Spas & Hot Tubs are HOT!

image purch'd thru dreamstimeHeat up the Winter!

When some people think of winter, they think of cold weather, frigid temperatures, icy roads and snow. Now you can change all that, and think of heating up – in a Hot Tub.

The purpose of our spa buyer’s guide is to help compare and contrast several hot tubs and spas features; what’s included and how to distinguish between the 18 different spas and hot tubs for sale.

A section at the end to help you with helpful accessories that can be beneficial to any hot tub or spa. Before you soak in a nice hot tub, first soak up some information about spas and hot tubs.

SUPER PORTABLE SPAS

First, let’s take a gander at some of the most portable spas. These economical spas are popular, super-portable and easy to maintain. With 4 spa models from $500 to $1500, spas and hot tub prices are within reach of everyone.

intex-purespaThe Intex PureSpa Portable Spa fits up to four people and offers a system of easy filter replacement. Self-inflating and strong enough to sit on. User-friendly digital interface is easy for anyone to understand. Comes with a carry bag for easy portability and also includes a spa chemical dispenser and test strips.

ez-spaThe EZ Spa Four Person hot tub is a big portable spa, holding 250 gals, with 127 micro air jets! It comes with a one year warranty and includes an inflation hose. Marine grade vinyl construction is similar to white water rafts, built to be extremely durable. Includes an Insulair Thermal Cover, and a Locking Top Spa Cover.

spa-in-a-box-2Spa-N-A-Box uses an octagonal panel system with a heavy duty liner, and has a quick set up of only 20 minutes. Holds 280 gals, fits up to five people, and heats up to 104 degrees. Included is a thermal insulated cover and filtration system. Digital temperature is easy to use and no wiring or plumbing is needed.

airispa-portable-spaThe Airi Spa is an oval shaped 2 person hot tub available in three different colors – choose from Forest Green, Burgundy or Oasis Blue. The Pump and Filter system are self-contained and included with the Airi Spa. Lightweight and portable, it only weighs 86 pounds (dry). Includes a 1kw heater and spa cover.

SEMI PORTABLE SPAS

Still portable, but less so, with weights of 300-900 lbs dry and 2000-4000 lbs when full of water, they are designed for a more permanent placement, indoors or outdoors.

Within this category of portable hot tubs, we have spas made of beautifully mixed and rotomolded resins, with hot tub prices of $2-4K, or our more luxurious acrylic finished hot tub prices in the $4-6K range.

Distinguished by features such as number of jets, seats, lights and the pump and heater size, we offer over a dozen permanent hot tubs for sale, priced right and packed with features of much more expensive portable hot tubs.

ROTOMOLDED SPAS

aquarock-bliss-spaThe AquaRock Bliss Spa is our entry level model. Rotomolded design has a lifetime warranty, and a light weight of 285 lbs (dry). 11 jets powered by a 2 hp pump and filter. The Bliss Jet Spa comes with enough seating for 4 to 5 people. Underwater LED lighting and a backlit digital topside control.

aquarock-serene-spaThe AquaRock Serene Spa has 14 jets and a maximum capacity of four people. It runs on a 2 hp pump and is ozone ready.  Like the other Aqua Rock hot tubs, it has a backlit digital topside control system and has free chemical start-up kit available with purchase.

aquarock-tranquility-spa-2The AquaRock Tranquility Spa has 29 black jets, 6 seats and 310 gallons. The Underwater LED light is included, and the Xanadu comes ready for an Ozonator. The Pump is 2 hp and it has a 1kw/4kw Stainless Steel All-season Heater and ThermoCell. digital topside control system.

ACRYLIC SPAS

aquarock-fiji-spaThe AquaRock Fiji Acrylic Spa is an affordable acrylic spa that also includes LED lighting and an insulated cover. Runs on a powerful 4 Kw heater and a 4 hp pump, pushing through 40 jets. The beautiful acrylic finish comes in several colorful options. Fits 2-3 people in single lounger or dual lounger designs.

aquarock-mykonos-spaAquaRock Mykonos Acrylic Spas have 4-5 seats and includes such features as a waterfall, internal step / cool down seat, 5 hp pump, 4 kw heater, blower and 50 stainless steel jets. Weighing in at 785 lbs (dry), the Mykonos spa holds 325 gallons and has 8 total points of led lighting.

aquarock-venice-spaThe Aqua Rock Morocco 90 Jet Hot Tub has 5 to 6 seats, a backlit LED waterfall and 16 total points of LED light, and has an ozonator installed. Rollover shoulder jets and 400 gallons make this our largest spa size. Like our other fine spas, it comes with a spa cover and a lifetime warranty on the spa cabinet.

