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How to Find and Fix a Hot Tub Leak

Wondering how to find and fix your leaking hot tub? We’ve got you covered! In this guide, we provide you with the best tips on safely repairing your hot tub.

Whether you have a fixed hot tub or an inflatable one, the problem of water leakage will not be something new. It is important to find leaks on time and address them before they cause significant damage not only to you and your property but damage to your neighbors as well.  

Did you know that if your hot tub has a small leak, you can use this leak sealer to fix it in under 24 hours? The chances for success are 80%. Here’s how to use a leak sealer.

How to find a leak?

A hot tub has many openings that can cause water leaks. To narrow down the number of possible reasons for the leak, you can start by determining the type of leakage.

Three types of leaks

The types of leaks can be checked by monitoring the water level while the hot tub is both turned on and off. The procedure is to fill the spa, mark the level of the water with a crayon or a grease pan, and let the spa run for 24 hours. Afterward, mark the new level of the water to determine the level to which the water has dropped. Then, refill the water to the first water mark and keep the hot tub switched off for 24 hours.

Monitor the level of the water dropped:

  1. If it dropped to the same amount in both tests it should be a vessel leak;
  2. If it dropped more when the system was on, it’s an indication of a pressure leak;
  3. If the level of water dropped less with the system running, it indicates a suction leak.

Most leaks can be found quite quickly — it is important to know which parts can cause the leak.

What parts can leak?

The most frequent leaks in the hot tub are caused by the:

  • Pump
  • Heater
  • Connections. Union fittings
  • Valves
  • Pipes
  • Shell

It is important to check that all the components are ok, even if you already know where the leak is from. There may be more than one leakage source.

Source: Pinterest

Tools you might need

Here are some tools that will come in handy when trying to find a hot tub leak:

  • Toolset (basic or plumbing type)
  • Flashlight (to look into darker areas to find the source of the leak)
  • Dark food color (if you are unable to locate the point of leakage)

Don’t worry if you don’t have any of these, as you may be able to find a leak without them (or with alternate options).

Source: Medallionenergy

Here are the steps to follow that will help you find a hot tub leak:

  1. Remove the side panels or insulation if the water appears to leak from the underside of the tub.
  2. Turn off the power and use a flashlight to closely inspect the equipment compartment.
  3. Inspect the spa equipment section. Parts may become unusable (they will need to be replaced).
  4. Check the valve that leads to the pumps and the heater. 
  5. Check each joint of the pressure switch for wetness. The unions may be loose (and will need to be tightened manually).
  6. Follow all the pipes towards the jets for any signs of leakage.
  7. Observe the dropping water level. For instance, if it stops dropping at the level of the jets, then it’s most likely that a jet is the source of leakage.
  8. Check the shell of the hot tub for cracks and patches.
  9. Check the light lens. The spa light lens can become cracked or loose because the spa lights heat the halogen. The light casing or niche is normally positioned on the same side of the spa pack so that it is easy to service the bulb.
  10. If there are multiple leaks, they can be detected by adding dark food color in the water. Drop dark food colorant in the water in front of the jet. The water is looking for the least resistance, so keep an eye out for where the food coloring falls. If it leaks out of the jet, you may have found a leak. Look for a leak of colored water on the outside of the spa shell. Repeat this process for all other jets.

If you haven’t found any problem with the above-mentioned components, you might have to drain out the hot tub water for a thorough inspection. Or, if the leak is not significant (less than 3 mm per day), it is not important to find the source. You can try to repair the leak with a sealant.

How to fix a hot tub leak?

Presented below are further steps to correct leakages depending on their source. 

Pump

A pump is the most common component from where leaks initiate. For a hot tub pump troubleshooting, turn the power off and look for water leakage under the pump.

If you find water there, you would have to replace the pump seal and maybe the pump itself (if required).

Heater

Fixing a leak in the heating assembly could be tricky and you will need to consult a professional.

The heating assembly contains the heater, other components, and the pressure switch. If you find the leak source in one of these components, they might need to be repaired or replaced depending on the severity of the leak.

Connections. Union fittings

Connecting couplings around the pump and the heater are another common cause of leaks because they easily loosen up over time. In some cases, all that may be required is to tighten or reseal the connections.

