Diagnosing and Fixing an Infrared Sauna

Here’s a project not everybody will find terribly interesting, probably like when I wrote about replacing a water heater in Resist Zine.  However, it was a bit of a learning experience for me, and since I was already taking pictures so people could help with the diagnosis, I figured I might as well share my experience.

A few years back I bought Rachael an infrared sauna.  Most years these Minnesota winters are really tough on us.  The days get so short that if you have a normal job you barely see the light of day during the week.  The temperature can drop below zero for days at a time with the wind making it feel even colder.  Then there’s the snow.   Some years it seems like you spend half the winter shoveling, and the piles get so big you run out of places to put it all.  It seems like you’re always cold.  For some of us, it really starts to wear on our psyche.  Some folks use sun lamps to help.  We figured an infrared sauna would probably do the trick.  We found a used one that a couple were selling because they were losing their house and moving into an apartment.  I kind of felt like a vulture buying it from someone who could no longer afford to keep it.  It broke down into 6 panels and we loaded it into the van.

She’s been using it the last couple years pretty regular.  Just recently, a few of the heating elements started working intermittently.  Sometimes they would work, sometimes they wouldn’t.  Sometimes when they weren’t working, I would go on top and check the connections.  3 of the panels had heating elements, plus one on the front of the bench, so each had power connections like the 3 prong power cords on desktop computers.  I would pull them apart, take a look, and put them back together.  Sometimes just doing that would get them going again.  I would think that the problem had been solved, and then it would happen again the next time.  When they were not working more often than working, I figured I’d better dig deeper and see what I could figure out.

The heating elements that weren’t working were all on the same panel.  There were two on the back wall, and the one on the front of the bench that plugged into the back wall.  Also on the back wall was the control panel for setting the temperature and timer.  If it was something with the control panel, I figured it would affect all the heating elements, not just the ones along the back wall.  The connection seemed to be fine, so it must be something else.  I figured the only way I was going to find out was to start taking it apart and tracing the wiring looking for problems.  I thought maybe I’d find a fuse broken or loose fuse connection or something.  Only thing was, I couldn’t seem to find a fuse.  While I was pulling stuff off the top, I found the owner’s manual which showed where to find the fuse.  The problem was, the owner’s manual was wrong, and it wasn’t where it was supposed to be.  However there was one bit of useful information in there, a wiring diagram.  Two actually.  The second one seemed to make sense.  It showed 3 heating elements on one fuse, and 2 on another.

2nd of 2 Electrical Diagrams

2nd of 2 Electrical Diagrams

Since the fuses weren’t where they were supposed to be, I started unscrewing the top of the top panel.  Sure enough when I got enough screws out to pull up one edge, I could see an electrical box.  I tried to take out a few more screws so I could pull it up further and open it, but the electrical box was screwed shut too.  So I had to take the entire top off, and then unscrew the lid of the electrical box.  That’s where I found the fuses.  They weren’t glass ones, so it wasn’t readily apparent if they were burnt out, but since the elements were still working intermittently, I didn’t figure that could be it anyway.  Also, the connections for the fuses looked just fine.  Back to the wiring diagram.  There was only one other thing that made sense.  Those 3 elements also had their own relay.  I’d seen relays go bad on motorcycles (also the places I’ve seen fuse connections go bad), so I figured that was the culprit.  On a motorcycle when that happens, you can just jump the poles with a screwdriver, because it’s just for the starter and it’s just a battery.  I was a bit apprehensive about trying the same thing with wall power.  Instead I loosened the screws and stuck a piece of copper wire between them, effectively bypassing the relay.  Then I turned on the sauna and waited to see if the elements would heat up.  The first time I jumped the wrong relay and nothing new happened.  Then I switched the jumper wire to the other one and got all the elements to heat up.

Jumping the relay

Jumping the relay

Now I just had to figure out where to find one of these relays.  I’d posted a picture on Facebook while I was diagnosing this to see if other folks had differing ideas.  The opinions mostly agreed with the relay being the most probable cause (even though they’re solid state and almost never fail) with some folks saying to check the connections, maybe use some contact cleaner.  I posted again to confirm the relay diagnosis, and an acquaintance said that he had a bunch of those from an old project.  Still not being 100% sure of my diagnosis, I was thinking about buying new ones, just to be sure I got working ones to test my theory.  He confirmed that he’d tested them and knew they were in good working order and sent me a couple the next day.  (Thanks Matt!)

