GFCI issues are a relatively common occurrence with hot tubs, and often can be resolved with little fuss or expense. However, because electricity and water are an extremely dangerous combination, make sure you know what you’re doing before troubleshooting any electrical problems. Unless you’re confident in your ability to address GFCI issues yourself, always consult a professional hot tub repair expert or electrician. An improperly-wired hot tub can result in electrocution or an electrical fire. Electrical work such as installing a hot tub or making adjustments to its components or wiring must be performed by a licensed electrician and must adhere to all local and national electrical codes. As a reminder, always turn off your hot tub and disconnect it from the power supply before attempting any repairs.
A GFCI—a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter—is a device used to protect your hot tub from unusual fluctuations or deviations in your power supply. Ground faults and short circuits occur when electricity takes a path the designers of the circuit didn’t intend. When a GFCI detects an anomaly in the electrical supply, such as a ground fault or a short circuit, it interrupts the circuit and cuts off all electricity to your spa. When this interruption occurs, it’s often referred to as “tripping” the GFCI.
Even if you’ve never experienced any electrical problems with your hot tub, make sure you know where your GFCI is located. While some hot tubs are designed to plug into a traditional 120-volt outlet, most will require the installation of both a GFCI circuit breaker and a dedicated electrical outlet designed to handle the increased voltage—generally 220 to 240 volts—necessary to power your spa. Most likely, you’ll find your GFCI in the control panel located close to or containing the outlet your spa or hot tub uses. To reduce the risk of the electrical supply coming in contact with water, the National Electrical Code requires that the electrical components, including the GFCI, be located a minimum of six feet away from your hot tub.
Your GFCI should have a visible reset button. These buttons are usually red and are clearly labeled “reset.” To reset your GFCI, simply press the button. This will restore the electricity supply to your spa.
When your GFCI trips, it’s an indication that something unexpected has happened with your electrical supply. This might be a one-time occurrence, which may be resolved by simply pressing the button to reset the breaker. If your GFCI repeatedly trips whenever you turn on your hot tub, it means there’s an ongoing problem that must be addressed and resolved. There are a few reasons why your GFCI might trip each time you power up your hot tub:
- There may be an issue with your GFCI. Disconnect all hot tub components from your GFCI, then reset it. If it immediately trips even though nothing is attached to it, your GFCI is most likely faulty and will need to be replaced.
- There may be an issue with one of your hot tub’s components, such as the heater, the pumps, or the entertainment system. If these components can be individually disconnected from your GFCI, disconnect them all, then reconnect and test them one at a time. If any of them cause your GFCI to trip when you turn your hot tub on, the faulty component will most likely need to be serviced or replaced.
- Your GFCI may be wired incorrectly. To isolate a faulty switch or wire, disconnect wires one at a time to each switch, then test the GFCI to see if any individual wire causes it to trip.