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Will Solar Panels Damage My Roof?

If you're thinking about having solar panels installed on your home, you may have heard the common concern that they could cause roof damage. Of course, when it comes to the integrity of your roof and home, it's only natural to be cautious before making significant changes. But are your worries justified, or are they misplaced fears?


The truth is that solar panels won't cause damage to your roof, but only if experienced technicians install them for you. If you try to tackle the job yourself or leave it in the hands of someone else who doesn't specialize in solar panel installation, you're gambling with the durability of your roof. You'll also risk losing more money afterward repairing the damage done.


Installing solar panels is a complicated process, but homeowners continue to take chances and harm their roofs despite this repeated warning. We don't want you to be one of them, so we've outlined the installation process and how it can damage your roof and home if not done by professionals. We hope you'll use this information to avoid making a potentially expensive mistake.




Prepping Your Roof Before Installation


The condition of your roof will determine if installing solar panels will create problems down the line. Solar panels need a solid roof to support them, as the added weight can worsen any weakened area. But here's the trick -- how can you tell if your roof is strong enough to support a solar panel installation?


Unless you're well versed in roofing, you probably can't correctly assess the state of your roof. Knowing its strength requires analyzing all the joints and support points of the structure as a whole. A comprehensive professional inspection is the best way to determine if your roof is strong enough for panels.


If an inspection concludes that the state of your roof isn't fit for panels, don't worry. A roofer can still install them by adding specialized support systems. Another solution could be to reinforce your roof's supports.


Of course, there's only so much you can do for an aged roof before it's simply no good. If your roof is too old, you may need a complete replacement before adding panels. On the positive side, this gives you the chance to build a roof specifically with solar panels in mind.


A lesser problem you may still face is one of size. Your roof's surface area and angle determine how many and what size panels you can install. A roofer can make those calculations for you, so it's not something you should fret over, but do keep it in mind when drawing up your plans.


The Installation Process


Before we look at how poor installation can harm your roof, let's look at what the installation process looks like. If the idea of having panels installed on your roof makes you nervous, you may only know part of the process. However, having a complete picture of the procedure makes it less worrisome.


Panels aren't installed directly into your roof. Instead, technicians install them on top of racks. The racks are put in place by drilling specially-spaced holes along your rooftop. The holes are for lag bolts, which join your panels to your roof and hold the installation firmly in place.


Installers add a layer of metal or plastic material called flashing to prevent the holes from leaking. Flashing goes underneath the shingles and around the new holes. Additional sealant covers and surrounds the lag bolt for extra security.


After this, all left is to place and secure the panels and run the electrical wiring. The amount of work done to the roof itself is minimal and adequately sealed and protected when handled by a professional. But what happens when someone inexperienced installs solar panels? Let's take a look.


Problems With Poor Installation


Once your roof is in good enough shape for solar panels, the only risks you face will come during installation. Again, experienced installers will know how to avoid these mistakes and will leave your roof in excellent condition. That said, it's essential to understand the risks you could be taking with less skilled hands.


The most apparent problem resulting from poor installation is leaks. Improper sealing after drilling the holes allows for water to seep into the roof itself. The presence of such holes can also hinder rain drainage.


Leaks could also occur if the installer didn't appropriately prepare based on your shingles. Installers have to handle different types of singles in specific ways to ensure they don't crack or degrade after drilling. Any shingles damaged in such a way will need repairing or replacing to prevent more serious issues from developing.


If panels are too big, the extra weight can cause similar harm to your roof. People sometimes believe that bigger is better, but that isn't always the case when it comes to solar panels. Large panels can take up unnecessary space and prevent other rooftop fixtures from operating correctly.


An expert installer will avoid this problem by selling you the smallest panels that will meet your energy usage needs. The extra space will maintain easy access to your rooftop when it's time for maintenance. If you're worried that smaller panels won't be as effective, remember that the panel's position is just as important as its surface area when it comes to power generation.


Will Solar Panels Cause Long-Term Damage?


At this point, you're probably wondering what effect solar panels will have on your roof over a more extended period. After all, you don't want to shorten your roof's lifespan, even if it means saving money on energy costs. Even when experts have installed them, the extra weight of the panels must cause problems, right?


Thankfully, that's not the case! Remember that proper installation means fully sealing the drilled holes and reinforcing support joints if need be. When your installer follows these steps, and you don't overload your roof with panels, the strength of your roof won't decrease any faster than it would without panels.


In fact, installing solar panels can make your roof even more durable and extend its life. The areas covered with panels won't suffer from damaging UV rays, which could weaken their material and make certain shingles brittle. Panels will protect those same areas from harsh weather, too.


Some people worry that the presence of panels will cause the roof to gain excessive heat. However, the panels themselves don't directly contact the shingles beneath. Instead, the racks raise them just enough so that air can freely flow between the roof and panel, preventing surface temperatures from getting too high.




Let the Pros at Kapili Roofing & Painting Install Your Solar Panels


Solar panels will add value to your home without weakening your roof when installed correctly. But you can't trust just anyone with the integrity of your roof. With a job this important, you need installers who will always stand by their work.


And that's what Kapili Roofing & Painting is all about.


We're fully licensed, bonded, and insured to perform roof replacements, inspections, and solar panel installations. We want to help Hawaii continue to reach its renewable energy goals by providing affordable, quality service to people just like you. Contact us today for a free estimate.