We had a busy schedule, so it took me a couple days to get it installed, even though it’s a super easy job.  Rachael freaked me out by telling me that she’d kept using it with the relay jumped.  Yikes!  I should have pulled that jumper wire out instead of just unplugging the sauna.  After she told me that, I got right on top of getting that new relay installed.  There’s nothing too complicated about it.  I used a socket driver to remove the relay from the box, and then one screw at a time transferred the wires from the old one to the new one.  Rachael used the sauna yesterday and informed me that everything is working fine.  Now I can close up the electrical box and put the top of the sauna back on.

Replaced relay

Replaced relay

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About howandsometimeswhy

https://howandsometimeswhy.wordpress.com View all posts by howandsometimeswhy

56 responses to “Diagnosing and Fixing an Infrared Sauna

  • earthypoetgrrl

    Amazing! you 2 are so blessed to have a sauna, and what wonderful info. You’re one of the sharpest thinkers that I’ve known!

  • Jen

    This is the same exact issue I am having with my sauna. I have the same relay switch….wish me luck!

  • Mark

    I have the same problem, thanks for the info I will check this when I get a sec.

  • C.Swart

    Same problem here. Never thought I’d find the answer online… Glad I found this. Thank you.

  • cindy

    Ours runs fine for differing times and just shuts off. Not at any particular time or temp…could this be something similar? Hubby has looked at the electrical box. All power is shut off…no lights on panel anywhere

    • howandsometimeswhy

      That sounds a bit different. I still had power to the panel, but the heating elements weren’t getting hot.

    • Mark Owen

      I have no power when pushing power on button but tried the wire thing and it heats up but still no lights on power board that shows time and temp.. can you help.? No one will even come look at it. They all want to sell me a new one and I don’t have the $. I have had 7 back operations and I need it to help with the pain.

  • Mark Owen

    I have no power when pushing power on button but tried the wire thing and it heats up but still no lights on power board that shows time and temp.. can you help.? No one will even come look at it. They all want to sell me a new one and I don’t have the $. I have had 7 back operations and I need it to help with the pain.

  • Mark Owen

    Did u ever find what was causing your problem?

  • Rhonda

    My husband and I have had our infrared sauna for about 15 years. At first we used it almost daily…then we didn’t use it for a while…then recently our daughter started using it about every other day. She said she could tell that the heating elements were not heating as well as they used to. One day she had it up to almost 140 degrees. We never took it past 125. Anyway…it blew a fuse and went off. I tried to plug it back in the next day and it did come on…however it blew again and has never come back on. I think I may have blown the whole control panel. Would you know anything about that…or where I would even start to find someone to fix a sauna.

  • Debi KonkolyThege

    Hello we have a sauna it is a Komate and I know you are not a sauna repairman I really could use some help. My sauna powers on but doesn’t heat up and I have no idea where the fuse would be. Could that be the problem? Thank you for any help.

    • howandsometimeswhy

      It sounds like the same problem mine had. One my sauna, all the electrical was under the top panel. Once it was removed I could access the fuses and relays. Once you’ve found them, read the above article to see how I diagnosed and fixed the problem.

  • Sven

    I can not believe I was able to find this! Awesome. Found a relay for $15 installed and Boom its up and running again. Thank you so much for posting this. 🙂

  • JoAnn

    I bought a sauna for medical reasons and it worked fine until several months ago. As I was warming it up, it got to about 110 degrees and then the entire unit started clicking off and on and it stopped heating up. It happens the same way each time. Any suggestions from anyone?

  • Jordan

    This information helped me exponentially when my sauna broke 2 weeks ago. I actually found I needed a power supply and I just wanted to give you guys some advice on buying parts. I first contacted a company called infraredsaunaparts.com – was quoted over $300 and they were extremely rude with me. So I searched more, then found this company called fixmysauna.com and their price for the same power supply was only $155. Almost half the cost for the same unit.

    Having your sauna broke down sucks and it sucks even more that there’s companies like infraredsaunaparts.com out there taking advantage of us.

    Save yourself some time and call Fixmysauna.com – I hate endorsing companies but this info needs to be out there so people aren’t getting gouged on parts.

    • howandsometimeswhy

      Thanks! I don’t mind endorsing a good company. Thanks for sharing the tip so others can avoid getting screwed when they’re buying parts.

      • Jordan

        Your welcome, I hope it helps others. Fixmysauna.com has been great, half the cost and shipped my part within 2 days. There customers service is excellent and always available as well. I’m glad I found them and hope this can help others from paying too much for parts.

