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Alex Simmons

The pool thread

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After a long hot day of coaching analysis, client updates and dishing out the pain fun in training plans, watching the cricket and catching up with the latest in the ride on mower thread (after doing some actual mowing), I thought I'd start a thread for those interested in pools and all things associated. I'm no expert and could probably learn a lot from others here that are far more experienced in maintaining their pools.

What sort of pool do you have? What issues do you experience?

Is it something you use for cooling off / kids / fun and/or do you have a swim training option?

The home we bought had an in-ground pebblecrete pool (about 50,000 litres) and separate in-ground spa. Salt water pool with auto chlorinator and the spa is managed with bromine tablets.

The equipment was in need of update and two new filter pumps later.... Gradually replacing various bits as needed - replaced a filter spider gasket the other day to the spa filter and the hydrostatic plug in the spa needed replacing. The spa has a heat pump hardwired to be on whenever the pump is going, which is a bit annoying, I'd rather have the choice as to whether a power hungry heat pump was being used, especially as we hardly use the spa.

The pool's salt water auto chlorination cell needs replacing as well and I have a new one on the way. There will be other things that need attention as time goes on but it's in pretty reasonable shape otherwise.

Since the pool's auto chlorinator hasn't quite been working so well and the weather has warmed up, I've needed to be more vigilant in maintaining the pool chemistry. It's been an interesting learning experience to check and keep pH and free chlorine levels where they need to be. I have a salt level measurement device on the way as well which will help me maintain salt levels once the auto chlorinator is back working as it should. I could probably use a cyanuric acid test kit as well.

So far the small effort in keeping on top of the pH and chlorine levels pays off, the water looks crystal clear and no signs of algae growth, which is something that would happen before I started paying closer attention. Before this spring I didn't seem to need to do as much of this as the chlorinator was working properly.

Last Christmas my gift to myself was a robot cleaner. It's a Zodiac and does a really good job.

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Had my eye on those Zodiacs, ended up going for the "Pool Cleaner" which does a pretty good job. 

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I've been given the job of managing an old problem pool - quite large, about 70,000L - which probably last had major work done on it 25 years ago.

The pump has been missing (literally gone) for nearly 2 years and the water was a deep-dark green when I started - so much so that I almost considered turning it into a fish-pond - it was the local hang-out for ducks in the area. However, I've now got it back to where I can see the bottom of the pool and the algae on the sides is no longer a forest of new species.

Although I'm hoping that I can recover it with more chemicals and a new pump[/filter], I concerned that damage may have been done to the painted concrete, which might require a repaint.

I haven't replaced the pump yet, as I don't know enough about the specific requirements, but the quotes I've had are simply stupid - I've worked in fluids infrastructure in the past and know a bit about pumps and what they are worth. Pool shops I've encountered so far feel like 2nd-hand car dealers. I've also got no idea if the sand-filter will still be serviceable, or if I'll need to replace the entire show.

Fortunately, this is not coming out of my pocket (I certainly couldn't afford it) but I need to account for the spend... so I've got a lot to research.

Edited by XCOM!

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I suppose like any industry there are good and bad operators and some charlatans. Starting out with limited knowledge you need to have some trust of the people in pool shops but worth doing some research and if possible get several quotes if that's possible.

My pool pump was working but not well, there was a seal leak and the drive shaft was badly worn and corroded and was going to break at some stage. Repair cost was about half that of new pump. So I replaced it with a Hayward variable speed pump which is much more energy efficient and very quiet. On standard speed you hardly notice it's on. It was pretty exxy IIRC. But uses ~$400-500 less electricity per year than the old pump did (we are still on the grid).

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3 hours ago, zed said:

Had my eye on those Zodiacs, ended up going for the "Pool Cleaner" which does a pretty good job. 

Yeah, I took some time to look at options but I didn't find a lot of reliable reviews so in the end I took the plunge. After a year I'm pretty happy with it. I was impressed on first use at how much pool floor crap it actually cleared.

