Intellichlor IC-40 Flashing "Cell" light Due to Copper in Water?

bejazzpiano

Member
Aug 11, 2018
11
Mesa, AZ
Hello. This is my first post to any sort of forum, ever. I've always been a little apprehensive to share my thoughts online. I've never even posted on Facebook.

Anyway, I'm a new pool owner. We purchased the home over a year ago and it has an existing 18 year old pool. It's a salt water pool. I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on chemistry balance and I've been able to replace the pump and both the spa and pool lights and the cables and housings myself. Now I've got a problem that perplexes me.

My Intellichlor IC-40 stopped generating chlorine. The cell is only 2 years old. So, here's what I've done so far, in chronological order:

1. Tested chemistry and balanced it.
2. Cleaned the cell with muratic acid, twice.
3. Added 120 lbs. of salt to change the salt level from 3200 to about 3700 (32,000 gallon pool)
4. Added chlorine to get some chlorine in the pool so I won't have an algae problem. The green "cell" light is still blinking at this point.
5. Checked the cell life and it says 40%
6. Called Pentair and had a lengthy conversation with a really nice gentleman. He said this is a baffling, that this shouldn't be happening to such a young cell. Suggested I test the water for metal, that metal will cause the cell to cease chlorine production.
7. Went to the pool store. The water tested a .6 for copper.
8. Emailed Pentair. They said that this is highly likely what is causing the problem and that I need to use a product to either bind to the copper or remove it.

So, my question is: does this sound right? Will a cell cease producing chlorine if there is that level of copper in the water? I can't seem to find any information on the web that supports this. Or, do I need to replace the cell. Maybe it has failed. I don't want to spend money on unnecessary chemicals and treatments if the cell is bad. But, I don't want to buy a new cell if all I need to do is treat for metal.

Any thoughts or advice would really be helpful.

Thank you.
 

CarolineM

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2018
220
Annapolis, MD
I have .5 ppm of copper from the PB pouring in Algecide upon water fill. My SWG is having no problems.

Someone with more experience than I should be along soon to help trouble shoot.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,404
Laughlin, NV
Welcome to the forum! :handshake:

That much copper (0.6 ppm) normally means significant staining. Do you have any? Why is their copper in the water? Have you used copper based algaecides?

Can you post up a complete set of test results?

Can you add a signature? See Pool School - Read This BEFORE You Post. The information in the signature helps us help you.

The light you say is flashing on the IC40 does normally indicate either the cell needs cleaning (which you have done) or the cell has failed.

I have never heard of metals in the water causing a cell to fail, but we have many members with more technical experience than I.

I do know that if you have copper in your water, the only way to get rid of it is to drain the pool and replace with water that does not have copper in it.

If you would like to learn more about TFPC, I suggest you read Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry and consider reviewing the entire Trouble Free Pool School book.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,459
Bedford, TX
bjp,

Welcome to TFP... a great place to find the answers to all or your "Why is my cell's life "flashing" before my eyes?" questions... :shark:

My gut says your cell's dead.. I say this because a 40K cell in a 32K pool would have to work pretty hard in Arizona, and cleaning it with Muriatic Acid will reduce its life span. You have cleaned it twice, and I suspect, just based upon your location and water hardness, that the previous owner also cleaned it several times.

That said, there is no way to prove it.. :( I see only two options to know for sure..

1. Removed the cell and place it in a 5 gallon bucket of clean saltwater, manually close the flow switch and see if it starts generating bubbles and if the cell light turns green. This may be difficult to do depending on your pool equipment.

2. Add chemicals to reduce the copper and see if that fixes your problem.

Neither option seems like fun to me. :pukel:

I guess the third option would be to just buy a new cell... but if/when you do, I suggest you get the IC60 which is what we suggest for a pool of your size..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

bejazzpiano

Member
Aug 11, 2018
11
Mesa, AZ
Thanks mknauss!

1. There is a little staining (brownish) on the sides of the pool. I have no idea why there is copper in the pool. I've never used an algaecide, but the previous owner may have.
2. I've created a signature. Sorry. I'm new to this type of communication.
3. Test Results:
FC - 1.5
CC - .5
pH - 7.4
TA - 100
CH - none? I couldn't get a reading
CYA - 31

3.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,404
Laughlin, NV
Thank you for the info.

Your FC is far too low as is your CYA. For now, add chlorine using the non-SWCG table in [FC/CYA][/FC/CYA]

We know you have CH in the pool. Why do you say no result? Watch Calcium Hardness Test Interference - YouTube to see if that helps.

The staining. Is it slimy? Get some Vitamin C tablets and put them in a sock. Crush them up and hold them against the stain for 15 minutes or so. Does the stain change color? Get lighter or darker?

