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Diagnosing and Repairing a Sta-Rite Pool and Spa Heater Using a Systematic Approach – Segment One
If the light on the control panel on top of your Sta-Rite pool and spa heater labeled “service system” is on, the following is necessary to diagnose why your Sta-Rite heater is malfunctioning. A systematic approach will help narrow down the problem and possibly solve it without calling a service technician. There are many things that can go wrong, but many problems are easily fixed by using a few basic tools. For this first segment you will only need a 5/16 screwdriver or nut driver and a basic multimeter. Additional segments will go into other aspects of systematic problem solving.
Before starting any diagnosis there are a few things that need to be checked. These two things are the first things to check on any gas heater. This is a gas heater, so first, is the gas to the heater turned on and do you have enough gas in the tank. The electric heater is turned on next. Make sure all circuit breakers and/or circuit breakers to the heater are on. (By the way, this last item should be the first thing you check on any piece of pool or spa equipment that isn’t working.)
Now start with the basics. Without proper water flow, the heater will not work.
1. Is the pool pump working? Not working, NO water flow.
2. Should the filter on the system be cleaned? Again, if the water flow is compromised, the heater will not work. On a sand filter, this is usually achieved by simply flushing to remove dirt and debris. The DE filter may have helped with the backwash or may need a more thorough cleaning. The filter cartridge may need to be removed and thoroughly cleaned or replaced if it is old and cleaning does not increase water flow.
3. Are all the valves in the system in the correct position? The flow to the heater may be off. And again the result is NO heat. Either some of the flow may be bypassed by the heater or restricted and the heater does not have enough flow to operate.
4. The last item below the water flow would be a bad water pressure switch. To get to the water pressure switch and be able to test it, you must first remove the two-piece outer casing from the heater. You will need to remove the four screws that hold the sides together. The screws can be removed with a regular or 5/16 screwdriver or socket wrench. The pressure switch is then located on the upper right side of the water distributor as you face it. With your electrical meter on ohms, the pressure switch should read a dead short. The meter will read 0 or beep. This is the same result you will get if you set your meter to ohms and touch the 2 leads on the meter together. If it says open, you have a problem. An open meter reading with nothing or a meter reading as if you had the meter turned on and switched to ohms and the leads not touching anything. If you have confirmed that you have good water flow; your pressure switch is probably bad. You will need to get a new pressure switch and install it. If you get anything other than a short (closed) or an open on your meter, you have a problem. Anything in between means the switch could be broken or the contacts dirty. Make sure you have good contacts. Clean the contacts and try reading again.
To replace the pressure switch if necessary. First, turn off the pool pump. Then turn off the power to the heater. Remove the wires from the switch and unscrew the switch by turning it counterclockwise. Twist the new pressure switch clockwise, making sure it sits flat. It is plastic and has fine threads and can be easily damaged. Then connect the wires. I’d recommend putting new connectors on the wires if you can, but if they’re clean and intact, it’s not an absolute necessity. Turn on the pool pump and then turn on the power. Now you can close the heater with four screws and enjoy a heated pool in no time.
This segment addressed just one of the most common reasons why a pool and spa heater won’t work and heat your pool or spa. Check back for further steps to continue.
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