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Hot Tub Jets Not Working Or Won’t Turn On? (Here’s How To Fix)

Your hot tub jets are a crucial part of the overall system.

Not only do they help circulate the water and all its chemicals, but they’re also a key part of the filtration system too.

But what do you do if your hot tub jets stop working? In this article, we’ll tell you why it happens and how you can remedy the situation.

How Hot Tub Jets Work

There are a few operational components that go into getting water to shoot out of your hot tub jets.

A hot tub works on a cycling system, consisting of a filter, pipes, a pump, and a heater. The pump is the heartbeat of this system, pulling in water (the suction side), as well as pushing the water out (the pressure side).

Water is sucked in from the tub through the skimmer, cycles through the filtration system, goes through the hot tub heater to be warmed, and is then diverted to the return line piping where it eventually reaches the return jets.

The jets have 3 components to them: water in, air in, and an air mixture outlet.

Air mixes into the returning water via a venturi (a small hole in the jet that water’s directed through). This is referred to as the “Venturi effect”.

An increase of water speed mixed with a decrease of pressure is the resulting effect when the pipe is full of water. This results in a reduction of the incoming water feed, forcing it through the small hole. 

Air outside of the jet is of higher pressure than the water inside the pipe. Air is then forced into the stream and mixes with the water. This results in a pressurized mixture of air and water, which is then shot out of the jets – and voilà, bubbles! 

How To Fix Hot Tub Jets (Troubleshooting)

There is a real danger when the jets aren’t working properly.

It can be an issue with the jets, but most times the problem lies elsewhere in the equipment chain, and there are many potential points of failure. We’ll cover the most common scenarios below.

Important: Water and electricity don’t mix. Whenever you’re troubleshooting your tub’s electricals, always cut the power.

If They Don’t Turn On

You may notice there’s nothing coming out of the jets when the tub is running. This is usually due to air lock, and it’s common after you’ve drained and refilled your tub.

This happens because, at some point during the refill, an air pocket forms in one of the filtration system’s lines. As a result, the pump isn’t able to send water to the jets.

To remove the bubble from the line:

  1. Turn down the heater as low as it will go, so it doesn’t switch on as you fix the issue.
  2. Open each jet and run the tub for 15 seconds.
  3. Turn off the tub and then run it again for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat this for an additional 45 seconds. This technique will slowly move the air bubble out of the line and should fix the issue.
  5. If at any point you begin to see air coming out of the jets, let the tub run to move the bubble out.

If this method doesn’t work, you can try loosening the union at the pump to let air escape (just don’t fully remove it). Just don’t forget to tighten it up again before turning the tub back on.

If you’re still having air lock issues after following the steps above, you may want to call a professional on this one.

If The Pressure Is Weak

Got jets with low pressure? 

If the pressure is uneven, you may have adjusted some jet nozzles for low pressure, which automatically increases the pressure in the remaining jets.

If you haven’t touched your jets, it may be an issue with the diverter valve on the tub. Adjusting this valve can usually solve most pressure-related problems.

There’s also a pressure valve in the spa’s equipment chain that may be the culprit. More often than not, simply resetting this will solve the issue.


If The Water Flow Isn’t Consistent

Inconsistent water flow could be the result of a clog – either in the jet itself, or in the filtration system.

Having a clog in the lines isn’t unheard of, but if your filter and spa are kept relatively clean, this isn’t a very common culprit.

Here’s how to check for one:

  1. Check the jet for any obstructions. This could be a broken piece of the jet, debris, or calcium buildup.
  2. Inspect the filter. Most cartridge filters are located in the hot tub’s skimmer. This is the point of entry in the circulation cycle, which makes it easy to check for large debris that could be causing the clog.
  3. Check the drain at the bottom of the tub, making sure no debris is blocking that either.

Inconsistent water flow can also be caused by a low level of water in the tub.

The waterline level has to be up to the halfway point of the skimmer for it to take in water. In fact, many hot tubs will clearly mark the point where the water level should always be.

If water falls below the skimmer, air will be sucked into the filtration system instead. This can not only cause inconsistent water flow, but the introduction of large amounts of air can damage equipment.

If there doesn’t seem to be any clog issues and the water level is where it should be, the pump may be the problem.

Pump impellers can get clogged by debris, or it might be that the pump is reaching the end of its lifespan. Pumps last anywhere from 5 to 10 years on average, so at some point it will need replacing.

If You Can’t Adjust Them

Hot tub jets are designed with an adjustable outer ring, allowing you to dial in the amount of pressure you want.

When you dial back the output pressure of a jet, it will affect the remaining jets, increasing their pressure.

If you suddenly notice you can no longer adjust the jets, you may have a problem with calcium scale.

Scale is a buildup of calcium carbonate that can settle into the eyelets of the jet nozzle. When this happens, it essentially freezes the outer ring so you can’t adjust it.

We have a dedicated article on how to remove hot tub scale.

How To Maintain Your Hot Tub Jets

If you regularly clean your hot tub jets, you’re far less likely to have any issues with them.

For this reason, you should swap your spa water every 3 months. Doing so keeps the spa clean and operational, and it’s also the perfect opportunity to clean the jets.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn off the tub.
  2. Drain the tub. Do this by attaching a garden hose to the drain port at the base of the tub. For a faster drain, you can use a submersible pump with an attached hose.
  3. As the water drains, remove the jets from the tub. These will require a bit of elbow grease, but they’re threaded and simply twist off.
  4. Inspect the jets and replace any that are damaged.
  5. In a large bucket, pour in a 50/50 solution of vinegar and warm water. Dump the nozzles into the solution and let them soak for 4 hours, stirring them every 60 minutes to dislodge any tough residue.
  6. Scrub the tub. Use a soft, non-abrasive sponge and a spa cleaning product for the best results. Get into every crevice you can and thoroughly rinse the tub.
  7. Remove the nozzles from the bucket and rinse them off. Reinstall them on the tub. Ensure you thread them properly, as the water pressure can damage the jets if not correctly installed.
  8. Refill the tub with water, and test and balance it with the necessary chemicals.
  9. Turn on the tub.

Get The Jets Set Before You Get Wet

The problem of hot tub jets not working can be a tricky one to diagnose and will take some time and know-how to fix.

Knowing that malfunctioning jets isn’t a death sentence for your tub will allow you to implement a solution that restores them to full functionality.

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