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Hot Tub Plumbing Fittings and PVC Spa Repair Parts

Hot tub sprung a leak?

The first step is to power down the spa and open the side panel(s) to see where the leak is coming from.  There are many possible locations including the spa pump(s), unions that connect the pump or heater to the main plumbing, or it could be a leaky jet, suction fitting or manifold.

PVC parts and glue may be needed to fix the leak.  Common hot tub PVC plastic parts include elbows, tees, reducers, hose or pipe and unions.  See our PVC fittings section for these items.


Variety of hot tub plumbing parts explained in this video.

PVC Manifolds - Water Splitters

hot tub plumbing manifoldsManifolds split the water from the pump line (usually 2" hose or pipe) and send the water to other manifolds or to jets.

A PVC manifold is used to send water from the larger hose or pipe to several smaller hoses that usually connect to jets.  The ports on the manifold should each be either connected to a hose, or should have a plug in it. There are 2 port, 4 port, 8 port and other manifold configurations that go to 1 1/2", 2" or even 2 1/2" flex hose, pipe or other connectors.

Most hot tub manufacturers use a manifold plumbing system in order to assure even pressure at every jet on that pump line.  Basically the water manifold is a water splitter and the air manifold is an air splitter.  If you have a leaky or cracked manifold, such as one that froze over the winter, it will need to be replaced with a new PVC manifold.

A spa that is left empty in the freezing winter may have a cracked manifold or two.  Those can usually be found easily because water comes gushing out of them as soon as the hot tub is refilled after the season.  This is why it is important to properly winterize the spa or just leaving it full over the winter, even if the temperature is turned down. Leaving the hot tub filled over the cold winter months also allows the freeze protect systems in the controls to work. 

Hot Tub Plumbing Parts

Hot tub plumbing is made up of hose or pipe that connects the pump to the spa jets along with PVC fittings. 

To create even pressure at a group of jets, water manifolds are used that take the main input from the pump and divide the water stream evenly to various jets and jet groups.  This style of manifold plumbing assures even delivery of water pressure to all jets instead of using the old-style in-line plumbing method that goes from jet to jet, where the last jet in the line is the weakest. 

hose clamps spasPlumbing manifolds come in all different configurations as noted above.

The main ports connect up to the source of the water and the smaller ports deliver the water to the jet lines. Sometimes the plumbing is glued into place and other times it also has hose clamps depending on the spa manufacturer.  For example Clearwater Spas uses hose clamps while QCA Spas uses PVC cement or glue.

jets galoreJet bodies receive the water from the manifolds and deliver it through the jet insert into the seating area of the spa.  Jet inserts can be interchangeable regarding pattern (rotating, non-rotating, multi-nozzle, dual rotation...) and color (stainless steel, gray, white, black..). Jet inserts cannot usually be interchanged between jet body manufacturers, so if replacing a CMP jet, source the right CMP jet. If replacing a Balboa jet or Waterway jet, get the right parts in the particular brand section on our website.

See all Spa Jets and jet bodies here and search in the particular brand of jet you need.

1inch flex hose spasFlex Hose and Pipe

Flex hose comes in a variety of sizes.  The hose is referred to by inner diameter measurement. So the 1/2 inch Flex hose or PVC pipe means the inner diameter of the hose or pipe is 1/2 inch.

Actual width of the hose depends on the thickness of the hose material and is usually standardized in hot tub plumbing fittings to fit inside 1/2 inch slip connectors or over 1/2 inch barb connectors.

Flex hose is available in 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1.5", 2", 2 1/2" and even 3" inner diameter sizes.

See our flex hose and pipe section for any of these flex hose types and more.

hot tub plumbing diagram

Slice Valves

gatevalve spaThe plumbing system in Emerald Spas and other spas uses the push/pull type valves or slice valves.  These valves are used when needing to perform service such as replacing a pump, without having to drain the spa.   Most of the time when doing a major repair though, it is best to just drain the spa and start out with fresh water.

Each pump in the spa would have a valve on either side of the pump.  On single pump systems there are two of these T-Valves or slice valves on either side of the spa pack and heater. On two pump systems, there is another set of service valves on either side of Pump 2.

The T-Valves are also called slice valves and can be locked into place (either in unlocked/up position or locked/down position) with a security clip.  These valves should always be in the fully open position when the spa is in use to avoid flow problems.

Be sure the valves are fully open when the spa is in use.

See our selection of slice valves or gate valves.

PVC Plumbing Demystified -
How to Identify PVC parts in a long train of glued together PVC sections and hose

One little leak or a cracked manifold can spoil the party for all the neighboring PVC parts that may be glued together to form a long section or train.   To reassembly a complete PVC section, take a step back, get out a pen or pencil and paper and start by identifying each piece that makes up the section until you build a complete list.

