Few things can ruin your day faster than the realization that your hot tub is leaking. Even the tiniest crack in the wrong place can cause a big problem. And a tiny hot tub leak can be difficult to track down, making it especially frustrating.
Your initial thought might be that you’re looking at a potentially expensive repair that will require an expert to locate and fix. While that may be true for some leaks, depending on your level of expertise and DIY skill, you may be able to fix some of the most common leaks yourself.
Find Where Your Hot Tub Is Leaking
The first step to fixing a leak is to locate it. Some of the most common places where you’ll find a hot tub leaking are:
- union fittings
This is by no means a complete list, but definitely some good places to start.
Probably the most common location where you’ll find a leak is around the hot tub pump. Before checking the pump, turn off the power. Then look under the pump for leaking water. If you do find water, you check the pump seal first. If that’s the culprit, simply replacing it should take care of the problem.
If it’s not the seal, the pump itself may be malfunctioning. You’ll either need to repair it, or possibly replace the pump entirely.
To determine whether this is why your hot tub is leaking, check the entire heating assembly. This consists of the heating element, pressure switch, sensors, thermostat, and all other components. If you find water leaking from any one of these parts, you’ll need to order and replace them.
If you find water leaking from many or all of those parts, it may just be time for a new hot tub heater.
This heater includes a digital control panel (LCD) for temperature selection and heater settings. It's a high-efficiency pool heater with a small footprint.
Because they can loosen over time, the union fittings in both the pump and the heater are common hot tub leak spots. If any of these fittings are loose, tighten them by hand. Do not ever use a wrench to tighten these fittings. You may damage them, or the pump or heater itself.
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This troubleshooting will take a little time because hot tubs have numerous types of valves in several locations. You’ll need to inspect every one of them to ensure none of them are where your hot tub is leaking.
Knife valves, also called slice valves or gate valves, are used to block water flow. They consist of two halves bolted together, with a gasket between them. That gasket is known to often fail, so it’s a good bet a faulty valve is why your hot tub is leaking.
Some hot tubs also have ball valves installed on either side of the pump so water doesn’t have to be shut off or drained in order to repair the pump. These valves are also prone to leaks and may need to be replaced.
Check all the pipes, jets and plumbing connections for leaks. In some cases, all you’ll need to do is tighten the connections or reseal them.
If you find that a jet is leaking, it’s most often a failing gasket. Replacing it should stop the leak. Check with the hot tub manufacturer to learn what type of gasket to buy.
You may also find a crack or even a hole in one or more of the PVC pipes. In that case, you can use a plastic repair kit to seal those breaches. This material hardens and is actually stronger than the PVC itself. Depending on the extent of the damage, though, it may be better to just replace the pipe altogether.
Hot Tub Shell
Because they’re usually made of strong fiberglass combined with other layers, it’s not often that a shell will be the source of a hot tub leak. In most cases, it’s actually a problem with one of the jets or other components that attach to the shell, and not the shell itself.
If your hot tub is leaking through the shell, though, a plastic repair kit will do the trick there as well.
Other Leak Detection Methods
If you’ve inspected all of these components and still can’t track down the leak, try putting leak-detecting dye (or a small amount of dark food coloring) into the water, and watch where it goes. This can help you track down a leak you may have missed during your visual inspection.
You can also try letting the hot tub drain. Then check and mark the water level each day. When the hot tub stops leaking, you’ll know it’s just above the water level at that point.
Call a Pro
If all else fails, or you discover repairing the hot tub leak is outside your skill level, don’t hesitate to call a hot tub professional. They should be able to find the leak, and then advise you whether it’s possible to repair it, or you need to replace a piece of equipment.
Yes, this will cost more than troubleshooting a leaking hot tub yourself. But it’ll be worth it to stop your hot tub from leaking, and possibly turning into an even bigger problem.
Water, Water Everywhere
And not enough to soak in. If your hot tub is leaking, you’re being deprived of the spa experience, which is why you bought your hot tub in the first place. Don’t wait. As soon as you notice a leak, find it and repair it. Then you can get back to carefree enjoyment of your spa.
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