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   problems with rubber
Monday, December 26 2011
A new leak has developed in the plumbing supplying the hydronic solar array on the roof. Once again, it is in the place where rubber hose attaches to a fitting. This is proving to be the most vulnerable spot in all the plumbing the system employs. In the past, the rubber would tend to deteriorate most in places where it was stressed by gravity (such as a point from which a length of hose was hanging). In today's case, it was stressed at the place where the rubber was compressed around a brass fitting by a screw-thread pipe clamp. Evidently one edge of that clamp cut a little into the rubber, and as the connection (which is five years old) expanded and contracted over the years, that edge cut its way deeper and deeper into the rubber. Now there is enough of a leak for antifreeze to start showing up on the roof, where it forms tell-tale wet marks that never seem to dry. Where it's been easy, I've been replacing runs of rubber with copper pipe. In this case, though, it might make more sense to redo the connection to the fitting in such a way as to protect it from such cutting forces.

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