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Thread: Solar problem

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    Solar problem

    Going to make this somewhat short. Looking for opinions.

    I had solar installed on my pool in 2008. Developed a leak a few months later. Company came out and fixed it..but told me in the future it would be 100 per service call.

    A few years later I started to develop leaks in panels. All within 4 inches of the top ( I have 8. 4x12 panels). I repaired them myself. Well as time went buy I had over a dozen leaks ove 5 of the 8 panels.
    Called compact and was told because I did not repair leaks properly that it voided the panels.
    I contacted the maker of the panels and the rep came out to look. He'd agreed that I did void any warranty. But he also pointed out that the solar company DID NOT install a check valve on the return side of the system.
    If you turn off the supply side and turn on the pump water if forced up into the panels.

    He said the the leaks appear to be from freeze damage. My question is to you think the solar company should be responsible in replacing the entire system?
    I live I. Orlando and we had a bad winter in 2010. I have freeze protect on my pool pump. I am sure it turned on and filled those panels with water and allowed them to freeze.
    What should I do??

    Thanks!

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    Re: Solar problem

    Anyone!??

  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar problem

    Since it's been 5 years I'm not sure there's anything you can do but replace the panels and make sure the plumbing is correct. I don't think it'd even be worth the hassle to try and get them to replace them after all this time.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: Solar problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Since it's been 5 years I'm not sure there's anything you can do but replace the panels and make sure the plumbing is correct. I don't think it'd even be worth the hassle to try and get them to replace them after all this time.

    I somewhat agree..but. I was not aware at the time that the check valve was not installed.

    I believe that this is the reason that all the leaks have developed. I might be wrong but this is the reason I made this post. To see if anyone can tell me that I am right.

    I am going to replace all the panels. But should I take the solar company to small claims court?
    When I give all of this information to a judge..what do you think he will say?

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    Re: Solar problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Since it's been 5 years I'm not sure there's anything you can do but replace the panels and make sure the plumbing is correct. I don't think it'd even be worth the hassle to try and get them to replace them after all this time.

    I concur..... and freeze damage is the same as neglect. Even if the panels were only a few months old, if they froze up, they would not be covered.

    Even further south in Tampa, we get freezes. Some of those houses in Sun City Center have water service entrance lines that go up the outside of the house a couple of feet and have frozen and cracked in the past. It is not nice when you have to pay for that repair and then pay the water company for all the water that dumped into the yard and out too the street.

    Seriously, 5 years on those panels is not too bad, although 10 years would have been much better.
    John (DIYer). Concrete, approximately 13,000 gallon in-ground pool with adjoining concrete spa. Approximately 40 years old. Hayward Super II pump for pool and legacy Anthony Sta-Rite bronze pump CF6 for spa, VA-26 filter,(2 sets), Rheem propane heater for spa. HASA Liquidator for pool.

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: Solar problem

    Quote Originally Posted by hoosierrun
    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Since it's been 5 years I'm not sure there's anything you can do but replace the panels and make sure the plumbing is correct. I don't think it'd even be worth the hassle to try and get them to replace them after all this time.

    I concur..... and freeze damage is the same as neglect. Even if the panels were only a few months old, if they froze up, they would not be covered.

    Even further south in Tampa, we get freezes. Some of those houses in Sun City Center have water service entrance lines that go up the outside of the house a couple of feet and have frozen and cracked in the past. It is not nice when you have to pay for that repair and then pay the water company for all the water that dumped into the yard and out too the street.

    Seriously, 5 years on those panels is not too bad, although 10 years would have been much better.
    Lol. I thing you guys are missing my point. IF the check valve was installed in the first place there would never have been water in the panels. SO this is the reason I am considering taking
    To small claims court. Unless you think that it's just conjecture on my part

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar problem

    The point is that 5 years is a very long time to be just figuring out that a check valve wasn't installed. Also you state that it was a few years later when you started having leaks beyond the initial leak. The choice is untimately your's whether you think it's worth the time and expense of pursuing it.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Re: Solar problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    The point is that 5 years is a very long time to be just figuring out that a check valve wasn't installed. Also you state that it was a few years later when you started having leaks beyond the initial leak. The choice is untimately your's whether you think it's worth the time and expense of pursuing it.

    Well not being a solar panel installer I had No Idea that there should be a check valve in the first place.
    And yes 5 years is a long time but I live in Orlando and we don't really get much freezing temps other than the bad winter of 2010.

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    Re: Solar problem

    Best of luck to you and let us know how it turns out.
    Hopefully, the original company is still around.
    Certainly if they neglected to install a valve that the manufacturer requires, they could be responsible, especially if there is a warning (in the installation documentation) that specifically states that the valve is necessary to prevent freeze damage.

    Generally, in small claims situations, you are there presenting your case without the benefit of counsel (to save money, right?) or an expert, but the defendent (especially if they are a large company) can bring in anybody they can afford to challenge you. I haven't heard of too much success in these cases and there may be some risk that if you lose, you pay for the defendent's councel.

    In a full blown law suit, your attorney would be getting an expert opinion from the manufacturer plus lots of documentation.. etc. That would be credibility that would be hard to refute. Did you get a written statement from the manufacturer's rep about the missing valve? If so, you may have a better chance.

    The problem I see is that it all costs money and only you can evaluate the risks or possible benefits.
    John (DIYer). Concrete, approximately 13,000 gallon in-ground pool with adjoining concrete spa. Approximately 40 years old. Hayward Super II pump for pool and legacy Anthony Sta-Rite bronze pump CF6 for spa, VA-26 filter,(2 sets), Rheem propane heater for spa. HASA Liquidator for pool.

