Spa Heater


Old 02-16-02, 08:27 AM
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Question Spa Heater

I have an in-ground spa. I had the heater replaced. In less than a year I have problems with it. After about 30 minutes of running the heater pops the Circuit Breaker, and the breaker is hot. So, the spa never heats up. I had a contractor come out and it he said it was ruined due to poor alkalinity and the heater needed to be replaced. Does this sound reasonable? If so, what would be the problem with it? Corroded heater element? Causing excessive current draw? Can just the heater element be replaced, or cleaned? It is an electric spa heater.

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Old 02-23-02, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Middle TN
Posts: 222
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I may be able to answer a few of your questions. I worked for a company that made all different types of tubular electric heaters for home appliances, industrial applications, and even some spa heaters. I was there 17 years, and we made about 12 MILLION heaters a year, so I've seen a few. We only made the heater and not the finished assembly, so I can only give advise on heater characteristics.

The internal heater coil is designed to draw a specific number of amps. This is determined by the size of the resistance wire inside the heater and by the length of wire used. The amp draw is calculated by using Ohm's law, where CURRENT is equal to VOLTAGE divided by RESISTANCE. If the resistance of the heater is 12 ohms, and the voltage is 240, then the amp draw is 20 Amps. This will not change throughout the life of the heater, unless physical damage is done through overheating, such as a meltdown of the unit.

Now to answer your questions.

The heater assembly could have hard water deposits built up on the inside, causing overheating, but not high amp draw. This could probably be removed with a chemical cleaning product.

It's possible that you have a loose or corroded wiring connection between the breaker and the heater or thermostat. The loose connection will cause high current draw.

The contacts in the thermostat could be failing. When the contacts get arced or burned, they don't allow full current flow, and will cause high current draw, just as bad connection will.

The breaker may be going bad. Also,check the heater information plate for rated amps and confirm that the breaker is rated correctly for the heater.

Since it's an in-ground spa, if it is far from the main electrical box, make sure the wiring is large enough. Undersize wire will cause a voltage drop, leading to high current draw.

You have stated that you have had the heater replaced. Is the new heater the same wattage as the original? If not, this could be the problem with the breaker. If the replacement heater was a generic heater, it could have a higher wattage ( sometimes used as a selling point) and would need larger wiring and breaker.

The actual current draw of the heater should be checked with a clamp-on amp meter and compared to the rating of the breaker.

Just my opinion, I may be wrong,
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