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How to Fix Air Lock in Your Hot Tub

It’s a beautiful day and you are ready for a glorious soak in your hot tub. You go to turn on the jets and … nothing. Or there’s only faint bubbles. What’s going on? It’s called air lock, which simply means that air is trapped in your plumbing. The good news is that it’s a breeze to fix. You can also watch our Splashy Segment on air lock and see Ashley and Emily make jokes about burping a hot tub!

What Is Air Lock?

Even the most experienced hot tub owners can encounter air lock. It usually happens after a drain and refill or when filling a new tub. Air lock is due to one common mistake – placing the garden hose in the footwell. When water rises from the bottom, pockets of air can become stuck inside.

Those bubbles prevent your pump from working properly. It won’t be able to push water through all the internal plumbing or produce enough pressure to power your jets. The result is that either the jets won’t work or they’ll feel super weak. You might even get a pump error message, depending on your model.

Don’t stress when this happens! Use these four steps to tackle air lock.

1) Be a detective

First rule out any other culprits. Be a hot tub detective and look for clues. Start by checking for clogs and leaks, which might mimic air lock.

Then examine your filters. If they are full of gunk, water won’t be passing through. Cleaning filters should be a weekly task, but hey, we’re all human. Your jets might bounce back once the filters are thoroughly cleaned.

Also confirm you have adequate water level. Your tub should be filled to above the skimmer level. If it’s below, even by just a little, the pump can’t pull enough water.

2) Burp the tub

This method is all about gently working out the air bubbles. Run the jets on low for 20 seconds, then high for 20 seconds, and alternate a few times. This should allow some big bubbles to release, and you’ll see the jets return to full force.

3) Manually release the lines

This one is a little more involved, but it’s a cool way to see the inner workings of your hot tub. Safety first – start by shutting off the power at the breaker. Then open your control panel on the jet side.

Locate the pump and then hand loosen each union. What’s a union? It’s a type of connection on the piping joints – similar to what you see under your kitchen sink. Every hot tub is just a little different, so this might be the time to pull out that owner’s manual and look at a diagram.

Loosening the unions allows air to escape from the lines. You might even hear a hissing sound. It’s also not a problem if a little water dribbles out. After a few seconds, tighten up each union. Turn back on your breaker and then test the jets.

4) Call us!

If those steps fail, we’re just a call away. A service technician would be happy to look over your tub. We can also troubleshoot over the phone.

And please don’t feel embarrassed if you want to skip straight to this step! Not everyone loves to tinker or feels comfortable with maintenance We also enjoy teaching spa owners. You can always learn alongside one of our techs so you feel more confident about how your hot tub works.

Just remember that the best way to prevent air lock is to place your garden hose inside the filter compartment every time you refill. This will allow water to seep inside all parts of the plumbing while pushing out any remaining air.

For more on hot tub care, check out these posts: