When using a hot tub, glitches sometimes happen that disrupt the controls. In some cases, a reset is all that’s needed to fix the issues, but how do you reset a hot tub control panel?
As a general rule, reset a hot tub control panel by turning off the power at the disconnect panel for 20 seconds. Then, switch it back on again. Alternately, the control pack under the hot tub behind the front panel typically has a small red reset button that can be pressed.
However, if the error signal on the control panel persists, it is advisable to consult your hot tub manual or simply call in a professional.
It’s true that most times, to reset a hot tub control panel, you simply press the reset button on your hot tub or restart the hot tub, and all is back to normal. However, there are times when a simple reset won’t cut it.
But the above is just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a lot more to know. In this article, we’ll find out why a hot tub control panel may not be working and how to know if it’s bad.
We will also learn where the high-limit reset button is located on the hot tub and if there’s a reset button on a hot tub pump. We’ll learn about GCFIs and what is the spa pack.
Let’s dive right in.
Why is my hot tub control panel not working?
There are a couple of reasons why your topside control panel may not be working. Blinking red and green lights, blinking red lights, strange messages, displaying dashes, the circuit board, and a dead control pane are key indicators that could help you trace the underlying problem.
Let’s check out these common control panel problems.
1. Dead Topside Control Panel
The topside panel may be dead or frozen.
In both cases, it won’t work. Check the panel to see if any of its buttons are cracked or if moisture has gotten inside the display.
And if it is working partially, check for blinking lights or error messages.
Reset the breaker. If the problem persists, you want to confirm that the circuit board is okay. If it is, the only way to test the control panel is to get one that is working and connect it to the circuit board.
Don’t mistake the control panel sticker (which can be replaced easily) with the control panel itself.
2. Displaying Dashes
If the control panel is not displaying error messages but simply displaying dashes, you need to reset it. Turn the power off for an hour. Then restore power to the hot tub. This should do the trick.
3. Blinking Red and Green Light
A blinking red light on your control panel is probably an indication that you need to reset it. On most models, simply turn off the power to the hot tub for a minute or two.
Then, turn it on again.
4. Blinking Red Lights
When there’s low water flow, both red and green lights could be blinking. And as we saw earlier, resetting the hot tub by turning off the power, waiting a while, and turning it back on again could resolve the issue.
5. Strange Messages
A software issue or a problem with the circuit board could be evidenced by the display of strange messages or an error code. Check the connections to the circuit board, and clean corrosion or condensation off of them.
This evening I fixed a 20 year old hot tub, replaced the mother board and control panel…before 10” of snow comes. pic.twitter.com/WhHDnD97cY
— Gavin Anderson (@GavinMAnderson) February 25, 2021
How do I know if my hot tub control panel is bad?
If your hot tub control pack (the box under the hot tub behind the removable panel) has power and is working fine, but your topside control panel is frozen or dead, that is a key indicator that the control panel is bad. If this is the case, inspect if the display has moisture.
For example, check if a part of the display is wet or if there are cracked buttons. But remember there is usually a sticker overlay on top of the actual topside panel.
If only a side of the control panel is not working, check for blinking lights or error messages. As a first step, reset your breaker, and if the problem persists, turn off the breaker. Then, disconnect the panel to examine the circuit board.
Turn the power on and see if the heater or the filtration system is working.
Truth be told, topside control panels are not easily testable. The best way to know if the one you have is bad is to plug in another one, to see if it works.
My workspace today, put a new control pack and heater in a hot tub today. pic.twitter.com/UGL3tiPgSW
— David M Hocker (@topmahof) March 21, 2021
Where is the high-limit reset button on my hot tub?
The high-limit reset button is typically located on the control pack under the hot tub. When the front panel is removed, you can find the high-limit reset button on the outside of the control pack, which is a small red button that can be pressed.
It looks just like the reset button on a disposal if you’ve ever pressed one of those.
It is a safety feature of your hot tub. It’s designed to protect users of the hot tub and the sensitive parts of the hot tub. How? It deactivates the heater when the water hits extreme temperatures. This is usually not more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above this level become highly dangerous!