Most of this type of robot seemed to be in the $1.2-1.5k range but the Zodiac was about $850 delivered. I mounted the control box on the wall above the pump house and put hooks up to keep the power cord out of the way.

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50 minutes ago, Alex Simmons said:

I suppose like any industry there are good and bad operators and some charlatans. Starting out with limited knowledge you need to have some trust of the people in pool shops but worth doing some research and if possible get several quotes if that's possible.

My pool pump was working but not well, there was a seal leak and the drive shaft was badly worn and corroded and was going to break at some stage. Repair cost was about half that of new pump. So I replaced it with a Hayward variable speed pump which is much more energy efficient and very quiet. On standard speed you hardly notice it's on. It was pretty exxy IIRC. But uses ~$400-500 less electricity per year than the old pump did (we are still on the grid).

How did you get those figures (~$400-500 less electricity per year than the old pump did) - for those savings, by my calcs, your old pump must have used around 7 to 8 kw hours a day. (4 kw-hours more than your new pump given a new pump draw of around 3 to 4 kw-hours)

FWIW I reckon you could go off grid for about $2,500 to $3,000 probably not financially viable unless you include the indirect benefits/advantages.

Edited by Pete

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The old single speed pump was pretty power hungry, at least a 750W draw and I suspect closer to 1kW. The new variable speed unit drops to about a 140W draw for 98% of the time.

So if I'm drawing 0.8kW less power, over 8 hrs/day for 365 days = 0.8* 8 * 365 = 2336kWh @ say 0.25/kWh = $584

I do drop a couple of hours a day off over winter months (3-4 months).

 

Solar is on the medium term agenda for us. It makes perfect sense since we both live/work from home. It's just a question of priorities of the projects we've got going. the manshed ended up consuming more $ than I thought...

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Which Zodiac did you buy? I have an old Barrcuda suction cleaner. It does not work very well with my variable speed pump.

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Actually, this pool had a true variable-speed pump - 3-phase with an external rectifier & inverter unit that used pressure sensors to control the pixie-frequency for the motor... complex overkill and crazy-dangerous wiring.

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14 minutes ago, Ironnerd said:

Which Zodiac did you buy? I have an old Barrcuda suction cleaner. It does not work very well with my variable speed pump.

This is me too. 

Git a new pump and chlorinator after the tornado but now the old suction cleaner can’t keep up and the unit starts sucking air which when the pump turns off blows the air back through the system and blows up like old faithful. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, XCOM! said:

I've been given the job of managing an old problem pool - quite large, about 70,000L - which probably last had major work done on it 25 years ago.

The pump has been missing (literally gone) for nearly 2 years and the water was a deep-dark green when I started - so much so that I almost considered turning it into a fish-pond - it was the local hang-out for ducks in the area. However, I've now got it back to where I can see the bottom of the pool and the algae on the sides is no longer a forest of new species.

Although I'm hoping that I can recover it with more chemicals and a new pump[/filter], I concerned that damage may have been done to the painted concrete, which might require a repaint.

I haven't replaced the pump yet, as I don't know enough about the specific requirements, but the quotes I've had are simply stupid - I've worked in fluids infrastructure in the past and know a bit about pumps and what they are worth. Pool shops I've encountered so far feel like 2nd-hand car dealers. I've also got no idea if the sand-filter will still be serviceable, or if I'll need to replace the entire show.

Fortunately, this is not coming out of my pocket (I certainly couldn't afford it) but I need to account for the spend... so I've got a lot to research.

once I did the research on the internet (whirlpool forums are awesome) I went online (again whirlpool recommended site) and bought a pump for 45% of the price quoted by the local pool shop.  Then used the guy who looks after our pool when we are away to install it.  Still came out nearly 50% ahead.

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2 hours ago, Ironnerd said:

Which Zodiac did you buy? I have an old Barrcuda suction cleaner. It does not work very well with my variable speed pump.

It's a Zodiac CX20.

I've no idea if it's a good model or not but it's been doing the job quite well for a year. I also like the simplicity of removing and replacing the basket that collects all the debris. It does the floor and the walls, or just the floor if you prefer. My pool has some stepped areas and it seems to climb up to those OK.