SPA ACCESSORIES

For a complete relaxing experience, you can even include spa fragrances. Crystal and liquid fragrances provide aromatherapy and help your time spent in the spa to be even more relaxing.

spa-cover-removal-before-shockingSpa cover lifts are the easy solution to storing and covering up your hot tub. This way you don’t have to worry about where to store the cover, or injuring yourself or damaging the cover while removing and replacing.

Spa steps or rails are helpful to ensure safe entry and exit from the spa, and some even come with built-in storage compartments or planter boxes.spa-chemicals-at-intheswim

Finally, don’t forget spa chemicals and cleaning tools, to keep the water fresh for up to 3 months between changes.

I hope that this spa and hot tub buyer’s guide will kick start your search for a brand new hot tub or spa. Now that you know some of the basics of what to expect and what kind of accessories are helpful for spa maintenance, you can now move forward with confidence in your selection process.

mailbox_open_mail_flag_150_wht_14057 - image from PMView all 18 hot tubs for sale and if you have any questions regarding, drop us an email, or call us anytime at 800-288-7946.

alex-malamos-3
Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Install a 360° Pool Slide!
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360-pool-slideWant to build a backyard water park? Adding a 360° pool slide will make your pool the talk of the town, with neighborhood kids showing up at your doorstep, towel in hand.

There are not many pool accessories that have the caché, or wow-factor of these jumbo pool slides. For under $3K your inground pool can have real appeal!

Installing one of these 7′ tall pool slides with a full 360° rotation is not for the weak of heart – but if you want to add some real excitement to your inground pool – read on, dear reader.

That is one Big Pool Slide!

srmith-gforce-pool-slideNo doubt about it, these are large pool slides with a large footprint. Depending on how you orient the slide to the pool, the amount of space it needs will change, but you’ll need a good chunk of concrete, about 8′x7′, or 50+ sq. ft. of area, to anchor in a 360 pool slide.

Secondly, there is not only the concrete area to be concerned with, but there are strict guidelines for the depth of the pool in front of the slide exit.

Water can be a minimum depth of 3′ below the slide, but at 4’6″ out from the wall, the depth minimum increases to 4’6″. This minimum depth must continue for another 9′, or a total of 13’6″ from the slide exit.

A slide so fast, it needs extra stopping room for sliders!

WATER-SAFETY-ENVELOPE-SLIDES-SR-SMITHIn addition to these minimum depths and distance in front of the slide, this ‘water safety envelope’ for the slide cannot intersect with a diving board’s water safety envelope. See diagram to visualize slide position and the water safety envelope in front of the slide exit.

Can a Pool Owner Install a 360 Slide?

If you can use a measuring tape, drill holes in concrete, move bulky semi-heavy items, turn a wrench, and do some light plumbing, you’re all set! You will also need a helper at times during assembly of the slide, and to move it around the deck.

slide-assemblyMost of this job is assembling the slide. In fact, for the G-Force, steps 1-20 of a 26 step process is just putting together the slide components into it’s full upright position. The heliX slide is a bit easier to assemble compared to the G-Force, being more modular in construction. Both 360 pool slides come with extremely detailed installation manuals, with tons of pictures.

mark-the-holesOnce the slide is assembled, it can be slid into place, and with a measuring tape, carefully follow instructions for proper overhang. With the slide in position you mark the holes through the holes around the slide legs.

slide-holes-drilledSlide the slide out of the way, and use a rotary hammer drill to drill holes for the anchor bolts that were just marked; 8 holes for the heliX and 12 holes for the G-Force.

tighten-boltsInsert the anchor bolts into the drilled holes and tighten down. Now carefully move the slide again, over the bolts sticking up out of the concrete. Line up the bolts with all of the holes, and tighten nuts tightly (very tightly).

The next step is to connect the ladder handrails (G-Force), and the final step for both 360 degree pool slides is to connect the water supply. Very important step – these slides have a lot of surface to wet, so they need a heavy supply.

You don’t want to use a garden hose connection, because this adds water to the pool whenever you use the slide. Run a line from the return line or the cleaner line, with a valve at the slide to control it. It can also be automatically controlled.

Is a 360° Pool Slide Just for Kids?

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Certainly popular with the kids, but these slides are built to hold the weight of an adult, or 300 lbs, whichever comes first.

The tight twist is not especially built for tall humans however, and if you are over 6′ tall like myself, you’ll feel a little twisted!

