Solar water heaters save money on water in your home, but they can also malfunction. They use storage collectors or tanks that heat the water with the sun rays, and it activates a backup on days with minimal sun. Usually, the backup comes from the top burner, which converts to a hybrid heater to increase the temperature of the first twenty gallons of water. Troubleshooting a solar water heater is simple if you follow this guide.

Fix a Leak

To fix a leak, you need a pipe repair kit and replacement pipe. Leaks from solar water heaters can commonly be traced to pipe fittings, valves, and a leaky solar panel. 

Shut off the main water supply to the house, and follow instructions in the manual to drain the water heater. Inspect the pipes for corrosion and leaking by looking through the Plexiglass lid. Use the screwdriver to take the water heater off the base and disconnect the two pipes on both sides.

Remove the lid, and tighten the connection by rotating the screwdriver right, if you don't see any leaky or damaged valves. Damaged pressure relief valves, which are commonly brass fixtures, can't be fixed, so they will need replacing. If the fittings aren't the issue, seal pipe leaks with the sealant from the kit, or install the new pipe. 

Check the Collector Plate 

Climb the roof to check the collector plates for cracks or loose fittings. If the sealant has turned yellow, replace it.

The collector plate should also get enough sun. Sometimes, neighbors' plants or new construction may block the collector plate on your own home. Clean the plate occasionally to ensure it stays free from debris that interferes with performance. 

Fix No Hot Water or Not Enough Water

If you aren't getting hot water, try the following:

  • The water heater circuit breakers should be in "ON" position. Flip the switch to "ON", and give the water fifteen minutes to heat. If the water still isn't hot, use a screwdriver to remove the cover, and check the thermostat, which should be set between 110 and 120 degrees. 
  • No hot water could also mean the system may lose heat. Install an insulation blanket around the tank and all fixtures.
  • Check the sensors on top of the collector outlet for reverse wiring and damage.
  • Inspect the check valve  (usually labeled) for leaks. The check valve controls the water in one direction to prevent heat loss.
  • Increase the size of the tank to 40 or 50 gallons, if there never seems to be enough water.

If you need additional assistance with your hot water heater after trying these tips, then contact a plumbing company, such as Knights Plumbing & Drain.