a glued PVC joint has failed, simply reapply primer and glue instead of cutting out the pipe. Follow these steps to complete this repair:
- With the hot tub and plumbing empty, tape over the jets and any other opening in the system.
- Insert the suction hose of a vacuum into the other end of the plumbing—usually the union connection at the equipment pack.
- Turn on the vacuum to create a partial vacuum in the plumbing.
- Apply primer at the faulty joint and allow the vacuum to draw it in.
- Apply PVC glue in the same area and simultaneously turn off the vacuum to prevent drawing the glue through the joint.
Caution: fumes from the glue and primer are flammable and explosive! Use this technique with extreme caution. Use an extended vacuum hose and do not place the vacuum indoors.