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Is My Roof Ready for Solar Panels?

The move towards green energy has grown in popularity in recent years. Commercial properties were the first to adopt solar panel technology, and over the last 10 years, more residential homes have joined the movement, prompting homeowners in Mt. Holly and the surrounding areas to wonder if they should join the shift towards solar power as well. While there can be substantial savings benefits to your electric bill, from a roofers perspective there are numerous things to consider. 

Since the focus of a solar company is to sell you solar, they don’t always have your best interest in mind when it comes to the condition of your roof. With the help of the roof repair contractors at Elegant Exteriors, LLC, we can help you determine how ready your roof is for solar panels. Here are some of the factors that you should consider as well as questions to ask the solar company prior to moving forward with solar installation.

Infographic showing what to consider if you are considering solar panels for your roof.

Structural Integrity 

When looking to transition to green energy, you want to ensure that your home has the structural integrity to withstand the solar panels’ added weight. Most solar installations will require township permits and, in many cases, the evaluation of a structural engineer to verify that your roof is capable of supporting the additional weight. Make sure that the solar company you choose doesn’t skip this process as the results can be catastrophic. Remember, your roof has to be strong enough to not only support the added weight of the panels but also a snow load if you live in the Northeast.

The Age of Your Shingles 

A three-tab shingle has a lifespan of 15 – 20 years, while a dimensional shingle will typically last somewhere between 20 – 30 years. Depending upon the current age and condition of your shingles, they will need to get replaced or perhaps repaired. What happens when this is needed? Most solar companies do not specify the cost for the removal of your solar panels. In fact, you will probably find some information pertaining to the process of removal and reinstallation in the fine print of your contract. We can assure you that when it comes time to repair or replace your roof, the panels will need to be removed. Most solar companies will require they are contracted for the removal and reinstallation in order to retain the warranty they have provided and especially if the system is leased. However, depending upon the solar array and type of panels, these costs can range from $1,500 to over $10,000. Who pays for this? You guessed it right…you! Our recommendation would be to consult a qualified roofer prior to any solar installation, but absolutely consult one to inspect your shingles if the roof is over 7 years old. 

Bottom line, if your roof is in the last third of its lifespan we would recommend you consider replacing it now prior to the solar installation. If you do not want to replace the entire roof, we still recommend you consider replacing the areas of your roof that will have the solar panels placed on top.

Never on Two Layers 

When it comes to installing solar panels on top of two layers of shingles, we would advise you to exercise caution. Many solar companies will turn a blind eye and allow this practice to occur, but there are a few things to consider. For starters, two layers of shingles will reduce the overall lifespan of your shingle for a variety of reasons. With the shortened lifespan for your shingles, the greater the chance will be that you will need a new roof sooner. The lifespan of the second layer of shingles can be up to 20% less than a single layer. Do the math: if the second layer of your roof is already 10 years old and its practical lifespan will be nearing an end at year 20, in only 10 more years you will need to remove the solar and install a new roof. Additionally, roofs that have two layers are much more difficult and more costly to repair, and oftentimes the leak itself can be a result of having two layers of shingles.

Install High Temp Ice & Watershield 

The installation process for solar requires the mounting of brackets through the roof deck. There can be 50 to 200 brackets that will need to get mounted to the roof deck to support the panels. Each of these is a potential leak point and must be installed and flashed properly. Ice and Watershield is a product that is required by building code in many states, particularly ones where ice damming can frequently occur. When describing Ice and Watershield to a homeowner, we tell them it’s like an asphalt-based pool liner that adheres to the plywood deck. It also resembles a 36” wide Fruit Rollup with release film that is removed prior to application. 

The most important component of Ice and Watershield is that it is waterproof and seals around any and all protrusions. Therefore, we recommend that homeowners consider the installation of it not only where it is required by building code but also under the areas where the brackets will be mounted to the roof deck. Doing so can add substantial protection against future leaks and provide years of peace of mind. Finding ways to protect your roof from future leaks will help limit the future costs of having to uninstall and reinstall your solar panels to make roof repairs or replacements. 

We would encourage you to take our advice to help prevent wiping out the savings from making the move to green energy, so make sure you get the cost of removal and reinstallation written into your contract or have them guarantee the lifespan of the existing roof prior to moving forward. Lastly, having an experienced roof replacement contractor look at your roof can help determine if your roof is ready to go green.

Don’t delay, call today for your free roof evaluation and estimate.
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