Dear Pool and Spa Master, Maybe you can advise me what to do with a warranty issue. I purchased a very nice and expensive hot tub last year. It has a 5-year warranty. I say “warranty” with much consternation. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer will HONOR MY WARRANTY and I’m pissed. There was a leak where the pump and electric motor meet. A technician repaired the leak and said they sent the “bad” ring to the manufacturer. I got a bill for a $12 part and a $75 labor. When I protested the charge, the dealer presented a copy of a letter from the manufacturer that said the leak was my fault because of improper chemistry. How could this be? Ellen F. in New York.
Ellen, I’ve represented the same spa manufacturer that you referred to here, and I have sold truckload after truckload of their spas, as well as other brands. This leak at your pump and motor is common and it is nine-times out of ten because of incorrect water chemistry balance. To clarify, the warranty comes from the individual manufactures of the spa’s parts. For instance, your spa’s motor was built by “Acme Motors,” and the pump was built by “XYZ Pump Works,” then purchased by your spa’s manufacturer and assembled at their factory. That said, when a leak occurs at the mechanical pump seal (“bad ring”), it is usually caused by either too high or too low total alkalinity and/or pH–that means your water is either too alkaline or too acidic. When your water is too alkaline, the minerals in the water grind the pump seal down. Conversely, when your water is too acidic, the acidic water destroys the pump seal. Now, if that pump seal leaked from day one of your spa’s installation, that is a warranty issue. But when it occurs 18 months later, it reeks of consumer water mismanagement. (Regarding the labor charge, review your warranty because after a year, labor is not usually included as part of your warranty.)
Oft times the dealer will work with you because this kind of repair is easy with an inexpensive part replacement. But I’d bet that your dealer is strapped right now, and if you came in fuming and finger pointing, he/she might have decided not to cut you any slack. All of us are a tad more stressed than before: You with the unexpected charge and your dealer counting dimes to keep the business afloat. A smile and pleasant approach will get most consumers much further along with these kind of issues. What would Pool And Spa Master do as the consumer? I’d ask the dealer for a full explanation of how I could better manage my water, and maybe note that you do have friends and family that love your spa, and just maybe, that dealer will toss in something to take away the sting of an unexpected charge.