We paid a total of $42,365 for repair work, which failed in less than one year.
August 13, 2014
1 North Clovis Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612
Dear Mr. ********,
Attached is an invoice for the repair of the Montecito spa heater that your company installed for us. I feel that since we paid your company $38,865 to completely rebuild our spa, plus an additional $3,500 to replace the heater per your recommendation, for a total of $42,365, that we had a reasonable expectation that it would operate for at least a year. Unfortunately, it did not and we had to have it repaired.
I have heard that you blame the failure on the heater venting, which your company should have corrected, if it was harmful to the heater. I have also heard that you blame us for the heavy use of chemicals. However, given that we are a family camp, with a huge number of children, your company should have anticipated the heavy use of chemicals and installed a heater with a copper-nickel heat exchanger, which can tolerate the heavy use of chemicals.
Please let us know by the end of the week whether you intend to reimburse us.
Montecito Lake Resort
The necessary repairs were done by Fiesta Pools, Pinedale, CA and cost $2,254.68.
We would like to be reimbursed for that expense.
This letter is in response to the complaint filed by the Montecito Lodge regarding the repair of their spa heater installed by Vineyard Pools.
This project was completed approximately 9-5-13 and Gary the maintenance supervisor for Montecito Lodge was given the orientation by my foreman **** and me.
He indicated that he was familiar with spa operation as he had taken care of the previous one which we had replaced. He also indicated that he would complete the hook up of the vent line from the heater exhaust to the vent pipe.
During the construction process, during the plumbing stage, when we are connecting all pipes to the equipment, we found the system could not hold pressure. We found the existing pool heater had deteriorated to the point of where it was leaking through the metal pipes. As a result a new heater was installed by us.
On approx. August 8, 2014, our office received a phone call from Montecito Lodge and **** my foreman spoke with him about the spa and Gary said that their spa heater was leaking. **** also mentioned to **** that the spa had a couple of occurrences of excessive chemicals being added to the spa which caused chemical readings to be far out of balance. The service call was referred over to Fiesta Pools, who is the warranty contact for Pentair Pool Products. Fiesta Pools did the repairs and informed us that the copper tubes in the heater exchange were corroded from obvious chemical damage due to excessively low ph and alkalinity readings for an extended period of time, causing the heater to corrode and fail. "Water balance" in pools and spas requires pH, alkalinity, cyanuric acid, and calcium hardness to be maintained at ideal levels or you otherwise risk damage to pool equipment, the interior surface of the pool, or risk health issues for bathers.
The State of California mandates that operators of commercial pools and spas maintain DAILY records of each pool open for use indicating the readings of disinfectant residual (i.e. chlorine), pH and maintenance procedures such as cleaning of filters and quantity of chemicals used. Please refer to attached California Code of Regulations governing this.
In reference to Montecito Lodge saying that I should have used a different heater to have prevented this does not excuse them from maintaining the spa water so it is balanced as recommended by health codes and the manufacturer of the equipment. The only difference between the two heaters is that the heater element has a nickel coating over it. The sensors and thermostats are the same metal in both heaters which were corroded due to the corrosive quality of the water. No heater is designed to operate in the conditions that it was submitted to and the nickel coated heater element would have failed eventually as well. The sensors would be the first to fail and then the heater element would follow, so regardless of the heater that we installed, there would have been damage to the heater. Vineyard Pools has used this same model heater on approx. 50 commercial installations and many of the spas have daily high bather use. We have not received any phone calls or notices stating any such issue with the heater element failing.
Montecito Lodge should, by law, have the daily records showing the accurate readings of ph and chlorine. The cyanuric acid level must also be recorded monthly and kept below 100 ppm, the water must be drained and replaced if above 100 ppm. With proper testing, recording, and treatment of the spa water by their staff, the noticeable imbalance levels would have been noted at an earlier and less damaging time. By simply doing what is required by law in maintaining records they would have noted that the pH was low, alkalinity was low, and cyanuric acid was high, This water balance not being maintained properly then damaged the sensitive spa equipment (heater especially) and also makes the water environment dangerous for bathers who use the water.
