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  • Leak under panels

    I have a roof leak under my solar panels. I measured where it is leaking from inside the attic ,transferred the measurements outside and it lines up with close with a mounting point under a panel.

    I called Tesla and they said to get a roofing contractor in my area to send them a statement that the leak is related to the panel. Tesla also said that a contractor would be able to remove the panel and do the repair. They would not have to come and remove it. I asked if they had a list of contractors they work with and they said no ... to just call around.

    Is that correct? Seems like since they technically own the panels they would want to control who takes them off.

    Background: Installed around 2012 in Maryland. It was a 20 year prepaid PPA. I purchased the house about 3 years ago and everything was transferred to me.

  • #2
    What does the contract that you inherited say ? Read it, be persistant and get everyone's name as soon as they pick up the phone. Also, call the BBB if you get blown off.

    To my limited experience with SolarCity/Tesla, that sounds about typical for them. My experience with them over several of the contracts that they peddled off to homeowners in my HOA: Expect incompetence from everyone, don't expect to talk to the same person more than once, and don't expect professionalism from anyone there.

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    • #3
      The PPA makes it clear that they own the "system" & are responsible for any repairs to actual equipment. It also says that the system can only be removed & replaced "such as repairing the roof where the System is located" ... "pursuant to the limited warranty."

      The "Performance Guarantee and Limited Warranty" only guarantees the roof penetrations for a year. So I don't expected them to do anything about that. It is not quite as clear regarding panel removal in this type of situation. It mostly goes over how they are not responsible for lost production if the system is offline due to "roof repairs". The closest I could find is under "System Repair, Relocation or Removal" section that says "if (i) the system needs repairs that are not the responsibility of SolarCity, (ii) the system needs to be removed and reinstalled to facilitate remodeling of your Home, (iii) relocated to another home ...<SNIP> ... you will have Solar City, or another similarly qualified service provider perform such repairs, removal and re-installation

      I guess my biggest concern is Tesla owns the equipment & if I just get some contractor to do the work (remove, fix leak, replace) that SolarCity might shirk their responsibility later if something is wrong with the system.

      So anyway for now I will do as they asked and find a contractor who can do it. Get a quote / explanation of the needed repairs & send it to them. I called a few roofing companies last night & so far no luck. None of them wanted to get involved in removing the solar panels. I think one of the problems is that Tesla/SolarCity from what I can tell is no longer active in this area of Maryland.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by AeroEngy View Post
        The PPA makes it clear that they own the "system" & are responsible for any repairs to actual equipment. It also says that the system can only be removed & replaced "such as repairing the roof where the System is located" ... "pursuant to the limited warranty."

        The "Performance Guarantee and Limited Warranty" only guarantees the roof penetrations for a year. So I don't expected them to do anything about that. It is not quite as clear regarding panel removal in this type of situation. It mostly goes over how they are not responsible for lost production if the system is offline due to "roof repairs". The closest I could find is under "System Repair, Relocation or Removal" section that says "if (i) the system needs repairs that are not the responsibility of SolarCity, (ii) the system needs to be removed and reinstalled to facilitate remodeling of your Home, (iii) relocated to another home ...<SNIP> ... you will have Solar City, or another similarly qualified service provider perform such repairs, removal and re-installation

        I guess my biggest concern is Tesla owns the equipment & if I just get some contractor to do the work (remove, fix leak, replace) that SolarCity might shirk their responsibility later if something is wrong with the system.

        So anyway for now I will do as they asked and find a contractor who can do it. Get a quote / explanation of the needed repairs & send it to them. I called a few roofing companies last night & so far no luck. None of them wanted to get involved in removing the solar panels. I think one of the problems is that Tesla/SolarCity from what I can tell is no longer active in this area of Maryland.
        Thank you. Understood.

        A suggestion which may be unnecessary in your case: get all communications with the vendor in writing.

        Good luck on finding a contractor. Most roofers won't chance the liability involved with dealing with something they know little about and can make more money doing stuff that's more familiar to them. Also, most solar vendors know what scumbags SolarCity/Tesla is and won't touch their stuff.

        Not for you, and not a knock, but maybe for other's considering residential PV, your plight is another example of why it's probably and most of the time better to deal with established, local solar contractors.

        Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by AeroEngy View Post
          The PPA makes it clear that they own the "system" & are responsible for any repairs to actual equipment. It also says that the system can only be removed & replaced "such as repairing the roof where the System is located" ... "pursuant to the limited warranty."

          The "Performance Guarantee and Limited Warranty" only guarantees the roof penetrations for a year. So I don't expected them to do anything about that. It is not quite as clear regarding panel removal in this type of situation. It mostly goes over how they are not responsible for lost production if the system is offline due to "roof repairs". The closest I could find is under "System Repair, Relocation or Removal" section that says "if (i) the system needs repairs that are not the responsibility of SolarCity, (ii) the system needs to be removed and reinstalled to facilitate remodeling of your Home, (iii) relocated to another home ...<SNIP> ... you will have Solar City, or another similarly qualified service provider perform such repairs, removal and re-installation

          I guess my biggest concern is Tesla owns the equipment & if I just get some contractor to do the work (remove, fix leak, replace) that SolarCity might shirk their responsibility later if something is wrong with the system.

