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Thread: Aquarite Reporting Low Salt

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    Aquarite Reporting Low Salt

    Now that my water is warming up, my Aquarite SWG is back to work from its winter vacation. However, it's not getting back without some complaints. The unit is reporting low salt and warning me to "Check the Cell" all the time. I've confirmed my salt levels are just north of 3100 ppm using the recommended salt test strips and recalibrating the cell puts the readings on the controller well within the range of tolerance, usually 3000. The problem is that just a couple days later, the unit is reading 2600 or lower and it's reporting a low-salt condition.

    I called tech support last week and the tech walked me through a few checks and calibrations to tell me there is nothing wrong with the unit and that it must be my plumbing. He said that the only way for the readings to drop that quickly is to get readings of zero as the reported number is a running average of the readings. This certainly makes sense. He said it could only happen if I have a blockage in my plumbing or there is no flow through the SWG cell. The problem is a) My cell is plumbed in-line with the only return line to the pool without any ability to bypass it, and b) The flow sensor is immediately after the cell in the plumbing and it's satisfied there is flow.

    This is exactly the same plumbing I had last Summer when the unit functioned perfectly as I haven't changed a thing. It is indeed producing chlorine as confirmed by my regular chemistry testing. I just want all the flashing lights to go away and know that I'm not doing anything to shorten my cell's life. I just cleaned the filter two weeks ago, so I don't think it's a pressure issue. I asked if it could be bubbles trapped in the cell as a lot of air gets pushed through when the solar controller switches the valve to bring in water from the panels. He said the design of the cell prevents any air from getting trapped in it, so that "can't be it." I've inspected the cell and rinsed it and it still looks as clean and new as the day I got it. I checked the plug where it connects to the control box and it looks fine.

    Can anyone offer any more advice on what to check? The Aquarite tech said I need to hire a professional service tech to come check my system, but I'm hoping this DIY pool guy can tackle to job with your help instead.

    Thanks
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Check and clean all of the connections between the SWG controller and the cell and flow sensor. Also look to see if the cable is damaged in any way. A loose connection could cause intermittent zero readings which would explain the symptoms.

    Also, what is your water temperature? If the water temperature was fluctuating near the lower limit for the SWG there is some chance it could do what you describe.
    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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    mas985's Avatar
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    Have you removed the cell and looked inside? Check for any blockage or calcium buildup.

    Also, my controller will automatically give me a "Check Cell" warning every three months to get the user to clean the cell if it needs it. Reseting can be done at the controller (yours may be different so read the manual). After reseting, does it come back on immediately?

    If your salt level is that low, the unit should be giving a "Low Salt" warning instead so there could be a problem with the controller.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    The connections and cable all look good and the electrical contacts are all clean and shiny (no oxidation). The temperature theory is a good suggestion as a culprit. My water is about 65 degrees, but when the system first turns on in the morning, the water in the pipes is whatever temperature the night was. That's been around 50 or lower for the past few weeks and the unit's display reads "Cold" on some mornings.

    Thanks, Jason!
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Have you removed the cell and looked inside? Check for any blockage or calcium buildup.

    Also, my controller will automatically give me a "Check Cell" warning every three months to get the user to clean the cell if it needs it. Reseting can be done at the controller (yours may be different so read the manual). After reseting, does it come back on immediately?

    If your salt level is that low, the unit should be giving a "Low Salt" warning instead so there could be a problem with the controller.
    Yes, the cell is perfectly clean inside. It looks as new as when I got it. I've also reset the quarterly reminder. I'm getting the "check cell" and "low salt" warnings (both) a few days after I recalibrate.
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Here's a new twist...

    I just went out to play with it some more and found that it thinks the salt level is about 2600. I did a recalibrate and it still comes up with 2500-2600 and then complains about low salt. The water temperature as read by the device is 66 degrees. The tech told me the reading should be within 600 ppm of the actual salt level and, while this just barely is, it's still way off (at least more so than usual).

    Am I damaging the cell by operating it when it "thinks" the salt is so low?
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

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    mas985's Avatar
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    The unit should not be damaged in anyway by operating at a 2600 ppm salt reading since you know from the salt strips that you are operating higher than that. If the salt level gets too low, the unit will shut itself off for protection.

