Draining the Spa

I had to drain the spa because the winter weather is unpredictable and I did not want the pipes to crack. My planned repair did not work. I ordered the new spa heater from Acura Spa but it was cold and cloudy the day after it arrived. I waited an extra day for the sun to be shining as I worked. Although I didn’t know it at the beginning I had to remove the entire spa pack to remove the heater.
Of course I had the power shut off to the spa. Luckily the spa plumbing had two gate valves to stop the water flow.

Pump side gate valve
Pump side gate valve
Control side gate valve
Control side gate valve

Disconnecting the heater was not a terrible job but I needed help loosening one of the unions. After a little lubricant and a stronger grip Dave got it loose.

Big pipe wrench to disconnect heater
Big pipe wrench to disconnect heater
Disconnecting Union
Disconnecting Union

Once the thing was removed I noticed some goop between the board and the heater.

Old spa heater hooked up
Old spa heater hooked up

The heater was held in by the wiring and a few screws. When I got it all apart I saw that the control board had been burned right through where heater 1 was connected. The insulation on the wire was cracked and disintegrated and it had disintegrated some wires around it.

Burned wiring uncovered
Burned wiring uncovered
Burned wires and board
Burned wires and board

Joe the spa guru from Acura Spa told me the bolts could vibrate loose if I didn’t have them tightened enough but I had to work to loosen the bolts so I’m not sure that was the problem. I suspect the wiring insulation was old and failed. It appeared to be failing in another area too. The heater elements did not look burnt out.

Broken heater
Broken heater

At this point there was nothing I could do with the new heater. So I called Acura Spa support and eventually decided to return the heater and buy a whole new spa pack. No heater meant the water had to be drained from the spa. If it was July it would be different but it was late January! Although we have been having unseasonably warm weather. It was 62 degrees today on Feb 1st!
The first night when I realized I could not fix the spa I just opened the pump side gate valve and used a 6″ pipe under the union opening to drain the water out of the spa cabinet. The drain spigot does not work when the pipes are disconnected.
That left about 6-8 inches of water in the spa the next day. So I opened the second gate valve but not much more water drained out. It was time to pump out the rest. I have a sump pump for the sump in the house but it has been disconnected so I thought it would be perfect. It was not.

Sump pump didn’t pump
Sump pump didn’t pump

I had a hard time getting it to stand up and when I got it situated it barely pumped. The motor worked but even when I disconnected the long hose for a short one and left it all night it didn’t drain. I also have a Harbor Freight pump that I bought for the chilling project and I had picked up a foot valve at some point on clearance. It still took me several hours to find piping that would work to drain the rest of the water. I had the pump instructions so I knew I had to prime it with a Y shaped inlet/outlet. I was lucky to have one of these too so that I could hook up a hose to prime the pump. Then the plug for the prime was missing so I hunted up a cork that fit. These were time consuming issues.
By the time I got the pump set up it was dark so I let it run overnight but that night it got below freezing and I woke to an icicle in the end of the drain hose though water was still dripping out. It did not seem to hurt the pump as the water in the hot tub was down to an inch or two and it was not frozen.

Harbor Freight pump
Harbor Freight pump

The next step was using a shop vac to suck up the rest of the water and to blow water back through the jets. I tried leaving the cover off the vacuum tank drain so I would not have to stop and empty it but that ruined the suction.

Shop Vac used to suck water
Shop Vac used to suck water
Getting all that water out
Getting all that water out

I could not find the blower attachment but I found a pipe that fit over the blower outlet and I used that to shoot air into all the jets and the filter piping. I read that removing the spa filter is a good idea so I did that too.
I left the tub dirty. The vac didn’t suck up dirt after the water was gone and I’ll have to clean it again before I refill it with water. But now if the weather turns to freezing for a few weeks the tub plumbing should be ok.

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