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Thread: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

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    Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    I have a aqualcal heat pump that has sprung a leak on the top of the heat exchanger. It's near one of the PVC pipes and I can visibly see a fine stream of water coming out.

    Here's my question... Assuming my warranty is out on the unit, what are my options? Can just the top of the heat exchanger be replaced? How about repaired? Would an HVAC person be able to weld/solder a hairline crack? How about jbweld or some sort of epoxy?

    I'm open to creative ideas!
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    ~12,000g IG pool w/ Spa and sun shelf, Jandy rs8 automation, Jandy CL340 filter, 2 Jandy Stealth pumps, Aquapure SWG, Ultrapure Ozone and Aquacal heat pump...

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    Which model unit do you have. Aquacal makes several models and they usually have Titanium exchangers. Titanium requires extremely specialized welding and as a rule can't be repaired in the field.

    You could try JB-weld, but I think you're asking for more problems down the road.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    It's a "south beach" model with titanium. The leak in on the top plate and I thought the titanium was just a coating inside since the material is so expensive.
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    ~12,000g IG pool w/ Spa and sun shelf, Jandy rs8 automation, Jandy CL340 filter, 2 Jandy Stealth pumps, Aquapure SWG, Ultrapure Ozone and Aquacal heat pump...

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    If you know somebody that's good at it, you could try brazing it up and see what happens.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    So after quite a few calls and some research; The only way to get a replacement top portion to the heat exchanger was to purchase an entire new exchanger. This would run $1400 to $1800 for the part alone, which is WAY to expensive IMHO and out of the question. Honestly, at that price I'd rather get an completely new unit. I decided to attempt a repair since I have nothing to loose with this unit.

    After disconnecting the fan and control panel wires I removed the entire outer lid of the aquacal. This was to gain better access to the heat exchanger. Once inside, I confirmed the heat exchanger upper, lower and outer portions are completely plastic. I'm betting the only place titanium is actually used is where the coils inside meet the water to heat/cool. I used a dremmel with wire brush attachment at first but then switch to rough sandpaper to roughen up the plastic surface. I also used a blade to score the outer areas in a crosshatch pattern to give the surface some additional cling. I worked around the entire area in question and moved further out for good measure. Once fully scored, I used rubbing alcohol and a clean rag to remove all surface residue and dirt. After drying, I mixed an entire 2oz set of JB WELD marine grade epoxy. This is the slower curing (24 hour version) and is supposedly better suited to wet/marine conditions. I applied it to the entire surface (like icing a cake) and let it set for 24 hours. The next day I reconnected everything and tested it out!

    So far... so good. No leaks! The true test will be the longevity of this patch. I've had mixed results with JB WELD in the past. It either works and last forever or fails in a short amount of time. I feel mostly it has to do with the surface area prep. I'm hoping that since this part has no friction, no real heat, minor vibration and only a minor amount of water pressure to contend with, it lasts. At a cost of $6, I'd rather take this chance than just take the Aquacal to the scrapyard.

    I'll post an update if it fails OR if it lasts. If it works, hopefully others in the same boat as me will have luck with JB WELD.
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    ~12,000g IG pool w/ Spa and sun shelf, Jandy rs8 automation, Jandy CL340 filter, 2 Jandy Stealth pumps, Aquapure SWG, Ultrapure Ozone and Aquacal heat pump...

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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    So did it fail or did it last?
    14K Freeform Gunite w/60% Blue Quartz plaster, Quad DE filter, Intelliflo VS Pump + Booster for Cleaner, Aquacal Heat Pump

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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    A quick followup... a year and a half later and the heat pump is working fine with my JB Weld repair. Knock on wood!
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    ~12,000g IG pool w/ Spa and sun shelf, Jandy rs8 automation, Jandy CL340 filter, 2 Jandy Stealth pumps, Aquapure SWG, Ultrapure Ozone and Aquacal heat pump...

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    Re: Possible to fix an aquacal heat exchanger?

    UPDATE - Last month I noticed a really tiny pinhole leak in the same area after some extended usage of the heater. It was coming up around the fold/ridge on the top of the exchanger. To repair, I repeated the process but this time I added some fiberglass fabric. Similar to what is used in auto / marine body repair. I applied a liberal coat and then "buttered" the fiberglass on both sides to fully impregnate the fibers with JBWELD. It was set on top to cover the entire area and extended well past the first application. It's been working fine since then.

    Total cost was under $20. Even if this just buys me another 2 years, I'll be happy!
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    ~12,000g IG pool w/ Spa and sun shelf, Jandy rs8 automation, Jandy CL340 filter, 2 Jandy Stealth pumps, Aquapure SWG, Ultrapure Ozone and Aquacal heat pump...

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