    Most people, including myself, that have Goldline products seem to report that the unit reports lower salt than the salt strips. Some of the older units do not have temperature compensation in the salt reading which would explain at least part of the problem. However, since about 2 1/2 years ago, Goldline started to use temperature compensation in the salt readings but from my experience this helps keep the salt reading constant over temperature but the reading is still lower than the salt strips. I suspect that it is a calibration issue in the unit but I cannot confirm that.

    Since the unit can operate at fairly high salt levels, there is no harm in raising the salt level such that the unit reads 2700 ppm. This should prevent the "Low Salt" warning and may stop the "Inspect Cell" warning as well. On the AquaRite, I thought the warning was also "Inspect Cell" instead of "Check Cell".

    Also, is the cell very old?
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    I have the same set-up and it showed 3100 all winter while the cell was set to 0%. I fired it up last week with water temp at 65 and soon the yellow light came on for low salt and level now reads 2600. I calibrated it but it is still 2600.

    Cell was cleaned a month ago and it was actually very clean after less than a year in service. Goldline also said it can read up to 500 - 600 ppm low and it does vs. the strips. I decided to hold off adding salt until water temp gets up to 75 degrees. Maybe the cool water is causing an off reading because water is now just over 60 after a cold spell yesterday and today.
    7000 gallon IG freeform w/ 6 ft. spa, 21 ft weeping wall, Hayward SP4020NS Northstar pump, Colorlogic LED’s, DE6020 filter and H400IDL2 400,000btu heater. Aqua logic 8 zone controller with Aqua Rite salt chlorine generator, Stonescapes pebble finish – Aqua Blue and flagstone coping, stamped/stained concrete deck

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    The entire unit (controller and cell) is less than 10 months old. My symptoms and response from Goldline match what txborn has just described.

    Yes, it reads "Inspect Cell," not "Check Cell." It's amazing what I can forget while walking about 70 feet.
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

  10. Back To Top    #10
    mas985's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txborn
    I have the same set-up and it showed 3100 all winter while the cell was set to 0%. I fired it up last week with water temp at 65 and soon the yellow light came on for low salt and level now reads 2600. I calibrated it but it is still 2600.

    Cell was cleaned a month ago and it was actually very clean after less than a year in service. Goldline also said it can read up to 500 - 600 ppm low and it does vs. the strips. I decided to hold off adding salt until water temp gets up to 75 degrees. Maybe the cool water is causing an off reading because water is now just over 60 after a cold spell yesterday and today.
    The reason the display will show 3100 all winter at 0%, is because the cell cannot determine salt level if it does not run so what you are seeing is an old average from when you last were running it. The controller uses the cell amps, volts and temperature to come up with a salt level. However, it must be properly calibrated to give accurate readings.

    The AquaRite and AquaLogic units both have an average and instantaneous display of salt. The average is shown in the default menu but the instantaneous value is found in the diagnostic menu on the AquaLogic (not sure about the AquaRite). The unit will average several instantaneous values over several run periods to come up with the average.

    I have run my spa from 60 to 90 degrees without seeing a change in salt level so I am not entirely sure it is a temperature problem but it could be with yours. Last fall I didn't see a change in salt level when the pool went from 90 to 60 degrees either. These units just seem to be notorious for giving inaccurate salt levels.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    If the keyboard says "inspect cell" and you know it is clean, just do the reset. I think it says that after 500 hours or so.

    Mark, when the display went down to 2600, I went to the diagnostic menu for the reading and it also said 2600. So I am pretty sure I am low on salt but am going to wait till the water gets up to 75 and see what the diagnostic menu says. Jason's calculator says I need 40 pounds to get ot to 3500. In the meantime I just add a little bleach to keep the Chlorine level at 5 -6ppm. Sure wish it would start warming up here in Texas! I'm ready to take a plunge and getting impatient

    I too have run spa at 90 - 100 with no change. So maybe not a temp issue. With backwashing all fall and winter and the rains we have had I know I have lost salt. CYA was real low too which proves that theory. I have not added salt since August.
    7000 gallon IG freeform w/ 6 ft. spa, 21 ft weeping wall, Hayward SP4020NS Northstar pump, Colorlogic LED’s, DE6020 filter and H400IDL2 400,000btu heater. Aqua logic 8 zone controller with Aqua Rite salt chlorine generator, Stonescapes pebble finish – Aqua Blue and flagstone coping, stamped/stained concrete deck

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    The controller uses the cell amps, volts and temperature to come up with a salt level. However, it must be properly calibrated to give accurate readings.
    If this is indeed how they calculate salt value the other possible causes would be loose connection somewhere along the way, or cell starts dying.

