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Common Problems With Solar Hot Water

by | Nov 2, 2021 | Uncategorized

Solar Hot Water Problems

A well-functioning solar water heating system can be so beneficial. For one, it is environmentally friendly. For another, it saves money on heating. However, when you experience some common issues with solar hot water systems, you may feel frustrated. Not to worry, you can start managing the situation when you are familiar with such common problems and their solutions.

This article will also consider solar water heaters, their benefits, and some troubleshooting tips for electric hot water systems.

What Are Solar Water Heaters?

A solar water heater is simply a device that captures energy from sunlight and converts it into water heating energy. Remarkably, it is an entirely renewable source of energy used instead of an electrical appliance.

Solar water heaters function by capturing heat using solar collectors or panels, usually from a rooftop. After that, the heat is transferred into the water storage tank, where the circulation pump acts. This makes the heat circulate and warm up the water. In the same vein, there is a thermal regulator in the tank that triggers the reaction.

Benefits Of Solar Water Heating Systems

First, a solar water heater is quite effective in providing warm running water. Second, it is cost-effective. Clearly, you do not have to pay for sunlight. Moreover, regardless of the climate outside, you can keep using the solar heating system throughout the year. Though, it may not function as optimally on cloudy days.

In addition, you can customise the installation according to the size of your house and how much hot water you need. For instance, you may opt for only three to four panels. Besides, it does not need to occupy much room in your home. Moreover, you can easily maintain it.

Finally, it leaves less carbon footprint. In other words, it is more eco-friendly. Perhaps, these are enough reasons not to have gas hot water systems installed in your home or business. Rather, you may consider switching to solar hot water systems.

Troubleshooting For Solar-Powered Water Heaters

Solar panel capacity issues

This can be a tough one to check. After all, the solar panels may be installed on your rooftop, which may be hard to reach. However, do check if the solar gatherers have issues. For example, the hot water unit should be aligned to heat the water and maximise heat collection. Similarly, if the energy collector and pipe are getting old, you may consider replacing them. After all, it could be affecting the performance of the solar water heating system.

Heat conducting rods failing

Next, if the solar panels are working well, you may check the conducting rods or coils. These heat-conducting arrays are responsible for transferring energy to the water. Thus, if they are performing sub-optimally, the energy transference may be hampered. For example, floating sediment can reduce the thermal transference coefficients.

Heat pump problems

Furthermore, check the heat pump. Perhaps, the pump volute or impeller is damaged. How? You may ask. First, the electrical pump may be substandard. Second, clogs due to propagated sediment may cause damage to the pump and wear it down.

Water heater leaks

Some causes for a water heater leakage include loose plumbing connections and faulty gaskets. Others are a faulty temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve and a rusted tank. Solve these issues by tightening loose connections and replacing faulty gaskets and valves. Similarly, replace a rusted tank.

Rust-coloured water

Where the water is discoloured, the anode rod may be failing. Probably, sediment buildup has gotten into the hot water outlet. Just flush the water heater to remove such sediments and replace the anode rod.

Noises from the heater

When you hear whining, hissing, popping, banging, or other sounds, one likely cause could be sediment or scale buildup on the heating elements. As earlier mentioned, you can flush the water heater by draining the tank to fix this. However, if it is not fixed, there could be too much pressure in the tank. You may consider having a professional plumber check the water heater and possibly do a hot water repair.

Low water pressure

There could be copious reasons for this, with the most common reason being older homes with 12.7 Centimetre piping. Other reasons could be sediment buildup, calcium deposits, and rust within the plumbing or faucet aerators. Again, the water shut-off valve may not be open. Fix low water pressure by upgrading to 1.9 Centimetre pipes, ensuring the water shut-off valve is open, and draining the water heater tank to flush out sediment.

Smelly hot water

This indicates the presence of bacteria in the tank. What can you do? Increase your thermostat to 140 degrees for up to an hour to kill the bacteria. Or still, clean the tank out with chlorine bleach. Ultimately, you may replace the anode rod. The anode rod is supposed to kill off bacteria and remove dust. Surely, you may invite a local plumber for the replacement if you do not have the skill or tools.

Solar Water Heater Temperature Problems

This water heater problem may be of three kinds.

No hot water

First, the water heater may not produce hot water at all. The reason could be due to the heating element or heat exchanger being broken. Perhaps, the thermostat could be faulty, or it could be caused by a lack of power. Surely, you do need a constant supply of hot water.

