Motor Tutor


What is the motor and what is the pump?  Lingo can be confusing. Actually the "motor" only refers to the part that makes the "pump" turn. It's the electronic part of the two. Typically the motor is called a "motor" and the pump is called the "wet end" and the pump and motor together is called the pump/motor complete. Sort of obvious when you think of it.

How Important is matching the pump and motor?  Think of it like putting a small engine in a big car. It might last but not long. OR, a big engine in a small car. Wasted power. So engineers match the pump with the motor. Too often a person will think themselves cleaver putting a larger impeller on a pump and thinking they are getting more power for a cheaper price. Again, you can put a small engine in a car and pull a trailer with it thinking those guys with a truck and big engine are losers. They are not and you will be.

What is a frame? Motors are made to match with a certain design pump. Usually a pump for one frame will not match a motor of another. Some manufacturers have made pumps that match a multiple frames. There is also an aligning issue. Be careful you get a matched frame. Older White Pumps have special order motors to match that frame. J-Pumps are all the same 48 frame. J "series" after 2002 used the 48 frame early in production, changed to a 48b in 2009, and many are the 56 frame.

Why does my motor have 120v and 240v? It is common for motor manufacturer to offer a motor that is field wired for either 115v (low) or 230v(high). This means the installer can match the motor voltage to his application. Doing so usually means a costlier motor but easier motor to stock. Most motors are not this type for field wiring.

One spec says "110vac" and another "120vac". Which do I need?  Electronics are built to cover a range of voltages. Ideal in the U.S. is 120vac or 240vac. But most items are made to cover a +/- 10%. This means that 110vac-130vac or 220vac-260vac is acceptable. Most electrical providers provide close to the optimum value or 120vac/240vac.

Why does my label list 2 speeds? 1725 and 3450?  Many motors come either in 1 or 2 speeds. Low speed is 1725; high 3450. If you only need one speed, you can use either single speed or dual speed motor. If you use dual, you simply wire the HIGH speed and leave the low speed unwired.

You can also tell whether the motor is 2 speed by the cord. If you have 3 wires, black, red, and green, its a 1 speed motor. If you have 4 wires, black, red, white, and green, you have a 2 speed motor.

How long should a motor last?  That is a real good question. Usually 240vac motors last longer than 120vac motors. They run more efficiently. Often to make the hot tub readily available to the end user, some models are designed to run on 120vac or 240vac. This is a plug-in hot tub. The motor on these will typically last 3-5 years. If have seen them last less and more. But that is a good average to expect.  Even if you can upgrade the model to 240vac, the motor will stay 120vac.

Hot tubs that are ONLY operational on 240vac have longer lasting motors. The typical short life is 5 years and many get longer. Motors that are only operated when on HIGH can last the life of the hot tub. Many times the thing that causes the HIGH pump to fail is poor water quality has damaged the seal and it leaks into the winding of the motor.

What maintenance should I do on a motor?   Usually none. But watch for leaking pump/wetend. Water from the pump can easily damage your motor.

How do I separate the pump from the motor? The pump attaches to the motor in two basic areas. First, 4 long bolts go through the motor and attach to the pump and hold the complete pump to the motor. Loosen but do NOT remove bolts. They also hold the motor together. Just disengage bolts from the pump.

Next and last is the motor shaft screws into the impeller. On the "J" and "K" pumps you remove the front face of the pump. It will expose the impeller. A fan shaped part that drives the water. Now clamp a pair of vicegrips on the motor shaft between the pump and motor to immobilize it. When done, turn the impeller counterclockwise, standard thread, and the impeller should disengage off the shaft. If NOT, then they have melded together. More effort might be needed. Some cases, you have to break the impeller to remove. NEVER use a hammer; it can bend the motor shaft.

On older WHITE pumps, you can not separate the parts of the pump to do this. They are glued together. So you can try turning the gray impeller with a screwdriver but you might have to cut the pump in 1/2 to release it from the motor's threaded shaft.


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