Solar panel installation company is not honoring the warranty.

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We have solar panels installed on our house. Some time ago we noticed several small leaks in the attic and in the room below (attic is finished so it wasn’t visible at first).

Roofer confirmed (in writing) that the root cause of the leaks is the penetration points created the solar panels mounting hardware. The solar panels company is ignoring all my request to provide a warranty service.

The way I see it they have to remove the panels, I have to replace the roof (my cost I am not even trying to get anything from them although its clearly result the panels installed) and later they have to reinstall the panels using new mounting hardware (I think should be covered under the warranty). The vendor is flat out refusing any warranty service and ignoring any contacts.

Additional info: 
This is a publicly traded company
The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.
E-mail to CEO was routed back to the same low level project manager who is not doing anything.

I am looking into collective wisdom of what my options are.

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They will just reserve split the shares, screwing existing share holders and luring new suckers.

DeFiantROA (Mar. 20, 2017 @ 3:37p) |

Pretty much.  As long as suckers keep buying, they'll keep selling.  Kinda like DRYS, who just filed an ... ambitious $2... (more)

xerty (Mar. 20, 2017 @ 4:24p) |

My son bought a townhouse a year ago ,in calif with solar electricity already installed.The solar panels were not instal... (more)

yaknart33 (Mar. 21, 2017 @ 1:29p) |

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My first reaction would be to make sure the solar panel company has some liability.

If the integrity of the panel itself or the performance of the panel is compromised (doesn't sound to be the case here), clearly the fault would be that of the solar panel company and they should have clear terms on their warranties for those cases.

But if it was mounted improperly, that would be the responsibility of the installer but that would be a separate warranty from the manufacturer's usually. If the installer is a third party, probably the solar panel company is not doing anything about it because it's not their problem. So check if the manufacturer warranties covers just the panels or the installation as well (if they've done it themselves which is rare) or if you have a separate warranty from the installer and then contact the installer instead of the manufacturer.

>The solar panels company is ignoring all my request to provide a warranty service.
What does the warranty cover? This seems to be an installation issue, do they cover that or only the materials? 

>We have solar panels installed on our house. Some time ago we noticed several small leaks in the attic and in the room below (attic is finished so it wasn’t visible at first).
Are you still within the span of the warranty?
>The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.
Well, it appears that you must use arbitration. (Side note: Post your location. Depending on local laws, you may have options). Make sure that you are documenting your attempts to contact them, does the contract say anything else about the arbitration process? 

>The way I see it they have to remove the panels, I have to replace the roof (my cost I am not even trying to get anything from them although its clearly result the panels installed) and later they have to reinstall the panels using new mounting hardware (I think should be covered under the warranty). The vendor is flat out refusing any warranty service and ignoring any contacts.
I doubt you'll have to replace the roof. This is something that could probably be fixed with flashing, tar, or just appropriate hardware. Did you receive a quote from the roofer?
 

Tell the company you are filing under homeowners policy and letting them subrogate the damages and filing a claim with the state/county that regulates them. Try calling your state attorney general and ask what they advise.

Your homeowners policy will gladly sue the company for you and return your deductible.

You could also look into hiring a personal injury lawyer and pursuing a magnuson moss warranty claim in federal court.

what is the name of the company?

This definitely seems like an installation problem (poorly done flashing would be my first guess). The installer guarantee should cover this. From what you describe, the panel manufacturer has nothing to do with this. It sounds like it could be SolarCity, and in that case, it is too bad Mr. Musk isn't willing to come out and fix this. A bit of Yelping, social media, etc may grease the wheels, otherwise talk to your insurance or their bond.

Thank you for all the suggestions.

To answer the questions:
The name of the company is "RGS Energy".

I agree, it is, most likely, a poorly done flashing. Once old mounting points are removed the roof will look like a Swiss cheese and new mounts will not cover it one on one so I think the roof replacement is unavoidable. 

I wasn't aware that homeowners policy can cover it. I was always under the impression that it will cover damages (water stain on ceiling for example) but not the poor craftsmanship (roof flashing).

If they didn't know how to install mounting hardware properly then you won't be the only one with a problem.  I would not delay getting arbitration/lawsuit going before they can file bankruptcy.

