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Thread: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

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    Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Last weekend my pool heater was working fine. My pool heater is a Aquacal 155 that is only three years old. This weekend I noticed that the heater was not producing any heat. The fan runs and the heater light displays "heating" I can here the relay close but no heat, no condensation and the compressor does not run. I took off the front covers and take a look at what I found. There was no moisture or condensation in the box. No insects or animals that I could find that would cause a short. The heat was so intense it melted copper wire. The two wires in the photo are going to the compressor. The source wires to the relay look fine.

    Opinions are appreciated.




    15k Diamond Brite, Aquarite SWG, 1.5hp StaRite, Hayward Star Clear 17502, AquaCal heat pump, Pentair Great White pool cleaner

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    spishex's Avatar
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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    You might have a short in your compressor or the relay may have been chattering due to a bad coil or a loose connection somewhere on the coil circuit. Or one of the load side wires could have been installed too loose.

    Disconnect the compressor wires and check the power across the coil. If that checks out, check continuity across the relay, and if that's good it could be a compressor issue. Since you're looking for fluctuation it would be best if you did this with an analog meter.

    *Of course, they call it chattering because you can hear it. Do you hear any strange noises (buzz, chatter, etc.) coming from the relay when it's on?

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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    The relay is shot. The pole where the load wire was connected is loose. On the plus side I just called aquacal and they said parts and labor were covered for 5 years and because this is my first call they will not charge me the warranty transportation fee. Funny how a five year warranty on parts and labor can have a warranty fee attached. Lets hope for the best. I better button up the covers and make it look like I never was in there. I might void my warranty. I will let all know how aquacal rates.
    15k Diamond Brite, Aquarite SWG, 1.5hp StaRite, Hayward Star Clear 17502, AquaCal heat pump, Pentair Great White pool cleaner

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    spishex's Avatar
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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Good news! I think you'll be pleased with them.

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Update on the Aquacal service

    I called on Monday and they took down my info and asked me for my install date. My install date was two years and one month but I kept my mouth shut and hoped for the best. The Aquacal manual notes labor is only covered for two years. The rep on the phone stated five years but I took that info with a grain of salt.
    Tuesday (24 hours later) the aquacal service tech called me. It just so happens he lives in my neighborhood so he told me he could come right over. I told him I was at work and could not meet him but he said "no problem". I came home that night and the unit was running and I found a note in my mailbox saying the unit had been repaired with his signature but no explanation of the repair. I of course opened up the unit and took a look. He replaced the relay and cut the wires to eliminate the exposed copper. Fast service and no charge. Win x2

    I do have one question about some notations he made in red on my plumbing pipes going to the heater. The photo shows that he obviously wants me to keep the valve that bypasses the heater very closed. Basically forcing the majority of the water to the heater. I had the valve at 90 degrees open so the water could flow straight through to the chlorine generator and flow to the heater as well without any restrictions (shown in black "my position"). I placed the valve at the black position for the following reasons.

    1. 1. I was not getting a flow fault. So I figured plenty of water was flowing though the heater.

    [list=2:2rbla35z]2. My pressure readings on the filter were low.[/list:2rbla35z]
    [list=3:2rbla35z]3. When the valve is partially closed as the tech marked it in red my pressures on the filter go up almost 10 psi[/list:2rbla35z]
    [list=4:2rbla35z]4. I was afraid that diverting so much water pressure to the heater might damage it.[/list:2rbla35z]
    [list=5:2rbla35z]5. The water would go in and out of the exchanger so fast it would not have time to transfer the heat.[/list:2rbla35z]

    Did I break the heat pump by setting the valve in the black position shown below? What do you guys think. Don't hold back. Pick my reasoning apart and educate me please.

    Thanks again.

    15k Diamond Brite, Aquarite SWG, 1.5hp StaRite, Hayward Star Clear 17502, AquaCal heat pump, Pentair Great White pool cleaner

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    spishex's Avatar
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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Without a flowmeter on the line it's hard to tell, but I'd agree with him that you need the bypass mostly closed. What happens (and it's more apparent in a gas heater) is that your heater remains under pressure, which is how it determines flow, but the flow isn't sufficient enough to diffuse the heat so it overheats. If the heater had a flow switch instead of a pressure switch you might get an error from leaving the bypass open.

    Did this cause your problem in the wiring? Probably not.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Higher water flow improves the efficiency of the heater, as long as you don't exceed the peak flow rate.

    I believe that your heater is designed for a flow rate of between 30 and 70 GPM. The position you used to have the bypass valve in would give you quite a bit less than 30 GPM. I don't know exactly what your plumbing systems peak flow rate is, but it can't be too much more than 70 GPM.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by spishex
    Without a flowmeter on the line it's hard to tell, but I'd agree with him that you need the bypass mostly closed. What happens (and it's more apparent in a gas heater) is that your heater remains under pressure, which is how it determines flow, but the flow isn't sufficient enough to diffuse the heat so it overheats. If the heater had a flow switch instead of a pressure switch you might get an error from leaving the bypass open.

    Did this cause your problem in the wiring? Probably not.
    That makes sense. The pressure is there but the flow or volume of water is lacking.

    The best I can do at this point is run it hard and see if the problem comes back. I only hope I didn't stress out the compressor and shorten its life span.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    Higher water flow improves the efficiency of the heater, as long as you don't exceed the peak flow rate.

    I believe that your heater is designed for a flow rate of between 30 and 70 GPM. The position you used to have the bypass valve in would give you quite a bit less than 30 GPM. I don't know exactly what your plumbing systems peak flow rate is, but it can't be too much more than 70 GPM.
    In my mind I thought I had placed the valve in the best position. I figured water could flow too the pool and too the heater equally and my filter pressures were low so I had a double win.
    I was reading the manual online and you are right. System is designed for 30-70 GPM. They make note that in residential applications it very uncommon to go over 70 GPM unless you were using a 2.0 HP motor or larger.