  • Ron-gerard Justforyou

    I had the same relay problem, your fix worked like a charm. I just bought 2 new relays on the web. Thanks so much. Weird that no companies can be found to fix these things. I am from Canada, same problems here

  • rafael

    Ive got a problem im hoping you might be able to advise 🙂 i turn the unit on it clicks display flashes then it turns off,,,, Im guessing this is a relay issue …if you can help that would be great many thanks from Australia

  • trev

    a new inferred sauna wont go , but stereo missing is this the problem

  • Trevor Wilton

    sauna wont start is new ,has no stereo would this be the problem

  • Duncan deBond

    Hello, I have a 2 person Royal Sauna and lately the relays above start to click like crazy when it is trying to heat up. Can you tell me where to but a replacement relay. Pro Sauna in Canada won’t answer e-mails or phone messages. Thank you very much.
    Duncan DeBond
    Seattle WA

  • Russ Hook

    Hi, thanx for your help. I have a 3 man sauna . It is 6 ft. wide so I can lay down in it. I have a back injury. A few years after I bought it a panel at the side/end stopped working. The company sent me a new panel, I replaced it and it worked. I have been moving around a lot lately and now I noticed a few panels aren’t working, so I will investigate and let ya’all know what the problem is. Thanx for the relay tip btw. The fuse has gone out now twice, this last time when I was plugging in a lower snap plug,(a short somewhere?) and I bought a 4 pak of fuses. Another tip. I wired in a little fan that blows on the circuit board box on top. It keeps it cool. I wired it so it comes on only when sauna is powered up. Electronics like it cool, and will burn out quicker if over-heated. Good luck with yours b/c they are great, and I use mine every day in winter! Cheers…. Russ

  • Karen Rayner

    Mine is a really weird problem. I have 2 – mine that works and a duplicate one that my friend gave me because she gave up on it and bought a new one. My power box makes hers work, but every other power box I put in hers turns on the lights and the music but will not heat up the sauna. I have 3 “new” power boxes and they do the same thing to mine. My original power box is the only one that lights and heats both saunas. I want to get hers working and sell it as an infrared sauna, instead of making it a playhouse.,

  • Greg Clement

    Many thanks to howandsometimeswhy for posting his experience with the relay issue. We have a 2005 Waterstar controller model that was shipped from Canada to Texas. We bought it barely used in 2006 and my wife has used it daily since then. During that time, I have replaced the power cord with a very heavy duty extension cord from Lowes ($28), replaced the power supply with one I bought from Allied Electronics for around $32 (same specs, but a little bit larger case) and now both relays (only one was bad). Ours were the 40 amp versions versus the 25 amp relays in howandsometimeswhy’s photo, but were the same brand. I bought two new Uxcell relays from Amazon Prime for less than $14 ( 24-480V AC DC to 3-32VDC Output Single Phase SSR Solid State Relay 40A ).

    The issue we were having was that the rear and bench elements were cycling off and on independent of the front elements. The sauna was taking longer to heat up and was struggling to maintain the temperature setting. To test it, I put a copper jumper wire across the output terminals as suggested in this article. *Be sure to unplug it when you do this! The rear and bench elements came on, stayed on and heated up quickly. We received the new relays late yesterday and installed them last night. My wife used the sauna this morning and it worked and heated flawlessly. I have a very happy and grateful wife.

    Please note that on our model, the power supply and the relays are mounted on a metal plate. If you replace either one, be sure to coat the bottom on your component with thermal grease (heat sink compound). This helps to dissipate heat and will allow your components to last longer. I just happened to have some thermal compound I bought at Fry’s several years ago to use on the bottom of processors when I was building desktop computers.

    Once again, hats off to howandsometimeswhy.

  • melanie fontaine

    Hi There. How fortunate am I to come upon this thread. I am hoping you can please help me. First of all…I am a woman with little knowledge about electrical units and relays but I am willing to try. My Royal Sauna will power up the front panel but nothing beyond this works. No lights. No stereo. No heat. I don’t even know where to begin. I have taken off the top panel to look. All fuses appear fine (I had to go online to see what a glass fuse looks like and what a blown one looks like). It’s dusty up there (in the electrical area). Please help by steering me in the right direction. Incidentally…my sauna is still under full warranty but Pro Health Saunas in Calgary Alberta will not respond to emails or phone calls…so I am helpless. Thanks. (If you’re in the market, I would strongly suggest you avoid this company)
    p.s. Because your problem sounded just like mine (power yes but no heat) I hoped your article would be helpful but the innards on my sauna look entirely different.
    Thanks, in advance, for any help or suggestions you may offer.

    • howandsometimeswhy

      I’m certainly no expert myself. That does sound like relays though. My first suggestion would be to try to find a wiring schematic for your brand & model of Sauna. Then you can figure out where the relay’s are and go from there.

