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A Comprehensive Guide to Pool Heater Repair: Expert Tips and Tricks

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

A pool heater is an essential component of any swimming pool, providing warm water for a comfortable swim. However, like any other equipment, pool heaters can develop faults and break down over time. When this happens, it can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you don't know how to fix it.

Looking for the most effective and efficient pool heaters this year? Check out our roundup of the best pool heaters.


If you're experiencing issues with your pool heater, don't fret. This comprehensive guide to pool heater repair covers everything you need to know to troubleshoot and fix common problems. From diagnosing faulty electrical connections to checking water flow and temperature settings, this guide provides step-by-step instructions to get your pool heater up and running again.


Whether you have a gas or electric pool heater, this guide has got you covered. With the right knowledge and tools, you can save money on costly repairs and keep your pool in top condition all year round. So, let's dive in and explore the world of pool heater repair.


Understanding Pool Heater Components


When it comes to pool heater repair, it's important to understand the different components of your pool heater. In this section, we'll cover the main types of pool heaters: gas heaters, heat pumps, and solar heaters.


Gas Heaters


Gas pool heaters are the most common type of pool heater. They use natural gas or propane to heat your pool water. Gas heaters have a burner, which heats the water as it passes through the heat exchanger. The heated water is then returned to the pool.

Some common components of gas pool heaters include:

  • Burner: This is the part of the heater that heats the water.

  • Heat exchanger: This transfers heat from the burner to the water.

  • Gas valve: This controls the flow of gas to the burner.

  • Thermostat: This controls the temperature of the water.

Heat Pumps


Pool heat pumps are another popular option. They use electricity to transfer heat from the air to the water. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than gas heaters, but they can be more expensive to purchase and install.


Some common components of pool heat pumps include:

  • Compressor: This compresses the refrigerant, which generates heat.

  • Heat exchanger: This transfers heat from the refrigerant to the water.

  • Fan: This blows air over the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air.

Solar Heaters


Solar pool heaters use the sun's energy to heat your pool water. They are the most energy-efficient option, but they can also be the most expensive to install.

Some common components of solar pool heaters include:

  • Solar collectors: These are the panels that collect the sun's energy and transfer it to the water.

  • Pump: This circulates the water through the solar collectors.

  • Control valve: This diverts the water to the solar collectors or back to the pool.

It's important to note that regardless of the type of pool heater you have, a solar cover can help to retain heat and reduce heat loss. Additionally, regular maintenance and cleaning of your pool heater components can help to ensure that your heater is working properly and efficiently.


Common Pool Heater Problems


hayward pool heater

Before investing in a pool heater, it's important to understand the costs involved. Our article on pool heater costs breaks down what you need to know.


If you own a pool, you know that a pool heater is essential to keeping your water at a comfortable temperature. Unfortunately, pool heaters can experience a variety of problems that can prevent them from working correctly. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common pool heater problems and how to troubleshoot them.


Temperature Issues


One of the most common problems that pool owners experience with their heaters is temperature issues. If your pool water is not heating up to the desired temperature, there are a few things that could be causing the problem.


First, check your thermostat settings to make sure they are set correctly. If the settings are correct, check to see if the pressure switch is functioning correctly. A malfunctioning pressure switch can cause the heater to shut off prematurely, preventing the water from reaching the desired temperature.


Leaks and Rust


Another common problem with pool heaters is leaks and rust. If you notice water leaking from your heater or rust on the exterior, it could be a sign of a more significant issue.


Check the heater's internal components, including the heat exchanger, for signs of rust or corrosion. If you find rust, you may need to replace the affected parts to prevent further damage.


Malfunction and Overheating


Pool heaters can also experience malfunctions that prevent them from working correctly. If your heater is not turning on or is overheating, there are a few things you can check.


First, check the high limit switch to make sure it is functioning correctly. If the switch is not working, it can cause the heater to shut off prematurely, preventing the water from heating up to the desired temperature.


Pressure Issues


Finally, pool heaters can experience pressure issues that prevent them from working correctly. If you notice low water pressure or high water pressure, it could be a sign of a problem with the heater.


Check the water pressure switch to make sure it is functioning correctly. If the switch is not working, it can cause the heater to shut off prematurely, preventing the water from heating up to the desired temperature.


In summary, pool heaters can experience a variety of problems that prevent them from working correctly. By troubleshooting common issues like temperature problems, leaks and rust, malfunction and overheating, and pressure issues, you can keep your pool heater working efficiently and effectively.


How to Troubleshoot Pool Heater Issues


tools

For those who prefer a hands-on approach, our DIY pool heater installation guide provides step-by-step instructions to get your pool heater up and running.


If your pool heater is not working properly, it can be frustrating and costly. However, before calling a professional, you can try troubleshooting the problem yourself. Here are some steps to help you identify and fix common pool heater issues.