The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

tantuti said:   The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

  
And wouldn't that case be immediately dismissed when the solar installer points to the arbitration clause of the contract?



 

jerosen said:   
tantuti said:   The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

  
And wouldn't that case be immediately dismissed when the solar installer points to the arbitration clause of the contract?



 

  

Is that stated in the manufacturers papers or contract with installer?  OP needs to answer that.


 

it's standard contract language these days. Yes, you sue, then they immediate move it to arbitration.

I have always wondered about how much an issue it is with solar panel on roof. Now i know. With a typical 1000 sqft going for $10k... how many years of electricity saving will pay for that?

ETA: maybe try those "spray on" leak seal.

jerosen said:   
tantuti said:   The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

  
And wouldn't that case be immediately dismissed when the solar installer points to the arbitration clause of the contract?



 

  no.  OP & defendant would get time to argue for/against a need for arbitration.  That's a process beyond OP's expertise.  So he needs advice from an actual lawyer (NOT from a finance forum).

sehilu said:   
jerosen said:   
tantuti said:   The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

  
And wouldn't that case be immediately dismissed when the solar installer points to the arbitration clause of the contract?



 

  no.  OP & defendant would get time to argue for/against a need for arbitration.  That's a process beyond OP's expertise.  So he needs advice from an actual lawyer (NOT from a finance forum).

  

Are you a lawyer and have you sued in court arguing against arbitration successfully?

IANAL.   But it seems to me this argument wouldst' fly if the contract in dispute requires arbitration.

 

Michka said:   The solar panels company is ignoring all my request to provide a warranty service.
...
The vendor is flat out refusing any warranty service and ignoring any contacts.
Is RGS the vendor too ?

beatme said:   This definitely seems like an installation problem (poorly done flashing would be my first guess). The installer guarantee should cover this. From what you describe, the panel manufacturer has nothing to do with this. It sounds like it could be SolarCity, and in that case, it is too bad Mr. Musk isn't willing to come out and fix this. A bit of Yelping, social media, etc may grease the wheels, otherwise talk to your insurance or their bond.
  Why would you assume it is SolarCity and that "Mr. Musk" specifically is unwilling to fix this? Have you shorted their stock or something?

Ecuadorgr said:   
beatme said:   This definitely seems like an installation problem (poorly done flashing would be my first guess). The installer guarantee should cover this. From what you describe, the panel manufacturer has nothing to do with this. It sounds like it could be SolarCity, and in that case, it is too bad Mr. Musk isn't willing to come out and fix this. A bit of Yelping, social media, etc may grease the wheels, otherwise talk to your insurance or their bond.
  Why would you assume it is SolarCity and that "Mr. Musk" specifically is unwilling to fix this? Have you shorted their stock or something?

I thought it may be a case with combined panel producer/installer given the wording, and SolarCity is in that realm. I have had friends with issues with their installation. And the Mr. Musk part was a joke.

A couple of thoughts in no particular order.

1. The company that you purchased the solar panels is most likely considered a general contractor with respect to the installation. There may be local/state laws that apply/trump your contract with respect to whose is liable for the defective installation. It is unlikely that a general contractor can claim no responsibility, but there may be a time limit such as only 1 year.

2. Does your municipality/city/township/county/.... have requirements for licensed/bonded/insured contractors. Find out the details for how this works in your community. You may be able to attack this through your local government if they require a bond for licensing contractors to work in your community. You may be able to identify the installing contractor through the permit/inspection details on your property record.

Just thinking out loud where to research/look for help. Getting someone from the government with some authority involved is generally no cost to you and may be enough to get a more favorable response. Good Luck.

as usually noted in FW, what does the contract say about installation defects?

Paragon said:   Tell the company you are filing under homeowners policy and letting them subrogate the damages and filing a claim with the state/county that regulates them. Try calling your state attorney general and ask what they advise.

Your homeowners policy will gladly sue the company for you and return your deductible.

You could also look into hiring a personal injury lawyer and pursuing a magnuson moss warranty claim in federal court.

  Perhaps I'm crazy, but this sounds like hands-down the best advice here.

