This guide will help you to understand when a salt cell is bad. 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 troubleshooting instructions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 your pool's salt level is.
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 or granular shock.
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.
8. CHECK SCG CONNECTIONS  - 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.
9. CHECK SCG CONNECTIONS  - 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have any other questions about pool and spa products please do let us know - we are here to help!