Pentair ic40, surge board, intelliph and swg transformer.

Latitude22

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First time poster, long time lurker. Ok I decided I’d do a sanity check real quick. I had an easy touch panel installed in 2019, along with the ic40 and the acid injector. It’s been working fine, I opened the pool, shocked it and ran the pool for 24 hours. This morning I noticed it wasn’t reporting salt level like it had yesterday and said it had a communication issue with the ic40. when I got there all,lights were functioning on the salt cell, said it was doing fine. when I walked up to the panel I could smell burning electronics and the screen on the intelliph was a bunch of black squares. I shut it down, took the intelliph apart and the board was melted. One of the relays had a hole blown through the side and some capacitors had melted.
So I looked at the surge board, it too had 2 capacitors melted. Also noticed the swg transformer had mineral oil on the outside. I tested the voltage from the transformer it was like 7 volts dc, board has 28VDC printed on it where the transformer comes in, did some research online and it says it should be like 24-32.

the only melted wire was on the intelliph board, it was the ground from the easy touch.

So I ordered a new surge board, a whole new intelliph controller box and a new transformer. I called pentair and ran it by them, guy said the transformer probably went bad and shorted out. I asked if he thought the ic40 would be ok, he said only way to find out is to replace the transformer and surge board and hook it up. Now having thought about it should I be worried that ic40 was the cause of the meltdown? He didn’t seem to think it would be an issue, it would either work or not, but I’m concerned about frying $900 in boards to find out. I can’t find any way to test the ic40 and it doesn’t seem like it would have had all green lights on if it was shorted out or causing the initial problem. A transformer blowing after 3 years seems odd, but we did have a big power surge here 6 days ago that caused issues all over vegas. (yes ill be installing the surge protector on the pool system tomorrow, ordered the AF3000).

anyhow sorry for the long post, wanted to get as much info on here as possible. Thanks for any insight you guys might have.
 
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ajw22

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Welcome to TFP.

@Dirk has experience with this problem.The fault is not with the IC40 but with the iPH control board.

The IntelliChlor IC40 or IC60 cell can draw too much power through the IpH and burn out a connector. This thread describes a fix to the burnt connector.

 

Latitude22

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Welcome to TFP.

@Dirk has experience with this problem.The fault is not with the IC40 but with the iPH control board.

The IntelliChlor IC40 or IC60 cell can draw too much power through the IpH and burn out a connector. This thread describes a fix to the burnt connector.

Yea that definitely seems to be where it started, it has the burnt connector etc. thanks for the link I’ll check it out. ill snap a photo of the iPh board when I have a chance. It blew a hole in the white relay.

that is the connector but it’s a different wire, it’s the wire coming from the surge board, the black wire. That’s a pin going out to the ic40.
 

Dirk

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Your description of what is burned is a little confusing to me (the way you wrote it). So it might be one or two problems (same cause).

We just saw here recently two versions of this over-current issue. The link Allen gave you describes how I fixed my board, but on mine, only the white terminal connector was burned. We've got another IntellipH owner here who also had the burned connector, but in addition to that, part of the board was fried, including the little white box next to the connector. That's a relay, and if that's the same relay you're talking about, then your board is worse off than mine.

So that board's owner and myself and our friend @ogdento are arranging to explore this issue further to see if (1) we can fix the charred board and (2) if we can offer a suggestion about preemptively modifying the IntellipH board and its connector, before either burns up, to prevent this issue altogether. We don't have a timeline for this project yet, we're waiting on a few things to come together. But we can keep you in the loop if you want to wait it out.

Otherwise, if more than your connector is burned, I don't know how to fix that (yet).

==================

Sorry, I wrote that first half after reading Allen's post (#2), not yours (#1). My bad. What you're describing is not the typical symptoms of the IC40/60 over-current issue that I was just referring to. I've left the first half of this post for future reference, as you'll probably want to address that issue sooner or later.

It sounds to me like your "big power surge here 6 days ago" was the culprit, and your fix is the right course of action. While I suppose it's possible that the current draw of the IC could work its evil all the way back to the surge board, I don't see how that would blow up the transformer. So far, all that we've seen here is that the IC burns up the IpH board or its connector, not the IC's transformer or surge board. Plus, the surge board is protected (10 amps, I think). Mine is a fuse on my board, if your IC transformer came with your EasyTouch I believe the breaker for the IC is part of the front panel. Either way, that fuse/breaker would pop before the IC pulled too much current from the transformer, and vice versa.

