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Thread: Helping a friend with her solar panels

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    Helping a friend with her solar panels

    My best friend and her husband just bought a new home with an in ground pool and solar panels for heating. During the home inspection the inspector marked everything in good working order and they purchased the home. Fast forward 3 weeks and I come over for a swim. I ask about the solar heating and they say they haven't figured out how to turn it on. Also a pool light doesn't work, but that's an easy fix. I check out the equipment pad and find the pipes coming back (or going to?) the panels have been capped off, presumedly by the previous owners. Our knowledge of solar panels is Nil so just wanted to hear from solar panel owners what kind of issues could panels have that would make someone want to cap off the pipes to not use it? I don't imagine the panels are very old but there are very good pool records, I anticipate going over today and I can find them and post pics. Here are pics of the equipment and capped pipes.

    Would also appreciate any insight on equipment, like why are there two pumps? Is one for the solar?


    I can take more pics of anything requested today or tomorrow. Thanks all.







    Intex 16x48" Ultra Frame AG Swimming Pool 5K gal
    intex 2650 sand filter

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    My guess at this point is going to be one of two things. First, the system has a leak and second, it may be overheating the pool. I will bet my money on the first one.
    Unknown make 18' above ground (bought used in 1999) Sparco sand filter. Hayward 100,000 BTu heater. 2 speed pump

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Looks like it has a solar bypass so would just need to turn it off if pool got too warm. Most solar valve have a hole in them to allow draining of system when s/d so probably a leak in the panels that was happening even though solar was off so they cut the pipe.
    18,000 gunite pool/spa combo. Pebble tec, iaqualink rs8, cl580 filter, aquapure 1400, 400k btu lx heater, 10 solar panels, jandy 1hp, 1 1/2hp, and 2hp stealth pumps for circ, spa, waterfall

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    While labeling the suctions side as "jets" is odd, the second pump appears to be dedicated for the spa jets.
    Scott
    15,000 Gallons vinyl in-ground screen enclosed, Hayward Eco-star SP3400VSP, Hayward Aqua Logic PL-Plus, Hayward T-15 Salt Cell, Hayward S244T Sand Filter, Polaris 380 with booster pump, Hayward heat pump HP50HA. K-2006 kit.

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Where the two capped off lines are - that's the solar return line - I think there is supposed to be check valve in that void.

    Have a look at this thread: Solar Check Valves
    Especially post #4 which explains the need for the check valves and also the "leaky" diverter valve (the black one in your pics). I'd recommend a read of that entire thread too.

    The black valve after the filter appears to have an electronic actuator - but I see no wires attached.
    Can you also post a pic of any electrical control panels (closed and open)?

    Also, a pic of the 3 valves and piping in front of the left pump (filter pump) - if possible??

    Pump on right is dedicated to the spa jets - as noted by NeedsMoreSun

    Oh - maybe contact the home inspector and verify if they checked the solar or not. And if those 2 lines were capped when it was inspected or not.
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    They were definitely capped when inspection was done as homeowners haven't done anything with the pool equipment. The inspector is coming back out to look at it and was quite shocked that he had missed that. I'm not sure what my friend and her husband can do about this situation since we are completely sure the previous homeowners knew the panels were not working (hence they capped it off) and did not reveal it during the sale. Also the inspector missed it, which is a pretty big thing if you ask me.

    I'll try to get over there tomorrow and take more pictures.

    The black valve is electronic I believe, the homeowners had tried to turn solar on without noticing the capped pipes and that black valve moved by itself. Well then obviously when water couldn't go through or return pressure on pump went up really high and a pipe burst. they had it replaced and that's when they discovered the capped pipes.

    I'll check out the thread thanks Gene!

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    I would think the first thing to do is to see if they are leaking or non-functional (well, except for the capped lines/missing check valve). Take lots of pics to document current pipes and layout - then test if panels will hold water. Hopefully, someone better versed in solar panels will be along shortly to assist.

    If it wasn't on the disclosure statement and the panels are leaking or broken, I think she can contact her realtor and go from there. Don't know if that will help, but may be worth a try.

    Does the spa have a spillover into the pool (is spa higher than pool) or is spa and pool at same level? A couple pics here too please??

    The suction side of the filter pump seems to read (from left to right):
    V = vacuum - dedicated vacuum port??
    Skim = skimmer
    Dr... = pool main drain
    S... = spa main drain

    In the pics, suction is from the skimmer and pool main drain equally. The spa drain and vac ports are off. Water is returning to the pool and to the spa. Pretty typical setup - except for the solar mess.

    Have you told them about TFP yet? Or are you waiting until after they settle in a bit?
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    We bought a new house a little over a year ago and looked at almost a dozen home inspectors online to pick one. At least in our area every single one had a disclaimer on the pool portion. Some wouldn't inspect it at all, some said it was a courtesy with no guarantee, and some charged a small amount and specified it was an electrical safety inspection only. All advised a pool inspection from a qualified installer. So, they may want to check whatever the contract with the inspector was. Him coming out to look is a good sign at least though

    I'd certainly have them get in contact with their realtor though as it certainly should have been disclosed!!

