When it comes to relaxation and hydrotherapy, both pools and spas have a lot to offer. There are similarities in how each operates, but there are also key differences in their inner workings as well as potential malfunctions. As a homeowner, it’s essential to understand the different components and how leaks in these aquatic environments can present unique challenges. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the general structure of a spa tub, differences between spa leaks and pool leaks, answers to the question, “What is the most common leak in a hot tub?” as well as how to repair spa leaks and why hiring a professional leak detection service is a smart choice. Read on to protect your investment and avoid unnecessary headaches.
How Does a Spa Work?
It’s important to understand the parts and functions of a hot tub or spa in order to understand why it can leak. One main component is the shell, which is the surface made of acrylic or other material where you sit. It’s what holds the water in and where components such as jets are mounted. The jets are nozzles that force air into the spa, creating a strong stream of pressure that often feels like a massage when you sit nearby. Lights are present within the shell to provide illumination and ambiance.
Somewhere along the top of the shell is a skimmer and filter to help catch debris. The cabinet is the part underneath it that forms the walls and base of the spa, hiding the inner components. Within that cabinet is a pump that helps force the water through the circuit of the spa system. An ozonator helps keep the spa clean in combination with added chemicals. A spa pack includes both the heater and controller, which allows the management of all the mechanical components. In order to access the cabinet, a panel in the wall is present so that inner pieces can be reached when needed. Hot tub leaking is complicated by the number of components and touchpoints throughout the system.
Water in the hot tub is drawn by the pump into a suction line to travel towards a filter, then it passes through a heater into an ozonator (if there is one), and then it returns through a PVC pipe to be diverted to multiple return jets by manifolds. This is a simplified explanation, and every spa has differences depending on age, manufacturer, and size.
How Spa Leaks Differ From Pool Leaks
Before diving into the specifics of spa leaks, it’s crucial to understand how they differ from pool leaks. While both involve water containment, the key distinctions lie in their size, components, location, and usage. Pools are typically larger and contain significantly more water than spas or hot tubs. This means that a pool leak can result in more extensive water loss and potentially more significant structural damage. Spas and pools often exist in different parts of a yard, meaning that their leaks will affect different nearby structures as well. If a spa is on a deck or patio, it may be closer to the house, and a leak could have more impact on your foundation than a pool that’s further away. Spas and hot tubs have specific components, such as jets, heaters, pumps, and plumbing systems, that pools lack. These components can be sources of leaks in spas, making spa leak detection and repair a specialized field. Opening up the cabinet of a spa and knowing what to look for can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with how they work. Spas are designed for relaxation and therapy, so they are often operated at higher temperatures than pools. The temperature differential can impact the materials used and the way leaks occur as well.
Now, let’s explore the most common types of spa leaks that homeowners may encounter:
1. Light Leaks: The spa lights in the shell of the structure create potential spots for leaks, especially if they crack. Because the lights sit within a cutout in the spa’s shell, there’s always the potential for misalignment or the light not being snugly fitted, creating the perfect escape for water. A cracked light needs to be replaced, but if the seal is the problem, that may be repairable.
2. Jet Leaks: The jets in your spa create the soothing water pressure that’s integral to the spa experience. Over time, seals or gaskets around the jets can deteriorate, leading to leaks.
3. Plumbing Leaks: The plumbing system in a spa can develop leaks due to wear and tear or even improper installation. It could be the pipes or the points of connection between them. These leaks can be particularly tricky to locate because they can occur within the spa’s structure, which isn’t the easiest place to see. Whether the issues can be repaired or replaced depends on the extent and location of the problem and should be approached carefully to ensure the right components and techniques are used.
4. Heater Leaks: The heater is another potential source of leaks. Corrosion or damage to the heating element can result in water escaping. If water continues to leak from there, it creates a snowball effect and continues to worsen the damage over time.
5. Pump Leaks: The pump in your spa circulates water, and leaks in the pump can lead to water loss. Look for water around the pump to tell if this is where your spa leak is coming from.
6. Shell Leaks: Although less common, the spa’s shell itself can develop cracks or holes. These leaks can be challenging to identify and repair, but they can result in significant water loss. This can arise from wear and tear over time as well as improper use of the spa.
How to Detect and Repair Spa Leaks
Detecting a leak is the first step in confirming that your water loss has a sinister cause. You’ll first want to try identifying the exact source of the problem.
1. Start by turning off the power source. Head to your circuit breaker and disable the electricity to the spa.
2. With the spa off, mark the current water level, then return in a day or two. If unused and no rain occurred, the water level should be within ¼ inch of the original mark. If it’s well below that, you’ve confirmed your spa leak.
3. Check around the spa for areas of wetness where there shouldn’t be. Check around the components within the cabinet, such as the pump, to see if they’re damp. You’ll also want to look at the insulation, as wet spots will help guide you to problem areas.
4. Consider draining the spa, as this will allow for closer inspection of components in the shell.
5. Check jets and seals for wear or damage. If this is the cause of the leak, replacement components may be needed.
6. Examine the plumbing system, looking for signs of moisture or dripping. Tighten connections and replace any damaged or corroded pipes or fittings.
7. For leaks around the heater or pump, closely examine the components for cracks, corrosion, or loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged parts.
8. If you suspect a leak in the spa’s shell, consult a professional like Aaron’s Leak Detection. Shell repairs can be complex and may require specialized expertise to correctly address.
9. If the leak remains elusive, a pressure test may be necessary. This involves pressurizing the spa’s plumbing system to identify leaks more accurately. A hot tub leak repair specialist can perform this test.
Make Repairing Your Spa Leak Easy
While some spa leaks may be repairable on your own, many can be challenging to locate and fix without professional assistance. Aaron’s Leak Detection makes finding and fixing your spa leak easy so you can get back to relaxing. Our technicians are the Central Florida experts in spa leak detection because they understand how spas should operate, what the common issues are, and how to accurately find the elusive escape route for your water. We’re confident in our abilities and stand by our promise—if we don’t find the leak, there’s no charge for you, so you have nothing to lose! Your busy schedule doesn’t need spa repair added to it, and if you want to get back in your spa quickly, Aaron’s is the expert for you. Same-day service is where we excel!
Plus, you’ll save money in addition to time. Because we’re the experts with over 90,000 leak repairs under our belts, we can quickly pinpoint the issue so you don’t throw money at the wrong thing. We’re customer-focused, meaning we don’t work on commission. Any repair we recommend is only what you need to get your spa running smoothly again without padding our pockets.
Spas aren’t cheap or simple, so fixing a leak should be done the right way to protect your investment long-term. With experts who have specialized training and experience in identifying and repairing spa leaks, we ensure no issue goes unnoticed. Aaron’s has the equipment, knowledge, and experience to make repairing your spa leak feel effortless. All it takes is a call from you to get started!
Make your spa time relaxing again with help from Aaron’s Leak Detection. Give us a call at (407) 924-9888 to have experts on your doorstep!