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Spa Heater Problems

Spa water chemistry can affect spa heater durability.
The Pool and Spa Informational Website or

Suggestions and Solutions, for Care and Maintenance.


Scroll down to browse through some archived SPA and Hot Tub questions and answers.  Please click the Spa Problems Link, on top of every page, to access a complete listing of Spa and Hot Tub Problem subjects, an alphabetized Website Table of Contents, Spa and Hot Tub Equipment Information, About Alan Biographic Material and a Spa and Hot Tub Glossary. Use the other links to access additional subject information. More information about some new and unique products, for Spas and Hot Tubs, can be found by visiting The Website Store. You'll never know what you'll find and that's always fun. Be better prepared and avoid costly problems!


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Protecting a heater and improving performance!!!
Incorrect use of a sanitizer can result in heater corrosion.   Salt Chlorine generators tend to create higher pH conditions, which are not likely to cause corrosionA Chlorine is a popular pool water sanitizer and sanitizing is a must, for proper water management.  Salt Chlorine generators are a better way to utilize chlorine, producing more controllable results. They eliminate the need to handle, measure or store chlorine products, while reducing buildup problems.  An Electronic PockeTester Kit is a convenient way to monitor the salt level.
Salt Chlorine Generators - 4 Models Testing The Salt Level Salt Chlorine Generators - 4 Models
SmarterSpa Salt Chlorine Generator, with Chlorine Detection Technology. #1749 PockeTester Kit, for salt TDS and temperature. MegaChlor-CD salt chlorine generator, with Chlorine Detection Technology.
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If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
Scroll down to read through some Question & Answer information.
A ColorQ 2X is a 2nd generation, Bluetooth, Waterproof, all-digital tester, that can measure all the common test factors. There is a model, for every sanitizing need.  A Magnetic Water Conditioner helps control scaling tendencies, which can reduce heater and filter efficiency.  The WaterLink SpinTouch Labs are the ultimate tester, doing up to 10 different water test factors, in just 1 minute.  Voted product of the year.
ColorQ All-Digital Water Testers Magnetic Water Conditioners WaterLink SpinTouch Labs
#2086 ColorQ 2X, Bluetooth, Waterproof, 2nd generation all-digital pool and spa tester. Magnetic Water Conditioner, for calcium hardness and scale issue.s WaterLink SPIN Touch Lab
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If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
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How to solve heater problems and select the right options?

Spas and hot tubs require routine care and periodic maintenance, in order to preserve and maintain the good operating condition of the heater and other equipment. Manufacturers' trouble-shooting guides should be consulted for maintenance or replacement instructions. Heater corrosion can result from poor management of the spa water chemistry and chemical additions and should be completely avoidable. If problems arise, refer to the Spa Problems Page, as a source of problem-solving information, broken down into various categories.  Scroll down the page and click on the linked keywords, catch phrases or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.

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▼     Helpful, Problem-Solving Information, in a question and answer format.     ▼

Cost OF Heating?

We live in Minnesota and winters are cold.  Really cold.  We are cost about the cost of heating.  Are there any better options, when selecting a brand?  Thank you.

Tom F., 8/9/2018

As the name implies, Arctic Spas were designed, with extreme temperatures in mind.  In other spas, the shell is covered, with installation.  This helpsArctic Spas brand of Hot Tubs and Swim-Spas. save heat, but makes servicing difficult. It also only protects the spa.  In Arctic Spas, the entire inside of the cabinet is insulated, protecting all the pipes and equipment and making servicing easier.  Other spas rest on the cold ground or a cold slab.  Arctic Spas rest in a raised, insulated platform, made specifically for its greater insulating properties.  Any waste heat, from the pump. is used to help maintain the water temperature, as it lies within the insulated cabinet.  Even the thermal covers are thicker, for better installation and less heat loss.  No matter what the conditions, an Arctic Spa is built to withstand extreme climates.  Heating will always cost money, but better design and superior insulation, will help to lower the cost.  I hope that this was informative and helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 8/09/2018

What Caused Heater Corrosion?