Identifying Error Codes


Many pool heaters come equipped with a digital display that will show an error code if there is a problem. These codes can help you determine what is wrong with your pool heater. The most common error codes include:


Error Code Meaning


E05 High Limit Switch


E06 Open Pressure Switch


E07Low Gas Pressure


E08Ignition Failure


E09Flame Failure


Once you have identified the error code, consult your owner’s manual to determine the next steps.


Checking Water Flow


If your pool heater is not heating the water, the first thing to check is the water flow. Low water flow can cause the heater to shut off and can also damage the heating elements. Here are some steps to check the water flow:

  • Check the pool skimmer and pump basket for debris.

  • Clean the filter if it is dirty.

  • Check the water level in the pool. If it is too low, the pump may not be able to pull enough water through the heater.

We Recommend

To effectively address the issue of checking water flow in your swimming pool, we recommend the following products:

  1. Automatic Pool Skimmer: An automatic pool skimmer continuously removes debris from the water surface, ensuring that the skimmer basket is unobstructed. This helps maintain optimal water flow, which is essential for the proper functioning of your pool heater. We recommend the Betta SE (2023 Model) - Solar Powered Automatic Robotic Pool Skimmer.

  2. Pool Pump Timer: This device can be programmed to turn your pool pump on and off at specific times. By doing so, it ensures that water is circulated adequately through the pool's filtration and heating systems. Proper circulation is crucial for the effective operation of your pool heater. We recommend the Intermatic T104 Electromechanical Timer.

  3. Digital Water Level Monitor: A digital water level monitor will alert you if the water level in your pool drops too low. A low water level can affect the pump's ability to pull enough water through the heater, causing the heater to shut off or even get damaged. We recommend the Shonmau High / Low Water Level Sensor Detector Alarm.

Investing in these products can significantly improve the water flow in your pool, thereby ensuring that your pool heater operates efficiently.


Inspecting Electrical Connections


Electrical problems can also cause issues with your pool heater. Here are some steps to inspect the electrical connections:

  • Turn off the power to the pool heater.

  • Inspect the wiring and connections for damage or corrosion.

  • Tighten any loose connections.

  • Replace any damaged wiring.

Assessing Gas Supply


If your pool heater is a gas heater, the gas supply can also cause problems. Here are some steps to assess the gas supply:

  • Check the gas supply valve to make sure it is open.

  • Check the gas pressure. Low gas pressure can cause the heater to shut off.

  • Inspect the gas supply line for leaks.

By following these steps, you should be able to troubleshoot and fix most common pool heater issues. If you are unsure about any of these steps, consult your owner’s manual or contact a professional for assistance.


DIY Pool Heater Repair Steps


If you're experiencing issues with your pool heater, don't panic. In many cases, you can perform simple repairs yourself, without needing to call in a professional. Here are some DIY pool heater repair steps you can follow:


Replacing Damaged Wiring


If your pool heater won't turn on, the issue might be with damaged or weak electrical connections. To fix this, check that your pump is receiving enough power from the breaker, and inspect the unit for damaged wiring. If you find any damaged wiring, you'll need to replace it. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the power to the heater.

  2. Remove the access panel to expose the wiring.

  3. Use a voltage meter to check for any live wires.

  4. Remove the damaged wiring and replace it with new wiring of the same gauge.

  5. Reconnect the wiring and replace the access panel.

  6. Turn the power back on and test the heater.

Cleaning and Unclogging Filters


If your pool heater is not heating the water properly, the issue might be with a clogged filter. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the power to the heater.

  2. Locate the filter and remove it from the system.

  3. Clean the filter with a hose or a filter cleaning solution.

  4. Reinstall the filter and turn the power back on.

Resetting the Heater


If your pool heater is not turning on or is displaying an error code, you might need to reset it. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the power to the heater.

  2. Locate the reset button on the heater control panel.

  3. Press and hold the reset button for 5 seconds.

  4. Release the button and wait for the heater to reset.

  5. Turn the power back on and test the heater.

Fixing Loose Connections


If your pool heater is not turning on or is displaying an error code, the issue might be with loose connections. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the power to the heater.

  2. Inspect all the connections in the system for any that are loose.

  3. Tighten any loose connections using a wrench or pliers.

  4. Turn the power back on and test the heater.

Performing these DIY pool heater repair steps can help you save money and get your pool heater back up and running in no time. However, if you're not comfortable performing these repairs yourself, it's always best to call in a professional.


swimming pool sunny day

Regular Maintenance and Care for Pool Heaters

Proper maintenance and care can help extend the life of your pool heater and ensure its efficiency. Regular maintenance is necessary to avoid costly repairs and replacements. Here are some tips to help you maintain and care for your pool heater.