The high limit switch is always closed, but when the water reaches such extreme temperatures, it opens to break the circuit. This prevents the heater from experiencing a literal meltdown.
A tripped switch cuts the power before the fuse to stop the heater and the pump. In some older systems, it may also cut power to the heater.
It must be manually reset after conditions return to normal.
The high-limit switch senses the water temperature through a capillary tube that is attached to a bulb and is housed in a thermowell. In some models, the high-limit switch is a sensor known as a thermodisc.
The switch is sometimes activated when you’re refilling the hot tub and has to be reset by pressing the aforementioned red button on your spa controller.
By the way, a spa pack refers to an integrated control system that runs your spa pump, heater, blower, and controls. In effect, it’s the brain of the hot tub.
Unless you’re highly experienced, you want to be very careful when dealing with any electrical components of a hot tub.
Sip and soak in style. This cantilevered stainless steel ledge was custom fabricated for this hot tub and is easily removed when needed to access the hot tub control panel pic.twitter.com/QLRh3oxtLL
— ILI (@intlandscaping) November 8, 2018
Is it easy to replace a hot tub control panel?
The hot tub topside panel itself can be replaced fairly easily by a homeowner with basic DIY skills. The sticker that goes on the control panel is extremely easy to replace when the buttons get worn.
But it depends.
If you have average technical or mechanical skills, you will probably find it easy. However, if you do feel confused or challenged when dealing with electrical or mechanical appliances, you would probably find it difficult.
While most control panels are replaced in similar ways, there could be slight differences in how your particular model needs to be addressed.
But here is a basic run-down of the steps involved:
- Cut power to the hot tub at the disconnect box
- Remove the front panel of the hot tub
- Locate the wires coming from the topside control panel
- Unplug them from the control pack/box (many just plug in on the side, but you may have to open the box)
- Using a flathead screwdriver with a cloth underneath (to prevent scratches to the shell), insert and lift up gently all the way around the edges of the topside control panel
- Remove and set aside the old panel (it can be thrown away)
- There will likely be glue or silicone residue which will need to be gently scraped off or cleaned up.
- Feed the wire from the new topside panel through the opening down to the control box
- Plug in the new topside panel
- Turn on the power to the hot tub and verify the new panel is working correctly
- Run a small bead of clear silicone neatly around the edges of the topside panel. Make sure to use a waterproof silicone
If your new panel didn’t come with the sticker, just peel and stick that sticker onto the new panel, making sure to align it perfectly, so the button images line up with the buttons.
New hot tub pump is installed. New cover just got delivered today! Dr. Dave’s winter spa will be operational in 24 hours!!! pic.twitter.com/MJ5meAMhqZ
— Dr. Dave🇨🇦🇺🇸⚕️ LET’S DO THAT HOCKEY! (@Habs_Fan_NJ) December 11, 2020
Is there a reset button on a hot tub pump?
There is no reset button on a hot tub pump. As such, you cannot simply press a button to restart a hot tub pump. However, pressing the small, red reset button on the control pack or cutting power at the disconnect box for 20 seconds will work the same way.
But there are a variety of pump issues that can happen and different solutions for each. Let’s explore them.
The first step is troubleshooting.
This is the process of identifying what’s causing a malfunction. After all, it’s when the cause is known that an ideal solution can be employed.
A hot tub pump malfunction could be triggered by blockage due to debris. It may be caused by airlocks or electrical issues. To correct the issue, make sure there are no problems with the motherboard or electrical problems with the breaker.
Airlock issues are triggered by large air bubbles within the plumbing.
You can easily correct this by running the pumps with the jets fully opened. When you’ve done this, debris can be quickly cleared from the suction valves inside the hot tub.
Lastly, if you can’t resolve the issue, call an expert who would know and advise on the best solution after more thorough troubleshooting.
Electrical issues often have something to do with the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter).
A fast-acting circuit breaker is an invaluable safety feature. In the event of a power surge, it shuts off electrical power within as little as 1/40 of a second.
