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Can Solar Panels Damage Your Roof?

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 14, 2020 1:02:00 PM / by Krystal Coddington

Krystal Coddington

man installing solar panels on a roof

More and more homeowners are switching to solar power to lower their power bills, decrease their emissions footprint, or even just to live “off the grid.” However, while solar panels offer many benefits, they aren’t suitable for every home, leading some homeowners to wonder if solar panels can damage their roof.

Before you jump on the solar bandwagon, there are some risks involved that will need to be considered.

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A Healthy Roof is a Solar Panel-Friendly Roof

Not every roof is a fit for solar panels. Certified solar panel companies will only install panels on roofs rated good, better, or best. The ideal roofs for solar panels will have no structural damage and be able to bear the added weight of the solar panels. Other considerations that are taken into account when determining the health of a roof include the following: 

  • Height of the building
  • The structure’s seismic and wind loads
  • Roof’s age
  • Type of roof
  • Slope of the roof
  • Load-carrying capacity of the roof’s frame

How Can Solar Panels Damage Your Roof?

The biggest concern homeowners have about rooftop solar panels is the potential damage they can cause to their roofs. Improperly installed solar panels can increase the risk of water leaks and fire as well as weaken the roof’s structure and ability to withstand the elements and bear proper weight. When a roof is damaged or compromised by solar panels, its warranty can be voided.

The most common, efficient, and affordable solar panel installation process involves drilling holes into the roof to secure the roof mount which will secure the solar panels to the roof. Licensed professional solar panel installers will know how to properly drill and fill these holes and take all the necessary precautions to avoid damaging the roof during the installation process. If damage does occur, it is often the result of a prior roof issue that hadn’t been fixed. 

While the risk of roof damage from solar panel installation is low, improperly drilled or filled holes can cause water to leak into the hole. The additional weight of the solar panels can also put added stress and weaken an already compromised or damaged roof. 

Do Solar Panels Void Roof Warranty?

Unless you and your contractor take the proper precautions, the installation of solar panels can void your roof’s warranty. The majority of solar panel installation companies take extreme measures to preserve the integrity of the roof and keep the warranty intact. 

Solar panel installers will often get permission from the roofing manufacturer or licensed contractor before starting the panel installation process. If any roofing problems are detected, the repairs will need to be completed prior to the solar panel installation. If solar panels are installed on a damaged roof or a roof that can’t handle the extra weight of the panels, the roof warranty is likely to become void. 

The most common rooftop solar panel installation process requires holes to be drilled into the roof in order to secure the panels to the rack. Licensed solar panel installers will properly install the panels and patch the holes to preserve the integrity and proper functioning of the roof. When the holes are improperly drilled and not properly filled, water can get into the roof and void the roof warranty. 

Removing Solar Panels

Roof-top solar panels are a long-term investment often requiring a 20-year contract if you’re leasing your roof to a solar company. If you decide to install solar panels on your roof to lower your power bills, the panels can last upwards of 30 years. 

There are instances when homeowners want the solar panels removed from their roofs. Moving and major roof repairs or replacement are the most common reasons solar panels are removed. If you’re in a contract with a solar company which owns the solar panels on your roof, the removal will be costly. 

Here are the things you can expect when removing your solar panels: 

  • The disconnection of the solar circuit from the breakers and power grid 
  • The disconnection of each panel from its inverter
  • The removal of each panel from the mounting 
  • The removal of the mounting 
  • The removal of wires and cabling 
  • The patching and repairing of any holes left from the roof mount
  • The replacement of missing shingles

The solar panel removal process can be dangerous and cause roof damage when not done properly by licensed professionals. Damage to the panels and improper repair of holes left by the mounting can void roof warranties. 

Roof-top solar panels offer numerous benefits to homeowners. However, if they are improperly installed by an unlicensed installer or the roof is not in adequate condition to support solar panels, damage could occur which can void one’s roof warranty. Solar panels are long-term commitments, but can be removed should one move or require extensive roof repair. Like the installation process, the solar power removal process should be done by licensed professionals to avoid roof damage.

Krystal Coddington

Written by Krystal Coddington