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Solar Water Heater Repair Cost

Solar Water Heater Repair Cost

National average
$200 - $750
(replacement of thermostat and heater element)
Low: $50 - $150

(replacement of faulty valves and conductor rod)

High: $800 - $1,300

(repair faulty valve leakage and replacement of solar water heater)

Cost to repair a solar water heater varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from solar energy contractors in your city.

The average cost of repairing a solar water heater is $200 to $720.

In this guide

Heating problems
Loose panels
Leaking
Water heater not working at full capacity
Problems in the circulating pump
Broken glass
Noise
Freeze damage
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to repair a solar water heater?

Maintaining and repairing a solar water heater is important to guarantee an uninterrupted hot water supply for you and your family. Regularly scheduled maintenance usually includes lubrication of parts, replacement of antifreeze and corroded parts, cleaning of solar collectors for maximum efficiency, and repair of blemished or bent connectors, among other tasks.

Regular maintenance is, therefore, a way to extend the life of your solar water heater. While some of the inspections and maintenance tasks are DIY, others may require a qualified technician.

The average cost to repair a 50-gallon solar water heater that is suitable for two people ranges between $200 and $750.

Heating problems

The average cost to repair a solar water heater with heating problems is between $270 and $650. If your solar water heater does not provide enough hot water or no hot water at all, these heating problems might have different causes, such as:

Heat loss

Your solar water heating system could be losing too much heat. To fix this, solar professionals might provide insulation blankets. They will also insulate the pipes and seal all the joints, tank, and pipe.

Faulty sensor wires

Sensor wires could be reversed, connections loose, or controllers faulty. To fix this, the technician will tighten all loose connections, clean and seal exposed areas, and connect the sensor wires properly.

Wrong orientation

Having an improper solar panel orientation means that there could be too many hours of shade from trees, affecting the efficiency of the solar panels. The technician will check if the solar panels are properly oriented and remove or trim the vegetation obstructing the system’s sun exposure.

Leaking

The thermostat 1 of the backup heating element could be damaged or set too low. The technician will replace the thermostat 1 and other components to prevent leaking.

Problems with the collector

The collector could have low system pressure or flow blockage. The technician will assess the pressure gauge and flush the system if the flow is blocked.

Mineral buildup

Another cause of water that is not hot enough is mineral buildup in the water heater tank, which also causes blockage. The technician will replace the corroded piping, ensure that the isolation valves are open, and flush the buildup of minerals to remove the blockage.

Broken elements

The mixing valve or auxiliary heater could be broken. The technician will replace these components.

Loose panels

If your solar panels have not been installed properly, they could come loose. Regular inspection and maintenance of solar panels is important to ensure that there is no damage. Refitting of loose panels should never be attempted by inexperienced homeowners because there is an increased possibility of damaging the panels beyond repair. To keep the solar water heaters firmly in place, a qualified technician will check the panels to ensure that these elements do not loosen to the point of malfunction. The technician will also tighten or refasten the screw fixings and install additional ones if necessary. If the panels are loose because of corroded fixes, then the professional will replace these fixings with new ones.

The average cost of repairing loose solar panels is around $100 to $150 per hour.

Leaking

There are many different causes of leaking, and the costs to fix your water heater varies depending on the difficulty of each repair:

CausesSolutionsCosts
Damaged temperature and pressure relief valve

Replace the faulty valve with a new

T&P valve or replace the seal

$20-$180
Pipe bursts due to freezing or excessive pressure within the systemReplace faulty pipes$50-$240
Leaks in the pipe fittings at the connections and during the thermal expansionTighten the loose connections$30-$100
Corrosion and rusting in the water tankReplace the water heater$800- $1,250


Water heater not working at full capacity

Solar panels must work at 80% capacity or greater for water to be heated to the maximum temperature. If the capacity of the solar panels drops below that threshold, replacements or repairs are needed. In fact, low-efficient solar water heaters increase energy bills whereas highly efficient water heaters minimize the energy bills by almost 20% and warm your water faster.

Solar water heater professionals will inject foam insulation between the water collector and its outer membrane for increased heat retention. Other components that a technician may recommend replacing would be glass liners for making water tanks less prone to corrosion. For increasing efficiency, a new conventional storage unit could also be recommended.

The average cost of repairing a water heater that is not working at full capacity is between $170 and $280.

Problems in the conductor rod

The conductor rod in a solar heater may be damaged due to sediment buildup or corrosion. These factors cause it to malfunction. It is a good idea to check this rod regularly. If it looks worn down, it needs replacement. Replacing the rod in a water heater before it fails slows down the corrosion inside.

The average cost of replacing a damaged conductor rod with a new one is between $25 and $70.

Problems in the circulating pump

ProblemsSolutionsCosts
Locked up impeller or damaged motor windingReplace the circulating pump 2$500-$750
The circulating pump runs continuously or not at all

The solar controller is faulty due to voltage

surges, corrosion, a short circuit, or lighting.

Replace the faulty solar controller

$100-$300

Debris blocking the pumpClean the pump and remove the debris$20-$100
ThermosiphoningReplace the check valve$25-$70


Broken glass

The major problem with solar panels is broken glass due to solar cells that are not protected from moisture. This moisture can lead to possible corrosion within the solar panels and even cause further damage to the system. This break in the glass can negatively impact a panel’s ability to collect energy from the sun.

