Even the hardiest transplanted New Yorker appreciates the warm water temperatures that are maintained in many Florida pools and spas. Pool/spa heating is one of the most crucial aspects of pool operation, and the greatest source of headaches for owners and operators. A heater that stops working, and they all seem to break during the holidays, can take longer and cost substantially more to fix, even if you are able to find the parts these days. In any event, as the R & B song goes, it’s cheaper to keep her.
Here are some insights and technical tips on what makes heaters last longer, and how you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and drama by taking care of them.
In our experience, the major variables that will negatively affect heater life (non-factory defects) are:
- improper chemistry,
- improper flow,
- improper venting, and
- lack of preventive maintenance.
We all know that low pH or high chlorine can kill a heater, but so can improper water balance. That means that a pool with perfect pH, but with low calcium and alkalinity – producing undersaturated water – can have an equally destructive effect.
Solution #1: Take direct control of pH and chlorine on a minute by minute basis.
Solution #2: Verify and correct your water balance weekly or monthly to maintain proper calcium, and alkalinity. For sake of brevity here, please contact your CES rep, and we’ll help set this up for you based on the chemicals you’re using.
Solution #3: Set up the alert communication part of your CES control system to let you know when things get out of whack, so that you can have minimal effect on your heater.
Heaters last longer when they have the proper flow, resulting in proper gain in temperature (or DeltaT). Lochinvar ERN heaters, for example, are best balanced when you gain 12F each pass through the heat exchanger (AKA 12F DeltaT). Moving the water too fast (causes erosion), or too slow (causes scaling, poor efficiency) will destroy your heat exchanger quickly, which in turn often takes down the entire system.
Solution #1: Ask us to install monitoring thermometers on the inlet and outlet side of the heaters, (we recommend Letro thermometers) and adjust the flow to them from the bypass valve.
Solution #2: install a flowmeter (we recommend a hi temp FlowVis model) in the line to monitor flow, to help verify proper flow.
Solution #3: Monitor and track DeltaT often. Theoretically, once the proper valve position and Delta-T have been established, and we maintain a consistent system flow, the Delta-T will not vary significantly, and thus provide an ideal environment for the heat exchanger.
The final and equally important solutions are to assure proper venting and provide periodic preventive maintenance. Heater flow, venting parameters, gas pressures, etc. need to be checked by a professional at least annually, and most CES PM services also include a visual check of the exchanger, along with a manual cleaning of the heater tubes. Doing nothing and waiting for a heater to break before you act, is expensive and can add lots of stress and drama to your life.
Please contact your CES rep for more information on heater PM programs, and let us know how we can assist.
This will help keep your patrons in hot water, while keeping you out of it.