How To Clean A Pool Heater Filter

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As pool heaters interact with your pool's water, they inevitably get dirty. So, you might be wondering how to clean a pool heater filter, coils, and burner. In this post, we gather up-to-date research to thoroughly answer your question.

To clean your pool heater filter, coils, and burner, follow these general directions:

Filter:

  1. Remove filter cover or gain access
  2. Unscrew or lift out filter
  3. Tap out or spray out filter
  4. Remove any remaining large debris
  5. Reassemble

Coils:

  1. Identify coil location
  2. Remove coil cover(s) and fasteners
  3. Inspect coils and fins
  4. Clean with wet vac and/or water
  5. Reassemble

Burner:

  1. Check burner flame
  2. Gain access to burner
  3. Clean orifices and surface
  4. Reassemble

Keep reading the rest of this post for details on each step of cleaning these three pool heater elements. This guide will be all you need to keep your heater clean and in tip-top shape. To conclude, we'll answer several questions related to the topic of this post.

A blue colored pool filter placed on the pool, How To Clean A Pool Heater Filter

How To Clean A Pool Heater Filter, Coils, and Burner

The following directions for filter cleaning are generally applicable to both electric and gas heaters. However, only electric pool heaters have coils, and only gas pool heaters have burners.

A small pool filter mounted on the side of the pool

However, it may be necessary to reference your owner's manual to properly locate your heater parts, safely disassemble the system, and then reassemble the system.

Importantly, be sure that your entire pool heater is turned off both in the system and at the breaker before attempting to do any cleaning. This greatly reduces the risk of electric shock or shorting the system in any way.

Filter

According to the H-Series pool heater owner's manual by Hayward, cleaning your heater filters is one of the most important steps you can take. That is to say, regularly cleaning these filters will lead to a longer lasting and better working pool heater.

1. Remove Filter Cover or Gain Access

After you have identified the filter location, you will want to remove the cover to gain access to the filter. Once removed, set the cover aside, making sure to keep the threads and any gaskets free of dirt.

An under pool filter cleaning unit

If you accidentally get dirt on the threads of the filter cover, be sure to rinse it off before attempting to reattach it.

These covers are generally hand tightened. However, they are designed to be tight enough to keep pressure in your heater's system. Thus, do not be surprised if you have to really apply some force to open the cap.

2. Unscrew or Lift out Filter

Once the cap or cover is removed, you should have easy access to the filter membrane itself. Usually, these simply lift out, but they may also be screwed into place or snapped in.

Carefully remove the filter. Note how it was installed so that you can reinstall it exactly in the same place.

3. Tap Out or Spray out Filter

Once removed, you can now easily clean the filter. You can tap it off on a hard surface such as a railing, or spray it out with a hose.

The goal is to clean the filter until it is free of dirt and debris so that it looks as close to new as possible. Generally, this cleaning process is relatively easy and quick.

4. Remove any Remaining Large Debris

Before continuing, be sure to take a second to inspect the reservoir where the filter sits. It is possible that other debris entered this space during or before the cleaning process. Remove this additional gunk.

5. Reassemble

Finally, you will want to reassemble the filter and cap. Be sure to put everything back in the opposite order that you took it out. This includes making sure that the filter is well seated in its intended position.

For the cap, you will want to screw this on very tight. Do not tighten it so much that you are worried about breaking the plastic threads, but do tighten it more than you originally think is necessary.

If you are worried about the system leaking, you can always turn it on and test it. If you see any leaks at the filter cap, take a second to make the cap even tighter.

Coils

The coils of an electric pool heater are where the heating element's heat is transferred to the pool water. Usually, you only need to clean the coils once or twice per year. It is very important to shut off power to the system before cleaning the coils.

1. Identify Coil Location

First, you will want to identify where the coils are located. The easiest method for achieving this is to reference the specific owner's manual of your heater.

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If you cannot access an owner's manual, you can usually use another manual for a similar heater to get an idea of the general technology and design of your heater.

Or, you may have to start removing covers until you find the coils. If you are employing this guess-and-check method, only remove fasteners that are intended to be removed, and take pictures so you can reassemble everything back the way it started.

2. Remove Coil Cover(s) and Fasteners

Now, you will want to use screwdrivers and possibly wrenches to remove all of the covers and guards that protect and hold in the coils.

It is common for the coil system to be totally removable to make cleaning and inspecting easier. Other times, you may want to clean the coils in place.

3. Clean with Wet Vac and/or Water

Once you have access to the coils, you will want to clean them gently. It is recommended that you only use a vacuum and water. Never stick anything into the coils, as this may bend them.

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Take your time with the directed water and wet vac until the coils are free of dirt buildup. This process is generally pretty simple once the coils or coil cover are removed.

4. Reassemble

Once clean, you will now want to reassemble the pool heater exactly as it was originally assembled. This is especially important for any pressure fittings designed to hold water.

After you have the heater back together, test it to make sure that everything is functioning properly. If you notice any problems, address them immediately or call a professional to make the fix.

Burner

Now, we will discuss how to clean the burners. According, to the RayPack RP2100 owner's manual, you will want to be careful about making dust when removing the burner cover. This is because of the use of RCF, or refractory ceramic fibers, which are dangerous if breathed in.

1. Check Burner Flame

Sometimes it is possible to check the burner flames by simply holding a small mirror under the heater cover when the heater is running. You are looking for every orifice to have solid tall blue flames that emit from right at the orifice top.

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If you see any orange or weak flames, you will want to take the following steps to clean the burners off.

Sometimes, you may have to remove a cover or two to get to the point where you can check the flames. To make this process easier, follow the schematics and directions in your pool heater owner's manual.

3. Gain Access to Burner

Now that you have determined that you have one or more flames that are weak or wavering, you will want to take off any other covers that are obstructing burner access. As before, be sure to take note of the assembly to make reassembly easier.

4. Clean Orifices and Surface

Now that you have access to the burners, you will want to clean them. Often, you can use a brush to remove any debris or spider webs that are blocking the burner openings.

Other times, you may have to use a paperclip or similar tool to actually auger out the orifice due to buildup and/or dirt. Do this carefully, as you do not want to damage the orifice opening.

5. Reassemble

Now that the burner orifices and surfaces are clean, you can reassemble the heater exactly as it was originally assembled.

Now, test the heater. If there are any problems, address them immediately or call a professional to make sure your heater is working properly.

Do pool heaters have filters?

Yes, all pool heaters have filters. Without filters, the heating element would be in nearly constant contact with dirt and debris. This would significantly reduce the total lifespan of the pool heater.

Where is the filter on a pool heater?

A blue sand pool filter being used for cleaning an above ground pool water

Generally, the filter is the first major element in a pool heater. Therefore, it is on the side of the heater where the water originally enters the system. If you can trace the direction of the flow, use this information to look for a cylindrical reservoir—this is usually the filter.

Can your pool heater get clogged?

A worker cleaning the pool filter

Pool heaters can get clogged, especially their filters. Often, if you are having an issue with pool heater performance, it is because you have not cleaned the filter or do not clean the filter frequently enough.

Other times, you will find that the heat exchanger and/or the coils are clogged. Checking this requires partially taking apart the heater.

How long do pool heaters last?

Generally, pool heaters last between 6 and 12 years. However, they will last a shorter or longer time based on how often you clean them and how often they get used.

In Closing

A blue colored pool filter placed on the pool

In this post, we answered the question of how to clean pool heater filters, coils, and burners. We provided step-by-step directions for each of these separate heater elements. Good luck!

To learn more about pool heaters, take a look at these other articles:

What Size Propane Tank Do I Need For My Pool Heater?

How Long Do Pool Heaters Last?

5 Electric Pool Heaters For Inground Pools

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