Insurance companies will ALWAYS do anything they can to shift blame and costs to someone else.. Instead of you trying to do anything from a legal perspective (especially with arbitration), this seems like the best advice IMO.

jerosen said:   
tantuti said:   The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

  
And wouldn't that case be immediately dismissed when the solar installer points to the arbitration clause of the contract?


If if that is the case what keeps companies or people from doing crappy jobs then point ting at contract saying hey you signed this


 

    

Well, that's a hit on your CLUE report regardless.

A lot of these solar outfits are big on social media, have OP tried to post on their facebook page?

Here's what my solar installer told me: Contact Austin Energy (our local utility company) if this happens. Here in Austin, solar companies depend heavily on Austin Energy since it pays majority of the installation costs (at least it used to be). If Austin Energy removes a company from its "installer" list, this means death for the solar company. So they are so afraid of it, and when you complain to Austin Energy, the installer comes and fixes the issue immediately. I hope your city is in a similar situation.

jerosen said:   
sehilu said:   
jerosen said:   
tantuti said:   The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.

not true. you can sue for anything

  
And wouldn't that case be immediately dismissed when the solar installer points to the arbitration clause of the contract?



 

  no.  OP & defendant would get time to argue for/against a need for arbitration.  That's a process beyond OP's expertise.  So he needs advice from an actual lawyer (NOT from a finance forum).

  

Are you a lawyer and have you sued in court arguing against arbitration successfully?

IANAL.   But it seems to me this argument wouldst' fly if the contract in dispute requires arbitration.

 

  IANAL either.  

But know that an arbitration clause can be void if it's particularly one-sided.  Say, for example, the contract stated that Solar City always got to pick the arbitrator.  And further assume Solar City always selected Judge Judy, who had a lengthy history of giving plaintiff 90 seconds to tell his story, but 10 mins to Solar City.  That's fundamentally unfair and therefore a basis to nullify the arbitration clause.  Or, say, Judge Judy always gave equal time to both parties.  But she had a long history of siding with Solar City, even when it had obviously and egregiously breached a contract.  That would be fundamentally unfair, and another reason to let plaintiff sue in court.

Michka said:   I agree, it is, most likely, a poorly done flashing. Once old mounting points are removed the roof will look like a Swiss cheese and new mounts will not cover it one on one so I think the roof replacement is unavoidable
 

Why not get a tube of silicone and seal the mounting points? Or have the installers do it.  It's ridiculous for you to assume this is some kind of Bonanza and you will get a free roof out of it.

How much time has passed between the installation date and when you first noticed the leak? How long is the installer's workmanship warranty? In my area warranties vary greatly, anywhere from one to ten years. The ones that offered 10 year warranties are beginning to close up shop.


RGSE stock price
Disclaimer
Michka said:   The name of the company is "RGS Energy".
  Wow, those guys actually have a business besides screwing their shareholders?  Color me shocked.  From what I know about the stock, you're not likely to get much relief from hassling them, so I would go through your homeowners insurance and tell them to waste their time chasing them.   If you want to try to make some of your costs back, considering shorting RGSE.  Check out the last couple years' chart.

Are you a roofing expert? Or are you relying on the expertise and clearly unbiased opinion of the roofer who wants it replaced?

donotdrinkPBR said:   Are you a roofing expert? Or are you relying on the expertise and clearly unbiased opinion of the roofer who wants it replaced?
  
Do you have to be a roofing expert to notice multiple leaks dripping into the attic and into a room?

ctujackbauer said:   
donotdrinkPBR said:   Are you a roofing expert? Or are you relying on the expertise and clearly unbiased opinion of the roofer who wants it replaced?
  
Do you have to be a roofing expert to notice multiple leaks dripping into the attic and into a room?

  Thank you. I am not a roofing expert. Besides seeing multiple leaks I also understand that solar panels installation requires drilling dozens of holes through the roofing surface. I don't think it possible to cover it completely when installing new flashing or install new mounting system exactly covering the existing penetration points. I'll be happy if someone can prove me wrong.  

pj737 said:   How much time has passed between the installation date and when you first noticed the leak? How long is the installer's workmanship warranty? In my area warranties vary greatly, anywhere from one to ten years. The ones that offered 10 year warranties are beginning to close up shop.
  
