How to Replace the Circuit Board on a Spa or Hot Tub
When you’re a hot tub owner, sometimes things break. And when they do, you’ll want to spend as little time as possible fussing over seemingly indistinguishable replacement parts. That way, you can get back to fun stuff — sinking in and chilling out. In this post, we'll help you learn to identify one of the most commonly replaced, and most frustrating spa components to address: circuit boards! Before you can replace the circuit board on your hot tub, there are a few things you'll need to know.
What is a Spa Circuit Board and What Does it Do?
The principal component of your spa is the control pack, which consists of the full mechanical and electrical system. Control pack components include the heating element, pump, blower, and the controller or circuit board. All these components are essential in ensuring proper spa function. But for now, let’s focus on the controller, also known as the circuit board.
Your spa’s circuit board is just like the printed circuit board (PCB) you’d find in many electronic devices. Similar to your home computer’s logic board, a hot tub or spa circuit board is designed to perform a specific set of tasks, but under comparatively extreme conditions. Think of the circuit board as your spa’s central nervous system, which controls all its vital activities and automatic functions through electromagnetic relays. These functions include water flow, operation of filtration, water temperature, jets and blowers, spa lights, and the various sensors.
Why Would I Need to Replace My PCB?
Over time, the contacts on your circuit board may wear out, overheat, and eventually fail. Being a spa’s central nervous system is no easy task, they’re exposed to all kinds of harsh conditions. Because of this, a circuit board’s normal life expectancy is usually only around 8–10 years. Yikes!
But don't fret. With proper care and attention, your circuit board could last as long as 20 years. That said, you should expect to replace your spa’s circuit board at least a few times over many years of ownership.
Now the real question — how do you identify your circuit board in order to find the correct replacement?
Most spas on the market today are manufactured using Balboa Water Group components. Still, there are many that utilize Gecko and HydroQuip spa parts. The following information generally applies across most manufacturers. Although, for our purposes, Balboa boards are presented as the most common example. If you’re unsure of which brand you have, it doesn't hurt to seek assistance before purchasing your board — just to be safe.
How to Identify Your Spa Circuit Board for Replacement
There are two effective methods for getting the right board and getting back on the road to relaxation. One involves finding the serial number, and the other requires identifying the chip number.
Method 1: Locate the Serial Number and Model
By far, the most accurate method for identifying and replacing your board is the serial number, which contains your board’s product number. The product serial number is a series of several numbers (sometimes alpha numeric), preceded by "SN" or "S/N," to be found on the rectangular white sticker on the front or back of your printed circuit board (Ex. 51603***1012230002, as shown in the example above). The first five to seven numbers of your circuit board’s serial number represent the product number. In the example pictured above, the product number would be 51603.
Just beneath the serial number, you should find the model of the board. It might be something like: BOARD JACWHL K286 SER DLX. Can’t find this white sticker? Don't despair — there is another way.
Method 2: Identify the Chip Number
There is usually a smaller white sticker somewhere on your board, and on it you will find the circuit board's chip number. You might also find it branded, etched, or written in black marker on the back of the board. The chip number will enable you to identify your board using the handy chip number cross reference sheet provided by Balboa Water Group. It gives you the ability to track down your board’s part number by matching it to the chipset used in its construction.
Replacing the Circuit Board
You should now be able to easily identify your hot tub's circuit board for replacement. If you find you’re having difficulty identifying the correct information, or if you're not well versed in electronics and circuitry, don't hesitate to reach out to a spa or hot tub professional for repairs. Call or stop by your local Leslie's for help, or to be connected with a professional in your area.
*Disclaimer: While replacing the circuit board on your spa yourself may seem like an awesome weekend DIY project, we highly recommend leaving the actual installation work to a licensed spa professional. This will ensure proper installation and safety, as it is a tricky and sometimes extremely dangerous procedure. You could be seriously injured, and can even void your hot tub's warranty if not correctly installed.