1) Getting the main line plumbing size right - Everything starts with knowing the right nominal PVC Plumbing Size
In a PVC assembly where manifolds are mixed with other PVC parts and pipe/hose, first identify the main line HOSE SIZE.
The hose size is the INNER DIAMETER of the flex hose or pipe. Typically for water plumbing sections, that is either 1",1 1/2" or 2" on main plumbing lines and 1/2" or 3/4" on secondary flex hose plumbing lines that lead to jets.
Sometimes there may be a stamp on the large flex hose or pipe that actually reveals what the plumbing size is, and other times there may be a gate valve or other PVC plumbing part that has the plumbing size or at least a part number stamped on it for easy identification.   If you only have the outer diameter to measure, then typically PVC flex hose is:

  • 2.875 OD relates to a 2 1/2 inch ID hose or pipe
  • 2.375" OD relates to a 2 inch ID flex hose or pipe - most popular main line plumbing size for pumps
  • 1.900" OD relates to a 1 1/2 inch ID flex hose or pipe - most popular main line plumbing size for pumps
  • 1.315" OD relates to a 1 inch ID flex hose or pipe - popular on 24 hour circ pump lines
  • 1.050" OD relates to a 3/4" ID flex hose or pipe - most popular secondary plumbing size for jets
  • 0.840" OD relates to a 1/2" ID flex hose or pipe - most popular secondary plumbing size for jets
  • 0.674" OD relates to a 3/8" ID flex hose or pipe
  • 0.540  OD relates to a 1/4" ID flex hose or pipe

These outer diameter measurements may vary depending on wall thickness of the flex hose or pipe, but if all you have is an outer diameter measurement, this table should get you into the correct "PVC Speak" terminology to then easily source the PVC parts needed.

Once you have determined your main line plumbing size, then identify the secondary, smaller plumbing lines that go to the jets or other manifolds. These are usually either 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch for water hoses that go to the jets in a hot tub.

2) Identify the secondary nominal PVC Plumbing Size
Look for any stamping on the hose or PVC parts in the secondary line or measure inner diameter of hose (usually either 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch inner diameter flex hose) or use chart above if you only know the outer diameter of the hose.

manifold train
Manifold Train glued together in hot tub plumbing - looks like a lot of slip/spigot manifolds

3) Identify the Manifolds
Count the number or ports for each manifold needed.  Also count any unused ports as you will need plugs for those when buying a new manifold just as they are plugged up on the existing manifold that does not use all of the available ports.  Of course if you find a part number on the manifold, that is the fast track to finding a replacement manifold. Just enter the part number into search box at Hot Tub Outpost (in quotes) to find the part. 

4)  Narrow down the Manifolds - Slip or Spigot
Now that you know the main plumbing size and secondary plumbing size and have a port count for each manifold needed, the last piece of the puzzle is to look at each end of the manifold to see if you need a SLIP (s) or SPIGOT (spg) connection on either end. This depends on the neighboring part. Does the neighboring part need to fit inside a slip port of the manifold you are identifying or over the spigot port of the manifold?  If a neighboring part is a main line flex hose, you will need a SLIP port on that end. If the neighboring part is a SPIGOT part from another manifold or PVC part (like elbow, service valve...), then you will also need a SLIP port to accommodate the spigot of another PVC part.  If the neighboring part is a SLIP connection on another PVC part like the back of a slip pump union, slip heater tailpiece, slip port on a service valve, slip port of an elbow or slip port of another manifold, then you will want a SPIGOT port on the manifold you are identifying.    
Above seems like a long and thorough way of saying:  HOSE fits into SLIP , SPIGOT fits into SLIP. 
Slip does not fit with another Slip (unless you put a section of pipe in between them where the pipe acts as a spigot).

5)  Identify Remaining Parts in the PVC section
You may need to go back in an existing section to find something to cut - such as a visible hose as a place to begin the repair. Then identify all the parts going forward until either another hose or a union or heater tailpiece, or other location that can be spliced into.
Slip couplers can be used to extend PVC lines - especially to lengthen 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch lines that go from a manifold to jets.
(The 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch flex hose fits into either end of a 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch slip coupling to extend the line)

Other parts in the train may include:

Barb are ports where hose fits over them and slip  are ports that accept the flex hose inside of them.

Find everything you need for PVC plumbing repairs in the Plumbing Shoppe.

Fixing PVC Plumbing in a Hot Tub

When gluing PVC fittings and parts together, it is first important to dry-fit them to assure they will all fit in the right place. Then apply glue in a circular motion around and around both joints to be connected. This also builds up heat and allows the two parts to bond better.  Use a fast drying PVC glue ideal for hot tub use.

Some hot tub techs like using a primer first to assure a better bond. This is a good practice, but many times just gluing 2 brand new, dry joints is also adequate when using a good PVC glue such as Christy's Blue Glue. Never hurts to prime and it does pre-treat the connection for a sure fit.

Once the PVC glue has cured (usually best to leave it for 24 hours or so even if dry in 5-10 minutes as is the case with the fast drying  type of glue - see glue directions on the label of the can), then refill the spa and check the connection as well as for any other leaks. 

As long as the spa is not of the fully foamed type, getting at and repairing leaks is a straightforward process most of the time. 

Get your hot tub plumbing parts online at the Hot Tub Outpost.

Air and water valves help route the water flow or slow it down.