I just checked - paid $801 for it.

I was never keen on those suction units that plug into the filter box like a vacuum hose. With the robot it runs independently of the filter box - you can drop it in the pool, turn it on and leave it to do its thing - it turns itself off. Pull it out later on when you have a few minutes. 

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I just try to spend more time in the pool than maintaining it. As we rent all i have to do is skim the top, empty the suction basket, check the robot that goes around the bottom.

Even with just that it is going to be close i think

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23 minutes ago, rory-dognz said:

I just try to spend more time in the pool than maintaining it.

I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I've done bugger all in maintaining either this pool, or the last. I have a reasonable suction cleaner, and now & then have to sweep a little debris off the steps to the floor so it gets picked up, but other than that, it's pretty much self sufficient. 

I haven't checked the chemicals in nearly a year, and it's still crystal clear. I just top the water up when it gets low and add a couple bags of salt when the chlorinator says the salt is low. Maybe I'm just lucky (or maybe ignorance is bliss when it comes to the chemicals) but the water seems fine and no-one at all complains.

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9 hours ago, Ex-Hasbeen said:

I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I've done bugger all in maintaining either this pool, or the last. I have a reasonable suction cleaner, and now & then have to sweep a little debris off the steps to the floor so it gets picked up, but other than that, it's pretty much self sufficient. 

I haven't checked the chemicals in nearly a year, and it's still crystal clear. I just top the water up when it gets low and add a couple bags of salt when the chlorinator says the salt is low. Maybe I'm just lucky (or maybe ignorance is bliss when it comes to the chemicals) but the water seems fine and no-one at all complains.

That was sort of me until the auto chlorinator stopped working as well as it needs to - I think these units make up for a lot of our lack of chemical care sins.

I suspect (but I don't know for sure) not having the basics like pH correctly maintained and having enough stabiliser (cyanuric acid) probably reduces the life of the chlorinator cell as it has to work a lot harder to keep up the free chlorine levels. Indeed I think with this stuff in good order probably means I can shave a bit of time off the pump cycle.

So in a way, the unit not working so well has been a good opportunity as it's prompted me to learn more about this stuff and be able to manage the pool chemistry better. The water really is looking very good, and when the service guys came to do a filter repair they commented they'd never seen it look this good (they've been servicing this pool for former owners for over a decade).

My incentive is high at the moment as this Christmas I'll have various family members staying here including young kids so I want to have the pool in tip top shape for them.

About a year and a bit ago, after a period of heavy rain I thought the salt could possibly use a top up (chlorinator unit wasn't saying much), so I went to the pool shop to get the water tested and it had zero salt. Along with everything else it needed, I loaded up the back of the car with about 150kg of various chemicals and felt like Walter White :)

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We put a new pool in 2 years ago. after a considerable amount of research.  Ended up going with an 11x4.5m job with in floor cleaning, approx 50,000L.

In my view the in floor cleaning is a must and well worth the $6/$8k spend.  (Touch wood) Only effort we really need to put in is a check early in the season, add some salt and various bits as the test advises and apart from that we barely touch it all year.

We have an electric heater (split system) instead of solar heating, as we already had the house on solar and run it off that. No noticable increase in power costs.

Overall very, very happy with the product.  Notwithstanding that, there has been some issues:

- The industry seems to be full of rogues and to an extent unregulated.  We were 75% of the way through the project and discovered that the mob we were using were uninsured (or in their words self-insured). Created issues as to that point we had paid cash, however the last 25% was funded via our bank and the bank wouldn't release funds until proof of insurance was held. Cuased a catch 22 and stalled the project for nearly 8 weeks.  We only resolved it by threatening to call work cover (as we had an un-fenced full pool).  Work was completed and then bank was able to completed a final valuation and released funds accordingly.  Was  a huge headache at the time

- No formal handover done so we have had to call them back on various occasions to show us how to use the system.  Rather than invest the time to give us a proper demonstration they show one thing and then disappear, only coming back when we contact them again once we discover something else we didn;t know.

