Hot Tub Air Lock: Recognize Symptoms and Fix It

What is an Airlock in a Hot Tub?

Have you ever opened your hot tub ready to start running only for the jets to refuse to cooperate? If yes, then you are likely to have come across an airlock problem. When the air gets stuck in your tub’s plumbing systems, an airlock is likely to occur. This can then interfere with your jets operations or make them stop working entirely and is a fairly common problem with hot tub care.

Since the jets are the primary elements that make your tub a hot tub, leading water through the heater into the tub’s bowl, having them not work as they ought to be is a big deal.

Sometimes you will know you have an airlock problem from a humming sound or a hissing sound around the hot tub jets or pump. When this happens, you need to commence troubleshooting as soon as possible. Although the issue is not catastrophic at first, it can cost you a lot of money when buying and fixing new jets if it persists.

What are the Signs of a Hot Tub Air Lock?

The signs of a hot tub air lock include:

  1. Decreased water flow or weak jets.
  2. Noisy pump or motor.
  3. Bubbles coming from the jets.
  4. Inadequate water pressure.
  5. Water circulation problems.
  6. Inaccurate temperature readings.
  7. Spitting or gurgling sounds.
  8. Inconsistent water level. Check the water line to make sure there is enough water.
  9. Inability to maintain set temperature.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to seek the help of a professional or to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to resolve the issue.

How can I Diagnose a Hot Tub Air Lock, and What Tools do I Need?

Diagnosing a hot tub air lock typically involves checking for certain symptoms, such as:

  1. Low water flow: If you notice that the water flow in your hot tub has become reduced or absent, it could be a sign of an air lock.
  2. Noisy pumps: If you hear unusual sounds coming from your hot tub’s pumps, it may indicate an air lock.
  3. Air bubbles: If you see air bubbles coming from your hot tub’s jets, it could be a sign of an air lock.

To diagnose a hot tub air lock, you will need:

  1. A spa cover: To access the inner workings of your hot tub, you’ll need to remove the cover.
  2. A large bucket: You will need a large bucket to catch any water that may spill while you diagnose the air lock.
  3. A screwdriver: You may need a screwdriver to remove the cover of your hot tub and access the pumps and other components.
  4. A hand pump: A hand pump is a useful tool for clearing air locks. You can use it to pump air out of the hot tub’s plumbing system.

Once you have these tools, you can start the process of diagnosing the spas air lock. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Remove the spa cover and locate the pumps.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the union nut on the pump suction side.
  3. Place a large bucket beneath the union nut and pump out any water that may spill.
  4. Use a hand pump to pump air out of the spa’s plumbing system.
  5. Once the air lock has been cleared, reattach the union nut and replace the hot tub cover.

What are the Effects of a Hot Tub Air Lock, and How can it Damage my Hot Tub?

A hot tub air lock can have several effects that can cause damage to the hot tub:

  1. Reduced water circulation – The air lock can impede the water flow and reduce the water circulation, which can cause the water to become stagnant and dirty.
  2. Poor water filtration – Poor water circulation can also lead to poor filtration, which can cause the water to become cloudy and harbor bacteria.
  3. Decreased jet power – If the air lock is in the pump or jet system, it can reduce the power of the jets, making it difficult to enjoy a relaxing massage.
  4. Overheating – An air lock can also cause the pump to overheat, leading to damage to the pump or the motor.
  5. Water loss – In some cases, an air lock can cause the hot tub to lose water, which can be a time-consuming and costly issue to fix.

It’s important to diagnose and fix an air lock in a hot tub as soon as possible to prevent these issues and to keep the hot tub functioning properly.

What are the Common Causes of Hot Tub Air Lock Symptoms?

The common causes of hot tub air lock symptoms include:

  1. Incorrect water level: If the water level in your hot tub is too low, air can become trapped in the pump or heater.
  2. Blocked skimmer basket or filter: A clogged skimmer basket or filter can cause air to become trapped in the hot tub’s plumbing.
  3. Loose or broken plumbing connections: Leaks or broken connections in the hot tub’s plumbing can cause air to become trapped.
  4. Clogged jet lines: Clogged jet lines can prevent water from circulating freely and cause air to become trapped.
  5. Dirty or worn out filters: Dirty or worn out filters can prevent water from flowing freely and cause air locks.