Hi Alan. Question on spa. I just found out that my heater is bad to severe internal corrosion. I just had the heater installed a year ago. Tech states my water must be really bad and asked what I am using to sanitize. I have been using a salt chlorinator for the past year and the chlorine level were always on the low end. What would cause the heater to corrode so quickly? Is there something I could do to make water less corrosive? Would high/low pH cause this? Thanks.

Thomas J., 10/20/2016
SmarterSpa Salt Chlorine Generator for Spas.
Chlorine will only attack copper, if the pH was under 7.0. The pH needs to be at 7.2 - 7.6. A salt chlorine generator should avoid heater corrosion,
unless you overdo the additions of acid, as they tend to raise the pH. To reduce the probability of future problems, make sure the pH is optimized, the total alkalinity is at least 80-120 PPM and that the calcium hardness is not less than 200 PPM. If the water tests high for copper, I suggest draining and starting over. I hope that I have been helpful. If so, please tell your friends and dealers about the website.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 10/20/2017

Too Hot To Handle?

Our hot tub temperature has really gotten hot. When we turn it back, nothing happens. Temperature remains hot. I'm trying to avoid the expense of calling a professional that lives far away. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Gloria N., 5/13/2015

Your spa needs to be serviced and I am not knowledgeable enough to be of assistance. Spas are equipped with high temperature shut off switches and thermostats. It seems that something has failed. High temperatures, above 104F or 40C, can be dangerous to the bathers and should be avoided. If you want the use of the spa, I don't see how you have a real choice. Sorry that I couldn't be of more help.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/13/2015

Economics Of Shutting On And Off?

Is there a study which compares cost of maintaining a constant higher temp verses turning spa down between use to a lower temp then bringing back to temp each time the spa is used. I can find cost of operating spas but no study on turning up and down vs. constant temp. Logic tells me it would be cheaper to maintain a constant temp, but I have some spa owners who insist that we turn spas down between use to save money. Thanks for your help, and I appreciate your advice.

Tim J., 4/18/2012

This gets asked a few times a year. I know of no study on this subject. Analyzing the physics behind the question tells you the
heat loss to the environment is less, as the water temperature drops closer to the ambient. Much depends on how well the spa is insulated and the type and fit of the cover. Yes, I think you can save money. But, it could be pennies and you will lose the ability to enjoy the spa whenever the mood strikes. If there is money to be saved, this is not a really an effective way. Maintaining good and consistent water quality and filtration will help minimize problems and that will really save on operating costs. An ozonator to destroy wastes and a Mineral Sanitizer for persistent backup sanitation are a great way to reduce chlorine or bromine usage, without sacrificing water quality. I hope this helps to put things in perspective.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/19/2012


We have a 1000 gallon spa in operation outdoors, at a spa resort. Currently, it is being heated by propane. Being that the spa is not covered, heat loss is considerable. Would a heat pump make sense, in terms of cost and temperature recovery time? Thanks.

Bret F., 12/4/2014

There is absolutely no doubt that an heat pump will result in a considerable savings. Exactly how much will depend on the cost of propane and the cost of electricity. But, it will be more than enough to justify the switch. As a bonus, it operates a lot cleaner too. The size of your spa and the uncovered feature, makes a heat pump a viable alternative. Good luck and I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/5/2014

Excessive Heating Costs?

I recently purchased a house that has an inground granite spa that sits completely in concrete. I ran the spa with
temp. on 100F for 30 days and my utility bill went up $300.00. Original owners say they also had this problem. My electrician says it is the electric heat and my pool man says it still shouldn't be that high but doesn't seem to know what to do to make it efficient. I have had a large above ground spa before and ran it 24/7 and never even noticed that it even used electricity. Spa runs on 220. totally electric, was digital but wasn't running, so pool man changed to manual on and off. Electrician questions spa heating element. Pool man doesn't seem to know. Note: Original home owners say the pool company that installed the spa have tried to correct the problem but had no success, so they stopped using it. Please help. Any possible answers to problem will be greatly appreciated.

