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Ask Doug the Pool/Spa Guy Your Own Question

Doug the Pool/Spa Guy
Doug the Pool/Spa Guy, Swimming Pool & Spa servic tech
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 2
Experience:  16 Yrs ?experience, Owner of Crystal Clear Waters, Service and Repair of res and comcl.
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2004 SweetWater Bahia Spa

Resolved Question:

My spa is going through the startup mode over and over. The startup codes are on the display but the pumps only run for 20 seconds and the heater is not working. No error code is coming up.

Thanks
XXXXX XXXXX
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Doug the Pool/Spa Guy replied 5 years ago.
HiCustomer Thank you for asking your question on JustAnswer. The other Experts and I are working on your answer. By the way, it would help us to know:
-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Thank you again for trusting us with your problem. Please reply as soon as possible so that we can finish answering your question.

Hello,
Could you give me a little more information? I need to know the make, model and year of the unit. I just want to make sure if it's a "Baha" or what. It would also help if you could tell me what kind of control system it has. The information for the control system should be on the control pack. You may have to remove a side panel to view it. It will be the box that the electrical power hooks into.

Let me know,
Doug
Doug the Pool/Spa Guy, Swimming Pool & Spa servic tech
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 2
Experience: 16 Yrs ?experience, Owner of Crystal Clear Waters, Service and Repair of res and comcl.
Doug the Pool/Spa Guy and 3 other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It is a 2004 Sweetwater Bahia Spa.

 

The control panel is reading the temperature which is dropping rapidly. When the pumps are turned on they run for 20 seconds and shut off. The heater is not working.

 

I am at work but the owners manual can be found on line.

 

Thanks,

Bruce

Expert:  Doug the Pool/Spa Guy replied 5 years ago.
?Hello again, Our research shows that Bahia is actually the series/model (there is also a popular brand of spas called Baha, that’s why I wanted to make sure). SweetWater would seem to be the options package, i.e. number of pumps, blowers, jets, and stereo if so equipped. Bahia is made by Sundance Spas which is tied in with Jacuzzi Whirlpool. I am shooting from the hip here without knowing how many pumps (not how many speeds the pump or pumps have) the unit is equipped with and being in the dark about the type of control system but I will do my best. Please read though everything I have written before you decide what you want to do.

If the control system is in fact a Sundance product then it could be one of several things, some will best be addressed by a service tech or electrician. Please keep in mind, with the information at hand I am using the process of elimination starting with the least expensive thing first.

First of all, the tub will not heat unless the pump that pushes water though the heater is working, and, as you are reporting a pump issue as well, lets look there first. The typical configuration uses a two speed pump. High speed for pressure to the therapy jets and low speed to heat and filter the water. If the pump is cycling on and off it could be an indication of the windings overheating thus a failing pump motor. This will normally give you a “PS” (pressure switch) or “FL” (no flow/low flow) code at the topside control, but, depending on the programming and the type of system this is not always the case. If you have an electric motor shop locally you can remove the pump and take it in to have them check it out and repair or replace the pump motor if needed.

If you don’t want to hassle with taking the pump out and hauling it in to be looked at then you need to call a service person. If you want to DIY then here’s the plan.

Locate the door or panel that gives access to the internal equipment. 90% of the time this will be the panel or door directly below and on the same side as the topside or spa side control (the thing with the buttons and the temperature display). Open it up and see how many pumps the unit is equipped with. If the tub has more than one pump then we want to determine which pump runs the heater. The heater will be either a long stainless steel tube or a short fat cylinder usually stainless steel but sometimes a black ABS plastic. Follow the pipes coming out of the heater to locate the pump.

Now to determine determine if it is a circulation pump or a full sized spa pump. If the heater is fed water by a circulation or circ pump, it will be a pump just a bit smaller than a one pound coffee can and connected with .75 inch or 1 inch plumbing. If your hot tub has a circ pump then the problem is more than likely a topside control or a control board and not a circ pump, (see below for info on topside and circuit boards).