My semi-educated guess: I think you can reassemble everything without worrying about the IC40 blowing everything up, assuming there is nothing wrong with your IC. And like the Pentair tech, I can't offer any way to predict or test what the IC might do to all your new parts without putting them all together. Sorry. Pentair's "official" position is that a problem only exists when using an IC60 with an IpH, but we know it also happens with IC40s. Either way, the transformer is not part of that over-current issue (not that we know of).

You could play it safe: after installing the new transformer and board, bypass the IpH and connect the IC40 directly to the EasyTouch. Run it like that for a while. Leave the IpH out of it until you know the IC and ET are working OK. Then reintroduce the IpH. Or leave the IpH out of the equation until the Three Stooges Amigos can figure out the fix for the IpH/IC over-current problem.
 
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Latitude22

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You could play it safe: after installing the new transformer and board, bypass the IpH and connect the IC40 directly to the EasyTouch. Run it like that for a while. Leave the IpH out of it until you know the IC and ET are working OK. Then reintroduce the IpH. Or leave the IpH out of the equation until the Three Stooges Amigos can figure out the fix for the IpH/IC over-current problem.
yea i think this is the best coarse of action. Run it for week like this, make sure it’s not the ic40, then add the iph back in at least I’m only tearing up one board If it does happen to be the ic40, I run my ic40 at 60%, but this was a 24 hour run so it’s possible it heated everything up I guess. Thanks for the help!

i get all the parts on Wednesday, I’ll post back the results and some photos.
 
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Dirk

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Sounds good. Make a calendar reminder for when the warranty on your new IntellipH controller runs out. Then come back and re-read the thread about bypassing that connector. By then maybe we'll have figured out a way to retrofit the IpH board to avoid the problem. But until then, make Pentair keep replacing those parts! They know what's wrong, if they're not going to correct it, make 'em pay! (That's assuming they haven't addressed it already, hopefully they have.)
 
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ogdento

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hey @Dirk it will be interesting to get a look at two different modes of failure here... @oakwater's (and other's) "high current draw" problem and the power surge that @Latitude22 experienced.

actually, Lat's surge issue got me wondering what the heck the pentair "surge board" even does? I don't have one to look at (yet :cool:)... but is it really just a power rectifier and a comm port expander?? I don't see any MOVs on there that I would expect to see on a product with "surge" in the name.
 

Dirk

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I picked up calling it that from this thread. I don't know if that's the official name or not. There's one that you get if you order an EasyTouch with SWG transformer installed. Mine came out of my Power Center box. It's got a fuse. The comm port. I assumed that it converted the transformer to DC (is that a power rectifier?).

==========

Update: Pentair does call it a surge* board. There are two: one for the EasyTouch, and a slightly different one for the Power Center. The PC version has an onboard 10A fuse, the ET version does not, because I think that fuse is located on the ET front panel (I don't have one of those). This is the ET version:

surge board.jpg


*Surge: "a powerful rush of an emotion or feeling"
There are several definitions of surge. I think Pentair is using this one, as in: what happens to you when you see the price of these little suckers: about $250!!
 

Dirk

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hey @Dirk it will be interesting to get a look at two different modes of failure here... @oakwater's (and other's) "high current draw" problem and the power surge that @Latitude22 experienced.

actually, Lat's surge issue got me wondering what the heck the pentair "surge board" even does? I don't have one to look at (yet :cool:)... but is it really just a power rectifier and a comm port expander?? I don't see any MOVs on there that I would expect to see on a product with "surge" in the name.
@Latitude22, I mentioned we're working on a fix to the over-current problem. And by we I mean: I'm not doing anything but talking @oakwater into sending his fried board to @ogdento! Yah, I'm generous like that. ;) Tom (ogdento) is the wiz that hopefully will be able to give us some insight. If you'd care to help us, you could send your old board to Tom and he could have another data point to study. Let us know if you're interested and we'll get you some shipping info.
 
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Dirk

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Oh, cool. Do your magic, Mr. Wizard!

I think I mentioned, but in case this too got lost in the shuffle:

It looks to me like the two black wires are directly connected on the board. I assumed those were ground. So at least those two could be connected together before they get to the board, and then bridged to the board to establish the ground. I'm guessing the yellow/white and green don't carry much current. So it's the red: I couldn't tell if those were connected together, or if they run off somewhere else and have some component separating them for some reason.

We've seen instances of the red and the black wires burning the connector. One or the other, but I don't think we've seen both doing that on the same board. I assumed they're both carrying the same current, but one or the other connector pin starts to go, and then that becomes the weak link and continues to fry. Something like that.

Good luck!

And thanks to @Latitude22 and @oakwater for contributing!
 

Latitude22

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Ok. Update and some photos. Surge board was supposed to be here Wednesday, showed up today. So I replaced the surge board, the whole ph1 assembly and the transformer.

Everything works!! Full communication with the ic40, everything is functioning like new.

First two photos are the ph1 and the last photo is the surge/SCG board. (Pentair calls is scg in the instructions. Looks like the ph1 took the most heat.

I’ll get these off to ogdento next week so he can take a look at them!
 

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Latitude22

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Oh forgot the fried pin on the ph1.

Thanks again for the sanity check. So far so good on the ic40. I ran it for two hours with the ph1 out of the loop, Darn the power off and added the ph1 back in. Only been running about 20 mins it in the loop.
 

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ogdento

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oh wow, yeah that was some nasty surge! ;)

it's interesting that the comm chip (u5) is smoked, because the "diodes" D3 and D4 are also smoked and their purpose is to protect the rs485 data lines from transients (i'm pretty sure they're actually "Littlefuse sidactors").

I'd love to go back in time and see if a surge arrestor on the rs485 line would have done anything!
 

Latitude22

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Yea im still baffled. The only thing I can think of is the surge we had week before last. It’s strange that it didn’t make it into the main board or anywhere else but possible.
 
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Dirk

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Everything works!! Full communication with the ic40, everything is functioning like new.
Yay! Glad you're back online.
I’ll get these off to ogdento next week so he can take a look at them!
Thank you!
Oh forgot the fried pin on the ph1.
@ogdento, just a "data point" reminder... I think the majority of the examples of this we've seen has been on the pins of the black wire. But mine was on the red wire, so apparently either can burn...
 

Latitude22

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@ogdento, just a "data point" reminder... I think the majority of the examples of this we've seen has been on the pins of the black wire. But mine was on the red wire, so apparently either can burn...
I think it’s generally on the lower pins too from what I’ve seen Right? This is the upper pin from the panel.
 

Dirk

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I think it’s generally on the lower pins too from what I’ve seen Right? This is the upper pin from the panel.
Oh, not sure. Mine was on the pin closest to the board. My uneducated theory: the black pins are ground, so they are the common, which means they carry not only all the same current the red wire carries, but also whatever current the green and yellow/white wires carry, however much that is. So I think the black pins carry the most, even if it's only slightly more. The two black pins should be subjected to the same amount of current, because they are connected together on the board. We don't know yet if that's true of the red pins, since there might be something between them elsewhere on the board. That's Tom's job! ;)

As to why either black or red pins burn first, or most, I'm gonna guess has something to do with the pins themselves. Some teeny manufacturing defect, or some small amount of dirt or oil or corrosion, that first gets one pin hotter than the others, then it cascades from there, as in: the worse it gets the worse it gets. Something like that... I think a likely culprit is corrosion, which is why it's not always the same pin, and why this affects some IpH's and not others. The corrosion would act like a resistor and resistance = heat. Another likely possibility is the way the male and female pins clamp together. Some may make good contact, while others only partial contact: the amount of actual contact surface area that is transferring the current between the female and male counterparts. If that contact area is not sufficient, it'll get hot, then hotter, etc. Basically trying to push too much current through too small a conductor. Or a combination: the male and female parts are not in adequate contact, and corrosion develops between the two, and the fun begins.

I can make up stuff all day long have many working hypotheses!! 🤪
 

ogdento

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hey @Dirk i think you're explanation about the pins, corrosion, current etc. is a good one. As you suggested, there isn't much current on rs485 data lines (aka A/B inputs)... and when you compare it to what's flowing through the salt cell, it's essentially zero. The A/B input current for the max1483esa+ chips used on most of Pentair's stuff is about +/-0.2mA (sink or source), whereas my salt cell draws ~5000mA.
 
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Dirk

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Regardless of what you come up with @ogdento, I'm wondering about a possible preemptive trick for other IntelliChlor users, especially those whose gear is still under warranty, as they wouldn't want to hack their IpH and void whatever is left of the warranty. This trick could apply even to IntelliChlor users that don't have an IntellipH (see below).

You know that paste used on heavy duty aluminum wire connections to prevent oxidation? Could we slather the pins of those connectors with that, or some other similar material, to stave off this problem? If so, and if not that specific type of paste, any suggestions?

We just got a new thread today where the OP's IC40 burned out the connector on his surge board, and he has no IntellipH in the loop. Similar connector, though the pins looked a bit different. Whatever vendor Pentair is using for these connectors has got to go! I'm wondering if we can recommend to all IC users to hunt down these connectors, wherever they are, and perform some sort of preventative treatment.

Check it out:
 

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