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Hot Tub Troubleshooting – 10 Common Issues & Easy Solutions

There’s nothing more rewarding than getting home after a long day of work. Except maybe being able to relax beneath the warm water of your hot tub as your sore muscles are massaged by powerful, yet gentle jets. 

So what happens if you lift off your hot tub cover and discover your water has gone cloudy, developed algae, or even worse, your jets aren’t creating the calm-inducing stream of water you’ve been waiting for all day? 

These things can happen, but they don’t have to be stressful! Most of them have simple fixes, and our Ace Swim and Leisure team is here to help! 

In this article, we’ll discuss hot tub troubleshooting – the ten most common hot tub issues and how you can fix them. 

Hot Tub Troubleshooting – 10 Common Hot Tub Issues and How to Fix Them!

While some issues with your hot tub may need to be treated by our team of professional service technicians, many times, there are easy fixes you can do yourself so you can get back to relaxing in your spa as soon as possible! 

We’ve been in the industry for over 50 years and have extensive experience in hot tub troubleshooting. Here is our list of the top ten hot tub issues we see most and how you can fix them.

1. Cloudy Hot Tub Water

If you’ve lifted your cover and found murky or cloudy hot tub water, it may due to several things.

This issue is most often caused by a buildup of organic matter and oils, but it can also be from dirty filters, an imbalance in your pH and alkaline levels, or simply that your water is old. 

The fix for cloudy water is often a simple one. 

First, test your water to check the pH and alkalinity of your water. Ensure the alkaline levels are between 80 and 120 ppm and that your pH is in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. 

If it’s not in range, treat your water with pH increasers or pH decreasers to bring it into balance. 

If your water is balanced but still murky, you’ll want to do a shock treatment to break up any organic matter that has built up. Use a non-chlorine oxidizer for this shock treatment. Oxidizers are made specifically to break down organic matter, making it easier for your chlorine to treat the water. 

You’ll also want to check your filters to ensure they are clean, soaking them in cartridge cleaner if needed. This way, once you’ve shocked your water, it won’t enter dirty filters if they are the culprit. 

If all else fails, or if you haven’t changed your water in the last four months, your best option is to drain your hot tub, clean your shell and refill it. 

2. Algae Blooms

If you have noticed algae beginning to form in your water, it could be for one of two reasons; high pH levels or your water needs to be sanitized.

The first thing you’ll want to do for this issue is to test the pH of your hot tub water. If it’s out of the recommended range, treat it to bring it back into balance.

If your pH level is in the proper range, you’ll want to shock your water with a sanitizer. 

This should clear up your water and be ready to use in 24 hours! 

3. Hot Tub Foam

While many love a bubble bath, most don’t want to discover their hot tub has developed foamy water!

This most often is caused by a buildup of organic matter, like body oils, lotions, or cosmetics, but it can also be from increased levels of chemicals, often due to them evaporating and being trapped under the cover. 

This is one of the many reasons it’s important to leave your cover off for 20-30 minutes after you’ve treated your water. When you add chemicals to your hot tub water, they produce gas as they treat the water, which needs a place to go. If you leave your hot tub cover on during this process, you’ll trap those gases, raising the chemical levels in your hot tub. 

To treat foamy water, you’ll want to shock your water with a non-chlorine oxidizer to break up any organic matter or use a foam reducer. 

Try including a regular enzyme reducer treatment once a week to maintain your water and reduce the chances of foam occurring in the future.

4. Irritated Eyes or Skin

If you leave your hot tub feeling itchy, develop a rash, or the water has been irritating your eyes, it’s a sign that your water may be unbalanced.

You’ll first want to treat your water with a non-chlorine shock treatment to break up any potential bacteria or matter buildup. Then, check your water’s pH and alkaline levels and bring them back into balance if necessary. 

This should clear up any issues causing the irritation so your next soak can be comfortable and stress-free!

5. Hot Tub Jets Aren’t Working

Settling into your hot tub for a relaxing deep tissue massage after a long day or intense workout is one of the best feelings. 

