Become a TFP Supporter Pool Math Forum Rules Pool School
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Freeze Damage, please advise

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sahuarita, AZ
    Posts
    278

    Freeze Damage, please advise

    Hey all, been a LONG time since I've posted, please forgive me. I'm in Tucson, AZ and recently we had some record low temperatures. Low temps for a couple nights in a row got down to about 18 degrees. Luckily my freeze protection in my automation system (easytouch) protected the main plumbing, but my solar loop wasn't part of that protection and I got some significant damage.

    First, is it normal for the solar loop to not be automatically enabled during freeze protection? I'm assuming so since normally gravity fully drains the panels when they're not in use (in my case they hadn't been operated in about 3-4 months).

    I suspected I had some damage when I saw some salt deposits on my 2nd story deck which is under the panels. I set the pool to heat via solar and sure enough I had a very impressive waterfall coming off the roof. When I got up there to inspect the damage, I was very surprise how extensive it was. My setup has 7 panels, with the feed PVC running from the side of the roof, all the way across the panels to the far side where it feeds the bottom corner, and then it returns from the opposite top corner (near the side of the roof where it goes down). ALL of the PVC from where the feed reached the top of the roof to the far side of the panels where it enters the panels themselves (roughly 30+ feet) was shattered. Not just broken in one or two places, but broken into MANY pieces. Some sections have weird breaks in them that spiral around the tube. Others are just broken into lots of little pieces. I take this to mean that the panels didn't drain worth a **** and the plumbing was completely full of water.

    What I'm wondering is how liable the pool builder should be for this damage. When they first installed the solar, they had it plumbed to enter at the top of the panels and exit at the bottom. Information I found on the helicol website indicated that it should be the opposite: cold water enters at the bottom and hot exits at the top. I pointed that out to the builder and they came out and re-plumbed it. I think that contributed to part of the problem. Instead of re-doing all the plumbing, they added a couple of bends to have the incoming water (which was initially up-hill from the return) go over the top of the other pipe on top of the roof to reach the entry point at the bottom of the panel. That plus the fact that the plumbing doesn't reach the top of the roof even with the bottom of the panels. It reaches the top about a foot or two above the panel bottoms and then has to turn down. This creates some low-points in the plumbing which prevent that bottom pipe from ever draining by gravity.

    One more thing I didn't realize is that the feed tube which goes across to the far side of the panels first, lays directly on TOP of the panels. Wouldn't this compress the small tubes which make up the panels, restricting water flow somewhat? I would have expected the feed tube to be immediately below the bottom of the panels so it didn't have to lay on them.

    Is this flat-out WRONG plumbing installation that caused the freeze damage? Or would it not have made a difference? I have friends with solar heating in the neighborhood (pool built by same builder at around the same time) and they didn't have any damage from the freeze.

    I called the PB and they are sending someone out at the end of the week. They say the panels are covered under warranty (the pool is about 3.5 years old) but the plumbing is not. I'm of the opinion that I shouldn't be liable for any repair costs if it was their installation snafu which caused the damage in the first place. I'm frustrated because they wouldn't even send someone out to look at it without a $80/hr (1 hr minimum) charge, PLUS a $50 extra fee because I don't live directly in town.

    Do I have a leg to stand on here or is freeze damage typically NEVER the pool builders fault?

    Thanks!
    My Pool:
    12K gal IG gunite with 7' raised spa, gunite waterfall, PebbleTec Caribbean Blue finish, solar heating & in-floor cleaning system

    Equipment: Sta-Rite 300' Cartridge Filter, Intellichlor IC20 SWCG, Sta-Rite 400k BTU heater, Intelliflow 4x160 main pump & Sta-Rite 3/4 hp waterfall pump, EasyTouch controlls w/ wireless controller, TF-100 Test Kit w/ salt test.

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    South Central NJ
    Posts
    3,192

    Re: Freeze Damage, please advise

    If they plumbed it to feed from the top down, I'd say that is a 100% fault on the installer's part. Panels MUST be fed from the bottom so air can bleed out when the pump is on and re-enter from the vent when the pump is off.. Air rises in a vessel. The panels never drained or bled the air, so your efficiency was way off to begin with too due to the trapped air.

