How to Install a Swimming Pool Heater

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Pool heater
Pool heater (Image: http://perfectpoolservice.com)

Even on a warm day, most swimmers simply have to brace for impact and jump straight into the frigid pool water. After enduring the cold water for a while, your body adjusts to the temperature, and the water becomes tolerable--but usually not completely enjoyable. The addition of a pool heater makes getting into a pool like stepping into a bathtub. The temperature can be adjusted as desired, and no longer do you have to spend your entire swim shivering or staying moving just to keep from feeling cold. While installing a commercial pool heater may not be entirely easy, it can be done by the handy homeowner in a few hours. Follow these steps to complete this home project.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial pool heater
  • PVC pipe and fittings
  • Hacksaw

Prepare a level surface for the heater next to the pool equipment. If possible, the heater should be placed on a cement slab to ensure that it is located on solid ground. Since most pool heaters are powered by gas, it will need to be located close to a gas line, or have a gas line ran to its location.

Unpack the heater and place it on the slab. Though it will be hooked up to the pool's plumbing system and will be connected to electrical lines, most heaters do not physically attach to the ground in any way. The weight of the heater itself is enough to keep it held in place. Since it cannot be moved once the plumbing is installed, ensure the heater is located where you want it to permanently reside.

Following the manufacturer's instructions, tap into the water line between the pump and the output to the returns. Using a hacksaw, cut out a section large enough to place elbow joints to divert the water flow to the heater. The line from the pump should be ran to the heater's input, and the output from the heater should connect with the line that feeds the returns. Once all the piping has been cut and mocked-up, glue it into place using PVC cement.

Have a qualified electrician install the electric line from the breaker panel to the heater. A qualified gas technician should also be contacted to connect the natural gas or propane feed to the heater. You may attempt to hook these lines up yourself, but only do so if you know what you are doing. An improper hookup could potentially be very dangerous.

Turn the pump on to test the heater. The pump will force water from the pool's intakes into the heater, where gas will be burned to heat up the water. The now warm water exits the heater to feed the jets on the side of the pool. Once the average water temperature is at the desired level, the heater will simply kick on to keep it maintained.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always turn the pool pump off and release the pressure through the release valve before performing any kind of maintenance.
  • If unsure about your abilities, contact a pool company to do the labor for you.
  • Buy the appropriate BTU heater for your pool size. The proper heater will be able to warm the water at a rate of two degrees per hour.

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