Swimming Pool Heater Safety & Care

As we near another swimming pool season of fun and sun it’s never a bad thing to instill the importance of safety and care of your swimming pool equipment. As a professional in the industry I certainly would like everyone to use professionals when installing or repairing swimming pool equipment but I also understand in today’s market place some of you will purchase on line or may try to fix your equipment yourselves. For that very reason I am going to go over some safety and care issues of the increasingly affordable swimming pool heater.

Pool Heaters come in various forms such as Natural Gas and Propane, older versions also used oil fired (no longer) and had pilot lights that had to be lit. Now most heaters come with electronic ignitions where you just push a button and whoooosh it’s on! Sizing of your heater to the pool itself is important so you can utilize the correct BTU’s for your pool and have the most energy and cost efficiency you can. Usually heaters will come anywhere from 100-400BTU’s. Proper sizing matters as to the time it takes to heat your pool water and the efficiency for which it runs to keep the water up to temperature. You wouldn’t put a 100BTU Heater on a 20x40 pool and expect the most efficient operation; in fact you would be extremely disappointed in the outcome. I also have seen the 100BTU heater sold to most Above Ground pool buyers and that may not be the correct size for your pool. Think about it, the surface area for a 16x32 in the ground pool is 512sf while the surface area for a 28ft round above ground is over 600sq yet most above ground purchasers buy the 100BTU heater.

When installing a heater one has to take a look around at their environment and the changes it goes through over a period of time and where they plan on installing the unit. Wind, space and good ventilation is key to a proper installation. Awareness of what the proper codes are as to ventilation, distance from windows and doors and proper installation if you are putting the heater indoors can be determinants that affect the performance and safety of your heater. Lots to think about don’t you think, especially if you are doing the install yourself?

Heaters, aside from the fact that you are dealing with fire also come with other safety concerns such as carbon monoxide, and gas leaks. By the way if you smell gas leave the area immediately and call your gas company.

Poor water chemistry, such as low alkalinity or low PH levels can damage a heater fairly quickly, we once replaced a customers’ heat exchanger because of poor PH levels and within 3 weeks the customer was in need of another because they still didn’t correct their chemistry problems. High chlorine levels and salt levels above 4500ppm can also create havoc with your heater and as pool water heats less calcium deposits dissolve leaving scaling which can create pressure and flow problems through the heat exchanger, another costly repair.

Remember, heaters are a tool to make your swimming experience more pleasant but like anything else they have caveats we need to keep in mind. Safety should always be first and then efficiency. I always tell our customers that heaters are one item they really shouldn’t try to work on themselves. A pro is recommended for repairs and installations for your family’s safety and for your wallet!

For other books pertaining to pool care and safety visit or visit