It is 10 years warranty. I still have several years left on it. Back when system was originally installed, as far as I know, it was a requirement from LIPA (local electrical company back in the days) to provide 10 years warranty in order be eligible for the rebate.

atikovi said:   
Michka said:   I agree, it is, most likely, a poorly done flashing. Once old mounting points are removed the roof will look like a Swiss cheese and new mounts will not cover it one on one so I think the roof replacement is unavoidable
Why not get a tube of silicone and seal the mounting points? Or have the installers do it.  It's ridiculous for you to assume this is some kind of Bonanza and you will get a free roof out of it.

  
As much as I would like to do it and be done with the whole ordeal it is not technically possible. There are dozens of mounting points under the panels and panels should be lifted in order to get access to it. As I stated prior I understand that cost of the new roof is on me and all I need from the RGS is to remove and reinstall panels with the new flashing under the warranty. No roofer will touch the panels.I would be extremely happy to use a tube of silicone and move on with my life if it would be possible.

Michka said:   We have solar panels installed on our house. Some time ago we noticed several small leaks in the attic and in the room below (attic is finished so it wasn’t visible at first).

Roofer confirmed (in writing) that the root cause of the leaks is the penetration points created the solar panels mounting hardware. The solar panels company is ignoring all my request to provide a warranty service.

The way I see it they have to remove the panels, I have to replace the roof (my cost I am not even trying to get anything from them although its clearly result the panels installed) and later they have to reinstall the panels using new mounting hardware (I think should be covered under the warranty). The vendor is flat out refusing any warranty service and ignoring any contacts.

Additional info:
This is a publicly traded company
The contact states that only arbitration is possible and I cannot sue them.
E-mail to CEO was routed back to the same low level project manager who is not doing anything.

I am looking into collective wisdom of what my options are.

 
Michka said:   
atikovi said:   
Michka said:   I agree, it is, most likely, a poorly done flashing. Once old mounting points are removed the roof will look like a Swiss cheese and new mounts will not cover it one on one so I think the roof replacement is unavoidable
Why not get a tube of silicone and seal the mounting points? Or have the installers do it.  It's ridiculous for you to assume this is some kind of Bonanza and you will get a free roof out of it.

  
As much as I would like to do it and be done with the whole ordeal it is not technically possible. There are dozens of mounting points under the panels and panels should be lifted in order to get access to it. As I stated prior I understand that cost of the new roof is on me and all I need from the RGS is to remove and reinstall panels with the new flashing under the warranty. No roofer will touch the panels.I would be extremely happy to use a tube of silicone and move on with my life if it would be possible.

  
If you have a couple of small leaks, why do you need to replace the entire roof? I can understand why the solar company is stonewalling you; you want them to have someone remove all the panels they have already installed, wait until you have your roof replaced, then do a second full installation of the panels with "new hardware".

There only real obligation is to patch the leaking holes as a direct result of  the installation (if in warranty), not make it convenient for you to replace your roof.

There are still a few questions:

1. When was the solar installation done?
2. What is the length of the installation warranty?
3. What does your installation warranty cover?
 

xerty said:   
Michka said:   The name of the company is "RGS Energy".
  Wow, those guys actually have a business besides screwing their shareholders?  Color me shocked.  From what I know about the stock, you're not likely to get much relief from hassling them, so I would go through your homeowners insurance and tell them to waste their time chasing them.   If you want to try to make some of your costs back, considering shorting RGSE.  Check out the last couple years' chart.

  They will just reserve split the shares, screwing existing share holders and luring new suckers.

DeFiantROA said:     They will just reserve split the shares, screwing existing share holders and luring new suckers.
  Pretty much.  As long as suckers keep buying, they'll keep selling.  Kinda like DRYS, who just filed an ... ambitious $2B shelf prospectus after selling $0.5B in stock in the past 4-5 months.

My son bought a townhouse a year ago ,in calif with solar electricity already installed.The solar panels were not installed correctly and with the recent rain ,the roof leaked.Cost him $10,000

to repair .A patch repair could have been done for $6,000 ,he decided to get the whole roof repaired .They did reinstall the solar panels the right way with much wood replaced also.When sat

dishes,solar panels,or other things are installed on a roof they have to be done by a professional or it can be costly to fix a bad job.His insurance didn't cover any of the repair.



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