Could use some opinions on this, because I honestly don't know which
way to go here...
The house that I've recently purchased has a solar hot water preheater
feeding a conventional gas water heater. The solar panel portion of
the preheater appears to be in good shape, BUT the install leaves
something to be desired. It's cantilevered off the railing of the deck
behind the house, and it's actually physically pulling the railing
over. I've got it propped up with a 2x6 for now but it will need to be
pulled back into position with a come-along and properly braced at some
point in the future if it is to remain.
Now tonight I was downstairs painting some car parts in the laundry
room and noticed some seepage coming out from below the tank of the
preheater. I removed the insulation blanket from around the tank and
found that apparently the liner has completely failed and the only
thing holding the water back is the metal wall of the tank itself,
which has some pinholes in it. To make matters worse, whoever
installed it did not install the appropriate valves to allow the solar
unit to be bypassed (so that the gas fired heater would be fed directly
from the cold water line.) So I can't shut the thing off without
killing all hot water to the house.
I'm tempted to just call a plumber and have the appropriate valves
installed to bypass it, and leave it bypassed until spring since I'm
thinking it's probably of dubious value in the winter. The question
is, is it really worth it to have the tank replaced, or is the whole
solar thing a bit of misguided ecological wishful thinking on the part
of the house's previous owners?
The tank appears to be a standard electric water heater tank with the
heating elements replaced with copper loops which circulate what I
assume is an antifreeze solution that runs between the tank and the
panel outside. There's a small electric circulation pump on a timer
that runs during daylight hours.
We did get a "home warranty" with the new house but I am wondering if
they will actually cover this unit since it is not the primary hot
water heater. I will find out in the AM, I suppose.
In light of the fact that the tank has failed and the panel is causing
issues that will need to be rectified - what would you do? FWIW the
piping etc. and the panel itself appear to be in good shape. I feel
like I need to do something right away, as it's seeping now and I can't
imagine that it will ever get better, nor even stay the same for long.