          So anyway for now I will do as they asked and find a contractor who can do it. Get a quote / explanation of the needed repairs & send it to them. I called a few roofing companies last night & so far no luck. None of them wanted to get involved in removing the solar panels. I think one of the problems is that Tesla/SolarCity from what I can tell is no longer active in this area of Maryland.
          I would document the conversation and then remove the panels to make the roof repair. I would take my sweet time putting them back like they have taken their time to respond. I know that is shooting yourself in the foot but it would get their attention by depriving them of revenue. After a few months it might be in their best interest to come out and replace the panels themselves. Of course I would research my options in terms of the agreement and the cost to you of the lost production. We are going into winter so it might be a good time especially to make a roof repair before further damage is done by the leak.
          Last edited by Ampster; 10-17-2019, 09:55 PM.

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          • #6
            Hi AeroEngy,

            We are experiencing a similar problem. Our panels were installed a couple of years ago but we just discovered a few leaks where the panels are mounted to the roof. Tesla informed us that the warranty was only for 1 year, and they can get someone to take off the panels from the roof only after a few months as they are short-staffed. Roofers are not willing to take off panels, due to liability. Not sure what to do with winter looming in the Northeast. Any update/tips would be appreciated. Our panels are owned by Tesla too with a 20 year lease. Thank you!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Elton View Post
              Hi AeroEngy,

              We are experiencing a similar problem. Our panels were installed a couple of years ago but we just discovered a few leaks where the panels are mounted to the roof. Tesla informed us that the warranty was only for 1 year, and they can get someone to take off the panels from the roof only after a few months as they are short-staffed. Roofers are not willing to take off panels, due to liability. Not sure what to do with winter looming in the Northeast. Any update/tips would be appreciated. Our panels are owned by Tesla too with a 20 year lease. Thank you!
              Only a tip: In your dealings, know that Tesla/Solar City is a bottom feeder and assume they don't care about your problem.

              Do you own the system or lease it ?

              What does your agreement say about leaks and such ?

              After you read the contract you signed looking for what happens in emergency situations, or perhaps what qualifies as an emergency, I'd send a registered, certified letter to the vendor advising them that you are getting the roof repaired as an emergency measure and retaining legal counsel if they don't respond within 48 hrs. or some other short time.

              I wouldn't expect the vendor to respond, but you'll at least be on record as having given them notice of a problem.

              Note to potential residential PV users: This seems pretty typical of SolarCity/Tesla shenanigans but not unheard of with other vendors. Best insurance (but still not bulletproof) is to get informed and educate yourself beyond vendor hype and friends/neighbors opinions before you commit, and while doing so spend as much or more time evaluating potential vendors as you do evaluating equipment.
              Last edited by J.P.M.; 01-06-2020, 10:24 AM. Reason: corrected spelling error.

              Comment


              • #8
                You are not going to find a roofing contractor who will touch the system. Their crews are not trained electricians.
                You would be better off finding a small reputable solar installer in your area and asking them for a quote to repair the system. They will have the knowledge and tools to do the job.

                As others have said, you're in for a fight. Document everything.

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                • #9
                  Some local solar installers also have roofing businesses so that might reduce the finger-pointing if the same company/owner is ultimately doing both the solar and roofing tasks.
                  Dave W. Gilbert AZ
                  6.63kW grid-tie owner

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by emartin00 View Post
                    You would be better off finding a small reputable solar installer in your area and asking them for a quote to repair the system. They will have the knowledge and tools to do the job.

                    As others have said, you're in for a fight. Document everything.
                    And from what Elton is writing, system repair doesn't sound like it's necessary. Reads to me like the roof is leaking, not the PV.

                    I certainly appreciate Elton is between a rock and a hard place. Do emergency repairs, save or perhaps mitigate further damage, but give the vendor an easy out by voiding any warranty or protections that may exist under the contract.

                    That's a crap sandwich with no bread.

                    Elton: Any chance of some relief through homeowner's insurance ? Read your policy. Many policies specifically exclude solar systems and their related issues but it might be worth a sniff.

                    I'd also agree with Azdave with respect to finding a solar contractor who also does roofing, although many solar contractors who claim to be roofers do little more than sub out the roof work.

                    Still, one source, even if subcontracting is involved, may make some solar contractor more amenable to fixing the roof.

                    Still, and over all, I'd still stay on Tesla/SolarCity's ass like a diaper on a baby with diarrea.
                    My guess is you'll also need a lot of documentation and backup of your efforts if you expect them to fess up and do right.
                    Keep good records and get the name of EVERYONE you speak with before you say anything to them besides asking for their name.
                    To reiterate: Write everything down.

                    Good luck.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We did an R&R on a Tesla (Solar City) system last year. After getting it back going and running for a few weeks the system had a ground fault occur and we went out to check the system, reset it and got it going again unable to actual verify a fault. Typical intermittent that often occurs during monsoon season here. Of course Tesla wanted to blame us for the cause and remotely shutdown the system through their monitoring system. Even the SolarEdge tech support people said they couldn't get the system back online for the customer without Tesla permission. After several months of a pissed off customer, he finally got Tesla to send their tech out to evaluate the reinstall. They couldn't find anything wrong either so turned the system back on. I think their service department has become very immune to pissed-off customers - all the pleasant helpful service reps have jumped ship and only the frustrated ones are left.
                      BSEE, R11, NABCEP, Chevy BoltEV, >2500kW installed

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