All About Your Pool Heater’s Lifespan [And 5 Tips To Prolong It]
As the colder temperatures of winter continue, you are still enjoying the warm water of your pool thanks to your handy-dandy, trusted pool heater. Even though sunny Southwest Florida doesn’t see many freezing days, with colder temperatures come more pool heater installations so Florida homeowners can enjoy a refreshing dip year-round. During our installs, we often hear the question, “How long should a pool heater last?” Unfortunately, the answer is not always so simple. Several factors impact the life span of your pool heater, and the expert team at McCarthy Air will walk you through each of them and share a few tips on how to expand your heater’s life!
- Often you need to replace a few essential parts, not the entire heater.
- Things like your climate, water chemistry, and maintenance habits will impact the lifespan of your pool heater.
- Pool heaters will last anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
- Gas pool heaters have the shortest lifespan, at 5-10 years.
- Solar polar heaters have the longest lifespan, at 20-30 years. However, they are subject to the weather for efficiency.
- Your pool heater may need replacing if it is making strange noises, the heat exchanger goes out, or there is significant rust.
Common Pool Heater Parts To Replace
Whether your pool heater served you well for many years or you just bought a new one, eventually, one day, you will run into a problem. Preventing problems through regular maintenance is the ideal approach to keep your equipment lasting for a long time. Strive to repair any damage as soon as possible. As with any equipment, some parts wear out faster than others. That’s why we have a list of pool heater parts you need to replace regularly and the average life expectancy of those parts.
1. Pause and Troubleshoot
Before you rush to replace the parts on your pool heater, make sure there isn’t something a little simpler going on behind the scenes that do not require replacing a part. Take the following steps:
- Do you still have fuel?
- Is the shut-off valve open?
- Can the electricity reach your heater?
- Is the breaker tripped?
- What is the flow rate?
- Is the heater turned on?
- Is the thermostat set higher than the current pool temperature?
- Is the heater the correct size for your pool and pump?
- Check to see if there is adequate water flow.
- Is the filter dirty or clogged, or do you have a malfunctioning pump causing the water flow to stop or slow?
2. Prepare To Make Heater Repairs
If everything on the above list looks tip-top, it is time to investigate further. Many pool heater parts are relatively simple and easy to replace. However, if one of your gas valves is malfunctioning or you have a damaged wire, it is best to call a professional.
Keep in mind that making repairs when your pool heater is under warranty can void your warranty. Remember, most warranties will not cover damage from scale build-up and corrosion. That is because these things are due to poor water balance.
Before making any repairs, always turn off the pool pump, electricity, and gas valves – safety first!
3. Gaskets and O-Rings
Gaskets and O-rings will warp, dry out, crack and cause leaks as they age. It is easy to spot and fix this problem. To prolong the life of your gaskets and O-rings, coat them with pool lubricant at least once a year.
Life Expectancy: 1–3 Years
4. Switches and Other Electrical Parts
Power surges wreak havoc on electrical parts, and your pool heater is no exception. Switches also break from regular usage. Use a multimeter testing tool to help you locate the incomplete circuit. You can also try using the “jumper wire” test to bypass the switch. If the heater works, then you have an electrical problem. Common parts to replace in this category include:
- Flow or pressure switches
- High-limit switches
- Heater on/off switches
Life Expectancy: 3–7 Years
5. Bypass Valves
A damaged bypass valve will make your pool heater inefficient and can cause lasting damage. Too little or too much water flow will reduce heat gain and damage the components. Next, ensure the internal and external bypass values are secure and adjust them as needed.
Life Expectancy: 7–12 Years
6. Heat Exchanger
Sadly, heat exchangers are the most expensive part to replace. As a result, sometimes homeowners opt to replace a new heater instead. Usually, freeze damage or an unbalanced pH are the common reasons this part goes out. In addition, chronically hard water hardness can make the heater exchanger malfunction because of calcium scale build-up.
7. Burner Parts
The pilot orifice can become clogged with rust, dust, and small insects from time to time. When this happens, it needs a quick cleaning to get going again. In addition, see what the condition of all burner parts is. Look for cracks and loose connections and repair or replace them as needed.
8. Manifold or Header
The most common reason one of these parts will fail is damage from freezing temperatures. If you don’t winterize the heater, expanding water in freezing temperatures will cause severe damage to your pool heater.
Life Expectancy: Varies
Average Life Expectancy of a Pool Heater
Depending on several factors, pool heaters will work well for 10 to 25 years or more. Let’s talk about a few of them.
