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My spa tub stopped working. What's wrong?
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
People also call them Jacuzzi® or jetted tubs but, when they stop working, it’s usually because one of the two electrical safety devices that protect the pump motor has tripped. You have probably already checked the circuit breaker in the panel. In many panels the breaker trips to the middle position instead of fully to OFF, so we suggest throwing the switch all the way to OFF and back again just to be sure.
If that does not work, then it is likely that the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) has tripped and needs to be reset. If the GFCI-device is incorporated in the spa tub circuit breaker in the panel, it will have a small button on it marked TEST. That would indicate that the GFCI has already been reset when you reset the circuit the breaker, so your problems are likely with the spa tub equipment.
Otherwise, you need to find a GFCI device elsewhere that protects the tub circuit and reset it. GFCI’s are required for spa tubs and trip in a fraction of a second if electricity in the pump motor circuit goes astray and might shock you while in the tub. It’s an important safety feature, but there are multiple places they can located. Searching for it make take a few minutes.
A GFCI will have two buttons, one marked TEST and the other RESET, and the buttons may be red and black, or the same color as the receptacle. Here’s a list of places you might find the GFCI:
- If the home was built in the 1990s, there is probably a single GFCI-receptacle in the garage that protects garage, exterior, and bathroom receptacles. The spa tub may be on that circuit, so check it. If the garage GFCI is tripped, the TEST button will be popped forward. But that is not always easy to determine, so press the RESET button. If it clicks when you push it and the TEST button pops out, then you have found the problem and re-energized the circuit.
- Some spa tubs are protected by a GFCI wall receptacle in the same bathroom as the tub. Or it may be in one of the other bathrooms in your home. Check them using the same procedure as outlined above.
- No? Then the search gets more interesting. You may have what is called a “dead front GFCI,” and it might be located near the tub in the bathroom or on the wall next to your electric panel. We even once found one in an adjacent laundry room. There’s two examples below. One was on the wall next to the electric panel, and the other was paired with a GFCI-receptacle at a bathroom sink.
- Still nothing? Then the GFCI is probably at the receptacle in the spa tub compartment. Find the access panel, which can be located in one of the walls shared with the side of the tub, such as in the toilet compartment or an adjacent closet. Or it could be in the side of a cabinet that abuts the tub, a front panel of the tub, or at an outside wall. Remove the panel and push the reset button.
- Okay, here’s the worst case scenario: the builder put your GFCI protection at a receptacle in the spa tub compartment, but never provided an access panel. You will have to cut an opening at the perimeter of the tub on the side where the pump is located to reset the GFCI, and then fit an access panel to the opening. Because GFCI devices sometimes trip due to a minor electrical anomaly that rarely happens, you may be finding out that you have an inaccessible spa tub compartment after owning the house for years.
If you have found the GFCI-device protecting your spa tub and it is not tripped, then you have a failure of the spa tub pump and need to have it serviced. Or there is one last possibility: some spa tubs have both a wall switch and an on/off button at the tub. If you ordinarily only use the controls at the tub, the wall switch may have been inadvertently turned off, and that’s your problem.
Also, see our blog post Does code require an access panel for a whirlpool spa tub?
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