It is important to note the difference between high chemical use and water balance. This issue was not caused by a high use of chlorine due to the bather load. The heater damage was caused by a corrosive environment caused by a low PH, low alkalinity. All pools should have at least these two parameters balanced regardless if it is high bather use. High bather use would only warrant more sanitizer levels (chlorine), and is separate from PH and alkalinity. In fact more chemicals needed to be added to adjust those two parameters to bring the water into balance, or diluting the water may also resolve the issue. The high use of chemicals such as chlorine is not the issue at hand, but how the overall water levels are balanced is the important factor. The misuse and improper balancing of chemicals in the spa is the reason the heater failed in so many areas.
For example, ***** from Fiesta pools noted that chlorine tablets are being used at an excessive level. The chlorine floater that was in the spa had approximately 7 tablets installed which would have been excessive for even a typical 15,000 gallon pool let alone a 2,000 gallon spa only installation. A normal spa would just need a couple of tablets, which ***** expressed to Montecito Lodge when he saw the large amount of tablets in the feeder. Chlorine tablets have an extremely low PH, they lower the alkalinity, and they also raise cyanuric acid over time - which must be below 100 ppm according to heath code standards. Overuse of chlorine tablets can cause low pH, low alkalinity, and high cyanuric acid in the water. Regardless of the chlorine needed in the water due to high bather loads, the PH and alkalinity should have been adjusted to a more alkaline state by adding sodium bicarbonate and soda ash, to achieve the recommended levels. However, more chemicals were not added and the acidic water was not addressed. The type of chlorine ("tri-chlor tablets") that Montecito Lodge uses regularly to treat their spa created this corrosive and damaging water environment. There are many types of chlorines that are not as acidic that are available. Liquid chlorine or granular (Di-chlor) are other examples of different less corrosive sanitizers that won't cause such a low pH or low alkalinity. Therefore, by balancing the PH and alkalinity, then supplementing the tablets with a different type of chlorine, this water imbalance problem could have been avoided completely.
As far as the vent pipe not being connected properly to the heater, it would not have had anything to do with the damage to the copper in the heater.
As to the statement that if we had used a different heater that had nickel in the tubing, the manufacturers still insist that proper chemical levels be maintained, and not warranty is valid for misuse and abuse by lack of proper maintenance. As stated above it would not have prevented the sensors from failing and eventually the heater element. As I have stated above, the manufacturer would still not warranty their equipment due to improper water balance or maintenance.
The bottom line, as to the damage to the heater, it was caused by lack of proper maintenance and not following manufacturing guidelines as well as the guidelines supplied by the Health Department. If Montecito Lodge had followed normal, required maintenance and record keeping we would not be having this conversation or damaged equipment.
Also on September 14, 2014, I personally visited
the Montecito Lodge and took water samples of the spa water to see what the condition of the water was. What I found with that the water was again out of balance posing potential damaging issues for the bathers, the spa and heating and filtering equipment. (For record purposes, my wife took photos of me testing the pool on that day-the phone stamps the day and time on it)
1. The Ph reading was 7.2 which is low but not dangerous. It should be between 7.2 8.0 according to health code XXXXX.a (see attached document).
2. The adjusted alkalinity reading was very low and poses immediate danger to pool equipment again. The adjusted reading was 54 and should be XXXXXX. This indicates too much acid is being added to the water and needs to be addressed very soon to prevent new damage, Cyanuric acid accounts for roughly 30% of the alkalinity being adjusted from "total" to "adjusted". Therefore cyanuric acid must be lowered and alkalinity must be raised. (dilute spa water, and use sodium bicarbonate as one possible recommendation) 3. The cyanuric acid (CYA) was also very high at 151 and according to Health Dept. guidelines is to be less than 100. (drain and refill spa to lower cyanuric acid)
Based on the above, it is my strong opinion that Vineyard Pools has no obligation to pay for repairs of the heater. 1. Fiesta Pools had pointed out that the damage was clearly due to lack of water maintenance and the corrosive properties of the water levels. 2. Also the test that I ran on 9-14-14 shows the water continues to be out of balance according to the health code. 3. If Montecito Lodge was keeping proper records on a daily basis as is required by Health Dept. law, the maintenance staff would have been alerted in a timely basis to address the water balance before it posed danger to the pool equipment and bathers.
As a result of the explanation and facts listed above, I strongly believe this file should be closed in Vineyard's favor. Any further questions or clarifications please contact Vineyard Pools.