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 trouble shooting instructions.

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.

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.

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.

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 you pool's salt level is.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Comments

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(1 to 40 of 73)

 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

 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..
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 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.
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 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?
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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.
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 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?
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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
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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?
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 Posted: 7/25/2019 

I have the exact same problem, although both components are new last year.. what tips do u have for trouble shooting this problem?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/20/2019 

First thing, which Hayward Goldline system is it? The AquaRite, AquaTrol, AquaPlus, Aqua Logic.
 Reply

Anonymous  Posted: 5/20/2019 

Aqua Rite system
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/20/2019 

Because your amps show zero (0), you should replace your PC Board. The TCELL3 amp range is 1.3 - 4.5.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/30/2019 

Hello, I purchased a house in 2018 that has a Hayward GoldLine Chlorinator. It was working fine until recently. I get NO FLOW error. I already replaced the flow switch and the cell was cleaned with acid periodically. The cell is Hayward T-9. I don't know the age of the cell. The house is in florida and water is circulated daily. 1. Can the old cell trigger the NO FLOW error? 2. How to determine the cell's age? Thank you.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/30/2019 

Hello Dan - We'll assume that all of the cables are plugged in and not damaged. Can you manually pinch the two prongs of the flow switch? If the No Flow error goes away, you have low flow in the system. The cause could be a dirty filter or a basket that's full of leaves. If the No Flow error does not go away, you need to replace the Main Board.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/30/2019 

Thanks for the reply and suggestion Robert. All cables/plugs were replugged just in case and made no difference. I think I will toss the Hayward's garbage into trash and connect the inline manual chlorinator. I am fed up with this electronic BS.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/30/2019 

If you decide not to wave the white flag, check out the Hayward Troubleshooting Guide for more tips on how to fix the problem.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/30/2019 

Yeah, frustration had set in already. Not waving the flag now will result in hundreds of dollars in sensors, cells and mainboards later.
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 Posted: 4/29/2019 

If the salt panel continues to read wrong salt level....is that the cell going bad or the panel?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/30/2019 

Hello Dave - The usual cause of the wrong salt cell reading is the salt cell. In some systems, like the Intellichlor, it can also be the flow switch assembly.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/29/2019 

I have a AquaRite system I replaced the circuit board and the cell last summer. Started up this year everything was good at first then my circuit panel reads hot I tested salt level it is 3200 I cleaned the cell but still same reading could I have a bad cell
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/2/2019 

The "Hot" message is meant to be displayed if the water temp is over 140°. Assuming this is not the case, the next thing to do is to reset the AquaRite.  Switch the unit "off", unplug the cell from the box, then wait three minutes.  Now plug in the cell securely, set the unit to "Auto".  The unit should now function normally. If the problem persists, there could be an issue with the main circuit board or salt cell.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/21/2019 

My salt cell is ALWAYS reading low salt? I added 3 bags (120lbs) like the pool store suggested. Still low salt indicator. What next?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/24/2019 

Have you actually had your water's salt level tested to verify the reading? If so, what was the result of the salt test?
 Reply

 Posted: 4/3/2019 

I have a Intellichlor IC40 salt cell (2014) that now has black plates. It is still generating chlorine but I took a water sample to the pool store and the salt level has dropped to 2000 from 3000 last summer. Is that an indicator of a bad cell or something else?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/8/2019 

Bob - have you tried an acid soak to clean the cell plates? This usually clears any gunk that may be present.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/11/2019 

I tried an acid soak today and the cell plates are still black, would you recommend a new cell? I am starting to get a light dusting of algae too. Salt level at 2500, ph 7.8, chlorine at 5.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/17/2019 

Hello Bob - We'd be glad to assist you. How old is your salt cell? Is your free chlorine level at 5 or is that your total chlorine level? What is your stabilizer level?
 Reply

 Posted: 4/17/2019 

HI Robert, My test strips only show FCI at 5, ALK at120, PH at 7.8 and CyA at 150. My salt cell is 5 years old and I feel it is not performing at 100%. Thanks, Bob
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/17/2019 

The average lifespan of a salt cell is 3-5 years. It's probably time to replace it. The one thing you may want to keep an eye on is that CYA level. At 150, it will impact the free chlorine in a negative way. I would try to keep the CYA level between 50-70 ppm. You can reduce the CYA level by draining some water and adding fresh water.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/1/2019 

I have a Blue Essence Salt Cell and Generator. The store says that slat cell is working fine. The Led in the display has salt reading one day at 3000, the next day at 2400, the next day at 400. The store has the pool reading at 3100 wth a water temp of 68. One minute it generates chorine and the next minute it stops.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/9/2019 

Hello Glynn - Make sure the correct salt cell is selected within the control box. To check this, press the diagnostic until a "T" number appears. Make sure the "T" number matches your cell type. For example, a T15 would be the correct number for a T-CELL-15. If the "T" number matches, check out the Aquarite troubleshooting guide
 Reply

 Posted: 4/16/2019 

I have an older gold line aqua rite and when I hit the diag button t-xx never appears. Hit only has 7 functions not 8 like your talking about( the 8 th press shows the cell) do u know how to check what cell is selected on my system? Thanks in advance
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/18/2019 

Hello Cory - What is the revision of your firmware?
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 Posted: 4/18/2019 

R1.40 is software revision. And is that revision compatible with the t15 cells now? If not is the firmware hard coded or is it just a chip? Thanks
 Reply