How To Know When a Salt Cell is Bad - General

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You can expect a Salt Chlorine Generator (SCG) cell to last 5 or more years if the pool and cell are maintained properly. Knowing when a Cell has gone bad and needs to be replaced is not always obvious. Before you replace the Cell, you will want to check several possible issues that can cause a good Cell to shut down or perform poorly. This guide reviews these issues at a general level since each SCG has unique functions. See your owner's manual for more specific troubleshooting instructions.

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Step by Step

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Step 1

MAINTAIN CHEMICAL LEVELS - To maximize the life of your pool Cell, make sure that you maintain the balance of your pool chemical within their operational ranges. Operating outside these ranges for any length of time will rapidly deteriorate the plates inside the SCG Cell. If your Stabilizer is too low, the pool water will not be able to hold the chlorine being produced and it will appear that your SCG cell is not producing adequately. Likewise, a low pH level will oxidize chlorine faster, making it difficult to maintain the right level of chlorine.

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Step 2

"INSPECT CELL" LED - You may think something is wrong with your cell because the "Inspect Cell" LED suddenly came on. For most SCG systems, this light is a maintenance reminder to periodically check your CSG cell. This LED is generally programmed to come on every 500 hours or so. Look at the cell and clean if necessary, Then press the diagnostic button for 3 seconds to turn the Inspect Cell LED off.

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Step 3

CHECK SCG IS ON - This may seem obvious, but it's easy to check that the system is switched to "AUTO" or equivalent to generate chlorine.

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Step 4

CHECK % OUTPUT - Warm water and heavy bather load increase chlorine use. One way to increase chlorine production is by increasing the % OUTPUT.  See if increasing the % OUTPUT by 20% or 30% increases the amount of chlorine generated. This may take 24 hours to verify.

Step 5

CHECK SALT LEVEL - Many SCGs shut off if the pool's salt level is too high or too low.  2700 to 3500 is a typical range of operation, but this will vary across the different SCGs. Use salt strips to measure your pool's salt level. Have a pool store check your salt level periodically to verify your measured values. Also, SCG readings are not always accurate, so only use them as a general indication of where your pool's salt level is.

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Step 6

CHECK POOL TEMPERATURE - If the pool water is too cold (below 50F) the "GENERATING" LED will start flashing and the SCG will stop generating chlorine. Your pool does not need much chlorine at these temperatures. If required you can manually shock your pool with liquid chlorine or granular shock.

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Step 7

CHECK FLOW LEVEL - When "NO FLOW" LED is illuminated, the flow switch has detected no water flow and the SCG is NOT generating chlorine. A flashing LED indicates that the flow is restored, but there will be a 60 second delay before generation is re-established. In this case either the Flow Switch is defective of you have a restriction in the pool system.

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Step 8

CHECK SCG CONNECTIONS [1] - Check all the connections between the Cell and the SCG Control Box to make sure they are tight. If your SCG has a separate water flow monitor make sure its connections are tight .Check that the control wires are not cut.

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Step 9

CHECK SCG CONNECTIONS [2] - On some Cells there may also be a removable connection at the Cell itself. Make sure these connections are tight. If they are loose, your SCG control will get inaccurate readings which will affect the Cell's performance.

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Step 10

CHECK FOR CORRODED PLATES - Most SCGs have an internal timer that turns on an "INSPECT CELL" LED after something like 500 operational hours. If this light comes on or you think your cell is not producing chlorine, remove the cell and inspect it. If your Cell is transparent, you will be able to see a white metallic buildup on the plates of a corroded Cell. If you see signs of corrosion, remove and clean the plates of the Cell. See our guide on "How To Clean a Compupool Salt Generator Cell" or "How To Clean a Hayward AquaRite Turbo Cell". Note: if you have an opaque Cell, like an AquaRite Turbo Cell, you will have to remove the Cell and look inside both ends to check for any corrosion. If the cleaned Cell still does not produce sufficient chlorine, you should replace it.

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Step 11

CHECK FOR DISCONNECTED PLATES - While the; cell is out, look for heavily corrosion and disconnected plates. If a Cell is not cleaned periodically and is allow to become heavily corroded, the plate welds will deteriorate and eventually separate. At this point the Cell will have to be replaced.

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Step 12

CHECK POLARITIES - Some SCGs reverse the polarity of the current flowing through the Cell to extend the life of the Cell. If the two polarity LEDs do not alternate over time, the productivity of the Cell will be reduced. Check that the connections between the Cell and the SCG control box are tight. If that does not correct the issue, you may have to replace a PCB for the display but not the Cell itself.

