Time is Wearing Things Out…Part 1 – Hot Tub Pump and Motor.


The pump is behind the blue box.

I have had a hot tub for the past 25 years. Not the same one of course as the original one collapsed as I was moving it to a different site. This forced me to buy a new one which I have had since 2002. I find hot tubs to be very soothing and relaxing after either working hard at something in the yard or ponds or after covering several miles on a hike. Tends to help the old aches and pains in muscles that I never knew I had.

One day a couple of weeks ago, the pump in the hot tub developed a real screeching sound so it didn’t take an Albert Einstein to figure out that the bearings had gone and either needed a repair job or at the worst, a new pump. Previously, on any hot tub work, I have always contacted a couple of gentlemen who made a living by repairing hot tubs but neither of them did that sort of work anymore. I am not surprised as it is not easy working on these things as it requires having to kneel down and stick your head under the rim of the tub in a very limited space enclosure which made it extremely difficult to perform the work. I thought about for a bit and decided that there was nothing magic about this particular job and that apart from the difficulties of getting at it, the work should not be beyond anything that I could do. So, off came the cover panel, on went my knee pads along with a cushion to kneel on and I went to work. It turns out, that apart from the location and the difficulties that created, the work to remove the pump was comparatively easy. I took the pump to an Electrical repair shop here in Austin only for them to contact me a few days later to tell me that it was beyond repair and that I needed to purchase a new pump and no, “They did not deal in Spa pumps”.

In this modern day and age of the internet, I got on line and located a couple of Spa repair/suppliers and found just the right pump for a little over $200.00 with no shipping costs so I went ahead and ordered it. A week or so later, it was delivered to my garage door and I went back to work on re-installing the new pump. As with anything that you haven’t got a clue in what you are doing, there are right ways and wrong ways to do those things. I probably chose the wrong way and even when I reversed myself, it was still the wrong way. Actually, apart from the difficulties made by the location, reinstalling the pump went very smoothly. I had not shut one of the valves properly and had to refill the tub before I could test it out which took about 20 or so minutes. Then came the moment of truth as I switched on the power and lo and behold the pump started to spin very quietly with no screeching. I adjusted the thermostat to 102 degrees and then waited for the hot tub to warm up which would take several hours.

The pump is a 2 speed and when the heater is on, it runs at low speed. The high speed is for someone who is using the tub to help provide the therapeutic movement of the water. It is also programed to turn on the high speed blowers for about a minute once every 12 hours to purge the system of air. Did I mention that even a hot tub has a motherboard in it that tells it when to go through the various cycles? Ah, the miracles of modern science.

Turns out, that even though I rewired the motor exactly the same as the one I took out, the new one is just a little different and the low and high speeds are reversed. Instead of the motor coming on to bring the water back up to the chosen temperature, which only happens at low speed, the pump kicked in on the high speed cycle. I went back online and looked at the specs and there is a statement that says, “If the high speed comes on first reverse the white and green wire” or something like that. Trouble is, you can only find that out by hooking everything up and running it to make sure it was correct.

Today, 2 weeks after completing the first motor change out, I am back under the tub again getting ready to reverse the wires. The weather here in Texas has not been kind in terms of me getting out to work on this little project. It has rained for more than a week and this project wasn’t that pressing but today, the sun came out and I decided that I had waited long enough.

Although the main gist of the job was to reverse two wires, unfortunately, I had to retrace my steps almost exactly to get at the wiring meaning a complete removal of the pump. This time though, I had a much better idea of what I was doing and I had it all done, the hot tub filled with water and back running again in about an hour.

Can’t wait to get back in it again and soak my tired muscles and aching back. It will take about 6 hours to properly warm up to 102 degrees. I don’t mind waiting….

Post Script. Just to report that reversing the wires did the trick. Everything is working just fine…

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