Mild water loss in hot tubs is normal. Regular hot tubs deal with natural evaporation, which forces you to add a slight bit of water on occasion to keep your hot tub full.
However, if you’re losing more than one inch of water each week, you likely have a hot tub leak. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent and treat hot tub leaks to keep your hot tub in optimal condition.
Come dive in with us as we explore the how, why, and what in our hot tub water loss troubleshooting guide.
Hot Tub Losing Water Troubleshooting
Why Is My Hot Tub Losing Water?
If your hot tub is losing significant water (more than two inches) and you have a leak, there are a few main reasons why that probably is, including:
- Plumbing leak
- Leaky jet
- Cracked hot tub shell
Most of the time, if you’re losing a few inches of water each week, you’re dealing with a plumbing leak and a bad seal is likely the culprit. First, start by examining your check valve. If it looks fine, it is most likely corrosion on your pump seal causing the problem. Likewise, the pump seal is the most logical starting point if you notice a puddle below your pump.
A pump that is more than ten years old should probably be replaced. However, if you have a hot tub that is relatively new, you might only need to replace the seal.
A few other components in your hot tub use seals, including your pressure switches, gate valves, and heaters.
As you go through your pump inspection, look at the union connections, elbows, tees, and connections to see if anything is loose. Most of these pump connectors use PVC, which is why you should NEVER use a wrench to tighten a loose connection. It is essential to get a unique pair of PVC pliers, which you can pick up at pretty much any hardware store.
Of course, it could be challenging to detect a pipe leak if your spa is completely drained, so keep water in it before doing any detective work.
If your hot tub is leaking quickly when you have the pump running, you likely have an issue on the side providing pressure. On the other hand, if the hot tub is leaking slower when you have the power on, you’re probably dealing with a suction leak.
If all of your pump connections and pipes are tight and don’t have leaks, you can move on and check your jets.
Nozzles and jets use fittings exclusive from the rest of the hot tub. So if you notice the water level going down while you’re filling your hot tub, check each jet to see if you can find a leak.
If the same amount of water is leaking out of your hot tub’s shell each time, it is likely a jet problem.
Crack In The Shell
One of the most apparent leak sources is a shell crack, though depending on the design of your hot tub or the position it is in, you may not have noticed a crack in the shell.
If you’re dealing with a hairline crack, you may have to run your fingers softly around the shell to try and feel for any subtle differences.
Some cracks can be brushed off as minor cosmetic flaws. However, these cosmetic flaws do have the potential to continue growing over time and become serious leak problems if not addressed. Most new hot tubs use acrylic shells, which aren’t prone to cracking, though it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Hot Tubs Losing Water Due To Evaporation
A hot tub will typically lose around one inch of water each week when it comes to evaporation.
However, there are scenarios in which hot tubs lose more water, including:
- You frequently leave your hot tub uncovered
- You consistently set it to its highest temperature setting
- You use it daily
The humidity and temperature in your region can play a significant role in how much water your hot tub loses to evaporation. For example, if you live in an arid climate, you will lose more water than someone in a humid climate who has all other variables similar to yours.
If multiple people are using the hot tub each week, leaving the lid off all the time, taking water with them as they get out of the hot tub with their swimsuits soaked, or splashing water around, you will lose a greater amount of water.
Hot Tub Losing Water In Winter
Hot tubs evaporate year-round. However, when the weather is cold, and the temperature of your hot tub water is significantly warmer than the air outside the hot tub, the water will evaporate faster.
Many regions deal with dry winters, which can speed up the evaporation rate as well. As a result, it’s not uncommon to lose twice as much water during the winter than in the summer.
We talk a bit about the importance of winterizing your spa during the winter in our “Hot Tubs in The Snow” article.
How To Find A Leak In My Hot Tub
If you suspect your hot tub has a leak, you can check for pooling water inside the cabinetry by removing the hot tub’s panels. If the amount of water in your hot tub drops by 2″ in a single week, you most likely have a leak.
While there are many places within a hot tub where leaks can occur, there are a few primary culprits you’ll want to check first:
- Where lines run underneath the hot tub
- Where the jets fit into the hull of the hot tub
- Around the heater (especially where the pump connects)
Some of these areas are easier to get to than others. For example, you may have a hot tub with thick insulation on the inside surrounding the jets. It is a good idea to check any open spaces before removing insulation.
Begin by removing a single hot tub panel. Some hot tubs have panels that pop right off, while others require screwdrivers or drills to remove. Once you’ve removed a single panel, look for water pooling on the ground or dripping from the equipment.
In some cases, a seal or fixture might have come loose. Also, due to constant heat, the various union fittings in your hot tub can expand and contract. At some point, these parts might just need to be replaced.
Most often, people find leaks between the heater and the pump coming from the union fittings. If you realize it is your union fittings leaking, remove them and check to see if the gaskets are worn. You can typically fix any small leaks with a leak-fixing hot tub product. We have a Hot Tub Leak Sealer Reviews article that highlights the best products on the market.
Our guide on How To Find A Leak In A Hot Tub offers additional information for those who believe a leak is causing their hot tub water loss.
Should I Add Water To My Leaky Hot Tub?
Absolutely! If you never add water to your hot tub, at one point, the water level will almost completely disappear!
It’s a good idea to add water to your hot tub every one to two weeks. You can simply place your garden hose in your hot tub and fill it with water until you get to the desired level. See How To Fill A Hot Tub for a step-by-step approach.
Once you’re done filling it, test your chemicals and adjust if necessary. Eventually, you should empty the water out of your hot tub, clean it, and refill it.
You can learn more about this process in our Hot Tub Maintenance guide.
Still Can’t Find Your Leak?
If you’ve checked the pipes, connections, fittings, seals, and valves yet still can’t seem to find the leak, you can use leak-detection dye as a guide (food coloring can work as well). Simply add it to the water in your hot tub and wait for it to appear around a pipe, fitting, or seal.
We hope that we’ve been able to answer all of your questions regarding finding leaks in hot tubs.
From normal evaporation, to pesky broken seals, to burnt-out equipment, there are a multitude of reasons why your hot tub might be losing water. In some cases, you will have to replace your hot tub equipment or replace your hot tub entirely.
However, the majority of fixes turn out to be pretty easy and require little to no spending.
If you suspect that your hot tub has a leak, follow the steps above to diagnose and fix it.