    They will likely resist at first. If they are a stand up company, they will take care of it. If not, let your lawyer take care of it. That was, IMHO, gross negligence. If you know who the manufacturer of the panels are, check their web for installation instructions.

    Take pictures of what exists!

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sahuarita, AZ
    Posts
    278

    Re: Freeze Damage, please advise

    Well, that's how they originally had it plumbed, but the same summer the pool was built (3 years ago) I had them switch it to fill from the bottom. I'm definitely going to crawl back up there and take some pictures though and make sure I'm correct on which way the water is flowing. I'm wondering if the bleed valves weren't operating correctly also.
    My Pool:
    12K gal IG gunite with 7' raised spa, gunite waterfall, PebbleTec Caribbean Blue finish, solar heating & in-floor cleaning system

    Equipment: Sta-Rite 300' Cartridge Filter, Intellichlor IC20 SWCG, Sta-Rite 400k BTU heater, Intelliflow 4x160 main pump & Sta-Rite 3/4 hp waterfall pump, EasyTouch controlls w/ wireless controller, TF-100 Test Kit w/ salt test.

  4. Back To Top    #4
    mas985's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pleasanton, CA
    Posts
    11,490

    Re: Freeze Damage, please advise

    Did they install a vacuum release valve and where did they install it?

    It sounds like that might of had a couple of low spots in the plumbing redo so the panels could not completely drain. If done properly, the panels should drain completely of water or at least so that there is very little water to freeze.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sahuarita, AZ
    Posts
    278

    Re: Freeze Damage, please advise

    Here are a couple of pictures of the installation and the damage. The first picture shows how they re-plumbed it after I told them it was flowing backwards. The cold water flows up to the roof in the pipe on the uphill side and then goes over the top of the other pipe and across the entire panel to the other side where it enters the bottom corner. I think this 'hump' in the plumbing was a major contributor in the panels not draining properly. As you can see there is a pressure valve at the far top corner, I wonder if that shouldn't have been at the near top corner (at the exit of the panels) also. I doubt they moved it when they re-plumbed the panels to flow the other direction.





    My Pool:
    12K gal IG gunite with 7' raised spa, gunite waterfall, PebbleTec Caribbean Blue finish, solar heating & in-floor cleaning system

    Equipment: Sta-Rite 300' Cartridge Filter, Intellichlor IC20 SWCG, Sta-Rite 400k BTU heater, Intelliflow 4x160 main pump & Sta-Rite 3/4 hp waterfall pump, EasyTouch controlls w/ wireless controller, TF-100 Test Kit w/ salt test.

  6. Back To Top    #6
    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD
    Posts
    37,879

    Re: Freeze Damage, please advise

    Wow, that is so wrong.

    It isn't just that it pops up to go over the other pipe, but it actually turns and goes down the roof from there. Every pipe needs to go up the entire way from the equipment pad to the end of the pipe. The slope can vary, ie straight up the wall and a gentle slope along the width of the roof, but none of this up and then down and then up again stuff.

    From the photo it looks like the pipe actually runs on top of the panels across the width of the roof. If I'm right about that, that is also a problem.

    The mere existence of that manual drain valve is a bad sign.

    Also, the entire array of panels should tilt slightly so that the long edges are both sloped the same way. It is difficult to tell from the photos, but it looks like they wander up and down and don't have anything like a uniform tilt.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    37,389

    Re: Freeze Damage, please advise

    Probably does not matter at this point, but figured I would comment.

    I too am in Tucson and at the house we moved from 2 years ago, I had added solar heat panels to our pool (can't remember off hand what company ... not helicoil (sp?)).

    Due to the orientation of my house and the location of the equipment, my panels were on the opposite side of the house from the equipment (plumbing went up and over). I also had the manual drain and was told repeatedly that I had to open it up to drain the pipes in winter because they could not physically drain back with my setup. Only had the setup a couple years before we moved with no problems.

    But, I agree that your plumbing is way off and given where the pipes reach the roof, you should have been able to have your system drain correctly.

    Did they tell you anything about that manual valve? Curious to hear if they took responsibility for the repairs.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •