Solution for hard-to-fire Hayward heater


Well-known member
Jun 7, 2010
Dripping Springs, TX
I have been going round and round with this Hayward Heater that I bought from a friend.
It is a first generation Low NOx propane H400 - although it is about 2.5 years old, it had never been turned on.

It has had trouble firing since the day I got it installed, and a service guy told me that these first generation heaters
were very problematic.

The heater would try to light 3 times and then go into an ignition failure (IF) shut off mode. I have been having to
shut the breaker switch off and back on to reset the heater and let it go through the 3 lighting cycle again - this would
repeat up to 4 or 5 times before it would finally light.

The first solution the service guy tried was using a larger orifice only on the one located directly underneath the heating element.
That seemed to help a bit, but it still did not light consistently.

Here is what we did today and it seems to have worked - the heater lights on the first try each time now.

First you have to remove the heating element - it is located immediately above the middle burner tube.
It has a semi-triangular shaped steel guard around it - it's solid on the bottom and has many holes on the 2 sides.
Pull the heating element out of that guard.
The actual element is about 5 inches long, with the first couple of inches covered by white ceramic. The last few inches are bare metal.

Note where the ceramic ends and the metal begins.

What you need to do is drill two 1/8" holes in the solid bottom of that metal guard that goes around the heating element - make sure you drill them far enough out so that they are past the ceramic portion of the heating element.

This seems to let the upwelling gas through these 2 new holes and into the heating element, instead of having to go around the bottom and up the sides where they can flow around it.

Simple solution and so far it seems to work beautifully.

If anyone is having this problem, and my instructions are unclear, message me and I'll be glad to help!


Well-known member
Jul 2, 2013
Wesley Hills, NY
I realize this is an old post but I'm hoping you can help.
I have a similar problem. H350, although the igniter is on the left side. Heater was second hand and when we first installed it it wouldn't even turn on. After replacing control panel, limit switches, and igniter I got it to the point of lighting 3 times (for at most 45 seconds) filled by error code IF.
I had someone come check it out the other day and after taking out and cleaning the burner assembly it now doesn't even light. Igniter just clicks for a few seconds, and keeps trying, but never lights and choose does not appear.
Could this be the same issue as you had, and could you post a pic of where you drilled?
Thank you


TFP Guide
Jun 4, 2012
western NY
When the igniter is clicking, do you hear or feel a click of the gas valve opening? Do you smell gas when this is happening? Did the tech who worked on it re-connect all of the wires properly? You need to check for ~24 volts at the gas valve while the igniter is firing.

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