A Pool Heater Job Can Get Complicated!
One swimming pool heater job in Fountain Valley looked like a standard temperature control board problem due to the digital display not being legible. This pool heater also had a noxious odor in the vented emissions which tends to be a sign of blocked gas injectors or burners for this Raypak RP2100 pool heater. These observations led me to estimate for a burner and injector cleaning and removal and replacement of the temperature control board, display, and bezel. This seemed straight forward and obvious, but after dealing with these modern low nox heaters for more then 10 years, I always hear “can of worms” in the back of my head!
Funny enough, this pool heater job would not let me down with that premonition! We try to warn and prepare our customers for the complications and challenges with these modern Lo NoX heaters, but this “can of worms” would show up in a new and unexpected place. We got authorization, scheduled the repair, ordered the parts, and showed up to our customer’s property ready to start and hopefully complete this pool heater repair.
First things first! We turned off the timer for the pool equipment and turned the external gas line valve off, so we could pull apart the injectors and burners for a full cleaning. All of a sudden, the smell of gas crept over the area and instantly we knew something happened underground just from the turning of the external gas valve. The “can of worms” turned into “The Pool Heater Job From Hell In Fountain Valley!”. We had an underground gas leak and needed to close the gas line supply a.s.a.p.! So we went to the gas meter and realized that there was no isolated gas valve for the swimming pool heater. This was not good!
We had to shut off the main gas valve for the house meter which means the house would have no gas and WE HAD TO DO IT IMMEDIATELY! Luckily, no one was home and using the gas at that moment, but we were not looking forward to explaining this situation to the homeowner. Not only did we have to tell our customer that we had to shut off his house gas supply, but we had to notify him that we did not know where the gas leak was and if it was even accessible without cutting concrete.
Time for a plan for this pool heater job! We could open up a union in the gas line on the heater side of meter and cap it off, so we could stop gas to the heater. We could then turn the gas back on for the house. We then had to excavate down the gas line and find this leak, but first I needed to call the customer and notify him of our issue and our plan.
We also had to confirm that the underground gas line was sound enough to thread new gas line into. We had more information to obtain and I knew that from my customer’s perspective, his gas line was intact with no leak before he left for work and we were the last ones to touch it, so I needed to be calm and reassuring.
I pointed out that it was better to find out that his underground gas line was compromised with professionals in the yard then on a weekend with no one around and that we were there to keep the scene safe and figure out the next steps. During my conversation with the customer, we found out that the leak was very close to ground level and we just needed to confirm that the existing gas line was sound and not too deep.
I reassured him that the location of the gas leak was good news and we probably would not have to cut concrete or run new gas line from the meter which was a relief!
After excavating about 15 inches below ground, we found the 90 degree fitting. It was sound, but space was very tight and leverage would be difficult to get to unthread the pipe from the 90 degree fitting.
We showed the customer the split opening in the gas pipe and explained our plan to repair. We explained the costs and challenges and got authorization to try and unthread the faulty pipe and rethread a new one back into the 90 degree fitting. We were all on the same page and would come back and hopefully fix this leaky gas pipe without any other “can of worms” showing up!
Hell hath no fury like underground plumbing! Our customer helped excavate a big, clean hole to try and gain leverage on the pipe we wanted to unthread from the 90 degree fitting, but this thing was sealed for life. We finally budged it by using our legs to push the pipe wrench. We threaded in the new gas pipe and completed gas line plumbing to the heater. We solved the gas leak and wrapped the pipe for protection.
This customer repaired his own pool equipment and he had a pool water leak near the gas line which was slowly corroding the gas line at ground level. He let these leaks go without attention for too long and ended up with a dangerous hazard. The chlorine in the pool water mixed with acidic soil along with unwrapped gas line which led to a corroded gas line that split open. This could have been prevented and shows how important it is to fix pool water leaks in your swimming pool equipment!
A “can of worms” could be front and center on every pool heater job and swimming pool repair. Pool repair technicians need to think quick and keep customers informed and reassured throughout the pool heater job. Luckily we caught the hazard before it turned into a catastrophe. Just another fun day by the pool in Fountain Valley with Pool Heaven!
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