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Solana TX applies high and low speed pump at power up


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I have a two-person 115-volt Solana TX spa that is new to me.  I am trying to get it going for my in-laws.  Whenever the unit is plugged into a 115-V source, the low-speed pump runs, the high-speed pump runs and the light comes on. This does this with the controller unhooked as I have it on my table bench testing it now. I can also hear a relay (s) click soon after plugging it in.  The normal operation is supposed to be - nothing happens for 10 minutes then the low speed pump comes on and the heater (assuming all sensors are working properly).  What is causing three different circuits on this board to output power upon initial startup?

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14 hours ago, Dwest01 said:

The normal operation is supposed to be - nothing happens for 10 minutes then the low speed pump comes on and the heater (assuming all sensors are working properly).

Who told you that?

14 hours ago, Dwest01 said:

This does this with the controller unhooked

You cannot properly test this system with the control unhooked. The system recognizes that there is no control and responds accordingly. There is even an led on the board for "control unplugged".  It also knows the sensors are unplugged.

To test it accurately you need it all hooked up. Do this and post pics of the circuit board, wiring diagram, and equipment area. Also note which leds on the board are lit and any errors or blinking lights on the control.

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Here are photos with it hooked back up. I disconnected everything to see if I could get different results. With everything connected as soon as I power the unit up it runs the high-speed jet and turns the light on.  The light indicates that the heater is on, but it is not, I have verified that with my clamp meter.

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Test the heater for voltage. No amps could be a bad heater, but we need to know what the board is doing. If you have volts but no amps you have a bad heater. Test with one probe on each heater terminal on the board, not from terminal to ground.

16 hours ago, Dwest01 said:

light indicates that the heater is on,

The light on the board labeled "heater" indicates that the thermostat circuit is calling for heat, which does not mean the heater is on. It means it should be on if everything else checks out.

Test for voltage to the heater. If no voltage, remove the filter. If still not on, unplug the pressure switch (small square thing on the heater) from the circuit board and bridge the two pins on the board with a screwdriver or piece of foil and test again. If it starts to work REMOVE THE BRIDGE, you cannot run it safely with this safety device bypassed. Post results.

 

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After doing some more testing I am starting to believe that my relays are stuck closed ( this is what I firmly believe the issue to be).  I was able to turn the temperature up on the controller and turn the low-speed jet on (from the controller) and the heater came on. However, I still have the same problem of- as soon as I plug the cord into an outlet, the high speed jet pump is called for, the low speed jet pump is called for and the light is called for. I cannot turn any of these off from the controller.  So the high-speed pump runs non-stop and the light runs non-stop.  I have been so focused on trying to get the controller to shut all of this stuff off I have not really paid attention that the functions through the controller do indeed work. Is there any way to unstick/replace these relays or am I into a new control board and controller?  The last photo shows the jet pump running high, with the light on in the controller not calling for either of those.

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Sure. You obviously know more about it than I do. I've only been fixing them for a living for 26 years, so I'm still a newbie.

After you tear your board apart and solder in new relays, and it still doesn't work, you might consider testing the things that will ACTUALLY cause this issue. Like the pressure switch and sensors.

Best of luck.

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28 minutes ago, RDspaguy said:

Sure. You obviously know more about it than I do. I've only been fixing them for a living for 26 years, so I'm still a newbie.

After you tear your board apart and solder in new relays, and it still doesn't work, you might consider testing the things that will ACTUALLY cause this issue. Like the pressure switch and sensors.

Best of luck.

I never said or indicated that I know more than you do. In fact I did everything that you asked and showed the photos. I am interested in your experience, which is why I posted here asking for help. I just gave my opinion of what I thought was going on, and I may be wrong on that. I think you are misunderstanding my intention. Sounds like you feel I am wrong about the stuck relays? I am open for your suggestions and willing to do as you say.

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The computer responds to many situations, including flow problems and sensor discrepancies, by turning on the pumps. It is a safety feature, and you cannot turn it off, and it has nothing to do with an indicator light, that doesn't even indicate what you might think it does. So what you feel is a stuck relay may not be stuck at all, but turned on automatically in response to a bad safety device. Test the safety devices as instructed and post results. 

I am happy to help, but when I spend my free time helping people for free, I expect them to follow my suggestions. Otherwise I am wasting my time. 

