Do Solar Panels Damage Your Roof?

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In 2019, the solar industry generated almost $19 billion of investment in the United States economy. Plus, the cost to install solar panels has dropped by over 70% within the last decade.

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular in residential homes and commercial buildings across the world. Not only are they cost-effective, but they’re significantly less damaging to the environment.

There are ways to make your installation even cheaper, too. A residential federal tax credit, for example, enables taxpayers to claim 26% of their installation costs.

Many homeowners wonder whether solar panels damage your roof, though. Keep reading to learn more about solar energy and anything to be anxious about concerning installation.

Do Solar Panels Cause Roof Problems?

As long as solar panels are correctly installed, though, there shouldn’t be any damage to the infrastructure or exterior of your roof. Make sure that you only hire licensed, qualified professionals to do the job. Plus, your roof must be in good condition first.

Let’s look at how they are installed to understand better where some of the anxiety comes from.

How Are Solar Panels Installed?

For the most part, solar panel companies drill holes into a roof to anchor and securely mount the solar panels. They drill these large holes to install lag bolts, which are strong enough to ensure solar panels stay in place. Plus, these bolts are made to specifically withstand natural elements for years to come.

Drilling holes is part of the process and won’t cause any damage to your home. Once the bolts and panels are attached, the bolts get covered with flashing to protect your roof further. The flashing closes off the holes and seals out any moisture.

It also stands up against the wind and other elements.

Flashing also directs any water away from the solar panels so that there’s no worry of moisture seeping in. Solar panels aren’t always installed by drilling holes. Some less common ways of using solar energy, such as solar shingles or solar roof tiles, provide other ways of benefiting from rooftop solar energy.

Likewise, if your roof is flat, you won’t need holes to install the solar either. Flat roofs commonly call for ballast mounting systems, in which the mounts are weighted down enough to ensure the system stays secure.

If you don’t want holes in your roof, you could also opt to install a ground mount and receive solar energy from an offsite location so as not to use your roof.

If your roof does require holes, you still shouldn’t worry. If installed properly, solar panels can extend the life of your roof.

Solar Panels Can Make Your Roof Last Longer

Solar panels offer a few key benefits to your roof.

First, they absorb much of the water, wind, ice, and sunlight before it hits your actual roof since they’re installed on the exterior of your current roof.

This helps your home cool during the hot summer months. The solar panels reduce the home’s inside temperature significantly, as the shingles no longer absorb sunlight. Plus, they keep the roof safer from any falling debris.

Solar panels can also extend your roof’s life because it remains shaded by the panels. Essentially, they act as a protectant against bleaching and drying by the sun, and they’ll help you be more energy efficient! If you live in an area with hail, snow, and ice, you understand the damage those elements can do to a roof.

They add yet another layer of protection and make your roof last longer.

Potential Roof Problems With Solar Panels

When solar panels aren’t installed properly, roof damage can occur, which causes more problems down the road. For example, gaps or holes left in the roof’s material can lead to drainage or leaking when there’s rain or snow.

Your installer must understand solar panel placement on a variety of roof types, especially yours.

It’s important not to oversize solar panels, too. They shouldn’t take up more roof space than needed, as this adds extra and unnecessary weight. Any reputable, professional solar installer will look at your energy use before installation.

In addition to looking at energy use, they’ll analyze the shape and size of your roof to configure the most appropriate and smallest panel array for your home. Their goal will be to leave lots of space for flashing and that gutters and fixtures can function properly. Also, panel hardware should be installed away from any nearby vegetation, such as big tree limbs.

Any roof issues come from improper planning or installation. Once your solar panels are installed, remember to keep them clean and free of debris for optimal performance and durability.

Prepare Your Roof for Solar Panels

When you’re deciding to start using solar energy, you must first consider a few key factors.

First and foremost, how much weight can your roof support? Your professional solar installer should consider the age of your roof, its general condition, its configuration, and which direction the slopes face.

Your roof must be strong enough to support the solar panels’ weight. Otherwise, you’ll need to add support first. Plus, your roof must be big enough for solar panels.

The solar installer will calculate your roof’s square footage compared with the square footage necessary to accommodate the panels necessary to power your home. They’ll calculate this requirement based on the energy you currently use.

It’s common for older roofs to have excessive wear and tear or other damage. If there’s any damage from storms or missing components, you should fix these issues before adding panels to your roof’s surface.

The slopes matter because they should face certain directions so that you get the most out of your solar energy. If they don’t face west or south or don’t see the sun, it might not be cost-effective for you to install panels.

Make Sure Your Roof Is Ready

Before you let a professional solar installer begin working on your roof, you must make sure it’s ready. Get your regular roofer to check that it’s in good shape.

They’ll look for loose shingles, tiles, or flashing. They’ll also check for cracks or breaks, pooling water, and any other damage. They’ll remove any debris and clean out your gutters to ensure they’re ready for any elements or weather after your solar panel installation.

Get your regular roofer to take care of any roof maintenance or necessary repairs before adding solar panels. Doing so prevents additional or more severe damage that could go unnoticed or be harder to fix once your new panels are installed.

Any professional roofer should be able to tell you whether your roof can handle solar panels. If they think the weight will be too much, they’ll suggest an additional support method for your solar panels.

Should You Replace Your Roof First?

How long a roof lasts depends on the type of roof and the materials used. Roofs should be replaced at least every 30 years, though. The goal is to get as much as you can out of your solar panels’ 10 to 20-year lifespan.

The last thing you’d want is for the life of your solar panels to get cut short because you have to remove them to replace your roof.

If your roof is coming up to the end of its lifespan, opt to install a new roof before installing solar panels. Doing so will alleviate any potential issues of an aging roof after your solar installer has already done the work. While it might seem like a big investment initially, opting to replace your roof now could lower your roof replacement costs significantly in the long run.

If you aren’t sure how old your roof is or how much life it has left, call your roofing contractor for an inspection and discuss your roof’s ability to support solar panels.

Good solar roof installation should come with a warranty that covers at least part of your home’s roof. Generally, their workmanship warranty is good for about 10 years. Be sure to find out if the warranty offered by your solar installer voids the original roofing warranty on your home, too.

Now Is the Perfect Time to Install Solar Panels

With an increase in popularity and a decrease in installation cost, now is the perfect time to install solar panels on your home’s roof.

Not only can solar energy help you save significantly on energy bills, but it also provides clean, environmentally-friendly energy that’ll inevitably lower your carbon footprint on the world.

If you’re ready to further protect your home’s roof, save on energy costs, and make the world a greener place, contact us for your solar energy quote or with any questions about the process. We also offer a free consultation for your home or business!