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Thread: solar panel glass removal help

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member greggome2's Avatar
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    Jan 2011

    Default solar panel glass removal help

    I have a 4' x10' solar collector (active hot water system) on my roof that has a hole in one of the header pipes. I would like to remove the glass top to try to repair this myself as local companies want to charge me over $1300 to rebuild it! Having never tackled this before I am concerned the glass will be difficult to remove off a panel thats been up on the roof for 20+ years. I dont want to break the glass! Any suggestions, ideas or advice on this?

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member frankflynn's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Palo Alto, CA.


    If you panel is like mine (also an older solar hot water panel) I would say you problem is not that the glass is old and will spontaneously break but that the glass cover is very heavy and you might indeed break it if you loose control of it and is slides down the roof. Since I don't know anything about your roof I will suggest you get help, lot's of it and have a specific plan where the glass goes when you're working on it and what keeps it there while you're working on the panel. Also remember these things will get HOT on a sunny day. Try to start this early in the day when the panel is cool.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona


    A solar collector with damaged pipes is NOT an easy thing to repair. The glass is tempered so it is somewhat durable, but if it is a single piece, (most are split into two sections), it will be heavy, and ANY stress will reduce it to a jillion small glass beads. For their price they must be planning to install a new collector, which is what I would do.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member Hairyhosebib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010


    I repaired a couple of leaks on one of my panels. I have a pitched roof and I did it by myself too! Mine is probably the same size as yours too. The glass is very heavy! The glass and frame that holds it wraps over the edge of the cabinet the the piping is in. I removed all the screws. Then I think I picked it up at each top corner and was able to get a wire through the screw hole and tie it off somewhere and eased off the glass cover. Then the fun really begins! Making certain you have ample room to move around the panel without possibly losing your balance and stepping on that glass you will need to turn the water on and find the leak. This is not fun at all. The water will be very hot! There are narrow strips of thin metal painted black covering the tubing. Under that is some fiberglass insulation and the tubing under that is covered with thin fins much like the radiator in your car. You need to find the leak and remove the fins around it. It is probably 1/2" copper tubing. Get compression unions and replace the split part. Be sure to remove the ridge from the inside of the tubing where you cut it open and on your replacement piece. Home Depot sells a yellow handled deburing tool. It won't be an easy task but needs to be done so that the ridge in the pipe does not cause a leak later on. I'm no genius by any means. I think I replaced my water heater and turned the valve off to the panel and forgot to turn it back on. It was like that all winter and froze and broke two pipes. I happen to notice it the next summer and turned on the valve to discover the leaks. It really sucks when I'm causing my own problems and creating extra work! If an idiot like me can make the repair then you probably won't have a problem either.
    We had a hail storm come through the valley and I need to get my roof replaced. I'm not looking forward at all to having someone come and take those two panels off my roof. Usually when something like that gets disturbed it is usually turned into instant crap!! I would really hate not having them! I have been putting this off just because of the headache it is going to cause me. My swamp cooler needs to come down and my heat pump too. I think I can just fin comb the damage to the heat pump. I have seen some where the fins were all completely beat flat from the hail. Mine faces South.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member rogerd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Blog Entries


    Same problem with solar heater at my dad's home. My father was an early convert to solar heating and had it installed over 15 years ago. There is condensation in the underside of the glass pane and the water isn't really getting hot as it used to. Debating between getting it repaired to getting it replaced. There is still another 5 years left in its life-span if we go by what the seller promised long ago. But, I am tempted by the new technologies and want to try them out. Still debating. If you repair goes off smoothly I might just bite the bullet and repair mine!!
    Roger D

    Invest In Solar Energy For Free Electricity -Learn More On Home Solar Panels

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member buhrly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Bend, Oregon

    Default Solar repair

    If possible it would be better to remove the panel from the roof. This will make removing the glass and repair much easier. This will also make it possible to air test the panel and make sure all the leaks have been repaired.


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