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Mickey11 11-15-2012 08:37 PM

Hot Tub Help
Am not an electrician and did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night. I have a Beachcomber hot tub that has given us 7 trouble free years until today. Of course no one in the state sells or services them anymore. Was out doing yard work and noticed it was dead silent. No motor running, no heater heating just dead. Checked the circuit breaker/gfi and it was tripped. Reset it and the 120v control panel on the tub had power but nothing else. 240v motors would not run nor the heater. I checked the supply power before the gfi in the panel and had 120v on both legs checking it with a meter. The output from the gfi was 120v on one leg and 20v (not a misprint) on the other. Eureka, I found the problem! Not so fast, replaced the $95 dual 50a gfi breaker and it now trips immediately when I turn it on. I am certain I wired the exact same GE breaker in the exact same way. Can't check the output voltage since it trips immediately. Hot tub manual says this can be caused by the water heater leaking current, or the gfi is worn/defective.

Is there any way to test a gfi? The original that had the bad voltage reading would semi-power the hot tub (120v only) but the press to test did not work. This new gfi trips immediately.

Thankful for any input,

Jim Port 11-15-2012 08:42 PM

Can you disconnect the heater and then test? You could also disconnect everything downstream of the GFI and see if it trips.

Mickey11 11-15-2012 08:49 PM


Thanks for your reply. I plan on troubleshooting tomorrow since it was almost dark when this happened as it usually is when something breaks. Can a gfi become worn and just turn into a regular circuit breaker? I am just surprised I could still turn on the power with the original breaker although the gfi test function did not work. The dual throw lever was hard to move and just didn't feel right. The new one is smooth, the input voltage is correct which leads me to believe something in the tub itself is not right.

Thanks again,

k_buz 11-15-2012 08:51 PM

If you already replace the GFI breaker and it is still tripping, I suspect the problem lies either in the wiring to the tub or the tub itself. Yes, GFI breakers can fail/go bad.

Stubbie 11-15-2012 11:03 PM

I have to believe you wired it wrong. You said the old gfci had no (20V) voltage on the load side on one leg but voltage on both legs line side. Explain how you wired the gfci?

Mickey11 11-16-2012 07:18 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I wired it just as the original. I am sorry I do not know all the proper terminology. Before I changed the breaker I used a meter to check each of the hot wires coming into the breaker which I guess is the line side. Each side had 120 v as measured with a meter from neutral to each hot wire. I then checked the output (load side?) from the gfci and had 120v on one side and low (20v) on the other. So I thought the old gfci was bad and replaced it with the the exact same type and wired it exactly the same.

Here is a shot of the original install, and I replaced it exactly the same. It was too dark to get a shot,of the new install.

As I said it impossible to check the output voltage on the legs since it trips immediately.

Thanks for your help and input.

Mickey11 11-17-2012 10:12 PM

Well, to recap I replaced the gfi/50a breaker and it tripped immediately. After troubleshooting, I found the heater
Element was tripping the gfi. It is failing and leaking enough current to trip the gfi. With it removed from the circuit
The rest of the hot tub (both motors and control panel) work fine. The gfi breaker has 120v at each of the line and load legs so the original gfi was most probably defective. A new element is on order and I am relieved I can get it fixed relatively cheaply.

Thanks for everyone's help


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