I am in the process of
replacing my pump assembly. Can I replace my 3/4 horsepower pump
with something bigger, such as a 1.5 or 2 horsepower?
Yes, however, you might think
that having more output on your jets may be a good thing, it can also work
against you… and the jets could end up almost being painful, or too strong
that you can’t sit in front of them for more than 2 or 3 minutes.
If you want to upgrade, then
only go up one half horsepower from the current rating, Maximum!
So, in this particular case, I would go up no more than .25 horsepower,
and install a 1 HP version. You may find that even this increase
may be too much sometimes, and will have to reduce the force of the jets
by adjusting the air intake to the jets, or by closing the jet body itself.
I need to replace the
motor on my pump assembly. It is a 1 Horsepower, 2 Speed, 115 volt
pump. Can I go up to a 1.5 horsepower motor?
Sure, but you will notice
virtually no difference in the output power of the pump…. That is, unless
you also replace the wet end, or the impeller for the upgraded motor.
All ac motors like this will be rated for a rotational speed of 3450 RPM
on high speed, or 1725 on low. The trick is in the rpm… not the
horsepower. That being said… generally, a 1.5 horsepower motor
will run with a lower heat and loss factor using a 1 horsepower wet end.
Can I replace my 115
Volt pump, with one rated for 230 volts?
Yes, in certain situations
you can. In the majority of cases, all you need to do is disconnect
the white pump wire inside the control box from neutral. Then reconnect
it to L2, (usually the red power input). However, if you ever plan
on having this spa hooked up to 115 volts, you’ll have to go back to the
old pump motor voltage.
I generally prefer 230 volt
motors because they draw less current, put a lower load factor on the control
relays and air switches, and will make them last longer. The amperage
draw of a 230 Volt 1.5 horsepower motor, at approximately 8 amps, will
be half that of one connected at 115 Volts. The startup current is
less, and there is less of a voltage drop through the wires and connections
to it; so the benefits are obvious.
If your spa uses a digital
control system, such as Balboa, Gecko, Hurricane, or MEI, then you may
find that L2 is switched through a relay, and that particular L2 relay
is where you need to make your ‘common’ connection with the white wire.
Why didn’t they make
this spa with 230 volt motors? Why did they use 115 volt versions?
I’ve had my spa hooked up with 230 volt power ever since I’ve had it!
Yes, this is normal.
There are a couple of reasons for using a 115 volt motor…
1. A 115 volt motor,
on a spa control system with this kind of motor installed, is usually called
a convertible spa, and can be usually be connected for 115 volt, 20 Amp
current from the house, or 230 volt 40-50 amp service. Quite a convenient
and obvious selling point.
2. Mass quantity purchasing
by manufacturers. It is usually cheaper for any spa builder to purchase
10,000 115 volt pump assemblies from the manufacturer, than it would be
to split it up between 115 volt and 230 volt versions of the same pump.
It’s a lot less paper work, and in house accounting and spa marketing becomes
bit easier too.
My pump motor is making
a lot of noise, and the bearings sound like they’ve gone bad. Can
I have this motor rebuilt, instead of replacing the entire thing… and
save some money?
Absolutely. Take your
complete pump assembly to a local electric motor shop, and in most cases,
you can have the motor rebuilt/reconditioned for less than $100.00 (us).
Many of them also carry the same seals that your pump assembly requires,
and they’ll usually do that for you as well. Based on what I’ve heard
from my own customers, smaller shops are better at customer service…
that is, listening to YOU, and taking care of you, than the huge ones.
That is, don’t be afraid to trust some guy operating a small – motor repair
service out of the shop in his garage. Just don’t ask a spa technician
or repair service to do this for you. While some might arrange this,
the majority of spa service companies will lose money in the long run actually
having it done.
All my pump is doing
is just humming when I try to energize it. What’s wrong with this
Several options here:
1. Armature shaft is
just stuck. With the power to the spa turned OFF, rotate it with
a pair of pliers, your fingers, or other suitable tools to ensure that
it will rotate freely. If it’s a little bit difficult to turn…
then your bearings may be on the way out, and in which case, it’s time
for a rebuild, or replacement pump or motor.
2. Starting capacitor
defective. These can be found at any motor repair shop.
3. Centrifugal switch
contacts are defective. Time for a rebuild, or motor replacement.
4. Motor is just dead…
time to rebuild or replace.
The shaft on my pump
is rusted, and I can’t get the impeller off to replace the bad pump seal;
also, the plastic shaft coming from the impeller looks like it’s split.
Why did it rust up so much, and what do I do with this thing?
Well, water quality
is usually the number one cause of pump seal failure. Not defective
The reason why your shaft
is rusted is usually because brominated water creeped through the failing
pump seal, and onto the pump motor shaft… then crept back up under the
plastic socket for the impeller… causing the total freeze up. If
you can’t remove the impeller with a pair of channel locks… (tempting
the obvious fate of breaking the thing)… then you’ve basically got no
other choice than to destroy the impeller, and replace it, and/or the wet
end assembly. There is an excellent instructional bit about this
My motor ran and pumped
water fine for many years… but now it puts out so little water flow.
