Help autopilot sc36

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
We have an autopilot sc-36, almost 3 years old. Past couple days we have been getting the check/clean cell warning. Cell has been cleaned, looks great...salt is at 3200ppm...3.2 amps.
If we take off the tri-connector at the cell and reconnect the error goes away for a couple hours then comes back. Does this sound like a cell problem or a connector problem. Right now we have no free chlorine in the pool, 4 days ago all water levels were perfect.
 

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
i believe the tri-connector (i referred to) is actually the cell cord, it has three female which connect to 2 males at the cell and a red and black plug which connect to the box...
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
You should do a visual inspection of the cell and check to see if the plates are all the same length, or if some of them have worn down and are shorter than the others. Also, do a test PoolPilot on the menu when the cell has been on for a while and tell us what amps and volts it reports. Finally, you should post a full set of water test results, so we can double check for possible problems there.
 

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
Thanks. The cell looks fine. The read out is 24V/3.5 AMPS, I can get it to 6.5 AMps by disconnecting/reconnecting the cell cord (it stays for 2-3 hours then drops to lower amp reading).

I have:
0 free & total chlorine
cyanuric acid is low (0)
total alkalinity is low (70). We will be putting in conditioner tonight.

All other readings are fine.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
Don't raise your TA level. TA at 70 is just fine.

Do raise your CYA level. There is no way the SWG can can even come close to keeping up with the chlorine demand if CYA is 0. You should be manually adding chlorine each evening as long as CYA is at zero.

I haven't seen that pattern of volts/amps before. Hopefully PoolSean will be along and can comment.
 

Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
kdzv,
in regards to the cell, what Jason was asking was, when you look at the two outer blades, do they appear to be slightly shorter then the three blades between them? This may be as little as 1/8 of an inch on either end of the cell.

Also, we need to know the water temperature, and pH and Calcium Hardness water chemistry results, rather than, "All other readings are fine".

It's possible for the amperage to surge when the cell cord is disconnected and reconnected, thus the 6.5 amp reading. Then, after the power to the cell gets balanced out from the normal on/off/on cycles, it would drop down to where it is is operating at, which in your case is 3.4 amps or so.

This may also be as a result of your salt level being low and in need of calibration. Please have that tested and let us know what the test result is, and what the unit is displaying.
 

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
The blades appear to be okay. My water test last night showed:
free chlorine 1
total chlorine 1
salt 3500
calcium hardness 200
cyanuric acid 0
total alkalinity 70
ph 7.8
coper 0
iron 0
phosphates 900 (i ran the test up yesterday morning also, and this was a 50, so not sure if this is an accurate reading...cold it differ so much in about 8 hours?)
temp 78

this water sample was taken directly from the jet.

the warning message has been 'check/clean cell' but last night it was 'low amp-cell?'

last night we put in 3lbs 4oz of conditioner and 2 bags of chlorine

thanks for all your help
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
CYA at zero is definitely a problem. There is no possible way the SWG can keep up with the chlorine demand when CYA is at zero. However, this wouldn't cause any of the error messages you have described.
 

Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
Check continuity on the cell cord. The center hole connects to the black wire/banana plug. The two outer holes connect to the red banana plug. If these check out ok, then it's the cell.

It's possible for the cell to be worn out, even though the edges of the outer blades are even with the other blades. It's really the rutheniun oxide that dictates the cell life. It just happens that the outer blade edges wear out at the same pace as the ruthenium oxide...usually.
 

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
we went ahead and ordered new cell. is there anything special we need to do to install it? thanks for everything.
 

Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
If the unions are not already glued on, make sure when you glue it, it is pressed and held tight, so that the flange of the cell butts against the flange of the union (AND HOLD IT THERE UNTIL IT SETS). PVC tends to push back out if you don't hold it. If you don't press and hold it tight for at least 10 seconds, it will push out slightly and will be too long for the manifold. Look at your current cell to see what I'm talking about first.
Clean up any stray glue from the flat portion of the union and the o-ring, so theres no issues with it sealing.

Finally, install the cell so the prongs are facing up and the cell cord plugs down onto the cell. This will offer better water protection to this connection point.
 

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
Well we ordered a new cell, worked fine for a month today we started getting the 'warning check/clean cell' again
19v 4.5 amps

water tested on tuesday
fc & tc 1
salt 2900
calcium 230
cyanuric 40
total alk 100
ph 7.8
copper & iron 0
phos 200
temp 80

i dont know where to go next, cant afford to be buying a whole new system, could i just use chlorine and run the filter???
 

smallpooldad

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2008
429
Honolulu
Please read my reply on faulty readings on Pool Pilot here:

http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-pilot-low-volt-and-amps-t24108.html#p202149

I think it might be, in order, your cable connection to the sensor, the cable itself (did you recently re-arrange the cable line), or the sensor itself (it could need cleaning). If the cable is kinked it can cause problems you need to give it a good straight run with gentle curves. The connections may have corrosion on them, try cleaning as described in the above post.

If that fails then a new cord first, and a new sensor second might be your least expensive route.

In my Pool Pilot system 90 times out of 100 (its really close to that number) it is the cable needs re-seating, 9 other times the connectors need cleaning, and one time it was a faulty flow switch, in the digital box which they replaced at no-charge. I now finally have solved the cable issue by looping it along the wall in a position where I never touch it except to remove the connector when I do my weekly clean.

The reason I think it is your cable is you stated that it will work for a while when re-seated.

Frankly I think the cable is/was a poor design, and spoils an otherwise great system, but it is still a very well made system otherwise and would buy again. I believe, but am not sure, they recently redesigned the cable sensor setup.

Good Luck.
 

kdzv

Member
Jun 2, 2010
8
thanks i will try it out today...

does anyone know what the volt/amp reading should be in power level 2?
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
smallpooldad, nothing kdzv has described would have anything to do with the tri-sensor or tri-sensor cable.

kdzv, as smallpooldad suggested, the cell cable is the most likely place to look for you problem. Check that the cable is in good shape and that the connections at both ends are clean and properly seated.

At power level 2 you should ideally be getting 6.5 amps and between 17 and 21 volts. Remember that the volts/amps ramp up over the first few minutes when the cell is turned on, so check after it has been on for a little while.
 

smallpooldad

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2008
429
Honolulu
JasonLion,

Apologies I misread, but nevertheless it could still be the tri-sensor cable. He should only give it a go, if after he has cleaned the "cell" cable at both ends and it still does not work properly.

Stand corrected thank you.
 

altrep

New member
Jul 18, 2010
3
KDZV:

Please post a follow-up when you have news. I have a similar problem with my Auto Pilot Chlorinator. I keep getting a double flash, which indicates to check the cell for possible scale deposits, or water too cold. There was white scale on the cell, so I soaked that in acid/water solution to remove. When that didn't clear up the double flash, I ordered and installed a new tri-sensor since the pins were loose on the original. The double red flash continued after installing the new tri sensor. I have not sprayed the cell connector on both ends with WD40 to see if that does anything. I guess my next attempt will be to order a new cell cord if the WD40 doesn't solve it. After that, I guess a new cell. This one is 4 years old. It is still producing chlorine when the double red light flashes.
 

altrep

New member
Jul 18, 2010
3
I just checked the cell and found that the two end blades are shorter than the others on one end of the cell. Is this indicative of a worn out cell? If so, is there any harm if I keep on letting it make chlorine until it dies?

Also, does anyone have experience with the generic cells (I need SC36) that seem to be less expensive? Is the quality as good as the one made by autopilot?

Thanks
 

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