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Solar problem

    Thanks for the reply!
    It is a company that has been here since the early 80's. If you go to there web site thy hav a diagram of a solar system that show people how everything works. Guess what it also shows the 2 check valves. One on the supply side...and one on the return side. They admit that it should have been there buy deny that it had anything to do with water going up in the panels and freezing .

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Solar problem

    So lets play judge here.

    Fact one Solar Installer failed to install check valve.

    Fact two you have freeze damage

    Fact three you have five years of life out of panels with about a ten year life expectancy.

    Fact four you did not call Solar Installer and give them a chance to determine problem when first had leaks.

    So at best I would give you one half the value of the panels. Because you did not isolate them and didn't call installer, I probably would give you nothing. Sorry.



    I don't know what your instructions say but my written instructions are clear -- drain and isolate solar panels in the winter. The installer went over it with me twice - very slowly.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Re: Solar problem

    Quote Originally Posted by gwegan
    So lets play judge here.

    Fact one Solar Installer failed to install check valve.

    Fact two you have freeze damage

    Fact three you have five years of life out of panels with about a ten year life expectancy.

    Fact four you did not call Solar Installer and give them a chance to determine problem when first had leaks.

    So at best I would give you one half the value of the panels. Because you did not isolate them and didn't call installer, I probably would give you nothing. Sorry.



    I don't know what your instructions say but my written instructions are clear -- drain and isolate solar panels in the winter. The installer went over it with me twice - very slowly.
    Well they were out within the first year to fix a leak. It was just a clamp but you wold think someone would have caught that the valve was missing.

    Maybe you don't understand how solar heat works. There is never water in the panels when pool pump indoor running. So they drain when system is off. Also when pump is on if there is not enough sun to warm panels the supply valve will not open.

    In this case the supply side did not open. The freeze protect for the pool equipment kicked on sent water up to the panels and we had 8 - 10 hours of hard freeze. Yes even in Orlando. Lol
    So water sat in those panels and weakened the plastic to a point that later failed and started to leak.
    Of 12 times in 5 differant panels.

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    Re: Solar problem

    I would argue, that not all water is in fact out of your panels, I live in Canada and I fully drain, uncouple and suction out any water before winter. Freezing water doesnt have to be a large amount and inside those panels, it would take very little expansion to cause breaks.

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    Re: Solar problem

    I think your case would be strengthened by providing supporting evidence and a good description of the fault. The brand of the panels hasn't been mentioned, but are there written design and installation sheets you can download off the internet that clearly show the check valve requirement? Judges don't respond as well to "....well I was told there should have been...." as they do to printed copies of evidence. When I go to online solar panel sites I see plenty of design and plumbing drawings and schematics. I haven't seen a description as to how and when the check valve would have prevented water entry or enhanced water evacuation, whatever the case may be. In order to win any case you would have to have all your ducks in a row. Best of luck.
    21K gal 16' x 40' in-ground pool built 1959, old school with Jacuzzi bronze pump, American Products 24" Sand Filter & Americana Multiport valve, Jandy Lite2 millivolt heater, Coverstar cover, and classic Kreepy Krauly.

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    Re: Solar problem

    Quote Originally Posted by gtemkin
    I think your case would be strengthened by providing supporting evidence and a good description of the fault. The brand of the panels hasn't been mentioned, but are there written design and installation sheets you can download off the internet that clearly show the check valve requirement? Judges don't respond as well to "....well I was told there should have been...." as they do to printed copies of evidence. When I go to online solar panel sites I see plenty of design and plumbing drawings and schematics. I haven't seen a description as to how and when the check valve would have prevented water entry or enhanced water evacuation, whatever the case may be. In order to win any case you would have to have all your ducks in a row. Best of luck.
    The panels were made by Hi-Tec. They did not install. A local solar company did.
    I can go to the solar company's web page under solar pool system and there is a layout as to how the system works AND it shows the. Check valve that the did not install. I think I have a perry strong case.
    Can I prove 100% that THT is what happend no. But the fact is if the valve would have been there NO water would have gone up to the panels during the bad freeze.
    Small claims judges have a tendency to side with consumers IF the can not prove the consumer to be at fault or wrong about facts.

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    Re: Solar problem

    As I see it you would need expert testimony and documentation that your installation was not done per industry practices for your area to even have a chance as many of the installations manuals have wording in them along the lines of example typical installation, etc. I also have to wonder if other common poor design practices may have been used for your installation, like possible over pressurization or poor mounting.

    Keep in mind many/most judges are not technically minded people, in small claims court they don't want to take much time making a decision, so would generally not be willing to read extensive technical documentation, etc. The time lapse here does not help matters, and add to that the wording of warranties, etc. Does this mean you can't win, no, you might get a judge that always rules in favor of the little guy, etc. Personally thought I would not give it very good odds.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Re: Solar problem

    While I don't think you would need expert testimony in small claims court (at least in California), I've never required one. The fact that the solar panels were not isolated during freeing temperatures is a serious problem for you. You don't rely on a check valve. My instructions are clear isolate (both source and return) and drain - and leave the drainage open so nothing can accumulate.

    You have received at least one half the life of the panels. As a small claims judge I'd go against you.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

  18. Back To Top    #18

    Re: Solar problem

    There is nothing in any paperwork that I have that requires me to do anything.
    That said I have full automation on the pool. Solar is automatic. When it's cold supply line line
    Is closed and should not be any water in panels. I think I have a good case. Although the amount I agree should be prorated.
    Will see. I will let you all know what happens either way.

  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: Solar problem

    UPDATE!!!

    I filed a claim in small claims court.
    I hired a company to replace all 8 panels and install the. Check valve that was never installed in the first place. And was sueing the original company for the amount that I paid.

    They have contacted me and now are reimbursing me the entire amount I paid to fix the problem.

    When you know you are right....stick to your guns

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