How To Fix A Leaking Hot Tub (Step-by-Step Guide)
Every hot tub owner has to deal with a leaking tub one day or the other. While it may seem like a severe problem, worry not. A leaking tub is, in most cases, relatively easy to fix. Many of the hot tub fixes require some cheap and straightforward fixing if you know where to look.
The first step is to check whether the pump is functioning correctly. Repair any mechanical part that may seem faulty. Gradually move on to inspecting the heater and union valves. It’s best to replace the joints instead of repairing them if you want to fix a leaking hot tub for good.
In this article, I tried compiling the most probable reasons for your hot tub leaking. I also talked about how to detect a leak and some solutions to try along. After going through this article, you’ll know everything about how to fix a leaking hot tub.
Leading Causes Behind A Hot Tub Leak
When it comes to determining the pathway, water is quite an unpredictable and inconsistent foe. It tends to find an opening through the smallest gap possible in a structure and seek out the weakest point in any plumbing appliance.
Moreover, you need to consider that your hot tub is constantly under pressure from carrying a tremendous amount of water. There is also a lot of pipework involved in maintaining all this water from one point to another frequently.
So, it should be no surprise to any of you that occasionally some leaks are bound to occur. Here are some of the common reasons for a hot tub leak.
Vibration is a common point of concern for a hot tub owner. If for some reason, your hot tub is not seating correctly on the base or somehow has displaced from it, it’s a possible contender for vibration damage.
You might ask where these vibrations come from; the simple answer is that many mechanical parts are involved in running a hot tub.
If your tub is not secured to a firm base, any vibration will go through it along with the pipework. And eventually, over time, constant vibrations from the mechanical parts will damage and weaken the joints in the pipework and the tub’s structural integrity.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out while using the hot tub and periodically check for any displacement and weakening of the base. You also want to make sure the pumps are in place and not moving around freely.
Modern hot tubs come equipped with foams and suspension to make sure they take minor damage from vibrations. The foam helps in soaking up any mechanical vibrations from hitting the tub and keeping the pipework secure.
Poor Workmanship And Materials
It’s only common knowledge that a cheap, poorly made hot tub would be more susceptible to leaks than a high-quality one. Cheaper hot tubs are made with a mindset of saving as much money as possible while providing somewhat questionable customer service.
Moreover, a cheap tub with poor build will come with foul quality pipework and cheaper joints, eventually leading to system failure and more prone to leaks. So, whenever you’re looking to buy a hot tub to use for an extended period, consider going for a high-quality one.
There are many renowned hot tub makers on the market offering you high-quality products at a reasonable price. Before you make a purchase decision, research thoroughly and learn about all the excellent quality tubs in the market.
The older a tub gets, the more worn out it becomes, and the potential for a leak increases by a significant margin. Old pipework is much more susceptible to cracking and becomes less dependable with age. Even the joints can become weak because of the constant water flow and age.
This means that you need to inspect your tub, pipework, and joints periodically to check for any weak spots. You may need to repair or replace some of the parts occasionally to keep everything in place.
A well-maintained tub will last for a long time, no matter how its age is. If you don’t take care of your brand-new tub, it might start leaking too in a short time. Maintenance is the key when it comes to having a pristine quality tub.
Physical damage is a matter of concern for a hot tub owner. Such damage could come from a variety of sources.
It could come from a cracked tub from a physical impact with something heavy. Or it might come from a stuck jet into the hot tub shell. It’s also possible to physically damage the pipework accidentally, which can cause the pipes to break down or leak water.
Accidents do occur, and we can do so much to resist any accidents. But one thing we can try doing is whenever the tub is in use; we shouldn’t drop any tools and heavy stuff into the tub.
This one might not be as common as the other reasons for cracking, but leaks might occur if you’re not careful enough.
If you live in a colder region, the tub can shrink structurally because of the cool weather. And when the water gets to an average temperature again, the tubs and pipework can develop cracks and leaks.
To fix this problem, what you can do is keep the hot tub running at an average temperature during the freezing weather. You can also winterize the tub and pipework to keep them in working condition during the winter.
Detecting A Hot Tub Leak
Detecting the leak in the hot tub is your first job before you can proceed to fix the problem altogether.
One common way that professionals use to see the leak is to add some dye or watercolor onto the water. What it does is help to pinpoint the exact location of the leak. Wherever you’ll notice the colored water is coming out from is probably the leaking location.
Another method you can use is removing the side panels and noticing where water is pooling in the ground. The most probable location directly under the leak will be easy to find by looking at the state of the wetness of the component. If you can see some wet foam and cannot determine the source directly, then the leaking source is probably inside the foaming region of the tub.
If you’re looking to determine the severity of the leak, you can fill up the tub without turning the spa on and pay attention to the water level. The time it takes to leak the water and deplete the level will help you determine the severity of the leak. Although this technique applies mainly to severe leaks, it is not very practical for more minor ones.
Most Common Leak Sources
Generally, leaks occur more in the tub components rather than the acrylic shell of the tub. You might experience the water leaking in the spa cabinet or the ground beneath where the tub is situated.
For pinpointing the exact location of the leak, remove the side panels and the foams. Keep a flashlight handy as it will come to use when identifying a leak. Here are some of the most common spots to check for leaks.
A common source for leaking is the spa pump. The potential spots are seals, wet end volute, or unions for the pump. There may be multiple instances of leaks depending on the circumstances. In some rare cases, the whole pump might need to be replaced.
