The Basics of Balancing a Spa System
The 'OOOH' factor in a spa is the sight and sound of boiling bubbles. The 'AAAH' comes when that mass of warm bubbles blasts against the muscles in your aching back.
That's when everything works the way it's supposed to. When one or more spa positions don't live up to the dream, it's time to rebalance the system.
(right) Partially drain this spa into its adjoining pool. If you'll drop the water level below the seat, you'll have a convenient and dry work platform. You can then spot any impaired water flow, particularly notable (from the top) in the second outlet. The first and third nozzles demonstrate the strong, virile stream desirable in a spa. The fourth nozzle is plumbed last in the series, has the least pressure and needs a reduction sleeve to perform properly.
It's not uncommon for one spa jet to work less efficiently than the others and this slack diminishes the entire system. One blocked nozzle can halt all air flow into the spa.
Basic design, construction and maintenance flaws all throw a spa system out of balance and there are just as many ways to correct them.
(left) A quick look back into the second turbo pipe and the problem is immediately apparent.
A bit of debris, probably from original construction, partially blocks this nozzle. Because all spa water flows through the filter first, it's unusual for something not already in the lines to clog a nozzle.
(right) A 1/2" open end socket on extensions snags this Pentair hexnut trumpet nozzle. A few quick counter-clockwise turns will loosen it. The SuperPro, GC and HydroAir nozzles are all stubbier and need only a quarter turn to loosen, but use this same hex head configuration for removal. Most Hayward and Sonfarrel/Martec nozzles require a special 'Nozzle Tool' and some Hydro and Jacuzzi jets are held in place with a simple, threaded or screwed down, retainer ring.
Once removed, it's a simple matter to tap debris from the nozzle. Remove the other three nozzles and turn the spa turbo pump on briefly to blow out the line. Reinstall the nozzles; hand tighten using the socket and extension but forgo the ratchet wrench to avoid cross- threading any nozzle. Turn the system on and check the balance again.
You can adjust the port size of the nozzles, gorilla- size the pump or install a Pfleuger loop or air blower to enhance a spa, but the components always work best together when the system has first been balanced.
This basic spa balance can be completed in less than a half hour, when you understand how simple it is to do. For a repairman, it's a profitable $100 service call. For a homeowner or commercial property maintenance engineer, it means no guest gets a second class seat.
System Balance Calculations for proposed and existing pools and spas and their remedies are some of the hundreds of pool problems explained with color photos, drawings, graphs and simple text in the 690 page Pool School PRO CD
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