Thursday, November 5, 2009

Changing the Antifreeze in the Solar Water Heating Panels! (On the Roof!)

(Yes, I was up there! Right at the top, holding a funnel for Dad to pour the new liquid in after he poured the old one out at the low left corner of the solar panels!)

Today, Dad and I changed the antifreeze liquid in the solar water heating panels on the roof.
We've had them for almost two decades and they're fabulous! Hot water for free even in Winter! (On sunny days!)

Still, they're not completely eco friendly. That green antifreeze liquid looks suspicious! (And has to be bought and changed when necessary.)

Dad has scientific methods for when it's necessary. He pours out some existing liquid and if it freezes in the freezer - it's necessary!

I thought changing the antifreeze was a 'routine operation', and honestly, never thought much about it before this.
It was one of the things that 'Dad did'.

But this year more liquid needed changing, and Dad had some suspicious methods in mind!

So today I got woken up by an argument - Mum and Dad quarrelled if he can use the cannikins used to water the plants or not!

If Mum gets upset over Dad's iffy practices, of course there's probably a call for action!

So I nagged my way into helping him!

He was furious and didn't let me.

I'm not one for 'men's jobs or 'women's' jobs, basically, what needs to be done, needs to be done - frankly, I'm more of a tomboy and prefer doing 'Dad stuff' lol!
But it never even occurred to him to invite me with!

We both love it on the roof, the sun is wonderful and the view is fabulous!
(Dad said he was thinking about setting up a 'room'/opazovalnico there - to escape the crazy women if they get too cranky, lol!)

At first he was really furious at me for 'meddling' (I didn't let him use more than one cannikin for pouring the possibly toxic antifreeze! & he accused me of 'complicating'! We use them to water edible plants!) Well, later on it turned out his injured left hand thumb was not completely cured yet, and he was thankful for the help. Also, two people do stuff easier than one.

And two people can get much better ideas than one alone. I lamented my hands getting wet in the funnelling process (did you know antifreeze liquid can regurgitate like little babies, and spit the green nasty stuff back at ya?!) thought about using some cloth to 'mop up' - and Dad came up with the excellent idea to put some string or wool on the cannikin to prevent spillage. It worked!
(He said he observed something similar in pubs! To prevent wine from spilling from bottles! Excellent idea, it was much easier then, and my cold fingers really appreciated it!)

He was always left alone cause Mom doesn't get on the roof (later she said she used to get dizzy, I know Sis doesn't like the heights either and gets scared of them.)

I'm not so strong, but I can be very badass! (read: stubborn!)
And I love the heights, such a clear view to down below!

Some shingles needed replacing, so he replaced them. And I watched, like a good apprentice. In any case, it's good if a few people know how to do this so you don't need to hire outside help if needed.

So we fished some shingles out of the cobwebs (my left arm is stronger than I thought!), and Dad put some sillicone where there was risk of leakage (yes, it looks like a gun, lol!)

I even had the idea to put sillicone on 'future holes' (mini holes that could turn into major holes whereupon the shingle would need replacing. Not particularly eco either, but I didn't fancy the idea of water leaking over my head either.. & replacing all the shingles would surely be more costly and resource-intensive too!)
Dad liked it and so we checked the roof for possible holes together (his eyesight is not so good anymore, and he appreciated the help!)

He even bragged about me helping him to the neighbours! lol! :)

So, things to plan for next year: actually schedule this and not be surprised mid-sleep! (My Dad is an EARLY riser!)
Have things prepared ahead, including easy access to the shingles and tools needed.
Think out the cans and cannikins available and what could be used. (Previously, Dad had re-used old plastic bottles, but with more quantity this year, he was afraid he couldn't mix the old and new liquid so well in just plastic bottles.)
I still hope to refine the process somehow to make it more eco-friendly. Or get a more innocent-looking antifreeze? Does natural eco antifreeze exist?

