Saturday, February 14, 2015

Spa Leaking, Spa Pumps, Wet Ends, Seals, and Thinking Things Through

Recently, during a lunchtime conversation, a friend mentioned that his spa was leaking. He told me the repairman had quoted him $1000 to fix it because "both pumps were leaking." Since I had some experience with spas and pumps, I told him not only that "spa repairmen tend to charge a lot" but that pumps could be bought online for a lot less than $500 each. I did a quick look via Google and found some examples ranging from $180 to $280 each. (He didn't know the brand or complete specs of the pumps at the time.)

Now, here is the first lesson. The repairman had said the pumps needed to be replaced, and I didn't even question that at first. I just shopped for pumps.

Lesson #1: Think through someone else's diagnosis and proposed solution before you accept it.

When I did some more thinking, I realized that a leaking pump means that the shaft seal in the wet end has failed and that the pump motor itself is still fine, as long as it runs as it should. So, I did  some more research online and found some new wet ends for the pumps for about $70 each. I remembered replacing the wet end of a water pump once for about $50.

Lesson #2: Keep thinking and analyzing, even after you have apparently solved the problem.

While I was looking for a better deal on wet ends, it occurred to me that the real problem is that the shaft seal in the wet end was leaking, and that most likely the only thing that needed to be replaced was the shaft seal in each pump. A bit of research turned up prices for shaft seals in his brand of pump/wet end for about $8 to $16 each.

So, with plenty of You Tube how-to videos showing how doable the replacement of seals is, together with the free labor of a friend, we has reduced the cost of the repair from $1000 to under $40, even with tax and shipping--all by thinking things through.

But, you will say, what if you have no idea how spa pumps are constructed, so that you can think this problem down to a seal?

Lesson #3: Research the problem and get the knowledge that will allow you to think things through.

Rely on the experience of others who are familiar with the task you want to do. Check books (repair manuals) and web sites, of course, but why not go first to YouTube to see if someone has videoed the repair? I learned the technique of using two putty knives to free a sliding glass door from its rails that way. (The putty knives hold up the rollers so the bottom of the door can be pulled forward and out.)

Replacing the entire pump/wet end assembly would, of course, have solved the leaking problem, but that would be like replacing the entire car to solve a leaking radiator problem. Think granular; think down to the bottom. And save money.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I like your thought process, I'm one to trust and assume what a handy man says is right.