I suspect you need a new SWCG as Jim noted above. Get an IC60 replacement cell. It will plug right into your power supply.

Once you get more info let us know.

Start looking at the links I gave you. Your water chemistry needs to be managed better to make use of your SWCG.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,525
Copper shouldn't prevent the cell from generating.

What is the date on the sticker on the bottom of the cell?

Press and hold the more button until the lights scroll and note which percentage light lights up.

Then, immediately press the more button again and note which percentage lights light up.
 

bejazzpiano

Member
Aug 11, 2018
11
Mesa, AZ
I really appreciate your help so far.

1. Yes, I'm award my FC is low. I've been adding chlorine because the generator isn't doing it but I'm having a hard time keeping up with the 112 degree heat. ;)

2. I'm baffled by the CH test. I tried it again after watching the video. The same thing happened. I buffed it with the r-0012, then I added the r-0010, the the r-0011L and it barely turned pink, not red. Then I ended up adding the r-0012, about 70 drops and it never turned blue but became completely clear. Weird

3. The staining is not slimy, but hard. The previous owner mentioned that he allowed a family of ducks to live in the pool and spent a fortune in repairing the damages. I don't know if any of the staining is from that event. Don't get me wrong, the pool looks pretty good though. The staining is minimal really.

Thanks again
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,525
The temperature sensor might be reading the temperature as too high.

Before replacing the cell, you might want to try a new temperature sensor. It's in the flow switch.

https://pentairpool.com/~/media/websites/pool/downloads/sanitizers/manuals/intellichlor_flow_switch_replacement_kit_installation_guide_english.pdf

If you cut the green and white wires, the cell will ignore the temperature reading from the sensor and will use a default temperature of 77 degrees.

See what happens when the green and white wires are cut. Only cut the green and white wires. If that works, you can replace the flow/temperature sensor and get some more life out of the cell.

If that doesn't work, you probably need a new cell. Check the plates in the cell for erosion. See if the ends of the plates are smooth or all ragged and eaten up.

It's very hard to see the plates. Use a flashlight and look carefully from both sides.

Copper or other metals will interfere with the calcium hardness test.

What is the water temperature?

Pressing and holding the “More” button launches the System Status Mode. When the lights finish scrolling, the percent lights indicate hours of usage in 1,000s. For example, if the 40% light lights, that indicates 4,000 hours.

Version 3.1 on adds the ability to determine system temperature. Pressing the “More” button after the display shows 1,000s of hours of usage, will show temperature as follows:

Lights…………….....………Temperature
No LEDs………….…..………Below 30F
40%..........................36 to 45F
40% and 60%............46 to 55F
60%..........................56 to 65F
60% and 80%............66 to 75F
80%.........................76 to 85F
80 and 100%............86 to 95F
100%.......................96 to 99F
100% blinking……..….over 99F
All LEDs blinking……...Sensor bad

If, on the second press, the 100% was solid, that means that the cell is reading the temperature as 96 to 99 degrees.

If the 100% was blinking, that means that the cell is reading the temperature as over 99 degrees.

If the cell is using a really high temperature, it might overestimate the expected amperage.
 

bejazzpiano

Member
Aug 11, 2018
11
Mesa, AZ
Thanks James@ for your help. The water temperature is 91 degrees F. The flow plates look flat, non-jagged and shiny from both sides. I'll try cutting the green and white wires and let you know.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,525
Ok, the temperature reading is a little bit high but not super high. That might not be the issue.

How did you test the salinity?

If you're sure that the salinity is good, you might need a new cell.

2 years is not a very good life for a cell.

Maybe see if Pentair will cover it under warranty.
 

bejazzpiano

Member
Aug 11, 2018
11
Mesa, AZ
Re: Intellichlor IC-40 Flashing "Cell" light Due to Copper in Water?

Ok. I cut the green and white wires (only) to the temperature sensor. I pressed and held the "More" button and 40% lit up. I pressed and held it again and 100% flashing this time. Also, the "cell" light is still flashing green.

- - - Updated - - -

I tested salinity both with a Taylor kit and at my local pool store. I called Pentair and since I'm not the original owner and it's several months out of warranty, they won't replace it. GRRRRR!
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,525
Most cells last about 5 to 7 years. If the cell was allowed to scale up and needed frequent acid washes, that can shorten the life of the cell.

The IC60 would be a good choice.
 

bejazzpiano

Member
Aug 11, 2018
11
Mesa, AZ
Ok, thanks. I've owned the pool for 17 months of the 26 months of the cell's life. I believe I've always kept the chemicals balanced. I was told to keep the pH and CYA in check the most. Is there something that I did wrong?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,525
If the cell was not getting scaled, then I don't know why it has failed so soon.

It seems like you're doing a pretty good job.