    LOL, last house I sold my realtor called that the buyer was threatening a lawsuit over disclosure. LOL, all over a claim none of the exterior through the wall holes were sealed (like where sump pump discharged, etc). Seems pretty minor to sue over some caulk. Best part is they were well sealed but with silicone and they assumed they weren't sealed because they could see light, lol. I never did get a "Thanks for the clarification", sorry, or anything back
    Scott
    15,000 Gallons vinyl in-ground screen enclosed, Hayward Eco-star SP3400VSP, Hayward Aqua Logic PL-Plus, Hayward T-15 Salt Cell, Hayward S244T Sand Filter, Polaris 380 with booster pump, Hayward heat pump HP50HA. K-2006 kit.

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    The spa spills over into pool, I'll take some pics.

    Definitely want to tell them about TFP but I have to tread lightly as hubby knows everything already so it will be strange that I tell him something new. LOL. They have an inline chlorinator full of pucks right now. I'll wait till they're out of town to take my test kit over, but if they ask me to come test I'll be over in a jiffy!

    I did see that their pool light is a Sta-rite, can you replace a plain white light with a colored one?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Lol about the caulking! When I bought my house the only issue I had was when the water softener disappeared two weeks after I moved in. I called the realtor (she was awful I hated her) in a huff demanding to know where my softener was. She said oh it was a rental. I said I thought it was owned! But I looked back in my paperwork and did see it was a rental. Lol oops.

    BFF did contact her realtor who has been super helpful. That's how inspector got called to come back out. I think he's coming a day this week so I'll report his findings. Don't know if anything will come of it, if it's not in the paperwork they'd have to sue them in court maybe ? I don't think my friend would be up for that, they may just have to figure out how much it would be to fix and move on.

    How could I check if they leak if the pipes are capped off? See if they leak now anyway? Or did you mean something else? Thanks!!

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Oh, another DH that know everything already.. LOL
    Maybe you'll have to wait until after the puck chlorinator raises the CYA real high and the pool gets "chlorine lock" or some other ps inspired mystery ailment to introduce them to the TFP way. It still amazes me that some people will spend hundreds and hundredd of dollars at the ps chasing clear water but balk at spending $70 on a testkit to allow fixing the issue while saving money overall.

    How could I check if they leak if the pipes are capped off? See if they leak now anyway? Or did you mean something else?
    I have no idea how to check - hence my hope one of our solar gurus stops by to weigh in. A pic of the panels on the roof may help identify a course of action for them. The link I provided should give at least give some insight to you into how the solar is supposed to work.

    While I would lean toward an issue with the actual panels, it could have been something as simple as a bad check valve (that missing one) or an issue with the solar valve (black with actuator). That and a previous owner who wasn't going to spend anymore on the pool just to sell the house.
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Can you provide some pics of panels, the solar and pool control systerm, and a few pics of the black valve (or confirm it has wires going to the control panel? That will help us understand how it was designed and what is needed to get it operating again.

    as an FYI, solar panels do get brittle over time and begin leaking. I have about 10 years on our vortex panels and I have a few pinhole leaks this year when opening the pool. Depending on the age and condition, you may be able to find someone to plastic weld them and patch the leaks as an alternative to replacement (or plug the leaking tubes if a fafco design).
    18,000 gunite pool/spa combo. Pebble tec, iaqualink rs8, cl580 filter, aquapure 1400, 400k btu lx heater, 10 solar panels, jandy 1hp, 1 1/2hp, and 2hp stealth pumps for circ, spa, waterfall

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by cooljul View Post
    They were definitely capped when inspection was done as homeowners haven't done anything with the pool equipment. The inspector is coming back out to look at it and was quite shocked that he had missed that. I'm not sure what my friend and her husband can do about this situation since we are completely sure the previous homeowners knew the panels were not working (hence they capped it off) and did not reveal it during the sale. Also the inspector missed it, which is a pretty big thing if you ask me.

    I'll try to get over there tomorrow and take more pictures.

    The black valve is electronic I believe, the homeowners had tried to turn solar on without noticing the capped pipes and that black valve moved by itself. Well then obviously when water couldn't go through or return pressure on pump went up really high and a pipe burst. they had it replaced and that's when they discovered the capped pipes.

    I'll check out the thread thanks Gene!
    Depends how your friend wants to play this....


    The Home Inspector has some legal liability for telling them the solar worked fine, when in fact it was OBVIOUSLY non-functional and therefore cannot be 'inspected'.

    First thing for me would be a written estimate to fix the solar. So an 'expert' to connect it, test it, then determine what is wrong and give you firm, written repair costs.

    THEN figure out who pays.

    Allowing the inspector to mess with it now, allowing partial fixes, etc, you reduce the odds of a successful claim against the inspector or their insurance. The sooner you document the 'as received' system conditions the better you will be.

    IMO the inspector isnt coming out for professional curiosity or because he feels bad....