Interested in learning more about GFCI breakers?
Check out a recent article I published where I get into whether a hot tub needs a GFCI breaker. In it, I explained what a GFCI breaker is and whether they are necessary.
I went on to share info on whether a plug-in hot tub needs a GFCI breaker and what size breaker you need for a 220v hot tub. But I even revealed how to hook up a GFCI breaker to a hot tub.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
when your hot tub heater breaks, you pretend it’s a pool 😌 pic.twitter.com/943Xz7Kw4F
— Mark Manio (@markmanio) April 26, 2020
Is there a reset button on a hot tub heater?
It depends on the model of the hot tub. Some older hot tub heaters have physical reset buttons. You may have to remove a screw before you can access it. While some heaters do not have reset buttons, they have a reset button only on the breakers inside the control box.
But again, all modern control packs will have a small red reset button on the outside of the box.
In some models, the heater reset button may be located in the equipment compartment. Be sure to check your hot tub’s manual to know where yours is located.
And don’t forget to power down the tub first each time you want to fix minor or major issues with your tub yourself.
In the former, a sticker actually indicates where the reset button is located.
It could be by the side or on the top of a box on the heater. You may have to remove a couple of screws to get to the actual reset button, depending on the model. While in the case of those on top of a box on the heater, you can access them directly.
To reset the heater, take a door screw (after you’ve powered down the tub) and push on the button indicated by the sticker. In some models, it’s a membrane. Simply push on it a couple of times.
Then power on the hot tub again.
But in models without a physical reset button on the heater, you will need to reset the heater if it has tripped by or stopped working by using the high-limit reset switch or by checking all breakers and GFCI outlets.
What if the hot tub is not heating up?
This is the theme of a recent article where I explored how to know if your hot tub heater is not working and how to make your hot tub hotter. I also shared how to reset your hot tub heater and how to know if the heating element is bad. I even revealed how much it costs to replace the heating element.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Relocation of an existing 50 Amp Hot Tub / Spa Disconnect with GFCI Double-pole breaker encased in 1-inch Car-Flex waterproof Conduit to the Spa Control Board in Douglassville PA! NEC Code requires a 5 Foot clearance between the hot tub / spa and the disconnect.
(800) 494-7420 pic.twitter.com/Gg66pW2mSX
— Hughes Electrical Innovative Current Specialists (@HughesCurrent) June 7, 2020
How to fix a tripped GFCI breaker for a hot tub
The GFCI breaker for your hot tub is most often located in a disconnect box located about 5 feet from the hot tub.
Most of the causes of it tripping are easy to fix. A clogged or dirty filter is often a culprit as that can prevent enough water for going into the pump and the heater.
However, in some cases, the GFCI breaker may be so worn out that it would need to be replaced. Rest assured that a hot tub tripping a breaker is a relatively common problem.
Let’s check out a few causes and how to fix the breaker in each case.
GFCI Breaker is Worn
Like most components, your GFCI breaker may have grown unreliable with age. Surges over time, lightning, and natural wear may lead to your hot tub tripping the breaker, as it’s no longer able to effectively do what it was designed to do.
To be certain that it cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced, disconnect everything connected to it, and flip it. If it trips immediately, it’s time to get a new one.
Moisture in the Disconnect Box
Rainwater, splashout, or flooding could introduce moisture into the breaker, so much that the dampness could make it to trip. This can be easily remedied by using a dry towel to wipe it down or using a dehumidifier or fan to dry it out.
After which, you reset it. If it’s still tripping after this, it may need to be moved a bit away from the hot tub so that the odds that it gets wet again are reduced. If this does not work, then the troubleshooting is continued until the actual cause is found.
Bad Heating Element
The heating element located inside the heater tube below your hot tub’s control pack is a common culprit. The heater is a metal tube that contains a heating coil. If the coil is not hot, the water won’t be heated up. If the heating element is not working, the hot tub trips the breaker. The heating element may need to be replaced.
