Spa & Hot Tub Noises
Spas and hot tubs are not too dissimilar to automobiles, and I've made that reference before. And just like cars, a hot tub making funny noises is enough to make you sit up and take notice.
Today's post is all about noisy hot tubs and spas, or sounds that spas make - what might be it, where to look, and how to reduce or correct hot tub noise.
Vibration Noise on Spas
Vibration noise coming from a hot tub is all too common, and the source of much friction between neighbors. Hot tub noise nuisance or noise from a neighbor's hot tub can lead to noise complaints. But there are ways to reduce hot tub noise and save your neighborly relations.
There are two causes of spa vibration noise,
- Hot tubs sitting on small wooden decks
- Hot tub equipment vibration, underneath the spa.
In the first case, outdoor wood decks act like a drum and resonate a low frequency that sounds like a constant drone, even with pumps on low speed. The sound can be amplified as it conducts through nearby fences or reflects off exterior walls. To correct this situation, the wood deck can be cut-out to fit the spa, with a 4" thick reinforced concrete slab poured for the spa to rest on. Another option would be to place thick rubber mats, or patio squares underneath the entire spa, on top of the wood deck. These can also be used on concrete patios that are connected to the house to reduce hot tub vibration noise. In addition to these two sound solutions, tall planters or short fences can be used adjacent to the hot tub/spa, to reflect sound away from the house(s) toward a more open area.
In the second case, vibration can come from the equipment located under the spa cabinet. Circulation pumps and jet pumps are the usual suspects, check that the base bolts are tight on each pump, or install them if they are missing. Alternatively, you can place a thick rubber mat underneath to dampen pump vibration noises. The Spa Pack or blower could also be the culprit. Placing your hand on pumps, valves, spa pack - you should be able to feel what you hear, and can tighten the equipment to the base, or use dense dampening rubber squares beneath. You can also use sound dampers or insulating material on the inside of the cabinet wall panels to contain spa equipment noise.
There is a third case, and that's hot tubs that are up on a concrete slab, located against the house, or under a bedroom window. Even on low speed operation, they can be annoying to light sleepers. In this situation, you could adjust the timer to run only during day time hours, or add a dampening sub-floor to absorb some of the sound. A small enclosure around the hot tub, either a pavilion or large wooden wall planters, can be used to contain and deflect the sound away from the house.
A spa or hot tub that makes a clicking sound may be working just fine, but if the pump won't turn on high speed, and all you hear is clicking, or the heater is not heating and you hear a clicking noise, they may be coming from spa relays or contactors. If you try to locate the offending part - do so carefully, with the power turned off, as a shock hazard may exist.
A spa or hot tub that makes a squealing noise will usually have a pump that is nearing the end of a lifespan. The motor bearings specifically, eventually wear out after a number of years, and will begin to shriek like a banshee! The sound becomes progressively louder over time, and not fixing it will lead to motor failure. To verify that the sound is bad bearings, close all valves and remove the motor from the wet end. Turn on power for a few seconds and if it still makes the noise, you need a motor rebuild from a local motor shop, or replace your motor with a new motor, or buy a whole new pump.
Softer squeals may be heard on spas coming from open air intake jets or some spa ozonators make a low squeal when they are operating.
A pump motor that is not starting may make a humming sound from the motor capacitor. Sometimes the humming noise precedes the popping of the circuit breaker. Another usual source for a spa humming noise is vibration - either of the sub-floor beneath the spa, or the equipment housed beneath the spa. As suggested above, check that all equipment is tightly secured, or strapped if needed. Rubber patio squares can also be used to
Now a buzzing sound... that may also be the same as a squealing or humming sound, and can even be a variation on the clicking sound. In other words, it could be the pump or blower motor that is having trouble starting, a heater contactor or relay. Some ozonators have a faint squeal to them. To find out what's making all that noise, first check your control panel for any error codes, and barring that, stick your head under there with a flashlight, and listen...
And that's really the secret to troubleshooting a noisy Jacuzzi or hot tub, look and listen - and you will likely find the cause of any spa or hot tub noises or odd sounds.