Do I need to replace the pump?
Probably not. First
and foremost, (with the power to the spa removed obviously) remove the
suction end pipe of the wet end, and feel or look inside to see if anything
has clogged any part of the impeller. You’d be really suprised how
much a small hair beret can stop water flow dead in its tracks.
Remember, a centrifugal pump,
to create suction must have discharge. It takes very very little
to stop the suction, and once that is blocked, then there’s no discharge,
which means, little or no suction force. This is almost like the
answer to the proverbial question… which came first? The chicken
or the egg? In this case, the chicken…. that is, the suction, is
dependent upon the ability of the water to LEAVE the impeller. If
there is nothing leaving, there won’t be anything going into the suction
either. A small object.. can severly alter the ability of the pump
to create a good flow.
I’ve been getting a FLO
error on my control panel, but my circulation pump or main pump on low
speed seems to work fine, and is pumping water.
Check the answer to the question
above. If this involves a small circulation pump, then you may only
have to remove the suction line, and the static weight of the water will
force water flow backwards through the wet end, and you might just see
a lot of crud, grass, hair and other undesireables, come out of the suction
end. You’ll want to double check to make sure nothing else is clogging
the suction. Otherwise, I’d check the flow/pressure switch.
The balance of troubleshooting…
When dealing with pump motors
that are won’t run, are noisy, etc, (particularly if they are more older),
the best solution is to take it to an electric motor shop and have it professionally
rebuilt, or just replace the entire motor. However, if you have a bit of
finesse with these kinds of things, (as well as the time!), then the following
troubleshooting guide should assist you.
When testing pump motors,
do the following:
1. Always make sure that
the pump motor frame is grounded!
2. If a 48 frame or through
bolt pump is being tested, and the wet-end is not on the motor, install
and tighten nuts on the thru-bolts to keep the motor together!
3. If the wet end is installed,
do not run the pump dry for more than
two or three seconds
in a twenty minute period, or you will overheat the pump seal, and compromise
4. If testing with the wet
end installed, ensure that the pump openings (suction and discharge) are
clear and free of debris prior to applying power… and NEVER look
into a pump opening when the pump is running!
5. Install the rear electrical
safety cover prior to applying power!
6. Ensure that the pump is
by adequate means, (at least two bolts through the mounting plate to a
sturdy work surface).
7. Never try to “help” a
pump motor start by turning the shaft with power applied! The sudden surge
could mangle your fingers!
8. Never touch the pump motor
with power applied!
9. Always use a rubber mat
to stand on, and NEVER test the pump motor in a wet environment,
you could be ELECTROCUTED!
Pump works, but strange things
1. Noisy motor (check wet-end
first), Usually caused by dry or worn bearings. I’ve seen motors with bad
bearings run for two years or more. Eventually you’ll need to rebuild or
replace the motor though.
2. Starts when it feels like
it; Starting capacitor worn out, Centrifugal switching contacts burned,
Intermittent open circuit in stator. Stalled armature symptoms: “gunked”
bearings, excessive resistance in wet end seal, rust accumulation around
3. Motor dims lights in the
house for a few seconds when starting, makes outrageous humming noise for
a few seconds, power cord gets warm after several attempts to start. This
can be considered normal in instances where the current surge lasts for
less than a second, but anything longer than a second is reason to suspect
the causes in the previous paragraph.
4. Having seen this a few
times… Motor won’t come up to full speed. Acts as if it’s starting then
coasting, starting then coasting, repetitively. You’ve probably got a 220
Volt pump motor hooked up in a 110 Volt Circuit.
Most pump failures can be
attributed to the following:
1. Bearing failure due to
chemical salts carried by moisture (A-Number One!). Check to see if the
motor shaft will turn by hand. If not, then try to free it up using a wrench
or screwdriver. If it turns freely, then try to re-energize the pump. If
it operates then check for Abnormal Operation above. This “freeze-up” of
the armature will also happen when an older pump has not been used in a
while, and is caused by the bearing lubricants drying up.
2. Bearings Okay, armature
will turn by hand. If all you get is a hum with dimming house lights, you
could have a defective starting capacitor, or defective switching contacts.
If you get no hum at all, then you could have an open stator winding (replace
pump), or defective thermal limit switch.
Use an ohm meter or continuity
checker to determine the status of the respective component.
3. Fused, burned, or melted
down centrifugal switch contacts. Usually caused by control system failure,
sending hi and lo speed voltage to the pump simultaneously, a shorted starting
capacitor, or a virtually direct lightning strike.
Try to split contacts without
bending copper support strips, apply power to only one speed to see if
pump switch is still operable. Bear in mind that the switch contacts may
not be reliable in the future if not replaced. Repair the cause of the
simultaneous dual voltage application (usually a micro-switch failure on
a relay or combination switch).