Hot Tubs and Cyclic Surge Fatigue
The flexible PVC pipe in your hot tub eventually becomes stiff and brittle
Every time you turn on a jet pump a sudden, powerful burst of high-pressure, high-velocity water surges through all the complex pipes and plumbing hidden deep inside your hot tub.
In residential water systems like the rigid water pipes hidden inside the walls of your home a sudden surge or the sudden cutoff of a surge is called 'water hammer'.
If you hear a banging or rattling noise when your dishwasher or laundry machine starts and stops filling you should get it fixed immediately because water hammer can eventually burst even rigid copper pipe.
(Coming soon: Hot tub surge video)
Like the walls of your home, your portable hot tub has a lot of hidden pipes and plumbing inside the cabinet but water surge in your hot tub is unavoidable which is one of several reasons why modern hot tubs are built with flexible PVC pipe.
The flexible pipe can curve and bend to fit into the complex plumbing and confined space inside your hot tub cabinet and it can also expand and stretch to absorb the stess created by powerful hot tub jet pumps.
Every time you turn on the jets, that sudden surge of water forces every inch of flexible pipe to expand in diameter and stretch in length. When you turn off the jets every inch of pipe immediately relaxes and contracts.
This repetitive cycle of expansion and contraction stresses all the plumbing in your hot tub and causes accelerated aging that mechanical engineers refer to as "cyclic fatige" or "surge fatigue".
Surge fatigue stresses the structure of the plastic pipe at a microscopic level and eventually makes all the flexible pipe in your hot tub stiff and brittle.
Surge fatigue and stiff, brittle plumbing limits the maximum useful lifespan of most portable hot tubs to 15 or 20 years.
Stiff and brittle pipe in your hot tub eventually cracks and leaks
Once all the flexible pipe in your hot tub becomes stiff and brittle it's only a matter of time before a pipe cracks and leaks.
If your hot tub springs a leak due to stiff and brittle pipe the first leak can sometimes be repaired but all the pipe in your hot tub is in the same condition so it's just a matter of time before you have more cracks and more leaks.
If the pipe in your hot tub is too stiff and brittle, repair may not be feasible. Any repair attempt in the complex plumbing of a portable hot tub will unavoidably disturb nearby pipes so attempting to fix one leak in old, fatigued plumbing can inadvertently create new leaks.
Replacing all the stiff and brittle pipe in your hot tub is not practical or economically feasible
Your hot tub might be bigger and more expensive than other appliances in your home but it was built on an assembly line like every other mass produced item and it has a similar useful lifespan.
Nobody even considers rebuilding, restoring or refurbishing a worn out dishwasher or laundry machine after decades of use so an old, worn out hot tub with stiff, brittle pipes should be no different. Don't forget your hot tub is just a big appliance.
Portable hot tubs are built on an assembly line up-side-down so workers can install all the complex pipe and plumbing systems. After the frame and cabinet are installed, all the pipes and plumbing are usually covered with spray-foam insulation which makes replacing all the pipes in a portable hot tub impossible.
Replacing all the complex pipe and plumbing inside a modern portable hot tub is not practical or economically feasible. Once all the flexible plumbing in your hot tub becomes stiff and brittle and starts leaking, it's time to pull the plug and get rid of it.
Don't shovel piles of money into a tired, old hot tub with stiff and brittle plumbing!
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