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Thread: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tabs?

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    Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tabs?

    So, my IC40 stopped working late last summer (2010), and I've been manually dosing with liquid chlorine. Now that pool season has rolled around again, I'm faced with a choice: Purchase a replacement cell for ~$500 or switch to chlorine tabs. I could continue using liquid chlorine but the inconvenience of buying and transporting chlorine every week makes tabs a more attractive option.

    I loved the IC40, but this is the second one that failed in a little over 3 years. I wouldn't mind buying a replacement cell if they would last the 10,000 hours that they are supposedly rated for, but I don't want to spend $500 every 18 months. The guy at the pool store says that I can probably get by with a 50lb bucket of tabs for a whole year (~$125 with tax). Plus, I probably won't need as much acid as I was using when my SWG was working. So it seems that the real cost of switching to tabs would be under well under $100 per year (and that's not even factoring in the electricity savings from not operating the SWG). I can deal with replacing tabs in a floater once a week throughout the summer, and 1-2 times a month during the winter months (we don't swim, but I don't close the pool either).

    Does that logic seem correct?

    Is my experience with the IC40 unusual? How many IC40 owners have had their cells last more than 3 or 4 years? FWIW, the first year I had the pool, I ran the IC40 at around 5-10 percent duty cycle for about 15 hours per day. By my calculations, that's 5475 hours of operation, but only about 500 hours of "ON" time. How does pentair come up with their 10,000 hour expected life?

    Any other things that I should consider?
    ~13500 gallon gunite pool, Pentair Intelliflo 4x160, Pentair 520 SF cartridge filter, Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater
    Pentair Easytouch with IC40 SWCG, Hayward Navigator on dedicated suction line

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Any other things that I should consider?
    If you use tabs in a salt pool that (should be) about 70-80ppm CYA, your CYA will be through the roof in less than a month and your pool will be incredibly difficult to manage.

    Use Cal Hypo is you can't stand lugging liquid chlorine (watch your CH if you do) but ALWAYS remember liquid chlorine is the very best way you can chlorinate your pool.....period.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    As Dave said, you'd have to replace a lot of water to get the CYA level down low enough to use tablets. Is your water free and without metals?

    When using tabs you must factor in the cost of borax and baking soda because tablets are acidic. Also, as the CYA level climbs, you either have to replace water (which may be a cost) or switch to liquid. And sometimes, as the CYA level reaches the upper end of the range, the tablets don't produce enough FC daily to remain ABOVE the "min" FC level, and you'll have to add liquid anyway. So there ya go. It may be slightly less cost wise for a new cell, there maybe several reasons why the prior failed and the luck might not repeat itself? But the trade off is the convience factor and the monitoring/adjusting of the other levels.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Any other things that I should consider?
    If you use tabs in a salt pool that (should be) about 70-80ppm CYA, your CYA will be through the roof in less than a month and your pool will be incredibly difficult to manage.

    Use Cal Hypo is you can't stand lugging liquid chlorine (watch your CH if you do) but ALWAYS remember liquid chlorine is the very best way you can chlorinate your pool.....period.
    Thanks, I'll check my CYA, but I've typically had to add 6-8 lbs of CYA every spring because it somehow disappears over the winter. So I suspect that my current CYA level is well under 50 ppm.

    I can't use Cal Hypo because I've already got a CH problem. Hard water combined with hot dry summers means that my CH is already high. I do a partial drain and fill when my CH goes over 1000. I try and do this in the winter to take advantage of rainfall.

    I could continue using liquid CL, but I'm just worried that at some time during the summer, I'll run out and won't have time to purchase more before an algae bloom arises. How about if I use a hybrid approach? Just one puck in a floater, sufficient to maintain maybe 0.5 to 1 ppm CL, and I use liquid CL to bring it up to around 2-4ppm. I typically maintained 4-6 ppm with my SWG because of the 80 ppm CYA.
    ~13500 gallon gunite pool, Pentair Intelliflo 4x160, Pentair 520 SF cartridge filter, Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater
    Pentair Easytouch with IC40 SWCG, Hayward Navigator on dedicated suction line

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Quote Originally Posted by frustratedpoolmom
    As Dave said, you'd have to replace a lot of water to get the CYA level down low enough to use tablets. Is your water free and without metals?

    When using tabs you must factor in the cost of borax and baking soda because tablets are acidic. Also, as the CYA level climbs, you either have to replace water (which may be a cost) or switch to liquid. And sometimes, as the CYA level reaches the upper end of the range, the tablets don't produce enough FC daily to remain ABOVE the "min" FC level, and you'll have to add liquid anyway. So there ya go. It may be slightly less cost wise for a new cell, there maybe several reasons why the prior failed and the luck might not repeat itself? But the trade off is the convience factor and the monitoring/adjusting of the other levels.
    I would welcome having to use borax and baking soda. I typically went through 2-3 gallons of 31% muriatic acid per month during the summers when I used my SWG. I'm down to about half a gallon per month since I've been using liquid chlorine. I think the local water has relatively high TA, which causes a continual rise in PH.

    Does the 50 lbs per year seem reasonable? This works out to approximately 2 tablets per week (3 tabs per week during the summer, and 1 tab per week max during the winter months). We normally swim from early May through early October.
    ~13500 gallon gunite pool, Pentair Intelliflo 4x160, Pentair 520 SF cartridge filter, Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater
    Pentair Easytouch with IC40 SWCG, Hayward Navigator on dedicated suction line

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    I think we may be on to something. We normally recomend CYA to be around 70 in SWG pools, so the cell does not have to work too hard. We also recommend TA around 60-70 to help slow PH rise. Have you checked your chemistry at least twice a month over the past 3 years to ensure your chemistry levels are in check? If you are in a high CH area (especially if you ever let your PH climb over 7.8) are you sure the cell is just not scaled over with calcium and just needs a good acid wash?

