How to Tell if Your Hot Tub Heater Element is Bad

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Bad heater element

If your breaker is tripping or your hot tub isn’t heating, you may have a bad heater element. We’ll walk you through the steps to determine if the cause of your problem is the heater assembly, heater element or another hot tub component.

CAUTION: Electrical repairs are dangerous.

Before getting started, it’s important to shut off all power to the hot tub at the service panel.

Tripped Breaker

To test if a bad heater is causing your tripped breaker, you can disconnect the copper tabs (or wires) from the spa pack to the heater element.

Disconnect power to the heater

Once disconnected, turn the power back on. If the breaker stays on, you’ve determined that the heater is bad. Find a replacement heater element.

Hot Tub is Not Heating

If your breaker is not tripping but your hot tub still isn’t heating, testing voltage to the heater using a multi-meter will help determine the cause.

Testing voltage

240V Spas

With the spa on, test both of the leads on the element at the same time. If the meter is reading 240v, the element is the problem. If the meter is reading zero, the problem is with the circuit board.

120V Spas

With the spa on, test both of the leads on the element at the same time. If the meter is reading 120v, the element is the problem. If the meter is reading zero, the problem is with the circuit board.

Alternate Testing Method

Another way to test for a bad heater would be an OHMs test, which checks the resistance of the element. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off all power to the hot tub
  2. Disconnect the copper tabs (or wires) going to the heater element.
  3. Set the multi-meter to the OHM setting
  4. Test both leads on the heater element

If the multi-meter shows 9-14 OHMs, the element is likely not bad. If the meter shows open, or reads nothing, the element is bad.

Replacing a Bad Heater Element

Once you’ve determined that the heater element is bad, you now need to decide if you need to replace just the element, or the whole heater assembly.

If the heater assembly is more than a few years old, it is best practice to replace the whole heater. Over time, corrosion and scale can deteriorate the heater assembly.

Need help finding a replacement heater or heater element? Email us a photo.

38 comments

  1. Need a new motor for a drem maker spa water way is what’s in there now how do I know which one to pick

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  2. Hello,
    We have a Marquis Everyday Spa that was already here when we purchased the house.
    In trying to get it to work, I tested power at the 50 amp GFCI breaker and found that the breaker was getting 240V from the service panel but not from spa side of the breaker.
    I replaced the breaker and it still does not supply power on the spa side of the breaker, nor does the breaker trip properly when pressing the “Test” button on the breaker.
    Is there anything with the spa that could cause this such as a bad heater element, missing filters, or some sort of reset button in the spa, etc?
    Thanks for your assistance.
    Roger

    Like

  3. Hi Roger,
    GFCI breakers can be tricky to install, even for experienced electricians. The symptoms you describe lead me to believe there may be an issue with the wiring of your breaker. We do have a handy guide that covers GFCI breakers, found here:
    http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/wiring-hot-tub-spa.htm
    We would be happy to look over your wiring to ensure it is correct. Please send us a clear photo of the inside of your GFCI panel to help@spadepot.com, and our technicians will assist you.
    Thanks,
    Brian
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  4. What if you have 120V to ground on one leg of the copper straps that connect to the heater and only 25V on the other? Also, if you connect them, they trip the breaker. I’ve checked input voltage and I have 240V across and 120V from each leg to ground. Bad board?

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  5. Hi Benjamin,
    You could have a circuit board that needs to be replaced, though rather than measuring from either terminal to ground, you should measure voltage across both terminals. I suspect you’ll find you have zero voltage.
    In this instance, before you replace the entire circuit board, I’d replace the heater element with our BX5000. Carefully evacuate the air from your plumbing before powering up. Now, once you have a good element in there, and the tub calls for heat, you should get 240V across both element terminals.
    Thanks,
    Brian
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  6. I have a Balboa Control System, model MAS560, with M7 heater. It’s a 240 volt system. With power on and the control panel showing the heater on, I get zero volts across the heater terminals. Either terminal to ground measures 120 volts. It sounds like this is a mother board problem. Any way to test the relays? I cannot find a pinout for them.

