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Troubleshooting spa packs

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Hot tub technicians should look at the entire picture to determine which features and functions work and which do not. Some basic checkpoints include water level, control features, and the quality of the hot tub installation.

By Kelly Robillard

With the growing number of aging spas/hot tubs in the marketplace, the service sector is expanding as it did with pool service in the late 1970s. Spa service has a higher perceived value to the consumer as a service technician troubleshooting an electrical or solid state system can be likened to a computer technician debugging a computer.

To be an effective service technician, one must be qualified, equipped with the proper tools and replacement parts, and able to complete the repair in as few trips as possible. Extra time spent performing a thorough check on the first call can probably be chargeable, but return trips may not.

Troubleshooting is the diagnostic part of spa repair. Once the problem is determined, replacing the defective part is usually an easy task; however, pinpointing the problem is another matter. Critical thinking is required to gather and sort all of the information and proceed in a logical step-by-step manner to find the problem. In this case, spa service technicians must be knowledgeable in the fields of plumbing, electricity, chemistry, and problem solving to be effective on the job.

Gathering information

When the customer calls for service, it is imperative to ask as many detailed questions about the spa as possible. Is the spa indoors or outdoors? What brand of spa and what equipment does it use? Ask the caller for the model numbers of the equipment and if they can send a digital photo for more clarity about the issue. The more a service technician knows about the spa, the more they can prepare by having the right parts on hand. Further, contacting the parts supplier and/or spa manufacturer for information on which parts may be required for that particular model or what to look for during the initial service call will also help.

Being diligent about gathering as much information on the spa as possible can prevent the need for a return trip. Do not hesitate to call the spa manufacturer’s ‘800’ number with any questions. Therefore, look for the manufacturer’s information (e.g. owner’s manual, wiring diagrams, toll-free help lines, etc.). It is also important to gather as much information related to the specific problem. The following questions will help narrow things down:

  1. Has the problem happened before?
  2. Was it previously repaired?
  3. When was the spa water changed last?
  4. Was the spa operating before this issue came up?
  5. Did the customer attempt to restart the spa?

Do not rely on a simple verbal description. When possible, have the owner demonstrate what happened and what they did. For example, if the customer says they ‘pushed the reset button,’ which one did they push? Was it high-limit or ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)?

It is also important to look at the entire picture to determine which spa features and functions work and which do not. The following are some basic checkpoints technicians should look at:

  1. Is the water level high enough?
  2. Does the spa use a pressure or suction style filter?
  3. What are the control features?
  4. What is the filter cycle/mode set for?
  5. What is the quality of the spa installation?
  6. Is the spa well insulated or over insulated?

Take notes and, if possible, take pictures. By making a list of all the equipment, including voltage and amp ratings, the technician will be better able to match a replacement. This information is integral to getting the spa working properly and the technician will benefit by having detailed notes for future service.

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