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I see I got tunnel vision in the moment and did not post photos or report back on the test you asked me to do. I did do them.  I first shorted out the wiring to the pressure switch and then used a screwdriver to short the two terminals directly on the board. There was no noticeable change (The pump was still running on high).  I also tested the continuity through the pressure switch and the switch is currently closed (appears to be working as it's supposed to, assuming it's supposed to be closed).  I only took a photo while I was testing the pressure switch and while I have the wires twisted together, effectively shorting the circuit out. I did also short it out directly at the terminals like you said as well, I did not take a photo of that. I appreciate your willingness to help me.

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It must read closed if the pump is on and open if off. If not, an error will result. You can "trick" it for a while by unplugging it when power is turned on then plugging it in (or bridging the pins or shorting the wires)once pump is on. If the switch is shorted (internal leak in the pressure switch, very common) this will cause it to work until it is up to temp and the pump turns off, when it will again register the error. 

Low flow conditions (dirty filter, debris in pump, damaged pump or valve, etc) can cause an overheat in the heater itself, which will also trigger this response. As will a faulty sensor or stuck heater relay. So remove filter (flow restriction), test voltage at heater terminals at startup (stuck relay), check water flow at jets (flow restriction), and test sensors (we'll get to that once we eliminate these other possibilities). Only once you have eliminated these do you look to the circuit board. 

Post results. 

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Sorry, I skipped over this info too. The water temperature is 95 degrees and I have it set at 104 degrees. The filter is out.  Also, to clarify- the jets run and are working as soon as I plug it. I turned the heat up to 104 and turned the low speed pump on by pressing the jet button one time. This then activated the heater and it worked. If I press the "Jets" button a second time the heater would shut off (which seems correct as the heater and the high speed pump are not supposed to be on at the same time, I believe).  I can also hear the relays for the low and high speed jet clicking when I press the "Jets" button to activate them.  However, as I stated there is voltage applied to both the low speed and high speed jet output circuits at all times.  This is why I went with the assumption that the relays are stuck. The controller seems to operate the control board properly, however the light, low speed pump and high-speed pump seem to stay on no matter what the condition.

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2 hours ago, Dwest01 said:

However, as I stated there is voltage applied to both the low speed and high speed jet output circuits at all times.

So, the pump switches from low to high, but you have voltage on both the whole time? Or it runs at the same speed regardless of low/high indicator? Does the pump make a loud buzzing noise or shut off after a few minutes in either speed? Are you testing this with the pump connected and running? If so, that's how it should read. High and low speed are connected in the motor, as they share a common, and you will read voltage backfed through the motor. To test the board, disconnect the pump and test from low speed terminal to common (white) terminal, not to neutral or ground. Then do the same for high speed. 

Did you have the dash error when you checked the voltage, or was it working at that point? With or without a heat indicator? 

Does the pressure switch open when the power is off? Test for continuity.

2 hours ago, Dwest01 said:

turned the heat up to 104 and turned the low speed pump on by pressing the jet button one time. 

It should start the pump by itself in standard mode and during a filter cycle in economy. Not sure if this system has modes though. Maybe @castletoniaknows?

2 hours ago, Dwest01 said:

the light, low speed pump and high-speed pump seem to stay on no matter what

So, the spa light is on all the time? Or do you mean an indicator light on the board or control panel?

This is so much easier in person. It seems like things get lost in translation or something. It wouldn't take me 5 minutes to diagnose this if I were there. I would literally spend more time removing the side and box cover than I would testing the spa. It's like driving a lawnmower down the highway.

Please explain exactly what it is doing. Be clear and detailed, and explain what you mean precisely. I feel like I am missing something or you are giving me conflicting information. I assume I misunderstood something, so let's try again from the top.

Maybe @CanadianSpaTech can understand it better, he is Canadian after all. 🤣

 

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@RDspaguy here is what I understand about Hot Spot Spas... I've had 3 Hotspot spas this year (flip tubs) and everyone I ended up swapping out the pack and topside... 2 because of the shitty topsides that are no longer available and you have to swap the pack anyway and the 3rd I didn't even bother diagnosing I just swapped it all out so it didn't come back at me and to save the customer the inevitable heartache down the road. Fortunately I have used packs and topsides ready and waiting. The first 2 I swapped out with Gecko Sclass packs and the 3rd with a balboa. 

 

Next.. So you plug in and it starts in hi then you can press the topside pump button and it will switch to low and work as it should...low speed and heater working?

Could the pump wires for low speed and high speed be mistakenly switched around?

Have you replaced the pump recently?

