System Maintenance Tips

Posted on Aug 16, 2023 in Main
It is important to take care of your installed improvements to ensure their effectiveness, lifespan, and to avoid repair or replacement costs. Maintenance requirements may differ system by system, and you should consult your contractor and system manual for specific maintenance requirements and suggestions.
Photo of photovoltaic panel installation

PV System

PV Systems contain complex electrical parts, and maintenance should be left up to experts for the most part. However, regular monitoring is a great way to prevent future repair and replacement costs, and to ensure that your system is effectively providing (and storing) solar energy.

Preventive maintenance should be scheduled on a regular interval based on environmental conditions, which you will need to determine with your contractor.


However, as PV systems require specialized training, equipment, and certification for operation and management, the best way to ensure your system is functioning correctly is to regularly check your monitoring system, and contact your contractor in the case of any major changes. Ask your contractor which key performance indicators can best help you to determine if your system is functioning, or when there is a problem.


When a contractor conducts preventative or corrective maintenance, they may need to check your electrical system, interver, roof condition, ballast or raft, ground mount, tracking mount, environmental conditions, and more.


If you have a storage system installed, your contractor will also need to check additional power inverters, controllers, surrounding temperature and humidity, and battery colling system.

(National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Best Practices for Operation and Maintenance of Photovoltaic and Energy Storage Systems, 2018)

Here are some tips on what to do when checking your system’s functionality:

  • Panel shading: if your panels are in the shade or not receiving direct sunlight at any point of a sunny day, consult with your solar contractor if you need to have nearby branches trimmed, or if changes to your roof are necessary.
  • Panel soiling: dust and litter may periodically obstruct your panels, but in most environments, rain will be able to wash these obstructions off. In dusty environments, areas near the ocean with air that leaves salt deposits, and during dry periods without rain, you may need to have your panels cleaned with distilled water. Panels should be cleaned at least once a year, either by rain or by a professional. 
  • System monitoring: periodically check to ensure that your system’s monitoring system is connected to the internet and familiarize yourself with how to use your monitoring system to check if it is working correctly.

(Solar Energy Industries Association, “Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Energy,” 2023)

Solar Thermal system

Solar thermal systems require periodic inspections and maintenance to operate efficiently. Your system should be inspected by a professional every 3-5 years (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2003), but keeping an eye out for early trouble is a great way to prevent expensive damage.


Work requiring ladders, walking on roofs, soldering, heat, or cutting trees should be performed by a professional, who provides a cost estimate before performing work. 

Regular check-ups:

  • Collector shading: check if your panels are in the shade at any point in the day, particularly if there is new construction or vegetation growth that wasn’t there at the time of installation.
  • Collector soiling: check if waste from birds or dust is collecting on your panels. You may need to get them cleaned if rain is not sufficient to rinse the waste off. 
  • Glazing and seals: check if there are cracks in your panels and if any coating appears to be unsealed or yellowed
  • Plumbing, ductwork, and wiring: check for fluid leaks at pipe connections, duct connections, and seals. Ducts and wiring connections should be tight (Note: your heater’s plumbing system requires the same maintenance as a conventional plumbing system (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2003))
  • Piping, duct, and wiring insulation: check that valves are in their proper operating position, and that insulation covering your system is not damaged 
  • Roof penetration: watch for any signs of water leakage or damage to sealants
  • Support structures: check for any loose nuts and bolts attaching your system to its support structure, and watch for any corrosion on steel parts. Corrosion may need to be cleaned and painted
  • Pumps: listen to see if your water pump turns on when the sun is shining on your panels in the mid-morning, to ensure your controller and pump are working correctly
  • Controls: if your pump is not working correctly, check if the temperature sensors on your collector outlet and at the bottom of the tank are securely fastened with a lug or clamp.
  • Storage systems: check storage tanks for cracks, leaks, rust, or other signs of corrosion

Tank flushing: periodically remove sediment from your storage tank by flushing the liquid inside


Anode replacement: if you have a steel storage tank, ask your contractor if it has a ‘sacrificial anode’ which will have to be periodically replaced, and keep track of when your anode is due for replacement.


For more information on solar heater maintenance, please visit the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website here.