If any fittings are loose, they can be tightened manually or with a tool to tighten the fittings. If you are using a tool, be cautious not to exert a lot of force.

Valves

Manufacturers recommended that a leaking valve be removed from the entire system and replaced with a new valve when the pump is shut down during repair.

Some of the valves are installed on the pump sides. This means that the water doesn’t have to be switched off or drained during pump repairs.

This way you can stop the leak for a hot tub manually.

Pipes

If there is a bump (or any damage) in the PVC pipes, it can easily be repaired with liquid binder glue (Plast-Aid). The glue expands, hardens, and becomes stronger than PVC itself.

If the pipe is too damaged, you may need to cut the damaged part while replacing the PVC fittings.

Hot tub shell

Hot tub shells are manufactured using strong fiberglass combined with layers of other substances which makes leakages very rare.

It’s usually an issue with the jets or other components that are attached to the shell.

If the shell has visible cracks, they can easily be repaired with an acrylic and PVC repair kit.

How much does it cost to fix a hot tub leak?

To determine the cost, the answer lies in the cause of the leak. If the reason for the leaks is due to small spa parts, most of the hot tub leaks can be fixed for less than $100. On the other hand, if there is an issue in the main components (like the heater, control system, pumps, ozonator) this could cost you $500 or more. Damages on a large scale could cost $1000 or more.

Below are some estimated costs for the repair and replacement of various hot tub equipment.

Please note: these hot tub repair costs are just estimates and the actual amount may vary depending on your hot tub model, the damage caused, and the parts of your hot tub.

Equipment Replacement cost*
PumpThe jet pump

$65 — the replacement of wet end
$200 — the replacement of motor

$200- $300 — the entire jet pump

The circulation pumps

$150- $200 — the entire circulation pumps (most of the time)

Other parts of a pump like the seals, O-rings, and impellers are quite inexpensive
HeaterAlmost $30 — if the breaker the of hot tub heater is tripping

$120 — a completely new heater and related equipment

$320 — the cost of installing titanium spa heaters

Up to $750 — the cost of branded titanium heaters
Connections$13- $25 — Spa Plumbing Parts
ValvesNearly $15 — the replacement of valves
Pipes and shell$20 — Plast-aid Multipurpose Repair Plastic

* add $50 – $100 for installation cost, on top of the replacement part cost

If your hot tub has a water loss of less than 3 mm per day, there are products (such as the Marlig Leak Sealer) that can seal the leak without much effort and expense.

Based on polymer solutions, they penetrate through the leaks and solidify within them, preventing the water from leaking. The chances for success are around 70-80% as if the leak is large, the polymer-based leak sealer won’t help. Is it worth trying? Yes, as the chances are that it will save you a lot of nerves.

Guide on How to Properly Use a Leak Sealer

Reviews of hot tub leak sealants – “just add it in the water and let the magic begin” – do they really work?

A customer says: “I’m a skeptic of anything that is made to “stop-leaks and is packaged in a bottle. I found this product when researching spare parts for our spa and thought “no way”….. well, I read a lot of reviews and decided to try it. The leak HAS STOPPED. The hot tub was losing about 4-5 in. of water, every week and this did the job. Been a full week of no leaking.”

If you find it difficult to find inexpensive and easily replaceable parts, you can use the DIY approach. Or you’ll have to invest one to two hours of your time to detect the leak source, call a plumber for a few bucks, or a spa professional.

If the PVC pipes have any damage or the hot tub shell has cracks, they can easily be repaired with a bonding adhesive. 

An effective solution is the Plast-aid Multipurpose Repair Plastic. The plasticized acrylic and PVC repair kit are better than resin or epoxy resin as it creates a stronger molecular bond with the plastic than with acrylic or PVC.

Can I claim leak damage on my Home Owner’s Insurance?

Mostly, it depends on the individual’s policy and whether the hot tub has been included in the home insurance or not. Policies depend on the insurance company and also the state where you are residing. 

Even if the hot tub has been listed, there will be certain damages that will be covered, while certain damages may not be covered. 

Common home insurance policies in the industry are known as HO-3. It covers everything except a particular list of hazards also known as exclusions such as an earthquake, mold, and floods; the list also includes some other things.