There are systems without antifreeze. Our neighbour uses pure water (which is most eco!) and simply turns off the solar water heating in winter! (And uses more wood for heating, which is not so eco: since everybody uses wood for heating here again cause oil is costly, the air here is quite BAD, especially in the evening!)

Dad said there are systems that involve just water and work through the winter too - they involve a small electric pump (45W or so) Maybe now there are even better systems, if you're buying a new one, definitely worth checking out!
(It also depends on roof angles and panel angles etc. whether a pump is needed or not, we don't need it, but the current system relies on antifreeze for the winter.)

And yes, once we descended and I was left to mop the floow, I admit my legs were a bit wobbly, but probably due to kneeling and mopping the floor, methinks!;)
/I really hate such 'householderly' duties! Couldn't really trust him to mop up well though, either!)

Do you or your relatives/friends use a solar water heating system - and if so, what kind? (With or without antifreeze?) If not, what kind were you thinking of buying? ;)


  1. Ha I im tomboy-ish too! I used to beg my dad to let me help him in the garage, I assured him I could fix it better than he could :)

  2. Wow, thats so impressive and DEFINATELY badass!!

    I'm so jealous of your solar panels - they're deinfately on my wishlist...I didn't realise some had to have antifreeze in them, a quick google throws up a couple of eco friendly options, but I think they're probably expensive/shipped in from somewhere far away (which is a whole different problem!) Let us know if you find anything more eco, I'd like to know for future reference for when I have my own shiney solar panels!

  3. WOW, Mrs Misadventure - did you actually get to fix things in the garage?!!
    I find I have to nag and brag at my Dad too.. And then he's actually very happy and proud! It's really odd!!
    I think I'll have to nag my way into the garage too, as I never just get invited, even if I've asked him before!!

    Sooz, great to hear you want solar panels too!!
    Were you thinking about water heating panels or those producing electricity? (Or both? Not sure if there's a 2-in-1 solution yet?)

    I *SO* want solar panels to generate electricty too, they're sort of expensive though and we don't have those! (And it's necessary to get the ones that get produced eco and ethically and can be recycled!)
    I suppose you need to ask a lot of questions and research exactly how they are made..

    There was a discount or incentive for solar water heating panels at the time, so Dad and our neighbour got them! I don't think the internet existed back then, it's probably much more easy to research things now!

  4. Solar panels are top of my list when we get our own house. However, it's pretty unlikely that I'd be up there dealing with! My badass eco skills do not include rooftop work. ;) I love how much you love it though!

  5. I'm not big on the concept of "woman or man's jobs" either, because like you said if it needs to be done it needs to be done! The idea of the solar panel is great, I'm waiting for my house to get older and htings started to need to get fixed before I modify it hehe. And you're soo funny, I'm not a fan of Brad Pitt either. Well I mean, I guess he was kind of hot in "meet joe black" but other than that I don't find him attractive at all... LOL

  6. I am in love with your blog! You go girl!

  7. This eco tip just pinged into my email inbox and I thought of you!

    Green screen

    Prevent windscreen fluid from freezing up on cold winter nights by mixing one part water with two parts white vinegar and filling the reservoir with the blend. This should keep the system free of ice crystals in cold conditions, enabling you to clean muddy windscreens in the morning.

    Best Wishes, Rita @ Friends of the Earth

  8. WOW Sooz!! Thanks for the tip!! :)

    I wonder if it's okay for any 'equipment' (sounds quite acidic!) Well, this year the antifreeze is in, hopefully for next year perhaps? (gotta find out what the 'infrastructure' is made of and if it rusts or something!)

    Indy, great to see you here!! :)

    Julia, at least *try* getting on the roof sometime - if you're not exactly dizzy from heights (and even that can be worked on perhaps?) it's FAB up there!!

    PopChampagne, I know what you mean with modifying when needed - that's actually quite zero waste too! (People too often throw away perfectly good things! Hopefully they do recycle or freecycle them!) And lol about Brad Pitt - he was maybe hot in Meet Joe Black but wasn't he a bit, uhm, boring? ;)

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