Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If you suspect a possible warranty problem with your solar water heating system

"Hi Gary

I was up on the roof yesterday inspecting my one year old Solarhart system.
I was less than impressed with what I saw, a lot of corrosion or discoloration appearing on the black panels.
Considering this has only been on the roof for a year I hate to think what it will be like after five when the warranty runs out.
Who do I contact in the first instance, XXXX Plumbing did the installation but I don’t expect they cover the warranty.
Any advice would be appreciated.

Gary Moller comments:
This is a typical letter that I receive daily and am sometimes unable to reply to because of work commitments, so I thought I would publish it as an article to guide others.
  • Read the safety information on this site before clambering up on the roof.
    • Consider hiring an expert to do the assessment
    • I am compiling a list of impartial experts which you can find on this site.
  • The first action is to take digital photos of the detail of the panel surfaces. This may be very important for warranty claims. Even if any discoloration is slight at present, the photos become a record for comparison of further deterioration later on.
  • Inspect every aspect of your installation, including lagging, the way the system is secured and the materials used. Take photos. Please refer to the BRANZ reports on this website that list the many installation faults to look for.
  • Check the papers that the installer gave you to confirm the warranty term.
  • Confirm that there is a Building Consent for the work (An estimated 80% of installations since 2003 do not have this requirement)
    • If you don't have a Consent, ring your house insurer and check what your insurance exposure might be.
    • Check with your Council what is involved with getting one if you don't have one, including all of the costs.
  • Write to whoever did the installation, including copied of all the information gathered and state clearly what you want to happen. This should include:
    • Replacement of any faulty/damaged parts and rectification of poor workmanship
    • Keep a paper trail record and limit any dealings over the phone - keep it in writing in case you end up in dispute over anything.
  • If the installer refuses to address your concerns, or has done something to avoid liability like changing company ownership, write to their professional body such as the
    • Solar Industries Association
    • Plumbers Guild and so on
  • If your installer did not obtain a Building Consent on your behalf and the installation was after 2003, then you should advise the installer's professional association.
    • Complain to your local Building Inspector and ask their advice about what to do.
  • When seeking redress from the installer you should not have to pay for anything. The professional who you relied upon to do a professional job should pay.
  • Where it is a warranty replacement such as a corroding panel, require an extension on the warranty covering the part replaced, since there is no guarantee that the same problem will not recur.
  • If you are dissatisfied with progress or outcomes, take the matter up with the national distributor of the system that you have. If you remain dissatisfied:
    • Take the matter up with the Solar Industries Association
    • Write to EECA
    • Write to the Consumer's Institute
    • Write to the "Nailed" Consumer TV programme
    • Write to Fair Go Consumer TV programme
    • As a last resort I recommend taking the matter to a Disputes Tribunal
  • If it looks like things are not working out at any stage, please consider hiring an independent expert to inspect your solar water heating system and provide a report. Keep receipts and seek eventual reimbursement of all costs from the installer.
    • Advise the installer beforehand that you intend doing this and give them several days to respond before proceeding.
  • Finally, make sure that you send me a brief history of your situation along with photos and I might publish them (anonymously) for the benefit of others who may be facing similar issues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But, how does the photon get changed into heat. I understood from my study years that the 'ping' sound was actually the photon's way of waving 'goodbye" to it's partical properties; so to say in layman's terms. But, what causes the 'pong' sound?

I.Q. Stein,
Senior Kindy Teacher.