Dear Jim: Our swimming pool water is too chilly to use in early spring, I cannot afford the gas bills of a pool heater. By summer, the water gets too warm. Is a solar pool heater kit the answer?
- Peg H.
Dear Peg: Yes! Installing a do-it-yourself solar pool heating kit provides several months of additional pool use. Imagine doing laps in your 80-degree pool water when it's only 60 degrees outdoors on a sunny crisp fall or spring day. Don't forget a heavy robe when you get out - brrrr!
The beauty of low-cost solar swimming pool kits is their simplicity and high efficiency (up to 80 percent). Many kits use lightweight flexible collectors that are delivered to your house in a roll. These collectors can be mounted on the roof, a rack or even laid on the ground by the pool.
The kits include every part you need. Just roll the collector out on your roof (or on your driveway first), attach the headers and run the hoses or standard two-inch PVC pipe to your pool.
Some systems are glued (withstands 120-mph winds) on the roof so no holes are required. The thin collectors can barely be seen from the ground.
Your existing filter pump is used to move the pool water through the collector. The better models have automatic temperature sensors. These divert the pool water to the collector only when the collector is warmer than the pool water. You can override the sensor with a manual switch.
If your pool water gets too warm in the summer, operate the pump at night to naturally cool the water. Instead of absorbing heat, the pool water flowing through the collector gives off heat to the clear night sky.
Heating swimming pool water is the most cost effective use of solar heat. As compared to using a gas or oil pool heater, a low-cost do-it-yourself solar pool kit can pay back its cost in just a few years.
Several unique solar kits do not require collectors on your roof. One design, Solar Attic, uses a small fan and radiator inside your attic. By lowering the attic temperature, it may reduce your air-conditioning load, too.
Whenever your attic temperature is eight degrees warmer than the pool water, the fan runs to draw the hot attic air through the radiator, which heats the pool water. In effect, it uses your entire roof as a giant solar collector.
In another unique kit, the pool water flows through special hollow pool decking. The plastic deck transfers the sun's heat to the water. This also keeps the decking comfortably cool to walk and lie on. Entire aboveground solar pool kits are available, too.
Write for (or instant download - www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 625 - buyer's guide of 11 solar pool heating kits, materials, sizes, features and a collector sizing worksheet. Please include $3 and a business-size SAE:
James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244
Dear Jim: Our gas range is fairly old, and the oven does not seem to hold its temperature as steady as it once did. Do you think that replacing the oven gasket will help?
- Sue L.
Dear Sue: The gasket or the thermostat are the most likely culprits, and both can be repaired. If the oven door is not snug when it is closed or you see any sign of gasket deterioration, replace the gasket.
Even if your oven temperature is not a problem, inspect the oven door gasket regularly. Especially with a gas range, the excess waste heat and humidity from a bad gasket can push up your air-conditioning bills.