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Rich
Rich, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1801
Experience:  Over 35 years residential, commercial, industrial wiring, install, troubleshoot, service, maintain
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Whirlpool tub in master bath stopped working. No easy access

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Whirlpool tub in master bath stopped working. No easy access to GFCI (if it exists it's inside the deck the tub sits on)

Rich :

Hello .. Rich here ... yes usually it is put just inside the access door for the pump .. so it acts as a local disconnect as well

Rich :

the access panel for the pump is usually at the exposed end or side of the tub

Customer:

Yeah...I figured that...but the builder of my home negelected to cut a hole behind the door he conveniently screwed to the side of the tub-surround under my sink. Imagine my surprise when I unscrewed what I thought was the access panel only to see the plywood skin of the tub deck. My tub is completely surrounded (not exposed).

Rich :

hmm .. nasty ,, I guess I would be carefully cutting out the plywood .. if I could not find a way to remove it .. I know but I cannot see . are you certain there is no other possible access to the under workings of the tub ..the motor is usually at the opposite end from the drain

Rich :

or accessable from below ??

Rich :

it is not wired to an outlet under the sink is it ?

Customer:

that would put the motor in the corner of my north and east walls which are inaccessible. They built a wood deck to sit the tub upon, then tiled the sides and top completely. The entire north end of the tub is against a wall, as is the entire east end. Part of the south side of the tub is blocked by my vanity (which has the fake panel). The entire west side of the tub is accessible but tiled. Below the tub is my family room ceiling. Can find no outlet under the sink...I'll look again.

Customer:

just checked again...no outlet under the sink. There are two GFCIs in the bathroom, neither of which should be controlling the tub. (they're both working too). There is a timer on the wall coming into the bathroom that is used when the tub has filled and you want to start the jets.

Rich :

I think I would look again at the tiled end maybe they hid screws in thye tile joints somehow .. the motor is usually under the sloping end of the tub ,, or in a corner where the side curves to the end

Customer:

If the motor is where it usually goes, the only way to access it is to remove the tub from the deck. If I were to break the caulk seal between the tub and the top of the tile, do you think there is enough room to pull the tub out of the deck just high enough to get at the motor/GFCI? I imagine the drain and supply lines would have to be considered...maybe I'll just carefully cut out the access door and see what I can do...there's nothing wrong with the tub other than the jets aren't working...I'd hate to be forced into replacing it just because the motor went bad.

Rich :

Ya .. I think I would first cut away under the sink ,, thats a place where you can hide the damage .. anywhere else is going to get messy to put back nicely

Customer:

you sure got THAT right. I'll cut out an access where the fake panel is and see if maybe there's a GFCI and maybe it's tripped. It would be wonderful if it were that easy. However, if it's the motor that really is 'bad' and needs replacing, there's no way around doing some damage to the tile surrounding the tub. My job will have gotten more expensive and a lot more complicated.

Rich :

are you certain that there is not a GFI in the panel for that tub

Customer:

In the fuse panel in the basement?

Customer:

I know there's a breaker.

Customer:

would it look like a 'normal' GFCI outlet or something more like a breaker?

Rich :

the breaker would be almost like the others .. but would have a ( red ) button it to test the action of the GFI

Customer:

give me minute...I'll go check...

Rich :

button usually says "test"

Customer:

fuse panel breakers are all the same...not one of them has a 'test' button or 'red' button that would make it stand out from the others. the breaker isn't 'soft' either...I've had that before where a switch was in the 'on' position but was 'soft' and therefore really 'off' (maybe that was just old technology in the old house I moved out of)

Rich :

no sometimes they will not flip all the way to the trip position .. well that was my last shot .. guess it it cutting time ??

Rich :

I am assuming that the breaker is labelled for the tub ??

Customer:

Yes...it says 'upstairs whirlpool'. I flipped it off then on again (not that it matters) just to check for softness.

Rich :

ok .. thanks

Customer:

Looks like it's cutting time. Do you think there are any bare (out of conduit) wires back there I should be worried about? I'll be very careful cutting anyway...likely not even going thru all the way and kind of chiseling it out once I've gotten most of the way thru.

Rich :

sorry I could not be of more help ..

Rich :

not sure how much extra wire there might be in there the two possibilities are that the wire is tight to the floor .. or that it is looped to allow the removal of the tub .. I would bet it is tight to the floor with out very much extra ,..

Customer:

I appreciate all the help. You helped me see things I hadn't thought of. Thanks again!

Rich :

you are welcome please rate me .. thanks

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