As incredible as hot tubs are, it's not surprising that their electrical systems are pretty complex. And as a result, many different things can cause your spa's breaker to trip.
Thankfully, troubleshooting these issues is pretty straightforward. This article dives into the most common causes of hot tub breaker trips—and how to prevent them.
Let's take a look at seven of the most likely reasons so you can figure out why your hot tub breaker keeps tripping.
1. Moisture in your breaker box
GFCI breakers are designed to shut off immediately when exposed to moisture to prevent dangerous short circuits. As a result, even a little bit of damp can cause your breaker to trip.
If your breaker is outside, the ambient humidity could be tripping it—especially if you live in a hot, wet climate. Not to mention any holes or corrosion in the box might let in unwanted rainwater.
To prevent those issues, double check that your disconnect box is fully sealed. Also, ensure that it's at least 5 feet away from your hot tub.
2. Your GFCI breaker needs replacing
Do you remember the last time you replaced your GFCI breaker? If not, then it might be time to get a new one.
Generally, GFCI breakers can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. Although, environmental conditions and heavy use can reduce that to as little as five years.
Once they get worn out, your breaker could start shutting off randomly. Or it might have trouble powering your spa, causing your heater or jets to stop working.
Here's how to test if your GFCI breaker needs replacement:
- Switch your breaker off.
- Unplug all appliances connected to the breaker.
- Try flipping the breaker back on.
If the breaker trips again immediately, you probably need a new one. But if the breaker doesn't trip, there might be something else going on.
3. Loose or unsecured wiring
Over time, your hot tub's electrical connections may loosen or get knocked out of place. And if that happens, your spa's breaker may begin to trip randomly.
To fix that, take some time to look at your hot tub's wiring. Start by double-checking that all of the plugs are connected snugly. If the problem persists, then search for any sagging or tangled wires.
Generally, unsecured wiring is simple to remedy with some cable management clips. A cable tray can also help if your wires keep disconnecting due to their weight.
However, your old wires might get too eroded to form a secure connection. In that case, you may need to replace entire spa parts.
For switching out electrical components, you should always call a professional electrician.
4. Broken heating element
Another common cause behind breakers randomly tripping is a faulty spa heater—especially if your hot tub is several years old.
Testing for a broken heater is similar to testing for a faulty GFCI breaker:
- Switch your breaker off.
- Unplug only your hot tub heater.
- Switch the breaker back on and turn on your tub.
If your hot tub can now run without randomly tripping the breakers, then your heater is likely the problem.
To be sure, you can repeat this test while only plugging in the water heater. If your breaker trips again the moment you turn it on, then that's your confirmation.
5. Flooded ozonator or air blower
Occasionally, water may accidentally flow back into your hot tub's ozonator or air blower. As a result, your breaker might start suddenly tripping.
The reason is that both ozonators and air blowers use what's known as a check valve. The design of these valves is supposed to keep water flowing in only one direction. So when liquid somehow comes the other way, it'll trip your disconnect box as a safety precaution.
There are a couple of ways to remedy this problem:
- First, you can try disconnecting the ozonator or air blower entirely. If there was just some rogue moisture in the devices, then letting them dry out may solve the issue.
- That being said, it's much more likely that you'll need to replace the check valve. Thankfully, these valves are usually affordable and straightforward to switch out. So if letting the ozonator and air blower dry out doesn't work, try that.
6. Corroded electrical components
Corrosion can wreak havoc on your spa's electrical system. So if your hot tub's components appear rusty, that might be why your breaker trips randomly.
The primary reason why this happens is that hot tubs produce massive amounts of steam, and are also often exposed to the elements. Over time, that moisture can get trapped in the panels and wiring within your hot tub. Because of that, rusting can occur remarkably fast.
Not to mention hot tub water contains several fairly potent chemicals. And if not kept properly balanced, they may deteriorate plastic and metal parts.
Here are some signs of corrosion to look out for:
- Rust in and around the breaker box
- Whitish powder around electrical connections
- Eroded or burnt-looking wire insulation
- Wires or parts bonded together by rust
Unfortunately, corroded parts are usually beyond fixing. As a result, you'll most likely need to replace them.
7. Faulty accessories and features
Does your hot tub have luxurious additional features, such as interior lighting or speakers? Then that might be why your breaker keeps tripping.
The easiest way to figure out which system is the problem is through the process of elimination:
- Switch your breaker off.
- Unplug all accessories connected to the breaker.
- Plug in each component alone and try switching the breaker back on.
If the breaker doesn't trip, that accessory probably isn't causing issues. But if the breaker switches off, you'll know that component is faulty.