AquaRite reading 0 for salt level

cflannagan

Gold Supporter
Apr 2, 2011
111
Palm Harbor, Florida
Thru the summer, it seems like I've had to put in a lot more salt bags than usual (compared to previous summers), just to keep the salt level at recommended levels (3200-3600-ish).

I checked SWG yesterday, and it now reads 0 for salt level. Cell looks fine, no build-up. And yes, the cells matches up with what is said on AquaRite (T-9 on cell itself, and T-9 in reading).

I've already tried to "reset" the salt sensor by turning it to OFF, then back to AUTO (at 100%) and went to the instant salt reading (pressing Diagnostic 5 times, to reach to that reading where it usually is a negative number). It's like -300 or so right now.

I'm seeing mentions elsewhere (outside Trouble Free Pool) googling on this topic and it says the cell might need replacing, despite there being no build-up inside? Does that make sense?

I guess I can take my pool water to a pool store for salt level reading. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how I can troubleshoot this? I fairly certain I do not need to add any more salt - I probably have added too much; I added 3 salt bags about 2 or 3 weeks ago - and normally a salt bag would raise the salt level by 300. Before I put in those salt bags, the reading was at 2700, so I put in 2 salt bags (to try to take it to 3300). But after a week, the reading was at 3100, so I put in 3rd salt bag (to try to take it to 3400). And now salt level is saying 0.. :confused:

UPDATE: Went to pool store and they said salt level is 5000 (!). I also bought salt strips (for the first time ever). Matches up with what pool store is saying.. it's 5000 ppm at least.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
You could take the cell to the pool store with you and have it tested to see if it is good. And yes they can fail without build up.
Another possibility is that something electrical has gone wrong in the SWG controller.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,408
What are the diagnostic readings?

How old is the cell?

Does the aquarite lose power when the pump turns off?
 

cflannagan

Gold Supporter
Apr 2, 2011
111
Palm Harbor, Florida
What are the diagnostic readings?
Which ones? I mentioned some readings above in my original post: For the default display (salt level), it says 0 right now (was 300 previously). If I press the button 5 times (to get "instant salt level", i believe it's called, those numbers are normally negative), I get -300)

How old is the cell?
At least 4 years. It's still the same (original) cell that came with the SWG system we installed 4 years ago.

Does the aquarite lose power when the pump turns off?
No, the SWG still is on when pump stops running. Just would flash "no flow", until the pump runs again (as scheduled).

- - - Updated - - -

You could take the cell to the pool store with you and have it tested to see if it is good. And yes they can fail without build up.
Good to know, I didn't know I could do that.

Another possibility is that something electrical has gone wrong in the SWG controller.
I hope not (again). I had to replace a thermistor in the past because the last one was no good (ref thread: How to determine if the SWG fuse needs replacing? ). That was almost a year ago.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,408
If the cell is generating while the pump is off, it will cause the zero reading. This can happen if the aquarite has power when the pump is off and the flow switch is stuck closed.

The aquarite should have a timer that turns the aquarite off when the pump is off.

The flow switch is a backup safety.

Is the no flow working when the pump is off?

What are all of the diagnostic readings when you press the button?

Get all readings then move the switch to off, wait 1 minute and then move the switch back to auto and recheck all readings.

The instant salinity will take about 20 seconds to stabilize, so wait until it stops moving.
 

cflannagan

Gold Supporter
Apr 2, 2011
111
Palm Harbor, Florida
If the cell is generating while the pump is off, it will cause the zero reading. This can happen if the aquarite has power when the pump is off and the flow switch is stuck closed.

The aquarite should have a timer that turns the aquarite off when the pump is off.

The flow switch is a backup safety.

Is the no flow working when the pump is off?

What are all of the diagnostic readings when you press the button?

Get all readings then move the switch to off, wait 1 minute and then move the switch back to auto and recheck all readings.

The instant salinity will take about 20 seconds to stabilize, so wait until it stops moving.
Thanks for the quick response - will get those readings (both before and after turning it to OFF mode for 1 min) to you. Will need to do this tomorrow morning.

Also going to double check on the "no flow" LED.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,408
UPDATE: Went to pool store and they said salt level is 5000 (!). I also bought salt strips (for the first time ever). Matches up with what pool store is saying.. it's 5000 ppm at least.
This is common with a failing cell. The salinity reads lower than actual when the cell is failing. If you just go by the box, you end up with too much salt, which makes the cell work until it fails completely.

I suspect that the cell is bad, but the diagnostic readings should help confirm.

If the cell is bad, I would suggest that you replace it with a T-15.

The new cell will probably give a high salt error unless you dilute the salinity below about 3,800 ppm.

Also, I recommend that you get a K-1766 test kit so that you can monitor the actual salinity to compare it to the box to make sure that the aquarite is working properly.
 

mitchellb

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2017
72
Clearwater, florida
That's a bad cell. I did the same thing a few years ago and added too much salt as the cell was failing. You will need to drain some water and refill to dilute your salinity when you replace your cell.

