Probelms with Fafco Solar Hot Water Heater

fredkMay 19, 2010

I am disgusted with the refusal by Fafco to provide even basic customer service for their solar hot water system. After paying all the money to have it installed less than 2 years ago, it has now been disconnected for 2 months and Fafco refuses to provide any help. I am not sure if the other manufacturers are any better but I wish I had known about this before.

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fredk

After 2 months of phone calls, I was able locate an installer to come take a look. The original installer doesn't answer phone calls although they still appear to be in business. The new installer found three leaks in my one year old system. However, they said they cannot help process the replacement panel. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have bought the Fafco system, but now I am stuck with it. Fafco says they cannot process a replacement panel, I have to use the distributor. I have been waiting for callbacks for a week now. Needless to say, I am still disgusted with the Fafco product and service.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 11:52AM
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danielsolarxpert

Like with any industry there are many bad apples and some very good ones also. Research is the name of the game!!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 10:17PM
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tony_lambley+gw_gmail_com

FAFCO Tampa installed our system in the summer of 2006, not a builder or reseller, but FAFCO themselves. It worked fine until we had cold weather. The panel burst in several places because the freeze protection had failed.

FAFCO Tampa's first response was 'yeah, we've had a lot of that, buy another panel' and there was no absolutely no intention of honoring the '10 worry free warranty'. I had a nightmare dealing with them over the issue. The local manager eventually stepped up and got things moving, but only after I been communicating with head office in CA. Calling the Tampa office generally meant having to leave unreturned voicemails and messages with staff. It was extremely annoying and frustrating. Whereas the CA people was very courteous and prompt.

A year later, despite preventative measures of draining the system before we were hit with the cold spell, and leaving it drained for weeks until things warmed up, I discovered it had burst again as soon as I opened the valves. Being extremely conscious of outside temperatures and not trusting the FAFCO system, I now manually empty the system to ensure there is no water in it to freeze. But even that isn't enough for this ghastly FAFCO solar hot water system.

FAFCO charged $119 just to come out and look at it this time, they cut out a burst pipe outside of the panel, and welded in a replacement section. So at least the big costly panel wasn't going to be an issue. Final cost $259.95, material charge $5. Some of this massive cost was re-gluing a plastic pipe in our pool solar system that had an extremely small dripping issue. Guess who installed that system? Correct, FAFCO!

So what do I find today when I reactivate the hot water panel, which has been drained for the last few weeks? Yup, it has burst again! Not only that, it's the same bit of pipework that was replaced earlier in the year.

Many people have asked about our hot water solar system, but not one has turned into a FAFCO customer. Maybe it has something to do with once they hear about the issues you have to deal with should there be a problem?

Clearly what they installed has design and possibly installation issues. If a pipe cannot drain and ends up bursting time and time again, there's obviously something wrong with it.

When you spend $5000 on something, you don't expect it to fail every time it gets cold and have to deal with costly repairs on a "10 year worry free warranty", particularly so when you go out of your way to prevent them. Whatever you save in electricity costs is clearly outweighed by repairing the darn thing, let alone the grief of having to deal with this company.

Before buying a solar hot water system, ignore the spiel about how well they work and what you might save on your power bill, that's a given when they work. Ask about failure rates, how they're handled, hidden fees for repairs etc. And most importantly, have them supply references of customers who have had the system installed for at least 3 winters!

I'll post a follow up, if and when the Tampa office return my call about their hot water system failing yet again. Let's hope it's good news!

Final note: Tampa FAFCO are part of Duramade Windows in this area now, maybe beyond.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 2:50PM
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mrhooked

My problem is actually with the Fafco Revolution Pool Heater. When I bought my house, the Fafco system was 3 years old. I detected leaks recently in the system. Because I am not the original owner, the warranty is not in effect. The Fafco service tech told me that I need at least 3 out of 5 panels replaced(I agrees and will likely replace all 5 panels). However, my subsequent inspection of the panels show that they had leaked within the first 3 years of service and had been plugged to seal the leaks.

I was able to inspect a cross sectioned Revolution panel(from another dealer) and discovered that the dimples in the panel design may cause premature failure due to the process for dimpling the panels. I have relayed this information to Fafco and have not received a response.

I'm still trying to decide which solar pool heater to install. Has anyone else had problems with the Fafco Revolution panels?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:26AM
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beachbumfamily

Does anybody know how to change the screen (filter) in the heat exchange module ?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:02PM
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