Hot tubs are one of the best ways to relax, recharge, and give back to yourself, but what happens if you lift the cover and are met with an off putting smell or frigid temperatures?

This isn’t something anyone wants to experience, but the reality is that at some point, every hot tub owner has faced unexpected issues.

Luckily, you can minimize many issues from arising by following a well-rounded hot tub maintenance routine. However, if you do discover unwelcoming waters, you’ll be relieved to know that many common issues can be rectified with some DIY hot tub repair!

Curious about what virtues you can troubleshoot and which ones would be best left to the professionals?

Read on to discover seven common issues you can tackle solo, and some easy steps you can take to prevent issues in the future!

Most Common Hot Tub Issues and How to Fix Them

While it may be daunting at first, diagnosing and fixing common hot tub issues can actually be fairly simple.

Sure, there are times when it’s better to call in the professionals, but for the more basic issues, you can work towards solving them yourself if you’re up for the challenge!

1. Cloudy Water

One of the more common issues hot tub owners experience at one time or another is cloudy, or murky water.

This is a surefire sign that something isn’t quite right with your water chemistry, and that your water isn’t safe to be soaking in.

How to Diagnose

Cloudy water is generally caused by one of two things:

  • Unbalanced chemistry
  • Poor circulation

To find the culprit, you’ll need to take two steps; testing your water and checking your filters. When testing your water, you’ll want to pay close attention to your pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels.

Cloudy water often stems from too little sanitizer, or higher than normal alkalinity and pH levels.

Alternatively, if your water isn’t circulating properly, your water can go stagnant, not only becoming the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, but also reducing the distribution of your treatment products.


So, how do you fix it?

If you’ve tested your water and discovered your levels aren’t where they should be, you’ll want to add your treatment products according to the directions on their bottles.

For reference, your pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8, and your alkalinity should stay between 80 and 120 ppm.

If you’re using chlorine as your sanitizer, you’ll want to ensure it’s between 1 to 3 ppm, or if you use bromine, you’ll need to maintain a sanitizer level between 3 and 5 ppm.

If your filters looked dirty when you inspected them, give them a quick rinse with the hose to wash away any grime buildup.

However, if they look particularly clogged, use a filter cleaner and allow them to soak for 15 minutes before rinsing them off and returning them to your spa.

2. A Foamy Surface

Another common issue, especially for first-time owners, is foam beginning to form in the water.

Oftentimes, you may not notice your water is foamy until you turn on the jets, and suddenly, suds begin dancing along the surface of your water!

Most times, foam is caused by an excess amount of organic matter in your water, such as oils and dead skin cells.

This matter enters your water each time you soak, and commonly comes from things like body lotions, perfumes, cosmetics, and detergents lingering on your skin and bathing suit.

How to Diagnose

Discovering the cause of your foamy water is often as simple as quickly testing your water.

You’ll want to get an accurate reading on the following levels:

  • pH
  • Alkalinity
  • Sanitizer
  • Calcium hardness

Once you know your current water chemistry, you can work to resolve the problem.


First and foremost, if your water chemistry is off, you can add the necessary treatment products to bring everything back into balance.

You may also want to consider adding a dose of oxidizing shock to your water as well. Your sanitizer isn’t able to combat oils effectively, but an oxidizer is designed to do just that!

This is one of the main reasons we recommend including it in your weekly routine.

However, this is the perfect time to ask yourself when the last time you drained your hot tub was.

If it’s been more than a couple of months, your best option is to drain and clean your spa.

While organic matter can result in foam, so can the level of total dissolved solids (TDS), and there’s no way to combat that than by starting fresh.

3. Foul Smelling Water

Another issue often stemming from improperly balanced water, a strong chlorine smell or general funky aroma will quickly put you off stepping into the water.

How to Diagnose

Diagnosing this is as simple as following the steps listed above for cloudy water.

Begin by testing your water chemistry, followed by inspecting your filters.


After testing your water, treat it as needed to bring your pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer back into the expected range, and give your filters a quick rinse.