The heater for the hot tub might be another potential contender for leaks. You need to check the heater region and all the heater components after checking the pipe. A heater is a complex machine that can be easier to replace than to repair.
PVC Pipe Connections & Unions
One of the most familiar places for hot tub leaks is the PVC pipes, especially at the unions. The pipe connects that plumbing line of the hot tub to the spa components.
Sometimes the tube can get loose during the transition of the tub. It can also loosen from constant usage and age. Although leaks in pipes are pretty rare, they can happen sometimes.
Any component of the pipe that can connect one piece with the other has the potential to get loose over time. If you can detect leaking from the pipe connections, be sure to check all the lines and links for any potential weak spots.
Specially check the jets, chlorinator, Ozonator, and pumps. Don’t forget to drain the tub to detect any leaking area.
Hot tubs include a lot of valves like drain valves and pump valves. Valves are prone to occasional failures, especially the pump valves. Be sure to check them occasionally to determine the source for leaks.
Jets & Manifolds
If you are determined that the shell is leaking, then it’s probably the jet gasket leak. Most of the jets contain flexible gaskets that seal the spa shells.
With time, the hot water from the tub can break down the gasket. With the weakness in the gasket, the leaks are more prone to happen very soon.
The jet needs to be removed from the spa to access the gasket region to fix the jet gasket. Before you install a new gasket, be sure to clean the spa shell along with the jet. Put a brand-new silicon sealant on the gasket and secure it in place.
A filter leak is also a pretty recurring incident, and it’s also pretty easy to fix. If the filter is leaking, this probably means that the locking filter ring needs to tighten.
You should also check if somehow the filter housing got broken, then you need to replace the whole unit.
The acrylic shell of the tub is pretty durable and usually can’t get broken. It’s not the most common cause for your leak, but if somehow there’s a crack on the acrylic, it would leak water from the tub. If the damage is minor, you can quickly fix it yourself with some sealants.
Fixing A Hot Tub Leak
There are multiple reasons and locations for hot water leaks. Depending on the source of the leak and severity, you may be able to fix it yourself on most of the instances. In some rare cases, when you need to replace some complex parts or aren’t sure about the leak’s location, professional assistance is required.
But keep in mind that if the company provides a warranty with the tub, fixing it yourself may void the warranty. So, keep that in mind before doing anything yourself.
As circulation pumps are some of the most common causes of leaks in hot tubs, you should check them first if you’re experiencing some leaking. Be sure to turn off electricity before checking.
There are usually three common areas where the pump can leak.
- Union: It is a three-part connector that is located on both the entrance and the exit. Most of the time, it can get loose, so tighten it up with a wrench.
- Seal Shaft: In some cases, the seal shaft can fail. In those cases, without replacing the pump in its entirety, just order a new seal and replace the seal only.
- Volute: In some cases, the volute may leak water; you might need to replace the volute situated in the impeller to fix the issue.
After you check the pump and find the leaking issues, your next target should be the heater. There are multiple parts in the heater that can fail during use. For example, the pressure switch, connector, or heater itself could be the culprit.
Instead of fixing it yourself, the smart thing to do is let some professional fix it, or you can replace the whole heater itself.
There are multiple valves situated on the hot tub, and every one of them could be a potential reason for the leakage. Making the matter more complicated, each valve works differently and may need a different style of repairing. Some of the modern tubs don’t need to be turned off or drained to repair the valve.
One of the potential failure points for a valve is the compartment region holding a bolt. This region is known for causing a lot of leaks.
If you want to be extra sure, don’t forget to check all the valves thoroughly and check for any potential leaks. After finding the source, you can easily replace them without any hassle.
Some of the connections might lead to pretty significant leaks. Most of the links like jets, pipes, and valves are easily repairable. Some of them just need a slight tightening up, but some might need complete replacement to work correctly.
To solve any crack issue in any of the connections, the best thing to do is use a sealant like Plast-Aid to seal up any potential holes and weaknesses. The best thing about the silicon sealant is they are more robust than the PVC pipe itself, so there is a very low possibility of cracking in the same spot twice.
Spa shells are solid and made with acrylic, fiberglass, and many other layers combined. So there is a meager chance of getting a crack on the surface itself.
Most of the major problems occur with the connection of the jet or other components that can get loose or get cracked. Use sealants like Plast-Aid to seal any cracked spot.
Preventing Hot Tub Leaks
Truth be told, there isn’t that much you can do to prevent your hot tub from getting leaks and cracks. Although, regular checking and maintenance help in this regard.
Here are some common tactics you can use for extending the lifespan of your hot tub.
- Stand the hot tub on top of thick rubber to minimize vibration and occasionally check to make sure the tub is in place.
- Check the mounting pipes occasionally and test them to make sure they’re working fine.
- If possible, try to get full-foam insulation inside the hot tub cabinet. It will stabilize the pipework and improve the overall insulation.
- Minimize physical damage and impact to the tub and make sure everything is placed and installed correctly.
- Always go for a high-quality tub rather than a cheap, low-quality one for extending the overall lifespan.
Hot tubs might seem like a piece of complex machinery with all the components working in sync to give you the best possible bath. But most of them are modular and can be fixed or replaced easily. Moreover, the cost for repair is relatively cheap, and most of the time, you can do them yourselves.
Now you know how to fix a leaking hot tub. So, the next time you experience leaking in your hot tub, don’t panic. Go through all the points mentioned here and try to identify the source of the leak. After successful identification, you can now repair or replace the component following our instructions.