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Comments

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(1 to 40 of 99)

 Posted: 10/12/2020 

Will the cell have current if salt levels are low ? I have voltage but no amps but it is disabled for low salt.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/19/2020  Latest

If you know you have low salt, use a salt test kit or have it tested at a pool store, then add the salt if needed. Your low salt light being on could be a symptom of other problems.
 Reply

 Posted: 9/7/2020 

We have a Hayward Aquarite - replaced the front board bc it was poor display. Cell is clean. It won’t show any lights except the power light. It won’t trigger generate or super chlorinate. Display shows 0.00/28/32.2/0.00/16P/-0.00/AL-1/R1.59/t-5. I can change the t-cell to a t15 on the display. Can someone tell me if the problem is the main board or the T cell? It won’t let me recalibrate salt level. It doesn’t recognize even that there is no flow.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/8/2020 

If I am reading the jumble of numbers correctly, 32.2 is the cell voltage, and 0.00 is the amperage. Am I correct?What cell do you have, the TCELL5 or the TCELL15? And you need to make sure whichever cell you have is selected in the settings menu. If the correct cell is not chosen, switch it to the proper cell, then give me the cell voltage and cell amperage.
 Reply

 Posted: 9/13/2020 

We have a T15 Cell. Those are the numbers with the correct cell inputted. There is zero amperage, you are correct
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/23/2020 

If the amps on either reading show zero (0), then you should replace your PC Board.
 Reply

 Posted: 9/4/2020 

Hope That you at least give me a clue. Have a Pentair IntelliChlor IC20 and is not lighting at all. I gave it a clean with the right Acid proportion but notice the fuse was blown. I replace the fuse again and it blow on more time. What would be the issue or solution. This Unit is 8n years old.. If I where to replace it bdo I have to replace the unit on the wall also. or just the Intell. Please advise me. Yhank You So Much.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/8/2020 

The first place I would check is the circuit providing power to the power supply. That fuse is popping because there is too much current at the panel. Have you checked the voltage and amp of the lines feeding the Intellichlor's power supply?
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 Posted: 9/1/2020 

I have a swim pure plus that is acting strange. The only light that is on is the power light, continuously, and the salt reading is stuck at 3200. It will not do anything else. No diagnostics, just 3200. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/3/2020 

I suspect the main PCB is not working. You can try to check the internal fuse on the unit, to see if that has popped. But more than likely your main PCB needs to be replaced.
 Reply

 Posted: 9/7/2020 

I have this problem too that the power light is on but no other lights. It won’t read any salt level (0.00) and can’t be re-calibrated. Is that the T cell or the main power board?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/8/2020 

The problem could be the fuse or the current limiter on the mainboard. Both are relatively cheap to fix. What is the make and model of the unit?
 Reply

 Posted: 8/29/2020 

My Aqua Rite T-15 chlorine generator is short cycling the power light comes on, the generating light comes on, you hear a click as it starts to generate chlorine and then the power and generator light both go off at the same time, 10 to 15 seconds later they both come back on and the same thing then happens again over and over.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/1/2020 

I think our issue may be a bad current limiter. The current limiter is a little electronic circuit piece on the mainboard that tends to fail on these AquaRites. We do not have a guide or video on replacing the Aquarite current limiter just ety, but there are a few youtube videos that cover it. Here is an example: How to Repair Hayward Goldline Aqua Rite Pool Chlorine Generators
 Reply

 Posted: 9/2/2020 

Thank you it solved the problem.
 Reply

 Posted: 6/10/2020 

Display reading says "hot" what does this mean?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/23/2020  Latest

The "hot" reading usually means the cell is reading the water is too hot for the cell to operate. The range of what "too hot' varies according to the model of salt cell. But if we take the AquaRite as an example, HOT means the water is above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you check your diagnostics menu and the cell temp reads 215 degrees F, the cell's temperature sensor has shorted, and you need to replace the cell.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/23/2020 

I have a 13,500 gal pool with Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control panel and T-Cell-15 generator.. My cell "died" ( or so I thought at the end of last season), so I replaced it today, and the failure mode continues. I am getting "Very Low Salt" readout on the Default menu page --same as before with the previous generator -- and on the Diagnostics menu, voltage reads 30 to 31 volts, amps reads zero, and salt ppm reads 0000. (I have added 320 lbs of salt over last three days--starting from near zero, so I know there's salt in the water!). If this is a mother board issue, is it repairable (I have fixed the "No Cell Power) problem several years ago by re-soldering a connection Thanks!
 Reply

