Polaris High Efficiency Gas Hot Water Tank

We have a Polaris high efficiency gas hot water tank that provides both our domestic hot water and also hot water for heating our house. This is a very cost effective way to heat both the water and the house. As long as it is working.

Ours hasn’t been working since Sunday. We don’t actually own the tank because the previous owner of the house was renting it so now we rent it. I’m starting to think this is a good thing because this is the second time this year (yeah, since January) that we have been without hot water. Now that it’s almost June, it’s not such a big deal but back in January it was a huge problem since this heats our house. I can deal with a day or so of ice cold showers. ;)

On Monday we had a Direct Energy (that’s who we rent the tank from) technician come to take a look at the unit. I already had a decent idea as to what was going wrong because the Polaris book has a couple really good troubleshooting flow charts. The unit also has an error LED that flashes X number of times to indicate the problem. The technician followed the same process I did and ended up ordering the part that appeared to be required.

Now, this is where Direct Energy is sort of strange in how they operate. They don’t carry parts. This makes sense because they can’t possible carry everything but it means you have to wait for a part to be delivered to you. A courier showed up just after supper with the new part so I called Direct Energy back and got them to send the tech back Monday evening. He came and installed the part only to have the tank still not work. After trying a number of things, he called it a night and ordered another part.

Now I’m looking at the third part to be replaced on the unit in about 6 months. The unit itself was only installed almost exactly 2 years ago.

The new part arrived yesterday evening but they couldn’t get anyone out here until Wednesday afternoon so now I’m stuck waiting to see if this part is the one that was busted. Fantastic. I like the Polaris tank and when it works, it’s quite an inexpensive way to heat both domestic hot water and provide home heating. The part I don’t like is I’m hearing from the Direct Energy technician that a bunch of other people in Kemptville are replacing units like this because they are breaking down a lot.

We’ll see how long it runs for once it is fixed. Maybe it will soon be time to replace the Polaris gas hot water heater with something else. *shudder* I’m not looking forward to the cost of switching to a “real” furnace.

Update: Yippee! We have hot water again! Oh, and now I know why I still rent this tank, even if it does cause me inconvenience – I don’t have to pay over $1200 for the new part that was just replaced and I don’t have to pay for the close to 5 hours of labour to get this all up and running again. Let’s see. About $35 a month to rent the unit works out to about 35 months to pay for just for this part. ;) Direct Energy might be losing money on this one.

61 thoughts on “Polaris High Efficiency Gas Hot Water Tank

  1. Pingback: Direct Energy makes good on hot water heater problems at Ivany.org

  2. David J. Ivany

    Jeff,
    Your decision to rent is one often contemplated by home owners or end users for the reasons you have mentioned.
    There are two plains of thought on the matter of renting or purchasing: 1)Pay over time – cost of renting, $35.00/mo. x 12mo. = $420.00/a., average life of tank 10a. @ $420.00/a. = $4200.00 2)Pay up front – avg. contractor price of Polaris PR130-50-2PV /- $3900.00; avg. contractor price of Polaris PR100-34-2NV /- $3300.00. **Do not forget the contractor still has to make a profit (labour, mark-up and parts). So it actually is better for the home owner to rent, due to large volume Direct Energy is able to purchase at a much different cost PR130-50-2PV /- $ 3200.00, PR100-34-2NV /- $2600.00.
    The economical/best choice if you plan on sticking with a h.w.t. system designed for potable/heating would be the bradford white Combi2 C-DW2-TW75-T10BN avg. contractor price /- $2000.00 (of course everything depends on system requirement MBH/Hr).
    Personally to heat a home and provide potable water at 90 eff., I would suggest a radiant in-floor system, condensing/modulating wall hung boiler with an indirect-fired hot water tank. Not as expensive as they are led to be, and less expensive in the long haul.
    **Avoid scorched air.

