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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 that is labeled “service system” is on, you need to do the following to determine why your Sta-Rite heater is not working. A systematic approach will help narrow down the problem and possibly solve it without having to call a service technician. There are many things that can go wrong, but many problems can be easily fixed using a few basic tools. For this first segment you will only need a 5/16 screwdriver or nut and a basic multimeter. Additional segments will address other aspects of systemic problem solving.
There are a few things to check before starting any diagnosis. These items are the first two things to check on any gas heater. This is a gas heater, so the first thing to do is turn on the gas to the heater and do you have enough gas in the tank. Next comes the electricity to the heater. Make sure all circuit breakers and/or switches in the circuit to the heater are turned on. (By the way, this last item should be the first thing you check for any piece of pool or spa equipment that isn’t working.)
Now let’s start with the basics. Without adequate water flow, the heater will not work.
1. Is the pool pump working? Not running, NO water flow.
2. Does the filter on the system need to be cleaned? Again, if the water flow is compromised, the heater will not work. With a sand filter, this is usually achieved by simply washing the back to remove dirt and debris. The DE filter may have helped with the back wash, or it may need a more thorough cleaning. The cartridge filter may need to be removed and thoroughly cleaned or the cartridge replaced if it is old and cleaning does not increase water flow.
3. Are all valves in the system in the correct position? The flow to the heater may have been shut off. And again the result is NO fever. Or some of the flow may have bypassed the heater or is restricted and the heater does not have enough flow to operate.
4. The last item under 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 shell 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 on the top right side of the water distributor when you are facing it. When your electrical meter is on ohms, it should show as a short on the pressure switch. The meter will read 0 or beep. This is the same result you will get if you set the meter to ohms and touch the two leads on the meter together. If it says open, you have a problem. It’s an open meter that doesn’t read anything, or a meter that reads like you have a meter that’s turned on and switched to ohms and the leads aren’t touching anything. If you have verified 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 dead short (closed) or solid open on the meter, you have a problem. Anything in between means the switch may be broken or the contacts are 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. Screw the new pressure switch clockwise, making sure to install it straight. It is plastic and has fine threads and is easily damaged. Then connect the wires. I recommend putting new connectors on the wires if you can, but if they are clean and undamaged this is not necessary. Turn on the pool pump and then turn on the power. Now you can close the heater with four screws and after a while you can enjoy the heated pool.
This segment covered just one of the most common reasons why a pool and spa heater won’t work and heat your pool or spa. Come back for further steps to move forward.
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