Corrosion can cause some components to malfunction, and the GFCI breaker is no exception. Check for signs of corrosion around the hot tub, especially close to and in the GFCI breaker box itself.
Rust or whitish powder are usual signs to look for. Carefully inspect the wiring and the control panel. In some cases, a wire brush or an electrical contact cleaner may be adequate to take care of it. But if leaking water is the cause, you’ll need to repair the leak.
Damaged or loose wiring
Check to see that the wiring is in good condition and is tight. Look out for breaks and char marks. Some wires could be short, while others could be burned!
When two wires touch when they aren’t supposed to or when a hot wire touches a ground wire, a surge may be triggered. To know the offending wires, you may have to disconnect each component at a time to isolate the culprit. In this case, you may need to replace some wires. And wiring connectors that are broken or loose may need to be replaced.
Often if water flow is slow due to a clog in the lines or filter, the heater will start to get too hot. When this happens, as a safety measure, it can trip the breaker.
Now it may not trip the GFCI breaker. It could simply trip the breaker in your control pack. In that case, you simply have to press the small red reset button on the control box.
However, DON’T do that until you know why it tripped and have fixed it.
In many cases, it could be a clogged filter preventing water from flowing fast enough through the pump and into the heater tube. But a defective pump could cause that too.
If you think it’s the filter, the easiest way to check is to simply take the filter out, reset the breaker, and see if it trips again.
You don’t want the tub to run a long time without a filter. So, if the filter does seem to be the issue, clean it thoroughly and replace it. But if it looks ancient, replace it with a new one.
— West Hills Homes NW (@WestHillsHomes_) August 4, 2020
Where is the power switch on a hot tub?
As a general rule, most modern hot tubs do not have an on-off switch. Power is most easily turned off or on at the disconnect box, often located within 5 feet of the hot tub. However, there are power breakers inside the control pack located under the hot tub.
But it’s not a good idea to open the control pack when the power is still on at the disconnect box.
Remember, most hot tubs are 220v. That could kill you if you accidentally touched the wrong connector.
I’ve talked about the small, red reset button a few times, but if you are still confused on where it is and what it does, I have a whole recent article that covers that. In it, I indicated where the hot tub heater reset button is located and why your hot tub may not be heating up.
I shared how to know why your hot tub heater is not working and whether a hot tub should feel warm. I even revealed why your hot tub wouldn’t heat up all the way.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
We went through a lot of interesting information about hot tub control panels. We explored why a hot tub control panel may not work and how to know if a hot tub control panel is bad.
We also looked at where the high-limit reset button is located on a hot tub. We considered if it is easy to replace a hot tub control panel and if there is a reset button on a hot tub pump. We moved on to also consider if there is a reset button on a hot tub heater.
Then, we checked out how to fix a tripped GFCI breaker in a hot tub. Lastly, we wrapped things up by looking at where the power switch is located on a hot tub.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my hot tub’s breaker keep tripping?
A few common culprits can cause breaker trips.
First of the common problems is water getting into the electrical systems. If moisture sneaks into the hot tub’s equipment, it can cause short-circuits. Then there’s the heating element. Over time, these elements can corrode or become faulty, leading to a tripped breaker.
Similarly, a worn-out or damaged pump can draw more electricity than usual, causing the breaker to say, “No more!” Outside the tub, a faulty GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) or an overloaded circuit with too many devices could be the issue.
Lastly, check the wiring. Frayed or damaged wires can lead to electrical mishaps. If your breaker is playing these tricks on you, it’s a good idea to call in a professional. Safety first!
Why is my hot tub water not hot?
If you’re facing this issue, there could be a few reasons.
First, the heater element – it’s the heart of a hot tub’s warmth. If it’s damaged or faulty, you’re basically sitting in a lukewarm bath. Then there’s the thermostat.
If it’s misreading the water temperature, it might not signal the heater to kick in.
A clogged filter can also affect water flow, which in turn affects heating efficiency. Additionally, keep an eye on the high-limit switch. It’s designed to shut off the heater if the water gets too hot, but if it malfunctions, it might keep the heater off unnecessarily.