Mr. Fixit (Drip Drip Drip)

I’ve got five 6’ X 3’ solar panels on the roof that heat the cement pond in the winter. The people we bought the house from five years ago had a fire in the fireplace, a hot ember got out of the chimney and burnt a small hole in one of the panels, causing a drip. I pointed it out to the seller and he had some guy patch it with some black gooey stuff.

Five years later, it’s leaking again. I asked all of the pool stores in the area, and they say it can’t be patched, but they would be happy to reinstall a new panel for $800.

I know this can be fixed. I can’t figure out what I should use to do the patch though. I think the panels are a type of PVC. Water is pumped up to them and then it’s gravity fed to the pool, so pressure inside the panel is not very high.

I was thinking a simple patch kit similar to the kind used on beach balls and pool toys etc. would probably do the job, reinforced with a silicone sealant.

Any plumbers or pool techs or anyone else with solar heat knowledge have any ideas? I’ll buy you a beer. Thanks.


Construction of solar panels varies from brand to brand.

The one that I have come across most often consist of a back panel with a snake of tubing running over the face covered by a plexi top.

For this type, remove the plexi top, then splice a length of same material and size tubing. Be sure to follow proper joining methods for the type tubing, solder for copper, cement for pvc, bullet type connectors for polyethelyne and so on.

A small hose clamp over a strip of live rubber tape works well as a “temporary” repair.

If one of the tanks or an intergral component is leaking then sanding and patching with a suitable resin/glass compound would fill the bill.

Be sure to close the valve and drain the system before starting you repair attempt. It also might be a good idea to have that $800 handy if this is new to you, you may do more harm then good. But hey you had to replace it anyway right?

As a final note, be carefull up there on the roof, you may want to tie yourself off to a vent pipe or something solid.