 Posted: 7/12/2020 

Hi Bob. I have the same problem. Before replacing anything, I was wondering if you fixed your problem and how. I'm reluctant to change the cell. And if it's a motherboard issue, i'm wondering if it cannot be fixed as i did in the past by replacing a compensator (soldering)..Thanks
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/10/2020 

You can always try the soldering the current limiter route before you do the complete cell change out. You can also make sure that the correct cell type is selected in your setting. And as mentioned to Bob, you can also check the voltage and amperage in the diagnostics menu to see if the cell is malfunctioning. How to Read and Adjust the Hayward Aqua Rite SCG Operational Values
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/24/2020 

If the salt cell amps reading show zero (0), then you should replace your PC Board.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/13/2020 

Hi, replaced salt cell recently. However the power and generating light are lit but every few minutes there’s a clicking sound.. I don’t get any instant salt readings nor am I getting an amp reading. Any suggestions?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/15/2020 

What is the make and model of your salt system?
 Reply

 Posted: 9/21/2019 

We have the hayward t-15 cell on our pool for the last 10 months or so. It's worked great until a recent series of ill timed events resulted in a really high spike in ph. The ph was high for an unknown amount of time, but up to about 3 weeks. We've got the ph down to normal levels and all the other levels back to a normal range. Salt is just a little high right now, but the salt cell now says low salt. We've gone through the cleaning process, and when you first turn it on the real time salt reading goes straight to the salt level the local pool store says we have. Then over the course of 20 seconds it drops down to the 2500 range and turns itself off due to low salt. Did I roast the salt cell, or should I just re-calibrate?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/26/2019 

I would recommend recalibrating the salt level first. Check out our guide titled "How to Recalibrate the Salt Level on a Hayward Aquarite".
 Reply

 Posted: 7/22/2019 

I've cleaned the T-15 cell and it looks good. salt level is 3600 but display reading says 1900, salt light and inspect cell light are on. amp reading is 0.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/22/2019 

If the amps readings shows zero (0), then you should replace your PC Board.
 Reply

Anonymous  Posted: 3/31/2020 

How do you check amps
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/1/2020 

if you press the diagnostic button three times, the value displayed should be the cell amperage. The guide to AquaRite's diagnostic display can be found here: How to Read and Adjust the Hayward Aqua Rite SCG Operational Values
 Reply

 Posted: 9/30/2019 

There are other reasons that amperage would show zero. Cold water (<50 degrees), controller is set to less than 100% and in an off mode, etc..
 Reply

 Posted: 6/26/2019 

We continue to struggle with low chlorine levels. Salt level is 3500. We’ve cleaned the cell and have had it on super chlorinate for a week and chlorine levels still low. Salt cell is likely at least 8 years old. Time for a new cell?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/26/2019 

Have you tried adding shock to help give the cell a boost? If you have cleaned the cell and the shock boost doesn't work then it is probably time for a new cell.
 Reply

 Posted: 6/12/2019 

This is the 6th year for my salt cell. I brought a sample to my local store they had me add salt. I told them the check salt light was flashing so they had me clean the cell. After resetting, it is still blinking. Time for a new cell?
 Reply

 Posted: 3/24/2020 

Press and hold the diagnostic button for 3 seconds and light should go away. This light usually comes on every 3 months as reminder to remove cell and visually inspect it and clean accordingly.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/13/2019 

First, what is the current salinity level of your water? If it is still too low, add more salt. If the salinity level is in the good range, your cell needs to be replaced.
 Reply

 Posted: 5/23/2019 

I have an issue where there is corrosion on two of the pins where the T cell plugs onto the board. Is there a recommended way to clean this?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/24/2019 

I found this video with a quick Google search: How to Easily Clean Corroded Electrical Connections & Apply Protection
 Reply

 Posted: 5/22/2019 

We have a Pentecostal ic40 working fine, chemicals are still not right but it shut itself off. Is the chlorination dead? Thanks
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/23/2019 

Can you explain what isn't right about the water chemistry? Maybe that is the cause system shutting off.
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 Posted: 5/18/2019 

I have a Hayward Goldline with a T3 cell. The readings show 2700, 84, 31.4, 0.00, 70 P, -0, AL-0, r 1.58, t-3. The panel has power but it appears the cell is not generating chlorine. The cell is clean and connections have been checked. The system is 18 years old and the cell is 6. Your thoughts?
 Reply