Heater replacement - advice needed

IceShadow

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Jun 8, 2019
1,612
Milwaukee, WI
Our heater didn’t work at all last year, until we had someone fix it right at the end of the year. It fired up this year but since has been spotty about starting again over the last couple of days. We’re going to see if it can be fixed again but it might be throwing good money after bad - this thing is really old.

We currently have a Pentair MiniMax CH 200M natural gas heater. There is a conduit running near it but no electrical wiring in it as far as we can tell. So at one point they must have had an electric-run gas heater and swapped it out.

In case the thing is kaput - how do people go about getting their heater hooked up? The way I figure, we can either buy it from a pool place and spend a ton more but get them to hook it up and run electrical, or we can buy it online, then get an HVAC place to hook up the gas and run the electrical. Does that sound right? Am I missing a better option? I feel ok wiring things to existing wires, but I’m not confident enough to run new wiring and certainly don’t feel like I should be messing with the gas.

Advice?

(For visual interest here’s the last time I caught the heater running yesterday.)

4649A28C-157C-4443-BF2E-EC2ADF2DB908.jpeg
 

ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
16,039
Northern NJ
That flame glow is not good. Heater flames should be blue not orange. That heater has air/fuel mixture problems and probably sooted burners.

You laid out your choices. Raypak is a Rheem company and an HVAC compnay that installs other Rheem equipment should be willing to install a Raypak. I suggest you call around and try and line up the installation before ordering the heater. HVAC companies will not necessarily do the electrical wiring. Find out what they will do.
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
1,535
Marrietta Ga
I installed my gas heater, It had a flexible line and wasn't bad at all. Yours might be different.
I think your going to need a 120V power source, or at least mine did.

The hardest part for me was lifting the old one off and the new one on the pad ;)
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
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May 23, 2015
16,604
Tucson, AZ
I like the “scary orange glow” when it’s firing...that looks safe 😬

If you can afford a new heater, a Raypak would be a good choice. Doing gas work isn’t as hard as it looks as long as you are safe.
 
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setsailsoon

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Oct 25, 2015
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Stuart/FL
Ice,

If you're not comfortable with the gas and electric I'd say hire a gas plumber and electrician. There are a couple ways to do this, price them all and then decide how:
  • For the equipment, shop online and compare local "deals". Sometimes pool stores offer "free installation"; sometimes it's a real deal but often the equipment price is so high it's not worth it. Also ask them to quote installation... including permitting.
  • Call a couple of gas plumbers and electricians to install the unit you plan to buy. Tell each their scope of work includes permits. If your jurisdiction requires one permit decide which will be your lead for permit coordination. He may charge a little extra for this and it's worth it to you.
  • Some pool services can do the installation for you as well.
Compare the different ways of doing it and be sure to understand warranty differences. If the craft labor work directly for you they will only warranty their work. You'll want to be sure they follow the installation requirements (require this in the work order) and qualify as required by the manufacturers for "professional installation". If there's a problem with their work it should be on them. If it's a problem with your existing installation or the new equipment you will have to deal with it. If I pay for installation I like to do it this way. But it does require coordination and interface management that can be a pain if you haven't done this before. The easiest way to do this is to hire somebody to do all the interface management for you such as the pool store or other local dealer. Sometimes they also get preferred deals on certain brand equipment that you can't get even online. So the net added cost isn't that much. But sometimes they charge you a bundle to manage the job. Just depends on the market in your area. As far as brand goes I don't think there's a lot of difference when you compare apples to apples such "high efficiency" vs "legacy". Tie breaker would go to Raypak since they're well-liked here. Automation isn't a big deal now even if you plan to add automation later since you can get full control with any brand using any automation and the "fireman's switch" method of control.

Like a lot of pool stuff, the best way for you depends on your capability and preferences. Regardless of how you do this try to be on location when they work. Don't bug them but do watch. It's good for them to know you're watching and you'll get a great lesson on how to do this and maybe even some of their "pro tricks" that may help you down the line. Also, help them help you. Offer water if it's hot, or coffee if it's not and use of a restroom if possible. Some homeowners are a nightmare to work for others are nice and reasonable. You'll get a better job if you show them you're the latter.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 
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markayash

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Mar 21, 2016
1,535
Marrietta Ga
I worked at an RV shop and being a crazy kid we would put tire stems in the top of plastic jugs and hook them up to the air compressor and start saying “ do you smell propane”
Worked pretty good and keep customers out of the shop when they exploded :)
Looking back glad I had a boss with a sense of humor also
 

IceShadow

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Jun 8, 2019
1,612
Milwaukee, WI
OK - I'm going to have the company that fixed it last year check it out and see if it's something obvious that can be fixed. I'll mention the orange flames to them - they can clean it out while they're in there looking at it, if they can get it to work and it's worth cleaning. Otherwise I'll reach out and get quotes. Makes sense to do it for full install and for buying it ourselves. Thanks all!
 

markayash

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Mar 21, 2016
1,535
Marrietta Ga
OK - I'm going to have the company that fixed it last year check it out and see if it's something obvious that can be fixed. I'll mention the orange flames to them - they can clean it out while they're in there looking at it, if they can get it to work and it's worth cleaning. Otherwise I'll reach out and get quotes. Makes sense to do it for full install and for buying it ourselves. Thanks all!
May ask the repair guys if would install a heater? If it’s not a easy fix
 

IceShadow

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Jun 8, 2019
1,612
Milwaukee, WI
So I turned the pump on today and the heater fired up. It had some smoke or vapor coming from it. I don’t think that’s intended. See video for what the flames and the smoke looked like. Not thick heavy back smoke or anything, and it is really cool. It had no smell. Maybe just water vapor?

I’ve turned it off and it turned off ok. I would love to run this while I wait for someone to check it out but if it’s not safe I won’t. Opinions?

 

markayash

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Mar 21, 2016
1,535
Marrietta Ga
Do you have an air compressor or even a can or air? May try blowing in the burners but I agree doesn’t look Good.
Something they get spider webs in the burners and block off air flow
 

setsailsoon

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Oct 25, 2015
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Stuart/FL
Yep, that one on the left doesn't look right at all. Spider webs are well-documented on this issue for interfering with air flow and the orifice. Worth getting it looked at and may get you a couple more years several of the burners on the right look pretty good to me.

Chris
 

setsailsoon

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Oct 25, 2015
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Just to clarify I wouldn't run it. Here's why. If that's smoke in your exhaust it would indicate less than complete combustion which gets well outside of the preferred gas/air ratio that not only burns very efficiently but it also stays well outside the explosive range. So you have more chance (still pretty low in most cases) that a pocket of gas/air could detonate. If that happens a little bit of gas can do a LOT of damage. Better not to chance that.

Chris
 
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IceShadow

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Jun 8, 2019
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Milwaukee, WI
Probably need to remove the burner tray and clean it up and then check the gas pressure.
Do you happen to know of any videos that show how to do this? I’d be happy to but if I can’t find something to show me how, I will wait for the service guys. They said they'd probably be here early next week.
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
1,535
Marrietta Ga
Good news is your pump might have been causing your heater to shut off due to low pressure.
On my hayward you remove the main feed tube and the burners slide out but not sure on yours.