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  • Temporary Removal of Panels to Fix Roof Damage

    First off, I have been with Vivint for 3 years and the panels/system work fine. I enjoy the lower rates for solar energy.

    In May of this year, I noticed water coming in from the roof just under the panel array. I immediately informed Vivint Solar. After 3 separate technician/contractor visits, the problem was finally determined to be damage caused by squirrels. Vivint will not cover damage caused by animals, even if it is located underneath the panels. There were other things recommended and fixed, though they were not the cause of the leak and all this took months to play out. Meanwhile there's still a hole in my roof.

    The main issue is that Vivint Solar requires $500 just to temporarily remove two panels; that's the same cost as completely removing the entire system per my purchasing agreement. I am however not requesting removal of "the system", just two panels. I do not understand why a 2 billion dollar company will not pro-rate the temporary removal cost and basically hold my roof hostage. Vivint's customer service is awful. After countless calls and hours wasted, nothing has happened and I am unable to repair my damaged roof. Water has been coming in every time it rains since May 2017. In short, Vivint could care less.

    I still need to get my roof repaired and clean up water damage inside my home. This $500 additional cost to simply make my roof available is a serious kick in the teeth while I'm down already. I have contacted local consumer protection to get the legal ball rolling.

  • #2

    $50, or $500, pretty inexpensive in the big picture relative to the damage that can be caused by a leaking roof. The cost to send a tech out to uninstall and reinstall isn't going scale per panel... it probably doesn't cost $500 to remove two panels, but fighting over a couple hundred with them doesn't look like it would be worth the risk, to me.
    Last edited by sensij; 07-17-2017, 03:30 PM.
    CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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    • #3
      Do you believe the explanation of rodents as to the cause of the damage ? See it yourself ? Your choice of inspecting contractor or Vivant's ? I agree w/ the idea that removing and resetting 2 panels can approach the cost of removing and resetting more panels, maybe a lot of panels, but unless I saw claw/tooth marks or squirrel spoor or other smoking gun evidence, I'd need more than the simple word of Vivant that roof rats did the damage. My experience is they're about as slippery as SolarChitty.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
        Do you believe the explanation of rodents as to the cause of the damage ? See it yourself ? Your choice of inspecting contractor or Vivant's ? I agree w/ the idea that removing and resetting 2 panels can approach the cost of removing and resetting more panels, maybe a lot of panels, but unless I saw claw/tooth marks or squirrel spoor or other smoking gun evidence, I'd need more than the simple word of Vivant that roof rats did the damage. My experience is they're about as slippery as SolarChitty.
        I had squirrels damaging my roof once- it took them months to settle there and finally make a hole still not big enough to cause a leak into living area. At that moment they finally got on my nerves as they were running like crazy in the attic at night for hrs. I climbed there to finally identify what is all that noise and eventually found the hole while looking for the ways they were getting in. I saw them outside but never put 2 + 2 together and connected them to the night noise. ...rs can walk vertical walls no problem, they don't need a tree nearby. Point is it is hard to miss them even without specialized inspection. Can you climb to the attic and see yourself? Since you know the area it is leaking from it could be possible to see stains on the inner side of the roof.

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        • #5
          Well it definitely wasn't an installation issue, as I've had the panels for 3 years. There are leaves and branches around stuck underneath the panels which indicate animal damage either way. From the attic, I can only see the hole which is pretty far away and very difficult to reach due to the pitch of the roof and ceiling below the attic. This roof is 2 stories up, making it more difficult. I'm sure i'll wind up paying for now, but the local legal system believes that $500 for temporary removal of 2 panels is unfair and will be doing an investigation. For reference, my system has 39 total panels and the agreement I signed with Vivint was $500 per-removal of "the system" meaning the whole thing. The cost and amount of work should be proportional, why not?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jpeg9999 View Post
            The cost and amount of work should be proportional, why not?
            Really? You are absolutely wrong.

            If what you are sayng is true, then lets say you have 20 panels. You are expecting it to cost 500/20 = 25 per panel to remove and replace each one? If thats the case, if you were Vivint would you accept $25 if I paid you to remove one panel at a time, one DAY at a time, while i fixed each section of the roof under that panel? So youll drive out to my house 20 times, collecting 25 each day for a total of 500 dollars. Should be the same to you, right as 500 is 500? No, there is a thing called economy of scale. In my example, Labor, expenses multiplied. Risk of injury and liability multiplied. And many other things that make your statment untrue. The opposite happens for uninstalling 2 vs 20. It may only add an extra hour or two of overall labor, but all other costs and risks were the same to come out.

