Fixing a Broken Hot Tub, Spa, or Jacuzzi

What to do when your hot tub joys turn into sorrows…

Man upset from his hot tub problems

Busted hot tub? Don’t despair.  Most people don’t have any experience in repairing an indoor or outdoor Jacuzzi tub.  However, just because you may be unqualified to handle major repairs, you can still troubleshoot and resolve minor issues.

We’ll cover some common hot tub technical problems and some do-it-yourself solutions. Hopefully, these pointers can get your hot tub back in working order before you have to resort to shelling out cash for a repair technician.

If you have a broken hot tub, here are some troubleshooting tips for you to try out.


Hot tub won’t heat up

The Problem: The heater won’t turn on.

The Solution: Check the power, wires, and water.

The Source: Unfortunately, there are a few different reasons why your heater might not be able to turn on. This usually means the electrical connection to the pump is faulty or weak, that the water pressure detector inside of the broken hot tub is either defective or clogged, or that the water flow low.

Clear out any sort of clogs around the filter, skimmer baskets, and pump, and make sure that the pump is sending a regular supply of water and is also receiving power (make sure your wiring isn’t frayed or damaged!).

Water never gets hot

The Problem: The heater turns on, but keeps shutting off randomly.

The Solution: Check the power and water (again).

The Source: There could be a few different issues at play here (again). The most likely problem has to do with water pressure. Are there any error codes displayed? Clearing out any blockage and replacing the water pressure switch are good places to start, and will make sure that you’re accounting for improper water detection as well as improper pressure detection. However, if the pump simply shuts itself off without a displayed error message, it is probably a problem with connectivity and power, which means your wires are likely damaged, corroded, or broken.

Heat pump is on but water remains cold

The Problem: The heat pump is running, but not actually heating the water.

The Solution: Inspect your heat pump and make sure it receives enough power, enough water, and is set to the temperature you want it. You could also invest in a solar cover for your broken hot tub, which will help keep in heat and is much more energy efficient!

The Source: It’s too cold outside! Sounds easy enough, right? The truth is that if your pump is receiving the right amounts of water and power is set to a high temperature, the weather must be too cold for the pump’s heating to function. Not all heat pumps are designed to withstand low temperatures. You’re going to just have to wait it out or invest in some new, higher-performance equipment for your pump, or replace the pump entirely.

Water is leaking from the heat pump

The Problem: Your heat pump is leaking water.

The Solution: If you can, test the contents of the leakage puddle for chlorine levels; if not, check all the connections for a visible leak. Otherwise…

The Source: It’s likely not a leak at all, but just some normal condensation. Most heaters and pumps follow a cycle of heating and defrosting, which causes a sweat-like condensation, producing a small amount of water.

Clogged filter

Clogged filter After cleaning

The filter on your hot tub is especially sensitive to becoming clogged if there is a build-up of dirt, body oil, and general grime. Regular cleaning for this filter is essential to keep the water flowing as usual. Normally, you get a warning code on your control panel but more often the hot tub will simply shut down when it becomes blocked due to a filter that isn’t allowing water to flow at 100%.

Cleaning a filter is easy enough, although it might need to be replaced if there is excessive build-up if you didn’t use a degreasing agent to clean it before. Having a spare filter is always a good idea so this won’t interrupt spa plans if you plan to use your hot tub later that same day.

Noisy pump

checking Noisy pump of hot tub

Whenever a water pump is making strange noises, it’s obviously a sign there is something wrong with it. These sounds will never sound all the same since it’s not just a mechanical issue with the pump itself. It can also be stemming from poor fitting gaskets and seals or even from the bearings that are helping to spin the pumps’ parts. These can range from weird sounds that can include humming or hammering-like sounds.

To fix any of these sound issues, it will take a run-through list of the owner’s manual and a careful look at the pump itself to see what is happening. If these problems cannot be fixed through troubleshooting alone, it may require replacement to fix the problem if there is an internal problem that you can’t fix on your own.

Air lock

fixing air lock problem in hot tub

If you’ve ever needed to drain and clean your hot tub, this shouldn’t be a problem except that it does when water goes back inside. The problem starts when water begins to fill the tub and air becomes trapped inside due to the phenomena called air lock’. This air lock will be obvious when the water jets are turned on and there is no water going through the pump into the water.

To correct this problem, all of the jets need to be opened to their maximum and then let them run for at least 15 seconds. This may take a couple tries before the air lock is totally cleared and you’ll see it’s fixed when the air starts to leak out and come to the surface. There is also a nut that connects to the pump motor that will also help air to be released faster. Loosening this nut will get unwanted air for the hoses likewise.

