Monday, May 28, 2012

Solar hot water is back!

Earlier in the year we noted that our normal plentiful supply of solar heated hot water appeared to be lacking.  After searching around we found a local repairman (Nick) and he came to take a look at our system.  After careful testing he found a leak in one of the panels ("collectors"), and the panel was determined to need replacing.  The leak can be seen as a stain in the top right corner of the picture below:

This is the first repair to the system we have needed in the past 12 years, and it seems like it was caused by the week long power outage that we experienced last September.  The storm that knocked out the power was followed by a week of sunny weather and without the pump running to dissipate the heat to the water in the tank the heat transfer fluid in the system probably overheated .  This is analogous to the radiator overheating in a car and it probably created enough steam pressure to rupture the pipework in the collector.  Not too surprising that this occurred in a panel that was nearly 30 years old!

This Saturday saw Nick's return with two new collectors and a strong assistant.  It took most of the day to remove the old panels and replace them with the new ones.  Each panel is 8'x4' and was lifted off/ onto the roof by hand from a step ladder.  Quite an impressive feat!

After the piping was reconnected and tested and everything else was put back together the system appears to be working as expected.  Yesterday was a fabulously sunny day, so in celebration of the repair Sheri did three loads of laundry with free hot water from the new panels!

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