Minor Heater Repairs and Major Headaches

by Sean Griffin, May 7, 2009

 pool heater repair

Many pool-owners hold their breath as they start up the pool heater for the first time, crossing their fingers awaiting the “whoosh” sound of the gas valve opening and the burner tray catching flame. Pool heaters can certainly be the most temperamental piece of pool equipment, and many minor pool heater repairs can become major pool heater headaches!
The same piece of equipment that let you enjoy your pool into the cold months of last year's swim season has become stubborn over the winter. Some gentle coaxing can help ease the beast out of it's winter slumber. Here's some quick tips on easy repairs that can be the medicine you need to get back on track.
          Pool Heater won’t fire up? Try walking through these quick and easy steps!
-If you have a heater that uses a gas source, natural gas or propane gas, double check the gas line. Follow the gas source all the way. Often times there are more than one shut off valve that was closed when the pool was winterized. Pool heaters also have an internal gas valve that needs to be open. Double check to make sure you have the appropriate propane pressure required to operate your filter.
-Pilot tubing can become bent out of shape and can prevent you from lighting a pilot. Double check the pilot positioning and make sure there is no obstruction in the tubing or at the pilot orifice. Allow a reasonalbe amount of time to allow gas to work its way through valve to pilot. (30-90 seconds) A few taps on the gas valve and the pilot tubing may help to free up sticky internal parts or small clogs in the pilot orifice.
-A pool heater not in use over the winter can become a critter hotel. Animals that can take up residence in your heater tend to bring in nesting material that can lead to problems. I recommend cleaning debris out of the pool heater before starting for first time. Another maintenance cleaning includes cleaning debris off of the heat exchanger which typically can be accessed by removing vent hood. While cleaning out your heater visually inspect wiring. Critters are known for sharpening their teeth by chewing through loose wiring.
-Loose and rusty wiring can be an easy fix. Taking a wire brush and cleaning rust and corrosion off of the ends of the wires can be a quick resolution. Sometimes the problem is right under your nose. Double check all connections within the pool heater. Wiring issues seem to account for at least half of our pool heater repair calls.   
-The best way to ensure the longevity of your pool equipment is proper maintenance and care. To prevent exposing your heater to the elements you can take a few preventative steps. Heater covers are available for newer model heaters. A custom cover can be retrofitted for older models. To keep critters out you can use “Mouse away”, an herbal cocktail designed to keep mice out of heaters.
-Even attempting minor troubleshooting and minor repairs can be hazardous. When attempting any maintenance and/or repair refer to your pool heater owner's manual. Gas build up within the heater can cause roll-out when ignited. Keep clear of heater when igniting - especially for the first time.  Replacing pool heater parts can be simple, but remember ~ never bypass any safety feature.