- Further to above, we have already had to replace one pump and the other is on the way out, and system wasn't running optimally and caused damage to the pump.  They tried to blame us until we reminded them of the numerous call outs we have had to get them to show us stuff.  Ended up covered under warranty however I did pay a little extra to get an upgraded, better brand.

My suggestion if putting one in is to do your research and then do some more.  We knew a little bit about the attitude of these guys, but were best of a bad bunch.  We addressed this early only, being very upfront telling them what we had found during our research, and they assured us this would be the case.

Turns out that a leopard doesn't change its spots.

As I said, overall very happy with the product.  It really is a "set and forget set up".  Apart from the annual check at the start of the season I check the filters every 3/4 weeks or so and that's about it.  Barely use it enough to justify the cost, but whatever........its there if we want it.

Cheers

Ayto

 

 

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18 hours ago, Alex Simmons said:

The old single speed pump was pretty power hungry, at least a 750W draw and I suspect closer to 1kW. The new variable speed unit drops to about a 140W draw for 98% of the time.

So if I'm drawing 0.8kW less power, over 8 hrs/day for 365 days = 0.8* 8 * 365 = 2336kWh @ say 0.25/kWh = $584

I do drop a couple of hours a day off over winter months (3-4 months).

 

Solar is on the medium term agenda for us. It makes perfect sense since we both live/work from home. It's just a question of priorities of the projects we've got going. the manshed ended up consuming more $ than I thought...

OK I get it - that makes sense - I normally only do 4 hours a day for my filter - that makes a big difference.  I just consulted Dr Google and it seems that 8 hours is more in line with most recommendations. Probably explains a few things! LOL

Currently I am using the inverter for the solar heater pump only (steady 1kw motor) as I tended to use more power there (my pool itemp 26 degrees!! :)) but I have just decided to put both on now that I know I need to throw more kw-hours at the filter but I will need more panels if I want continuous power

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Reduced pump speed equals reduced pumped volume, which suggests the need for a larger capacity pump to achieve the required volume in any given time period.

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The pump I have pumps at 180 l/min per 1000rpm, and you can program the rpm settings for each of high, medium and low. It's set to go high @ 3000rpm for an initial 5-min, then drops back to 1800rpm for the balance of the pump cycle.

I don't know what my pool's total dynamic head is - the pump is not overly far from the pool and the skimmer to pump height differential is not large, so I guess about 8 metres for TDH. The pump specs suggest I'll get ~150-200 l/min.

So on my low setting of 1800 rpm over 8 hours is 72,000- 96,000 litres per day or in the range of 1.4 - 1.9 times the pool volume.

Man, fluid physics, chemistry. Didn't realise how much fun this would be... :D

Edited by Alex Simmons

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Great thread.

I'm in the early stages of getting a planning a spa and pool. First quote is tomorrow. Beer budget with champagne tastes.

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We went fibreglass for the pool this time, and I really think if you don't have any need for custom shape etc, it really is an easier solution in the end.

 

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I just bought a zodiac also in the last 6 weeks and am super impressed. The previous cleaner was good but this is much better. I have a concrete heated plunge pool with a chemigem. Perth weather doesn’t require the heating too much. The heating is electric. I have smart power so the water heats mainly in the off peak times for low cost.

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10 hours ago, roxii said:

:nerd: 

lol

Apologies, I can't help myself!

I think what this little bit of post-hoc backyard science is telling me is the pool shop recommended the right pump and the right settings for the pump for our pool.

They did give me other options and explained the practical differences. I've had good experience with them so far, so I count myself lucky given the comments suggesting there's plenty of pool sharks out there.

When I get into things I like to dive deep down to understand the details but the purpose is ultimately to recognise what are the basics that matter most.

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How does the zodiac go with bigger debris on the bottom of the pool? I've got some palms and other plants around the pool that love to drop massive leaves into the pool, does the zodiac clean them up or do they blocked the system up

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I get a few thin palm leaves that are 20-40cm long - palm all round the pool, including one right next to it. It seems to collect them OK but hard to know if it would work for you. If there were a lot I'd expect it to struggle as there is only so much room in the filter basket and large leaves may not be as readily sucked up. It might depend on how long the leaf was in the water as to how easily it can pick it up. It's a pretty powerful sucker though.