If that doesn’t clear up the smell, your best bet will be to flush the lines, drain and clean your spa, and start fresh.

4. Weak Water Flow

This issue isn’t one that will get noticed upon lifting your cover, but it’s sure to put a damper on your relaxation plans when you turn on your jets or waterfall, only to discover weak pressure.

This is more often than not caused by an issue with your circulation, which can be the result of a few different issues, such as clogged filters or low water levels.

How to Diagnose

To find the root cause, you’ll want to do two things:

  • Check your water levels
  • Inspect your filters


If your water is a bit low, simply top it up with your garden hose before testing and retreating it with your chemicals.

After bringing your water levels back up, remove your filters from your spa and give them a good clean by rinsing them off with your garden hose.

If they have a heavy layer of grime build-up, soak them in a diluted filter cleaner overnight.

5. Cold Water

One of the most appealing aspects of a hot tub is its soothing warmth as you step into the clear water and feel your muscles relax.

Unfortunately, there may come a time when your water is not as warm as you’d been expecting or is completely cold.

Not only will this have you quickly reevaluating your evening plans, but it will also take some work to diagnose the issue and may result in a call to your dealership.

How to Diagnose

Before picking up your phone to call in the professionals, there are two things you can do:

  • Check your filters to ensure they aren’t clogged
  • Inspect your heater for damage, such as corrosion or scale build-up


Clogged filters can restrict the proper flow of water through your system, resulting in water not being effectively heated.

However, if you don’t have any other signs of clogged filters, or your filters look clean when you pull them out, it’s far more likely you have an issue with your heater.

Unfortunately, when an issue arises with your heater, your best bet is to have a technician come out and diagnose the issue and make the repair.

The last thing you want to do is make a repair only to accidentally void your warranty or end up with a larger, most costly repair because of it.

6. Error Codes

Your control panel is a great way to learn about your system’s basic functioning, and it’ll quickly begin displaying error codes when something is amiss.

How to Diagnose

This is easily one of the easiest issues to diagnose, because it’s as simple as grabbing your user manual, checking one online, and finding out what the code means.


Along with the meaning of each code, you’ll also discover a list of “next steps” the manufacturer recommends.

When error codes arise, more often than not, you’ll need to call your dealer and schedule a technician to come inspect your spa.

While you wait, it’s crucial you not use your hot tub. Error codes should be taken seriously, and the directions in your user manual should be followed closely.

7. A Noisy Pump

Lastly, you may notice your pump making some abnormal sounds over time.

This can take two forms:

  • A deep growling noise
  • A higher-pitched squealing sound

How to Diagnose

If your pump is growling, it’s a surefire sign it’s not getting enough water. To verify this is the issue, check your water levels.

However, if it’s making a squealing sound, it could be that the bearings are too dry or worn down.


If your water level is too low, simply top it up, and the growling noise should subside.

For a squealing pump, add some lubricant to the bearings so they can move more easily, or replace them if they look worn down.

Essential Preventative Maintenance Tips

Curious how you can avoid these issues over the years?

Luckily, there are some simple ways you can reduce the risk of them developing, keeping your water reliably clean and clear and your system running smoothly.

  • Don’t neglect routine hot tub maintenance
  • Minimize oils by showering before jumping in your spa
  • Keep your filters clean
  • Complete routine inspections (to catch potential issues early)
  • Monitor your water evaporation
  • Include professional service

Though some issues may still occur even with the best of care, by following these steps, you can reduce the frequency at which you face common water problems and hot tub repairs altogether.

Hot Tub Repairs in Appleton, WI

If you’re struggling to diagnose one of the issues above, or need an experienced team of professionals to help take the pressure off your hot tub maintenance, the experts at Fox Valley Pool and Spa are here to help!

With a robust range of services, from hot tub repairs to water changes, and routine maintenance, our team can keep your spa in prime condition, ensuring every soak can be an enjoyable one!

Contact us today, or request a service appointment online.