    Long may your big jib draw,

    Salt Water Cowboy

    PS A no heat call during winter months takes priority, most maufacturers will have the parts available to the contractor with in 24 hours (anywhere in North America).

    http://www.gsw-wh.com
    http://www.bradfordwhite.com
    http://www.weil-mclain.com

    Reply
  3. plumber o

    in response to saltwater cowboy, he makes some good points, but to suggest that the cost for a wall hung boiler setup is not prohibitive, is a little misleading. Wall hung boiler (contractor price) $3250, indirect water heater ( contactor price ) $1250, radiant infloor heating installed $1.50 – 4.00/ sqft depending upon situation and methods used, and to trim out the boiler with pumps and other gear required $1500 -2500 contractor price. With labor this would cost $12000 – 20000 depending on the contractor and size of installation. These wall hung boilers are very finnicky as well, they have very tight tolerances and need to be serviced regularily by a plumber or gasfitter to keep them from leaving you in the cold. My experience is that any high efficiency appliance is prone to failure because of the electronics, sensors, and fine tolerances involved, a speck of dust on a sesnsor may shut down the whole system.

    In defense of the polaris HE HWT, it has a better warranty at 10 years, than any boiler I have installed generally averaging 5 years comprehensive 25 year heat exchanger. I have never used the polaris but stumbled apon this post while researching it as an option.

    plumber o

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Hydronic Heating Coil Sizing at Ivany.org

  5. Pingback: Polaris Hot Water Tank - Part 3 at Ivany.org

  6. Amrik

    Hi,

    I will be needing rental gas hot water tank, please let me know how is rental charges
    on 40 gallon tank. How soon you can finish the job? I live in Scarborough area. It should be power vented. Thanks.

    Amrik Takel

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Amrik, I’m not a gas hot water tank installer/retailer – just a regular consumer/renter. You’ll have to contact your local gas supplier and see who they use for rental tanks. I’m guessing it will be Direct Energy in the Scarborough area.

      Reply
  7. Chris Best

    Re. Polaris breakdowns. I have had a polaris with a coil to an air handler & heating domestic water for the last 12 years. In that time, I have had only one breakdown which was the ignitor. Since I had a friend with an earlier model Polaris that had ignitor problems, I had one on hand, replaced it myself, was back in business in 20 min. at a cost of about $70.

    Reply
  8. Jim

    I have to buy a HWH and I was looking at the Polaris PC130-34-2NV. I was told that the bugs and problems have been resolved with this heater…is this the case? I do not want to spent the money to have this fail on me. I live in Alberta, we cannot rent HWH, they are part of the house and Direct energy here just charges you an arm and a leg for gas.

    Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Hi Jim. Our tank has been working fine for over a year now after all of the problems we had. My recommendation is to ensure your installer makes a solid electrical ground connection for the HWT. It appears that all of our problems may have been due to a bad electrical ground.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  9. Francois deBare

    I couldn’t find this Polaris hot water heater problem posted anywhere – so maybe this is the right forum: LED Error Flashing 2 Times “Control is in lock-out because the pressure switch did not close.” It cost me 7 minutes of service time and a $135 service bill but I finally figured out the amazingly easy and almost stupid solution to this problem. There are two clear plastic tubes that run from the purge fan to the outake pvc, so the service tech simply took the plastic tube off the outake pvc and blew into it. It turns out the ‘pressure switch’ can get stuck. As he blew on it, I could hear the switch popping open. So simple. After 24 hours without hot water, I was annoyed and relieved at discovering this fix. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars in repairs without getting the answer so hopefully this helps someone else out there who is struggling with the s problem. If you need pictures, send me an email: debare at(@) mac dot com

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Francois, thanks for the info! My issue was almost always the opposite issue – the pressure switch was remaining closed (error code 1).

      If you keep having this problem, check the electrical ground on your Polaris hot water tank. It might be bad.

      It turns out that we had a bad ground connection and ever since that was corrected, we’ve had no issues (knock on wood!).

      Reply
      1. Francois de Bare

        Thanks for your reply Jeff. I suspect the same solution would also work for “Lockout because pressure switch is closed.” Blowing gently into the plastic tube would probably open it as well. I’m trying to avoid replacement parts and electrical faults. Hopefully this solution continues to work.

        Reply
  10. callmechaz

    Many things can cause the same error code to appear. Codes are mere pointers to a problem, not a final diagnosis. There may be no problem with the switch whatsoever. A clogged fan blower, plugged burner or loose pressure tube as well as a bad pressure switch can generate an “open” or “closed” error. Blowing in it may cause a temporary restart, but that’s not a good thing if it is trying to prevent an unsafe start! Also, if it is a stuck switch, it should be replaced or it will stick again. Make sure you troubleshoot ALL possibilities for an error code before you attempt to “fix” it.

    Reply
  11. Ben Hidalgo

    Just curious, is the $62.34 rental per month for polaris water tank model PR 100 34 2VN from direct energy includes the air handler? Do you know if I own the air handler the rental will be the same.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Ben, as far as I know, the rental rate is only for the hot water tank. I don’t know if Direct Energy rents air handlers or furnaces.

      Reply
  12. B.P. Falk

    WE have owned a Polaris with Coil to Air handler set-up now since 1997, and have only experience one problem, and that was the igniter. Apparently it is vulnerable , and needs replacing occasionally. But the “ground ” connection is very important
    I live in the St Catharines area of the Niagara Penninsula , Ontario, and we do have heating people here who do have repairs available , but the service calls are expensive .
    Our “Service ” people are “J & S Heating and Plumbing”, but they do not have access to new Polaris heaters , and I would like to ask if anyone knows , WHO it is that may have then available , in case I need to replace mine .
    I love the heating and hot water system, and would not want to be without
    Thankyou

    Reply
  13. Nancy

    Hello! Does anyone know of a company who will honestly service the Polaris Pex tubing without trying to sell you a whole new heating system? We are renovating our basement and require a few adjustments to the lines and moving a rad. A rather simple undertaking. Toronto/Mississauga area. Thanx!!

    Reply
  14. S. C. Lim

    Jeff; I live in Calgary and would like to purchase a natural gas Polaris heater which apparently is marketed in Canada by GSW/John Wood company. Regarding your post history, I appreciate the fact that the Polaris is high tech, therefore more complicated mechanically and electronically than the old low efficiency tank heaters that we were familiar with 20 years ago. From your comment on 1010Jul15 it appears that in retrospect you could blame all your problems on one fault, i.e. a faulty ground (not counting the delay and difficulty in diagnosing problems due to complexity of the system). Is that what you meant? As of today do you still hold that opinion?

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Sorry, I don’t know of any retailers in Canada. I only know that ours is rented from Direct Energy. You may be able to purchase one through them. I’m not sure if you saw it already but the GSW locator website should be able to find someone who can install a Polaris hot water tank for you.

      As of today, I would say that all of our problems stemmed from that bad electrical ground. Knock on wood but it’s been almost 2 years since the electrical ground was fixed and we have had no issues.

      I can’t really fault Direct Energy or their technicians as they simply follow the published Polaris troubleshooting guide. They would replace a part and everything would work again for a few months. I’m pretty sure that the last technician only looked at the rest of the system after he (or the billing department) saw how much Direct Energy had spent on parts for my unit over the 4 years. ;)

      Good luck finding an installer – we’ve been happy with our Polaris hot water tank, even with the issues.

      Reply
  15. B.P.Falk

    I love all the questions and answers , all of you give . It helps all of us to be all the wiser, with this heating system
    We love ours and so far good performance
    Thankyou and good luck with yours
    B.P.F

    Reply
  16. wagner brakes

    What supply temperatures do you need? Condensing boiler, or condensing WHs like the Polaris, are most efficient with return temperatures below 130F. If you need 160F or high they may not be worth the extra expense, being a part time heat source.

    What are your fuel option electric, gas, oil, LP? Then check the cost per each, including the hidden fees like meter cost, delivery and taxes.

    It is not often that you find electricity to be the least expensive, but heat pumps can offset that a bit with high COP. Front end cost of any heat pump will be quite a bit more than and electric boiler.

    An electric heat source will be the least expensive to install if you have enough electrical capacity to drive it. In some cases you can get a regular off the shelf water heater, 50 gallon, and replace the elements with higher wattage. Two 6KW elements running together = 40,000 BTU/hr. But it would require two 30 amp circuits.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      I’m not sure I understand what you imply by a “part time heat source”. The Polaris hot water tank is my primary (and only) source of both domestic hot water and heating my house.

      Natural gas is *by far* the cheapest fuel source in Ontario. Electricity rates are going up and Time of Use metering is increasing electricity costs during “peak” hours. Natural gas prices are at the lowest they have been in years.

      With the 34 Gallon Polaris tank, we have never “run out” of hot water, even one winter morning with 5 adults taking showers back-to-back while the system is also heating the house via the hydronic water-to-air heat exchanger in our forced air unit. The recovery time of natural gas (or propane) is hard to beat.

      For the times when the Polaris unit was having reliability issues (due to the bad electrical grounding), we still had/have19.2kW (~66k BTU) of electric heating ability in the forced air unit.

      Reply
  17. S. C. Lim

    I have to echo Jeff’s question: what do you mean “part-time” heat source?. My case is a little different from Jeff’s. We are empty nesters so our domestic hot water needs are much more modest. Having said that, we are suddenly in need of a new furnace and the winter is still not over in Alberta -23 C, predicted for next 3 days!. So we are urgently getting a new high efficiency furnace 95% efficient, vented horizontally with PVC intake and exhaust. This means our flue, previously shared with 2 old water heaters will now not be needed by the furnace, and will have to be resized to fit the 2 old water heaters. Which will cost $400 or so, which would offset the cost of a new water heater. If we were to buy a Polaris (3 gall 100btu/hr) we would qualify for $300 Province of Alberta rebate, and we would not need to resize the vertical hot water heater flue (but would eliminate it entirely, I forgot to factor in how much that would cost). Whether or not that would sufficiently offset the huge cost of purchasing the Polaris to make it economically viable is another thing again. The Polaris is 95-96% efficient (at the temperatures you specified – 130 deg F is 54 deg C and I would be running 50 deg C or so, but the efficiency difference is 95% versus ? 80+ % for standard mid-high efficiency furnace that can be purchased today in Alberta; difficult to make a case for economically feasible payback within my lifetime, given our low domestic hot water usage, the low cost of Natural Gas (we are paying $4+ per GigaJoule it was $12 5 years ago!!. But it would be the “right” thing to do. Jeff, you use some of that heat capacity to power your furnace via heat exchanger. I wouldn’t need that given the high efficiency furnace that will be installed in 2 days, but one future possibility for me is a retrofit hydronic floor radiant heat system in my house. That would be horribly expensive and labour intensive, but I understand it is possible to drive this with a Polaris heater running at domestic HW,temperatures, And I understand there are potential downsides to this (for example the consideration of the risk of bacterial contamination of stagnant water in the floor heating loop contaminating the drinking water circulation. But very comfortable. Any ideas Jeff?

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Keep in mind that the difference between 80% and 95% isn’t very much if you’re not using a lot of gas. For a “typical” (hot water tank + furnace) house, hot water is something like 30% of your total energy costs for a year. The extra capital cost of a Polaris may not be worth it in your case, unless you seriously plan on installing radiant (which requires a hot water tank with a dual outlet or a dedicated hot water source).

      Why do you currently have two hot water tanks? Is it possible to replace them with a single tank? A single tank would typically be much more efficient.

      Radiant flooring can use a hot water source of approx 90F but domestic hot water should be kept at a minimum of 120F to prevent things like Legionnaires. Retrofitting with radiant can be very expensive. I’ve considered it more than once but unless I’m going to be replacing all of my flooring, it’s not going to happen.

