Solar water heating system disconnection

Reply

  #1  
Old 07-18-17, 03:35 PM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 104
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Solar water heating system disconnection

I barely avoided a disaster today. I started to disconnect the plumbing to a solar-heated water tank in my garage. One of the pipe fittings was too tight and wouldn't unscrew. When I saw the copper tubing was twisting, I put off the work for another day. I had already shut off and disconnected the "cold water in" on the top of the tank. Though there was a valve upstream of that connection and I closed it, water continued to trickle through. I re-connected that water inlet to the tank. After putting everything back, I discovered that I had no hot water anywhere in the house. I had to re-open the "cold water in" valve above the solar water tank in order to get hot water in the house again.

The house was built in 1981 and I bought it in 2004. It looks like the solar was installed at the time of house construction. The solar water system was already "disconnected" when I bought the house. At least, a copper line with a pump on the end dead-ends next to the actual propane water heater (elsewhere in the house - not in the garage), and a control box on the solar water tank was unplugged, so I assumed the solar system was disconnected.

An uninsulated pipe goes from the attic in the house to the solar system in the garage, and there's an insulated pipe that goes back into the attic from the solar system.

Finally, my question: Can I assume that I will need to join the two pipes in the attic (the uninsulated and the insulated ones) if I want to remove the old solar system?

I thought taking out the solar water storage tank would be simple, but I thought wrong. I'm attaching 5 pics here. Four are of the environs of the solar water heater. One pic is of the disconnected pump located next to the propane water heater.
Name:  20170718_130205_resized.jpg
Views: 1876
Size:  36.5 KB
Name:  20170718_130242_resized.jpg
Views: 1882
Size:  29.0 KB
Name:  20170718_130255_resized.jpg
Views: 1945
Size:  24.2 KB
Name:  20170718_130313_resized.jpg
Views: 1916
Size:  38.5 KB
Name:  20170718_130332_resized.jpg
Views: 1847
Size:  37.9 KB
 
Attached Images  
  #2  
Old 07-18-17, 04:49 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 60,726
Received 1,316 Votes on 1,216 Posts
All lines between the tank and attic should be disconnected. There shouldn't be a splice in the attic or water in an attic line anymore.

In the fitting below.... the black line shows the seam or break point. You put a wrench or channel locks on the red part of the fitting and you turn the NUT counter-clockwise. Holding the red part of the fitting keeps the pipe from spinning.

At this point the pipe is pretty well twisted shut and will need to be replaced.

Name:  oops.jpg
Views: 1555
Size:  21.5 KB
 
  #3  
Old 07-18-17, 05:42 PM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 104
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks, re: the correct way to disconnect that distorted line (I sure needed that info!).
I still have the problem of removing the tank and water lines and the actual solar panels above, because the the roof is now leaking where the panels attach to the roof. I'm going to re-do the roof.
If I just cut and cap the two lines going into the attic, it seems to me that I would have no hot water in the house again, just like when I closed the valve above the water tank.
I will be making a difficult crawl through the attic hopefully tomorrow to see if there is some sort of bypass system for the solar.
 
  #4  
Old 07-18-17, 08:43 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 60,726
Received 1,316 Votes on 1,216 Posts
You need to identify the lines in between. The domesticate hot water lines should only be at the storage tank. The lines from the tank thru the attic to the panels are just the solar heated water lines and should no longer be used or carry any water.

It's hard to tell from pictures what needs to be disconnected.
 
  #5  
Old 07-19-17, 02:38 AM
Gunguy45's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 21,113
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
I think you need to just set aside a whole day, turn off the main water supply and cut all that crap out of there. Get rid of the octopus of lines and the tank. You'll need to do it anyway, may as well start with a clean slate. Just identify the water inlet and the pipe that leads to the water heater first. Who knows, they may have had it plumbed to use only one or the other at times.

I could do that here if I wished. My water comes in at 85 degrees now that it's summer, a solar unit could easily raise it 40 more. Then switch back to NG heating when cooler weather comes.

As twisted around as that fitting is, I'd just cut it when you are ready to disconnect. Not like it's going to be usable again.

I'm not positive, but I think that valve assy directly on top of the tank with the black knob is a tempering valve. It makes sense because it connects cold water to the hot water out from the storage tank, which probably then flows to and through the propane heater. It kind of acts as the thermostat for the solar heated water.

Of course I could also have my head up my...well you know.
 
  #6  
Old 07-19-17, 10:51 AM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 104
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yes, I need to cut out the whole octopus. That was the plan when I jumped into this mess.
Only two pipes go from the solar system into the house proper. One is insulated and one isn't. Couldn't be simpler, right? But I went into the attic above the house and traced those 2 lines, and they go directly into the wall by the propane water heater. I was hoping for a manifold that would cut out the solar system, but no luck.
Now, I am completely confused. I have 2 lines, from the propane water heater, that go into the solar system. I don't have any idea where water is distributed throughout the house. I guess it must happen in a junction in the wall behind the propane heater, but without pulling down walls I don't think I'll ever know for sure.
Is it a good option to just cut the 2 lines going to the solar system and join them?
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: