Yet another Pentair SWG flow/failure issue

SoapySmith

Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2019
14
Minneapolis, MN
It appears I've joined the many others around here with problematic Intellichlor units. Looking for advice. IC60 purchased in 2019 but not finally installed until I finished my pool build last spring; in MN so only ~6 months of use at this point; no issues until recently. Self-installed so not currently under warranty.

For the past 3-4 days the red flow light has been on, almost always with the flashing "railroad crossing" lights which I've read just means it's trying to get a salt reading, which it should [edit - shouldn't] be able to do if it thinks the flow is bad. Other data points:

- This spring it was reporting salt levels only intermittently.
- Some of the time I do get a flashing green GOOD ("high salt") light *even though the flow light is still red*; and intermittently (twice that I've noticed over the last 4 days) I've even had it show the green flow light and CELL light showing that it's operating normally.
- Intellicenter was sometimes giving me alerts for lost communication with the Intellichlor. Removed, checked, blew out and reattached the comm cord at the Intellicenter; seemed a little looser than I might like but I think maybe it's always been like that; holding it in tighter doesn't change anything. It was also usually (not always) allowing me to adjust chlorination rate and accepting that--changing % lights on the unit and % in the app--even though the flow light was still red.
- Doing the checks for cell life and temperature gave me no lights for cell life (perhaps not surprising as it's probably well under 2k hours), and all 5 flashing lights for temp (suggesting bad temp sensor, I think?)
- I tried jumping the red and black wires from the cell to the flow switch and that didn't change the red "flow" state.
- Replaced the flow switch this afternoon and that changed nothing, including still doing the 5 flashing lights; except ever since I replaced the switch communication has been lost and stayed lost. (I know other indications above suggest flow switch was not the problem, but Pentair tech support seemed to really think it was even though I told them, e.g., that pig tailing red and black made no difference, and advised that I replace it anyway.)
- The water is abnormally warm (92 now as I type this) and has been for the last few days with the heat wave we've had in MN.
-Actual flow is fine. Filter pressure is low, returns flowing fine, slide GPM same as always.
-I've never cleaned or acid bathed the cell but removed it to check it out the other day and could not identify any scaling, deposits, etc. Seemed good-as-new internally so just sprayed it out with the hose and put it back on.

Is there any chance at all this could be something fixable (Intellicenter/communication issue maybe?) and not just a defective cell itself? Hate to have to replace a cell with less than 6 months of use on it. If it is the cell, are there better (non-Pentair) alternatives that can still play nice with my Intellicenter and app? (40k gallon pool...) I originally had all Pentair equipment when I built this pool but have been awfully unimpressed with their quality control and tech support (heat pump coolant level problems, the whole Intellicenter Alexa debacle, now this...). I'd rather not give them more of my money, and would just as soon switch to a different cell brand if reasonably feasible and advisable. Not that a person can realistically purchase a replacement IC60 cell at the moment anyway...

Any expert suggestions on things to try or good replacement options? I'm thinking everything here points to a bad cell but that just seems so crazy given how little use it's had. Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,183
Bedford, TX
S,

I am not sure what is going on, but you have several different failures that don't normally happen at the same time.

Show me a pic of the IntelliCenter relays and circuit breakers...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

SoapySmith

Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2019
14
Minneapolis, MN
S,

I am not sure what is going on, but you have several different failures that don't normally happen at the same time.

Show me a pic of the IntelliCenter relays and circuit breakers...

Thanks,

Jim R.
Jim, thanks for the insight -- please see below. It would be great if something was off in here and there was an easy fix... In case it's hard to tell from the picture, the dual 20A is the pump breaker, with wires from there to the line side of the pump relay; black and red to pump are also on the line sides of the pump relay, and yellow/white are on the load side of the pump relay. Did I mess something up?

(Edit -- BTW since my original post earlier, I now have regained communication with the cell again. Everything else remains broken as described above.)

intellicenter.jpg
 
Last edited:

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,183
Bedford, TX
S,

Nothing wrong with your wiring.. It is exactly like it needs to be.. But, it makes sense to start with the easy to check stuff.. :mrgreen:

Does your flow switch have three or four wires???

Just to be clear... You connected the Red and Black wires coming from the cell together and the red flow light did not turn green.. And you left them that way for a minute or so, you did not do it for a second or so??? If the flow light did not turn green that means the cell is bad... The question is how bad?? It could be just a failure of the red/green LED and the cell can still tell when the flow switch is closed. Or it could be that the sensing circuit is bad and the cell can't tell that the flow switch is closed.

"Five Flashing Lights"??? Are you talking about the output lights? They are supposed to flash if you have the output set to less than 10%..

Trying to troubleshoot a lot of different problems all at one time is not something that works well for me.. How about we run a couple of quick tests and try to look at one thing at a time.

Double check the flow switch arrow and make sure it is correct.. Water (obviously) flows from the heater through the cell and back to the pool.

I assume your cell is mounted horizontally.. If your cell is mounted vertically, make sure the water flow up though the cell and not down..

Fire system up and tell me what all the cell lights do..

Set the output to 50% and after about five minutes, tell me if the cell light comes on for about 2.5 minutes and then is off for 2.5 minutes, then on again for 2.5 minutes.

As far at the cell reporting a salt reading back to your automation.. It does not matter to the cell at all.. As long as the cell has green salt light the cell can still work.. The problem with a zero salt level on the automation is just a reporting issue and not because the cell really thinks the salt level is zero.

Do that when you get a chance and let me know the results.. Call me by using @ + jimrahbe

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

SoapySmith

Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2019
14
Minneapolis, MN
S,

Nothing wrong with your wiring.. It is exactly like it needs to be.. But, it makes sense to start with the easy to check stuff.. :mrgreen:

Does your flow switch have three or four wires???

Just to be clear... You connected the Red and Black wires coming from the cell together and the red flow light did not turn green.. And you left them that way for a minute or so, you did not do it for a second or so??? If the flow light did not turn green that means the cell is bad... The question is how bad?? It could be just a failure of the red/green LED and the cell can still tell when the flow switch is closed. Or it could be that the sensing circuit is bad and the cell can't tell that the flow switch is closed.

"Five Flashing Lights"??? Are you talking about the output lights? They are supposed to flash if you have the output set to less than 10%..

Trying to troubleshoot a lot of different problems all at one time is not something that works well for me.. How about we run a couple of quick tests and try to look at one thing at a time.

Double check the flow switch arrow and make sure it is correct.. Water (obviously) flows from the heater through the cell and back to the pool.

I assume your cell is mounted horizontally.. If your cell is mounted vertically, make sure the water flow up though the cell and not down..

Fire system up and tell me what all the cell lights do..

Set the output to 50% and after about five minutes, tell me if the cell light comes on for about 2.5 minutes and then is off for 2.5 minutes, then on again for 2.5 minutes.

As far at the cell reporting a salt reading back to your automation.. It does not matter to the cell at all.. As long as the cell has green salt light the cell can still work.. The problem with a zero salt level on the automation is just a reporting issue and not because the cell really thinks the salt level is zero.

Do that when you get a chance and let me know the results.. Call me by using @ + jimrahbe

Thanks,

Jim R.
1. Flow switch is a 3-wire. I swapped it out for a Pool Guy Supply aftermarket switch (a 4-wire) which didn't change anything, so I switched back to the original Pentair 3-wire, which is what's in there again now.

2. Yes, connected red and black from the cell together (so the cell should see closed circuit) and saw no change; left them that way for hours and same behavior -- usually red, sometimes green. All of what the cell has been doing seems unrelated to which flow switch I have in and whether wired "normal" or whether the circuit is jumped.

3. Five flashing lights -- this is interesting. What I was saying earlier is that when the flow light is red, if I hold the "more" button to make the output lights show usage, and then press "more" again to show temperature, all five of the output lights flash together about 12 times. I believe this suggests the cell thinks that the temperature sensor in the flow switch is bad. On the other hand, any time the flow light is green and I've done the same procedure, the output lights don't flash; instead they reflect an accurate temp reading. So in my case clearly there's a relationship between the flow light red/green and the cell thinking the temp sensor is bad. (Other than in the usage/temp procedure, i.e. under normal operation, output lights always accurately reflect set output levels -- this is true regardless of whether flow light is showing green/red.)

4. Flow switch arrow is correct, cell is mounted vertically and water comes up through the bottom (where the flow switch is) and out the top.

5. When the system first comes on, I get red flow light, railroad crossing lights, and communication failure alert (and no ability to adjust output in the app). This morning it was in that state for 2-3 hours until the comm failure cleared and I now have a green flow light and making chlorine, for the moment. I realize that the communication with the automation should not be directly tied with the flow light working right, but it does seem to be tied in some way here because this behavior has been consistent 3 days in a row now, I think, and usually around power off and restart, too. (No communication upon power up, with red flow flight and this will go on for ~hours (both red light and no comm); but if I later notice that communication has cleared and check the cell, I'll also find a green flow light). So, seems like there's intermittent high-level failure internal to the cell - either absolutely nothing works, or everything does...

6. When flow is green, the output timing is correct. Yesterday I timed it while set at 60% and I was getting 3 minutes on, 2 minutes off per 5 minutes.

As you note, seems clear that the issue is internal to the cell. I have no warranty anyway; can it be taken apart for internal wiring work?

Also, in a situation like this where I'm adding supplemental 12.5% bleach to make sure my FC levels stay up, should I chlorinate all the way up to "no SWG" levels on the FC/CYA chart, or try running at SWG levels on the theory that I still get benefit of the chlorine internal to the cell?

