As our world becomes more technologically advanced, repairs on malfunctioning pool equipment are naturally increasing in cost.
Pool owners who spend thousands of dollars on a new pool rarely consider the long-term costs of replacement equipment down the road. And when something goes bust, they have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace it.
One common culprit is control circuit boards that fail.
As a service technician, you can remedy the problem by replacing the unit with a new circuit board, which could cost between $300 and $1,500 or more, or swap it out with a good quality repaired circuit board, saving your clients a significant chunk of change. We’ll get to that later.
First, we need to diagnose the problem.
Salt water chlorinators, heaters or other automated systems that operate under the control of a printed circuit board will eventually malfunction due to either a broken or weak solder joint, failed component or other common circuit board problems.
When a circuit board is malfunctioning, most systems will generate an error code on the display. If there is no error code, make sure that the power is turned off and access the interior of the system panel to remove and review the circuit board for any visible signs of damage. Many times, a component failure will cause a burned area on the board or noticeable damage to the component itself where it is either cracked or melted.
When removing the circuit board, be extremely careful not to bend or cause damage to the components. The circuit board should only be handled on the edges so as to not cause static electricity damage to the sensitive components.
Installing the replacement circuit board back into the control panel is simply a reversal of the removal process. Making sure that only the edges of the circuit board are touched and that the main power of the control panel is shut off, the board should be placed into the same position that it was removed from. Ensure that all wire connections and screws are in the proper locations. Once the circuit board is correctly installed back into the control panel, the system can be powered back up, carefully following all manufacturer system start-up instructions.
Now, what should you do with the broken unit? One option is to send it to a circuit board repair service so you can begin collecting an inventory of good quality repaired boards to keep on hand. That will make it quick and easy to swap out broken units for instant customer satisfaction and money savings.
ISO certification and warranty is paramount when considering any circuit board repair resource. ISO certification ensures that the company performing the repairs has processes in place which adhere to standards as required by the most heavily regulated electronics manufacturing industries. To avoid safety and financial risks, it is very important that a certified IPC soldering professional is performing all repair work.
Once a circuit board enters the repair process it should be tested with OEM equipment to confirm whether or not it functions properly. Then a thorough diagnostic inspection should be performed, where the technician closely examines all solder joints and components.
Once the malfunctioning components are replaced, other components prone to failure should also be replaced. Any corrosion or bad solder joints on the board should be cleaned, reflowed, and/or repaired. After the repair process is complete, the unit should be put through another test by being reconnected to the OEM test fixture. Once proven to be functioning correctly, the unit must be carefully placed in an electrostatic discharge safety bag to prevent any damage from occurring during transport.
In many cases, repairing a circuit board can be 50 to 70 percent cheaper than buying new.
Most commonly replaced circuit boards can be repaired in one to two days.
Since nearly every pool, spa, pond, or other water feature operates under the control of an electronic circuit board, there is certainly a significant future for salvaging circuit boards, saving money and increasing end-user satisfaction. In the long run, the environmental impact will be significant, since every board that is repaired stays out of the landfill — keeping the environment green and pools clean one circuit board repair at a time.
Kevin Holden is the marketing manager at AER Technologies, an electronics service center specializing in printed circuit board repairs.