These cells don't last long here in Florida since we run our pools year round.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Not sure I completely agree with that last statement. We do in Arizona as well and I know of one member whose cell lasted at least 8 years
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,408
It's a T-9, so it won't last as long as a bigger cell, like a T-15.

Also, are we sure how old the cell is?

What are the first 4 of the cell serial number?

Cell life is typically about 5 to 7 years. But, there is a lot of variability based on cell size, pool size, length of season etc.

I would say that 3 years is the minimum expected life and 10 years is a maximum expected life.

Most have a 3 year warranty anyway, so you should get 3 years or a new cell free.
 

mitchellb

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2017
72
Clearwater, florida
Not sure I completely agree with that last statement. We do in Arizona as well and I know of one member whose cell lasted at least 8 years
One person had a cell lasting 8 years? Hardly much of a sample size.

Figure that the cells have "X" amount of productive life in them before failing. It stands to reason that cells in use year round would fail earlier than cells used only part of the year.

When I complained about the short lives of my cells, I was told by the manufacturer that the average life is 5 years with "average" use. They wouldn't tell me what that meant, but they did say I could extend the life of my cell by decreasing the percentage output which just decreases the amount of time the cell is generating.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
It also depends on how balanced you keep the water. If you allow scaling to occur in the cell and then do acid cleanings, that will greatly reduce the life of the cell.
 

mitchellb

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2017
72
Clearwater, florida
It also depends on how balanced you keep the water. If you allow scaling to occur in the cell and then do acid cleanings, that will greatly reduce the life of the cell.
I suspect that is also a major factor. I can't imagine that soaking the cells in dilute muriatic acid on a regular basis helps with longevity!

But the bottom line is that these cells don't last very long and are expensive. It obviously pays to take care of them, but the 3 year warranty from the manufacturer indicates that they don't expect the cells to last very long. My last cell died just under 3 years and I did receive a replacement under warranty. They made if very clear that the replacement cell had only a 1 year warranty.
 

cflannagan

Gold Supporter
Apr 2, 2011
111
Palm Harbor, Florida
It's a T-9, so it won't last as long as a bigger cell, like a T-15.

Also, are we sure how old the cell is?

What are the first 4 of the cell serial number?

Cell life is typically about 5 to 7 years. But, there is a lot of variability based on cell size, pool size, length of season etc.

I would say that 3 years is the minimum expected life and 10 years is a maximum expected life.

Most have a 3 year warranty anyway, so you should get 3 years or a new cell free.
Yes, am certain of the age. We converted our pool - from chlorine to SWG in 2013 at least, possibly earlier. It's 5 years old at minimum. We moved to Texas in February 2014 for 2 years (before moving back to this house), and I know we went through at least 1 summer with the SWG in operation, so it was before summer 2013 at least. I believe it was spring 2013 when we converted. We still have this original T9 cell that was installed with SWG (that is now dead).

The first 4 of serial number says 3E12

It also depends on how balanced you keep the water. If you allow scaling to occur in the cell and then do acid cleanings, that will greatly reduce the life of the cell.
Never ever saw any scalings occur in the cell. I've seen photos of scaling in question on web, and I haven't seen that happen to my cell in those years. A pool service guy however did that - taking cell out and pouring acid through the cell - at one point when I hired the service to look at an issue (don't recall what the issue was exactly). Might have inadvertently shortened the life of the cell that way.
 

cflannagan

Gold Supporter
Apr 2, 2011
111
Palm Harbor, Florida
UPDATE: the cell is indeed dead (confirmed at pool store). I ordered a T15 to replace the T9 so I'll need to make sure I change the setting in the SWG when I put the new cell in.

The salt level was 8200 (ouch). I spent a couple of days draining the pool and filling it back up until the salt level is 3400. I'm now going through the process of balancing pool chemicals again. CYA is low (35, which is expected). But the TA is 120? How is that possible? I maintain it at 80, and it seems after I drained all that water and filled it back up, the TA somehow increased? Can it be that the extremely high salt levels was messing up my TA readings earlier? It did seem/feel like I had to put in a bit more baking soda than normal to maintain TA, so maybe.. I don't know.. anyone here can explain how my TA reading went up? Should I make a separate thread for this?
 

cflannagan

Gold Supporter
Apr 2, 2011
111
Palm Harbor, Florida
What is the TA of the fill water?

You should get a K-1766 salt test kit to track the salinity.
I did. Based on your suggestion earlier in the thread ;) That's how I was able to keep track of how much more I needed to drain the pool before refilling with water :-D

I also thought it was the only way (well, practical-wise) to measure salt level past 5000. Which was the limits of what my salt strips would tell me. Right now, salt level is where I want it to be.. 3400. I've added conditioner as needed. No baking soda needed. Just waiting for that T15 cell I ordered to arrive. pH level is in balance. Thinking about shocking the pool because some green algae is creeping in (due to no chlorine being produced by SWG)

I measured TA of fill water. It's 180. So that explains how the TA in my pool water increased - with all that fill water. Thanks for making me understand how things happen the way they did ;)