Inspector Thoughts

Pool Heater Maintenance

Swimming Pool Maintenance

One of the great thing about living in the Los Angeles area is our swimming pool season. But before you fire up your pool heater for the season, you should check a few things.

Trees and plants

Over the course of fall, winter and spring, it’s likely trees, vines or other plants have grown up around your pool heater. A bare minimum of 18″ of side clearance from trees and plants is recommended, but 6 feet of clearance is preferred.  Trees above the heater flue (exhaust port) should be at least 6 feet above the highest point of the flue.

Tree to close to heater
Tree to close to the heater

Dry leaves

Even without live plants near your heater, fallen leaves over the months can easily accumulate in and around your heater. Dry leaves inside your heater can easily start a fire. Check the inside of your heater for dry leaves. Contact your pool service professional if you see a build up of leaves inside your pool heater.

Animals and insect nests

Because no one turns on their pool heater over the winter, small animals and insects will often take up residence inside your pool heater when it is not in use. Rodents will often bring in leaves, and bits of plastic, fabric or whatever else they can find to make a nest. These nests create a fire hazard inside your pool heater. Other issues may include clogged air intake valves, which can cause your heater to make strange noises, and not run as efficiently. For this reason, it is always a good idea to contact your pool service professional to have your heater serviced and cleaned before the swimming season begins.

Debris in pool heater
Debris in pool heater

Bonding Wire

Every pool heater should be bonded to the pool system with a #8 copper wire. Bonding balances the electrical pressure and keeps all currents flowing outward into a bonding wire or grid where they are safely dispersed. Lack of bonding is a serious safety hazard, and can also cause premature deterioration of pool equipment. The bonding wire runs between the pool heater, pool pump, the frame of the pool underground, and any other metal or electrical components within the vicinity of the swimming pool.

Bonding wires can come loose over time. Visually check to see if the bonding wire is still connected to your pool heater, and give it a gentle tug to make sure it’s secure. Loose wires can be easily be resecured with a screwdriver. If your bonding wire is not present, contact a qualified pool contractor or qualified electrician immediately.

A bonding wire connected to a pool heater
A bonding wire connected to a pool heater

Other tips

Test your GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) on your pools lights. Turn on your pool light, and push the test button on the outlet or breaker that controls your lights. If the light fails to turn off when the test button is pushed, do not use the light, and contact a qualified electrician immediately.  It is also a good idea to have your pool filter serviced before the swimming season, and again, right after the swimming season. Check with your pool service professional for the best schedule for your pool.

Also, this is a good time to review your pool safety barrier features. See my previous articles here and here, Also see my video on pool safety barriers here. Make sure gates self-close and latch. Test any alarms to make sure they are in working order.  Contact a qualified pool contractor if anything is not working as intended. Also, any wrought iron pool fencing will likely need touch up paint to prevent rust and extend the life of the fence.

Have fun enjoying your pool!

To schedule a pool inspection with your general home inspection, call 818-298-3405.