Back to Blog
man soaks in hot tub

Pool and Spa Troubleshooting Tips

Maintenance Tips for Common Hot Tub Issues and Pool Problems

When you’re looking forward to enjoying your pool and spa at the end of a long day, there’s nothing more disappointing than coming across one of these common problems.

From cloudy water to equipment malfunction, here’s a look at how to troubleshoot common hot tub issues and pool problems, so you can get the most out of your relaxing spa time.

Common Pool and Spa Problems

Water Chemistry

Pool and hot tub water problems are almost always caused by unbalanced water chemistry. So test your water frequently – about once a week, or more often with more frequent use.

And if you notice algae, mould, or bacteria buildup in your pool and spa water:

  • Add chlorine to your pool and bromine to your spa water to maintain the sanitizer levels;
  • Use algaecide and shock treatment for pools; and,
  • Clean your hot tub cover gently.
  • If this doesn’t help to remove algae or mould, then drain, clean, and refill your spa and pool with fresh water.

Foaming water is also a sign there are too many contaminants in the water. So if your water is foaming, add a defoaming agent and test the water’s calcium levels.

If the calcium levels are too low, increase the calcium to boost the natural water hardness, and also test and adjust the pH levels as you go. You may also need to replace the filter cartridge as well.

Unbalanced water chemistry can lead to many, if not most, pool and spa problems. Low calcium hardness can lead to excessive foaming. Scale buildup can damage plumbing and clog pipes. Unbalanced water can corrode equipment. And too much sanitizer will cause eye and skin irritation, while not enough will cause unhealthy bacteria growth.

As an added precaution, always cover your spa and pool when not in use to prevent contaminants and pests from getting in.

Hot Tub Heater Problems

If your hot tub or heated pool doesn’t seem to be heating up, there is likely a problem with the heating element, filter, and/or pump.

A clogged filter and a low-flow pump will prevent heated water from circulating. If the water’s pH level isn’t balanced, and the pH is too low (below 7.0), the water will corrode the heating element over time, and you’ll need to replace the element.

But if your heater was tripped or stopped working, you will need to reset it by using the high-limit reset switch and checking the breakers and the GFCI outlets:

  • Press the high-limit reset button—a red button located on the heater that is covered by a rubber nipple
  • Turn on your spa. If your spa doesn’t have power, flip on the break panel switch and press the reset button on the GFCI outlet
  • If the spa stops working with heat demand, then you will need to replace the heater element

Clogged Jets/Jets Don’t Work

If you’re having issues with the jets, first make sure there is enough water in your spa.

Most hot tubs have adjustable jets that can be opened and closed by turning them. So check to see if you can open your jets.

If they are still not working once opened all the way, the jets could be clogged from scale buildup, or there could be an airlock if you recently refilled your spa.

If you have scale buildup clogging your jets, de-scale your plumbing system using a jet cleaner.

To remedy an airlock, pull off the front panel, adjust the two unions on the pump, and allow a bit of air out.

Clogged Filters

Pools and spas need clean filters to keep the water healthy and flowing. Otherwise, contaminants such as body oils and residue can build up on filters and clog them, resulting in dirty, unbalanced water that is cloudy and smelly.

To keep your filters clean, rinse the filters once a week, clean with a filter cleaner once a month, and replace worn out filters when needed.

Leaky Seals

Poorly maintained water can cause seals to deteriorate over time. And leaky seals can also lead to water chemistry issues.

If a small puddle of water appears around the seals, the seals are likely failing and in need of repairs.  Leaks can lead to costly problems, like the electric motor shorting due to water damage, so it’s important not to ignore them.

To prevent leaky sealing, keep the filters clean and replace old O-rings and pump seals whenever you notice leaks.

Malfunctioning Pumps

Broken seals, worn out bearings, and water leaks are signs that your pump is malfunctioning, as are loud humming and hammering noises.

Low flow from your pumps can also prevent your hot tub from heating up. So if your pump is malfunctioning, consider replacing it to keep your pool or spa in top condition.

Lights Not Working

The spa lock might be activated if the lights aren’t working in your spa. So you’ll need to deactivate the spa lock. Otherwise, the light wiring or assembly could be faulty, and you’ll need to replace the light assembly.

Noisy Pump

A noisy pump is a sign that the bearings in the motor are deteriorating and about to seize. You can get the bearings fixed and the motor replaced. But the price of repairing a pump is similar to the cost of replacing one, so you may as well buy a new replacement pump instead.


Here are answers to some common questions regarding pool and spa issues.

Q: Why does my pool lose water overnight?

A: If your pool loses less than half an inch of water each day, it is likely due to evaporation. An active bather load can also cause a half-inch to an inch of water loss daily. Both of these types of water loss can be prevented with a solar cover.

But water loss of over an inch per day can be a sign of a potential leak, and you’ll need to call in the pros to find and repair the leak.

Q: What causes air in pool lines?

A: When you drain water from your pool or spa, air will flow into the pool lines, replacing the water. And when you refill the pool or spa with fresh water, some of the air in the lines will become trapped and block the water, acting like a plug that prevents water from flowing through the lines.

Q: How do you clear up cloudy pool water?


  • Check the pump and filter
  • Clean the filter with a filter cleaner and degreaser
  • Run the pump
  • Add a shock treatment to the pool water
  • Test and balance the water

Q: How do you troubleshoot a jetted tub?

A: Refer to the user’s manual for your jetted tub to troubleshoot any problems that arise.

Q: How do you unclog a jetted tub?

A: To unclog the drain in a jetted tub, wear rubber gloves and unscrew and remove the drain. Drop three tablets of Alka-Seltzer into the drain, pour 1 cup of white vinegar, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

Run hot water down the drain for 30 seconds. If that doesn’t work, repeat and use a metal clothes hanger to pull out hair and grime clumps from the drain.

Q: Why is my hot tub too hot?

A: Leaving your jets on for too long can cause the water to overheat. Otherwise, there might be an issue with your hot tub’s thermostat. The thermostat may need to be replaced, especially if the heater contactor in the control box is not welded shut and moves freely.

If you think you have a broken hot tub or pool, refer to these troubleshooting tips to help pinpoint the problem and find a solution. Also, make sure to take care of your spa and pool with regular maintenance to prevent many common issues.

With routine maintenance and balanced water, you can keep your pool and spa working well for years to come. And if you can’t seem to fix the problem, call the pros in to help.

Share this: