Report: #259802

Complaint Review: AWEB Supply - Alan Watts - Baton Rouge Louisiana

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: Sparks Maryland
  • AWEB Supply - Alan Watts 7350 Tom Drive Baton Rouge, Louisiana U.S.A.

AWEB Supply - Alan Watts - Slim Jim Geo Lake Plate AWEB Supply Sells Defective Slim Jim Geothermal Exchangers and Won't Support Them or Honor Guarantees. Rip Off Over $3000! Baton Rouge Louisiana

*Consumer Comment: Check your flow

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: AWEB Supply stands behind our Products

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In 2005 we purchased an 8-ton Slim Jim Geo Lake Plate (model SJ-10T) for over $2200 through AWEB Supply In Louisiana after extensive discussions with Mr. Alan Watts, the owner of the company that invented it. This was a huge mistake and I would warn anybody tempted to use this companys products, which on the surface seem to be sensible and practical, not to make the same error I did and to avoid this company and Alan Watts, who comes off as a nice person unless you know better.

Prior to purchase I had investigated using the relatively compact Slim Jim after I saw it praised in a geothermal forum discussing the latest developments in technology. The Slim Jim, if it worked as advertised, would provide an alternative to HDPE tubing coils for my geothermal pond loop that needed to support 7 tons of maximum capacity employing conventional Bryant/Carrier geothermal heat pumps (for 3 zones: one 3-ton unit and two 2-ton units). Because the Slim Jim was relatively new and unknown, my geothermal contractor in Maryland was not aware of it and was not willing to support it (none of the geothermal contractors listed in MD, northern VA, or southern PA I contacted had heard of it).

Therefore, I had to be extra careful in vetting my choice beforehand. In so doing, I described my stream and spring-fed 1 acre pond (avg. depth = 9 ft, min = 4ft, max = 18ft, 12ft deep in area where Slim Jim was to be situated) to Alan Watts in detail as well as the equipment to be used. He assured me that the 8T Slim Jim would be more than adequate for my needs and that it works with all brands of geothermal heat pumps on the market including, specifically, the models I told him we would be using.

I was guaranteed that it would work or my money-back, including shipping. I told him I would not take a chance to purchase the product otherwise. I went ahead with the purchase and my geothermal contractor installed the unit in October 2005. Installation was straightforward no complaints: two 1.35 HDPE pipes (one for inflow and one for outflow) from the heat pumps go directly to 2 easy-to-fuse couplings on the Slim Jim. The unit came with a stand so that it was about 2.5 feet off the bottom and the wider area it was situated in (20x30 at 12 depth) was surrounded by a 1 tall underwater silt fence for extra protection. A 4 PVC pipe was sealed with air inside and attached to the top of the Slim Jim as a float to keep it upright underwater.

The unit was tested and seemed to work fine but we didnt need any heat until a spell of temperatures in the low to mid 50s hit in November. The pond water temperature was also in the 50s and we later confirmed that the pond water rarely goes below 40 degrees even in the coldest of winter at the location of the Slim Jim. The units could not heat the house for more than about 40 minutes before locking up.

We had to spend $$$ heating our house with auxiliary resistive electric heat. Ice would later surface on the pond in big chucks that had the ripple pattern of the Slim Jims stainless steel plates. Our ordeal had begun. My HVAC contractor and I attempted to call AWEB for help but Watts was always gone and never returned our calls. In the meantime, in fairness to AWEB, we did discover a problem in the balance of the units, and an electrical problem in one 2-ton unit that caused it to shut down prematurely. We also discovered in the Spring that the Slim Jim had settled and was tilted about 25 deg off vertical which their website warns against because tilt can significantly lower exchange efficiency.

So when Spring rolled around and these problems were all fixed we thought things would be OK. Ropes were also affixed to the Slim Jim and anchored to make sure it stayed vertical and a rod was planted alongside to verify this at all times. Unfortunately, there were no more heating needs until the next fall and the unit adequately cooled our house during the Summer of 2006.

The problems of the previous year repeated in November. All Fall and Winter we had to waste hundreds of dollars again on auxiliary heat as 2 different HVAC contractors were called in to investigate the problem (in case my original contractor was the problem). Finally, Alan Watts at AWEB got back to us and proposed flushing the system and various adjustments. Nothing worked. He just kept insisting that the Slim Jim was not the problem, our equipment was at fault, or that the Slim Jim was buried in silt or tilting again.

But everything was independently verified to work but the Slim Jim (which we confirmed had no silt build up or tilt) and when presented with hard data, even Watts could not fault our equipment. Finally, just before Spring 2007, Watts proposed a series of tests he said would conclusively tell him what was wrong. These tests required special thermometers and other test equipment and a full day of my HVAC contractors time at my expense (another $660). We testing the water outside the Slim Jim (43-46 deg F), on the intakes and outtakes of the heat pumps, verified that all temperature differentials were within specifications, and the tests showed that the Slim Jim could only support 3 tons under these conditions before the circulating fluid got below its 20 deg F lockout.