GFCI breakers are tripped

hot tub GFCI breakers troubleshooting

This is a failsafe device that every hot tub and spa has installed to prevent electrical faults. It’s meant to prevent terrible accidents including electrocution, which is life-saving, to say the least. When the GFCI breaker has tripped, it could be from several reasons that include the water pump, the Ozonator, or the blower. Eliminating the likely candidate starts with unplugging each of these individually to see if this will rest the breaker.

If the breaker has become reset after unhooking one of these items, it will be necessary to replace them or have them repaired. If nothing continues to work after all of these components have been unplugged, the likely suspect is more than likely the heating element.

Leaking seals

Man fixing Leaked seals of hot tub

It’s a problem that will be more common than you think and not because the seals are meant to be faulty. Seals simply fail because air and the elements will cause them to dry out when exposed to heat and dry weather. When these seals begin to fail, this will increase the chances that water can leak into areas of your hot tub being exposed to water. This is dangerous if it gets onto electrical equipment and causes shortages.

Checking these o-rings and seals is equally important to make sure that they aren’t starting to crack will ensure these water leaks won’t happen. Regular replacement is always a good idea to stay on top of the scheduled maintenance of your hot tub. Rubber seals that are made from silicone are better than rubber since they do not break down so easily to natural elements and weather conditions.

Refrigeration Issues

The Problem: Anything with the refrigeration or refrigerant components, which, while it sounds contradictory or ironic, are very important for the function of your heater.

The Solution: Call a professional! It is highly inadvisable to attempt to tamper with refrigeration units by yourself.

Unlike the issues stemming from weak wire connections and defective water pressure detectors like those mentioned above, refrigeration units are usually quite fragile and the components are often under high pressure. This makes them dangerous for any person to stick their hands in, much less an unqualified hot tub owner (no offense). You’d be better off contacting a hot tub repair technician right away.

The Source: It doesn’t matter – no broken hot tub is worth risking electrocution or injury, just call a technician!

Hopefully this list of common troubleshooting tips is helpful to you. If there’s one thing to take away, it’s that regular maintenance is ultimately more efficient and will save you much more money than ignoring smaller problems until something major comes up.

In the event that the time has come to get rid of a hot tub in Phoenix, contact us or your local hauling company. After all, nobody really needs this in their backyard:


What are the most common issues with hot tubs?

Since hot tubs have few moving parts, it most likely the pump, a leak in the tub itself, clogged filters or faulty heating elements.

How can I determine what is wrong with my hot tub?

The easiest thing to do is to understand what is or isn’t happening. If you’re loosing water, see if there are any leaks in the tub itself. If that’s okay, check all connections and anywhere water can leak from. If there is no new water coming in, then it’s probably a clogged spout or bad pump. And if water isn’t going out, it is most likely a clogged filter or pipe. Start with these and go from there.

Can I repair my hot tub myself?

It depends on what’s wrong and your DIY skill set. Unclogging a clogged pipe is an easy fix, so is cleaning the filter or jets. But draining and fixing a cracked hot tub with apoxy takes a little more skill and patience. See what’s involved and make a decision, or just hire a professional if you’re not really sure you can handle the job.

How much does it cost to repair a hot tub?

The cost of repairing a hot tub will depend on the type and extent of the repair needed. Simple repairs, such as replacing filters or cleaning jets, may cost less than a hundred dollars, while more complex repairs, such as fixing leaks or repairing the heating system, can cost several thousand dollars. Sometimes is cheaper just to replace it with a new one.

How often should I have my hot tub serviced?

You should be getting your hot tub serviced at least once a year. And if you use it constantly, every six months is even better. You want to catch any potential issues before they become more serious.

What should I look for when hiring a hot tub repair technician?

When hiring a hot tub repair technician, look for someone who is licensed, insured, and has experience repairing hot tubs. Ask for references and check their online reviews to see if they have a good reputation and what other people’s experiences using them was like.


backyard junk, diy, hot tub, how to, tips

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Brad Thomason

About the author

Brad Thomason is the owner of AZ Junk Removal, a seasoned professional with decades of experience in the moving and junk removal industry. With an acute understanding of how people acquire and dispose of items, he established his company in 2001, serving the Phoenix, Arizona area with exceptional junk removal services. Throughout his career, Brad has witnessed the exponential growth of the city as new communities, businesses, and retail centers continue to develop.

Committed to offering a more personalized approach, Brad operates the company as an owner-operator, actively involved in daily operations. When you choose AZ Junk Removal to eliminate clutter, you can expect to work directly with Brad, one of his close family members, or friends. This level of customer service sets them apart from other franchised hauling companies in the Valley.

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