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
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
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
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
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
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 thing?
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
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
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
Well, water quality is usually the number one
cause of pump seal failure. Not defective components.
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
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
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
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
1. Always make sure that the pump motor frame is
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
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 its integrity!
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 anchored 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
9. Always use a rubber mat to stand on, and
NEVER test the pump motor in a wet environment, you could be
Pump works, but strange things happen:
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 armature core.
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
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
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).