Why is my spa losing heat? 5 reasons why and how to solve them

Maintaining the right water temperature in your spa is crucial. However, heat loss can be a common issue. Discover 5 key reasons for heat loss and practical solutions to keep your hot tub at your desired temperature in this post on hot tub maintenance tips.

Eon™ Spa

On a cool evening, there is nothing more relaxing than soaking in the luxuriously warm water of your spa and gazing at the stars! But, if your spa water starts cooling down too quickly you can start to feel less cosy and more chilly!

In this article, we will discuss what causes your spa to lose heat and some tips and tricks to help keep your spa pool at the perfect temperature!

This article covers:

Why is my spa losing heat?

Here are some of the key reasons that your spa will drop in temperature while you're using it in cooler weather.

You've taken the cover off and released some heat into the atmosphere

Your spa cover is designed to insulate your spa and keep the warm air from escaping. As soon as you remove the spa cover, some heat energy will be lost off the top of your water. This is normal and you may expect to see a reduction of 1 degree or more from this.

Turning on your spa jets injects cold water from your plumbing

The plumbing system in your spa can hold up to 100L of water that is outside of the main body of water.

In colder temperatures, this water can be significantly cooler than the water in your spa shell. When you turn on your jets, you start injecting this cooler water into your spa, which brings down the overall temperature of your water.

Turning on the Venturi injects cold air into the water

Bubbles are fun, but when the ambient temperature outside is cold, the venturi and air jets are sucking in cold air and blowing that into your spa water. This contributes to your overall spa temperature dropping.

Your heater is turning off when your jets are on

In many portable spas, there is insufficient current to run the heater as well as the circulation and boost pumps. So when you turn on the jets, in some cases, the controller will automatically turn off the heater element to avoid tripping the breaker.

Your heater can't provide heat quickly enough in cold weather

If you live in an area that gets particularly cold in winter or you're having a spell of very cold weather, your heater might not be able to provide enough heat energy to keep up with the heat loss that your spa is experiencing in cold weather.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to offset these issues and maintain your spa temperature so it will keep you warm and toasty even in the colder weather.

Read on to learn how to keep your spa warmer.

How can I prevent my spa from cooling down too quickly?

There are a few things you can do to prevent your spa from cooling down too quickly.

Set a higher temperature in your spa

Say you like to soak in deliciously warm water at 38 degrees (Celcius), you may want to consider adjusting the set temperature of your spa up to 39 or 40 degrees so that when you open the cover and turn the jets on, the spa will settle down a couple of degrees to your ideal temperature of 38 degrees.

Check your cover is insulating properly

If your cover is not sealing properly or is waterlogged it will not be providing proper insulation for your spa, meaning it is harder for your spa to maintain your ideal temperature when not in use. If the spa is already running at a lower temperature it will drop even more when you hop in for the reasons we explained above.

Turn your jets off for a period of time

It is normal to experience your heater element shutting off while your jets are running in some spa models as we explained earlier. If you are noticing your water temperature dropping significantly while you're in the spa, you could consider turning your jets off for a few minutes.

This will allow the heater element to kick back in and bring the water temperature back up.

Invest in a larger heater element and upgrade your electrical circuit

Many heaters in portable spas generate around 2kW or 3kW of heat energy, which can only add about 1 degree of heat to your water per hour. If your water temperature is dropping 2-3 degrees while you're in the spa, you'll need to consider some other options.

One option is to add a larger heating system to your spa which can heat up your water much more quickly. An example of this is the SpaNet SV3-VH system which has a 5.25kW heater and also utilises 'Smart Variable Heater' technology which limits the heat output when other components in the spa are running such as the jet pumps.

You'll need an electrician to upgrade the electrical circuit that your spa is connected to so that it can supply enough power to run the bigger heater element. Upgrading your electrical circuit means that the controller doesn't need to limit the heater operation when other components are running in your spa.

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Is a spa heat pump worth it?

Is a spa heat pump worth it?

The gold standard in spa heating is a heat pump which can be up to 75% more efficient at heating the water in your spa than an electric heater element. A heat pump extracts heat from the ambient air and converts that to heat energy which is then pumped into your spa water.

A standard electric heater element uses 1kW of power to produce 1kW of power output, contrast this with the SpaNet SV heat pumps which can generate up to 5.5kW of heat energy for every 1kW of power used.

Heat pumps are an extremely powerful and efficient way of heating your spa water. You'll enjoy warmer water in your spa all year round and save money on electricity at the same time.