How do you Fix an Airlock in a Hot Tub?

There are two common ways anyone can use to fix an airlock problem. The first one involves turning the jets on and off for a while until they resume their normal function. You will need to do this for 10 to 20 seconds at most to get a suitable response. If it doesn’t work, you will need to bleeder the pumps using a screwdriver to get the jets working.

You might need a second priming session in case the first one doesn’t work. To ensure that you are priming properly, make sure that:

  • The ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is off
  • If it is not, turn it off manually
  • The slice valves are locked facing their upward position
  • Diverter valves remain centered to allow even water distribution when the jets and pumps are on
  • Jets are rotated following the open position when the flow is out
  • There is no debris in the suction and filter drain covers

Once all these elements are in place, try turning on your GFCI and repeat the priming with pumps at full speed. If this still fails to work, then the issue could be something beyond your fixing. Contact the manufacturer as soon as you can for further advice. Never call a plumber to fix it until you have a word from the manufacturer.

Preventing Hot Tub Air Lock

An air lock can lead to huge damage if not taken care of right away. However, instead of having to deal with the airlock in the first place, you can prevent the issue from occurring. Your hot tub pump is designed to pump water and not air.

Therefore, you ought to keep them from having air running in and out as much as possible. To do this, ensure that the hose drops to the bottom of the empty filter canister instead of the tub’s bowl itself. This keeps the water filling the internal plumbing system and spa pump and keeps it from having an airlock.

The moment that you are done filling your tub turn off the ground fault circuit interrupter to facilitate bleeding the pump. Open the bleeder valve by using a screwdriver until water trickles out, then close the bleed valves. By doing this, you keep air from the plumbing system, thus preventing an airlock. The process will also remove any air that had initially gotten into that space and avoid any further build-ups.

To ensure that everything is in check, turn on the jets to confirm proper functioning. Ensure that water is coming out every jet efficiently before you leave the tub to run on its own.

Will an Airlock Clear itself?

It is unwise to imagine that just because the air causing an airlock easily entered your plumbing system that it can find its way out just as easy. This system was built to help in the proper flow of water in and out of the tub and to ensure that the jets work efficiently.

Every time an airlock occurs, the pump’s circulation cannot prime accordingly, thus keeping the jets dry or ineffective. This way, your heater will not also serve its purpose.

The only way you can clear the airlock without much hassle is by turning the jets on and off periodically for about 10 to 20 seconds. This way, you force the system to exert pressure on the trapped air, thus pushing it out on its own.

However, if you have tried this for nearly a minute without any success, you will have to correct the jets manually. It doesn’t take much time or effort to do so, and you can fix it yourself.

Ensure that you observe safety precautions while at it. Keep the heater off and carefully use a screw to bleed the pumps or create a temporary vacuum for the air to pass out.

How do you Clear an Airlock?

You will notice you have an airlock issue the moment you try to turn on your water supply with no success. For a hot tub, this leads to one not getting any drop from the jets.

To clear an airlock, you need first of all to make sure that you are working in a safe space. For starters, use the control panel to turn off the heater. You do not want it kicking on you while trying to purge the air. It can easily cause steam burns or overheating, thus damaging it entirely.

If the water in the tub is already hot, cool it down to warm or at least comfortable enough for you to safely clear the airlock. Sometimes the air clearing process is well outlined in the manufacturer’s guide. If this is so, follow it to the latter.

If not, turn the jet’s faceplates counterclockwise and let the pump on at full pressure for about ten seconds. Repeat this twice or thrice, and you will be good to go. As soon as the air is cleared out, water will rush through all the jets as it ought to.

In case of any other problems, seek professional help or call the manufacturer’s support system.

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Emily Williams

Emily is a passionate Hot Tubs researcher who loves writing about all things Hot Tubs! She has years of experience and a knack for simplifying complex concepts, these articles are here to answer all your burning questions in a simple and easy to read style.
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