      Reply
  18. S. C. Lim

    I forgot to mention; to calculate the savings through superior energy efficiency you have to calculate using the actual cost of gas used times the amount used, not by factoring a percentage of your gas bill. I don’t know about Ontario or US, but our gas bill is really diabolical. Only 50% or so of our monthly bill is the rated cost of gas used. The rest is a witch’s brew of barely understandable “fixed charges” which seem to me independent of the cost of gas or the amount we use. So even if we reduced our usage to ZERO, it seems we would be charged that fixed amount still. Makes me mad, but only now that I’m thinking hard about reducing our usage, and seeing that I’m hooped anyway.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Same here in Ontario. In the summer when we are just using gas for domestic hot water and cooking, our gas cost is something like $5/month yet the bill comes out to around $40. Lots of fixed costs. Thankfully some of the add-on costs are on a per m^3 basis so they only increase as your consumption increases.

      Much like our electricity costs, I’d still rather they published the full cost per m^3 and not these silly rates plus a bunch of (basically) hidden charges.

      Reply
  19. John Fournier

    I Jeff. Thank you kindly for the inforamtion on these Polaris water heaters. With the e mails and webs, the whole world knows about a problem products gets. I do high end control hydraulic systems. I know first hand bad grounds will cause valves, coils, and electrical or electronic systems to overheat and fail, because they don’t open enough or circuits dump back through components to get enough ground. Usually most technicians don’t test for that condition until it is too late. I am in the process of building a new house with the in floor heat as well as Solar. My system only requires 8-10 amps to control my heat using the Polaris water heater. In my studies, I found this heater to be the best for my application. A significantly fabricated stainless tank is required to sustain the thermal expansion on htese high efficinecy heaters. Even with some of your lost usage, your overall low cost of opeation should by far offset frustrations.

    Reply
  20. Bert

    Does anyone in the niagara area sell and/or service polaris hot water heaters I use mine as a furnace to heat my house as well. Also a source wher to buy ignitors for these units.
    thanks

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Bert, Direct Energy will likely service a Polaris water heater as they rent them (that’s where I have mine from). As for parts, anytime I’ve needed parts, Direct Energy just orders them from a company that specializes in appliance parts. Unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the company locally (Ottawa area).

      There is always http://www.gsw-wh.com/ which is the Canadian distributor (as far as I understand) for Polaris. They have a parts catalog/lookup tool that might help you find the ignitor. They might also be able to point you to a local parts distributor.

      Please, let us know if you have any success. Good Luck!

      Reply
    2. Jeff Ivany Post author

      I just got an email reply from B P Falk (who commented on this post previously):

      We have one as well , and use it for heating also . We have had ours since 1999 , I believe and had it serviced now several times , the last being about 4 years ago , by J. & S Heating , St Catharines 682 9287, It was no problem with them

      Reply
  21. Bert

    No luck finding a local parts place for polaris and am now thinking of renting.Does anyone know a number I can call in the St. Catherines area who might rent the polaris tank. Also I called up Hu-ERO in the Falls they said they service polaris but I think I will need a new unit as I have a water leak at bottom of tank now.Don’t know how much it will cost for new unit or is it better to rent?

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Bert, I’m not sure if you saw David’s reply above but he breaks down some cost of renting vs buying a Polaris unit.

      I believe the Polaris 34G unit runs somewhere around $3500 to purchase but if you search on Amazon.com, there is at least one retailer offering it for $2700 which suggests you might be able to find it for close to that price, assuming it’s legit.

      Just this week, Enbridge included the Direct Energy 2012 water heater rental flyer in my bill and according to that, it’s $50+HST/mon to rent the Polaris from them. The advantage is you get “free” service and parts while renting.

      Reply
  22. Philip Rueben

    Does anyone know a very knowledgeable Polaris heater tech in the Vancouver BC area?
    Ive just thrown a ton of money into mine and i cant keep it running.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      I can’t help with a tech but are you getting any error codes from the unit? The Polaris problem solving flow chart is pretty basic.

