Salt water chlorine generator repair

Thread Starter

kenzo42

Joined Feb 26, 2014
45
My swimming pool salt chlorine generator is no longer working. Well, it actually works for 3 minutes if I leave it off all night. When it stops working, I restart it, it then works for 1 minute. Then restart it again, works 10 seconds. Then not at all. I problem shot it with their tech and he said the circuit board is bad.

I was hoping for another set of eyes and advice and this. Does anything look out of place? What could cause it to work shorter and shorter each time I restart the unit? Thank you
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MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,079
REally, What we see isa lot of pictures of wires and stuff but no hint as to what it is doing.
My successful servicing scheme is to first understand what the device is supposed to be doing, then to understand what it is doing, which leads to the understanding of what is not happening, which points out the problem.
The collection of photos does none of that.
Given an actual circuit diagram, not a wiring diagram, We can spot the failed components with a few measurements.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,061
I always start with seeing if it is actually getting power. Start at the on/off switch. As Mr. Bill says, after that you need a circuit diagram.
 

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
12,387
It sounds like something may be overheating. It seems to be running on low voltage after the transformer, so it should be safe (at your own risk) to touch components after it has failed and after disconnecting the power, to see if anything is hot.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,250
I agree with @AlbertHall the problem seems thermal. Though I haven’t seen it done much recently, a common troubleshooting technique in the past was to use “component cooler” or “freeze spray”. You can get the same effect by inverting a ”canned air”. (Don’t do it with one that has “bitternents” you will regret it)>

The idea is to spray particular components to see if it (in your case) starts working again. If so, that’s likely the cause of the fault. The four SCRs (around the board mounted to the metal panel are good candidates. Other than that, each component or section of the other PCB might track it down.

Another technique is to take something non-conductive like wood or plastic and gently but firmly push on the vary components. If this changes the situation you probably found at least part of the fault.

Make sure that if you do this you treat the inside as if it was connected to the mains for your own safety. It is unlikely but not impossible there are dangerous voltages in there, but take care and choose your own risk level.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,079
OK, we already know that it is getting mains power because it starts when the cycle is initiated.
From reading the labels on the circuit boards I see that there are three"cells" of some kind that do something. So probably the very first step is to look at those cells and see if something has changed.
If this package is somehow supposed to produce free chlorine gas based on the electrolysis of something like a salt solution, that reaction area is where I would check first.

Consider that : Salt + Moisture + Electricity = lots of corrosion
And : Chlorine gas +Metal = corrosion

It seems that the place to look first is where the damage is most likely to be found.

I was rather tired when I entered my first response and did not realize what this device actually is supposed to do. But the rules for successful analysis still apply.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,250
OK, we already know that it is getting mains power because it starts when the cycle is initiated.
From reading the labels on the circuit boards I see that there are three"cells" of some kind that do something. So probably the very first step is to look at those cells and see if something has changed.
If this package is somehow supposed to produce free chlorine gas based on the electrolysis of something like a salt solution, that reaction area is where I would check first.

Consider that : Salt + Moisture + Electricity = lots of corrosion
And : Chlorine gas +Metal = corrosion

It seems that the place to look first is where the damage is most likely to be found.

I was rather tired when I entered my first response and did not realize what this device actually is supposed to do. But the rules for successful analysis still apply.
What you are saying. @MisterBill2, is sensible but he said the company’s tech told him it is a PCB level problem. SInce the company would know the vulnerability of the electrodes, and surely look there first if it was likely, they’d have already suggested it as a cause.
 

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
12,387
a common troubleshooting technique in the past was to use “component cooler” or “freeze spray”.
The problem I found with this was the spray would cool below freezing point and then ice would form. When this melted you have a wet PCB with conducting paths through the water which would confuse the results or, worst case, damage something.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,250
The problem I found with this was the spray would cool below freezing point and then ice would form. When this melted you have a wet PCB with conducting paths through the water which would confuse the results or, worst case, damage something.
That’s possible, but this particular PCB has a conformal coating which makes sense in this application, so it shouldn’t;t be a problem. I didn’t have the problem you describe but it makes sense.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,079
Consider that the circuit board is a difficult to repair but high profit to sell item, what else would a company agent recommend? Replacing the one item that they sell as a repair part is the most profitable thing to suggest.
Indeed, most folks would find it difficult to repair that circuit board, even if replacement parts were in hand.

So I still suggest an examination of the parts of the system that we are not shown. The portion that has changed is quite likely the area that contains the problem.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,250
Consider that the circuit board is a difficult to repair but high profit to sell item, what else would a company agent recommend? Replacing the one item that they sell as a repair part is the most profitable thing to suggest.
Indeed, most folks would find it difficult to repair that circuit board, even if replacement parts were in hand.

So I still suggest an examination of the parts of the system that we are not shown. The portion that has changed is quite likely the area that contains the problem.
If replacing the PCB doesn’t if the problem, what good was it to suggest it as the cause? It would ruin the reputation of the company if they suggested expensive repair parts the failed to solve the problem, and it implies systematic collusion by the repair tech.

While it is certainly possible this company behaves like a disreputable used car lot, it seems more unlikely than likely.

There is nothing wrong with checking the other parts, but given the experience level of the TS, I am not sure what looking at those parts would do to help. It seems to me as likely (or maybe more) to mislead rather than elucidate.

I expect in the end the TS will find that replacing the board is the most expedient if costly solution.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,061
It seems in today's world the answer is always to replace the board. As to corrosion, that was the first thing I thought of when chlorine was mentioned having worked in chlorination areas. That is the cleanest board I've ever seen for a chlorinator. Even in a purged control room.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,079
It seems in today's world the answer is always to replace the board. As to corrosion, that was the first thing I thought of when chlorine was mentioned having worked in chlorination areas. That is the cleanest board I've ever seen for a chlorinator. Even in a purged control room.
Sam certainly is aware of the mentality "replace the processor board, which that board certainly does appear to have a processor.
And certainly it does look very clean. My one suggestion for that board is to unplug and reconnect both ends of the ribbon cable a few times. Ribbon cable connectors do sometimes develop a poor connection. And, OF COURSE, replacing the board would probably cause whatever corrosion had developed to be disrupted.
Like the time I repaired the washer machine, after the service person told the lady that she needed a new computer board for the machine because that one had failed. My fix was to go through the reset sequence on the front panel buttons and then to unplug it for five minutes. At that point the machine was "repaired" and has continued for two very skeptical ladies ever since.

The processor board gets some sort of sensor input signal and tells those SCRs on the other circuit board to switch on. But if the signal is not correct after some time, it shuts down. Amazingly enough, that seems a lot more like a sensor signal problem.
And unless the board would be replaced at no charge,under warranty, it makes sense to at least look at the rest of the system.
It also would make sense to look at the reverse side of the processor circuit board.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,250
Sam certainly is aware of the mentality "replace the processor board, which that board certainly does appear to have a processor.
Module/Board level repair is the norm now. Component level repair only happens after you swap the defective one and it's sent off to the depot to be "remanufactured".

But you asserted they would try to replace the board even if the problem was caused by something else in order to charge more. This makes no sense. Most companies that manufacture a niche product can't afford to milk buyers in that way. And, even if they wanted to do that, they could say, "oh, it's the cell that needs to be replaced" and I am sure that is not a cheaper component than the board.

The one case where there might be a much more innocent (as far as the company is concerned) explanation is an inexperienced or incompetent technician. But in the end if you buy a board and it doesn't fix the problem, you send it back. So they gain nothing and lose reputation.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,079
Presuming that a comany will actually accept a returned module that was not the cause of the problem is one huge act of faith in an organization. My experience has been that "All Sales Are Final", meaning that once you buy it tyhat is the end, unless the product can be proved defective.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
4,226
Has anybody bothered to check the Electrodes ?, ( probably Carbon-Blocks ),
in the Plumbing/Fittings, for a foreign-object, or various other "grunge" that might be
shorting-out the system ?

The system operates as a Current-Regulator with a Timer,
if something is causing excessive Current across the Electrodes, that
would properly cause a shut-down.
.
.
.
 
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