To fix this, check the upper and lower heating elements using a continuity tester. This will identify if the heating elements are short-circuited or burned-out. Then, you can replace it if this is the case. Also, check to replace any blown fuses or reset tripped breakers. Furthermore, ensure the power switch is on and the thermostat has power supplied to it.

Hot water is not enough

Second, the hot water may not be enough. The reasons include the orientation of the solar panel, blockages in the pressure system, and inadequate insulation or collector glazing to trap sunlight.

Raise the thermostat setting for a start. If it does not work, then you might have a faulty thermostat, or the water heater may be undersized. Therefore, repair the faulty components or upgrade your water heater. Meanwhile, take shorter showers to improve the hot water recovery time.

Water is too hot or cold

Third, the water may be overheated or too cold. Surely, being scalded at the tap is not a pleasant experience. To fix overheating as part of water heater repair, tune the thermostat to your desired temperature. However, if the water is still too hot or cold, you may have to replace the heating element and the thermometer.

Troubleshooting For Electric Hot Water Systems

Perhaps, you just purchased an electric hot water system. The following are some common problems you should take note of.

Heating element replacement

If your electric water heater is newly installed, it may require several hours to reach normal operating temperature. However, if it exceeds two hours to warm the water, check if enough electrical power is being supplied. Perhaps, the power rating is not high enough.

Check for electrical power

You can use a circuit tester to check for power. However, it would help if you had a voltage measuring metre for a complete electrical diagnosis. First, remove the fuse or turn the water heater circuit breaker off. After that, remove the upper access panel of the water heater.

Also, be careful to remove the insulation and plastic cover. Now, the power supply wires are commonly identified by their connection to the top two screws of the upper thermostat. You need to turn on the circuit breaker and check the power supply voltage. Is the water heater getting the correct voltage?

Find out by comparing your reading with the required voltage on the water heater label. Sometimes, it is 220/240 volts and other times 110/120 volts. If the voltage supplied is below the required voltage, you should turn the circuit breaker off; replace the cover, insulation, and access panel. Then, invite a qualified electrician.

Checking the thermostat power

Moreover, check the heating element when you get a correct power voltage reading but no hot water. It may have burned out. Usually, a hot water heater installation requires you to run the hot water for up to three minutes before turning the power on. This will ensure the tank is full of water and all air is removed.

For sure, you may easily replace the upper element if it has burned out. After that, make sure to fill the tank completely before turning the power back on. Note that the problem could be because your water heater is too small or you have increased its usage.

Water leaking from water heater

There could be connection leaks at the hot water outlet or cold water inlet. Sometimes, the fluid leakages could occur from piping fittings around a heating element or the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve. Tighten or repair such leaking fittings.

Dripping electric thermal expansion tank

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve could have water dripping from the discharge pipe. The reason could be that your home’s water pressure is too high. However, if the quantity of hot water from the discharge pipe is large, turn off your electrical power. Then, invite a qualified technician.

Water pressure regulating valve installation

You could get a gauge and check the water pressure. A pressure regulating valve is required if the water pressure is above 80 PSIG. This is as specified by most plumbing codes. Meanwhile, the recommended water pressure should be around 50 to 60 PSIG.

Do You Need A Thermal Expansion Tank?

For older homes, expanded water due to heating gets pushed back into the water main. Presently, backflow prevention valves (also called check valves) prevent the water from returning to the water supply. Usually, you can find such valves inside pressure regulating valves. Alternatively, they can be found in water softeners or water metres.

Consequently, the water pressure in your pipes can build up. This may result in the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve discharge pipe dripping. Now, this is where the thermal expansion tank comes in. It is equipped with an internal air bladder that absorbs the expanded water.

Furthermore, it protects appliances, the plumbing, and the water heater itself. Thus, a thermal expansion tank may just be your answer for water drip at the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve discharge pipe. A necessary precaution is to avoid capping or plugging the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve discharge pipe. It can cause an explosion.

You Need A Professional Plumber

A professional plumbing company can help you solve common problems with solar hot water systems in your home or business. This includes hot water system installation and pool heater installation. Perhaps you want to switch from gas or electric hot water systems to solar water heating.

They can also handle common plumbing issues or water treatment issues such as freeze damage (or you need some form of freeze protection) or hydronic heating problems. Moreover, you can call them for hot water system repair and water heater maintenance. This is especially the case if hot water heater problems and troubleshooting guides seem overwhelming or you unfortunately do not have the time.

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