The heartbeat of your hot tub is the filtration system’s pump.
Like any piece of equipment, the hot tub pump requires maintenance, and issues can arise from time to time.
Signs Pointing To A Pump Problem
The most obvious sign you have a problem with your pump is lack of water circulation, meaning you’ll have little to no flow coming out of the hot tub jets.
Limited circulation often leads to poor filtration and dispersal of sanitizing chemicals, which quickly leads to a high level of contaminants in the water that you’ll see in the form of dirty or cloudy water.
Additionally, some control panels will display an error code that can help you decipher if your pump is fully functioning or not.
If the pump’s struggling, there’s likely an issue somewhere in the filtration system. In most cases, a pump works or it doesn’t work – there’s rarely any in between.
How To Fix A Hot Tub Pump (Troubleshooting)
As pump problems vary, here are some of the most common you may encounter, as well as how you can fix them.
If The Pump Won’t Turn On
Not getting anything at all from the pump?
Start by checking to see if your hot tub breaker has tripped.
If it has, you may have an issue with the breaker itself (it could be a blown fuse), or with the spa. You can reset the breaker by turning it off for 30 seconds and then turning it back on.
If that doesn’t fix the problem, remove the side panelling on your hot tub so you have access to the equipment (specifically the pump).
Start the pump and see if the breaker trips again. If it does, you’ve found the problem. Disconnect the pump and reset the breaker.
If the breaker doesn’t trip, you know you have an issue with the pump itself, in which case it may need replacing.
If The Pump Turns On But Nothing Happens
Your pump may be operational but nothing is happening.
This is a different problem to the pump simply not turning on, and usually indicates there’s a clog somewhere in the pump or filtration system.
Clogs can build up in the impeller of the pump. This could be from debris or residue (ie. calcium deposits) that have built up over time. An electrical issue could also be the culprit as to why the impeller isn’t spinning.
To fix the issue, turn off the power and clean out the pump as best you can. If the impeller still won’t move after you’ve cleaned it, it’s probably due for a replacement.
You should also clean out your filter and/or leaf trap. Debris could be stuck in it and causing the clog, impeding the flow of water back to the tub.
If The Pump Is Making Weird Noises
A pump making noise is normal. A pump making weird noises… isn’t.
If you’re trying to prime the pump but it doesn’t seem to take, there could be trapped air somewhere in the filtration system.
This situation usually occurs after you’ve drained and refilled your hot tub, as the refill process can introduce an air bubble in the tub’s pipelines.
Another reason you might hear strange noises is because the pump could be randomly losing power, causing the motor to start and stop.
Try resetting it at the breaker. If that doesn’t work you may have an issue with the wiring, or the breaker itself.
If The Pump Is Suddenly Too Weak
A pump that suddenly puts out a weak flow of water is usually compromised by either an obstruction or a leak.
An obstruction could be caused by an air lock bubble, debris in the filter, or a clog in the pump’s impeller, so you’ll need to troubleshoot every section of the filtration system to see if that gets things moving again.
It’s also a good idea to use a line flush product to clean out the pipes, and re-prime the pump so it can start pulling water again. Remember to keep the jets open during this cleaning process.
If it’s a leak, these are most common at the union joint, where O-rings and rubber gaskets gradually deteriorate over time, leading to joint failure. This is a simple and inexpensive fix, and you can easily replace these on your own.
We recommend changing as many of these rubber gaskets as you can, because if one has already failed, it’s likely the remaining gaskets aren’t far behind.
More seriously, if there’s any water in the pump when the weather dips down, it can freeze, expanding into the plastic housing, and ultimately cracking and damaging it. This usually results in a replacement pump.
Finally, any type of water leak can lead to damaged electrical equipment in the spa, so be sure to do a full equipment check if this is the case.
Replacing A Hot Tub Circulation Pump
Replacing a hot tub pump may seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple to do – especially if you’re replacing it with the same model.
Important: Before dismantling everything, use your phone’s camera to take photos for reference, so you don’t forget how to connect the new pump.
Follow these steps to replace your pump:
- First, cut all power to the tub so you can safely work on it without the fear of electrocution.
- Loosen the union fittings on the pump. These are what connect the pump to the filtration system’s suction and return lines. You may need to use a pair of filter pliers if the fittings are stubborn.
- The pump should be bolted down. Remove these bolts.
- There will be two wires you need to disconnect from the pump’s controller: the ground and the power cable. Follow the power cord into the controller and disconnect it, and remove the ground wire from the pump.
- Remove the pump from the filtration system.
- Transfer the power cables from the old pump to the new one. They should hook up in a similar way. Again, take a picture of how the old pump is wired so you know where to hook things up on the new pump.
- Double check the gaskets/O-rings on the union fittings. Now is a good time to replace them so you don’t have any leak issues in the future. You may also want to replace the vibration dampening mounts (the bolts) that the pump sits on. These will wear over time, so using 4 new ones with a new pump will save you the hassle of replacing them in the future.
- Attach the new pump to the spa. Start by securing it to the structure with bolts, but don’t fully tighten them. This will allow you to maneuver the pump and connect it to the union fittings and controller.
- Connect the union fittings (again, don’t fully tighten them).
- Connect the power cable to the spa controller and connect the ground wire to the pump.
- Tighten everything and make sure the pump is secure.
- Restore power to the tub and run the pump.
A hot tub pump that’s not working properly can be panic inducing for some people.
Fixing your current pump or Installing a new pump isn’t as hard as it sounds, and with a DIY attitude you can have your water flow restored in no time.