8 Common Reasons Your Hot Tub is Tripping the Breaker

If your hot tub has suddenly quit working, it is likely a sign that the circuit breaker tripped. Tripping the breaker is a common issue with hot tubs and, fortunately, quite easy to solve. If you’re unsure what to look for when identifying a tripped breaker, have no worries! Today, we’ll explain the 8 common reasons your hot tub is tripping the breaker and how to solve it.

Common reasons for a hot tub to trip the breaker include the following list:

  • Worn GFCI breaker
  • Moisture exposure
  • Damaged/loose wiring
  • Corrosion
  • Short circuit
  • Malfunctioning element
  • Flooded Ozonator or blower
  • Electrical component issue

If you want to learn how to solve these issues, read on! Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about why your hot tub is tripping the breaker and how to fix it.

1. Worn GFCI Breaker

One of the most common reasons for a hot tub breaker to trip is that it is simply worn out. Old age, power surges, and a lightning strike are just a few reasons why your ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breaker is tripping.

To identify a worn GFCI breaker, flip the switch off and on. If it does not turn on immediately after shutting off, it could be a rusty or defective switch. You may consider using an electric meter to test any power coming to the circuit breaker. If there is no current being transferred from the switch when turned on, the breaker likely needs replacing.

One final option for identifying a worn GFCI breaker is disconnecting everything from it. If the breaker continues to trip even with the hot tub and all other connections disconnected, the breaker is damaged. In this case, the best option is to replace it.

2. Moisture Exposure to the Hot Tub Breaker

Another reason a hot tub breaker may be tripping is because of moisture in the breaker box. Because water cannot be present across the circuit, any moisture on the live or neutral connections will cause the breaker to trip.

Eventually, the moisture inside the breaker box will cause damage to the electrical components. As a result, the electrical components will rust, causing it to arc and ultimately trip the breaker. The best way to prevent excessive moisture from damaging the hot tub breaker is to check that the box is well sealed. It is especially important to have a rubber seal on the holes used for the cable.

For hot tub control boxes with moisture trapped inside, take a towel and dry the inside of the breaker box. From here, turn on a fan or dehumidifier near the breaker box. Once the control box is dry, reset the breaker. If this fails to solve the issue, it may be a sign that there is a problem in the circuit or that the breaker needs replacing.

If the breaker is encountering water and moisture often, you may need to replace the receptacle. Additionally, you may want to move the hot tub farther from the breaker to ensure hot tub water isn’t exposing moisture to the circuit.

3. Damaged or Loose Wiring

In some cases, hot tub breakers may trip because there is loose or damaged wiring. A wiring short, burnt wires and loose connectors are common reasons the breaker may be tripping. To identify loose or damaged wiring, look inside the breaker box and spa cabinet for any breaks or worn areas of the component wiring. Additionally, make sure all connections are secure.

Burnt Wires

As you examine your breaker box and spa cabinet, it’s important to look for any melted insulation or blackened spots on the wiring. Because burnt wiring can quickly create a fire, burnt wiring should be fixed as soon as possible.

If the wiring is old, there is likely a chance it has burnt spots or melted rubber coating surrounding the wire. In addition, hot components and component fires can destroy the wiring, leading to burnt wires. To identify burnt wires, you will need to shine a flashlight inside the breaker box and spa cabinet. Carefully examine the breaker box and cabinet for any damaged wiring.

If you notice any blackened spots, it’s important to replace the damaged wiring. Furthermore, you’ll want to identify what caused the wiring to become hot in the first place. Once you’ve identified the issue, you may repair the damaged area, or hire a professional to do it for you.

Wiring Short

A common reason for a breaker to trip is that there is a surge of power. This power surge is often caused by two wires touching each other when they’re not supposed to. It can also occur when a hot wire touches a ground wire. In addition to tripping the hot tub breaker, a wiring short may eventually start a fire.

There are a number of reasons a wiring short may occur. Perhaps you’ve recently moved your hot tub, or maybe you’ve done maintenance to the spa cabinet. Pests can also cause damage to the wiring of the hot tub breaker.

To find the offending wires, disconnect all hot tub components while flipping the breaker each time you plug them back in. When the breaker trips, you will have found the issue. Begin inspecting the wiring of the component for any damage. In some cases, the wire may simply be loose, which caused the two wires to touch. The solution for such a case is fairly easy. Either you or an electrician may reconnect it and reset the hot tub breaker.

Oftentimes, two wires may be touching because the wires are damaged. Chewed wires by pests is a common issue with hot tub breakers. If this is the case, you will likely need to replace the wires and connectors.

Loose Connections

When a hot tub breaker begins tripping, it may be a sign of loose connectors. Wiring connectors may become loose if you’ve moved or repaired the hot tub, or if the wiring is old. Even if the wires are barely loose, the electrical circuit may be interrupted, causing the breaker to trip.

