Maintenance and Safety Considerations

Properly installed solar water heating systems require minimal maintenance.

Freezing and overheating are the biggest hazards, so it is important for you to understand how your system addresses those possibilities. If your system uses a heat transfer fluid (usually food—grade glycol), you will need to check the pH balancer once in a while. Glycol that has been overheated can become acidic and eventually can cause pin holes in the copper coils. Pin holes and pressurized glycol are not a good combination, so have your installer show you how to check your system every year or two. Solar water heater collectors are much more tolerant of partial and moving shadows than solar electric systems, but an annual hose down in dirty environments is a good idea.

The hot water from your solar water heater system will be sent through your water heater, which may not even turn on if the solar water is hot enough. During the summer, solar water may be hotter than is safe for the home, and an anti-scald valve (required by code) will be installed to mix super-hot water with cold water before being sent to the home’s faucets.

Other safety equipment includes: pressure and temperature release valves, and thermal expansion tanks to protect the home and safety of the occupants.