That being said, most insurance companies will cover only the hot tub which is under the liability side of the policy. This protects you in the event where a guest is injured while using your hot tub. The insurance policy will not cover any physical damage including pipes that are cracked due to the presence of frozen water.

If your hot tub gets damaged and you want to cover it on the home-owners insurance, it’s better to have a one-on-one conversation with the agent to know the details.

You can opt to have any special addition in your policy to cover specific damages, but you will end up paying more for any special additions that you request. It also depends on your insurance policy and if it can offer those additions or not.

A leaking inflatable hot tub (air leaks)

Most of the leaks in inflatable hot tubs are air leaks; they are usually the minor ones at the beginning and won’t cause much trouble. However, if these minor leaks are not treated right, they can develop into a big problem which would be almost impossible to repair, and might require a replacement of equipment. So, if you feel that your inflatable hot tub has an air leak, then you should find and fix that air leak source as soon as you can.


Now, let’s take a look at why some inflatable whirlpool baths go down (lose their air)

The two main reasons why the inflatable whirlpool baths go down are due to:

1. A leaky air-valve

You need to check if the air-valve is leaking or not; this can be done by soaking the valve in soapy water. If you see bubbles in the water after soaking the air valve, it means the air-valve is loose. 

To fix it, deflate the hot tub, and hold the rear end of the valve and turn it clockwise until it tightens up. Re-inflate the hot tub by repeating the soapy water procedure to make sure that it’s not leaking anymore.

2. Damage or puncture

Most punctures can be repaired at home.

First, you will need to identify the source of the leak. Mix water and a little soap into a spray bottle and shake well. Spray this mixture onto the surface of the inflatable hot tub and look out for any large bubbles on the surface that indicate a leak.

How to find a leak in an inflatable hot tub
Source: Youtube

The easiest way to repair an inflatable hot tub is to use a silicone tape/seal or repair kit for the hot tub.

Silicone is a quick and inexpensive way to repair a puncture in an inflatable hot tub, and many have it in their toolbox. You just need to seal the puncture by applying silicone and then allowing it to dry. Once dry, you can then inflate the hot tub. It’s better to use clear silicone, as it won’t stick out or be very visible.

Depending on the material of your hot tub, it is important to note that silicone may not stick well and may fall out when using the hot tub. For a better result, it is advised to use a special repair kit (e.g. ATIE Vinyl Repair Kit) to fix the puncture. The vinyl repair kit contains a tube with vinyl glue, a transparent vinyl patch, and an applicator for the glue. All this will help to securely seal a puncture in an inflatable hot tub. 

Leaking wooden tub

Source: Pinterest

Although wooden hot tubs are a traditional style and have a long history of use, they have several drawbacks. Perhaps the most common problem is water leakage. If your wooden hot tub has this problem, the first thing to do is to pinpoint the cause of the leak.

  • If a wooden tank has been leaking since it was installed, it could be due to incorrect installation. This problem may require disassembly to locate and repair the source of the leak. Consult your installation manual or the manufacturer if necessary.
  • If the leak occurs from where the fitting is mounted to the tub, the problem is almost certainly with the fitting and it will need to be replaced. 
  • If a leak occurs because the tank has been empty for some time, allow the wood to expand to the full saturation point, which should block any minor leaks.

The wooden tub must be wet because if the wood dries, it shrinks and causes ruptures.

  • If there is a huge loss of water in the tub, it can be caused by the deformation of the wood. In this case, you can soak the hemp rope in water for a few days to make it supple. Then, take it and untangle it a little. Use flat-blade screwdriver and hammer and push this rope into the crease of the wood from where it leaks. Do this from inside the tub by pushing the wet rope into the space where it is leaking.
  • If you see white fuzzy material (cellulose fluff) inside the hot tub, it is a delignification process (the wood loses its inner material (lignin) leaving only the cell walls). This is due to the excessive use of bromine or chlorine.

Pulp fluff can easily be removed with a hard brush to tackle the problem.

Check the water daily with test strips or a digital meter, even if the hot tub is not used regularly. They also help to measure another important indicator, the pH level. Sustained incorrect water balance, where the pH is too high or too low, can also cause leakage.

How to prevent leaks?