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  7. Hi Mike,
    If you’re getting correct voltage to the board, and no error codes to on the topside display, you should be getting service voltage across the element terminals. Lack of voltage across the terminals would indicate a bad circuit board. In that case, you’d replace the whole circuit board. Balboa, manufacturer of your board, does not, and will not release any engineering diagrams of their boards to simply replace components on the board, so board replacement is the only option.
    Please give us a call if you would like to speak with one of our hot tub technicians.
    (800) 823 3638 M-F 6am-5pm
    Thanks,
    Brian
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  8. I followed your test above and I am confused I removed the copper tabs and breaker stays on. I then tested the OHM’s on the heater and it read 3. I then tested voltage on both the tabs and heater posts and got 0. I am confused because of the low ohm reading and the fact that the circuit breaker stays on after disconnecting tabs. If I reconnect the tabs the breaker trips.

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  9. Hi Andy,
    Thanks for your comment. In order to help you best, I would suggest that you give our technical team a call. They will be able to walk you through testing your heater element.
    (800) 823 3638 M-F 6am-5pm Pacific
    Thanks,
    Bonni
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  10. Hi Mike,
    Good heater elements will have a resistance value of between 9Ω and 16Ω, and no continuity to ground. If your heater meets those criteria, it’s likely good. If you have continuity to ground, it’s definitely bad.
    If you need further assistance determining why your spa is not heating, please feel free to give our technical department a call.
    (800) 823-3638 M-F 6am-5pm Pacific
    Thanks,
    Bonni
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  11. Hi I have Balboa 2000 AMT10 Pack 5.5kw heating element not heating that test good for continuity and doesn’t trip GFI but I onlt get 50V AC across the element terminals s/b 250v. If it is a bad mother board what should I look for to indicate this problem. Any help much appreciated

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  12. Hi Pau,

    You could look for any burned spots on the front or back of the board, but really, if you’re only getting 50V to the heater and you’re not getting any error codes on your topside controller, a replacement circuit board is in order.

    Thanks,
    Brian
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  13. I tested my heater 240V, balboa M7, 5.5kw, 15″ and get 11.2ohms. When a touch the thermocouple to 1 copper tab, the power stays on, when I touch the other, the gfi trips. When I unscrew the nut to that thermocouple I notice water. Is it possible the thermocouple is bad or do I just need to replace oring and silicone the threads reinstall?

    Like

  14. Hi Gina,

    It would be a good idea to test for a short to ground on your heater element. Touch one of your meter probes to one of the copper jumper straps, and the other probe to the heater body. You should find no continuity. If you do have continuity, the element must be replaced. Please contact our technical department at 800-823-3638 with your findings and we’ll be happy to help you correct the issue.

    Thanks,
    Brian,
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  15. I have a 240v Balboa M7 52531 heater and spa unit. The hotub was continually heating until it shut itself down. The heating cycle on the topside panel was on a intermittent cycle. I drained the tub. Now that I have refilled the tub It will not heat and it throws a dr or dy code. These are flow issues codes. I did all the checks for these codes ie. filter, pump clog, and or air lock . I did do the lead element test of yours and it showed 0. This means my circuit board is bad? Although I also did an Ohms test and it seemed good. My question is it the circuit board, heating element or heating sensors or top side panel that needs replaced? Any help would be great!
    Thanks Kevin

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  16. Hi Kevin,
    As long as the pump turns on and actually moves water, there is a good chance the problem is with the sensors. Turn the hot tub power off, and unplug the sensors and plug them back in about 8-10 times. This will clean off the connection, and will sometimes be all you need to do to take care of the problem. If that doesn’t work, you’ll want to replace the sensors. If replacing the sensors doesn’t work, I’m afraid the problem is in the circuit board, and you’ll need to replace it. I hope this helps, and please let us know if you have any other questions!
    Thanks again,
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  17. I am trying to determine why my tub is not heating – its an OLD tub, all mechanical, no circuit boards (Aqua Spa Pak 2000). I am getting 240V across the heating element terminals so I know I have power to the element. My amp reading at the element wires is about 16A which is a bit lower than I have been seeing on websites but not low enough to be a problem (i think?). I have removed the filter to make sure its not a pressure issue and the thermostat (potentiometer) does click when I turn it off. I am stumped – any thoughts?

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  18. Hi David,
    Based on the heater element getting 240V, the heater element is bad and needs to be replaced. I’m not sure why you’re reading 16 amps when testing the element, but based on the element getting 240V and your hot tub not getting hot, the element needs to be replaced.
    Thanks for checking with us!
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  19. I have a Balboa HS200 board and a Balboa 4Kw heater. Everything on spa is working except for the heater. I did the Ohm test on my heater and got 15 Ohms. If I put my multimeter on both of the heater terminals, I get nothing. If I connect each of the heater terminals to the neutral wire (white), I get 120V. From all the info above this sounds like a bad terminal. Do you think that’s correct? Everything else on the board looks fine but I cannot see the back of it unless I take everything apart.

    Thanks,
    Michael

    Like

  20. Hi Michael,
    Thank you for checking with us! I’m afraid that as long as there is no error code on your display, if you test 120V on each terminal individually and you get zero when testing between the two, the heater relay on your board is bad and your board needs to be replaced. Hope this helps.
    Thanks again,
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  21. Hi Craig,
    No. The topside control panel simply sends signals, it has no hardware or software to influence the heater. The only way it could influence whether your tub heated or not, is if the temp up and down buttons didn’t work, and you could not adjust the temperature.
    Thanks for checking with us!
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  22. Howdy! Great site, very helpful. Gonna try shopping with you because our local shop isn’t very friendly. Our Arctic Yukon is just over 8 years old. About a month ago FLC showed up but everything kept working. We turned it down from 104 while on vacation and now it’s extremely slow to heat up. Two days, it’s up from 77 to 99 degrees. Everything seems to work fine BUT when I cycle the power it displays alternating 314 and 1 then eventually FLC. I’m going to see if I can adjust the valve to clear the FLC. I am wondering if this heating element is just getting old. I’ll get some pictures when I have it open. Thanks!

    Like

  23. UPDATE: Cleared the FLC msg with a new pressure switch. Old heater has continuity and resistance that matches a new one. Still get the 314/1 on start up but no other errors. The element looks like new to me although there was a fair amount of crud on the old pressure switch.

    Like

  24. Hi Shannon,
    Thanks for checking with us! The topside displaying 314 and 1 could have to do with the actual plug in to the circuit board. Find where the topside plugs into the board and unplug it, inspect the plug and pins on the board, then plug it back it. You can also unplug and plug it back in a few times to clean off any possible corrosion or dirt. Doing this should get rid of any unusual readings on the display. Hope this helps and thanks again!
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  25. I have a Spacrest Series 1 2 person hot tub. I replaced the 50A GFCI but its still tripping when I turn it on. I’m assuming its my heating element since I had this issue before. Is there a way to run my pumps without the heating element so that I can still circulate the water?

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  26. Hi Bob,
    Yes. With the power to your hot tub off, remove the wires going to the heater element and wrap them up with electrical tape. When you turn the power back on, the pumps should run without tripping the breaker. I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any other questions.
    Thanks,
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  27. I have a old Marquis Spa (Euphoria) with a Balboa MTS2KU box (circuit board) connected to a Balboa 58010 Heating element. One of the jumper CABLES (wire) is fried. It looks like most spas use jumper STRAPS (solid piece of copper) but I can’t find one that says it matches the parts listed above. It would seem like straight straps would be preferable to cables that may have crimped. Is there a generic balboa STRAP that would fit? It looks like a Balboa 30039 might do the trick. I believe it is a 2004 spa. Thanks!

    Like

  28. Hi Charles,
    Thank you for checking with us! The heater cables were designed to replace the copper straps, considering the amount of failures seen from the copper straps. We highly recommend getting the cables. You can find them on our website using item number BX9608. I hope this helps and please let us know if you have any other questions!
    Thanks again,
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  29. My Hot tub has two pumps, the cord connections i have come see are JJ mini type and are color coded and lighted. the Hot tub tripped the breaker, the breaker cannot be reset with the cord In place that goes to the 2 speed motor. if i take that cord out, the hot tub comes on and does not trip the breaker. The cord to the 2 speed pump is clear and looks like it has a burned section right in the middle.
    i tested the other fuses in the control panel and they are all fine. The pump was installed 6 mos ago and new.

    do you think the cord has gone bad and alls well besides that or has the pump failed in some way?I have not other signs of wear except for the cord thing, everything looks brand new. everything was fine up to the tripped switch, no weird noises or warnings or anything like that. the heater element is good at 11 Ohms.