JBF, 5/14/2005

The cost of heating electrically is based on power consumption. Better reduction of evaporation and heat los
s will reduce electrical consumption and costs. Is this spa covered when not in use? Otherwise, the heat loss will be considerable. Not only will the heat radiant away, but even more will be lost through evaporation. Covering can be a bother, but is will produce big savings. Want covering at the press of a button? An automatic safety cover might be just what you need. Electric resistance heaters are not very efficient. and this plays a direct role in your heating costs. You might consider having a heat pump installed, as this type of heating is, perhaps, the most cost effective means. I hope that this will help find a solution.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/14/2005

Heater Corrosion?

Recently, I had a corrosion problem with my spa heater. What can I do to avoid a repeat?

Brady, 11/4/2007

Copper/copper alloy heater components can be adversely affected by low pH, in the presence of chlorine or bromine. The best way to avoid low pH levels is to maintain a total alkalinity of 80-120 PPM. Some products such as trichlor tablets should not be used in a spa. In addition, bromine tablets are best utilized in a feeder or floating dispenser. Electric heaters and heat pumps, that utilize a titanium heat exchanger, are far more resistant to corrosion. Frequent testing of the spa water is always a good practice. I hope that I have provided some helpful information.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/5/2007

Turned Blue?

Admittedly, I neglected the spa for about a two week period. Upon realizing it was not checked for some time, I checked, and found both chlorine and pH low. I attempted to raise the pH first, with sodium carbonate, I believe. I have some pH plus that I never had a problem with and while adding it a little at a time, the water turned blue. I raised it to 7.0, shocked the water and cleaned the filters. I then set the automatic filter cycle to run continuously, to filter out the blue color that precipitated out of the water. It has been running for 6 hours now, and is as blue as the Caribbean. Short of draining, washing, and refilling the tub, can you offer any advice or assistance? And any advice to prevent a recurrence? Thanks!

Joe, 10/8/2006

Liquid MetalTrap
There seems little doubt that this is a copper problem. The low pH caused copper corrosion to occur in the heater. I would advise
draining and cleaning the spa. Spas should be drained occasionally and this is a good time to do it. I would add a dose or two of a quality metal chelating agent, such as Liquid METALTRAP, after the spa is refilled. You mentioned chlorine - I hope that it was not trichlor tablets, as it could be part of the problem - too acidic. Dichlor is what is used most often. Hopefully, the damage to the heater was not serious, but each instance of low pH will take its toll.  I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/9/2006

No Heat?

Dear Alan, I heard you were the man to ask about spa trouble. I have a 1996 Spa. It will not heat, it will cycle but no heat. I have had this trouble for a month now. I changed the pressure switch and nothing has changed. I don't know where the thermostat is so I can not check it. Please if you have any insight let me know.

Desperate, 12/30/2010

While I can usually offer advice on spa water chemistry, water quality and related maintenance issues, your question is very product specific. I can point you towards possible solutions, but it is the manufacturer that should be best able to offer trouble-shooting information. In most cases, if the power is interrupted, the thermostat may need to be reset. Check to see what temperature the spa is set to maintain. It may be set below the current water temperature and should be raised to the desired temperature. Look for a circuit beaker that may be protecting the heater and may have tripped. Most spas, if not all, are equipped with a high temperature cutoff switch, which prevents temperatures from rising above 104F. This is done for safety reasons, as higher temperatures can be dangerous to the health of bathers.   Possibly there is a problem with this switch. Sorry that I can't offer more but I have no access to model by model information. I hope that this information will prove to be useful. If this website was helpful in providing information, please tell your friends and dealers about the website.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/30/2010

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The Best Temperature?

What is the best temperature for a hot tub? For some reason I am having a hard time finding the right temp to set it. No one seems to know.

