solar panels roof damage

Solar panels and roof damage

Many property owners worry about damaging their roof when installing a solar panel system. These installations will typically last around 30 to 35 years, so it’s important to make sure installing panels doesn’t cause harm to your roof. Fortunately, roof damage as a result of a solar panel installation is extremely rare because installers take precautionary steps while installing panels to prevent leaks and other damage from occurring.

Solar panels don’t damage your roof when installed properly

Just like any home improvement project, using the right service provider is essential to a rooftop solar job. For most homeowners, installing solar panels will not result in roof damage as long as your solar installer is a licensed, qualified professional and your roof is in good condition. If you hear of roof damage occurring because of a solar installation, it’s likely because the roof was initially in poor condition.

The first step is making sure you’re working with a reputable installation company. You can connect with high-quality solar installers is by registering your property on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. We pre-vet all of our installer partners to ensure that only the best installation companies have the opportunity to provide quotes through our platform. If you are concerned about damage to your roof, you can question your installer of choice about their installation process and measures they take to prevent roof damage using the online messaging center or invite installers out for site visits so they can inspect the roof and answer your questions in person. It’s also worth asking any company about their workmanship warranty, and whether or not it covers your roof on the off chance damage occurs.

How solar panels are installed on your roof

Being concerned about roof damage with a solar panels installation certainly isn’t unreasonable. Putting racking and solar panels on your roof alter one of the core parts of your home’s structural makeup, and there are parts to the installation process that put your roof at risk if done incorrectly.

One of the biggest concerns for property owners is the holes needed in your roof to secure your solar panels. During installation, workers will drill holes in your roof to secure the racking which will hold your panels. These holes are for lag bolts, which secure your panels to your roof, and are designed to withstand extreme weather. These holes and bolts are necessary for almost every solar installation, and their size and depth will vary based on what your roof is made of (asphalt, wood, etc.).

Holes in your roof never sounds great, but there are several safety measures used by solar installers to make sure your roof remains structurally sound and won’t leak at all. To prevent water from getting through the new hole, the bolt fixture will be surrounded by flashing, which is a metal or plastic shield that fits under existing roof tiles. This flashing is then further sealed with tar or similar material. Lastly, the hole where the lag bolt is also filled with a sealant to protect against water seepage in your roof.

Aside from the holes in your roof, a common concern from property owners is the added weight solar adds to your roof. In almost every case, the weight of solar panels will not compromise the structural integrity of your roof – roofs are designed to hold much more weight than might be added with 20-30 solar panels. If you live in a snowy climate, you won’t need to worry about the weight of snow either, because solar panels are typically installed at an angle, allowing snow to slide off.

Solar doesn’t always involve holes in your roof

If you’re still concerned about having holes in your roof to mount your solar panels, there are some less common ways to still benefit from rooftop solar energy. One popular option is to install solar roof tiles or solar shingles, which integrate the electricity-generating capacity of photovoltaics right into your roof shingles and eliminate the need for mounting traditional panels. While this option has many aesthetic benefits, costs are still high and the technology isn’t as efficient as traditional panels. 

If you have a flat roof, you won’t need to put holes in it to install solar. Installations on flat roofs commonly use ballast mounting systems. With this type of system, the mounts are weighted down sufficiently to ensure the system remains secured to the roof.  Another option to avoid solar on your roof entirely is to install a ground mount, or join a community solar plan and receive solar energy from an offsite location.

Find high-quality solar installers on EnergySage

A rooftop solar panel installation is a great investment that won’t lead to roof damage when you work with a professional, experienced installer. By registering your property on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, local qualified solar installers can bid on your project and submit quotes for you to review. Worried that your roof may not be right for solar? Get started on our free Solar Calculator today to determine if your property is suitable for a solar installation.

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21 thoughts on “Solar panels and roof damage

  1. Angela Felden

    The Snow and ice on The Solar panels on my neighbors roof slides into the windows on the side of my house which causes damage and a crashing rumble . Are there any preventive measures and is this inspected for instillation. Also there is a walkway that is possible that ice or snow can fall on a person.
    The local building department has been notified.

  2. ken joseph

    We had Solar panels install on a new home with a tiled roof which has a 50 year plus life span. We are experiencing our second leak in the 5 years since it was installed. they came out and fixed the problem the first time but know they say the warranty was up after the first year and they came out and fixed it the first time as a courtesy. In the contract written by solarcity which was bought by tesla stated
    if the roof has a warranty then the installation warranty will last as long as the roof warranty.
    now they dont want to honor the roof warranty.

  3. TJ Testman

    Hello – Hurricane Zeta damaged my shingle roof and am replacing with metal roof. I have panasonic solar panels mounted on the shingle roof – racks are fastened with anchors and flashing. But flashing won’t work for metal roof and the metal is Not standing seam. Where can I find the proper weathertight mounting bolts for metal roof??

  4. Charlene

    We had a reputable solar dealer install panels on our flat roofed home. They said we needed a new roof before they could install the panels. We agreed to the terms and used their roofer. Now, we are experiencing puddling of water under the panels and it is growing green. We called the roofer and the solar company; both have come to look at the roof and agree this is a problem. No reply from either.
    Our roof prior to this work did not puddle. It looks to me like the weight of the panels are depressing the roof and causing the puddling.

  5. Pete

    Areputable company installed Solar’s on a inferior roof I have a roofing company come over and said no way any solar panel should have been installed on top of this roof to fix the roof will cost$16,000 . solar panel company is not working wIth is they want to charge us for taking the panels off the roof and put them back on the roof plus keep charging us $3600plusall monthly fees. Thus this willl be a $20000 charge The Initial reason for calling them was squirrel damage the technicians so they could not go on the roof because the roof was inferior we need some legal help here because they should have never placed solar panels on the bad roof ! If anyone has any advice please help thank you Pete


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