How to Maintain Pool Solar Panels

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If you lay a garden hose in the sun and feel the hot water that it generates, you know how a solar pool panel works. The typical panel is constructed from small diameter black plastic tubes all connected to larger diameter top and bottom tubes. As the pool pump operates, water is pumped to the solar panels and returns immediately to the pool having absorbed some of the sun's heat. You can expect 10+ years of use if the solar panels are properly maintained. Use the following steps to maintain and repair your swimming pool solar panels.

Things You'll Need

  • 5/16 socket
  • Socket wrench or clutched cordless drill
  • Spray lubricant
  • Turn on the solar pool system and the pool pump and check for leaking panels. Adjust the temperature setting on the solar system so that it operates or set it to run continuously. Look for water on the face of the solar panels and water in the gutters and downspouts. You even may see a stream of water shooting out of a hole in the panel tubes.

  • Repair panel tube leaks. One leaking panel tube does not necessarily mean the whole panel must be replaced. Solar panel tube plugs may be inserted above and below the hole to prevent water flowing through the damaged tube.

  • Tighten the stainless hose clamps at the top and bottom of each panel. Due to thermal expansion and contraction, the hose clamps tend to become loose. Use a cordless drill that has a torque clutch, 5/16-inch socket, and spray lubricant. Set the drill's clutch to a setting that tightens loose clamps but does not over-tighten them. Spray the clamp screw with lubricant as you tighten it with the drill. You can perform the same operation with a socket wrench if you apply the same torque to each clamp screw.

  • Inspect the hold-down straps that secure the solar panels to the roof. The hold-down strap is a 1/2-inch wide stainless band that runs mid-way across each panel. Broken straps should be replaced.

  • Inspect one-way check valves in the piping connecting the solar panels to the pool filter. When the pool pump has been turned off these valves will shut tightly and should not 'gurgle'. Replace worn-out check valves.

  • If your pool filter uses Diatomaceous Earth, or DE as it is known, make sure all valve to the solar panels are closed when performing a filter back flush. If DE gets into the solar panels it can block the tubes.

  • Protect the solar pool panels from freezing. Drain the panels and turn off the solar system before the first frost. If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to run the pool pump at night with the solar system set to run continuously. Running water will not freeze in the panels.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many pool solar panels are mounted on roofs. Exercise extreme care working on the roof.
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