IntelliChlor Zero Salt Reading

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
About a week ago, I noticed a zero salt reading on my automation Web-Client home page. Hmmm, what’s up with that? So, I starting checking in to this. Same indication on the Web-Client Chemistry Page, at the Automation Control Panel and on the iOS app.

Okay, so I next checked the “Cell Status” page on the IntellipH Control Panel. No salt or temp reading.

All solid green lights on the 7 month old IntelliChlor unit itself (no indication of any issue).

I knew chlorine was being generated because my last test was FC=6.0 ppm.

I did a little poking around using the TFP search feature but I wasn't really able to find too much info defining a cause for this issue (I might not have used the correct search criteria). But I did find something indicating that this might be a “dirty” cell issue (calcium buildup in cell).

Okay, so I removed the IC-60 from the plumbing and looked inside at the cell. The blades looked brand new.

Next, I called Pentair Tech Support (since my warranty is in effect). Once I gave the IntelliChlor Technical Support Rep (TSR) all of the above information and confirmed a few things for him, he determined the likely cause to be a defective IntelliChlor Flow/Temp Switch.

He expressed to me that not only does the flow/temp switch provide minimum flow readings necessary for operation but also temperature and salt content information and the transmission of that information through an Electrolytic Cell Controller and then on to the ipH control panel and the automation system (I hope I got all of that correct). He created a work order and I got an email that a contracted company would come out and replace the flow/temp switch.

Okay, so now the guy who provided the warranty service just left. It was not exactly a pleasant experience really. :)

First, his customer service “bedside manner” left a lot to be desired. This young man certainly had a major "know it all attitude” and all the while, I just kind of played stupid like I did not know the difference between a pool light and a skimmer basket :p. Okay fine, I can live with that (for a short period of time anyway). At the pad though, he started going through my automation menus like he "owned the place" and found that Pentair had just today, provided to me a “non-publicly released” beta version of some future updates for me to try out to see if they would solve a lighting feature issue that some of us are experiencing. He then pulled a USB flash (thumb) drive out of his pocket and I could see that he was going to first try to download my IntelliCenter configuration file and then try to steal the beta update. Whoaaaa. Hold up there guy. I thought "What in the devil does this have to do with my IntelliChlor Flow/Temp Sensor?"

I told him to please remove his flash drive from my automation system (I was thinking also that I don't want his "viruses" running through my system) and that I was under instructions from Pentair to not release those beta updates to anyone. He told me that he “worked for Pentair” and he wanted to "get those beta’s".
I told him “no, you DO NOT work for Pentair, you are contracted to provide warranty service and that if you actually “worked for Pentair” you would already have those beta's”.

I guess he really didn’t like that (oops) ;) and I could tell this whole affair was taking a big “nose dive”. :confused:

But he then grudgingly left my control panel and set out to replace the flow/temp sensor on the IntelliChlor. Everything else proceeded without incident. I now have a salt reading but....

Here are my two questions for those that have much more experience than I on this subject.

My salt reading in the automation and ipH relayed from the IntelliChlor is now 4900 and the SALT LEVEL GOOD LIGHT is blinking green (of course as it should be with that high of a salt reading) but my last salt reading (about 3 weeks ago) from my K1766 test kit was 3900 (no additional salt has been added since). A 1000ppm difference. I'm thinking it should not be this much of a difference.

1. Does it normally take some time for the IntelliChlor to maybe “re-calibrate” itself to a salt reading that is a bit more closer to what the K1766 is telling me?
2. The warranty service "dude" was using some sort of hand-held, what appeared to be a bluetooth enabled device that he placed on one of the IntelliChlor buttons, pressed down on it and then held down the "more" button. It was blue, silver and black and I think it was providing some sort of info to an app on his phone. Anyone have any details or info on this device?

If anyone can help with my questions, It would be very much appreciated as always.
Thanks much and all the best!
r.
p.s. Yea, if things had been better, I would have certainly asked him about that device but at this point, I was "tired of this guy" and just wanted him to button up my IntelliChlor and "be gone". :p
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,797
Tucson, AZ
It’s probably something like the old Pentair IntelliWand. The ICs use an RF transmission to send out diagnostic info. Used to be you plugged the IntelliWand into the 8 bit serial port of the IBM XT Desktop computer you had on your special “computer cart” .... hehehehe.

Anyway, yeah, gotta love Pentair bottling up all their diagnostic info so only “reps” can get to it. They are way too over-protective of their “technology” which hasn’t much more advanced than late-90’s industrial tech. One thing I truly hate about Pentair.

Did you reset/reboot your system after the new flow switch install??
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,338
The zero salinity reading is a known problem. We're not sure what's going on.

The flow switch contains a temperature sensor that is known to fail.

The salinity is calculated based on the conductivity of the water and the water temperature.

The conductivity sensor is a separate device in the cell which can be seen if you look in the cell.

The device was probably an intelliwand.

You can check the cell temperature reading by 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
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
Matt and JamesW.
Wow! Thank you both for the detailed information . Very informative and insightful.
I did not do a reset on the automation, so will be trying that this morning. I am also going to try the "Cell Temperature Reading" procedure and will report back what the results are.

Okay, so the actual conductivity sensor is a separate device in the cell. Good to know. When I did look in the cell, everything looked copacetic from what I could tell (no calcium buildup etc.)

I'm thinking I might want to try to get my hands on one of those IntelliWands, being a "gadget guy" and enjoying playing with technology. I'll have to google it and see if I can get more info on it, pricing etc., to see if it would be worth having a go at one.

Thanks again very much!!!!
r.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,797
Tucson, AZ
I don’t think you’ll find one online. Maybe. I think they’re only sold to Pentair service people. Maybe someone has one for sale on eBay, I didn’t check there. Maybe since you’ve gotten some beta updates to your intellicenter, they throw you a bone on the wand.

There’s an app for the IntelliWand on both device stores but you still need the physical wand device to make it work.
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
Hi Matt
So I reset my automation and it was still reading 4900. Just tested salinity with the K1766 and got 3900 again.

I tried to check the temp using the "more" button method as you had advised but that feature did not seem to work. I could not get the usage hours meter or the temp reading on the lights (I tried several times). When I hold the "more" button down for three seconds, it does appear to go through a self-test mode then goes right back into an operational mode.

My guess is that maybe it won't do it because it is connected to the automation?
I'm thinking my only resort now, is to call Pentair Tech Support and open up another WO ticket (grrrrrr), to have the entire unit replaced, as the issue is most likely, a bad conductivity sensor inside the cell.

Also, I've got some "feelers" out regarding that newer bluetooth version of the IntelliWand. I'll keep you posted if I get any responses.
Thanks and take care.
r.
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,797
Tucson, AZ
That does seem odd. It is entirely possible that the installed flow switch replacement is bad; they are hit & miss it seems and Pentair doesn’t seem to do much quality control on them (they get them in bulk from a 3rd party manufacturer). The 10k thermistors they use for air and water temperature are much more robust. In fact, you can actually use one their air/water thermistors instead of the one built into the flow switch but it requires adding one near the pipe closest to the SWG. It has been talked about here on TFP as a lower cost hack/fix than buying the $100 flow switch; the air/water thermistors cost $15.

I guess you’ll have to beat up Pentair again for a fix to their “fix”....
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
Yes, I have seen those threads and it's an awesome idea. Something that I might have to revert to down the road.
But in my case with the living warranty and all, I'm going to do what you suggest, and just make Pentair keep replacing "something" until I get a correct salt reading out of that IntelliChlor.
Thanks Matt and take care.
r.
Oh, BTW, I just completed filling out the "Pentair Pool Warranty Survey" on that warranty service character that came out Friday. I don't think he will like my comments. :p
"The keyboard is mightier than the sword" :stirpot:
later...
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,338

It would be nice if Pentair would just make the diagnostic information available through the system.

Make sure that the actual salinity is accurate by getting at least 2 and preferably 3 independent salinity tests.

Can you post a video (YouTube link) of the temperature test procedure?
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona

I found one here for sale but it doesn't show a price.

It would be nice if Pentair would just make the diagnostic information available through the system.
James
Yea, I did see that as well in my google searches, and I assume that is the older type that you plug into a laptop.
But what this guy had was a much newer style Bluetooth enabled device that provided all the data to a mobile phone app (which like Matt stated, is in the app stores). I assume it does the same thing as the older type but doesn't need a laptop.

Wouldn't that be nice if you could just get all the IntelliChlor diagnostic information at the control panel or your desktop. Certainly do-able but my family will surely have me committed, if I start honestly thinking that our buds at Pentair will be doing something like that anytime soon. :mrgreen:
Thanks
r.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
Make sure that the actual salinity is accurate by getting at least 2 and preferably 3 independent salinity tests.

Can you post a video (YouTube link) of the temperature test procedure?
I will do two other tests and also post a video of the test procedure. Will probably do that in the morning (its 111 degrees outside right now and I'm being a wimp at the moment in my aircon) :p
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
JamesW
So I performed the salt level test 3 times with the K1766. 1. 4000ppm (20 drops of silver nitrate reagent), 2. 3900ppm, 3. 4000ppm.
The IntelliChlor is reporting the following to the ipH controller:
1. Cell is good.
2. Salt: 4900
3. Temp: 89F

111156 111157

Here is the video that you requested. (this is my first shot at doing this, so I hope it works :p)



To me, it appears that the flow/temp sensor is okay (temp is accurate and flow is good). I'm thinking that it must be the conductivity sensor inside the cell that is bad. ????????
r.
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,797
Tucson, AZ
The EC sensor is literally two metal pads that are at a set distance apart and a conductivity test is performed (once every 12 hours .... yeah, Pentair only records the salinity once at startup then every 12 hours after that 🤦‍♂️). So you can look down the throat of the cell, remove the splinter screen, and shine a light to see if the electrodes look damaged or corroded. My guess is you won’t see anything wrong.

Time for a warranty cell replacement.....maybe your service buddy will show up again looking to snoop a copy of your beta code.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,338
I would not be ready to say that the 4,900 reading is so far off that it warrants a new cell.

I would get two "independent" salinity tests to verify the actual salinity.

See if you can get the salinity tested with a conductivity meter.

The video doesn't play. Maybe post on YouTube and link.

I'm not sure that the temperature shown is the temperature from the cell. It might be the water temperature from the sensor in the plumbing.

Try the test again. Press and hold the More button until the lights scroll then release and a single percentage light should light up within 2 to 3 seconds.

After waiting 2 to 3 seconds, immediately press and release the More button again and note which two percentage lights light up.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
The EC sensor is literally two metal pads that are at a set distance apart and a conductivity test is performed (once every 12 hours .... yeah, Pentair only records the salinity once at startup then every 12 hours after that 🤦‍♂️). So you can look down the throat of the cell, remove the splinter screen, and shine a light to see if the electrodes look damaged or corroded. My guess is you won’t see anything wrong.
Matt
So I did that and those pads look brand new.

Time for a warranty cell replacement.....maybe your service buddy will show up again looking to snoop a copy of your beta code.
Maybe so. But I will try the advice in JamesW's advice first, so I have all my "ducks in order" before I call for warranty service.

maybe your service buddy will show up again looking to snoop a copy of your beta code.
:laughblue:AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN. :mrgreen:

I would not be ready to say that the 4,900 reading is so far off that it warrants a new cell.
I would get two "independent" salinity tests to verify the actual salinity.
See if you can get the salinity tested with a conductivity meter.
The video doesn't play. Maybe post on YouTube and link.
I'm not sure that the temperature shown is the temperature from the cell. It might be the water temperature from the sensor in the plumbing.
Try the test again. Press and hold the More button until the lights scroll then release and a single percentage light should light up within 2 to 3 seconds.
After waiting 2 to 3 seconds, immediately press and release the More button again and note which two percentage lights light up.
James
I just think that a 900-1000ppm discrepancy seems to be a bit much. I could live with 400-500ppm diff I guess.

I will hit the road tomorrow and see if I can get two different tests using a conductivity meter to test salinity and will report back.

The temp shown on the IntellipH actually does receive its information from the IntelliChlor Flow/Temp Sensor and not the water temp thermistor installed in the plumbing.

I don't know what I am doing wrong regarding the video (it's my first attempt). I did link to the video YouTube URL. Funny thing is, that it will play from TFP on my mobile but not on my desktop (go figure). Maybe Leebo can school me on where I went a foul.

I will try the test at the IntelliChlor again and report back.

Thanks to you both for the excellent advice and information!!!
r.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,797
Tucson, AZ
Funny, I can see the video from my Desktop but it wouldn't play on my iPhone..... @Leebo is weird with the video privileges.....he thinks I'm just going to upload all of my personal amateur pole-dancing workout videos that I created for my "health & wellness" business.....I don't see his problem, every budding business needs some help from it's friends....
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
Funny, I can see the video from my Desktop but it wouldn't play on my iPhone..... @Leebo is weird with the video privileges.....he thinks I'm just going to upload all of my personal amateur pole-dancing workout videos that I created for my "health & wellness" business.....I don't see his problem, every budding business needs some help from it's friends....
:laughblue:

Tmi GIF
 

SPenfold

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2018
54
LI, NY
The Intellichlor manual specifically states in 2 places that the salinity accuracy is +/- 500ppm.
I'm having a problem already with a brand new IC60. It's only reading approximately 300ppm high but I'm getting Low Water Temp, Very Low Salt, Low Salt and Check and Clean Cell alerts every 12hrs. Just need to get all my equipment registered first.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
The Intellichlor manual specifically states in 2 places that the salinity accuracy is +/- 500ppm.
I'm having a problem already with a brand new IC60. It's only reading approximately 300ppm high but I'm getting Low Water Temp, Very Low Salt, Low Salt and Check and Clean Cell alerts every 12hrs. Just need to get all my equipment registered first.
SPenfold
Thanks for the info. I must have missed that in the documentation. Thank You!
Yep, get that equipment registered on the Pentair Registration WebPortal and then give em call at (800) 831-7133.
r.
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
980
Arizona
I would not be ready to say that the 4,900 reading is so far off that it warrants a new cell.

I would get two "independent" salinity tests to verify the actual salinity.

See if you can get the salinity tested with a conductivity meter.

The video doesn't play. Maybe post on YouTube and link.

I'm not sure that the temperature shown is the temperature from the cell. It might be the water temperature from the sensor in the plumbing.

Try the test again. Press and hold the More button until the lights scroll then release and a single percentage light should light up within 2 to 3 seconds.

After waiting 2 to 3 seconds, immediately press and release the More button again and note which two percentage lights light up.
James and Matt
So I went to two different "PoolWerx" stores today. They use conductivity meters for salinity tests. 1st test = 3650 ppm. 2nd test = 3600 ppm. Water temp 89F
One store also used a LaMotte WaterLink Spin to test the salinity and it reported the salt level at 4250 ppm.
Like I said, my separate tests with the K1766 was 3900-4000ppm (water temp) 89

I tried the temp test at the IntelliChlor again. It worked fine once I pressed the "more" button the second time. 80% and 100% lights were on (86F-95F). Thanks...
IntelliChlor is still reporting 4900 ppm to the automation. More than a 900 ppm to 1300 ppm difference compared to the different manual tests performed over the last couple of days.

Per SPenfold's find in the IntelliChlor Installation and User's guide:
Note: "Salt measurements will vary between measuring devices (salt test strips, electronic testers, and titration). The salt sensor reading is within +/- 500 ppm accuracy."

Is it your opinion based on the additional information, that my IntelliChlor EC or Conductivity Sensor is bad and that the unit should be replaced under warranty?

Thanks very much for your advice!
r.