    • Greg Clement

      I am not an expert either, but here’s my two cents worth. First of all, Pro Health Saunas’ online warranty description is very vague regarding their Limited Lifetime warranty. If you are the original purchaser, I recommend continuing your attempts to contact them and get some type of response from their tech support department, if they have one. I would keep calling or doing whatever you need to do to get their attention. If it is under warranty, you should not be having to do any troubleshooting or repairs on your own.

      Any experienced infrared sauna repair person should be able to diagnose your issues quickly based on your symptoms. I don’t know if they would go so far as to pay for a local repair person to come to your residence, all though I think they should. If they don’t, their expert could recommend something like removing your control panel (where the temperature and timer settings are) and checking for loose output connections. Of course, be sure to unplug it before you go anywhere near the wiring.

      It sounds as if you have power coming to your panel but nothing beyond that. I would think you would find a loose connection or a bad control board. If your sauna is anything like mine, you probably have two fuses and two relays. I think it is highly unlikely that your fuses and relays have all gone out at the same time unless you have experienced an electrical fire of some sort. I think you would have seen burned wiring when you checked the fuses.

      I wish you great success in your endeavors to get your sauna going again. If you have time, please let us know about your outcome.

  • Sasha

    I am also in cold climate. I use my sauna daily during winter months and enjoy it very much. Just yesterday, while I was in the sauna, suddenly, I heard a ‘click’ (sound that I usually heard when I push sauna on/off button) and Sauna’s control panel went blank. After that, I couldn’t power it back up. It’s only couple of years old and I bought this new just couple of years ago. And of course, things always happens after warranty period.

    I don’t even know where begin trouble shoot. Do you have any idea what it could be? I am a woman and don’t know much about electrical problems, but I am pretty good at following directions.
    I would appreciate any suggestions you may have for me.
    Thanks,
    Sasha

  • Greg Clement

    I’m not an expert or repairman, so any of my recommendations are based on issues we have had with our 11 year old sauna or just pure guesses. We have not experienced a problem exactly as you are describing (no click with loss of power).

    The first time we had an issue, my wife was in the sauna and the power went off to everything. There was a burned electrical smell. When I checked the power cord plug at the outlet, I found a charred spade on the plug and luckily, the wall outlet was not affected. Neither of the two fuses were blown. I was able to replace the complete power cord with a very heavy duty extension cord I picked up at Lowes ($28?). I just cut off the female end and wired it to the top of the sauna where the previous wires were connected. I would look at the plug first to see if it looks normal (no burned areas).

    Next, I would check the fuses. Unplug the power cord first. There are two fuses on our sauna. They are located on the top in the front left corner. There is a small wooden slider that I moved to the right. Our fuses are found in two white plastic fuse holders that have a tab you lift up. I’m not sure if you can tell if these fuses are blown by looking at them since ours have never blown. A search on the internet for how to check a fuse without a multi-meter should give you an idea on how test them, if need be.

    Our sauna came with two extra fuses. If you have an extra fuse, try replacing yours one at a time. After you change one, plug the sauna back in and try to power it up. Try this with the second one. Hopefully, if it was a fuse, you should be up and running again. If you have to buy a fuse, be sure to replace it with one that has identical specs as the one you are replacing. If it is a 20 amp, 380/500 volt, get the same type. Do not replace it with a 10 amp or 32 amp fuse.

    Our particular fuse is known as a Sauna Fuse RT14-20, 20 Amp, 5/15″ x 1.5″ (10 x 38mm) size, 380/500V rated voltage, 20A rated current, fast blow type, ceramic. Infrared Sauna Parts has one for $25.83, including shipping. A seller on EBay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/370775857858?ul_noapp=true&chn=ps&lpid=82) has one for $7.52, including shipping. You can save money by doing your internet searches carefully.

    I’m not sure what it will take to repair your sauna, but replacing a power cord or fuses would be the fastest and easiest of repairs. Hopefully, it will be one of these two things. Other considerations would probably include a bad power switch, a faulty control board or a lose power connection.

    Best wishes for a simple cure…

    • Sasha

      Thank you for the suggestion. I will check things out as you suggested. I will post what I found out after I check things out.

    • Sasha

      Hi;

      I was trying to check things out as ‘Greg Clement’ suggested. I saw a box with button – ‘reset fuse’. I reset by push the button and turn on Sauna. Sauna turns on and all looks normal. I am so glad it was quick and simple fix.

      Thanks again for sharing your experience and your suggestion.