Alan Watts hemmed and hawed and said hed go do some checking and get back to us. He never did. I kept calling and got no return calls. Finally, one of his workers told me theyd take the unit back with a 20% restocking fee. I was furious and eventually talked to Watts and had an email exchange that Id be delighted to share if reached through this website. He told me Id have to go to the expense of removing, packing, and shipping the unit back to him and that I would only receive a full refund if his tests showed the Slim Jim was defective. He was unwilling to specify these tests so that I might subject them to independent verification.

I also told him that I was would be more than willing to pay to fly him or any designated third-party contractor Watts might select, plus their fee, if he/they could fix the problem demonstrating that the Slim Jim was not at fault. He refused. He only offered to fly out at my expense to perform new types of tests of his choosing (which he would not disclose for independent verification) and would only refund same if his tests showed the Slim Jim failed these tests that were completely at his discretion (though he had previously told us that the tests done by my contractor under his phone supervision were conclusive).

Furthermore, Watts had already admitted to me in a previous conversation that the Slim Jim could be fine but that perhaps it wasnt suitable for my pond as hed originally promised. So I obviously couldnt trust sending back my only evidence against his unverifiable tests especially since he had not demonstrated any good faith and I was already out many thousands of dollars in this ordeal.

Dont you think that somebody selling a product like this would like to know whats going wrong? All he kept saying is we have never had problems before. Well, of course he can say that because he never acknowledges them. Since then, in my fury, and in preparing to file a lawsuit, I have been calling other geothermal dealers and contractors and I was not surprised to learn I may not be the only one having problems.

I hope to bring other cases to the attention of this website so companies like AWEB and Alan Watts wont get away with this again. They have cost us full enjoyment of our new home for over 2 years now not to mention thousands of dollars (and thousands of dollars yet to come in replacement). Please dont let it happen to you.

Sparks, Maryland

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/10/2007 06:01 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/aweb-supply-alan-watts/baton-rouge-louisiana-70806/aweb-supply-alan-watts-slim-jim-geo-lake-plate-aweb-supply-sells-defective-slim-jim-ge-259802. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#2 Consumer Comment

Check your flow

AUTHOR: Msetzekorn - (U.S.A.)

POSTED: Monday, January 12, 2009
The installed pipe size is borderline for a 7 ton system. Typically, the biggest problem water source heat pumps have is flow, especially in heating mode. If your unit was designed to see 10 gallons per minute, but it actually is getting 5, you will sub-cool the fluid. Eventually, you will drive the temperature down to the cut-off point. There are several things to look at when evaluating flow;

1. The linear feet of piping between the HX and the units
2. The performance/capacity of the pump
3. An excessive number of elbows, fittings, joints, etc.
4. check valves to small or in the wrong locations.

The only conclusive way to verify this issue is to have flow tests conducted. If the Heat pumps are not receiving the required flow, they will shut down. Cooling mode is more forgiving, and could very easily operate (less efficiently though) with lower flow.
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#1 REBUTTAL Owner of company

AWEB Supply stands behind our Products

AUTHOR: Aweb Supply - (U.S.A.)

POSTED: Thursday, June 19, 2008
AWEB Supply is the manufacturer and distributor of Slim Jim The Geo Lake Plate - "Pond Loop in a Package" heat exchangers. We only sell to HVAC Contractors, Geothermal Loop Installers and HVAC Distributors.

Slim Jim The Geo Lake Plate is a very simple exchanger with no moving parts. Their performance depends totally on proper installation and the environment in which they are placed. AWEB Supply warranties against manufacturer defects of our product.

We did not design nor install the system for Mr. Andy. We sold a Slim Jim Heat Exchanger to his HVAC Contractor. We did attempt to assist his contractor with the heating issues via phone and email, however could not determine why the overall system was not performing as he felt it should.

Alan Watts of AWEB Supply advised the contractor and Mr. Andy that he would be more than willing to travel at AWEB Expense, meet with the contractor and together determine if the Slim Jim thermal performance is as specified. If the plate was found to be defective, AWEB Supply would provide a new Slim Jim plate to the contractor and pay his expenses to install it. However, if the Slim Jim was found NOT to be defective and met its' thermal transfer levels, Mr. Zncy would be required to reimburse AWEB Supply for its' time and travel expenses. - See our exact offer to Mr. Krause:

"The Slim Jim plate is but one of many components of your total heat pump system. The plate has a specific thermal performance capacity and installation requirements. I do no fix heat pump systems. The offer still stands to travel to your home with your dealer, PIPCO, to test the plate for its' thermal performance only. The conditions are still the same. If thermal performance is as published, you pay my time and expenses for the trip. If the plate proves to be defective, the trip is on me and I furnish your dealer another plate at no charge and pay his expenses to replace it."

The Slim Jim has been independently tested and proven to perform as published when installed properly.

The Slim Jim plate is but one of many components of a total geothermal heat pump system. The total system (heat pump capacity, pumps, piping, duct work, loop) must be properly sized to meet the heating and/or cooling requirments of the application on which they are placed.

Alan Watts and AWEB Supply are proud of their products and reputation in the geothemal industry. We stand behind our products and DO NOT RIP OFF our customers.

Alan Watts, CGD, IAI
Certified GeoExchange Designer
IGSHPA Accredited Installer
AWEB Supply
7350 Tom Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
225/928-2087 Fax

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