Is my heater toast?? Or is it possible I just need to replace some parts?

Jane S

Member
Mar 30, 2020
10
Frisco, TX 75033
My pool problems actually started before the anticipated major drop in temps. I went out last Saturday to get everything ready for the storm and I noticed that the freeze protect had not worked AND the spa was super low for some reason. It was already completely frozen (and yes, we will definitely have to replaster). The water in the pump basket was also frozen. The sun was going down, as well as the temps, so I just made sure the pool level was up and turned the breaker off. On Sunday morning the entire pool appeared to be frozen but I was able to thaw the water in the pump basket and drain it, per advice I received here. Unfortunately I couldn't get the drain plugs off the filter or heater. Frozen solid. We had rolling blackouts for the next 4-5 days. Power on for 30 mins, off for 60 to 90 mins. Fast forward to today, everything is thawed, it's fairly warm & some people are wearing t-shirts and shorts again. I haven't even scheduled a pool inspection yet but decided to fire it up to see if I could determine what damages we are looking at. The pump and filter seem to be fine. Heater is not. Water was spraying from the bottom enclosure, or maybe from the heating element?? (see photo) Obviously, I need to get someone out to inspect everything but I'm curious what you guys think. Is there any hope? I only ran it for a few minutes to see if there were any other obvious issues but it's hard to tell with the heater spraying water everywhere. I haven't tried the pump for the Polaris yet, but it was already on it's last leg so I'm not expecting much from it. Is it possible to bypass the heater, so I can run the pump for a bit longer, to see if there's any other areas of concern? Recommendations for a replacement heater? It looks like if I were to buy the exact same one (or most similar), they cost about $2500 online + labor. We are probably going to sell the house within the next year so if there's a less expensive one for almost the same quality, I'd like to hear about it. Our current heater is sta-rite 400k btu natural gas model SR400. Pool is 17k gallons but ... it's Texas. Rarely do we heat the entire pool. Just need a decent one for the spa.
 

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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,886
Bedford, TX
Jane,

I am not a heater guy, but I think that is the heat exchanger, which I assume can be replaced..

Let's see if @JamesW has any feedback..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,781
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
When you have your new heater installed have them install a heater bypass.


Shop for a Raypak heater versus your Sta-rite. Any 400K BTU gas heater will equally work in your system - Pentair MasterTemp, Sta-rite, Jandy, Hayward H-Series or Raypak.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,338
That's the same heater as a Mastertemp just with a different outer shell.

The manifold is cracked and the heat exchanger is probably compromised.

Here are some videos of the disassembly and replacement of the manifold and heat exchanger.

Typically, the heater would be considered "Totaled" like a car that was in a flood or wreck.

You can probably fix it if you want, but it's usually considered a total loss if you're paying someone to do repairs.




 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,338
How old is the heater?

There should be a manufacturing date on the heater somewhere.

If you can take it apart and pressure test the heat exchanger and it's good, you might be able to replace just the manifold.

If the heat exchanger is leaking, I would not invest in a new heat exchanger.
 
Last edited:

Jane S

Member
Mar 30, 2020
10
Frisco, TX 75033
How old is the heater?

There should be a manufacturing date on the heater somewhere.

If you can take it apart and pressure test the heat exchanger and it's good, you might be able to replace just the manifold.

If the heat exchanger is leaking, I would not invest in a new heat exchanger.
I cannot find the manufacture date, but .... it's old. It's the original heater that was installed when the pool was built in 2005. I guess I'm lucky it has lasted this long. I was looking through my notes and was reminded that last summer I had to replace the igniter. Soon after, the blower went out. I'm glad I decided to put that repair off until this spring because it would've been a waste of $650.

I'm researching heaters now and have a few questions. Our pool is 20x33, 17k gallons, 4- 5 ft deep. Spa is approx 6.8 x 5.5, 4 feet deep (I think) and has seating all around it. Someone recommended Raypack so that's what I'm looking at. Open to other suggestions. Keep in mind, we don't heat the pool very often (maybe once or twice a year max when kids were younger). But I don't want to wait forever for the spa to heat up either. We are probably going to sell the house within a year or 2.
1. I currently have a 400k BTU natural gas heater, but based on what I'm reading, I don't really need that high of a BTU model. Would you recommend looking at lower btu models?
2. What else do I need to consider, expense wise, when replacing the heater? Are there other components I will need to buy? Will the installer need to change the plumbing? Anything else I'm not thinking of? I believe our deck has plenty of room. Is the Raypack comparable in size to the Sta-Rite?

Also, my pool guy cannot get me on his schedule until Monday to come inspect everything else. No telling how long it will be before he can get the new heater installed. In the meantime, what can I do, if anything, to prevent algae and further problems since I can't run the pump?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,781
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
1. I currently have a 400k BTU natural gas heater, but based on what I'm reading, I don't really need that high of a BTU model. Would you recommend looking at lower btu models?

No, getting a lower BTU only saves a few dollars on the purchase cost. The NG cost to heat the pool or spa is the same with a small or large BTU NG heater. A larger BTU heater will heat things faster.

2. What else do I need to consider, expense wise, when replacing the heater? Are there other components I will need to buy? Will the installer need to change the plumbing? Anything else I'm not thinking of? I believe our deck has plenty of room. Is the Raypack comparable in size to the Sta-Rite?

Raypak is a different form factor then the Starite. Raypak is square and taller then the Starite. Dimensions are in this brochure. You can measure and see if you have a problem with its size.




Also, my pool guy cannot get me on his schedule until Monday to come inspect everything else. No telling how long it will be before he can get the new heater installed. In the meantime, what can I do, if anything, to prevent algae and further problems since I can't run the pump?

Pour 5 ppm of liquid chlorine in the pool daily and stir it in with your pool brush until you get things running.