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Ace Not Making Chlorine


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Hi All...

My HS Grandee is not making chlorine via the ACE system. Yes its all going down hill since the first cell replacement after only 2 years of trouble free operation of the ACE system. Hot tub is 2 yrs 1 month old. First cell died just 2 months shy of the 2 year mark. This was about a month after I had done the flush and refill procedure with new chemicals and water. I got the message saying Cell Offline \ Call Service etc. It was troubleshooted by dealer and deemed a bad cell. How they determined this was a bad cell was the tech said the metal inside the cell holes looked black and that was a sign of a bad cell. OK please warranty the cell I asked. Watkins initially wouldn't warranty it as they said it will only last an avg 1.5 years and so I was within that range and the warranty is only for 1 yr. I told them I was not given that info from the salesman and was told more like 4 to 5 yr life expectancy. Nevertheless Watkins worked it out with me to replace the cell free of charge. Kudos to them.

New cell goes in along with two new diverter valves for my noisy complaint about them. Some oring grease from the diverter valves job got in the water and cleared up over the past few months while the new cell has been in. After the diverter valves were replaced the oring oil was dried up on the spa acrylic and I used a damp towel to scrub it off. Some of this then got into the water. I could see a small film on the water surface for several weeks. Now about 3 months later its gone.

Since the cell replacement, just slightly under 3 months ago now, I have not been able to get the system to make enough chlorine to sustain 3-5 ppm free chlorine. This is also with little to no bather usage during this time. We have gone in the tub only a handful of times since the cell replacement. We are only two people and bath about 30 mins at most.

Every week since the cell replacement I have had to super shock it with about 5 teaspoons of chlorine at which point the dip strip registers a high chlorine level. A week later its at 0 or almost 0. Those are weeks without any bather usage either. If I go in the tub that week I compensate say another 2 teaspoons and still a week later 0 chlorine. This is with the output set to 4. I have had the first two years of ownership with the original cell and never needed to put it past a 4 to keep up with our usage and maintain a 3-5 ppm free chlorine. And with the less than normal usage this summer I surely shouldn't have to go higher now. At one point during these past months of having the new cell and having no luck keeping a residual level I tried double super shocking it with 10 teaspoons and still no difference. A week later or maybe slightly more I was back at 0 with all settings constant ... set to 4 output.

All my other readings are fine too. PH, ALK, CH are in spec and Salt is a little high around 1700 - 2000 ppm. Filters were cleaned at the start of the new water fill up and then once after the new cell \ diverters were replaced which was only about 2.5 months after the new water fill up.

Dealer has been back out to troubleshoot and was told to do voltage tests on ACE and they were fine. They also observed that after boost was initiated that the cell appeared to be giving off a gas in the water \ filter compartment. They were not told to do a bucket test. Instead I was given this suggestion by a HS rep after the dealer was not getting any results from Watkins on what was the next step to solving our issue. Why didn't Watkins tell the dealer to do the bucket test ... I have no idea. So I did the bucket test and it proved the cell is making chlorine in the bucket when boost is initiated. So to me it seems maybe this is a controller issue where the cell isn't being told to "TURN ON" when it should based on the output setting. Is it just coincidence that I could have a bad controller after the cell had died?, or is this a normal progression after a bad cell?

Or is this not a controller issue and instead something in the water that is killing off the Chlorine faster than it can make it? What that is I have no idea as we haven't been using it as much as in the past two summers and we had the water tested by the dealer and nothing unusual came up. I even asked about the CYA buildup and it wasn't high according to the dealer. I have been using a Taylor kit ever since we got the tub so I know my chemistry has been tested properly from the start. I have only used the dip strips during this crazy 3 months to quickly see if chlorine is in the water and in most cases reverified it with the Taylor kit.

At this point we are waiting for Watkins to tell us and the dealer what is the next step.

What do you guys think?

Any help greatly appreciated.

Thanks...

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Drain and refill. If the cell is working (and it sounds as though it is) the issue is chlorine demand of the water. Just dump it, refill, and add salt. Give it a good shock after you refill.

Do you also have an ozone generator? I doubt that, "O-ring grease" was the residue on the sides of the tub that took months to remove. That's more likely a manifestation from the low chlorine levels when previous ACE stopped working. The tiny amount of silicone lubricant included in the divirter valve replacement kit simply isn't capable of making that type of mess.

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Drain and refill. If the cell is working (and it sounds as though it is) the issue is chlorine demand of the water. Just dump it, refill, and add salt. Give it a good shock after you refill.

Do you also have an ozone generator? I doubt that, "O-ring grease" was the residue on the sides of the tub that took months to remove. That's more likely a manifestation from the low chlorine levels when previous ACE stopped working. The tiny amount of silicone lubricant included in the divirter valve replacement kit simply isn't capable of making that type of mess.

Ozone generator is in the tub physically but not connected or plumbed in so its not playing a part in this.

