It’s been really gross outside the last couple of days … hot, sticky, humid, just plain gross.  And we’ve been enjoying our swimming pool a lot … it’s a great way to cool off and feel refreshed!  The last few weeks have been so warm out that the pool water has been heating to bath-water like temperatures on its own.  The recent challenge has been cooling the pool off rather than heating it.

About a month ago, though, the situation was pretty much opposite.  Back then, the pool was actually on the chilly side (such a foreign thought now!) and we thought we’d run the heater for a bit so it would be more comfortable in time for our Fourth of July cookout.  Unfortunately, though, we just couldn’t get the pilot light on the heater to stay lit.

removing the access panel to light the pilot

We were bummed and thought we would have to call a plumber (or pool guy?) to come fix it.  Before we made the phone call, though, Chad decided to Google the problem and found that a likely cause could be that the powerpile needed replacing.

Some (not-so?) little-known pool heater facts:

  1. A pool heater works a lot like a water heater.
  2. The powerpile converts heat from the pilot to electricity that’s used to power the thermostat and gas valve … just like in a water heater.
  3. Our Pentair Minimax CH 200M heater is full of Honeywell parts


removing the old powerpile

To be sure this was our problem, we removed the old powerpile from the heater and tested it by connecting the leads to a volt meter and holding the conductor over the flame from a lighter.  We got no reading on the volt meter, which told us that the power pile wasn’t working correctly.

the pilot that just wouldn't stay lit

We looked online and found a few plumbing / HVAC supply sites that sold replacement powerpiles (Honeywell part number Q313A), but no retailers that we were really all that comfortable ordering from – they all looked pretty small and chances were good we wouldn’t be able to get the part in time.  So, I called the local pool store who happened to have the replacement part in stock.  After talking with the pool guys, I realized part of my problem with searching online was that I was using the Honeywell part number rather than the Pentair part number (6270-27B) … under the Pentair part number, the powerpile (or “pilot generator” as it’s labeled in the Pentair documentation) was available on a number of swimming pool supply sites for a little less than we paid at the local pool store.

the reading on the volt meter after the new powerpile started generating

Once the new powerpile was installed, we still had to hold the pilot switch for a few minutes for things to warm up enough that it would start generating enough electricity to keep the pilot going, but, after a few minutes, the pilot stayed lit and we’ve had no problems since.

It was such an easy fix that avoided a service call, so we thought we’d share in case anyone else runs into similar problems!

Filed Under: Pool


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