The elimination of leakages when they first start, along with some preventative measures, greatly increases the chances of a simple and successful repair. You should take the following precautions:

  • Keep a regular eye on water leaks

Whenever you change the water, open the cabinet, and look at all the connections, checking whether they are dry or not.

  • Pay close attention to the pump

Check the pump for signs of water (water spots or rust).

  • Keep the water properly balanced and clean

Low pH and high levels of bromine/chlorine content can cause leakage over time.
You can use strips or digital meters to check the pH of the water.

  • Minimize the amount of vibration

You can minimize the amount of vibration by placing your hot tub on thick rubber.

The maintenance of a hot tub plays an important role in preventing leaks, ensuring the proper functioning of the tub, and effectively prolonging its lifespan. It is advised to address a leak as soon as it occurs to prevent the problem from worsening and causing you both hassle and extra expenses in the long run.

FAQ

💧 What parts can leak?

The most frequent leaks in a hot tub are caused by the:

  • Pump
  • Heater
  • Connections. Union fittings
  • Valves
  • Pipes
  • Shell

It is important to check that all the components are ok, even if you already know where the leak is from. There may be more than one leakage source.

🔎 What if I can’t find the place of the leak in the hot tub?

You have a small leak (water loss in spa / hot tubs of less than 3 mm per day, in pools of less than 5 cm or 50 mm of water per day),  and you do not necessarily know where the leak is. This is when you can use a leak sealer to repair.

If you have significant water loss and the source is still not found, it is best to contact a specialist to determine the cause of the leak. 

🔧 Does a sealant fix the leaks?

If there is a small leak (water loss in spa / hot tubs of less than 3 mm per day, in pools of less than 5 cm or 50 mm of water per day), you can use a leak sealer. It’s got an 80% chance of success. 

🤞 How do you know the leak has been stopped?

To determine if the leak has stopped, you need to take the water level measurements.

The procedure is to fill the hot tub with water, mark the water level, and let it work for 24 hours. After that, mark the new water level. If the results are the same – congratulations, no more leaks.

For peace of mind, you can repeat the measurements after 24 hours.

References:

Aquaman. (2017, December 4). Suspect a Leak in Your Spa or Hot Tub? Check This First. Retrieved from aquaman leak detection: https://blog.aquamanleakdetection.com/suspect-a-leak-in-your-spa-or-hot-tub-check-this-first 

Brown, D. (2018, December 10). How to Find a Hot Tub Leak. Retrieved from SFGATE: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/hot-tub-leak-43569.html

Detecting a Leak in an Inflatable Hot Tub. (n.d.). Retrieved from inflatable hot tub: https://www.inflatablehottubhq.com/detecting-leak-inflatable-hot-tub/

Do it yourself. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-fix-a-hot-tub-leak

Fix A Leak. (n.d.). Retrieved from Hot Tub warehouse: https://hottubwarehouse.com/products/fix-a-leak

How to Fix a Leak in your Hot Tub. (2015, August 6). Retrieved from Swim University: https://www.swimuniversity.com/hot-tub-leak/

Lara, D. (n.d.). Cost to Repair a Hot Tub. Retrieved from Hot Tub Works: https://www.hottubworks.com/blog/cost-to-repair-a-hot-tub/

Lara, D. (Hot Tub Works). Hot Tub Leaking from the Bottom. Retrieved from Hot Tub Works: https://www.hottubworks.com/blog/hot-tub-leaking-from-the-bottom/

Leaks – Learn how to stop leaks in their tracks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Spa Depot: https://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/spa-leaks.htm

Rossi, P. (2019). Benefits of Owning a Hot Hub. Retrieved from By Rossi: https://byrossi.com/benefits-of-owning-a-hot-tub/

Rossi, P. (2019). End-to-End Guide: How to Drain and Clean a Hot Tub Properly. Retrieved from By Rossi: https://byrossi.com/hot-tub-cleaning-draining/

Rossi, P. (2019). How Long Will a Typical Hot Tub Last? (and 4 ways to increase it). Retrieved from By Rossi: https://byrossi.com/hot-tub-lifespan/

Williams, C. (n.d.). Is a Frozen Hot Tub Covered by Insurance? Retrieved from Pocketsense: https://pocketsense.com/frozen-hot-tub-covered-insurance-6811.html Enable Review

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