            Now, I do think its a bit of a crappy situation since you are leasing and they own the panels, they may have you pinned down atm and require you to hire THEM at their rates to remove panels to fix your roof. Is that what your contract states? If so, a court might be able intervene with a judgment (after expensive legal services) allowing you to choose another vendor who will do it for a discount lower than 500. But vivint will argue that was caveat emptor when you signed that contract.

            Pull out your contract and read it thoroughly to verify it prevents you from hiring your own person to remove those two panels. You can upload it and although we arent attorneys, we can at least point you in some direction to take to your consumer protection folks.

            I wish more people would start small businesses for their primary income as theyd come to understand and respect how other companies operate. Some may lessen their hate for the evil corps who serve the evil 1%ers.

            edit: you have 39 panels. So were you thinking like $13 per panel? I wouldnt send an employee of mine onto property, up a ladder, onto roof, in middle of summer, for anything less than $150 for the 1st hour.

            Your comment mustve been sarcasm, no?
            Last edited by cebury; 07-17-2017, 07:34 PM. Reason: Added lasf line

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jpeg9999 View Post
              Well it definitely wasn't an installation issue, as I've had the panels for 3 years. There are leaves and branches around stuck underneath the panels which indicate animal damage either way. From the attic, I can only see the hole which is pretty far away and very difficult to reach due to the pitch of the roof and ceiling below the attic. This roof is 2 stories up, making it more difficult. I'm sure i'll wind up paying for now, but the local legal system believes that $500 for temporary removal of 2 panels is unfair and will be doing an investigation. For reference, my system has 39 total panels and the agreement I signed with Vivint was $500 per-removal of "the system" meaning the whole thing. The cost and amount of work should be proportional, why not?
              just curious- what would you consider the fair price? As was stated here unfortunately this kind of work has very high associated 'setup costs' consisting of someone making it there and back which probably takes majority of the $500 amount. I hope they don't follow your logic and in case of 3 panels wouldn't be asking $750 . I'd check the roof myself to ensure what they claim about squirrels is true and if it is then probably pay making sure they follow the contract as well.

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              • #8
                Sometimes a contractor has a minimum price for field work to cover the cost of his equipment and crew. Sad to say but that may be why you are being told the cost is $500 even for just a couple of panels.

                Remember they are on a two story home which means some type of long ladder or man lift to reach them. The rental on a man lift for one day is the same if you use it for one panel or many.

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                • #9
                  I have checked the roof and attic myself. It definitely does look like animal damage, so I know that I'll be covering that. I just can't get to my roof unless they remove 2 of the panels. $500 is the cost to remove "the system" as stated in my PPA to be "solar panels, inverters, meters, and other components (collectively, the "System"). It doesn't say anything in there about paying that amount to temporarily remove a minimal part of the system.

                  The idea of only paying $20 to remove one panel per day is ridiculous and obviously not what I meant; Your post was not helpful.

                  What is a fair and reasonable price? $100 or $200 would clearly cover the cost of their installer's time to remove two panels and put them back a week later. As stated in the PPA, $500 is the cost to remove the entire system. They have their own employees who do installation with all their own equipment.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jpeg9999 View Post
                    I have checked the roof and attic myself. It definitely does look like animal damage, so I know that I'll be covering that. I just can't get to my roof unless they remove 2 of the panels. $500 is the cost to remove "the system" as stated in my PPA to be "solar panels, inverters, meters, and other components (collectively, the "System"). It doesn't say anything in there about paying that amount to temporarily remove a minimal part of the system.

                    The idea of only paying $20 to remove one panel per day is ridiculous and obviously not what I meant; Your post was not helpful.

                    What is a fair and reasonable price? $100 or $200 would clearly cover the cost of their installer's time to remove two panels and put them back a week later. As stated in the PPA, $500 is the cost to remove the entire system. They have their own employees who do installation with all their own equipment.
                    I can't tell you what a "fair" price is to do the work. Yes they have their own employees (which need to be paid) and tools (which need to be expensed). That is how a business works.

                    I really can't help you if you are hard totally closed into believing they will remove 2 panels for less than $500. That is what they want and if you have a PPA then you have to do what they say.

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                    • #11
                      I would think a minimum 4 hour minimum call out is not unreasonable. You are taking an employee off of a potentially money making jobsite to go over to your place for a nuisance job that isn't their fault. Bird skirting may have helped but not necessarily. Squirrels are persistent creatures and if they want to get under your array they will find a way.

