Solar Plumbing Leak Repair Help

yblaser

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2010
46
Torrance, CA
I have a smallish leak where my vacuum breaker screws in. Initially I thought it was just leaking past the threads but finally realized that the reducer where the breaker screws in is cracked. The reducer also appears to be glued into the elbow.

How do I go about fixing this?

I could cut out the reducer and try to drill out the elbow but I don't have the tool for that and I worry my chances for success would be low.

I could replace the whole assembly but is that a proprietary connector where it attaches to the panel header? Do I have to call the panel manufacturer to get the part from them out are there resellers I can call? I believe this is a Suntrek system.

Thanks for the help!
 

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MSchutzer

Silver Supporter
Jan 15, 2021
194
Redwood City, Ca
Pool Size
10000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Are you sure the reducer is actually cracked. That pretty much looks like my vacuum relief valve. As the solar system turns on and off and the pressure changes on the vacuum relief valve and the valve might dribble water a little bit. Over time the salt tends to stain the outside of the valve white after the water evaporates. Over time this salt crud can build up on or near the valve seating surface causing a slight leak. Most of the time mine seals fine but occasionally I’ll notice a slow drip from the pipe it’s attached to. I have gone through a few vacuum relief valves over the 30 years the panels have been up there and they all occasionally dribbled and all ended up white and crusty after enough year.

If it is the valve seat dribbling you can always replace the vacuum relief valve, Watts and Eastman make valves for both 1/2” and 3/4” pipe threads and they aren’t very expensive. The Eastman valves are less than $20 dollars and just screw in with a pipe wrench.

Here’s a listing for the Eastman ones on Amazon:
 

yblaser

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2010
46
Torrance, CA
Are you sure the reducer is actually cracked. That pretty much looks like my vacuum relief valve. As the solar system turns on and off and the pressure changes on the vacuum relief valve and the valve might dribble water a little bit. Over time the salt tends to stain the outside of the valve white after the water evaporates. Over time this salt crud can build up on or near the valve seating surface causing a slight leak. Most of the time mine seals fine but occasionally I’ll notice a slow drip from the pipe it’s attached to. I have gone through a few vacuum relief valves over the 30 years the panels have been up there and they all occasionally dribbled and all ended up white and crusty after enough year.

If it is the valve seat dribbling you can always replace the vacuum relief valve, Watts and Eastman make valves for both 1/2” and 3/4” pipe threads and they aren’t very expensive. The Eastman valves are less than $20 dollars and just screw in with a pipe wrench.

Here’s a listing for the Eastman ones on Amazon:
Thanks for the response. Yeah unfortunately it is the reducer. When the system first comes on and the air is purging out of the system I can see bubbles coming out of where it is leaking.

The white stuff on the breaker is from the thread paste they used instead of Teflon tape when they installed the system. It got a little messy the first time I disassembled it.
 

CaptainCannonball

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
May 18, 2016
338
Woodland, Ca
Thanks for the response. Yeah unfortunately it is the reducer. When the system first comes on and the air is purging out of the system I can see bubbles coming out of where it is leaking.

The white stuff on the breaker is from the thread paste they used instead of Teflon tape when they installed the system. It got a little messy the first time I disassembled it.
I have a smallish leak where my vacuum breaker screws in. Initially I thought it was just leaking past the threads but finally realized that the reducer where the breaker screws in is cracked. The reducer also appears to be glued into the elbow.

How do I go about fixing this?

I could cut out the reducer and try to drill out the elbow but I don't have the tool for that and I worry my chances for success would be low.

I could replace the whole assembly but is that a proprietary connector where it attaches to the panel header? Do I have to call the panel manufacturer to get the part from them out are there resellers I can call? I believe this is a Suntrek system.

Thanks for the help!
I’d look around online and find the adapter, proprietary stuff can be expensive, but so can a leak 😄 Is this it?
 
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yblaser

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2010
46
Torrance, CA
I’d look around online and find the adapter, proprietary stuff can be expensive, but so can a leak 😄 Is this it?
Thanks so much. It looks like it could be, but I haven't removed the clamp to see what the piece looks like inside. The website you linked to looks like a good resource for these parts.

Turns out for unrelated reasons it looks like I need to have my roof replaced in the very near future so I am going to have to remove the panels from the roof and reinstall them. Thinking about doing it myself and if so I will get very familiar with those connections.
 

CaptainCannonball

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
May 18, 2016
338
Woodland, Ca
Thanks so much. It looks like it could be, but I haven't removed the clamp to see what the piece looks like inside. The website you linked to looks like a good resource for these parts.

Turns out for unrelated reasons it looks like I need to have my roof replaced in the very near future so I am going to have to remove the panels from the roof and reinstall them. Thinking about doing it myself and if so I will get very familiar with those connections.
I just did a quick google search for Heliocol parts so I’m not vouching for the site. I’m also not sure if diy will void the warranty. Might call just to see what it would cost to have a dealer uninstall and reinstall. Good luck 👍
 

yblaser

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2010
46
Torrance, CA
Just wanted to close out this thread with an update. I ended up needing to remove my pool solar panels to reroof in preparation for a solar PV install. I did the removal and install myself.

Since I was reroofing I wasn't too gentle with the uninstall. Removing the panel clamps from the roof pretty much tore the asphalt shingles off the roof due to the roof sealant under the clamps. I assume this was mostly due to the age of the shingles.

Instead of spending hours picking off the sealant and cleaning the clamps I just bought new ones included with their full installation kit at the website @CaptainCannonball posted above. Apparently I do have a heliocol system. Completely happy with the product and service they provided.

I just finished reinstalling the system a week ago. The heliocol system is pretty straight forward and there were no leaks on the first try. I did rebuild the vacuum breaker adapter that was leaking and have no leaks now.

Thanks all for the help. Looking forward to the summer