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system evaluation, who does it?

cryt Member Posts: 3
Our condo association uses an old Ford stone-lined solar water heating system. The system was installed around 1985 or so, and appears to be showing some signs of aging.  One tank may be 'sagging' a bit, for example.

Our condo association owns a three unit  building in Cambridge, MA.  We would like to get our system evaluated --- is it likely to fail, what would any useful repairs cost, and so forth.

Who can we ask to do that kind of evaluation work?  Is it something a regular plumber can do, or is it more of a question for a specialized engineer?

We would appreciate advice about  how to handle this situation.


  • matt_sunwaysolar
    matt_sunwaysolar Member Posts: 61
    Solar Thermal Contractors

    In my opinion, you should find a solar thermal contractor with good experience and some history in the industry. In my experience as a solar thermal designer/ installer, engineers do not have much practical understanding of the ins and outs of these systems. Similarly, a plumber may be a great plumber, but have no idea how to troubleshoot the "solar specific" side of the system.

    A good place to look is NABCEP.org, where you can find a list of Solar Thermal Contractors who are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners in solar thermal installations. The certification calls for a thorough combination of experience, training and ability to pass a content/troubleshooting exam.

    You may be able to find a plumbing contractor who is also NABCEP-certified in solar thermal installations as well.

    In your case, because this is an existing system, I think the value of an experienced solar thermal contractor is important. Experience in troubleshooting an old system in particular is something that a seasoned solar thermal contractor should be able to provide with relative ease due to prolonged experience in the industry. They will understand the common "failure points" and intricacies that go along with the systems more fully.
  • cryt
    cryt Member Posts: 3

    Thanks  for the information.  It's hard to know where to look for help if you are unfamiliar with the trade.  
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,302
    two ideas.

    I looked up the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEiA) and found they list  solar contractors in Massachusetts. http://www.seia.org/cs/membership/member_directory   If that doesn't work, get a copy of Solar Hot Water Systems, Lessons Learned by Tom Lane.  It will help.

    Yours,  Larry
  • JamieLeef
    JamieLeef Member Posts: 13
    Thermal installer

    Hey - Please call me at S+H Construction. We are your local NABCEP certified thermal installers based here in sunny Cambridge MA. We have many installs in the area and I would be happy to take a look at the system. 617-876-8286

  • cryt
    cryt Member Posts: 3
    Great info

    I appreciate the help.  Thanks for the quick responses.
This discussion has been closed.