Blue solar hot water system collector panels

5 Ways to Look After Your Solar Hot Water System

Often people think once their solar hot water panels have been installed that they no longer need to worry about it. Here at Metropolitan Plumbing, we think you should be doing these 5 things to look after your hot water system. These will prolong the life of your water heater and ensure it is working efficiently.

Clean Collectors and Trim Trees

Solar hot water systems use collector panels to heat your water. Regardless of whether you have flat panels or evacuated tubes, your water heating won’t be as efficient if they are dirty. If the sunlight is blocked by tree branches, this also won’t help your efficiency.

Rainwater plus the angle of the collector panels will take care of most of this cleaning for you, but over time you may notice dust and bird droppings accumulate. You can use a mild soap in water and a gentle sponge to clean your collector panels without damaging them. A window squeegee on a pole is very useful for this chore.

Be sure to trim back tree branches that cast shade over your collector panels. Shading reduces the efficiency of your water heater as less sunlight is available to heat your water.

Add Antifreeze and Insulation

Your solar hot water heater shouldn’t show any dip in efficiency during winter if it has been looked after correctly.

If you live in an area where the temperature can drop below freezing, it’s important you have antifreeze compounds added to your collector loop. Antifreeze is an additive that lowers the freezing point of any water-based liquid it is added to.

This is to prevent the damage caused by ice in your water heaters and other plumbing systems. Frozen water has a greater volume than liquid water, and so when water in these systems freezes, it expands. This creates additional pressure in the system which can damage it.

It is also important your hot water system pipes are insulated. This will prevent heat loss from your system, which will be especially worse in winter due to the colder external temperature.

Check for Leaks in Your Solar Hot Water System

Leaks can happen from time to time and they can be an indicator that something is wrong with your hot water system. Leaks will show themselves in different places depending on the type of solar hot water system you have.

Thermosiphon systems have the collector panels and storage tank fixed to the roof together. It might be more difficult to see leaks that are on your roof, but if left unnoticed for too long, they can pose a great risk to your home.

Split systems have the collector panels fixed to the roof and the storage tank on the ground. With the storage tank on the ground, it can be easier to see when your water heater has sprung a leak.

If you notice a leak from your solar hot water system, it’s time to call in a professional before the problem gets worse.

Soften Your Water

Some regions in Australia are particularly prone to hard water. This can be bad news for your hot water system and your plumbing in general. Hard water contains more minerals than regular water and can leave deposits of these minerals in your plumbing system.

A build-up of these minerals in your hot water system can reduce its efficiency and can even cause blockages. To mitigate this, you can have a water softener installed. This will even stop those annoying scum stains from forming in your kitchen and bathroom!

Regular Service of Your Solar Hot Water System

Unless you’re also a fully qualified plumber, you probably don’t know how most components in your solar hot water system work. It’s important you have a plumber attend regularly to service your water heater.

If your solar water heater has a gas or electric booster it can get even more complicated. On top of the tips above, regular servicing of your hot water system can greatly prolong its life expectancy. It will save you money on costly repairs you’ve managed to avoid as well.

For more information on solar hot water systems, contact Metropolitan Plumbing today. Not sure if solar is for you? We also have Hot Water Systems: The Complete Guide to help you out.

Published: 17 Jun, 2020

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