It was the oring grease that was on the tub acrylic, its not from the water or the previous water leaving behind a residue issue after the refill. I am a 100% sure it was from the oring grease as it was all around the diverter valve after he changed it. I am meticulous at keeping my tub clean around the perimeter of it after bathing so much so that I wipe it down with a dry microfiber, so I know that dried up residue was from the tech changing the diverter valve and leaving a mess. I also know that it was only found in the vicinity of the diverter valve and no where else along the perimeter. It only took about 5 minutes of good scrubbing the acrylic to remove with some water but took 2.5 months for the top layer of water to stop showing a oily film that it contaminated by my scrubbing and the rag dripping into the tub water.

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He may have left a small amount of residue of the O-ring lubricant near the divirter valve, but it isn't oil based, and it isn't it possible to be floating on the surface of the water for months. When was the last time you drained your spa? It's quite possible it just needs to be drained and refilled, and the ACE is unable to keep up set at 4 due to the chlorine demand of the water. An oil slick on the water is a sign that something is amiss. It may have coincided with he divirter valve replacement, but the silicone based lubricant of the O-rings isn't capable of making that type of mess. I strongly urge you to start over with fresh water, and then run a chlorine demand test. You will know right away if the ACE system is working properly.

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The water was replaced at the start of may. It was working fine for two weeks with new chemicals and water on setting 3. Then the issue with check cell call service on display. They come out and say need a new cell. Then they take another 4 weeks to figure out they are going to replace the cell free of charge so now its mid June. They replace the ace cell and diverters. They come back the following week because one valve is still making noise and they replace it a second time and leaving a mess behind with oring oil on the acrylic. During this time I don't know if the cell is really working or not because I've been adding chlorine since its been offline, however I begin to stop adding chlorine to let the ace keep up on its own. I left the setting on 3 and continue to monitor this for the coming weeks and months. During this time I noticed its not working so I continue to monitor and bump it up to 4 while manually super chlorinating each week I find no chlorine in the tub.

When they left the second visit to replqce the second diverter valve again this is when I started cleaning the acrylic with a rag. I know for a fact that that residue got in the water as the rag fell in a few times. In the coming days that's when I noticed the filmy substance on the top of the water. Maybe it didn't take 3 months to totally clear up but it did take a good two months. It's almost impossible to think any other contaminant did this to the water other than the oring oil as we weren't using the tub during the time of the service calls before and after.

So even if we were to say it is the oring oil could that be depleting the chlorine?

Is it also not possible that it's the controller not telling the cell to turn on when it should?

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The month that the spa was in purgatory (needing ACE but not knowing who was going to pay for it) most likely led to pathogen growth.

There is no o-ring oil. It does not exist, There is only a silicone based lubricant. It is not possible for the silicone based lubricant to leave an oil slick of any kind. The same lubricant is on every O-ring that comes in contact with the water, in abundance. It does no affect, nor have any effect, on the water quality in any shape, way, or form. Since you clearly have water chemistry issues (an oil slick and a ring), I think it's prudent to drain and refill the spa. Then, run a chlorine demand test. This will tell you instantly where the problem,if any exists, will be found. The controller communicates constantly with the IQ2020 control box. If there is any issue with the ACE cell, or controller, it will show up as a diagnostic code either on the controller itself, or manifest in a flashing green logo light (or both).

Perhaps the was oil on the rag from a previous call?

At any rate, it's been several months, and we cannot troubleshoot until you determine the chlorine demand of the water. If you were adding dichlor for a month, it's likely there is too much CYA in the water, and is limiting the strength of the chlorine as to render it impossible to keep up. The only way to get rid of CYA is to drain, and refill the spa. Since you're having issues, and the ACE appears to be making plenty of bubbles, it's the first step in troubleshooting.

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Thanks for all the replies and insight PreservedSwine. I hear you that changing the water is a good next step to solving this issue so I will be scheduling that into my life chores this month as it will be an early water change but I don't want to be changing the water mid winter here in CT either.

I can only say that I am pretty confident that the oily residue on the water was not there the day of diverter valves replacement. It was the days after the part change and my cleaning of the acrylic around the valves.

I have also at the request of the mfg increased the output to 6 to see what effect that has and will be testing the water today a week from when I bumped it up to 6 and tested zero chlorine and added 6 teaspoons of chlorine.

I will let you know how it turns out.

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Another thought, if you're having to add a lot of dichor, your CYA levels will be too high for any chlorine to be effective. Sodium Dichlor... (granulated chlorine) is roughly 40% CYA. If you've been adding dichlor in an attempt to get the spa under control, the stabilizer level (CYA) will be too high, rendering any chlorine ineffective. The only way to remove CYA from the water is to drain, and refill the spa.

Good luck!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update...

Well after two weeks of new water and chemicals it seems the Ace system is making its own chlorine. I haven't used it in those two weeks to ensure bathers are not a factor in the amount of Free Chlorine available. Started it up with 3 cap fills (6 teaspoons) of Chlorine. During the first week it was on setting 4 and second week it is on setting 3 and its at 6.8 FC end of week 2.

Seems the water was the issue. I still sear it was the junk that got in the water from cleaning up the dried up residue around the diverter valve or at the very least something else that may have been in the rag I used which I thought was clean.

Will check it at the end of this week for its 3rd week with no bathers and turn it down more if necessary... and hopefully use it!

Thanks PreservedSwine for your input and others!

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