Fortunately, fixing loose connections is an easy process. You will likely need to use a screwdriver to tighten the screws that keep the wires in place. In some cases, it may simply be the plastic plug-style connectors that are out of place. To fix them, firmly push the connectors until they are tight.

If the wires are old, you may find damaged connectors or even burnt wiring. If there is any damage to the wires, they will need replacing right away to prevent further damage.

4. Hot Tub Corrosion

If your hot tub is tripping the breaker, it may be because the hot tub’s components are corroded. Corrosion is a common issue with hot tubs that, without proper attention, may affect the water chemistry and create issues with the breaker box.

You may notice corrosion near the hot tub GFCI, as well as around the hot tub’s components. To find the area corroded, you’ll need to inspect the inside of the spa cabinet and breaker box. Generally, corrosion can easily be identified by its whitish powder or rusty appearance. Most likely, corrosion will occur around component connectors. This may include wire connectors, ground wires, the control panel, and any other wiring of the hot tub’s components.

To repair the corrosion, you will need to use a wire brush or electrical contact cleaner to clean the corroded connectors. Afterward, you will simply reconnect the wiring. If the corrosion is extensive, you may need to replace the wiring. Additionally, if a leak caused the corrosion, you will need to repair the leak inside the hot tub.

5. Short Circuit

Because breakers are designed to trip in the event of a short circuit, short circuits are a common reason for hot tubs to trip the breaker. Short circuits may occur anywhere electrical parts are wet or wiring is loose. Thus, it is important to keep the wiring dry and connectors tight.

If the hot tub’s control system becomes wet, it will likely cause a short circuit to occur. Always make sure the control system, as well as the breaker box, is completely dry and properly sealed. If there is any moisture inside, use a towel and fan to dry it.

Another reason for a short circuit to occur is that the connections are loose. Tightening wires can easily be done by using a screwdriver to tighten the connections. If the connections use plastic plug-style connectors, push them until they are firmly in place.

As previously mentioned, always replace a faulty wire or any connections that appear damaged. If unsure which components are causing the short circuit, unplug them and one by one plug them back in. When the breaker trips, examine the component until you find the damaged area.

6. Malfunctioning Heating Element

In order for hot tub water to become hot, the water must pass through the assembly housing and into the element coil. This coil generates heat, consequently making the water hot. When this heating element malfunctions, it will cause the breaker to trip.

You may notice the heating coil malfunctioning if the hot tub water isn’t heating up. However, the best way to determine a bad heating element is to carefully examine the element and find the cause for the breaker tripping.

Bad Heating Element

To identify a bad heating element, disconnect the heater from the breaker and flip the switch. If the hot tub GFCI doesn’t trip when the heater is disconnected, it means the heating element needs replacing.

Dry Fire

If the heating element is overheating and lacking a proper water flow, it may cause a dry fire. When a dry fire occurs, the coil’s housing will appear melted or burnt. In addition, the heating element may show signs of damage.

If a dry fire occurs, you will need to replace the element, as well as the housing if it appears damaged. Moreover, you will need to identify the cause of the dry fire and make necessary repairs to prevent it from occurring again. Dry fires may be caused by a low water flow due to clogs, circulation issues in the hot tub, and deposits due to poor water chemistry. Dry fires may also be caused by a faulty high limit switch, thermostat, or other fail-safe components.

Heating Element Short

When the hot tub is causing the breaker to trip, it may be caused by a heating element short. To identify the issue, disconnect all power to the heating element. Carefully remove it from the assembly housing and use a multimeter to test the resistance between the two terminals. If it has extremely low or high readings, you likely have a bad heating element. If the reading is normal, you may need to test for a short to ground. Similar to the element, this type of issue will also require replacing.

7. Flooded Ozonator Or Air Blower

If water is flowing back into the air blower or Ozonator, it is likely the reason why your hot tub is tripping the breaker. Solving this issue is a simple process that requires disconnecting the air blower or Ozonator from the breaker and flipping the switch.

Oftentimes, the Ozonator or air blower may become flooded when the check valve is damaged or the hot tub is overfilled. To prevent this flooding from occurring, you may need to replace the check valve. If the air blower is damaged from the water, you may need to replace it as well. Additionally, always keep your hot tub at the proper level. If it is overfilled, you may need to drain the water to preventing flooding in the Ozonator or blower.

8. Electrical Component Issue

Every hot tub is equipped with some type of electrical component. Unfortunately, these components can present issues to the hot tub if they malfunction, leading to tripping of the breaker.

To find the component causing the issues, unplug all components from the breaker. From here, plug each component back into the breaker until you find the component that makes the breaker trip.

Once you find the malfunctioning component, you will need to identify the issue. Electrical components may malfunction due to overheating, bad wiring, or damage to the component. To ensure you find the correct solution for the problem, it may be best to hire a professional to fix the electrical component issue.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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