There are two possible solutions. One is the replacement of only the glass and costs around $150. The other is the replacement of the entire solar panel, which would cost about $400.

Noise

Types of noiseReasonsPotential solutions
Crackling, popping, and rumblingMineral deposit and sediment buildup at the bottom of your water tank

Regulate flushing of the water heater

($90-$220)

HummingThe vibration of the electric heating element

Tighten the heating element

($90-$140)

Singing, screaming, or screechingWater flow forced through a small opening

Check the valves

($90-$220)

Ticking or tappingPressure fluctuations in the plumbing

Replace the heat trap with an ordinary dielectric nipple

($5-$15)

Knocking or hammeringWater flowing through the household plumbing is abruptly shut off

Install a water hammer arrester

that can absorb the shock wave

when water flow is abruptly stopped

($40)


Freeze damage

The greatest risk to a solar water heating system, which uses liquids like water as heat transfer fluids, is freezing. Freezing occurs when the temperatures fall below 32 degrees. The water collector supply and return pipes are more vulnerable to freezing, especially if they are running through an unheated space or outside. Freezing causes the pipes to expand and burst and could damage the water heater.

For protecting the collector and piping from damage due to freezing temperatures, there are two solutions:

  • Use an antifreeze solution (ethylene glycol or propylene glycol) as the heat-transfer fluid.
  • Drain the collector(s) and collector loop(s), either automatically or manually, when there is a possibility that the temperatures might fall below the liquid's freezing point.

The average cost for repairing freeze damage ranges between $100 and $500. The professional will address the freezing issue by inserting foam covers over outdoor spigots, insulating the water pipes. Another product that a qualified technician can recommend is a built-in 3 thermostat 1, which is designed to heat the pipes when temperatures fall to near freezing.

Additional considerations and costs

  • The efficiency of solar panels is reduced on cloudy days and produce around a third of their typical electricity output. This does not mean that the solar water heater is broken.
  • There is not much that can be done to avoid the risk of condensation on the glass of the solar panel. In many cases, the condensation goes away with a little heat from the sun that warms the glass enough to evaporate the moisture. The homeowner needs to ensure that adequate ventilation is maintained to minimize any risk of condensation.
  • Scaling occurs when a mineral film, which is formed of salts (calcium, magnesium, silica, aluminum, and iron), coats the entire surface of a heat exchanger. These salts are the impurities that reach the deposit site in a soluble state. They precipitate out of the water directly on surfaces that transfer heat or by suspended deposit in water precipitating on the metal and becoming hard and adherent. A few techniques to prevent the scale buildup from becoming a problem include:
    • Using a mild acidic solution, such as vinegar, through the collector.
    • Using water softeners 4.
    • Cleaning the heat exchanger surfaces with medium-grain sandpaper.
    • Flushing the hot water unit by draining it. This will remove particles floating in the tank.

FAQ

  • Why is my water heater overflowing?

An overflowing water heater may be caused by problems with the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR) when the temperature or pressure become dangerously high. Or perhaps because of thermal expansion when the element heats up and the volume of the water inside the tank expands, causing it to overflow.

  • Do solar panels leak water?

Well-installed solar panels should never cause leakage of water. However, if any leakage is identified, the culprits could be poor workmanship in the solar panel installation or a too old or damaged roof.​

  • Will solar panels ruin my roof?

Solar panels do not damage your roof if installed properly by a licensed and qualified professional. ​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Thermostat 1 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off
glossary term picture Pump 2 Pump: A device used to move air, liquid, or gas by mechanical means
glossary term picture Built-in 3 Built-in: An item of furniture, such as a bookcase or set of cabinets, that is built directly into the structure of the room. Built-ins are therefore customized to the room and not detachable
glossary term picture Water Softener 4 Water softeners: A device that reduces the amount of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals in water using ion exchange

Cost to repair a solar water heater varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Solar water heater panel and heating collector on a house roof

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albany, NY
+17%
Anaheim, CA
+21%
Athens, GA
-9%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Broomfield, CO
-6%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Corona, CA
+19%
Daly City, CA
+51%
Davenport, FL
-15%
Dayton, OH
-7%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Elk Grove, CA
+6%
Fairview, NC
-21%
Folsom, CA
+6%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Gresham, OR
+8%
Hanapepe, HI
+31%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irvine, CA
+23%
Lafayette, IN
-10%
Lewisville, NC
+10%
Lodi, CA
+4%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Lubbock, TX
-22%
Menifee, CA
-6%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
O Fallon, MO
-1%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orange, MA
-8%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Pawtucket, RI
+12%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Placentia, CA
+24%
Portland, ME
-4%
Pueblo, CO
-18%
Richardson, TX
+11%
Richmond, VA
+4%
Saint Petersburg, FL
-11%
San Diego, CA
+11%
San Jose, CA
+33%
Santa Fe, NM
-26%
Santa Rosa, CA
+8%
Simi Valley, CA
+1%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Tifton, GA
-27%
Troy, NY
+18%
Labor cost in your zip code
Last modified:   
Methodology and sources