Hayward heater IF error

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
20,692
Low pH would usually be even thinning/etching of the copper pipe walls. Low pH creates a bright copper color that’s almost red, but that can change over time if the low pH gets corrected.

Excessive chlorine will usually result in turquoise copper color.

Your Pentair WhisperFlo single speed 1.5hp pump is going to create excessive water velocity, in my opinion regardless of the stated upper range in the manual.

In my opinion, the best flow rate is near the lower end of the required flow rate. For a 400,000 btu/hr heater, you want about 40 to 50 gpm.

I would replace the WhisperFlo with a variable speed Intelliflo and keep the flow in the 40 to 50 gpm range when the heater is on and lower when the heater is off.

Another possibility is if the heater ever ran with insufficient flow for some reason. That would cause damage to the copper from overheating.

Post a lot of pictures of the heat exchanger and we will see if anything stands out.
 

Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
Low pH would usually be even thinning/etching of the copper pipe walls. Low pH creates a bright copper color that’s almost red, but that can change over time if the low pH gets corrected.

Excessive chlorine will usually result in turquoise copper color.

Your Pentair WhisperFlo single speed 1.5hp pump is going to create excessive water velocity, in my opinion regardless of the stated upper range in the manual.

In my opinion, the best flow rate is near the lower end of the required flow rate. For a 400,000 btu/hr heater, you want about 40 to 50 gpm.

I would replace the WhisperFlo with a variable speed Intelliflo and keep the flow in the 40 to 50 gpm range when the heater is on and lower when the heater is off.

Another possibility is if the heater ever ran with insufficient flow for some reason. That would cause damage to the copper from overheating.

Post a lot of pictures of the heat exchanger and we will see if anything stands out.
Since I don't have a VS pump this is a bit foreign, but how do you set a VS to be at 40-50gpm? Does it depends on pipe size, other factors, etc.?

What does insufficient flow to the heater damage look like on the heat exchanger?
 

Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
Some models of the Intelliflo can estimate flow and be set to flow.

You can use a flowmeter or you can use the pump head curve and estimate the flow from the vacuum and return pressure.

See the following references for pictures of various heat exchanger damage.


thanks. will be likely getting to opening it up Friday.
 

Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
Some pictures from today from opening the side panel. Ok so turns out these are way harder to take apart than I hoped and almost impossible to see into to figure out what’s going on without really opening the thing up significantly... a 4-5 year old unit and I’m considering biting the bullet and buying a new Pentair one. That’s just.... ugh.

FYI, it a bit wet on the ledge just under those pipes. And some pictures are looking down into it and that’s where there is some water.
replaced the flame sensor and still getting an IF error. Can the leak be causing the IF error or are these totally unrelated issues?
 

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Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
@ps0303
Paul, after searching around the site I found that you're the resident pool heater expert so wanted to tag you in. I'm frustrated that a pool heater 4-5 years into it's life would be leaking some pool water. Given it's just a slow drip of a leak, is it possible it's the heat exchanger? Could it be that bad and I should replace it?

And to add to the thread: I replaced the flame sensor. no effect. still an IF error.

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

swamprat69

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2019
323
Las Vegas, NV
Just offhand, I would be curious about pinpointing exactly where the leak(s) are coming from (single or multiple point{s})? I noticed that your photos after removing the side panel are only of the return side of the heat exchanger. It might be remotely possible that the origin of the leak(s) is on the side with the water header and observing it on the opposite side may be due to level of the heater and/or capillary action between the heat exchanger tubing and the press fit of the fins on the tubing causing the leak to be observed on the opposite side. It could be that your leak is originating on the header side due to failure of one or more header o-rings. It is also possible that you have more than 1 problem, with one causing the IF error and another causing the water leak. Obviously the water leakage is the more serious problem and also the more difficult to pinpoint. If there is no leakage at the water header side, you likely have a leak in the tubing. This can be either in the tubing at any point or at the end brackets that hold the tubing in place ( a common point of refrigerant leakage in AC evaporator coils and even water leaks in the secondary heat exchanger coil of 90%+ condensing furnaces), but usually after many years of usage .
 

Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
Just offhand, I would be curious about pinpointing exactly where the leak(s) are coming from (single or multiple point{s})? I noticed that your photos after removing the side panel are only of the return side of the heat exchanger. It might be remotely possible that the origin of the leak(s) is on the side with the water header and observing it on the opposite side may be due to level of the heater and/or capillary action between the heat exchanger tubing and the press fit of the fins on the tubing causing the leak to be observed on the opposite side. It could be that your leak is originating on the header side due to failure of one or more header o-rings. It is also possible that you have more than 1 problem, with one causing the IF error and another causing the water leak. Obviously the water leakage is the more serious problem and also the more difficult to pinpoint. If there is no leakage at the water header side, you likely have a leak in the tubing. This can be either in the tubing at any point or at the end brackets that hold the tubing in place ( a common point of refrigerant leakage in AC evaporator coils and even water leaks in the secondary heat exchanger coil of 90%+ condensing furnaces), but usually after many years of usage .
Thank you. I've been unable (or a bit nervous) to take it apart much farther than I already have. It's a very slow steady drip from one side and I agree that it's potentially due to the level of the heater slanting that direction. When I try to fire the heater up the leak gets a bit worse. Does that make sense at all? Why would that be true?
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,508
Marietta Ga
What have been your issues? If you get a chance - curious if you take off the right panel if you see the kind of corrosion I have in the pictures above.
My control board failed in about 3 months. Hayward wants $125 to come check it which is what the board cost so swapped it myself
I just never felt it heated like it should for a 400k heater. Maybe more energy efficient but my old one would heaa lot faster.

