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January 11th, 2010 at 4:43 am

Heater Element Replacement, Flow-Thru, Balboa Spa Control – Page 1

Heater Element Replacement, Flow-Through Style
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Note that this section is intended for replacement of a standard flow through heater element that is contained within a stainless steel housing. 

In this particular example, we are demonstrating the procedure as done on a 1996 model Hawkeye spa, with a Balboa-Instruments digital spa control system. 

While most spas that have stainless steel flow through heaters are almost identical, your heater and/or control system may not be, so, this procedure used may not work for your unit.  Your particular heater element may require more effort and technical knowledge to replace.  If this displayed procedure is inconsistent with your system design, then do not use this information to service your spa.  This is page 1 of this procedure.

Safety Warnings!
Remove Power from the spa/hot tub BEFORE performing thisprocedure.  Failure to comply with this requirement, can lead toelectrical shock and/or electrocution!

Theinstructions here are intended for general reference only.   Many hot tubs and spas are different from the one depicted here, and may require more or lessmechanical effort or knowledge in order to achieve the desiredresults.

First things first... You MUST remove all sources of power to the spa to prevent electrical shock.  In these two pictures we see the  shut off valves that are used to service the equipment without draining the spa.  You'll need to push these valve handles in as far as possible to prevent leakage from the spa while you are working on the heater.  If your spa does not have shut off valves, then you'll need to drain the spa or find some other way to plug the lines while you work on the heater.
Our next step in removal is to loosen the black heater union 'collars' and remove the plumbing from the stainless steel tube..

Most of the time these collars can be removed simply by turning them, however, sometimes it will help to loosen the phillips head screws that hold the two piece clamp together if yours uses one, or by lightly tapping the collar with a screwdriver and the palm of your hand, if yours uses the single piece version.   
Inside the spa control pack, locate the heater element studs protruding through the aluminum case.  It may help to move some of the control cables out of the way in order to see the element here.

Now this is one part that I enjoy about installing a new heater element in a system using a standard Balboa-Instruments control system.  In most cases, there's no need to bother with trying to stop the rotation of the heater element stud, because Balboa uses a solid copper strap that attaches to the high current bus strip to the element, negating physical rotation of the connection.  Simply use a pair of pliers, a nut driver, or a socket wrench to loosen and remove the nuts that attach the strips to the element studs.  
With both heater element nuts removed, now remove the straps from the high current bus by using a screw driver.  Remember to only remove the screws that hold the straps, not the ones that hold the circuit board.  While you're at it though, now is a good time to ensure that all of the other screws that hold the circuit board to the bus strip are good and tight.  (A loose connection here can cause the circuit board traces to burn up).

This is what the whole thing looks like with the electrical "business end" removed from the heater element.Now, you're at a turning point as to how to remove the element from the heater tube.  I've seen a few of these where using a pair of pliers on the heater element retaining nuts is enough to remove them.   
But this will vary with the size of the hole cut into the aluminum case, and the mounted position of the heater tube.  The odds of performing this task with the heater tube attached to the case is slim, but try it once anyway, you may get lucky.  Using a pair of pliers, remove the large nuts that attach the element to the heater tube.

Since that didn't work for us, we're now faced with the task of removing the spa control box to take the heater tube off to gain full access to the element retaining nuts. Here I'm using a socket wrench to remove the mounting bolts that are holding the spa pack to the spa base.
With the spa pack removed from the base, this is what you should see.  The round looking device on the left with two wires attached to it is the pressure switch.  The captive flange attached in the middle is a receptacle for the high-limit sensor (and sometimes the temperature sensor, it's why you'll probably find two indentations in the heater tube, and only one used).

Loosen the retaining nut on the captive flange, and the high limit sensor should slide right out.   
Next, remove the two wires from the pressure switch.  Be sure that you pull on the quick disconnect lugs, not the wires!
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