      Reply
    2. Francois deBare

      Hi Phlip

      This is a very belated response but I would highly recommend Sure Heating Service Ltd. in Delta, BC. They were friendly, fast and knowledgeable. The tech was specifically trained in Polaris water heaters. He figured out the problem and fixed it at a reasonable price. Hopefully you’ve found someone in the past year, but in the event you are still struggling to get your unit serviced properly, try calling them at (604) 588-2492.

      https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=sure%20heating%20services%20ltd

      Reply
  23. Philip Rueben

    Jeff , three blinks, the tech ive hired has gone through all the hoops, cleaning the burner, checking for condensate, replacing the igniter, checking the control board, checking for blockage in the exhaust vent, replacing the gas valve, checking the voltage at the pressure switch, replacing the pressure switch, replacing the regulator. All this using the manual or talking directly to Polaris tech support. We had it running for a while, but with a hard start, and then in trying to get it to stop banging on lighting we cant now seem to to get it to run consistently. It seems to flutter when the red light comes on.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Wow, I can’t offer much else to try.

      I took a quick look at the installation manual again with the flow chart (http://www.americanwaterheater.com/support/manuals/Pol-March2000.pdf page 27) and from your comments about requiring a hard start (went into lockout) and it fluttering during the burn cycle, you might want to check your electrical ground.

      My unit had major issues (many igniters, main control board replaced, complete blower unit replaced and numerous pressure switches – you can read all about it: Tag: Polaris) until the main electrical ground was checked and fixed. Ensure there are proper Marrets used and a solid ground connection is being made. While you are at it, check that the unit is connected with the correct polarity (as suggested in the manual).

      Reply
  24. Stanley Zuk

    I had a Polaris Tank installed March 2009, heats my hot water as well as the second floor
    of my residence, No problems ever, .. the rental for the period of time is $ 7,600.00.
    Received “Protection Plan renewal information inside,” very confusing, unable to get through to Direct Energy. Is my options to purchase a tank,

    Reply
  25. Don Quan

    I’m renting a Polaris unit that supplies my hot water and is the source for my forced air heating from Reliance. My current monthly payment is ~ $30/month which includes HST. My gas bill from Union Gas on equalized billing is $35/month.
    In the 5 years in my condo (2 story, 800 sq ft), I’ve not had any problems but was considering buying a replacement to avoid what I thought was expensive rental charges, but I may reconsider, given the purchase price and the rental charges that Jeff pointed out from Direct Energy.

    Reply
  26. Jan

    I installed a Polaris (Model: PG10 50-130-2PV) 7 years ago in our insulated concrete form house for providing hot water and for providing heat to the radiant heating system. I bought it outright. At first the ignitor did not last long (I performed the replacement myself) until I mentioned the issue to the service folks at American Water Heater, instead of just ordering a new one. They informed me that there is a special ignitor to be used with a radiant heating application and since then I have had no issues. One of the good things about this supplier is that they are prepared to work with and help the homeowner resolve his own issues (I owner built the house and installed the water heater and heating pumps for the 7 zones with their switch controls-the propane hookup was handled by the propane supplier).

    Reply
  27. garnet

    has anyone tried the polaris high effiecincy using their own well system ie farm life i have installed a new water purification system makes water softer and cleaner no rust

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Hi garnet,

      I don’t see any reason why a Polaris water heater wouldn’t work with well water. Assuming it’s potable and clean it shouldn’t be any more of an issue for the Polaris vs any other water heater.

      Reply
  28. Gord Swanson

    Are there any replacement alternatives for the Polaris (PR100-34-2nv)? My rental from Direct Energy is 64.49 per month and to buy it outright is over $4000! National Home Services came by and offered a replacement for $1500, but I’m somewhat skeptical.

    The system works reliably other than one ignitor problem I had on a different unit (which lasted 16 years). However, I suspect I’ll save money by replacing the entire system and buying a conventional tank and a mid-efficiency gas furnace.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Hi Gord,

      I recently went through the exercise of getting quotes to replace my Polaris heating system and basically came to the conclusion that there’s no point until the Polaris tank dies.

      Keep in mind that the Polaris water heater is very high efficiency and there aren’t many (any?) other options that come close in terms of cost of operation. Depending on your current configuration, the cost of a replacement furnace might get pretty high. That is the problem I ran into – a new furnace would require duct changes, gas line changes, new electrical, etc., etc.