The last thing you want is to turn on those jets only to find the pressure is weak, or worse yet, nothing happens at all!

While your first thought might be that your jets are broken, there may be a much simpler reason for your jets not functioning properly. 

This often happens if you’ve changed your water recently and air has gotten trapped in the system. This is referred to as an airlock. 

Troubleshooting an airlock is as simple as fully opening all the jets in your hot tub and letting them run on high for 10-15 seconds at a time. Repeat this until you begin to see air bubbles coming from the jets. Then, leave it running until all the air has been released and your jets are functioning at full force again!

This can also be caused by dirty filters. You’ll want to remove your filters and give them a good clean by submerging them in filter cleaner or replace them if you can’t get them clean.

6. Noisy Pump

If you’ve noticed your water pump has developed a squealing sound, it may mean that its bearings have gone bad. If this is the case, you may need to replace it. 

However, if your pump isn’t squealing but has gotten noticeably louder, it may mean that it’s not receiving enough water flow. Check your system for any clogs and clear them out. You’ll also want to ensure your water isn’t too low and add more if needed.

7. Weak Water Flow

No one wants to spend an evening sitting in a hot tub that doesn’t elevate the experience with swirling, bubbling water. If you’ve noticed a change in your water flow, a few things could be causing it. 

Water flow changes could be caused by dirty filters, a low water level, jet blockages, or airlocks. 

Start by checking your filters, cleaning them if they look dirty, or replacing them if they’re due for a change. You should also check your water level and top it up if it’s low.

If this isn’t the problem, try troubleshooting your jets for airlock issues, as mentioned above, and check around your jets for a buildup of debris or broken seals. 

Give our team a call if you’ve exhausted all options and your water flow still isn’t right. 

8. Hot Tub Isn’t Heating Properly

If you’ve dipped your hand in your water only to discover it’s cold, it could be a sign that:

  • You have an airlock
  • Your filters are dirty
  • You have clogs in your circulation system
  • Your heater has developed corrosion and is no longer functioning properly. 

Before you worry about your heater needing to be repaired or replaced, try managing any of the other potential causes first. 

Give your filters a good clean, check for any clogs in your pipes, and flush your jets to ensure you don’t have an airlock that’s causing the problem.

If you still can’t seem to get your water heated, check your heater’s element to see if it looks burnt or if it has developed any corrosion. 

9. Error Codes on The Display Panel

If your display panel is notifying you of a problem with a new error you’ve never seen it can cause some extra stress. 

If you’re ever unsure of what an error means, check your hot tubs manual, or simply call our team, and they’ll help you through it. 

Here are some of the most common errors and what they mean: 

  • FLO: your system is experiencing a problem with its water pressure
  • DRY: Often signals when your water level is low
  • COOL: Your water temperature is too low 
  • OH: Your water temperature is too high

While you may experience other codes, these are the codes most people experience, and most are easy to fix, with the solution being clear-cut, such as topping up your water, checking your heater, or verifying your pipes or jets aren’t clogged.

10. Your GFCI Breaker Keeps Getting Tripped

By regulation, your hot tub will need to be connected to a GFCI breaker. This protects you from any type of shock while using your hot tub if something happens with your electrical. 

If one or more of your system’s electrical parts, like the heater or pump, is compromised, it will trip your GFCI breaker, stopping all electricity going to it.

If this happens, you can troubleshoot it by plugging your electrical parts in one by one and flipping the breaker. Whichever one trips the breaker is the one that’s causing your problems. Either that item or its electrical wiring, will need to be repaired or replaced. 

Shop Hot Tubs in New York at Ace Swim & Leisure

If you’re struggling with hot tub issues or are considering investing in a top-quality hot tub, our team of experts at Ace Swim & Leisure is here to help.

With over 50 years of experience and four locations throughout Western New York, we’re proud to connect you with your dream hot tub from leading brands like Jacuzzi® Hot Tubs and Dream Maker SpasTM

Contact us or visit one of our showrooms in person today!


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