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Thread: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

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    el_steak's Avatar
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    Unhappy First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    After 6 years of trouble free solar heating, I got my first leak today.

    It's a slow drip leak, no spraying. It is coming from under one of the 3 long seams in the panel. There's no leak under the panel, just on the top.

    Unlike the tubular type solar panels, you can't just plug one of the square channels in a techno-solis panel, so I'm kind of stuck with that. For now, I've diverted water away from the panels to avoid damaging the roof. I'm thinking I might try to apply a generous amount of silicone to the seam and see if that helps. I've had good luck last year using black engine-gasket type silicone to fix a leak coming from a crack in my filter valve.

    Any other ideas?



    Here are the panels when they were just installed 6 years ago:

    14X24 ig vinyl pool 3ft-4 1/2ft deep - 7000 gal
    Aqua Genie skimmer and return - no main drain, 1 hp hayward pump, 27" Hayward filter with Zeobrite,
    Aqua Logic P4 controller + SWG, 2 lights
    192 square feet of solar panels controlled by P4, 5KW electric heater (just in case...)

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    There has been some talk online of using plastic welding and a sacrificial piece of panel material to patch these TechnoSolis panels.

    Ike

    here is a link http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...r-Panel-repair
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

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    el_steak's Avatar
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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    Thanks Ike, I see you have the same type of panels as me.

    The DIY plastic welding trick seems like a good approach and I'll give it a try. The leak is coming from under that piece of seam material which I'm not sure is plastic itself so I might not be as successful. Still worth a try. It's raining now and going to be for the next couple of days, but I'll reply to this thread with my success/failure info once I get a chance to try a fix.

    Other than that the panels have been reliable so far (and very effective). I did have a leak at one of the couplings last year, but tightening up the screws on the clamps fixed it.
    14X24 ig vinyl pool 3ft-4 1/2ft deep - 7000 gal
    Aqua Genie skimmer and return - no main drain, 1 hp hayward pump, 27" Hayward filter with Zeobrite,
    Aqua Logic P4 controller + SWG, 2 lights
    192 square feet of solar panels controlled by P4, 5KW electric heater (just in case...)

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    el_steak's Avatar
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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    It's fixed!

    Thanks Ike for directing me to the plastic welding thread.

    After a bit of googling, I found out that the Technosolis (and Vortex) panels are made of polypropylene (PP). Glue, epoxy, silicone and other adhesives do not bond really well with Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PE). There are some primers available, but with the water pressure, expansions/contractions and UV exposure that the panels are submitted to, I don't think that this would work or last.

    Luckily for me, the leak was at the seam between 2 "sections" of the panel, and this seam is covered by a mesh-like material that itself is made of polypropylene.

    Here's what I did:

    1- shut off the pump and drain the panels completely
    2- watch a couple of "plastic welding" videos on YouTube
    3- clean the leak area with alcohol
    4- install a large flat tip to one of my soldering irons (60W)
    5- carefully run the iron over the seam to melt it and fuse it with the underlying panel area
    6- start the pump
    7- celebrate my success with a cold beer

    Here's what it looks like now:





    I was lucky that the leak was under that seam, at the bottom of the panel (easily accessible) and on top of it.

    If your leak is not under the seam like mine, you can cut out long strips of plastic from the edges of the panels to use as extra material for the welding.

    I'll follow up if it starts leaking again.
    Last edited by el_steak; 05-22-2014 at 07:50 PM. Reason: added picture
    14X24 ig vinyl pool 3ft-4 1/2ft deep - 7000 gal
    Aqua Genie skimmer and return - no main drain, 1 hp hayward pump, 27" Hayward filter with Zeobrite,
    Aqua Logic P4 controller + SWG, 2 lights
    192 square feet of solar panels controlled by P4, 5KW electric heater (just in case...)

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    Can you post a photo of the tool you used

    Ike
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

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    el_steak's Avatar
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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    I used a cheap no-name 60w iron and a hammer head tip with a large flat spot. The hammer head tip is designed to solder battery cells end-to-end. It worked fine for this job, but I think pretty much any tip with a large flat surface would do.



    I had to do some touch ups the next day however. In the morning, when the panels were cold, some tiny drops of water would slowly form in 3 spots. Not enough to leak on the roof, but still annoying. I tried to heat is up and melt it again, but it only made things worse. I dug into the recycling bin for some PP plastic (recycle code #5) and found some in an discarded margarine tub. I cut some strips and melted them over the leaking area. It seems to have done the trick (for now).
    14X24 ig vinyl pool 3ft-4 1/2ft deep - 7000 gal
    Aqua Genie skimmer and return - no main drain, 1 hp hayward pump, 27" Hayward filter with Zeobrite,
    Aqua Logic P4 controller + SWG, 2 lights
    192 square feet of solar panels controlled by P4, 5KW electric heater (just in case...)

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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    This thread just saved me the cost of a 4*10 panel. I have read around about plastic welding but before this one I had no proof this could really work on solar panels.

    This Weekend, I fixed two leaks in 11 y.o. Techno-Solis panel. At first I used a margarine #5 plastic container as welding material. It did not work perfectly. The two materials had not the same elasticity. I ended up cutting most of it out. For my second try, I cut small strips of material from the side of the panel. There is easily enough for a couple of fixes. The native material worked well. (It took 3-4 tries to have the leak completely sealed.)

    I used a butane welding Iron with a hot knife tip.

    I also noticed it is easier to dig in the leak and put material inside it rather than put a large patch over it.

    Also, I patched the panel directly on the roof. Not having a vacuum valve, when the pump stops, air will try to get in by the hole. Welding in those few minutes will make things easy since the molten plastic will try to get inside the leak.

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    el_steak's Avatar
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    Re: First Solar Panel Leak After 6 years

    Quote Originally Posted by barbu1977 View Post
    This thread just saved me the cost of a 4*10 panel. I have read around about plastic welding but before this one I had no proof this could really work on solar panels.
    I'm glad it worked for you as well!

    The repair on mine is holding up, not a drop of water on the roof since the fix and a pool that reached close to 90 degrees last weekend

    I wish I had known about plastic welding before, there are so many plastic things (especially toys) that I could have easily fixed instead of tossing them in the recycling bin.
    14X24 ig vinyl pool 3ft-4 1/2ft deep - 7000 gal
    Aqua Genie skimmer and return - no main drain, 1 hp hayward pump, 27" Hayward filter with Zeobrite,
    Aqua Logic P4 controller + SWG, 2 lights
    192 square feet of solar panels controlled by P4, 5KW electric heater (just in case...)

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