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: After 7 years of trouble free operation, the original heater relay board
: on my 05 Hot Springs Accolade burnt a relay about six weeks ago.
: Nearest HS service is a two hour round trip and they had no techs
: scheduled to be in my area within the forseeable future. Made a trip
: to the store next day and picked up the replacement board myself.
: Install was straight-forward and I had the tub working again in about
: an hour. All was well for just under a month, then the heater went
: out again.
: This time when I removed the board cover, the connector block on the
: relay board was very charred and the wire on terminal 4 had the
: insulation melted back about two inches from the connector, exposing
: bare copper. The melted wire scared me so I contacted the
: dealer/service again and was able to schedule a tech visit for the
: following week. Tech arrived and checked all connections in both the
: breaker box (wired 240v) and to the tub. Everything checked good,
: including heater amp draw. Tech was stumped and said he'd never seen
: that particular problem before. His only guess was a power surge -
: which was easy to rule out since there's a whole-house surge
: suppressor installed and the suppressor diagnostic board did not
: indicate any surge activity. Tech conceded that the board must have
: been bad. Tech replaced the board, charged me for the $70 service
: call + a $55 mileage charge, took my old (new) board and was on his
: way. All is well with the tub again two weeks later.
: Today in the mail I got a letter and bill for the cost of a second
: replacement board. The body of the note read: "Watkins will not
: warranty the part because it was not installed by a certified Watkins
: service tech. Per (tech name) the problem could have been caused by
: the wires in posts 3 and 4 arcing together and creating an electrical
: I read and re-read that explanation and it just doesn't make sense to
: me. The wires were firmly in the terminal block and the tech
: mentioned nothing about arcing when he made the service call.
: Guess my questions are: Is that actually Watkins policy? Could arcing
: have caused the problem I described and could I have done something
: wrong to cause the problem when I installed? If I do have to pay for
: the second board, should I at least ask for dealer cost on the part?
: What is approx dealer cost (Replacement board was $141 + tax my cost.
: I wouldn't ask about dealer cost, but I no longer trust my dealer to
: be upfront with me).
: I feel like I'm getting screwed by the dealer but not sure what recourse
: I have, other than changing dealers in the future.
They are actually charging you less for that board than I charge my retail customers for it, so I don't think they are taking advantage of you. As far as coverage by Watkins, I would suggest calling their customer service directly and pleading your case first. I have had MANY times over the years where either they or some other factory has said no to me regarding coverage, but quickly roll over for the tub owner. I cannot guarantee that they will reimburse you, but you have a much better chance of convincing them. It just seems to be easy to say no to the field tech.
As far as the reason for the burnt wiring, there are a number of potential causes. First, you may have a ground fault, but a non-functioning GFCI on that circuit. You mentioned nothing about you or the tech doing a ground fault test of components with a megger. Second, it is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT that the conductors are properly inserted into the locking terminal block and only to a point sufficient for the conductor to be engaged. Under penetration or over penetration will lead to a burn up, either due to shorting (over penetration) or poor mechanical connection (under penetration). Third, I've seen the terminal block damaged due to undue force being applied to the terminal block locking mechanisms with a resultant failure not long after. Fourth, I've seen solid copper conductors cause poor mechanical connection. The spring loaded mechanisms in the terminal block are for use with stranded copper conductors only. No solid copper and no aluminum.
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