Solar water heater save homeowners money on their electricity or natural gas bills. Solar powered water heaters heat water with the power of the sun. Although they require less maintenance than traditional gas or electric water heaters, they still require repairs when they stop working. Troubleshooting your solar water heater may allow you to repair the unit yourself, or at least to be more informed on what repairs a service technician will need to make.
Check the solar collectors for dirt, debris, cracks and shading. The experts at the U.S. Department of Energy say that dirt or debris, or shade from overhanging vegetation, can prevent the solar collectors from collecting enough energy to sufficiently heat the water. Cracks in the glazing of the solar collectors may let moisture in, which can ruin the collectors.
Examine the controller and its wiring if the pump is running constantly, or won't run at all. The controller and its wiring can easily be damaged by rust or a power surge, say the experts at the Florida Solar Energy Center. Look for corrosion or burn marks on the wiring in the controller itself.
Flush the system and check the pressure gauge if the solar water heater has a drop in water pressure. The experts at the North Carolina Department of Commerce recommended checking the water for dirt or other debris, because this may indicate a blockage in the pipes.
Observe the pump during the night to determine if the thermo-siphoning check valve is working properly. According to the experts at the Florida Solar Energy Center, if the is pump constantly cycling on and off during the night, this can indicate that the check valve that allows cool water to move into the storage tank may be stuck open. This can cause insufficient hot water levels in the morning.
Look for burst or leaking pipes and valves. Freezing water in an improperly drained solar heating system can rupture pipes and valves.
Check for air trapped in the pipes or pump if the system operates noisily. The experts that the North Carolina Department of Commerce say that opening the vent screw on the pump should release any excess air. Air trapped in the plates will need to be flushed by running water back up the supply line.
Tips & Warnings
Insufficient hot water levels are most commonly caused by high water demand that the solar water you heat cannot meet. Installing a backup water heating system or using the solar water heater in the afternoons and evenings can alleviate this problem.
The solar collectors may need to be repositioned if new construction or plant growth has occurred since they were installed.
Do not attempt to replace or repair damaged wiring or solar collectors without electrical experience.