 

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The light staying on has nothing to do with a stuck relay and my 26 years (and 2 weeks...lol) keeps telling me the topside buttons are F'D...like every other Hot Spot Spa... but I'm just guessing... like I have been for... 26 years and 2 weeks 😬

What year is the spa? @castletonia Do you know what year the topside builder went out of biz...2012?

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13 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

So, the pump switches from low to high, but you have voltage on both the whole time? Or it runs at the same speed regardless of low/high indicator? Does the pump make a loud buzzing noise or shut off after a few minutes in either speed? Are you testing this with the pump connected and running? If so, that's how it should read. High and low speed are connected in the motor, as they share a common, and you will read voltage backfed through the motor. To test the board, disconnect the pump and test from low speed terminal to common (white) terminal, not to neutral or ground. Then do the same for high speed. 

Did you have the dash error when you checked the voltage, or was it working at that point? With or without a heat indicator? 

Does the pressure switch open when the power is off? Test for continuity.

It should start the pump by itself in standard mode and during a filter cycle in economy. Not sure if this system has modes though. Maybe @castletoniaknows?

So, the spa light is on all the time? Or do you mean an indicator light on the board or control panel?

This is so much easier in person. It seems like things get lost in translation or something. It wouldn't take me 5 minutes to diagnose this if I were there. I would literally spend more time removing the side and box cover than I would testing the spa. It's like driving a lawnmower down the highway.

Please explain exactly what it is doing. Be clear and detailed, and explain what you mean precisely. I feel like I am missing something or you are giving me conflicting information. I assume I misunderstood something, so let's try again from the top.

Maybe @CanadianSpaTech can understand it better, he is Canadian after all. 🤣

 

I will add some more text as I get time. I made a quick video to show what is going on. Here's the link, you may have to copy and paste it.

 

https://youtu.be/AMlG-MdHDCw

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What happens when you press light...does the light indicator go on/off on the topside?... but the light stays on regardless.

What happens when you press "SET" .

Are you able to program filter cycles?

 

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Ok. That helped alot. I thought you meant an indicator light on the board or topside, not the spa light.

11 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

I ended up swapping out the pack and topside...

This is not a relay issue, spa light "relays" NEVER stick, and it's not even a relay anyway. Nor is it a sensor or flow issue. I suspect it is a low voltage issue, such as a damaged chip on the board.

What still confuses me is that the pump will run with both speeds on and not overheat or lock the rotor. But it seems to be doing just that.

I'd say you need

https://www.spadepot.com/Balboa-VS-Spa-Control-Kit-P3185

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6 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

What still confuses me is that the pump will run with both speeds on and not overheat or lock the rotor. But it seems to be doing just that.

along with the heater and not over amp and trip the GFCI... There is a GFCI wired into the system...Please tell me there is a GFCI

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7 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

What happens when you press light...does the light indicator go on/off on the topside?... but the light stays on regardless.

What happens when you press "SET" .

Are you able to program filter cycles?

 

I can press the light button, the light indicator changes but the light stays on the whole time.

 

"Set" - When I press it, it starts linking. I am able to press "set" and lock out both the temperature and the pump controls with the "set" key.  

 

I do not know how to program the filter cycles, therefor I have not tried that.

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45 minutes ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

along with the heater and not over amp and trip the GFCI... There is a GFCI wired into the system...Please tell me there is a GFCI

Yes, there is a GFI attached to the cord end.  I do not let the heater run very long, therefore it does not trip the breaker.  Breakers will surge quite a bit for short periods of time.

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7 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

Ok. That helped alot. I thought you meant an indicator light on the board or topside, not the spa light.

This is not a relay issue, spa light "relays" NEVER stick, and it's not even a relay anyway. Nor is it a sensor or flow issue. I suspect it is a low voltage issue, such as a damaged chip on the board.

What still confuses me is that the pump will run with both speeds on and not overheat or lock the rotor. But it seems to be doing just that.

I'd say you need

https://www.spadepot.com/Balboa-VS-Spa-Control-Kit-P3185

Thanks for the link.  This is a couple hundred less than the one I was looking at.  I am going to check the ribbon cable and the other things mentioned as see if I can find anything there.  When I took the board out and bench tested it, there was voltage applied to the same circuits- High jet, Low jet and light.

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If you order the Balboa system make sure to get the smaller topside to fit when you remove the old one. You might have to trim the opening as the original topside is quite small. 

I have made the switch before so if you are going to replace the entire system let me know and I will inform you on what's required to make it work/fit

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