Few times it won’t lite, then a week later it will so now I just try it every month just to burn the spider webs out :)
 

Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
My control board failed in about 3 months. Hayward wants $125 to come check it which is what the board cost so swapped it myself
I just never felt it heated like it should for a 400k heater. Maybe more energy efficient but my old one would heaa lot faster.

Few times it won’t lite, then a week later it will so now I just try it every month just to burn the spider webs out :)
Thanks. I'm struggling with my decision to just replace with a better brand or pay $160/hr for a technician to come trouble shoot this thing and perhaps end up at the same place.
 

swamprat69

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2019
323
Las Vegas, NV
Total pressure inside the heat exchanger is composed of static pressure (when the water is not flowing ) and dynamic pressure (when the water is flowing ). When the pump is not running total pressure = static pressure. When the pump is running total pressure= static pressure + dynamic pressure ( which would be higher). That would be why it leaks more when the pump is running. I understand your dilemma when weighing repair vs replace and it is not always an easy decision. My current pool is my first one with a heater as I did not have a problem heating my pool in Scottsdale, AZ without a heater. My current 14 yr. old Hasyward heater has only needed a few parts over the last 8 yrs. to keep ot going. Of course, having an HVAC background including many midwest heating boilers makes it easy to do repairs myself. I would follow the recommendations of the experts here if you are leaning towards a new heater with better reliability as they have more experience than I do regarding pool heaters.
 

danpik

TFP Guide
Jun 4, 2012
1,749
western NY
Replacing the flame sensor, while it looked like it was needed, will not solve the "not lighting" problem. The flame sensor does not come into play until after the burners have lit. Once the burners light, the control board allows the unit to "run free" for about 5-10 seconds to establish a good flame. At this point the board switches the control over to the flame sense circuit and the sensor then detects the flame presence and allows the gas valve to be open. If the flame is not present, it will then shut down the unit and retry if it is so equipped to do so. The gas you are smelling is the gas valve opening at the ignition start sequence. My suspicion is you either have a bad igniter or clogged orifices on the burner tubes. The igniter in these, I believe are a hot surface ceramic igniter. These do fail over time and are easily sourced and replaced. A crack will be evident in the ceramic and is usually surrounded by a white ashy substance. If the burner tubes are blocked they can be cleaned as well by removing them and clearing the debris.

By looking at the pictures you have posted, I would start at the igniter as the inside of that unit looks very clean compared to most I have seen.

As for the leak, you need to determine where that is coming from. As others have said, it may be something as simple as an O-ring. Most leaks I have seen in heat exchangers happen on the copper tubes that come out, bend, and go back into the unit. This is where the bad chemistry in the water has the most effect on the copper. Your tubes look good from what I can see.

Dan
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,508
Marietta Ga
IMHO opinion if you have water leaking I would replace the whole heater..But I also get a lot of things are uncertain with COVAD and the economy and not wanting to spend money :( I have been in savings mode since around June
 
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Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
Total pressure inside the heat exchanger is composed of static pressure (when the water is not flowing ) and dynamic pressure (when the water is flowing ). When the pump is not running total pressure = static pressure. When the pump is running total pressure= static pressure + dynamic pressure ( which would be higher). That would be why it leaks more when the pump is running. I understand your dilemma when weighing repair vs replace and it is not always an easy decision. My current pool is my first one with a heater as I did not have a problem heating my pool in Scottsdale, AZ without a heater. My current 14 yr. old Hasyward heater has only needed a few parts over the last 8 yrs. to keep ot going. Of course, having an HVAC background including many midwest heating boilers makes it easy to do repairs myself. I would follow the recommendations of the experts here if you are leaning towards a new heater with better reliability as they have more experience than I do regarding pool heaters.
Thank you. I actually didn't mean when the pump is running vs not running. I meant when I turn the heater on and try to fire it up and it fails it gets worst. Pump running the same in both scenarios (single speed pump).
 

Pperc15

Gold Supporter
May 17, 2019
344
Philadelphia
Replacing the flame sensor, while it looked like it was needed, will not solve the "not lighting" problem. The flame sensor does not come into play until after the burners have lit. Once the burners light, the control board allows the unit to "run free" for about 5-10 seconds to establish a good flame. At this point the board switches the control over to the flame sense circuit and the sensor then detects the flame presence and allows the gas valve to be open. If the flame is not present, it will then shut down the unit and retry if it is so equipped to do so. The gas you are smelling is the gas valve opening at the ignition start sequence. My suspicion is you either have a bad igniter or clogged orifices on the burner tubes. The igniter in these, I believe are a hot surface ceramic igniter. These do fail over time and are easily sourced and replaced. A crack will be evident in the ceramic and is usually surrounded by a white ashy substance. If the burner tubes are blocked they can be cleaned as well by removing them and clearing the debris.

By looking at the pictures you have posted, I would start at the igniter as the inside of that unit looks very clean compared to most I have seen.

As for the leak, you need to determine where that is coming from. As others have said, it may be something as simple as an O-ring. Most leaks I have seen in heat exchangers happen on the copper tubes that come out, bend, and go back into the unit. This is where the bad chemistry in the water has the most effect on the copper. Your tubes look good from what I can see.

Dan
Thank you - these are some things I can try. The igniter isn't something I pulled out yet for fear of dropping a screw. I'll make sure I find a magnet just in case.

Regarding the leak. Do you have advice on how ot open this up to best look for O-ring failures, etc? Where do I start with opening it? Note that it's inside a shed so it's vented through the roof.