I have a lot of all sorts of leaves that blow onto the pool. On my first use of it, there was quite a lot of leaves on the floor - it got most of them in the first run but the filter basket was clearly full and not collecting any more. Emptied it and dropped it in for second sweep and ever since I've never had to do two sweeps. By comparison I reckon I'd have needed to empty the skimmer basket several times if doing old school vacuuming.

I'm looking at the various plants and trees that surround our pool - that's another project as we gradually overhaul our gardens. The palm set right next to the pool drops stack of tiny flower petals or something similar from the fruit fronds which does drive me nuts - I'll need to do some chopping to remove the offending fronds.

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On 11/28/2017 at 7:42 PM, Alex Simmons said:

It's a Zodiac CX20.

I've no idea if it's a good model or not but it's been doing the job quite well for a year. I also like the simplicity of removing and replacing the basket that collects all the debris. It does the floor and the walls, or just the floor if you prefer. My pool has some stepped areas and it seems to climb up to those OK.

I just checked - paid $801 for it.

I was never keen on those suction units that plug into the filter box like a vacuum hose. With the robot it runs independently of the filter box - you can drop it in the pool, turn it on and leave it to do its thing - it turns itself off. Pull it out later on when you have a few minutes. 

Thanks for that Alex, I didnt know there were cleaners that were separate from the pool suction/ skimmer. 

Might have to look into one of those for christmas should fix my problems. 

I dont get a lot of debris in the pool, even less now the tornado cleaned up a lot of the older trees, mainly sandy dust and grit when its windy (which is always :lol: ) 

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Thanks Alex,

Sounds similar to our place, those seed/flowers from the palms drive me crazy. 

I need to empty the skimmer 2-3 times every time I vacuum, (maybe I should do it more regularly) sounds like a zodiac will save me the hassle, More likely to use it then vacuum

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2 hours ago, roxii said:

Thanks for that Alex, I didnt know there were cleaners that were separate from the pool suction/ skimmer. 

Might have to look into one of those for christmas should fix my problems. 

I dont get a lot of debris in the pool, even less now the tornado cleaned up a lot of the older trees, mainly sandy dust and grit when its windy (which is always :lol: ) 

Yes, they are separate units, mine runs off main power - there is a long power cord that runs to the robot from a control box which in turn is plugged into mains power.

It's excellent. Since getting it (a year now) I've used the vacuum just once and I'll doubt I'll need it much now I'm better at managing the water quality.

There are a number of different brands and various features. This was one of the cheaper options I could find and it really seems to do a great job. Drop it in, let it sink and turn it on at the control box. It'll do the floors an walls right past the waterline. Pop out a couple of hours later to pull it up, empty the basket, maybe a quick hose off and put away until next time. That's it.

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I should add, that if you have algae on the pool floor, then these robots will simply spread the algae through the water as the organisims are smaller than the filter material in the robot. The water will cloud up. 

They're designed for collecting quite fine particles to larger items (leaves etc) but not micro organisms. That's what the chlorine is for.

If pool algae is bad, then a vacuum to waste is probably best bet.

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Me too, and it just didn't feel right either. My pool's just over 11m, and I'd rather swim lengths, turn and not push off, than swim in the harness.

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I felt that my position was all wrong with the harness and it is uber boring. An endless pool would be great to try.

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I was away for a few days and when i got back there was a bit of leaf litter on the pool floor, so I popped the robot in last night. It collected it all - here's a pic of the robot's filter basket after a run.

Photo 4-12-17, 5 41 39 am.jpg

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We've had some fairly wild weather over the last 72 hours, copping about 80mm all up, albeit much less that the 150/200mm predicted.

Even so, I had to dump about 5,000l out of the pool Saturday morning as it was literally overflowing, and another 1,000l or so yesterday.