Cleaning the Heater


Cleaning the heater is an essential part of maintaining your pool heater. Over time, debris and dirt can accumulate on the heater, reducing its efficiency. To clean the heater, turn off the power to the heater and use a garden hose with a nozzle to spray the external coil of the heater, from top to bottom. Make sure to clean the coil properly without damaging it.


Checking for Debris


Debris such as leaves, pine needles, and other outdoor elements can clog up the pool heater's internal components, reducing its efficiency. Regularly check and clean the heater's filter to ensure it's free from debris. Additionally, ensure there are no rodents nesting inside or chewing on wires.


Maintaining Water Temperature


Maintaining the water temperature is crucial for the pool heater's efficiency. Regularly check the water temperature and adjust it accordingly. Make sure to keep the water temperature at a consistent level to avoid overworking the heater.


Ensuring Proper Venting


Proper venting is essential for the pool heater's efficiency and safety. Ensure there is proper ventilation around the pool heater to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.


Additionally, regularly check the vent pipes and flue for any obstructions or damage.

By following these regular maintenance and care tips, you can help extend the life of your pool heater and ensure its efficiency. It's recommended to have a professional inspect and service your pool heater annually to ensure it's functioning correctly.


Choosing the Right Pool Heater for Your Needs


flamingo in small pool

When it comes to choosing the right pool heater, there are several factors to consider. Here are some important things to keep in mind when selecting a pool heater that will meet your needs:


Assessing Energy Efficiency


One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pool heater is energy efficiency. Energy-efficient pool heaters can save you a significant amount of money on your energy bills over time. Look for pool heaters that are ENERGY STAR certified, as they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Considering the Size of the Pool


Another important factor to consider is the size of your pool. The size of your pool will determine the size of the pool heater you need. A pool heater that is too small will not effectively heat your pool, while a pool heater that is too large will waste energy and cost you more money.


Factoring in the Swimming Season


The swimming season is another important factor to consider when choosing a pool heater. If you only plan to use your pool during the summer months, a solar pool heater may be a good choice. Solar pool heaters are highly energy-efficient and use the power of the sun to heat your pool. However, if you plan to use your pool year-round, a gas or electric pool heater may be a better choice as they can heat your pool quickly and effectively in colder weather.


Overall, when choosing a pool heater, it's important to consider factors such as energy efficiency, the size of your pool, and the swimming season. By taking these factors into account, you can choose a pool heater that will meet your needs and save you money on your energy bills over time.


Safety Measures When Handling Pool Heaters


When it comes to pool heater repair, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some important safety measures to keep in mind when handling pool heaters.


Handling Gas Pressure


Gas pressure is a crucial factor to consider when working with pool heaters. Before starting any repair work, be sure to turn off the gas supply to the heater. This will prevent any gas leaks or accidents from occurring.


When checking the gas pressure, be sure to use a manometer to accurately measure the pressure. If the pressure is too high or too low, it can cause problems with the heater's performance and potentially lead to dangerous situations.


Dealing with Dark Exhaust


Dark exhaust is a sign of incomplete combustion, which can be dangerous and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you notice dark exhaust coming from the heater, turn it off immediately and seek professional help.


To prevent dark exhaust from occurring, be sure to keep the heater's burners clean and free from debris. Regular maintenance and cleaning can help ensure the heater is operating safely and efficiently.


Preventing Overheating


Overheating can cause damage to the heater and potentially lead to dangerous situations. To prevent overheating, be sure to regularly clean the heater's filter and check the water flow rate.


If the heater is running hot, turn it off and let it cool down before attempting any repairs. It's also important to never cover or block the heater's vents, as this can cause overheating and potentially lead to a fire.


By following these safety measures, you can help ensure that your pool heater is operating safely and efficiently. If you're unsure about any aspect of pool heater repair, it's always best to seek professional help.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do you troubleshoot a pool heater?


When troubleshooting a pool heater, start by checking the power source. Ensure that the heater is properly connected to the power source and that there are no electrical connection issues. If the pool heater won't turn on, check the power and then the water flow. Clear out any blockages in the filter, pump, and skimmer baskets. If the issue persists, it may be time to call a professional.


What causes a pool heater to stop working?


There are several reasons why a pool heater may stop working. Some common culprits include power source issues, low water flow, dirty filters, safety switches, thermostat settings, and corroded electrical terminals. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent these issues from occurring.


How many years should a pool heater last?


The lifespan of a pool heater will depend on several factors, including usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions. On average, a pool heater can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prolong the lifespan of your pool heater.


What are the best pool heaters on the market?


There are several types of pool heaters on the market, including gas, electric, and solar. The best pool heater for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Some popular brands include Hayward, Pentair, and Raypak.


Where can I find pool heater sales and installation services?


You can find pool heater sales and installation services at pool supply stores, home improvement stores, and through certified technicians. It's important to do your research and choose a reputable and experienced provider to ensure that your pool heater is installed and maintained properly.


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