never enough taps and ball valves
Wednesday, November 23 2005
Today would be a cold one, and already I'd had another fight with the supply lines to my solar panel, which were frozen again this morning. They'd had enough antifreeze in them to keep them from bursting, but I wanted fluid to flow through them. It didn't matter that the fluid in the panel was 170 degrees if a 16 foot thick ice dam stood between it in the basement.
I knew that it would only be getting colder, so I decided I'd have to bite the bullet and buy more propylene glycol antifreeze, this time entirely for the solar loop. I found the cheapest antifreeze of all was at Home Depot and cost a little over ten dollars a gallon. I bought six of them.
This evening and into the night I was up on the solar deck in the 25 degree nastiness pouring antifreeze down a plastic funnel. At a certain point I realized it wasn't making it past fresh new ice jams that had developed in both the panel and hoses, so I had to call it quits.
I did some more soldering work on the basement plumbing, adding a ball valve and a tap to the pipe carrying hot water down from the panel. The new spigot will allow me to install a temporary bypass hose between the input line and the output line so that when I pour antifreeze into one up on the deck, it will flow to the other and eventually rise high enough to give me an indication when the lines are completely full of fluid. I can also do other fun and pointless things, such as intercept the lines and redirect them into other hoses that I can run to some other solar panel or heating device nearer the basement. Or I can even connect the solar panel to a boiler zone and heat the great outdoors if I should ever feel an urge to throw away heating oil. I've discovered that you can never have enough taps and ball valves in a system of this complexity.
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