Pool and Spa
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You are correct in your assumption about the topside control. I would have to agree that it is the topside with the intermittent action of the display. The freeze protection is built into the main circuit board and should work fine regardless of topside. All topside controls have their own tiny circuit boards encased in electrical gel on the under side of the topside. These boards like any other can fail and cause strange readouts or failure of the buttons to work. Remove and replace topside.