When you invest in a spa, the last thing you want to consider is the potential complications that may be lingering on the horizon.
The truth is, when it comes to heated water that’s dependent on chemicals to maintain it, it’s inevitable that, at some point, you’ll experience them.
Don’t let this deter you from updating your backyard with a top-of-the-line hot tub. Most issues spas experience are easy to fix and even easier to avoid once you know how!
Being aware of the most common spa problems and solutions can make maintaining your hot tub simple, so you can lean back and enjoy the crystal-clear water anytime you like.
In this article, we’re going to make caring for your hot tub stress-free, helping you manage any common spa problem you might experience as you get to know your new spa.
Keep reading to discover the eight most common spa problems and solutions!
8 Common Spa Problems and Solutions
Discovering an issue with your hot tub is never pleasant. The good news is that most are easy to fix on your own and can be avoided by including a few extra steps in your regular hot tub maintenance routine.
The most common issues you’ll experience with your spa will likely be related to your water quality. Occasionally, however, you may also have spa problems that are caused by your hot tub parts.
In this guide, we’ll be covering the most common spa problems and solutions for both.
Common Water Issues
Water issues are the most common ones new hot tub owners experience, which simply means there’s a learning curve to better understanding how to care for your hot tub to best manage it.
Something worth noting is that all these problems can be the result of dirty filters. If any of these issues arise in your hot tub, check your filters and rinse them off if necessary to ensure they aren’t the culprit. Then continue with the other steps mentioned for each problem.
1. Foam on The Surface
Foam is generally caused by your water becoming oversaturated with organic matter. This matter is typically from:
- Body lotions
- Hair products
This can even be caused by lingering detergent on your bathing suit that wasn’t fully rinsed off in the wash.
Your sanitizer is not able to combat organic matter, so adding chlorine to your hot tub won’t solve this issue.
This is where an oxidizing shock treatment comes in.
Oxidizers help break up organic matter, making it easier for your sanitizer to clean your water. By adding a shock treatment, you should be able to combat your foam and bring your water back to its original crystal-clear state.
If this doesn’t work or the foam returns, simply drain your hot tub, clean the shell, and refill it.
2. Cloudy Water
If you’ve opened your hot tub only to discover you can no longer see the bottom of your spa through the murky water, you’ll need to treat the problem before you can enjoy your soak.
Cloudy water is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the water and signals that it’s out of balance.
This often means that treating your murky water is as simple as rebalancing your chemistry.
Before you can treat your water, you’ll need to test it to understand what’s out of balance.
Using your water test kit or a pH test strip that includes sanitizer levels, test your water. If your pH or alkalinity is out of balance, treat your water with your pH increaser or decreaser according to the instructions.
More often than not, your cloudy water will be from low sanitizer levels. As your sanitizer works to clean your water, its levels are depleted. If you missed your regular water treatment or had a sudden increase in hot tub use, your usual sanitizer amount may not be able to keep up.
Solving this is as simple as testing your water and adding chlorine to bring your levels back up.
3. Algae Blooms
If you ever lift the cover of your spa and see small green bundles floating around your water, you’ve officially developed algae!
Don’t worry; this is a common issue, especially among new hot tub owners, and it’s easy to treat.
Algae is a surefire sign your water chemistry has fallen out of balance. When an increase of contaminants enter your water, and your sanitizer levels dip below their threshold, the bacteria in your hot tub begin clumping together, forming algae blooms.
Treating algae blooms is done similarly to how you solve cloudy water.
- Test your water’s pH and sanitizer levels
- Rebalance your water
- Add sanitizer to bring your levels back into range
Your pH should always be between 7.2 and 7.8, while your alkaline levels should be within the range of 80-100 ppm (parts per million).
When it comes to your sanitizer, you should keep your chlorine levels between 2 and 4 ppm.
4. Foul Smelling Water
Nothing is more off-putting than being hit with a nasty odor after lifting the cover of your spa.
If your hot tub has developed a less than ideal smell, it’s likely that sanitizer levels are too low and will need to be brought back up.
However, if this smell rivals the suffocating chlorine smell of a public pool, that would signal that your chlorine levels are too high. This often occurs if you close the cover directly after treating your water.
As your treatment products clean your water, they release gas. If you close your cover, this gas is trapped between your cover and water, forcing it to reenter your hot tub and causing an unexpected rise in your sanitizer levels.
You can easily avoid this by leaving your cover off for 20 minutes after treating your water to allow the chemicals to “off-gas.”
To banish your smelly water, simply test your pH and sanitizer levels and treat them appropriately, as listed above, to bring them back within range.
