Our Spa Heater Was Out of Control

This is not an article advising you how to fix your spa heater. There are electricity and water in this piece of equipment that can easily kill you. So, unless you are qualified to work on spas, do not touch anything.

This is an article showing how there are still people out there willing to help you so, don’t give up when you have a problem.

When our spa was 9 years old, it developed this intermittent problem with the heat. It just worked when it felt like it. That meant, it was 80 degrees one day and 100 degrees on another.

My basic trouble shooting of the spa heater revealed the problem was not in the heater. As a matter of fact while I was working on it, the heater started working again and worked for several more weeks.

Our spa is built into the deck and sits under a roof. There is a “bridge”, which is part of the deck floor that is removable. That way, I can get to the controls and the motor section of the spa. It’s not too hard to remove, but it is heavy. After the bridge is off, there are six screws to take the cover off the side of the spa. Everything is then at your finger tips.

It was a game of hide and seek for several months, The spa water would be the same temperature as the outside temperature. Then I would remove the bridge, open the cover and it would start working again.

Calling for service when the trouble comes and goes was a waste of money. The service people would say “well it could be this and it could be that” and then they would be on their way, leaving a bill of course. This went on for several months.

The repairman said I needed a new controller board to the tune of $950. I said, “No, thank you!” Everything works BUT the heat. The pumps circulate, the filter works, the ozone lamp comes on and the temperature display is accurate. I’m having a hard time believing the circuit board is bad.

I was told that the reason for the high price of the controller board was “this model is no longer made and the entire assembly must be replaced, requiring replacement of almost everything and replacement circuit boards are not available.”

Well it turns out, that was an untruth. I found rebuilt circuit boards on e-bay for $315 to $345. Our spa has a lifetime replacement warranty on the heater and our spa heater has been replaced twice during the last 9 years under that warranty. Now, the spa heater is part of the control board so when that heater breaks, you must replace the control board and heater assembly and the assembly is not under warranty.

Since this intermittent problem had been going on for months, it was starting to get old. It was time to get the spa heater fixed. So I started searching the web, but with no luck. I sent an email to the manufacturer as they do not advertise a tech support telephone number. Here is a slightly condensed version of the message:

The heat does not work all the time. This unit has a circuit board. Part number 52195. The heater has 10.9 ohms across the element. When it is operating, it pulls 22.5 Amps. If I manually operate the K2 relay, the spa heater kicks on. What controls this relay? It looks like one side of the heater is energized all the time. The heater does not operate until the K2 operates. What I really need is the schematic for this board. Everything else appears to be working correctly. The temp is the ambient temp. The pumps work correctly. Everything appears to operating correctly, just no heat.

Five days later, I received this exact message:

It sounds like you need service on your product. Please go to the link below and locate your nearest servcie center. Thank you for your request.”

I responded back to him with the following message.

Thanks, but no thanks. No service required. I fixed it myself.

The truth of the matter is, I was really surprised to even receive a reply. My plan was to send the manufacturer of the spa an email message and call the manufacturer of the control system, as they advertised their telephone number.

It worked great! The manufacturer of the control system’s company tech answered the phone! After a brief discussion, he said:

Sounds like the pressure switch is bad.

We then discussed where it was and how it worked, as well as, how to test it. The discussion really got interesting when I asked what the second wire in the circuit was for. What second wire? He responded. It turns out the spa manufacturer adds something extra in the form of a wire going inside the spa heater assembly to test something. No one can or will tell me what that something is. I ‘m guessing it is a fuse or a temperature sensor. So, what I did was I just left it out. Guess what! Everything now runs fine!

After all was said and done the manufacturer of the spa’s tech sent back the following exact message:

You were refered out to service because you are the end user and we are not alotted to provide support for the end user. I am technical support for technicians only and due to liability reasons we are not allotted to tell you how to fix your spa. I apologize for any trouble this has caused you.

Everything I got was canned answers from the spa manufacturer. I’m not sure if the liability risk is too high to get answers or they just don’t know the answer. The bottom line is that if it smells fishy, it probably is.

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Dave Altman

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