Hot Tub Runs for 5 Minutes Then Trips Breaker: How To Fix It

If you have a hot tub, you know how it can be one of the best ways to relax. Sometimes, your hot tub runs for 5 or 10 minutes, and then it trips the breaker. Situations like these can be an annoyance that leaves you wondering what is wrong with your tub.

Reasons Your Hot Tub Is Tripping the Breaker

The most likely causes of your hot tub issues include:

  • Worn out GFCI breaker
  • Water in the breaker box
  • Corrosion
  • Loose or Damaged wiring
  • Heating element malfunction
  • Flooding of the ozonator or blower

This guide will discuss these possible causes and how to resolve them.

Why Does My Hot Tub Trip the Breaker?

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is an electrical safety device that protects you from electric shock. GFCIs are required by law in any area where water is present. It can cause a ground fault, meaning electricity is flowing through the earth instead of through your body.

Even if there is only a 4- or 5-milliamp disparity between the currents entering and leaving the circuit, the GFCI will “detect” the imbalance and trip. The GFCI has a short reaction time, often less than a tenth of a second, and will trip or turn off the circuit if it detects an unsafe condition.

Your hot tub’s GFCI breaker is in a metal box, generally connected to your home’s side, and conveniently located near your spa. This switch, made of black plastic, will immediately close if it detects an electrical current.

When a circuit breaker is flipped, it interrupts the flow of electricity. This is a safety measure that prevents fires and other electrical hazards. If you flip on a light switch, for example, and nothing happens, then perhaps, the GFCI breaker has been tripped.

Worn Hot Tub GFCI Breaker

The most likely explanation for your hot tub’s sudden breaker tripping is that the breaker is broken. Breakers may need replacing for several reasons. These include age, electrical fluctuations, and even storm damage. Luckily, testing for a malfunctioning breaker is a simple process.

Flip the switch on the breaker that keeps tripping. If it immediately trips again, you probably need to replace the breaker.

To isolate the breaker as the problem, unplug the hot tub from the GFCI. Flip the switch on the breaker. If it trips again, even with nothing plugged into the GFCI trying to draw power, the breaker is the issue. So, you will need to replace it.

Water in the Breaker Box

The smallest amount of moisture is enough to trip the GFCI breaker. This moisture could come from rain or water from the hot tub itself. Use a flashlight if you need to when looking for any moisture or condensation inside the breaker box.

Before resetting the breaker, remove any water from the box. Wipe down any surfaces that have been exposed. A dehumidifier or fan may also help once the area has been towel dried.

Once the breaker has been reset, plug in your hot tub and see if it stays on. If it stays on after you’ve addressed the moisture issue, you will need to look elsewhere for the problem.

Corrosion

Corrosion can also cause a GFCI to trip. This is especially common if you live in a humid climate or use the hot tub often throughout the year. Corrosion might mean there is a leak within your spa that needs fixing.

Check for corrosion within the electrical panel and inside the hot tub cabinet. Corrosion sometimes manifests as a white powder surrounding part connections. Inspect the control panel and wires thoroughly.

Try an electrical contact cleaner or a wire brush to remove the corrosion and reconnect the components. If the rust is bad enough, you may have to replace the wiring or contact a professional to do it for you.

Loose or Damaged Wiring

While looking for corrosion, check for cracks or black burn marks. These can mean loose or damaged wiring signs.

Loose connections can cause short circuits and overheat, leading to a fire. Check the hot tub’s ground wire for damage or signs of corrosion and all other electrical connections.

Electrical Problems

Many hot tubs have simple controls and heaters. Your hot tub may include other electrical features. These can be lights, a sound system, or other amenities. They increase the odds of an electrical malfunction.

These features are complicated for a hot tub owner to isolate and test on their own, so it might be best to have a professional investigate further.

Heating Element Malfunction

The heating element is a possible culprit in a spa’s malfunction. A metal tube with a heating coil inside serves as your spa’s heater component. The housing is used to heat the water in the hot tub. Water won’t get warm if the coil isn’t heated. The breaker for the hot tub will trip if the element is not working well.

If a heating element malfunctions, three problems can occur. The lousy heating element may not work, overheat and catch on fire, or short circuit.

Defective Heater

Disconnect it from the breaker to check if you have a defective heating element. When you turn on the breaker, the GFCI should trip. If it doesn’t, the heating element may need replacing.

Dry Fire

Dry fire can occur if the hot tub’s heating element becomes too hot without proper water flowing through it to dissipate the heat. When the heater housing is melted and warped, it indicates something has gone wrong with the heating element.

A high-limit switch or other safety component has failed, so also check the thermostat is working as it should.

To repair a dry-fire situation, you must first replace the heating element and then address what caused it to ignite in the first place. Clogged pipes or water chemistry may also be the underlying cause of low water flow through the heater.

Short Circuit

Test for a short by first disconnecting the power to the heater. After removing it from the assembly, test the terminals using a multimeter

A very low reading indicates a bad element. But so does a high one. If the reading is normal, you should test for a short to ground. In either case, the heating element needs to be replaced.

Flooding the Ozonator or Blower

If water floods your blower or ozonator, then it’s likely one of these in your hot tub is tripping the breaker. Either the check valve or overfilling can cause water to leak back into these devices.

Test which device is causing the problem by disconnecting one or the other. Then flip the breaker to see if it clicks off.

If you let out some water from the tub if it is overfilled, this will prevent flooding. You may need to replace the check valve if it has stopped working correctly. If the blower is wet, replacing it is cheaper than repairing it yourself.

Conclusion

Having your hot tub trip a breaker is a typical issue, but the reasons aren’t always obvious. You might be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to solve the problem after pinpointing it. Depending on your electrical knowledge, you may need to call the pros for a few fixes.

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