    What are your current readings?

    FC
    CC
    PH
    TA
    CH
    CYA
    SALT

    You can go with a hybrid approach, but SWGs are a lot more reliable than what you have experienced, alhough just as you will have to do with tabs and liquid, regular testing is esential with SWGs in maintaining a trouble free pool
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Not certain about my current readings, as I haven't had them tested in a couple of months.

    I do know that scale is not an issue, as I have cleaned the cell at least 3-4 times last summer when the problems started to occur. I also tried cleaning it again about 2 months ago using full strength, 31% muriatic acid. No bubbles, and no visible scale buildup either.

    Just this past week, the IC40 died altogether, with no lights on the panel. The Easytouch panel is still operational, although I suppose it might just be the intellichlor transformer inside the panel.

    FWIW, I've had problems since last summer with salt readings being all over the place. For a while, it was reading 9990 ppm (early summer when it was still working). Then, I got a persistent flashing "clean cell" light. After I cleaned the cell a couple of times, the salt readings went to 0 ppm. A couple of months ago, I "calibrated" the cell by forcing it to read 3000 ppm, which was the level tested by Leslies. It stayed there for a while, but just recently the levels started reading all over the place again.
    ~13500 gallon gunite pool, Pentair Intelliflo 4x160, Pentair 520 SF cartridge filter, Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater
    Pentair Easytouch with IC40 SWCG, Hayward Navigator on dedicated suction line

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    So try this....

    Use Pucks to chlorinate your pool but you're gonna' have to manage your water much better than you have been doing.

    I would suggest you test for CYA at least once every two weeks and, when your CYA approaches 70ppm, switch to liquid chlorine for the rest of the swim season.

    Your hybrid approach will work also but I see only disadvantages in trying to maintain chlorine from two sources......you may have decided you can manage that well so give it a shot.

    For what it's worth, I think your reluctance to go to liquid chlorine is not well founded but I frequently go against the grain, too.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Quote Originally Posted by peterl1365
    Thanks, I'll check my CYA, but I've typically had to add 6-8 lbs of CYA every spring because it somehow disappears over the winter. So I suspect that my current CYA level is well under 50 ppm.

    I can't use Cal Hypo because I've already got a CH problem. Hard water combined with hot dry summers means that my CH is already high. I do a partial drain and fill when my CH goes over 1000. I try and do this in the winter to take advantage of rainfall.
    That is where your CYA goes.....down the drain when you drain/refill for the CH
    IG Plaster 20,000gal, attached spa w/ spillover, hayward C12002 cart filter, 1 1/2hp pump w/ polaris 360
    6/16/12 - PH 7.6, FC 6, CC 0, CYA 30, TA 80, Calcium 310

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    So try this....

    Use Pucks to chlorinate your pool but you're gonna' have to manage your water much better than you have been doing.

    I would suggest you test for CYA at least once every two weeks and, when your CYA approaches 70ppm, switch to liquid chlorine for the rest of the swim season.

    Your hybrid approach will work also but I see only disadvantages in trying to maintain chlorine from two sources......you may have decided you can manage that well so give it a shot.

    For what it's worth, I think your reluctance to go to liquid chlorine is not well founded but I frequently go against the grain, too.
    That's a good idea. Funny thing is that the pool store guy never mentioned anything about overstabilization. Someone else that I asked at the same store a couple months ago even said that high CYA was not a problem.

    I knew that this board would give me better answers than the people at Leslie's.
    ~13500 gallon gunite pool, Pentair Intelliflo 4x160, Pentair 520 SF cartridge filter, Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater
    Pentair Easytouch with IC40 SWCG, Hayward Navigator on dedicated suction line

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Quote Originally Posted by danivdp
    Quote Originally Posted by peterl1365
    Thanks, I'll check my CYA, but I've typically had to add 6-8 lbs of CYA every spring because it somehow disappears over the winter. So I suspect that my current CYA level is well under 50 ppm.

    I can't use Cal Hypo because I've already got a CH problem. Hard water combined with hot dry summers means that my CH is already high. I do a partial drain and fill when my CH goes over 1000. I try and do this in the winter to take advantage of rainfall.
    That is where your CYA goes.....down the drain when you drain/refill for the CH
    True, some of it. However, I only drain about 30% of the pool volume, so it doesn't explain why my CYA dropped to near zero each of the last 3 years, not counting this year and the first year I had the pool (built in Feb 2007).

    Also, in 2008, I did not do a drain and fill, and the CYA was still depleted when I started to crank up the SWG for the spring. I just think something goes on during the cold weather months that causes the CYA to disappear. I've heard others talk about the same phenomenon.
    ~13500 gallon gunite pool, Pentair Intelliflo 4x160, Pentair 520 SF cartridge filter, Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater
    Pentair Easytouch with IC40 SWCG, Hayward Navigator on dedicated suction line

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    Re: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    CYA sometimes disappears over the winter. This is fairly common, but somewhat unpredictable. Some pools lose CYA every winter, others only some years, many pools never lose CYA. This appears to be caused by soil bacteria growing in the water.
    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: Intellichlor IC40 died. Should I convert to chlorine tab

    Regarding the disappearance of CYA, the other thing to consider would be a leak. Although you would likely know you had one unless you have an autofill device masking the leak.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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