Heaters
My heater sprung a leak and my pool company told me that the
reason is poor water chemistry, but we don't use the heater, how
can this be?

If your pool water becomes too acidic (very low pH) it can ruin your
pool heater. Whether you use your pool heater or not, the pool water
is always travelling through it.  The main component of your heater
is the heat exchanger, which is made of copper. Acidic water
corrodes copper very quickly.
How long is a heater supposed to last?

This depends on the application. If for instance a heater is used on a residential pool and spa,
it is rarely used. Sometimes it may be used for heating the spa and once in a while perhaps the
pool. In this instance, the heater can last 10 years or more.
However, if the heater is used on a commercial pool that is heated year round, the life of the
heater can be drastically reduced. This is because of a number of reasons. In the winter
months the heater works harder or longer in order to maintain temperature and condensation
can cause corrosion. A commercial pool runs longer so more water passes through the heater.
Commercial pool chemicals have to be stronger and a pool gets shocked more often. All these
reasons lead to more wear for the main components of the commercial heater.

What do you look for when purchasing a heater?

Many things have to be considered; the size, whether it is propane or natural gas, whether you
need an electronic digital or a regular pilot driven heater, the efficiency and how long you need
to heat up your water are just a few things to ponder. To help you understand these facts,
please visit the
heater section inside our on-line store.

Why do rats like to nest in heaters and why do they chew through the wiring?

Rats in heaters are a common problem. They enjoy the warmth usually provided by the pilot
light sheltered by the heater shell. They tend to chew through wiring in order to keep their teeth
in shape. The same problem occurs in car engines, especially in areas out in the country like
Rancho Santa Fe and Bonsall.

My pool pipes are melting and warping what is causing this?

Every month without fail, I get calls from new customers with leaky equipment. I can guarantee
that one out of two of these calls is down to poor use of the heater, and not knowing the correct
procedure to cool down the equipment.
What usually happens is that the homeowner will turn on the heat to heat the spa; they will heat
the water to approximately 104 degrees, use the spa and turn off the equipment. That is fine if
you have an automated system with a newer heater, where they are programmed
to run cooler water through the system before shutting down. However, the problem arises in
the older systems, with older heaters.
When you turn off the equipment manually, it turns everything off, the pump and motor and the
heater. This means that the water that is still inside the heater is piping hot, well over the 104
degrees that the water temperature reads, and it is just sitting there inside the heat
exchanger. Through natural gravity, this water gradually flows down out of the heater usually
resting at the lowest point on the equipment. Because it is so hot, it heats up the PVC piping
from the inside, remolding it into a different shape. Threaded nipples taper in and start to leak
as soon as the system is turned back on. This problem can be so severe that it can warp
backwash valves and even threaded filter unions.
To solve this problem, the best course of action is to turn off the heater when you have finished
using the spa, set the valves in the normal pool circulation mode and leave the system on for at
least 30 minutes longer. This allows cooler water from the pool to circulate through the system,
cooling everything down and protecting your plumbing.
A small device called a ‘fireman’s switch’ was designed to solve this problem automatically. It
is installed inside the time clock and wired to the pressure switch on the heater. When the timer
automatically passes the ‘fireman’s switch’, the heater will turn off and the system will stay on
for 20 more minutes, cooling the plumbing. This works great if you use the heater regularly, but
if you use it once in a while, manipulating the controls manually, then it does not do the trick.

PVC piping is so strong and flexible. When it is heated up gradually with a blow torch, it can be
shaped into any shape that you wish, and as soon as it cools down, it naturally will hold that
shape. Many pool plumbers use this method to shape pipe into awkward fitting corners or
bends.  

After my propane tank run dry we had it refilled but my pool heater will not fire. What can I
do?

This can cause a problem as the air that was in the empty tank has traveled down the gas line
and into the heaters gas valve. All lines have to be bled and the heater primed, but be sure to
leave this to a professional, preferably your propane operator.

What do you think about solar?

Solar systems are a way of taking your pool water, heating it up with the sun’s rays and
returning the warm water back to your pool.
I think it is a terrific idea and one that works very well. However, there are some drawbacks
especially if you live on the coast. In the inland valleys where sun is mostly year round, solar
works very well. But on the coastline where in the cooler months cloud cover moves
in, solar is not as efficient. The way to look at it is this; in general, solar will extend your
swimming season by about 6-8 weeks in California. Obviously solar is much more efficient in
the heat of the summer and less efficient when the cool nights start to close in. I have been very
please with my solar system, which is very efficient and works like a charm. However, I left the
installation to a very reputable company who have been doing this for years.
See Solar Systems.
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