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    So, my salt saga continues...

    Several weeks ago, I determined I had a leak somewhere that was causing my salt level to drop. I did some investigating and found the water dropped only when the pump is running, so I suspected a leak in the return side of my plumbing.

    Fast forward to this week and I did a bucket test starting Monday evening. I scooped up some pool water into a 5-gallon bucket and placed it on a step in the pool. I marked the level of the water inside and outside the bucket. Tuesday evening, I noticed the water level inside AND outside the bucket was down about 5/8". This was good news as it tells me I have a lot of evaporation, but no leak. I marked the new levels and decided to give it another day. Last night (Wednesday), I checked the levels again. This time, the pool was down about 3/16" lower than the bucket water, so maybe I do have a leak. I don't know why it didn't appear the first time.

    My salt levels continue to fall. About three weeks ago, I brought my salt level up to 3100 ppm, as indicated by my test strips. This morning, it's at 2460. Is there anything besides water replacement that would cause such a quick loss of salt level? I plan on having a leak detection service come out next week if I'm sure I have a leak, but the only evidence I seem to have is that my salt is plummeting.

    I'm continuing to do the bucket test each night in the hopes of reaching a more solid result than I've seen so far.
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

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    mas985's Avatar
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    If you have no leaks in the pool and cell is clean (i.e. no calcium build up) then the only other thing I can think of is that the cell could be failing. They usually don't read the correct salt level when they start to fail. How old is the cell? You can get it tested and a testing center.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  15. Back To Top    #15

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    The cell's salt reading agrees with the strips, within a reasonable tolerance, anyway. The issue is that I'm actually losing salt, but I can't (yet) verify I have a leak. I'm wondering if there might be something else that can reduce my pool's salinity besides a leak.
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

  16. Back To Top    #16
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    No, a leak or some more intentional water replacement are about the only things that will lower the salt level.
    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

  17. Back To Top    #17

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    A leak DOES NOT reduce the salt level. You only get reduction of salt level when you top up.
    I haven't noticed you saying that you have an automatic top-up system, or you topping up pool manually, so the leak wouldn't be the reason.

    If you do have automatic top-up, then you need to switch that system off before you do a bucket test, otherwise you won't get the correct result.

  18. Back To Top    #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strannik
    A leak DOES NOT reduce the salt level. You only get reduction of salt level when you top up.

    Good point!
    I haven't noticed you saying that you have an automatic top-up system, or you topping up pool manually, so the leak wouldn't be the reason.

    If you do have automatic top-up, then you need to switch that system off before you do a bucket test, otherwise you won't get the correct result.
    Excellent point!

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    I'm sorry I wasn't clear about the leak vs. refill thing. I had mentioned it elsewhere. Yes, I am refilling lost water, but I don't during the bucket test. I have my pool's fill on an automatic sprinkler valve that is based solely on a schedule set on my landscape irrigation timer. I have found that I need to run it about 10 minutes per day to keep the water level constant. I occasionally need to run it a little extra manually as 10 minutes isn't really enough and 15 minutes (the next 'tick' on the timer's setting) is too long. So, once a week or so I give it another 20-25 minutes of fill.

    So, technically, my question was wondering if there was anything other than replacing water lost in a leak that would drop my salt level. I understand that is all it can be at this point, so I must have a leak.
    blubluenoiseise

    My pool: 14,750 gallons in-ground plaster
    FAFCO Solar panels (seven 4' x 12') with a Goldline automatic controller
    1/2 HP WhisperFlo filter pump, Kreepy Krauly cleaner, Cartridge Filter
    Aquarite SWG, Satisfied user of the TF-100 Test Kit

  20. Back To Top    #20
    mas985's Avatar
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    I think that the only reasonable explaination for what you are experiencing is, sorry to say, a leak. Of course significant splash out is the same as a leak but it doesn't sound like anyone is swimming in the pool.

    Do you have a very, very, very large dog? The size of Clifford?
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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