Robert S., 2/15/2016

This is an entirely individual preference. A temperature of 104F is the safe maximum. With kids you might want to lower the maximum. Most people keep the temperature at 100 - 104F. In the summer months, many people keep it at a pool-like temperature. It's what makes you and the family comfortable. Enjoy the spa.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/15/2016

Spa Cooler?

I have a 400 gallon above ground spa that gets up to 102F degrees with the cover on! How can I lower the temp? I dont like the temperature over 98F. Is there a spa cooler of some sort? Thanks.

Bob D., Arizona, 7/27/2005

There is equipment used to cool swimming pools. It should be possible to do the same with a spa. Heat pumps offers a broad choice of products, that heat water, chillers that cool water and units that do both. Hopefully, this information will help you cool off.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/28/2005

Shutting Off?

Presently I have an outdoor spa and the heater isn't working. The spa is set up on a timer and when it comes on it is supposed to turn on the heater. The controls are equipped with a manual over ride and when I hit the button you can hear the motor attempt to run and then it turns itself off. Would my heater thermostat be bad or is my motor bad? How do I check either one of these? Thanks for the help.

Johnny G., 3/13/2004

There are several possibilities: thermostat problem, high temperature cut-off switch problem, pump problem, controller problem or a circuit breaker problem. I suggest that you prefer to a trouble-shooting guide or the spa manufacturer's website for additional insight, as this is really out of my field of expertise. Good luck and I hope that I have helped point you in the right direction. Good luck.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/14/2004

Cooling Off?

I have a spa and the water gets real hot and then a week later it's only warm. I use it about once a week. Should there be a timer to set? Or is it run only from the cold to hot knob. Thanks for your time P.S. my cover is starting to come apart, Could hot air be seeping out to cause this problem?

Cold In California, 1/29/2008

Most likely you have a problem with the thermostat or the controlling devices. Most spas have a thermostat that can be set at a particular number. The temperature is controlled by the heating switching on according to the thermostat or a controller setting. You need to check to make sure that the settings are correct. It is also possible that a sudden power outage can alter the thermostat settings, dropping the setting to the lowest number. This will prevent the heater from coming on. Check to see what temperature the thermostat is actually set at. The display may only show the actual water temperature. With the variety of spas and equipment on the market, it is impossible for me to be more specific. You should refer to the trouble-shooting guide in the owner's manual or contact the manufacturer and/or dealer, if problems continue. The poor condition of the cover, is not the cause of the problem. It does, however, cause heat loss and should require the heater to be used more than necessary. I hope that I have been of help.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/29/2008

Higher Spa Temperature?

We usually keep the spa water at 104F and use it for about 20 minutes at a time. I don't seem to be able raise the water temperature above this point. I would like to try a slightly higher temperature. Is there a reason this is happening?

Flagstaff, AZ, 12/12/2012

Temperatures above 104F can be dangerous. Most, if not all spas, are equipped with high temperature cutoff switches that prevent the temperature from rising above this point. Even at 104F, bathing time should be limited to about 20 minutes, especially if fully immersed in the water. Special individual health requirements should be factored into the spa usage. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/12/2012

Intermittent Operation?

My husband and I use our spa every evening and sometimes in the morning, during the winter-time in upstate NY (i.e. cold weather). He usually turns the temperature up an hour or two before use and then turns it down, under the impression that this will save on heating costs. I think keeping it at a stable temperature is probably just as economical. Do you have any idea about this? Cheers.

S. D., New York, 10/22/2006

In theory, a warmer spa will lose more heat to the surroundings. Therefore, shutting off the heater could save money. How much? The savings, depending upon the insulation, might be trivial, in the overall scheme of things. Heating isn't 100% cost efficient, so it does cost more to replace lost heat. Considering how often the spa is used, why give up the ability to use the spa, anytime you want, for some pocket change? I hope that this information will be helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/23/2006

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