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This is in response to jausten09, and Go Solar.

 

 

I started a new topic because this doesn't directly relate to the "thinking-about-solar" thread, but is relevant.

2 years ago we had a ultrasol water heater installed. A couple weeks ago, I noticed water dripping from the roof drain, upon further inspection, the tube seals were leaking.

I hired a guy to fix the leaks, my first mistake, he used silicone, it leaked worse after the repairs. I chose to repair myself. Removing 20 tubes, glued in with silicone is not a fun job, I broke several tubes in the process. After cleaning and inspecting the tubes, I noticed what appeared to be scale build up on the glass, in the area of the seal, and a score line, from the seal area to the end of the tube.After soaking the area in CLR overnight, scraping with a knife, this is NOT a scale build up, the area beneath the seal is etched and the score line is exactly that, a scratch line. An internet search, suggest these tubes are SUPPOSED to be borosilicate glass, a low iron and very hard, durable glass, like pyrex ware dishes and lab beakers. I reassembled the tubes, using new seals, and a bit of silicone grease, no leaks thus far. See the attached photo

Now the guessing begins.

My theory at this point, is that the heated water, in combination with the minerals, and the relative water stagnation in this area, has allowed the water to remain in contact with the tube, under the seal, for an extended amount of time, causing the etching. When the tube was removed the first time and the guy used silicone, the seals were cut by the minerals, silicone was applied and the majority of the silicone ended up at the END of the tube, not in the area of the seals, hence the improved leaking.

I have since then entered the rabbit hole of water treatment, attempting to learn the best, most cost effective method to reduce  the mineral content of the water. To begin I installed a whole house water filter, and ordered a TDS meter, we do have a water softener in use and that helps with reducing minerals, but evidently, not enough.

In closing I feel that while the PH factor may not be a major player in jausten09's issue, mineral content IS a player and combined with a high PH, indicating an acidic condition, the elevated temperatures of the water. are all contributing.

 

 

 

solar tube.jpg

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Update:

I had my water tested by a lab and it was 6.5.  A neighbor across the street has a similar system and no problem.  One company came and stated it was a faulty manifold in the tank.

Any ideas, since Thermosol refuses to maintain it at all and it will start leaking again as it had done in the past.  They will not honor the warranty which does state that if the water is

under 6.5, that voids the warranty.

 

jausten

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On 4/7/2018 at 7:08 AM, mexjerry said:

In closing I feel that while the PH factor may not be a major player in jausten09's issue, mineral content IS a player and combined with a high PH, indicating an acidic condition, the elevated temperatures of the water. are all contributing.

A PH of 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic above 7 is alkaline. Do you mean your water is acidic or alkaline? 

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If the silicone applications start leaking again,  then it confirms that silicone greases are not designed to seal underwater in harsh hot conditions for years.  Instead,  the old standby of wax is designed to seal under water for years-to-decades.   That's why wax gaskets are used to seal toilets for decades, and why silicone is not used for that harsh application.

If you have to remove the tubes again, due to leaks,  then thoroughly clean off any silicone residues,  and then coat the rubber gaskets with wax from a good quality toilet seal,  and apply a thin coating of the same wax to the glass, down to cover the part of the tube that touches~seals with the rubber.   Fortunately, this method not only protects the rubber seals from the slightly acidic, very-hot  water,  but it also protects the glass.

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On 5/10/2018 at 6:39 AM, mexjerry said:

Well, silicone grease is good for temps to 500 F, wax rings maybe 120 F.


Theory vs. the real world     versus personal guesses:
What does Jerry's   " maybe 120F "     mean? ... It sounds like a pure guess. ...

Reality?   Current wax toilet-seal rings are made of a heavy (high melting point) petroleum based wax, with special polyurethane additives, that far outperform Jerry's guesses.

Even if you got a natural beeswax ring by accident,  the normal temperature of the inside of a bee hive is 100º F (surpisingly close to Jerry's guess of  'imagined degradation at his "120F")   ...  Bees wax's actual flash temperature is  400º F,  and the modern petroleum waxes  w/polyurethane perform even better.

We've had very good results with modern bowl gasket wax as a lubricant~sealant on three different glass tube water heaters for years,  while the OP's experience proves that  silicone  doesn't work - leaks - on the OP's glass tube water heater.

mexjerry:  How many of these heaters have you  installed using modern sealant wax ,     or silicone?   

How many of these heaters do you own,  on which some installer  used silicone?

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Appears there might be some confusion, the OP mentioned this:

 "Removing 20 tubes, glued in with silicone is not a fun job, I broke several tubes in the process."

GLUED IN.....yep, that would make it pretty tough to remove them.  

  

 

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