Meet Darren Rothwell, Classic Spas' founder. Darren is responsible for creating the "like new" experience our customers enjoy and manages our hot tub restoration operation.
"I started out fixing anything someone wanted fixed and eventually realized I was pretty good at fixing hottubs and people would pay me to do it. I get calls everyday like: "Are you the guy who sells used hot tubs, my buddy said you can fix my hot tub" Yes I'm the used hot tubs guy and I can fix it."
This is Darren's Story in his own words:
It's like recycling but a little different. Just about everything in my shop was once headed to the landfill. Albeit reluctantly in many cases, for what ever reason, circumstance and time restrictions your old stuff has to go now. You hate to throw it away but, you no longer want to pay for storage or a parent passes away and you don't have room for everything, down sizing your home or moving. There are lots of reasons.I take unwanted, worn and discarded items and make them useful again. Some times it's just a simple repair and sometimes it is a complete makeover.I refinish and update solid wood furniture. Rebuild hot tubs, fix computers and electronics, restore leather, appliance repairs and more.This started out as hobby, fixing things for family and friends. It grew from there. I watched a show about upcycling and landfill diversion which piqued my interest and started me down this path. Green is the future, right?Fast forward 6 years and now I only do hot tubs. The thing I love most about what I do now is the diversity of projects I can do any given day from carpentry to chemistry.It's not just me now though, so I have one rule for everyone that works here:The minimum acceptable quality standard is as good as the original manufacturer produced it. And then I ask them to make it better…and they do.
Our hot tub restoration facility is in Thorold, ON.
The frst thing we do when renovating a hot tub is determine the condition of the shell. If it's in good shape with no cracks, everything else can be fixed. Actually the acrylic can be fixed too but it is not cost effective in many cases.
We bring it into the shop and tear it down, strip the old foam insulation and remove the critters. Mice, possum and snakes all seem to love the warm underbelly of the hot tub and they don't need much of a hole to get in. This is why we take care to make sure there are no holes for them to enter after we are done. The foam itself is inert and nothing really grows on it, so mold from water damage is rarely a problem.
After removing the foam and all the equipment, we rebuild the frame that supports the tub. If the tub has been leaking or there's ground moisture, some of the wood or metal parts will be rotted. Those parts get replaced. While this tear down takes place, we examine all of the mechanical parts, pumps, blowers, spa pack, top side controls and ozonator. The most common problems we find are seized pumps and leaking knife valves. After working on hundreds of tubs from just about every manufacturer, we now recognize and catalogue the design flaws that we see over and over again. Then we fix them. For example one manufacturer used the wrong glue to join two parts. Initially, it works but after 7 - 10 years it fails nearly every time. And we see this kind of thing all the time.
The pump is made up of two parts, the motor, which can be one or two speed and the wet end. There is a mechanical seal in the wet end that wears out and begins to leak causing the drive shaft to rust where the two meet and eventually, the pump seizes up. It is nearly impossible to get the wet end off without breaking the impeller. Once this happens, we just replace the entire wet end.
We test the electronics and replace the heater element even if it is still working, because this is the most common cause of ground fault problems in older tubs. And now we use titanium elements in nearly all upgrades. They cost 3 to 4 times as much as the traditional versions but last 10 times longer.
We replace the pressure flow switch and test all the fuses, relays and sensors. Our goal is to make this older tub better than the original. Not always, but we often succeed in meeting this goal.
After the internal structure is rebuilt, it's time for the water test. Common problems occur with the seals around the light fixture and lower drains (since we have stripped all the foam insulation, it is easy to see where a leak is). As required, we replace the seals or in some cases, the jet housings themselves and then we water test it again. At this point, we will have all the mechanical parts in working order and we test the lines under full pressure. If the hot tub has been turned off in the winter, we will sometimes see damaged hoses in the lower parts of the hot tub, which we cut out and replace.
Once the tub is structurally sound and fully functional, we address the exterior restoration. Weathered panels are sanded down and stained to a factory like finish. Missing panels are replaced and the entire exterior skirt is attached to the repaired frame structure. Once the tub has been finished, we water test one more time. With no leaks and everything working normally, we deliver it to the customer. If any problems arise in the final test, we fix them too. No tubs are shipped that are not in perfect working order. Period.
Having said that, transporting an older tub can cause things to break, come loose etc. so if there is a problem, it shows up right away. Through our experience, we have seen a lot these situations and have vastly improved how we move tubs so these things don't happen. But if it does happen, rest assured, we will fix it. It's what we do. It's who we are.