How to install a pool ionizer
Pool ionizers are catching on as the easiest and most natural way to sanitize swimming pools. This post describes how to install the ClearBlue pool ionizer, but most of the steps are the same for any pool ionizer.
Tools and Materials
The tools and materials you need for this job are:
- Screw driver (manual or electric)
- Sawsall, hack saw or PVC shear
- PVC primer and cement
- Measuring tape
- Marking pen
- Teflon tape (for some installations)
ClearBlue Kit Components
If you are installing a ClearBlue Ionizer, the kit includes the following components:
- ClearBlue controller
- Mineral cell
- 2″ clear PVC tee
- 1.5″ PVC reducers
- Copper test strips
It is important to plan out the installation of the controller and tee before you start cutting into the plumbing.
The controller should be placed in an area that is protected from direct elements. It is rated for outdoor use, but it will last longer if it is protected.
There are two cables to consider when planning the installation. The power cable on the controller is about 6 feet long. The cell cable is around 4 feet long. So you have about 10 feet of cable to work with. Make sure that the tee and controller are placed such that the cell cable can reach the controller and the power cable can reach the power outlet.
Note: If the cable length is not sufficient for your configuration, 10 foot mineral cell cable extensions are available. Ask your pool supply store or builder to order one.
The ionizer tee should be placed on the return line after the pump, filter and heater. If there is no room on that stretch of plumbing, it can be placed anywhere and it will still work.
If you are adding an ionizer to a salt water pool, we recommend putting the tee before the salt cell.
The tee should be oriented such that the mineral cell screws in from the bottom and the bars point upwards. This is the best way to get maximum life of out the cell. However, if there isn’t enough room to install the tee this way, it can be installed ‘horizontally’ as well, so that the bars are parallel with the ground. It is not recommended to install the tee so that the cell screws in from the top and the bars are pointing downwards. This is because there could sometimes be air pockets in the tee around the electrode bars and you will not get maximum effectiveness or maximum life from the cell.
Before you start cutting into the plumbing, it is important that you shut off the pump.
If your setup has shutoff valves, it is important to shut these off as well. If you do not have a valve that shuts off the water flow from the jets, you can get plugs for the jets that stop the water from going back through the jets and out of the cuts you are about to make.
Step 1: Install the Tee
Measure a 2.5″ gap on the PVC pipe where you would like the tee to go. This gap will be cut out in order to glue in the tee.
Cut out this 2.5″ section of pipe with a sawsall, hack saw or PVC shear.
Let all of the water drain out of the pipe.
Warning: If you have not shut off all water flow via valves or jet plugs, the water will rapidly drain from the pool and you will not be able to glue in the tee.
Make sure that the pipe is dry before applying the PVC primer and glue.
Apply PVC primer and glue to both the inside of the tee, and the outside of the pipe.
Slide the tee over the pipe and give it a quarter turn to make sure that the glue coats evenly.
Step 2: Install the Mineral Cell
Once the tee is in place, you can screw in the mineral cell.
Your cell may have a rubber o-ring that will seal it up against the tee. If not, you will have to wrap the threads thoroughly with Teflon tape.
Tighten the cell until it is hand tight. Do not use a wrench or other tool because this might make it very hard to release when it is time to change it.
Ideally, the cell should be turned such that the water flows between the two bars. This will help them to wear evenly.
Step 3: Mount the Controller
The controller can be mounted to any flat surface.
On above ground pools, many people attach them to the upright which will provide a bit of protection from the elements. You may need to pre-drill holes in the upright so that the mounting screws go in easier.
Step 4: Plug Everything In and Restart
The final step is to plug in the two cables. The pink cell connector plugs into the pink receptacle on the controller. The black power cable must be plugged into a GFI protected outlet.
Open any closed valves and restart the pump.
With a ClearBlue system, the ‘Ionizing’ light will start flashing when the tee fills up with water and the system starts working.
Step 6: Set Up the Controller
With the ClearBlue system, there are two settings: Ion/Action which is the maintenance setting, and Large Dose which is a ramp up setting.
The settings for both Ion/Action and Large Dose are given in the manual according to your pool volume in gallons or liters.
Set the Ion/Action first, then set the Large Dose. The system will run on Large Dose for the number of hours set, and then change automatically to the Ion/Action setting for maintenance.
Step 7: Testing
Once the Large Dose expires, test the water with the test strips. The ideal copper level for maximum performance and cell life is 0.3ppm. The other minerals are added in proportion to this, but copper is the easiest and cheapest to test for.
If the copper level is not reading at 0.3ppm, you can run the Large Dose again. Repeat the Large Dose until you reach 0.3ppm of copper, or your desired level. A level of 0.2ppm is still effective while providing a little more life on the cell. You can run the level as high as 0.4 or 0.5ppm for more mineral activity, but the cell will not last as long.
Thinking about a ClearBlue for your hot tub as well? Check out this post on how to install a hot tub ionizer.
Want to learn more about the benefits of pool ionizers?
Questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments below!