    Minimum - Maximum Water Flow Rates
    • All AquaCal heaters represented within this manual are designed to operate successfully at
    rates of 30-to-70 gallons-per-minute (GPM).
    • Design the plumbing system to maintain at least 30-GPM flow through the heater under worst
    case conditions (i.e.: filter fouled to 10 psi rise); the heat pump will not operate correctly, nor
    reliably, with less than 30-GPM of water flow supplied. These specifications relate to heater only
    code-specified whole system turnover rates must be satisfied.
    • If water flow rates through the heater will exceed 70-GPM, a spring-check bypass valve will be
    required. Install AquaCal P.N.: 2556 5-LB bypass check valve, or bypass check valve equal to del
    Industries PN: CO-0103. See drawing, top of next page, for install location in site plumbing.
    • Generally speaking, most residential pools and spas will not require a plumbing bypass unless a
    pump of two (2) horsepower, or larger, is used. For bypass valve placement details, see
    plumbing schematic contained on next page: “…Flow Greater than 70-GPM.”

    Maximum Static or Operating Pressure: 50-PSI


    I did find a interesting note in the FAQ online at aquacal but not in the manual. It seems that any extra volume or too much volume of water that goes to the heat pump is bypassed internally away from the heat exchanger automatically by a internal valve.

    Q. Why does AquaCal install an internal bypass on their heat pumps? Back to Top
    A. AquaCal installs an internal bypass, rather than letting the dealer install an external one, for several reasons. The most important reason is that we control the exact amount of water to enter the cupronickel heat exchanger inside your heat pump. Our bypass automatically adjusts to the flow of your pool or spa filter pump, unlike manual bypasses which require you to constantly adjust them to maintain optimum heating efficiency. A bypass is important to the life of your heat pump. Allowing too much water to flow into your heat pump will eventually erode the heat exchanger inside your heat pump, which can be a very costly repair for you. Also, too much or too little water flow will lower the performance of your heat pump.


    One more question please. Turning the bypass valve to the position the tech recommended increased my filter pressure from 12 psi too 20 psi. Is 20 psi at the filter considered high?
    15k Diamond Brite, Aquarite SWG, 1.5hp StaRite, Hayward Star Clear 17502, AquaCal heat pump, Pentair Great White pool cleaner

  9. Back To Top    #9
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    20 psi is not too high. I am surprised that it went up that much, but isn't any risk of damage or anything like that.

    When the water has a choice between a short section of straight pipe and a longer run through the smaller channels in the heat exchanger, the great majority of the water will go through the short section of straight pipe.

    Perhaps mas985 will stop by and help us guess at the actual flow rates.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    I spoke with tech support today at aquasoft. They transferred me to the tech support that helps the technicians on the field. I asked the question about the rise in pressure after the technician repaired the unit and set the bypass valve. The support staff couldn't give me a solid answer on the rise in pressure but they stated that all repair technicians are required to follow a checklist and specifically check amperage draw, freon pressure or head pressure, high and low. If the tech left you specific instructions for the bypass valve setting he did it for a reason. I explained to him that the relay that powers the compressor had been damaged and the wires on the load side melted. Technical support suggested that I was lacking flow or volume and the unit was running high on pressure and was putting a large load on the contacter. Forum member Spishex call on the overheat seems to be correct.

    I should have know better than to think that the water would flow equally through both circuits. Much like electricity it seems that the flow of water follows the easy path.

    Funny you mention the flow rates. I was browsing the forum and ran across the formulas for the flow rates but it was over my head.
    15k Diamond Brite, Aquarite SWG, 1.5hp StaRite, Hayward Star Clear 17502, AquaCal heat pump, Pentair Great White pool cleaner

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!! NO heat ck/W

    I have a Aquacal 120 30 months old.Everything seemed to be working fine but no heat. Thanks to your Fire pictures .I removed the front panel ,mine was burnt off also .Aqua cal wasn't as nice to me as you. They wanted 190 dollars to fix the issue once I mention your issue they only change me a service call and labor.Thanks for the posting . Stuart Fl

  12. Back To Top    #12

    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Glad it helped. When I bought my heater they were including a 5 year parts and labor. I believe the new warranty is now 2 years labor and 7 years parts and 7 years compressor. If you bought your heater from a authorized dealer the parts should of been included.

    Did they change your valve settings or give you any reason for the meltdown?
    15k Diamond Brite, Aquarite SWG, 1.5hp StaRite, Hayward Star Clear 17502, AquaCal heat pump, Pentair Great White pool cleaner

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    Prav's Avatar
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    Re: Aquacal Pool heater carnage. Fire pics!!!

    Aquacal seems to be offering the longer warranties (7 years as just stated) for FL and AZ residents only. That's what I was told by a distributor (the one that gives TFP supporters discounts).

    The discount does not seem that large; I have a quote for AquaPRO similar heater that's 10% less. Of course, when he compared Cal to Pro, seems that they are basically the same but Pro is a bit inferior (sounds like Acura/Honda, Lexus/Toyota, or Infiniti/Nissan).
    14'x30' (est. 14K gal) w/spillover spa (est. 500 gal) - 1995 // Diamond Brite Blue Quartz - 2006
    Hayward SwimPure Plus T-15 - 2013 // Zodiac MX-8 - 2013
    Plain ol' Intermatic mechanical timer // Pump: 1 HP Pentair SuperFlo - 2012
    Filter: Hayward C17502(S) Cartridge Filter - 2011 // Heat Pump: Sunrunner/Aquapro 1300 (127K BTU) - 2011

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