Summer Spa Repairs

Last summer we had big problems with the spa equipment and it was replaced. We had discovered a leak at one of the jets in our exercise spa. I tried all kinds of patches for the leak, caulk, pool goop, silicone tape, but nothing worked.

Tried to stop leak
Tried to stop leak
First try at fixing leak
First try at fixing leak

Finally I decided I could replace the whole jet. When taking it apart, I found that the plastic screw part had been partially stripped. Maybe during my fix attempts, maybe in assembly, and I realized it was unrepairable. The project sat for about a year while other stuff happened in our lives. Then I had to clean out the spa again.

A years worth of dirt
A years worth of dirt partially cleaned
Satisfying clean
Satisfyingly clean

I was able to find a replacement jet body that would fit. It was a Balboa body with a 2 1/2″ water opening, a 1 1/2″ water delivery pipe and 1″ air pipe with the jet protruding from the side. I purchased the complete set with the standard jet insert from a hot tub parts site.

Hydro Air Jet Body
Hydro Air Jet Body 10-4510WHT__73301
Hydroair Convertassage Diagram
Hydroair Convertassage Diagram

After the old pipe was cut away, the new jet could not screw into the jet body. The threads were too short to fit through the thick fiberglass on our tub. After an unsuccessful attempt to find a longer threaded jet assembly, it occurred to me that I could make the fiberglass thinner with a router. The router bit however was not able to sit properly on the uneven surface. So I used a Dremel tool instead.

Using Dremel Tool to thin the tub wall
Using Dremel Tool to thin the tub wall
Thinned the tub wall
Thinned the tub wall

I glued together replacement pipes and pushed the new jet body into place. Dave held it while I used a pipe wrench to twist the jet into the body. Then we had to fill the tub to see if the repair worked.

Replacement Install
Replacement Install
Refilling tub after new install
Refilling tub after new install

Unfortunately the attempt to glue the pipes was a failure. The pipes were leaking at multiple joints. I had glued the new jet body into pipe that did not hold water! It may have been old glue or it was just crooked joins. Also I found that the hot tub hose did not fit exactly into the PVC pipe so that caused leaks too.

Leaking Profusely
Leaking Profusely

I cut out the whole repair and reordered the same jet body from Amazon for faster delivery. In fact I ordered two in case the third one failed. I glued the initial pipes in the house instead of on the tub. Instead of multiple glue joints I decided to use rubber Fernco connections. That meant that the whole repair could be removed without cutting pipes.

This time I connected all the Ferncos and then attempted to have Dave hold the jet body that was coated with silicone while I screwed in the jet. But again the jet body did not hold water. (More water was added to the tub to test it.)

Glued pipes inside
Glued pipes inside
Try again
Try again

It seriously leaked at the connection to the tub. The silicone must have been outdated and did not properly cure over the 24 hours it rested. I read that old silicone can take a long time to cure but should be water tight in less time. I believe the failure was a result of having all the pipes connected so the jet body had to be pressed against the wall to connect, so it was slightly crooked and the silicone did not seal. This time when I drained water from the tub, I pumped some water into a couple of plastic barrels we have from a former project. That way I could reuse it after the next repair. I also just removed the Ferncos to take out the pipe assembly and attempt the repair again.

To fix the silicone problem I looked for the “best” marine caulk that could take constant wetness and would cure in a reasonable amount of time. I chose Star Brite and ordered it from Amazon.

StarBrite Sealant
Star Brite Sealant

By soaking the pipes in 99% hydrogen peroxide and scrubbing them with a 3M pad I was able to remove all the old silicone. Then I washed the pieces with dish soap and rinsed well with water.

I also took a bowl of the hydrogen peroxide out to the hot tub and cleaned all the silicone from both sides of the jet opening. I then wiped it off with a sponge and soapy water. The old silicone had to be completely removed before using the new.

Instead of completely connecting all the pipes, I decided to install the basic piece with Dave again holding the silicone coated jet body straight while I connected the jet to the body, screwing it in with a large pipe wrench. Then I let it sit for another day while it cured. By that time I could add the Ferncos to connect to the existing pipe. I had tried a pipe repair fitting in one spot but it was too long, so I replaced that with another Fernco. These clamp in two places and I made sure that the clamps were very tight.

Used removable ferncos to attach to old pipes
Used removable Ferncos to attach to old pipes

This time the repair worked! I did have to reroute some of the pipes to fit the Ferncos to the tub hoses but I don’t think it will be a problem for the pump. I was able to pump at least 150 gallons of water back into the tub and then refill it the rest of the way.

I opened the connection to the spa control pack to be sure it had water in it and would not burn out. I had to retighten that connection and then I flipped the power on and the topside control showed a temperature but the equipment did not start up. Next I troubleshoot all the equipment.

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