    (well maybe he feels bad he could lose a $4000 claim)
    In ground, plaster, medgrey; 30k Gall; irregular, approx 32x18 feet ;4' to 9' depth
    1.5HP whisperflo w/ NSP72 DE filter; Solar heat (12x12x4 Fafco); Disappearing edge (2HP whisperflo for edge); waterwitch
    Salt Chlorinator abandoned after 3 replacements and 6 cells over 18 years....

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam. View Post
    Depends how your friend wants to play this....


    The Home Inspector has some legal liability for telling them the solar worked fine, when in fact it was OBVIOUSLY non-functional and therefore cannot be 'inspected'.

    First thing for me would be a written estimate to fix the solar. So an 'expert' to connect it, test it, then determine what is wrong and give you firm, written repair costs.

    THEN figure out who pays.

    Allowing the inspector to mess with it now, allowing partial fixes, etc, you reduce the odds of a successful claim against the inspector or their insurance. The sooner you document the 'as received' system conditions the better you will be.

    IMO the inspector isnt coming out for professional curiosity or because he feels bad....

    (well maybe he feels bad he could lose a $4000 claim)
    that's great advice! You can tell by the discoloration on the piping and cap that it has been that way for sometime. If you get an estimate, it would be great to have them note on the repair estimate their opinion as to how long it has been sitting in the current condition (if they will do that).

    There is Some risk that the inspector is going to try and say it was modified after he inspected it so he can shift liability. To be honest even a novice inspector should have seen that as a huge red flag! And unless their inspection has specific language limiting liability (most do), it would be pretty hard to defend that he actually inspected it and passed it.
    18,000 gunite pool/spa combo. Pebble tec, iaqualink rs8, cl580 filter, aquapure 1400, 400k btu lx heater, 10 solar panels, jandy 1hp, 1 1/2hp, and 2hp stealth pumps for circ, spa, waterfall

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Rossterman View Post
    that's great advice! You can tell by the discoloration on the piping and cap that it has been that way for sometime. If you get an estimate, it would be great to have them note on the repair estimate their opinion as to how long it has been sitting in the current condition (if they will do that).

    There is Some risk that the inspector is going to try and say it was modified after he inspected it so he can shift liability. To be honest even a novice inspector should have seen that as a huge red flag! And unless their inspection has specific language limiting liability (most do), it would be pretty hard to defend that he actually inspected it and passed it.
    Many inspection reports will includes pictures- if he included a picture where you can, no matter how minimally, see the caps you have proof...
    In ground, plaster, medgrey; 30k Gall; irregular, approx 32x18 feet ;4' to 9' depth
    1.5HP whisperflo w/ NSP72 DE filter; Solar heat (12x12x4 Fafco); Disappearing edge (2HP whisperflo for edge); waterwitch
    Salt Chlorinator abandoned after 3 replacements and 6 cells over 18 years....

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    So we did find that the solar panels are approximately 12 years old from some paperwork, just a fax from the company that installed them with system info like an install kit? Maybe they were installed by homeowner? Pics to follow
    Intex 16x48" Ultra Frame AG Swimming Pool 5K gal
    intex 2650 sand filter

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels





    Don't mind the toes! Lol


    Power connections?



    "I have a pool service they take care of everything"

    so why haven't they cleaned your cartridge?


    Timer



    I think they should call these people, they're probably the installers?


    Pics of panels ... I think the glass one is for a solar hot water heater that works fine?


    I HATE PHOTOBUCKET
    Intex 16x48" Ultra Frame AG Swimming Pool 5K gal
    intex 2650 sand filter

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels






    - - - Updated - - -

    Haha wrong picture
    Intex 16x48" Ultra Frame AG Swimming Pool 5K gal
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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    If the panels are indeed 12 years old I'm guessing they are just wore out and need to be replaced. We're in south Florida so sun is brutal all year.

    I am curious to know how long they've been sitting like that unused.
    Also would like to know how much it costs to replace the panels?

    I think the homeowners should have definitely disclosed the panels were not working... That's like not having a functioning AC or refrigerator IMO.
    Intex 16x48" Ultra Frame AG Swimming Pool 5K gal
    intex 2650 sand filter

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    Thanks for the pics!

    Still waiting for one of our solar gurus to weigh in on the overall system and possibly how to test the system safely give the current capped pipes.

    Other than that, I guess you wait to see what the home inspector says and proceed from there. You said a pipe burst - do you know exactly where?
    Gene
    ​12,300 gal IG play pool - Pebbletec - built 10/1999 || Hayward S360SX 36" sand filter || Hayward Ecostar SP3400 VSP || A&A In-Floor cleaning system || Quik Water Leveler || Quik Dek-clor (limited use)
    TF-100 testkit / Speedstir - A good test kit is not an expense, it's an investment

  20. Back To Top    #20

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    Re: Helping a friend with her solar panels

    I'm thinking where you see the purple pvc glue is where the new pipe piece was put in?
    Intex 16x48" Ultra Frame AG Swimming Pool 5K gal
    intex 2650 sand filter

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