Chapter 3 Topics

3-Q: Leaks


Trust me, no matter what the salesperson tells you, ALL hot tubs will leak at some point.

Leaks happen.  Even brand-new hot tubs sometimes leak, straight from the factory.  Most salespersons don’t know that factory warranties often do not cover minor leaks considered to be negligible.  Sometimes, Hot Tubs Galore’s technicians are privately hired to fix technically-insignificant-but-annoying leaks that manufacturers won’t bother dealing with.  

To be fair, hot tubs are an outdoor water-related appliance designed for rainy environments, so wetness usually poses no real threat.  Hot tubs might leak a bit at start-up when the plumbing is dry and/or cold, due to shrinkage, but once things are hydrated and it reaches temperature, things tend to swell tight again.  Slow leaks don’t affect the functionality of a hot tub, and we often come across clients that are oblivious that theirs has been leaking for many years.  Considering that daily use of a hot tub will deplete the water more than a slow leak will, inconsequential weeping or slow drips may not be worth fixing – but if it drips more than once per second, or if the electronic equipment is getting wet, that could cause problems that might require a repair.

The good news is, leaks themselves are usually easy and cheap to fix.  The bad news is that finding and creating access to the leak source that can be a much bigger problem.

One issue to consider is whether or not the hot tub has easily-removable panels to access what’s behind the skirting in order to find and repair any leaks.  Some brands’ skirts are glued and/or stapled onto the frame and do not come off in sections, making it tough to figure out where the leak is coming from.  You’d need to rip open or cut into the skirt to create access to the leak.  The damaged/scarred skirt will never look the same after that.

To make matters worse, sometimes a puddle coming from under the hot tub doesn’t accurately tell you where the actual leak is.  It is entirely possible for the drip to originate from the opposite corner, but the capillary effect wicks the water to a different location (often on the lowest end of the pad).
Then there’s the full foam problem. 
leaks 1

How the heck does one figure out where it’s leaking from?

Brands that don’t fully foam their tubs will tell you that it’s near impossible to find a leak in a fully foamed tub.  That’s not necessarily true, but they do have a point.  It depends on the kind of insulation.  With soft foam, it’s easy to feel around to find the wet spots, and the foam can be easily pulled out by the fistful with your bare hands to expose the area that needs fixing.  It’s not as easy or as nice as cabinet-insulated systems, but nor is it as terrible as you might think.

The real problem is when the foam is hard, like Styrofoam.  It doesn’t saturate like a sponge so you can’t simply feel for the wet spots. But even worse, it’s like you need a paleontologist kit to chip & chisel out the foam to excavate & expose the arterial system.  It’s easy to accidentally cut into a pipe or hose while doing so, and scraping the lines clean is a huge task.