Solar water heaters are the most sustainable water heating solution for your home, providing a free and sustainable heat source to your home's plumbing. However, like all major appliances and systems within your home, solar water heaters need to be properly maintained in order to continue operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. Thankfully, solar water heater maintenance isn't too complicated of a process.

Visual Inspection

Though this may seem like a minor thing to do, a visual inspection of your solar water heater and the associated systems is arguably the most important way to prevent damage and save you maintenance and repair time and money. You should inspect any exposed hot water pipes in your home, the area around your hot water tank, and areas around hot water fixtures and appliances for any signs of leaks, and contact a professional to have them examined and fixed immediately to prevent water damage within your home. Further, you should inspect your solar panels on your roof or in your yard for signs of exposed or damaged wiring, broken panels, or any other signs of physical damage which may require repair or replacement before they hinder the energy efficiency of your water heater.

Flushing the Tank

You should also flush your hot water tank at least once a year in order to remove built up sediment and dirt which may have accumulated within the tank. To do this, turn the circuit breaker powering your solar water heater off to make it safe to work on, and then unplug the power source to be doubly safe. Next, you should turn the water supply off to your water heater. Then, attach a hose to the faucet located at the bottom of the tank and take the other end to a drain or a bucket at a lower geographical point from the faucet. Turn the faucet on, and let the water drain completely out of the tank. Once the tank has drained, you'll want to turn the water supply back on for a minute or two to rinse the interior of the tank as well. Then, all you have to do is close the faucet and disconnect the hose, and allow your hot water tank to fill again before you can continue using hot water in your home as normal.

Clean the Solar Panels

If you're able to easily reach your solar panels without risk to yourself or the panels, you can clean them yourself, but if it would be precarious to get up onto your roof or around your panels, you may want to contact a professional instead. In general, you'll want to clean your solar panels on a day when it isn't hot out so that the water that you're using doesn't dry up too quickly. For dirt and general stains on solar panels, you can use a microfiber cloth and warm water to clean them off - avoid soaps and detergents, which can leave streaks and block sunlight. For oily substances and other hard to remove stains, you can use a microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol: just be sure to wipe down the area after with water to prevent the alcohol from damaging the surface of your panels.