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Are Hot Tub Heaters Universal?

Without a heater, a hot tub is simply a small swimming pool. So, it’s fair to say that along with the jets, the water heater is one of the most important elements of a hot tub. Hot tub heaters should not only make your hot tub's water warm and soothing but also be reliable no matter what the temperature is outside.

We often hear the question, "are hot tub heaters universal?" from those on their quest for a replacement heater.

The simple answer to the question of “are hot tub heater universal?” is yes and no. There are a lot of different hot tub manufactures out there but only a limited amount of hot tub electronic manufactures. Because there is limited amount of electronic manufactures some of the parts become universal between brands. MasterSpaParts.com carries all Balboa replacement heaters direct from the manufacture.

So, the no part of are hot tub heaters universal is that if you don’t currently have a balboa heater in your hot tub then you most likely aren’t going to be able to put in a balboa heater. In most cases the plumbing or connection is going to be different.

The Replaceable Parts of a Hot Tub Heater

In this section, we will identify the replaceable parts of a hot tub heater, so you can better understand your heater. Knowing the specifications of your hot tub’s heater will prove beneficial, so locating your heater and the numbers on it will be useful.

  • Copper Strap — This is going to supply power from the circuit board to the heater.

  • Sensors — There are a few different styles of sensors and we will try to explain them and get you to be able to tell them apart.

    • Older style spas are going to have a sensor that mounts to the back of the heater, this sensor is a temp sensor. They are then going to have a sensor that is in the filter housing, this is going to be the flow sensor. These sensors are plugged in with the same plug, so if 1 is bad you would change them both.

    • Newer style spas are going to have 2 sensors in the top of the heater. There are 2 lengths of sensors, 12” & 24”. In some cases, the length does matter as if you get the shorter ones they aren’t going to be able to plug into the spas circuit board.

  • Pressure Switch — The pressure switch is normally screwed into the heater or a fitting very close to the heater. This is designed to make sure that there is enough pressure or flow through the heater while it is running. If the pressure or flow isn’t adequate, then it will shut down the heater.

  • Heating Element — Like in your home’s hot water heater, the heating element in your hot tub can also corrode and lose its ability to complete a circuit. Oftentimes, heating element corrosion is due to poor water chemistry or regular wear over a long period of time.

  • Heater Split Nut — The heater split nut is what attaches the heater to your pvc plumbing lines. Hand Tip: One side is normal threads and the other side is opposite threads.

  • Heater Gasket O-Ring — The heater gasket O-ring is in-between the heater split nut and the pvc plumbing.

Signs Your Hot Tub heater is Failing

    1. No Heat — There are several reasons a hot tub’s water heater may be producing no heat or little heat. Some obvious spots to troubleshoot the issue would be the electrical connection, breaker box or control panel. If you just filled your hot tub, an air lock may have formed in the plumbing, preventing adequate water flow.

    2. Tripped Breaker — If you have an electrically heater hot tub, one of the first signs your heater is going bad is that your electrical breaker will trip frequently. You can test to see if it is indeed the heater causing your circuit breaker to switch off by shutting off power to the hot tub at the breaker box, then disconnecting the wires or tabs leading from the heater to your spa circuit board. When you disconnect and restore power and the circuit breaker doesn’t trip, then you most likely need to replace your hot tub heater.

If you’ve gone through the troubleshooting procedures we’ve just outlined and found the issue is either with the heater element or another component of the heater, a replacement will be in your best interest. Master Spa Parts is here to help!

How to Find a Replacement for Your Hot Tub Heater

When a hot tub heater goes bad it is usually due to a major component failure within the assembly.

To identify that you are going to be ordering the correct heater, all balboa heaters have a v/n or s/n number located on the tag. This v/n or s/n number is normally a 5-digit number that begins with 5. This number is normally located below the bar code on the heater label.

Making Sure to Choose the Correct Heater for Your Hot Tub

When you are choosing a heater to replace your existing malfunctioning heater just make sure that the kilowatts of the heater, size of the heater and the connections are correct. Matching up that v/n or s/n number is the easiest way.

If you're ready to replace your Master Spas hot tub heater or any other hot tub part, head over to the Master Spa Parts® web shop where you'll find a number of parts at prices much lower than you'll find from your local hot tub shop.