A typical gas pool heater has an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years. They are also the most expensive and complicated kind of pool heaters to repair. It is best to call a professional regarding a gas pool heater.
A solar pool heater is expensive to install. However, solar heaters are free to run and last a very long time. Some people report their solar pool heaters lasting anywhere from 20 to 30 years. In addition, they are low maintenance and require minimal repair for the majority of their lifespan. On the negative side, no sun equals no heat!
An electric pool heater is long-lasting, usually 15 to 20 years. Maintenance is moderate, but it is easier for an average pool owner to service an electric pool heater than a gas one!
How to Help Expand the Life of Your Pool Heater
Maintenance of your pool heater is the absolute best (and most cost-effective way) to ensure your pool heater runs well for a long time. The better you take care of your pool heater, the better it will take care of you!
1. Pool’s Water Chemistry
As a pool owner, you know that finding the perfect balance for your water is imperative. Pools have a mixture of artificial and organic ingredients that keep your water clean and safe for swimming. Check your pool water every week to ensure there is balance. High acidity levels will slowly eat away at your heater and corrode the wiring. Keep your pH level around 7.4 – 7.6 for optimal function! Especially when it comes to alkalinity and calcium. Dirty pool water reduces the average life of your pool heater and affects your health.
2. Proper Pool Heater Maintenance
You should perform maintenance on your pool heater at least once every year, ideally twice a year.
- Fully examine your heater
- Dust the heater exchanger
- Check for any signs of a rodent infestation
- Clean the heater floor
- Remove build-up of dust, debris, and gunk
- See if any of the pool heater pump’s valves are leaky or cracked
- Check that the burner flames are a strong blue
- Ensure the wiring isn’t frayed or melted.
3. Maintain Proper Power
A significant factor impacting your pool heater’s lifespan is keeping steady power. Your pool heater often requires electricity to work. Interruptions or shocks because of bad weather will affect your pool heater. It can lead to premature aging! Turn off your pool heater if you predict power outages or shortages. If there are interruptions or shocks because of bad weather, your pool h
4. Clean Pool Filters
The cleaner your water, the better your heater will run. Water full of debris results in debris passing through your heater and clogging it up. Clean your filters regularly with the recommended filter cleaning solution. Perform maintenance checks every few months.
5. Heat Exchanger
Your heat transfer element is the biggest factor impacting how long your pool heater lasts. When it breaks, your pool heater breaks. Heat exchangers are often composed of cupronickel or copper, and both are vulnerable to assault by pool chemicals. In addition, your heat pump will not work if the heat exchanger breaks. Give your heat exchanger some love by removing the unit and clearing the fins of dust and grit. Ensure there is no corrosion. When the time comes to replace your pool heater, look for ones with titanium heat exchangers. Titanium is more resistant to water damage.
How Does Location & Climate Impact A Pool Heater’s Life Expectancy?
The location of your pool will impact your pool heater’s lifespan. If you own an outdoor pool, you will factor in environmental issues such as rain, shade, sun, and wind exposure. If the pool is indoors, you have much more control over these factors. Often indoor pool heaters last longer due to the control you have over the environment.
In addition, the climate will affect the lifespan of your equipment. For example, suppose your pool is in an area with plenty of sunlight and does not experience sudden cold snaps or rainstorms. In that case, your pool heater will likely function for many years to come.
On the other hand, maintenance is imperative for your pool heater’s life if you live in a colder climate because low temperatures come with problems. For example, if you neglect to winterize your pool heater, ice could build up in the pipes and then expand, causing them to break.
Another typical result of cold weather is your pool heater cracking and freezing. And if you live in a region with a lot of rainfall, you must be wary of excessive storm debris, humidity, and lightning strikes.
When to Replace Your Pool Heater
You don’t need to replace your pool heater as long as you can keep repairing it. Just know that eventually, the unit’s efficiency will go down, often due to inadequate servicing and maintenance. Also, over time the expense of the part(s) will surpass the cost of a brand-new unit. Either that or the efficiency will become so low that it isn’t worth it to run your heater.
New pool heaters continue to grow more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and more cost-effective! Before you replace a part of your old pool heater, check with a professional to see if buying a new pool heater unit will save you money in the long run. Here at McCarthy Air, we are happy to answer any pool heater questions you have. We also offer a top-quality selection of replacement heaters! Call today!