Gas heater catching fire

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Halram posted this 28 April 2021

We put in a gas line and bought a Raypak/Rheem 400 BTU heater in July 2019.  Basically have had one full season of use.  Opened the pool (in Ohio) a few days ago, it turned on and worked fine for the short while we had it on.  Same thing the next day ran it for about 2 hrs.  Yesterday turned it on and left the pool area.   Went to check the temp about an hour and half later and noticed ashes on the display and then quickly realized it had caught fire.  It was cool at this point so it had shut off much earlier. Husband took off front panel and wires are fried and the plastic part where the gas line connects to the heater had melted inside the heater and out. We checked inside the heater before firing it up and it was clean and clear of debri.  Concrete slab around the heater was dark with soot.  Called the guy who installed it and he will be out in a week or so to look at it.   I'm devastated.  Warranty has expired.  This heater was not cheap.  Not to mention we now have no heat to the pool.  Any ideas?

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InyoRob posted this 29 April 2021

We are going to contact our Raypak rep to see why this may have occured. We'll let you know as soon as we hear back.

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InyoRob posted this 29 April 2021

This was the response from Raypak.

Without seeing photos or going on site, I can’t speak to what may have happened. When something like this occurs in the spring it is typically the result of debris, nest, etc. left on top of the heat exchanger or the burner tray. The only other way the heater can dry fire is if a valve is closed diverting water away from the heater while it is running. Please let me know what the installer finds upon inspection. Was the heater registered with Raypak?

Halram posted this 29 April 2021

I'm honestly not sure if we or the installer registered the heater or not.  We only removed the front cover to inspect.  I'm assuming now we should have removed other sections as well?

Halram posted this 04 May 2021

The intaller checked out the heater today.  He is not sure why or what happened to cause the fire. He could not complete testing as he can't get it to ignite.  He did say he had never seen anything like this before. He was surrpised about how the wires were completely fried.  One thing he did find was a bad thermal fuse.  He is thinking it was a gas valve issue that did not regulate the amount of gas properly.  The unit was free of debri.  He is contacting his Raypak rep today and take it from there.  He understands we are extremely leery to have it just repaired as we would be worrying about the same thing happening again.  We really need to know why it happened in the first place. He said it looks like it was just a fluke.

InyoRob posted this 05 May 2021

Keep us posted on how it turns out. We hardly ever hear about any issues with the Raypak models.

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Halram posted this 4 weeks ago

Update:  Raypak told the dealer that we did not register the heater so basically too bad for us.  Oh, and also the fire was caused by a defective gas line.  The first question the Raypak rep from INYO pools asked was did we register the heater.  In our own conversations with Raypak the first question asked was did we register the heater.  We don’t remember doing so.  In going through all the documentation regarding the heater, including the warranty itself, there is NO reference to registering the heater.  We filled out the warranty form that specifically states to NOT return the form to Raypak but to keep it with our files, which we did.  I find it unbelievable that a reputable company such as Raypak, who boasts that their heaters are engineered to perform and built to last, who prides themselves as a brand to know and trust, would ignore a customer’s concerns because their pool heater caught fire after only one full season of use (5 months) and the 2 ½ months prior only because we did not register the unit.  I did recently register it online.  I was curious as to what kind of sacred information was needed for the registration.  It was the typical information for most other appliances that need registering.  I completed the form with the exact information I would have given when the heater was installed.  Our dealer has been in contact with Raypak so they know that it was purchased and installed by an authorized Raypak dealer.  They have the model and serial number.  They have seen pictures of the burnt heater and the surrounding area.  Doesn’t matter.  Thankfully the fire was not on the opposite side of the heater or we would have lost all of our equipment or worse.  We had the company who installed the gas line come out to inspect the line.  It tested fine.  We were provided with a letter regarding their test results, which I have forwarded to our dealer.  They also provided us with a video of the testing.  We needed peace of mind that the gas line has no issues.  Apparently Raypak is sending a part to the dealer to see if that “fixes” the issue.  So far no part.   Meanwhile we have a heater that is fried.  The outside coating of the heater is now starting to come off.  It is covered in soot and ashes and has melted plastic in the bottom, which the dealer said would probably smoke if and when the heater would start.  And our short summer season is already now almost one month gone.  I did see online that Raypak is now offering a new 2 year extended warranty on units that were installed after June 17, 2019.  That would be us.  But no registration, no warranty.  Even on a unit that caught fire after used less than 8 months and was a due to a faulty heater.  If other pool owners are reading this thread and considering a new gas heater my strong advice is to absolutely not go with a Raypak heater.

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