It seems more and more homeowners in Northern California are installing solar panels on their roof to help reduce their impact on the environment and get some relief from the high cost of energy. California even offers some incentive programs that can reduce the high initial costs of solar panels. Even with so much savings on the line, homeowners hesitate to install solar panels, often out of a worry that doing so will damage their roof. Is it true that your roof can suffer damage from a solar panel installation, and how serious might that damage be?
Walking On Roofs
The truth is that your roof could suffer minor damage from solar panel installation. It does, after all, require that professionals walk on the roof and attach a whole new apparatus to the roof, one that few shingle manufacturers have in mind when creating their products.
However, many solar panel installations are accomplished without damage and remain functioning without causing damage to a roof for years. So, what separates a solar installation job that does damage from one that doesn’t? Once you know what factors might make your roof more likely to suffer damage, you can decide whether installing solar panels on your roof is worth it.
1. Care of the Professionals
Anytime that someone is standing on the roof, they need to take care that they don’t damage the shingles, flashing, or other roof features. Properly trained roofing professional will wear the right footwear, walk on the roof properly, and avoid critical areas like the roof valley.
Professionals also need to know how to compensate for “lag bolts,” the heavy bolts that secure solar panels to roofs. These do require that your installer drill a hole into your roof. If this hole is not properly placed and sealed afterwards, it can be a source of leaks later on. Therefore, choosing experienced and deliberate professionals is key to preventing roof damage from solar panels.
2. Roof Age
Those roofs which suffer severe damage after a solar installation were usually in poor condition before the installation started. Even the most experienced professionals can’t help but damage a roof that is in poor condition. If your shingles are losing granules, look ripped or curled, or are very old, they will most likely be damaged by a solar installation. However, such shingles would need to be replaced soon anyway, as they’re likely to cause leaks, especially in the next big storm. The best course of action is to get a roof replacement before you install your solar panels.
3. Snow Load
Many of the roofs that you hear about which have suffered damage from solar panels have incurred this damage during the winters of more snow-laden states. It’s a challenge for solar panel manufacturers to create panels that happily co-exist with snow. However, in many parts of California, this isn’t a factor.
4. Type of Solar Panels
Different solar panel manufacturers have different solutions to the challenges their product faces on a roof. How the pale is mounted, how it deals with water, and how much it disperses its weight are all critical questions. Asking your professional roofers which solar panels they believe are best engineered for roofs is a must to ensure you’re getting the quality panels you expect.