      I was quoted between $1500 and $1800 to have a “standard” 50G natural gas tank installed. Yes, you might be able to get it done for less.

      When I ran the numbers, it just wasn’t cost effective to replace my Polaris based system, even though I’m still renting the tank from Direct Energy.

      Oh, as for the “buyout” option – when was your tank installed? If it was before Sept 15, 2010, you do not have to buy it out as you would be on the “OLD” rental terms. I’ve got a whole series of posts I need to write about Direct Energy and the Polaris tank. Thanks for reminding me!

      Reply
  29. Mike

    I too live in Kemptville and have a Polaris HWT to heat my house. In fact I have two hot water tanks, a mid efficiency one that we rent for our domestic hot water and the Polaris that heats our house using an in floor radiant system. I had the Polaris tank installed in 2010 when we switched from Oil to Propane (I don’t have natural Gas in my subdivision Sigh!!!). The Polaris has worked flawlessly in heating our house and is more efficient then the oil fired hot water tank we replaced. It’s simplicity, high BTU rating and recovery time were critical in my choice to go with it instead of a boiler system. Much cheaper too. This winter I have hit my first bump with the Polaris. Came downstairs one morning and noticed the house was unusually cool. A quick check of the Polaris yielded the blower motor running continuously and an error code 1 “pressure switch closed”. The odd thing about this error is that according to the trouble shooting flow chart it should self clear when the pressure switch opens. If it is waiting for the pressure switch to open I would think the blower would need to be off since the pressure switch should be closed when the blower is on. Anyway the blower was on and running (who knows for how long) and the unit was flashing the error code. I simple disconnected one of the wires to the pressure switch and reattached it again and the unit started to function correctly. I wonder if there is a software bug here. It has happened a couple of times in the last week and I am going to replace the pressure switch when the part arrives. I think since I own my tank it would be a good idea to have some parts like the pressure switch and igniter on hand since I don’t think there are very many techs in our area that are familiar with these HWT.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Hi Mike,

      You might want to check some of my other Polaris posts. I ran into error codes 1 and 2 a fair bit. Sometimes they required service calls, other times they didn’t.

      http://www.ivany.org/polaris-water-heater-error-code-1/

      I’m not sure how many local outfits work with Polaris but any Direct Energy contractor would likely know. As much as I dislike Direct Energy, they do rent/service Polaris.

      Jeff

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Update on my Polaris error code 1 problem. I managed to finally fix the Polaris and it is working well now. The problem turned out to be the fan motor isolation relay. This relay was getting stuck in the on position (odd failure for a relay but not impossible) due to years of sparking and pitting leading to a small bump on the head of the relay contact that would weld each time the relay engaged. It was small enough that any vibration could set it free again. This is why it was so intermittent. I found a suitable replacement for $20.00 and that was it. thanks for all your help. I am posting this so other people can benefit from my experience.

        Reply
  30. Mike

    Thanks Jeff, You have the best information on the Polaris that I can find anywhere on the net. I did try the dirt check on the air filter, plastic tubes and nipples. All clear. I even replaced the pressure switch with a new one I just got. The unit seems to work fine for about a day and then it will get stuck with the error code 1 and the blower motor on. This is what I find strange, I don’t think the blower motor should be running at this point. It should be off so that the pressure sensor can open. The error occurs during the purge cycle of the start-up sequence and according to the operational flow chart the blower should be off. This is why I think there might be a software bug here. I guess the next thing I will do before calling in a “Qualified” service tech will be to call American Water heater’s help line and maybe order a new control module. I do have a way to get the thing to run when it gets in this state. I simply remove one of the wires on the pressure sensor for a few seconds and re-attach it. this clears the not so “Self-Clearing” error code and the unit will operate OK for another day or so. Of course this would have to happen on a holiday when there is no one to call.

    Reply
  31. Francois deBare

    Hi folks

    I’ve posted a tricky little solution here previously to clearing the gas valve tube but now I’m stumped and looking for anyone’s help with our 15-year-old Polaris boiler from American Water Heater.

