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Swimming Pool Heaters

Pool heaters can run $0-$300 a month to operate depending on how warm you like your pool, the cost of gas & electricity, how often it is rained or been high winds, average daily temperatures, and type and size of a pool heater.

Electric Pool Heater

Electric Pool Heat Pumps cost about $2500-$3500 to buy, and installation will run you about $500-$1000.  The cost to operate your electric pool heat pump will be $100-$200 a month.

Solar Pool Heater

Solar Heating works on the same principle as your garden hose laying out on the lawn in the sun.  While the solar heater is free to operate, it can cost you up to $2000 to purchase and another $500-$1000 to install.

Gas Pool Heater

Gas Pool Heaters can cost upwards of $2500.  Installation is between $500-$1500. The cost to run a gas pool heater is $200-$400 per month depending on the time of year and a variety of other factors.

Installation of Pool Heaters

Solar Pool Heaters can be installed easily in a day by two people.  The process involves mounting solar panels on a rack or roof, attaching the plumbing from the pool equipment to roof and back again.  Of course, you will need to mount a solar controller and sensors as well. Purchase your plumbing supplies, pipe connectors, and fittings separately.

Installing electric heat pumps involves placing the unit on a slab or pad and putting plumbing in to run the water to and from the pool.  You will need to have a 40-50-amp breaker, needs to be bonded, connected to the pool with a bonding wire.

Gas Pool Heaters allow water to pass through the heater and into the filter and back to the pool.  Simply place the gas heater two to five feet from your filter and connect them as per your user manual.

Troubleshooting Pool Heater Problems

Below you will find some common pool heater problems and, in some cases, advice on how to fix those issues.

Low Water Flow

  • Check to see if the filter is dirty.
  • Look at your skimmer or pump to see if the basket is full of debris.
  • Check to see if the water level is too low.
  • Is the bobber or weir flap stuck on the skimmer?
  • Are the wire connections or pressure switch broken?
  • If the pump is running but not moving the water, you will need to look at getting your pump repaired.

No Pilot on Pool Heater

When the pilot has disappeared on your gas pool heater, check the following:

  • Is the pilot orifice blocked?
  • The pilot is partially blocked. This leads to a tiny flame, and so it is inadequate to heat the thermocouple and make the right amount of voltage to keep the value on
  • Your thermocouple is broke
  • Is the gas valve stuck or broken?
  • If you have been backwashing your filter into the equipment, you may have debris built up on the bottom of the heater or the metal box of the heater.  This could corrode the heater box itself and possibly the whole burner tray, including your pilot assembly.
  • Do you have the gas turned on?
  • It is possible that your brand of gas pool heater does not have a constant pilot light.  Be sure to check your user manual.

Pool Heater Turns On & Off Constantly

If your gas pool heater is cycling too often, there are several reasons why this could be happening.

  • Your water level is too low.
  • You have rusted headers on your heater. Rust falling from the headers creates a good deal of noise.
  • There could be a flow control issue.  Very like how cars have radiator thermostats which allow water to flow from the heat exchanger as it is heated.  If this is broke, then your heater will cycle often.
  • Your heat exchanger could be covered in debris or soot causing the safety heat sensors to trip and turn off the heater.
  • There are heaters with a flame sensor, and it may become coated with the gas by-products causing it to take longer to heat, so the heater will fire up repeatedly or, in the case of a metal rod flame sensor, you can scrape the by-products off with a knife, file or sandpaper.
  • Check to see if you have chewed wires, animal nests, dead bodies, etc. which are causing the issue.  Animals and insects are drawn to the warmth and often make their homes around, on top of, or inside pool heaters.  Make sure yours is properly enclosed and use pest repellents as necessary.

Pool Heater Takes Long to Heat / Has A Strong Odor

  • If you have a pool/spa combination that you are trying to heat up, the spa valves might be in the wrong position or having gaskets leaking which allow cold water from the pool to enter the spa.  This could add to the time it takes to heat it.
  • Your pump is pumping water too fast through the heat exchange.  If you have recently had a new higher flow pump installed, you may want to install a by-pass valve.
  • Dirty or clogged orifices and burners can cause a strong odor and will burn the eyes and cause soot to build up on the heat exchanger causing issues with how long it takes to warm your pool.
  • Check to see if your orifices on multiple burners are blocked.

Pool Heater will not Turn On

  • The filter may need cleaning.
  • Make sure the thermostat is correct.
  • If your filter is dry, your pressure may be low, and your heater may be turned off.
  • Check to see if the shut-off value is open on a gas heater.
  • If electric, make sure connections are tight, and there is no corrosion at terminals
  • Check the transformer by attaching a voltmeter lead to a terminal on your transformer. Touch the other lead to another terminal.  If it reads between 20-28 volts, then your transformer is fine. If lower than that, there is a problem with the voltage supply or transformer.
  • Keep your lead from the voltmeter in contact with a common terminal on the transformer or the ground.  Check the circuits connected to the heater.  Check the high limit switch, safety fuse, and pressure switch. If there is no voltage in these, then you will need to replace them.

Pool Heater Makes Loud Noise

  • Check your hoses and filters for debris or blockages.
  • Back-flush your filter.
  • Check to see if your pressure switch is working.
  • For all other noises, contact a professional for assistance.

Pool Heater Pilot Needs Relighting

  • Check for water runoff.
  • Check to see if you need a high wind stack due to the placement of the heater.
  • Your pilot generator or thermocouple could be weak or faulty.  Rusty or loose connections to the gas valve or loose coil connections could be your issue.
  • It is also possible there is a short in the wires.

Pool Heater will not Heat Up Enough

  • Check your thermostat.
  • Confirm your heater is the right capacity for your pool size.
  • The high limit switch could be broken and give false signals to your heater that your water is the desired temperature.
  • It could be that it is just too cold outside to reach your desired pool temperature. If this is the case, you will need to wait for warmer weather.

Pool Heater Is Leaking

  • If it is freezing outside, condensation will build up on the heater when it is heating. This could be your 'leak.'
  • If the heater is leaking only when the burner is lit, it could be the result of excessive water flow or broken internal bypass.  You may need to install a bypass to reduce the water flow into the heater.
  • Check your connections and gaskets first to see if this less costly problem is what you are dealing with.  If that checks out, then you should look to your heat exchanger.
  • Over time the heat exchanger can be damaged by the chemicals you use in your pool.  Freezing temperatures can also damage your heat exchanger.  Either way, you may need to replace your heater's heat exchanger.

Dark Exhaust Coming Out of Pool Heater or Top is Black

  • Check your gas pressure. Is there proper venting and adequate air supply?
  • Downdrafts of wind can cause this issue.  You may need to build a high wind stack to stop this issue.

Clicking Noise but Pool Heater will not Light

  • Are the gas valves in the right positions?
  • Check the gauge on your gas tank.
  • If neither of these things is the problem, contact a professional.

Rust from the Pool Heater

Many things create rust in heater components - chemical imbalances, sanitizers, and even deteriorating protective coatings. 

  • If the rust is below your returns hen, a cast iron heater header is the issue. 
  • Balance your chemicals again, be sure to watch those PH and alkalinity levels.
  • Are your chemical feeders before your heater?  If so, this could be causing an issue. 
  • If after your heater, be sure to place a check valve to prevent backflow of chlorine water into your heater.
  • Are you putting chlorine tablets into the skimmer?  If so, you should not.
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