Jetted tub doesn't work. :(

Valerie-LJanuary 1, 2014

I had my house built in 2007, and have always loved my jetted tub. I haven't used it as much in the past year, though, since the jets stopped working. When I push the button, the unit will turn on and there is a little suction at the intake, but nothing at all comes out of the jets. Anyone have ideas about what might be the problem?

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I'll try to offer a range of things to look at. Some will not apply to your situation, so discard as needed:

It's always best to start with the electrical source. It's probably on a GFCI breaker or a GFCI outlet. I'd test and exercise (reset) the breaker/outlet.

Some tubs have one or two motors. Make sure they are both plugged in. If one is not running, some motors have reset buttons on the side of the motor housing. Press to reset if needed.

If one of the motors is not running, most tub motors are actuated with air switches. You press a button on the tub deck and you're actually pushing a slug of air through a tube, and on the motor end of that tube the air actuates a switch to turn the motor on. Make sure the tube is connected, not kinked, etc.

With that basic housekeeping out of the way:

When the unit turns on, does the motor sound like it is running freely? Or does it just make a humming sound?

Some motors, if there is a starter capacitor and it goes bad, the motor can make a humming sound. There's not enough juice available to get the motor fully running. If you listen closely it sounds like the motor is saying "I think I can I think I can..." But it can't. Think of the starter capacitor as something that stores up electricity and holds on to it. When you start the motor, it releases that jolt of electricity to help turn the motor.

Starter capacitors are dangerous to handle. No kidding. You can kill yourself if you discharge it by touching it. Do not think that is an exaggeration, it's not. I don't often add disclaimers to my posts, but with regards to this I will. It can kill you.

If the motor is humming but not spinning freely, the motor's rotation could be restricted. Frozen shaft, jammed impeller, etc.

If the motor is spinning some, but is sounds like it id struggling to rotate...varying rotation speed, etc...i could be a restricted shaft, a restricted impeller, bad bearings, etc.

If the motor is running freely, but water is simply not moving, it could be a broken impeller. Or maybe airlock. Airlock may not be the proper term, it'd probably be better to simply write that the motor might have lost its prime. If the tub is run with the water level below the intake, you can get air in the impeller/tubing/plumbing, and the air is preventing water from reaching the pump. There are usually bleed ports that allow you to bleed the air out of the system.

Some tubs have a separate blower that adds air. Again, make sure that is running.

Sorry I have no single definitive solution. Just a scattering of ideas.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Wow, thanks monogct!
I'm not the OP, but I'm clipping this for future reference just in case!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 5:01PM
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Thanks for the information! However, I know very little about how the thing works, so I'm not sure where to find all the parts you're talking about. There's an access panel (although it's behind a full bookcase...), so I'll get in there and see what I can find. With a set of instructions, I'm a wonderful DIYer... but I have a hard time trouble shooting things I'm not familiar with.

It's not the GFCI. Even though it's getting some power, that's the first thing I tried. The motor sounds like it's running normally, but much quieter since there's no air being propelled into the water. Where should the impeller/bleed ports be? What do they look like? With the access door as small as it is, would I be able to tell whether the hoses are kinked?

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:48AM
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In my jetted tub (circa 1986) there is a knob on the side of the tub that you turn to let air in. My home inspector said my tub didn't work, but a repair man I had in years later looked at it, turned the knob and voila! I sell houses and have since been able to show a few inspectors how to work the tub, lol!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 8:57AM
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My initial reply was sort of a shotgun reply. A scattering of information.

Your best bet is to identify the make, and if possible, the model of your tub. Then you can go to the manufacturers website and they'll usually have the original installation manuals online in pdf format. You can look through that manual to identify what features your tub does and does not have.

If there are no identifying features on the "show side" of the tub, when you remove the access panel and poke your head inside there should be identifying information on or near the motor.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:02AM
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Mongoct, thanks again for the reply. I know it's a Royal tub, and have perused their website, but have come up short in terms of installation or user manuals. I e-mailed the company, and hopefully they can provide support.

Realtrrldy, I only have 2 items on the side of my tub--one is the push button that turns the whole thing on, and the other is a knob that allows you to adjust the strength of the jets. Is this the one you're referring to, or should I look for another one somewhere?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 2:11PM
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