If it has no circ pump then it uses the low speed setting on the primary pump to heat and filter the water. The full size primary pump will be connected with 1.5 inch or 2 inch plumbing and be about the size of a couple of one gallon paint cans laid on their side put end to end, usually black in color. Always turn the power to the hot tub OFF before starting any disassembly or removal of components!

The pump consists of two parts, the motor (a long cylinder) and the wet end (a plastic housing that has the connections to the pluming). We want to remove the pump as a unit, not in two pieces. Once you have determined which pump is the primary look to see if it has shut off or “T” valves on the pipes going in and out of the pump and close these valves. Sometimes the valves are on the same pipe but not right beside the pump. Follow the pipe as far as it is visible to locate them. If it has no valves you will have to drain the hot tub.

After the valves are closed or the tub drained use a pair of channel lock or water pump pliers to gently loosen the disconnect unions for the plumbing connections to the pump. Please note**** there will be some residual water in these pipes, usually only about a half gallon, so you may want to have a wet vac or some towels handy. Take care to keep track of the “O” rings or gaskets inside the unions, you will need them later. Then remove the four nuts holding the foot of the motor to the frame of the hot tub. After the plumbing is disconnected and the nuts removed, trace the power cord from the pump motor back to the control pack and disconnect it, it should just plug into the side of the pack. You can normally look at the control pack and find the power cords to the various components labeled where they plug into the outer case, it will most likely say things like, Pump 1, Pump 2, Blower or Air, Ozone, ... Then, disconnect the bare copper “bond” or ground wire from the outside casing of the pump. Remove the pump and take it in to be inspected. To reinstall the pump reverse the procedure. Use some Oring lube on the Orings or gaskets when you reattach the pump unions. Make sure to open the valves before turning the power back on and check for leaks before putting the side panel back on. One suggestion, while the pump is in the shop being checked or repaired have them put in a new pump seal. These wear out eventually and are inexpensive to replace while the pump is out.

The second possibility would be a bad top side or spa side control. This is the unit with the temperature display and control buttons. The best way to determine if this is the problem is to turn off power to the hot tub, unplug the topside from the circuit board (follow the cable coming from the bottom of the topside and locate where it plugs into the control pack, either on the side, bottom or directly to the circuit board inside the control pack. Turn the power back on to restart the spa. On most systems this will put the control pack into a “safe” mode to protect it from freezing. It should go through its start up cycle and then settle into it’s filter/heat cycle on low speed. If it does, then bingo, it’s the topside control. Another way to test this is to simply plug another compatible topside control into the board and see if it corrects the issue. If there is no change then chances are it’s a problem with the pack, either a sensor or more than likely the circuit board.

The third would be a bad temp or flow sensor, but normally the topside will give you an error code to identify the faulty device if that is the issue so I doubt that is the issue.

If it’s not the pump, a sensor or the topside then it’s a bad circuit board. Unless you are an experienced spa tech or a computer savant, don’t attempt this on your own. Call a service tech.

Just a little FYI, if the problem is the topside control or the circuit board then something had to happen to damage them, usually a voltage spike, brown out or lighting strike. Another possibility, though rather remote, is unbalanced voltage or a “voltage in" problem. If it is a 120 Volt powered tub the unit is not receiving the correct amount of voltage, usually too little, or, if it is a 240 Volt unit, and it is not getting the same amount of voltage from both 120 Volt power legs coming in it can cause damage or improper operation.

Many systems will operate oddly or not at all if the voltage in difference is greater than 8 to 10 volts. In other words, one side of the 240V is at say,.. 112V and the other is at 130V. This condition can also “cook” your circuit board and control system. Unbalanced voltage is best determined by an APSP or NSPI certified spa tech and if found to be the problem, something an electrician should correct, usually with the help your power company. This kind of problem can (but not always) cause damage to other 240 volt devices in you home like high end ranges, ovens, furnaces, air conditioners and the like so it is worth eliminating as a possible source.

Of the fixes outlined here I would suggest only the pump removal as a home owner project. The topside control and circuit board are expensive and relatively fragile units best installed by a service tech. The electrical issue should only be attempted by a licenced electrician.

Hope this helps, if you need more info or advice let me know.

Thank you,
Doug

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