Finally, any recommendations on an alternative replacement cell? Seems like that's the direction I'm heading...
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,183
Bedford, TX
S,

With an IntelliCenter or EasyTouch, it does not make much sense to use anything but the IntelliChlor.

Do you have a voltmeter? I ask because maybe the problem is not the cell but the incoming DC voltage? If you test the output of the Cell's Power supply mounted in the back of the cabinet it should be about 40 volts DC, when the cell is not making chlorine, and about 35 Volts DC when the cell is making chlorine. You test between the large Red and Black wires coming from the power supply card and going to the cell.. I'd also inspect the connectors at the card and at the bottom of the cabinet to make sure they are not corroded and connected well..

Trying to find something in common between the cell, the red flow light, and com problems.. :scratch:

Thanks,

Jim R
 

SoapySmith

Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2019
14
Minneapolis, MN
S,

With an IntelliCenter or EasyTouch, it does not make much sense to use anything but the IntelliChlor.

Do you have a voltmeter? I ask because maybe the problem is not the cell but the incoming DC voltage? If you test the output of the Cell's Power supply mounted in the back of the cabinet it should be about 40 volts DC, when the cell is not making chlorine, and about 35 Volts DC when the cell is making chlorine. You test between the large Red and Black wires coming from the power supply card and going to the cell.. I'd also inspect the connectors at the card and at the bottom of the cabinet to make sure they are not corroded and connected well..

Trying to find something in common between the cell, the red flow light, and com problems.. :scratch:

Thanks,

Jim R

See below -- If I did this right, I'm getting 93.5-93.6 volts (Flow light is red at the moment). Tested red and black at the connection in the upper left of the card as in the picture, right? Seems like all the connectors looked okay... Jim, I sure appreciate your help with this - hopefully somebody other than me can learn something from this too... :)


PSU.jpgvoltage.jpg
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,183
Bedford, TX
S,

At least the Power Supply is working with no load...

How is the 3-wire flow switch connected to the cell now. What color wires are connected and what wire is not connected??

Does the cell still have 4 wires coming out or do new cells only have three wires from the cell and three wires from the flow switch??

I'd double check and make sure all the RS-485 connections are tight at the main board and at the SWG power supply card.

So far everything is pointing to a bad cell.. :(

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

SoapySmith

Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2019
14
Minneapolis, MN
S,

At least the Power Supply is working with no load...

How is the 3-wire flow switch connected to the cell now. What color wires are connected and what wire is not connected??

Does the cell still have 4 wires coming out or do new cells only have three wires from the cell and three wires from the flow switch??

I'd double check and make sure all the RS-485 connections are tight at the main board and at the SWG power supply card.

So far everything is pointing to a bad cell.. :(

Thanks,

Jim R.
I went back to using the original 3-wire flow switch (mine is the newer-style 3-wire OEM switch), so R/B/W, between the flow switch and the cell I am back to R-R, B-B, W-W splices where the original 3-wire cell-to-switch cord was cut. From the cell to the Intellicenter is a 4-wire cord. All of the connections look good, most everything at the power supply card is soldered on and those look fine too. Miraculously I was able to find an IC60 cell in stock online today and just got a shipping confirmation. (What a crazy thing it is to be perversely glad about being "able" to spend $1k on a replacement for a part that failed in 6 months, but here we are). So I'll swap it out when it gets here and see what happens. I'll report back in a few days...
 

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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
41,720
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
If it is only 6 months old, I would file a warranty claim. Self installed Intellichlor cells have a 2 year warranty.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,183
Bedford, TX
Marty,

It would be worth a call to Pentair to find out for sure, but I think the self install 2 year warranty is for when you replace a cell in a system that was originally installed by a pool builder/professional..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
41,720
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Marty,

It would be worth a call to Pentair to find out for sure, but I think the self install 2 year warranty is for when you replace a cell in a system that was originally installed by a pool builder/professional..

Thanks,

Jim R.
I think so too --- but -- why not try?!
 

SoapySmith

Silver Supporter
Apr 30, 2019
14
Minneapolis, MN
Marty,

It would be worth a call to Pentair to find out for sure, but I think the self install 2 year warranty is for when you replace a cell in a system that was originally installed by a pool builder/professional..

Thanks,

Jim R.
Yep, that's exactly the issue. I did call and went down that road with them. Also perhaps relevant as FYI to other folks on here planning installs or whatever -- they were also specifically interested in whether the panel wiring was "professional installed" as a basis for saying no warranty on the cell. (I did the wiring myself too, as I know what I'm doing and in MN homeowners can do their own electrical; all was fully permitted, inspected, etc. -- so they would have denied the warranty claim on that basis alone.)
 
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