For a standard portable spa, a heat pump rated around 6kW is sufficient to heat the spa. For a swim spa, a 9kW heat pump is recommended.

If you have a SpaNet SV or SV mini controller in your spa (used in most Vortex and Fisher spas) you can easily connect a SpaNet heat pump to the controller so it interfaces directly with the touchpad.

Note that in very cold temperatures a heat pump is not able to extract any heat energy from the ambient air. In this situation, your electric heater element will kick in and assist with heating. With the balmy winter temperatures experienced in most of Australia, this rarely happens.

To learn more about heat pumps and how it can save you money, please click the button below.

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Should I add insulation inside my spa cabinet?

Another strategy you can use to help your spa maintain some heat is to add insulation inside the spa cabinet. Wool or fibreglass batts are the best for insulating your spa and these are commonly available from your local hardware or building supply store like Bunnings.

When you install the insulation, try and keep it up off the ground so that dampness is not absorbed into the insulation. Wet insulation is worse than no insulation as water is not a good insulator!

We don't recommend using foam insulation inside your spa cabinet as it makes maintenance a nightmare and can easily absorb water.

How do I know if my heating element is bad in my spa?

If your spa is not heating up as quickly as it used to, or if the water temperature seems to be dropping more quickly than before, it's possible that your heating element is bad.

There are a few things you can do to test whether or not your heating element is working properly:

  • Check the breaker box to see if the circuit breaker is turned on.
  • Check the spa's control panel to make sure the heating element is turned on.
  • Test the heating element with a multimeter to see if it is getting power.
  • If your spa has automatic temperature control, set it to a higher temperature and see if the water heats up.

If you find that your heating element is not working properly, you will need to replace the heater. Be sure to get one that is the correct size and wattage for your spa.

You can also contact a spa repair technician to help you troubleshoot the problem and replace the heating element if necessary.

Why does my spa cool down at night?

If your spa cools down at night, it is most likely due to the fact that the air temperature around the spa is cooler than during the day. This causes the heat from the spa water to be transferred to the air and your water temperature will reduce.

To offset this, you may want to bump your water temperature up on cooler nights so your heater maintains your water at your ideal temperature.

How do I keep my spa warm in winter?

There are a few things you can do to keep your spa warm in winter:

Use a cover

A spa cover helps to insulate the spa and prevent heat from escaping. Make sure that your cover fits snugly and is in good condition with no holes or tears.

Add insulation

You can add insulation inside the spa cabinet or around the spa to help keep heat in.

Use a heat pump

A heat pump extracts heat from the air and transfers it to the spa water. This is a very efficient way to heat your spa and can be used in conjunction with a cover and insulation for even better results.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to keep your spa warm all winter long!

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Why does my spa get cold when I turn off the circulation pump?

Your spa gets cold when you turn off the circulation/filtration because the water in your spa is no longer passing through the heater element, but is staying static.

Does a spa stay warmer longer with the cover on?

Yes, a spa will stay warmer with the cover on because it helps to insulate the spa and prevent heat from escaping.

Make sure that your cover fits snugly and is in good condition with no holes or tears. You should keep the cover on as much as possible when your spa is not in use.

If you notice that your cover is becoming heavier, that can indicate that it is absorbing water and as a result it will be loosing it's insulating properties.

If your cover is worn, ripped or water logged, it's time to replace your spa cover.

How cold can a spa get? Can my spa freeze?

If your spa is not properly insulated, the water can cool down quickly, especially in cooler weather. In extreme cases, the water can get cold enough to freeze, which can damage the spa and plumbing.

That's why it's important to use a cover and add insulation to your spa if possible. By doing this, you can help to keep the water warm and prevent damage to your spa plumbing.

If you are not planning on using your spa over the winter, you should drain it completely and ensure the plumbing is flushed out so there is no residual water in the system that could freeze. Water expands when it freezes so it could crack some of the plumbing system and expensive components in the spa.

What is the cheapest way to heat a spa or hot tub?

A heat pump is the most efficient method for heating a spa as it can generate up to 5.5kW of heating whilst drawing only 1kW of electricity. A heat pump helps keep your spa running costs down while providing a powerful heating source.

In Summary

There are a few things you can do to help your spa maintain some heat, such as adding insulation inside the spa cabinet or adding a heat pump. You can also try to keep the spa cover on as much as possible to trap in heat.

If your heating element is not working properly, you will need to replace it.

Got more questions?

Talk to us on live chat, or email us your spa questions and we'll be happy to help!

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