      • Greg Clement

        Congratulations on finding the resolution to your problem. Our sauna doesn’t have a reset button and I’m glad yours does. Best of all, it didn’t cost you anything but a little time.

  • Greg Clement

    You may have a failing power supply if you experience symptoms like we had.

    We have a 2005 Waterstar GL-2 model which we purchased used in 2006.

    The problem began in 2013 with an intermittent loss of power to our control panel. We would set the temperature / time and within a few minutes, the settings would disappear, The control panel power LED light would still be lit. We could reset the temperature / time and then it would heat normally for a while. We went through this same cycle for about a week. It progressed to a point where the power LED would not light, the reading lamp and the radio would not turn on.

    I began by checking the fuses for continuity and they were OK. The power supply was a SKDD-060-1H model (12v 5a 60 watt with 2 sets of output terminals). I used a DC voltmeter to check the DC (-) and the DC (+) output terminals of power supply, I failed to get a reading. Next, I checked the AC input and it showed 119 volts coming in. In short, proper current getting to the power supply with nothing going out (= bad power supply).

    I found a replacement at Allied Electronics for about $32. It had the same specs as my original, but the case was a little larger. I had no trouble changing it out, as there was enough space to work with. As I mentioned in a previous post, I did apply a heat sink compound paste to the bottom of it to dissipate heat. I plugged the power cord into the outlet and it fired right up with everything working as it should.

    The only (separate) issue we have had since replacing the power supply occurred a few weeks ago when I needed to replace a bad relay. Thanks again to howandsometimeswhy for leading me to the correct (and cheap) repair.

  • drvo79

    Need help.

    Have this portable IRS http://bolthely.hu/wellimpex/id/00100_Infraszauna_630W_JYS-B5__hordozhato__mobil_

    Example:
    – i setup the temperature to 50c on the display board
    – the temperature comes to 50c(the temperature lamp is going off), and on the display board the numbers are rapidly going up 55,56.57…60…etc

    any advice on this?

    thanx

    • Greg Clement

      Were you able to get your problem fixed? If so, could you let us know what the problem was. My guess, from what you are describing, is that your control board with the power switch (front panel) is defective. They are not difficult to change, if you can find an exact replacement part. Do shop around as the prices can widely vary.

  • Maggie

    I loved this discussion…I just bought a sauna and we put it up today…the front light goes on..but the inside light wont and it wont heat. I am sure there is something simple here…I have triple checked and all the plugs are plugged in right…smile. ugh..I really wanted to take a sauna tonight.

    • Sasha

      If you just bought it, mfg customer service should be able to help you. I use mine almost everyday past 5 years or so and worked perfectly until recently. Since I found this blog, I checked the fuse issue and luckily, my sauna has the reset button for the fuse, so I didn’t have to opened the fuse box. Just last week, my fuse switched off again, so I reset it again. So, I may have to replace with new fuse or something (not sure yet). Yeah, I am glad I found this blog and someone who has experience may give you suggestion soon. I hope you get to enjoy your sauna.

    • Greg Clement

      Just to echo what Sasha has written, if your sauna is new, call customer service and they should be able to walk you through the things you should check. Also, see if your sauna has reset buttons near the fuses and relays. It appears that many of the sauna manufacturers place them on the top in the left front corner under small sliding panels. If you have time after your issue is resolved, please post your findings so we can all learn from them. Thanks

  • Elaine Carter

    Fabulous advice on this site! My sauna is a ‘One’ bought it second hand but did see it working. when dismantled some connectors and junction box were charred and melted. replaced those but cannot get it to heat up. All turns on ok but when we press the control panel, the fuse blows in our main box, any suggestions?
    Thanks
    Elaine
    Barrow-in-Furness

  • John Brooks

    I have an error code 3 on my control panel after about 10 minutes of heating. Any idea of what it could be? I disconnected the electrical cords several times to no avail. Thanks

  • rick mikolas

    I have a Healthmate sauna that is a 2007 model #HM-NSE 3 CD. Was working just fine and then one day the cd quit working then another quit heating, but the light would still come on and now today when I plugged it in smoke came out of the power supply box. Does anyone know a good sauna parts company out there where I can get a new power supply and maybe even a control panel if that turns out to be bad too. I have been trying to deal with Fix My Sauna but they must be having problems there because they do not answer their phone or emails. Please HELP! Thanks, Rick

  • cliff b.

    WOW great blog I’m working on a clients sauna right now. this helps a lot thank you!!!

  • Kandie Barriga

    I have Cedrus 3000 infared sauna. Lights and CD player work but will not heat up. Do you know anything about this?

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