Help! 110v Heater cord burned!

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  #1  
Old 11-03-11, 01:18 PM
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Help! 110v Heater cord burned!

So I have an older hot tub, this summer I got around to sealing it up as it had a small leak. It holds water great now! So I filled it up, ran the jets, turned on the heater. The breaker kept tripping, so I unplugged the heater from the hot tub control board and it stopped tripping the breaker. After inspecting the wire I noticed it had started to burn slightly. I am unsure whether this had happened a long time ago or recently. I purchased the hot tub used and used it one winter and it has sat for one winter. Fortunately for me I found a website that carries the correct heater element to replace if I have to go that route. I although I would strongly prefer not to do it. The heater got hot and ran for about 3 minutes before it tripped the breaker, now it trips it instantly.

Heres a link to the replacement parts for my hot tub, it appears a heater element is 100+! Replacement heater for all 110 volt 1980-1994 Hot Spring spa models.
I have several questions...

1) Do I have to replace the element? Is that what is causing the cord to burn? How do I test to see if the element is bad?

2) Since the cord is burned at the end and consistently tripping the breaker, could I just rewire a new plug onto the cord? It appears as though the cord attaches directly to the element.

3) If I could just replace the plug at the end of the cord, where could I find another plug like the one that was burned?

To clarify this cord is running from the heater to the hottub control board(or whatever the correct term would be).


 

Last edited by permamonkey; 11-03-11 at 01:38 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-03-11, 03:06 PM
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I have seen that happen and it was not a problem with the heater. It was corrosion/oxidation between the plug and socket which resisted the flow of electricity, causing heat which melted the plug. In that instance I caught the problem before anything was actually shorting.

Check continuity between the hot lead and the ground prong on the receptacle. There should be none. But, since you say the breaker is tripping I assume there is a short. Since the plug looks melted you may need to cut the cord to test the heater. After cutting off the plug check for continuity between the hot wire and the ground wire. It it there is no continuity then the heater should be good and you might get away with simply replacing the plug and you may also want to replace the receptacle as well. As the minimum I would slide the new plug in/out of the socket several times to help scrub off any oxidation and insure good contact.

I've found both the receptacle and plug available online. The receptacles are often listed with control panel parts and cost about $10. For the plug you may need to buy a cord adapter which is sometimes listed with the heaters or heater accessories and costs about $15.

If, after cutting the cord you find continuity between the hot and ground wires then you may be shopping for a new heater.
 
  #3  
Old 11-03-11, 03:30 PM
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Thanks for the quick and informative reply! How does one go about checking for continuity? I have just basic electrical experience and knowledge, although I learn fast and am more then capable of understanding directions. Where did you happen to find the replacement plug? Im having a hard time and would love to order it and see if that solves the problem, along with your suggestions of cleaning the plugin and testing for continuity.
 

Last edited by permamonkey; 11-03-11 at 03:50 PM.
  #4  
Old 11-03-11, 03:50 PM
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A simple volt/ohm meter can be purchased at most home centers and auto parts stores in the electrical dept or at Radio Shack or online. It measures electricity and can be used to test for shorts, opens and to check voltages.

The 110 volt heater of your spa has three wires. Two are connected to the heating element. One wire to each end of the actual heating wire which is surrounded by an insulating material. The third wire is connected to the steel outer tube covering & protecting the element.

AC power flows between the hot (usually black) and neutral (usually white) wire that are connected to each end of the heating element. With a volt meter you should see continuity (electricity flowing) between those two which means that the heating element wire is intact. The meter will show a resistance but the important thing is that there is some level of continuity. If you check those two wires and get zero continuity then the heater wire is broken and the heater must be replaced.

If you check between either the hot (usually black) and neutral (usually white) and ground (usually green) you should have no continuity. If there is then it means the heater core wire is touching the outer casing and the heater is dead.

---
The volt meter uses a small battery for it's current testing so it's totally safe to play with. Set it to continuity test and hold one probe in each hand. You should be able to make the reading go up/down by how hard you squeeze. You are measuring how well electricity passes through your body. Tape the probes to your head and you might have a simple lie detector. Put the two probes in a glass of distilled water and see what the meter says, then add salt to the water and see how the reading changes.
 
  #5  
Old 11-03-11, 06:29 PM
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Thanks again Dane. That is definitely something I am familiar with, although the correct term I did not know. I appreciate it! Where can I find a replacement cord? I'm having a difficult time finding the correct one. Thanks again!
 
  #6  
Old 11-04-11, 04:24 AM
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I have never purchased from this sight, but it's the first plug I came across: Hotspring Supply 95-96 cord adaptor - Heaters - All Parts for HotSprings spas
 
  #7  
Old 11-05-11, 11:59 PM
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Alright Dane, I appreciate you stickin with me and helping me solve this!

I finally had some free time and purchased a multimeter, figured it would be useful outside this application as well. I tested the heating element and came up with a 9.2 or something, so it passed that test. It also read zero when I checked the ground, so its all good there. So what do these tests mean? From what I understand it means the heater is OK, yet I will need to replace the wire and receptacle to be on the safe side as they are burnt.

Reading online I think I realized I forgot to purge the system of air when I refilled it, what damage did I do by forgetting that? Where do I go from here?

Also my hot tub is a Hot springs classic f-341689.

And the jets work perfect, the pump that works the jets is great!

Thanks again!
 
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