    Like

  30. Hello,
    I am wondering what could cause the power cord, going to the main 2 speed motor, in a two motor hot tub, to have a burn mark in the end. The connections, i have come to find, are JJ mini, the cord is a 4 pin 4 wire for th 2 speed and has the molded clear male end that is lit. the hot tub tripped the breaker and when I take this wire out ( of course the two speed will not operate this way, I can turn the breaker back on and it will not trip. This one cord plugged in will trip that switch immediately however. the motor is pretty much brand new, it was purchased and installed about 6 months ago. I didn’t remove it yet though to inspect it, it does look perfect still as it sits. we never had any warning signs, no weird noises or anything like that. We got in it last night and then today went to get in and it was off. still warm but with no power. it had been running quietly and working great up to that point since the new motor had been installed. The one speed in the system is still good to go. nice and quite and works well, its original. there is no corrosion past the slinger or anything like that. also i took an ohm reading of 11 Ohms across the heat element.

    Thanks for any tips or advice.

    Like

  31. Hi,
    Thanks for checking with us. Burn marks on pump cords or connections on the circuit board are usually cause by either a dirty connection, or a partial or loose connection. Either corrosion builds up, or pins can get loose. Based on your description, you may be able to replace both the plug and receptacle and take care of the problem. That being said, even though you have a new pump the pump could still be causing the problem. I recommend replacing the pump cord and receptacle and seeing if that alone takes care of the problem. If replacing the receptacle and cord does not take care of the problem, it’s likely the pump. Contact the company you bought the pump from, as it should be under warranty since you’ve only had it 6 months.
    I hope this helps, and please let us know if you have any other questions!
    Thanks,
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  32. Hi, my GFI just started tripping on my 16yr old hot tub. When I disconnect the heater the breaker stays on and the pump runs and the control panel lights up. I also testted the resistance between the terminals on the heater, I found 14.6 ohms. I was expecting a short or an open. Still the heater?

    Like

  33. Hi Don,

    Most likely, you need a new element. First, try testing for a short to ground. On the meter’s highest ohm range setting, measure between one terminal and the exterior of the element. Any ohms reading indicates a short, and bad element.

    https://www.spadepot.com/Spa-Heater-Elements-C201

    Here’s a more in depth article on heater issues:

    https://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/spa-heater-element.htm

    If you are still having issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us at help@SpaDepot.com.

    Thanks,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

  34. I have a 2002 spa with air controls and a Hydroquip control box. When I bought the spa in 2014, it was a 120 volt unit (heater, motor, blower). It worked fine, including heater. I wanted to speed the heating up, so I purchased a Hydroquip 240 v heater/120 volt motor/blower control panel. Everything seems to work as before except the heater, which will not come on. I find 240 volts at the element. I temporarily jumped the pressure swtich but the heater did not come on. I sent the control box back to Hydroquip for testing but they found the heater operated as expected. I reinstalled the box with no success. I’ve looked for possible clogs in the system, dirty filters, leaks. If there are any, I’m missing them. This is a four-person tub. Is it possible that it’s not large enough to build adequate water pressure to activate the heater (although bypassing the pressure switch would let the heater switch on). I’m stumped. Before I search for someone to come out and look at it (which will be a challenge, given where I live), what am I missing? Thanks so much!

    Like

  35. Hi Floyd,

    There are a couple of things to consider when dealing with a no heat situation. As you’d noted, the pressure switch plays an important role in completing the circuit to activate the heater. The problem is simply jumping the switch will often cause a different fault in the system, so it’s not a reliable method for testing.

    As far as the pressure switch is concerned, you’ll want to ensure the switch is open when the pump is not running, and closed when the pump is running. Simply disconnect the wires to the switch and use your ohmmeter on the switch to confirm this.

    If you can confirm the pressure switch is functioning correctly, you’ll want to test for voltage across the heater element terminals. It’s important to put one meter lead on one element terminal, and the other lead on the other element terminal.

    If the pressure switch is functioning correctly and the pump is running, you should find 240V.

    Since the tub isn’t heating, it’s likely that one of these two items isn’t functioning correctly. Please perform the tests and contact our technical department at 800-823-3638, 6am-5pm Pacific, Monday through Friday with the results. If you’re more comfortable, please phone our technical department when you’re ready to test and we’ll walk you through it.

    Thanks,
    Brian
    SpaDepot.com

    Like

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