    Essentially about six months ago, the unit will ‘stall’ in the ignite stage with a failed attempt to fire up the hot water heating. It was try a couple of times then simply sit there with the yellow and green lights on … but nothing happening.

    If we turned the unit off, let the igniter cool down and reset it 5-10 minutes later, it would fire up fine without any issues … until the next time which started happening monthly, then weekly, and now daily (every 8-24 hours).

    So while it still works after each reset, we need to check it every time we want to use hot water which is a pain. I’ve change the igniter (an old spare I has available) but that made NO difference. However, I was forced to reuse the existing igniter gasket which is showing its age.

    So I’m wondering if the symptoms I’m describing are familiar to anyone on this message board? Admittedly I haven’t looked at the flashing code on the motherboard yet so will do that to see if that give me any more clues to the actual problem.

    Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Sula

      Hi to the previous post 2016/4/20 byFrancois,

      I’m having the exact same problem as you, with error code 3 (3 flashes). Did you find solution to your problem?

      Reply
      1. Francois deBare

        I’m not sure if this will fix other people’s problems but the fix for my Polaris hot water heater was changing the actual igniter itself. I finally had to bring a professional who was able to establish that the current in my igniter was simply not high enough to consistently fire up the gas burner. Once he changed out the igniter itself, everything was fine again.

        Sorry for the belated response but hopefully it may still help you and someone else who stumbles across this forum. Cheers.

        Reply
  32. varghese

    my polaris starts and last only for few minutes then,gasp for air and shut down—one technician told block inside the burner tubing?anybody has similar problem and any suggestions,will really appreciate—remove the intake and exhaust vents,no result

    Reply
  33. Francois deBare

    Hi Jeff,

    It’s been awhile since I’ve needed your expertise but I’m hoping you might be able to solve a mystery that has stumped even the Polaris experts:

    Essentially our older boiler (PR50NATFV) works perfectly … unless we ‘stress’ it with too many hot water demands within a short time period. If the dishwasher and washing machine are both running, it will ‘kick out’ and not restart automatically. The same with showers – can’t have one going with either one of the appliances without the boiler shutting down and requiring a manual reboot (red LED flashes three times on the panel).

    On the bright side, if we carefully coordinate hot water usage in the house, the Polaris can run indefinitely without interruption.

    The pattern is absolutely consistent but doesn’t make a whole lot sense to me … unless somehow the igniter simply can’t fire up that often within a specific amount of time. (BTW this has only been a problem for the past year or so: It started kicking out once every so often, then monthly, then weekly and ultimately multiple times daily … until my wife was able to establish this pattern to keep it going).

    We’ve hired a great professional (well experienced with Polaris) to change the igniter, clean the unit, check the natural gas pressure, et al. Essentially he’s done everything you could possibly do to the unit but has not solved the underlying issue.

    I don’t want to spend $10,000+ to replace the boiler without at least understanding why it works under low load and kicks out under high load. It’s a complete mystery.

    I would appreciate any suggestions from you or others on this forum. Thanks!!!!

    db

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      That’s an odd one. I assume you’ve gone through the troubleshooting flow chart in the back of the manual?

      I see this note on the copy I have:

      NOTE: IF IGNITION CONTROL BOARD GOES
      INTO LOCKOUT, RESET SYSTEM.
      CHECK THE FOLLOWING:
      POLARITY OF 115 VAC SUPPLY.
      GROUND WIRE CONTINUITY.
      DEFECTIVE IGNITER.
      IF OK, REPLACE IGNITION CONTROL BOARD.

      So if everything checks out then it implies a faulty control board. That sucks.

      Reply
      1. Jeff Ivany Post author

        Actually, does it go straight into lockout or does it go through the 3 ignition attempts? Looking at the same troubleshooting flow it may be that the unit isn’t able to ignite (low gas pressure or faulty valve?) or that it’s actually super heated the water to 180F and gone into lockout as a safety mode.

        Reply

Leave a Reply