If your sanitizer levels are too high, there are a couple of things you can do to bring them back down.
- Wait it out
- Remove the cover
- Partially drain your spa and refill it
- Add a neutralizer
Your chlorine levels will naturally go down on their own, so if you’re not in urgent need of soaking in your spa, you can simply wait a few days for the levels to drop.
If you want to speed up this process, you can remove the cover to allow for more evaporation to lower the levels.
If your levels are significantly higher, you could choose to partially drain your hot tub and refill it with fresh water. This will help dilute the chlorine in your spa. After you’ve refilled it, ensure you retest your water and treat it accordingly to rebalance your pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels.
Lastly, you could add a chlorine neutralizer to break down the excess chlorine. It’s easy to add too much and end up with water that no longer has enough chlorine, so if you decide to use this, ensure you follow the instructions carefully!
Hot Tub Part Issues
While a top-quality hot tub is designed to last up to 20 years, your individual parts unfortunately won’t have the same life expectancy.
Over time, your parts will wear down and begin showing signs of deterioration, signaling that they need to be repaired or replaced. If you’ve experienced any of these problems, inspect your system to diagnose the issue, make the necessary repairs or schedule a service appointment.
5. Weak Jet Pressure
This is one of the most alarming spa problems, but luckily, it’s often caused by an airlock and not an actual issue with your jets.
Airlocks occur when air gets into your circulation system and blocks the flow of water. This can leave you with poor water flow coming out of your jets.
More often than not, this occurs following a water change.
Fixing an airlock is relatively simple and can be done with only a few steps.
- Fully open your jets
- Turn the water up all the way for 10-15 seconds at a time
- When you begin seeing bubbles from the jets, turn them on full and let them run until your water is running at full pressure again
6. Your Pump is Making Loud Noises
If your pump has begun making a deep growling sound or a squealing sound, it can mean two things:
- Your pump isn’t getting enough water
- Your bearings are beginning to fail
If it’s growling, you’ll need to inspect your circulation system and flush out any clogs that may be reducing the water flow to your pump.
If it’s making a high-pitched squealing sound, you can try to lubricate your bearings to reduce the metal-on-metal sound or simply replace the pump. Unfortunately, this is likely the best option once your bearings begin wearing down.
7. Your Hot Tub Water is Cold
If your hot tub water is suddenly ice cold, it could be caused by three things.
- Your filters are dirty
- You have an airlock
- The heating element is corroded
The first thing you should do is check your filters and clean them as necessary. If they are significantly dirty, spray them down with a filter cleaner and let them soak for 15 minutes before rinsing them off.
You’ll want to check your water flow next. Turn your jets on and check to ensure they are functioning properly. If not, perform the same steps listed above to flush out the airlock.
Lastly, you should check your heating element. Your element is constantly exposed to your spa water, which can begin corroding it over time, especially if your water is not properly balanced.
If your element is corroded, it’s time to replace it.
8. Your Water Level is Low
If you’ve noticed your water levels have dropped, it may just mean it’s time to top it back up with your garden hose. However, there is a rare occurrence of your decrease in water being caused by something more serious.
The only way to discover if it needs further inspection is to refill your water to its original level and wait to see if you lose water faster than expected.
If your water level doesn’t change after you topped it up, it’s likely your water has just experienced natural evaporation, leading to lower water levels. Generally, hot tubs lose roughly one inch of water every week, with more being lost if your cover is left off more frequently or it is used often.
However, if your water level drops faster than it should, it’s time to take a deeper look at your hot tub. This could be caused by a crack in your shell or a leak somewhere in your system.
To diagnose the root cause, thoroughly inspect your hot tub pipes, heater, and pump. If you discover a leak, replace the necessary seal or part, or patch the pipe if possible.
If you can’t find any wet or leaking parts of your system, you should inspect your shell. Fully drain your hot tub, clean your shell, and carefully inspect it for any damage.
Cracks can be difficult to spot and are easy to miss. Even the smallest cracks lead to big issues if not caught early. If you find a crack, we recommend you schedule a repair with a professional hot tub service to fix it. However, if you want to manage it yourself, you can patch it by:
- Drilling small holes on either end of it to stop it from becoming larger
- Sanding it down
- Patching it with an acrylic or fiberglass epoxy
- Waiting for it to fully dry
- Sanding it down again
Once you’ve finished the repair, add a small amount of water over it to test how effective your patch is.
If you are still struggling to find the cause after inspecting your shell, schedule a service appointment right away to avoid further damage occurring in your system should there be a leak.