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Hey Alex are you using the 100 or 200 micron filter?  I assume you run the filter at the same time the cleaner is running around stirring the water and dust up? Do you think it is worth while with the 100 micron? the CX20 seem like a good deal compared to the other brands

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44 minutes ago, Limited said:

Hey Alex are you using the 100 or 200 micron filter?  I assume you run the filter at the same time the cleaner is running around stirring the water and dust up? Do you think it is worth while with the 100 micron? the CX20 seem like a good deal compared to the other brands

Don't know and didn't know I had a choice! There is nothing in the manual specifications that tells me what the filter sieve size is nor that there is an option. So I looked up a bit more about it and it looks like the standard filter is 200 micron so I assume that's the one I have. Thanks for the leading question :)

Replacements are $89 and there are 200 and 100 micron options same price. There's no indication after a year of use that any parts need replacement.

I commented earlier that when there is a bit of algae growth the robot tend to cloud the water and I figure the chemicals are needed to deal with micro organisms. When the pool chemistry is right then I don't get any clouding of the water with the robot. Nevertheless the finer filter sounds like it might be useful to have for occasional use.

I just put the robot on when I think it needs it. Often that overlaps the times the filter is on but it's not a strategy I specifically follow.

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On another pool cleaning matter - I was interested in surface skimmer options as I do get plenty of leaves and the manual skimmer is a bit tedious. Brought into focus today as my leg is playing up again and walking/standing sucks dogs' balls.

I found a few options, main ones I can see are:

  • Floating Pool Cleaners, that attach to hose and skimmer basket and move around the pool. Seem to be 2 types - one that need to be attached to a floor cleaner and one that don't need that.
  • Venturi effect units that attach to the pump outlet and are statically positioned
  • Independent Robots

Of those above, I think this one probably suits my set up:

https://www.dragonfly.biz/dragonfly-floating-pool-cleaner/

Anyone have one of these or something similar?

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I went fibreglass - my rationale was they arecheaper (not all that much these days) and the QA is done prior to shipping and installation.

However, the (faster) speed of installation could be a problem - is it aligned correctly to your fenceline etc.  Is it perfectly level and will it stay that way?  I have a few issues in this regard, and if I knew what I knew now I would be onsite (I was OS when delivered) when it is installed with a spirit level and some serious attitude.

Time again? - probably concrete  but no experience of any downsides.

 

Edited by Pete

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2 hours ago, Rocket Salad said:

Concrete or fiberglass?

Why?

I looked at both. In the end went with the fiberglass shell option as it was an "end to end" install.

Concrete quotes were for the concrete pool only, and would have needed to subbie plumbing, sparkie, fencing, etc etc and would have had to project manage the job myself. They weren't interested in doing the job from start to finish (I'd say they simply had too much on at the time). Was all too hard, so went with the simple option.

Another point of difference (although minor) is that a fiberglass shell can have in-floor cleaning whilst concrete can't.

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Remember the correct pool size can be determined by the famous bicycle = n+1 formula, but for the size you should have bought where n is the size you did buy....

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Looks awesome RS. Would be interested to see what you end up with.

FWIW, I know people who have had various water features included in the pool and who have ended up having them turned off because they can't stand the constant noise of the water. 

Can't imagine getting to that personally, but I guess I've not got it in my backyard 24/7.  I think if it was situated far enough away from the house it wouldn't be too much of an issue but in tight backyards it might be.

Cheers

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Think I need to replace the cell in my auto-chlorinator. Perhaps the whole auto chlorination unit, hard to say. I constantly get low salt warning when the salt level is fine and I still need to keep topping up chlorine levels manually a little too often for my liking. I'm pretty sure the water exiting the clorinator cell should be more turbid than it is.

I have given it an acid bath a couple of times to clean off residue build up but it just doesn't seem to be doing the job. It's probably just an aged unit at end of life.

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I replaced mine about 18 months ago, was having similar issues to you, I ended up replacing the "brain" and cell, I just bought the same unit so I didn't need to the replace the casing for the cell

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