Good, clean fun, for humans of all sizes – and all ages! Definitely not just for kids! Install a 360° pool slide on your own inground pool!

davy-merino
Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

 

Common Spa Heater Repair Parts
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balboa-titanium-heater-in-a-spa-system--How do you know when it’s time to replace specific parts of your Spa Heater? Spa water temperature will probably be your first clue!

When a hot tub becomes a cool tub, what should you look for, besides a clean spa filter, good water level and a running pump?

Today we will explore the different components that make up an electric spa or hot tub heater; those various spa heater parts that may be to blame when your hot tub is not heating up.

spa-and-hot-tub-flow-switchFlow Switches tell the heater if there is enough water flow into the heater element and to safely power the heater element. It senses the flow of the water that passes through, and has two wires that connect into the control panel. A flow switch can get stuck; open when it should be closed or closed when it should be open.

Wire shorts and loose connections are prime examples of a common cause of problems with spa and hot tub heaters.

You can isolate the flow switch from the circuit to determine if the flow switch is to blame for any problems in the spa heater. This means that you can remove it from the circuit, or bypass the current that runs to the flow switch, to see if the spa heater will operate without the flow switch. If so, replace the switch.

spa-and-hot-tub-pressure-switchPressure Switches can have issues as well. If water flow or pressure proves to be insufficient to absorb enough heat from the heater element, a pressure switch will shut down the spa heater in an effort of self-preservation. If you need to replace a spa pressure switch, you’ll quickly note that there are over 40 pressure switches to select from.

You’ll need to be sure to replace your pressure switch with an exact duplicate, or adjust to match existing pressure settings.

spa-hot-tub-heater-elementsHeater elements are wire filaments that are wrapped in insulating powder and surrounded by a sheath, and are located in the heating chamber, usually a stainless steel cylinder. Power leads connect to the element, and when properly connected, power should heat up the element and warm the spa water.

Ohm meters are used for testing the heater element for a short circuit. Test on the lowest setting, and then measure the resistance of the terminals. An infinite reading on the meter means that there is no continuity to ground; a good thing. One helpful piece of advice is that there is NO in between – heater elements either are good or bad.

Exercise caution when any testing of spa elements is done. Spa heaters should be grounded and GFCI protected before connecting to the power. Spa elements can be tested for amperage using an amp meter, and the terminals can be tested for proper input voltage with a volt meter. If the heater element is leaking water from the terminals, it should be replaced to prevent electric shock.

spa-heater-unionsSpeaking of leaking, Heater Unions can also have issues with leaks. If the spa heater leaks at either end of the union, inspect the internal o-ring and gently tighten the nut. If the union nut is cracked, it can be replaced fairly easily.

The Hi Limit switch is actually two high temperature sensors, mounted side by side on the heater manifold or cylinder. Their purpose is turn off the heater when it the water inside becomes too hot (over the limit). At times either high limit can go bad, and if that has happened, it could be an issue with the bypass valve leading to the heater, restricting water flow. Abnormal voltage can also cause a spa high limit to trip, or switch – causing the current to stop flowing to the heater.

spa-high-limit-swithcTo find the Hi-Limit Switch, look for a red button. Once you find it – push it to see if you can feel or hear a click sound of the hi limit switch resetting. Nuisance tripping is not uncommon, but if you have to push the reset button often, the hi limit may be bad, or more likely, there is an issue causing the heater chamber to overheat, like excess voltage, or low water flow.

spa-heater-thermostatAnother important part is the Thermostat. This vital item comes manual in older spas. It can be turned on with the turn of a knob, while others may require the turn of an Allen key. A warning for turning the heat over 104 degrees is important to remember, however. Newer spas use electric  potentiometers to control the temperature from the circuit board.

spa-contactor-yeaThe Contactor confirms if the voltage is regular. If it is, the contactor will close and let the power through the heater element. Contactors can be loud and may be heard clicking into place when the power goes through to the element. The common problems that can occur with contactors include the occasional popping of springs as well as having bugs get inside the contactors.

Contactors must have power to the coil in order to close. The power can be come through the thermostat, hi-limit or the pressure switch. If any of those fail to transfer power, the contactor will not close.

importanteKnowing what you now know from this basic information, you now have a starting point to troubleshoot a spa or hot tub heater. Or, perhaps you know just enough to be dangerous. Please don’t attempt an electric spa heater repair without some electrical qualifications – more than just this skimpy blog post!

Visit our Spa & Hot Tub pages for spa heater parts, chemicals and hundreds of hot tub accessories to make your spa more enjoyable!

alex-malamos-3
Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger