Pentair flow switch problems

Jarker

Member
Nov 9, 2013
13
Houston, TX
Moved from here .. Pentair IC60 no flow

I'm having a similar problem on my IC40. It's about 4-5 years old now after having it replaced under warranty once. I have not gone 1 year without having to replace the flow switch in my cell. Pentair was good enough to send me one each time, but it has happened again. I last replaced it in Feb. 2019. Why does this keep happening?

It is still generating chlorine and the flow light will sometimes switch back to green, but i cannot seem to force it to happen. I keep my water balanced and have cleaned the filter recently (after this current problem started). Is it safe to test it by tying the red and black wires together? if I want to set it back to how it was, will I need a new splice connector?
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
21,257
Bedford, TX
J,

As a general rule the flow switch itself does not fail very often... The main problem that we have seen here at TFP is that the thermistor, which is part of the flow switch assembly is the high failure item. It normally causes the salt reading to be off from where it should be.

Go to Setting and then Signature and tell us about your pool. You can use my signature as an example.

The idea of connecting the red and black wires is just for a quick test.. If you run the cell with the pump off and flow switch shorted, the cell could explode.

If you have a red flow light, then your cell should not be making chlorine and the cell light should never come on.

Sometimes plumbing can cause a low flow condition as water that is normally going to the cell can be routed somewhere else, like a pressure side cleaner or waterfall or ??? It should not be plumbed that way, but plumbers will do what they will do..

Show us some pics of your equipment pad and we can see if anything obvious pops up.

If you have a VS pump, what speed do you normally run? Do you have a heater?

Since you have replaced your flow switch before, then that just adds another point of failure, as those little crimps are not the best. Especially, if like me, you tried to strips the tiny wires first.. :rolleyes:

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Jarker

Member
Nov 9, 2013
13
Houston, TX
Thanks Jim. I added some details to my signature. Hope it helps. I did have problems with the salt reading to be off from where it should be. That is what led me to replace it in the past. Although, when that occurred, I would typically get readings of 0 PPM from the cell. It does seem to be reading high lately compared to my tests using my kit.

I have attached some pictures too. Yes there is a heater. I also have a booster pump for the cleaner.
 

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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
My last cell the salt reading stopped working but the chlorine production seemed to be unaffected. I ran it like that for quite a while. Pentair eventually sent a tech out to replace the switch. He replaced the whole unit instead, citing he doesn't like to mess with the switch and just replaces the unit as a matter of course.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
21,257
Bedford, TX
J,

With a single speed pump, it sure can't be a pump speed issue... :mrgreen:

I didn't see anything obvious in your set up. Dirk is correct about what is recommended, but I have seen many setups with less space than yours, and they seem to work fine.

I would wrap on the side of the flow switch and see if you can make the flow light change to green.

If you can feel a good strong flow coming out of your pool returns, then it has to be a bad flow switch, bad connection splices, or :( a bad cell...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Jarker

Member
Nov 9, 2013
13
Houston, TX
Thanks Dirk and Jim. I haven't had a year where the flow switch works. Just seem like a very expensive piece of junk.

What do you mean by wrap? just wrap my hands around it and see if I can feel it flow?
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Wrap, as in knock, tap, jar, shake. As in, "If it don't work, get a bigger hammer!" ;)

The owner manual also describes a bypass plumbing setup. I'm not looking at it now, but I think it's meant to deal with too much flow. Download the manual and have a look, page 5. That seems farfetched, but ya never know, especially considering this seems to be happening too frequently for you to have that many bad switches in a row:

 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
On that same page there is a note that I've never noticed before. New, maybe? Another possibility to try.

Note: Install IntelliChlor SCG cell vertically for best performance.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
37,186
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
On that same page there is a note that I've never noticed before. New, maybe? Another possibility to try.
That is to lessen the chance of hydrogen gas buildup if the cell generates chlorine without water flow.
 
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Jarker

Member
Nov 9, 2013
13
Houston, TX
Thanks again for the help. Wanted to update my post with what was going on.

The flow light would turn green every now and again, but I went ahead and put in a new flow switch. It's still having the same issue. The flow light will be red, later in the day it might switch to green. everything else is solid green. I checked the filter, it's clean. I also washed the cell again. Also, I checked the salt level just to make sure. My test kit came out to 2800 and the SWG was showing a reading of 3650.

I'm guessing the cell is on it's last legs. Anything else I can do to test this before purchasing a new cell? Also, I have an EasyTouch system, would I be able to put a different brand of cell on or should I stick with the IC40?
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The manual has instructions for determining what life is left in the cell.

You can use any SWG available, but only the IC series can be fully controlled by your ET. You'll be able to use the ET to power the SWG on and off, but you'll need to go out to the pad each time you want to adjust its settings or observe its status. There may be some Hayward SWG models that can interface with an ET, but I don't know to what extent.

@Jimrahbe, do I have that right? Can the ET control any of the Hayward SWGs?
 
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Jarker

Member
Nov 9, 2013
13
Houston, TX
The manual says there is an hours of usage test. when i do that, the cell only reads out about 2000 hours. That is is the lowest reading it can give out. I've had this cell for years, it seems like it should be more...
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The manual says there is an hours of usage test. when i do that, the cell only reads out about 2000 hours. That is is the lowest reading it can give out. I've had this cell for years, it seems like it should be more...
Well that depends on your settings. For example, even if the SWG was powered up for 24 hours a day, if the output setting is 10%, you'd only be racking up 2.4 usage hours a day, which would last 11 years. If you had if cranked to 100%, that would only last a little over a year. The counter tracks when the cell is producing chlorine, not the number of hours it is powered on. You could confirm that 2000 hours if you remember your output and runtime settings...

And I don't know how accurate the system is, so there's that.

It'd be a shame to trash that thing if it had 80% life left. If I may... you keep replacing flow switches, and you keep getting the same results. I think Einstein had something to say about that. And now you're getting ready to replace the entire unit. But you haven't reported that you tried any of the other suggestions you were given... just sayin'...

Personally, I'd try a different plumbing configuration before I spent 6 or 7 bills on a new IC. You have plenty of room to do that, and plenty of extra pipe to restore the plumbing to its current state if that doesn't work. You could try the bypass, or the vertical orientation or the 18" straight run. You could probably do all three for under $30...
 

Jarker

Member
Nov 9, 2013
13
Houston, TX
The cell is 5 years old, isn't that about the life of a cell?

When I replaced the flow switches before, the issues that I had were fixed. Wouldn't that mean the flow switch was the issue and not plumbing? I'm not sure how plumbing would cause a cell to read salt levels accurately for months then one day stop, only go back to being accurate after a flow switch was installed.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The cell is 5 years old, isn't that about the life of a cell?
No. Read post #14 paragraph 1.


When I replaced the flow switches before, the issues that I had were fixed. Wouldn't that mean the flow switch was the issue and not plumbing? I'm not sure how plumbing would cause a cell to read salt levels accurately for months then one day stop, only go back to being accurate after a flow switch was installed.
Probably, but not necessarily. Yes, you could have gotten that many failed flow switches in a row. But that is somewhat unlikely because as Jim explained, the problem with Pentair ICs is not usually the flow switch component of that assembly. Plus, this last time around a new flow switch did not fix the problem. Equally unlikely is that something about your plumbing is damaging the flow switch over time. They are a mechanical lever, after all. It could be a freak current because of the way the elbows are so close. Or it could be you have too much flow using a single speed pump. Or both of those factors combined. This, of course, is just speculation on my part, so take it or leave it.

It is also possible that you've experienced several different issues at different times, and that's making the troubleshooting so difficult. When you're faced with this type of unobvious troubleshooting problem, you just have to work the steps and eliminate as many potential problems as possible, one at a time, even if they're farfetched. You've tried the flow switch replacement troubleshooting step. That is giving you mixed results, and no long-lasting fix. At this point, you have not ruled out the flow switch as the problem, or not the problem. You could try replacing the cell, that is certainly a valid troubleshooting step, but the most expensive one. You could also try a different brand, that too is a valid troubleshooting step.

I was suggesting you try one or more of three considerably cheaper troubleshooting steps (mounting vertically, adding 18" of straight pipe in front of the SWG and creating a bypass loop). As I said, that's about $30 vs about $600-700 for a new Pentair cell (a different brand will be considerably more). If that solves the problem, great. If not, you've only spent $30 to rule out three possible causes. And then you can decide if you want to try yet another flow switch or try a new cell. Until you alter the plumbing as per Pentair's installation instructions, you'll never know for sure that that is not the problem.
 
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