                      Now what they get per hour is the question. Contractors have overhead to cover. If they have a $75.00 hourly charge, I'd say you were getting a bargain. At that rate you're talking $300.00. You are pretty much at the mercy of what they are going to charge as it is their property that has to be affected. Solar leases suck.
                      2.2kw Suntech mono, Classic 200, NEW Trace SW4024

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jpeg9999 View Post
                        I have checked the roof and attic myself. It definitely does look like animal damage, so I know that I'll be covering that. I just can't get to my roof unless they remove 2 of the panels. $500 is the cost to remove "the system" as stated in my PPA to be "solar panels, inverters, meters, and other components (collectively, the "System"). It doesn't say anything in there about paying that amount to temporarily remove a minimal part of the system.

                        The idea of only paying $20 to remove one panel per day is ridiculous and obviously not what I meant; Your post was not helpful.

                        What is a fair and reasonable price? $100 or $200 would clearly cover the cost of their installer's time to remove two panels and put them back a week later. As stated in the PPA, $500 is the cost to remove the entire system. They have their own employees who do installation with all their own equipment.
                        One other possibility, among many, might be that the charge for removing the entire system per the contract has little or nothing to do with the actual cost of performing the work, and perhaps a legal requirement of the contract and made some nominal (small ?) number so as to not scare too many marks off, and not really much of a concern at contract pitch anyway. That is, the $500 may have no real cost estimating behind it - just what it might do do help/hurt a sale. Added to that, if that $550 is only for system removal, my guess is that system removal is a whole lot easier, at least by half or more, than system removal and reinstallation., especially if, say 20 yrs. down the road, or a new homeowner, care will not be needed or used in system component handling. Besides, it's Vivant. What do you expect ?

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                        • #13
                          Keep in mind that this is a 10 kW array of panels that makes tons of money for Vivint. It generates more power than I use for most of the year. From MAR through NOV I pay nothing to PEPCO, it all goes to Vivint. Plus Vivint is selling excess power back to the city grid, right?

                          I know that it's a business and that Vivint has costs too. I just think that since they're using my roof for 20 years, they could take an interest in it and its upkeep. Vivint's customer service has been terrible. They can't even send me an invoice for the $500 quickly so as to avoid further damage from the leak. I first noticed the leak in May. All I've learned is that they could care less about my situation or my roof. This isn't how things were represented to me by Vivint sales folks and bad business practices in general.

                          Thanks for the responses. It has helped me understand what is "normal" for this situation. I have accepted the $500 cost, but it is not spelled out in the PPA.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jpeg9999 View Post
                            Keep in mind that this is a 10 kW array of panels that makes tons of money for Vivint. It generates more power than I use for most of the year. From MAR through NOV I pay nothing to PEPCO, it all goes to Vivint. Plus Vivint is selling excess power back to the city grid, right?

                            I know that it's a business and that Vivint has costs too. I just think that since they're using my roof for 20 years, they could take an interest in it and its upkeep. Vivint's customer service has been terrible. They can't even send me an invoice for the $500 quickly so as to avoid further damage from the leak. I first noticed the leak in May. All I've learned is that they could care less about my situation or my roof. This isn't how things were represented to me by Vivint sales folks and bad business practices in general.

                            Thanks for the responses. It has helped me understand what is "normal" for this situation. I have accepted the $500 cost, but it is not spelled out in the PPA.
                            So in your 1st post to this thread, you seem to say you enjoy the lower rates. Now you seem to be less than happy that they are using your roof and making money from it. They may or may not be selling excess power. That depends on local conditions, the POCO, and possibly the contract you signed.

                            Not surprised about what you see as a lack of service. Vivant is a bottom feeder just like Solar Chitty - been saying that around here for years. But I don't understand how the speed with which they send you a bill has any bearing on avoidance of further damage.

                            Somehow, I'm also not surprised things like lousy service and bad business practices weren't explained to you up front.

                            I'd guess any interest they have in the well being of your roof probably stops with what's in the contract you signed. At best, if it was me, I'd not expect or infer more than that.

                            I'm sorry that the situation turned sour for you, and I'm not trying to kick you when you're down, but for other's reading this thread and IMO only, and absolutely NOMB, you picked one of the worst vendors to implement one of the lousiest methods of getting PV power to your property. Caveat Emptor.

                            Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                              ... Caveat Emptor.

                              Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.
                              Now I know who to ask if I'll be short on harsh reality check . Actually, much appreciated.

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