Vortex Spa Error Codes ER-3 and ER-4

SpaNet KeypadSpa control keypads help us control the functions of our spas and swim spas. We give them little notice as we go about our day to day relaxation...until we receive the dreaded error message.

"Don't panic. Stay calm and spa on. Most common error messages can be quickly resolved.''

There are a large number of spa controllers on the market and so it is impossible to discuss all of those here so we will focus specifically on SpaNet SV controllers common on Vortex spas and swim spas.
Error messages ER-3 and ER-4 are the most common.
These errors are most commonly seen at start up or when you empty and refill your spa.

ER-3 is the water prime error

Problem: Water prime failed – air detected in heater tube.

Cause: Airlock in pipe work, low water level, dirty filter cartridges.

Press Pump A button to retry water prime
Check spa water level (refill if necessary)
Remove filter cartridges and press Pump A button to retry prime
Remove filter cartridges and flush water down pipe work with a hose
Bleed airlock from pipe work by slightly loosening couplings on front of filtration.
The restriction of water flow due to dirty filter cartridges is the most common cause of the ER-3 fault in spas and swims spas. If the spa pool has been operating normally then intermittent ER-3 faults start to occur the filter cartridges will require servicing.

Depending on the type of filter that is installed the cartridges will either require a filter cartridge cleaning and soaking in a  a filter cartridge cleaning solution or the filter will need replacing all together.
Do not allow the spa filtration pump to continue to run after five (5) x failed priming attempts. Operating a spa or swim pump without water for extended periods may cause damage to the pump. Turns power off, wait ten (10) minutes and then try again later. The in-heater water sensor constantly monitors the presence of water in the heater tube. If at any time air bubbles are detected the spa controller will automatically cancel all current operations and force a water priming sequence to begin. This will occur whether the spa is in automatic mode or manual use. If the priming sequence is successful in clearing the air pockets from the plumbing normal spa operation will resume in automatic mode. If unsuccessful the spa controller will shut down and latch on fault code ER-3 Water Prime

ER-4 is the thermal trip:

Problem: Heater thermal trip activated. Heater has been active and has had insufficient water flow over the element. Low or no water flow has caused the heater temperature to exceed its maximum limits and the spa control has shut down operation to prevent any damage to the heater unit.

Cause: Low water level, airlock in pipe work, closed shut-off valves, dirty filter cartridges, filtration pump failed or operation intermittent.

Turn mains power OFF and wait 10-15 minutes for element to cool and thermal cut-out device to reset. Then turn power back ON
Check spa water level (refill if necessary)
Remove filters and clean as per manufacturer’s recommendations or replace cartridges if required.
Check under spa cabinet to ensure all shut-off valves are in the OPEN position.
Bleed airlock from spa pipe work by slightly loosening couplings on front of filtration pump or by removing filters and flushing water down pipe work with a hose.

Click here to download the SpaNet SV controller troubleshooting guide for more error code solutions.

Click here to download the SpaNet SX controller troubleshooting guide for more error code solutions.

Tips on filling your spa to avoid ER-3 and ER-4

Before filling remove spa skirt and be sure that all valves in the plumbing 
system are fully open to maximise the amount of air that can escape the pipe 
work during filling.

Remove spa filter cartridges before filling and be sure to fill the spa through the 
filter itself to flood the pipe work with water and minimise the chance of air 
pockets forming in the plumbing during the filling process. 

DO NOT fill spa by placing hose in the foot well. Filling a spa this way will create 
a large number of air pockets in the pipe work and may cause difficulty when 
priming. Always fill spa through the filter area. 

Once the spa is filled to the correct level attempt to power up the spa with the 
spa filter cartridges still removed. Verify that the spa controller completes its 
priming sequence and begins normal operation. Once normal operation has 
been verified turn mains power off, re-install filter cartridge(s) and restart spa.
If you have questions about your spa controller, let us know by commenting below.