Proper maintenance and repair of your solar hot water heating system components is required to ensure its good working order and longevity. Traditional water heaters have parts that need servicing from time to time. Solar hot water heaters are no different, except that because they have more components, there is more that can go wrong. Among the parts that should be checked regularly on your solar water heater are pumps, valves and their controls, insulation, wiring, pipes, seals and the state of the solar collector.
Checking the Storage Tank and Inside Components
Many solar hot water heating systems have an insulated water storage tank in the same place a traditional water heater would sit. Cold water comes in from the water main and through a system of pipes, valves and pumps it makes its way to the solar collector and back to the storage tank. Other types of solar hot water heaters have to keep the storage tank above the solar collector, so it too is outside—usually higher up on the roof.
Either way, there are numerous pipes, fittings, valves, pumps and controls that need to be checked regularly to make sure they are working. They need not be checked every month, but twice a year is not too much to ask to give them a maintenance check. Fittings should be tight, valves should not be sticking, pumps should operate automatically and there should be no cracks, leaks or damage of any kind on the storage tank. Controls need to be checked for any wiring issues that may arise. Any repairs that need to be done should receive prompt attention. Whether you hire a professional or do the job yourself, to delay could mean inefficient hot water production, water leakage or worse.
Since solar hot water heaters rely on a solar collector for the energy to heat the water, it requires that it be exposed constantly to the elements. The box in which the flat plate absorber or the tubes or tank is located should not have any cracks, leaks or corrosion. The glass or plastic covering should not be cracked, misaligned or faded from the sun. In addition, any holes that were made in the roof need to have their seals checked so no rainwater leaks into the house.
Even more basic maintenance of the solar collector is ensuring that it is not blocked by preventable shading such as overgrowth from trees or shrubs. If it does not rain frequently in your region, dust buildup can block solar rays, so the plate should be cleaned often.
If repairs need to be done to the solar collector, you can undertake the job if you are confident in your knowledge of the systems involved. If the problem is a roof seal or an issue that has nothing to do with solar collection, it may require no specialized knowledge to do it.
By understanding the working parts of your home’s solar hot water heater and how to properly maintain them, you will have a better idea of any repairs that need to be made. If you are able to adequately diagnose the problem, you can decide if you can do the job yourself or if you should hire a specialist to make the repairs.