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Solar Panel Installation Problems Explained: Can Solar Panels Cause Roof Leaking?

For homeowners everywhere, one of the worst potential problems with solar panels on roofs is critical damage caused by improper installation.  

In the worst-case scenario, roof damage from solar panels can even lead to leaking within a home, which could cause further complications and safety concerns for both the property and its inhabitants. 

As most modern solar panel arrays utilize racking systems that require holes drilled directly into the roofing material, it’s perfectly natural to wonder whether or not an installation is worth it, considering the possibility of costly property damage. 

Thankfully, roof leaks after installing solar panels are uncommon when working with reputable contractors. Although leaks can happen in extremely rare cases, long-standing solar companies with years of experience will only use high-quality materials and techniques to prevent damage from happening before it is too late. 

So when it comes to solar panel installation problems, roof leaks occur from time to time but are far from commonplace in today’s competitive solar market. Below, we’ll explore common issues with poorly installed solar panels, why your roof may be leaking, and what you can do to prevent excessive damage to your home before and after an installation. 

Can solar panels damage your roof?

Yes, unfortunately, if you choose to go solar with an unqualified installer, there is a chance that there may be damage to your roof. With that being said, modern technologies and installation techniques have more or less eliminated the likelihood of experiencing problems with roof-mounted solar panels. 

If you ask 100 people with PV systems, “have solar panels ruined your roof?” we would be surprised to learn if more than one or two respondents have a bad experience to report. The truth is, any solar panel leaking is typically the result of an aging roof or a previously underlying issue that hadn’t been resolved before the installation. This is why a proper roof assessment is one of the most crucial steps of going solar. 

Solar companies put their entire reputation on the line with each installation, so experienced businesses can generally be trusted to perform a solid installation. After all, if a solar company was known for installing systems that cause roof leaks, then it is fairly safe to say that the business will not be earning many new customers with its sub-par track record. 

Providing 5-star solar panel installation in Jacksonville, FL, and across the Sunshine State, PPM Solar helps homeowners and businesses safely add a renewable energy system to their property.

For Gainesville solar panels and photovoltaic (PV) systems in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and everywhere in between, PPM Solar’s expert installers use only high-quality materials and methods to ensure that there is no detrimental damage ever done to your roof.

Typical Solar Panel Roof Damage 

Even though solar panels can create tons of renewable energy and bill savings for a home, they are not a perfect technology when improperly installed on a residential roof. This, tied together with rushed installations, fittings, and poor craftsmanship, can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to a roof and home.  

The best way to minimize the chance of solar damage is to properly vet your installer choices and avoid any solar scams from companies just looking to make a quick sale. Before you sign a contract, be sure to review everything it covers, especially when it comes to solar panel roof damage. 

Broken Tiles or Damaged Shingles

When affixing solar panel mounting components to a home, installers must carefully choose their racking system based on the type of roofing materials. While highly flammable materials such as wood shingles are not typically safe for solar panels, installers can use several mounting systems specifically designed for common roof types, such as asphalt shingles or clay tiles.  

Small “tile hooks” are a common alternative for solar panels installed on clay, slate, and other long-lasting roofing materials to prevent holes from drilling into a roof. Still, these hooks can add extra weight to a tile, which can cause it to break or interfere with the roof’s ability to remain fully waterproof.

Structural Damage

Beyond the exterior materials, roofs must also be appropriately assessed to handle the weight of a proposed solar panel system before installation. If overlooked by an amateur installer, roofs that are not fit to hold a PV system can cause sinking, caved-in ceilings, and even broken beams with devastating consequences. 

Wiring and Fire Hazards

The third, and possibly most frightening, kind of solar damage relates to a system’s electrical components. If wires are not correctly designed, laid, and protected according to building and electrical code, solar panels can even catch on fire in extremely rare and unsafe scenarios. Obviously, fires can cause devastating damage, with serious financial and safety consequences.  

Do solar panels cause roof leaks?

If you’re asking yourself, “Do solar panels ruin your roof?” then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that the answer is almost always “no” when you choose to work with a reputable installer. 

Solar panel roof damage is very uncommon in the United States, and leaks caused by a photovoltaic (PV) installation are even less likely to occur when working with high-quality materials and craftsmen. Therefore, choosing the right installer is extremely important to prevent solar panel roof leaks. 

For the best chances of a high-quality installation, we recommend choosing a company that has a longstanding reputation for great work locally. You should also seek out a solar company that offers ongoing maintenance, part replacement, and extended warranty periods to protect yourself from the consequences of future damage to your system. 

Improper Installation 

More than anything else, improper installation is the number one reason that solar panels cause roof leaks. Whether using the wrong racking method, improperly sealing the holes, or simply not using the correct fittings, rushed or careless installations can cause serious consequences when attention to detail and safety is not a company’s number one priority. 

Unwelcome Guests Nesting

Critters like squirrels and birds can get under your solar panels and bring their entire homes and families. Nest building and excessive damage from critters under your solar panels can cause wear, tear, and leakage to occur. To avoid this, most professional solar installations will have wiring mesh that guards the underside of the panels against visiting animals. 

Issues with Water Flow and Debris

Lastly, solar panels roof leaks may occur if the installation has interrupted the normal flow of water, snow, and/or from hitting and falling off a roof. Although most racking systems are designed to allow water to flow down, and around the panels, horizontal bars placed on roofs can cause unintentional damming during precipitous conditions. 

Winter snow, debris, and rainwater can all collect beneath improperly installed solar panels, causing pooling, decay, and even leaking into a home below. Thankfully, most professional solar installations are designed and performed with continuous water flow in mind. 

How do you prevent roof leaks after installing solar panels?

After you install your solar panels, it is important to keep up with regular maintenance and system inspections for the lifetime of your energy system. Some roof leaks are caused by minor damages over time, so spotting an issue before it becomes critical is a great way to prevent leaking, and routine inspections are advised. 

Of course, if you decided to work with a reputable solar company, the only real step you may probably need to take post-installation is to thank yourself and the installers for a leak-free job well done. Again, leaks are very uncommon under well-installed solar panels. 

How to Repair Solar Panel Leaking

If your solar panels are causing your roof to leak, it is important to call a professional as soon as possible. If you attempt a solar panel leak repair on your own home, you may risk voiding your contracted warranty and your safety with an amateur attempt to fix your roof and energy system. 

When a leak is detected, simply set up some caches to collect the drip to prevent more damage within your home and clear the area of any furniture or personal belongings. Once the leak is contained, take some photos of the damage from inside of your home and only access the roof if it is dry and guaranteed to be structurally sound. While it may be tempting to climb onto the roof to see the cause of the leak firsthand, both a wet surface and potential structural damages are safety hazards that should be avoided when possible.   

The first professional contact you should make is with the original installer of your solar panel system. If your leak has sprung within the timeframe of your workmanship warranty, you may be able to repair the damage without incurring any additional expenses on the project. 

If your original installer is no longer in business or the leak is beyond the scope of your warranty, we suggest finding a local contractor with both solar and roofing experience to assess the damage properly. A roofer alone may not know how to treat a PV system properly, so a certified solar professional is typically recommended to assess the damage and devise a solution so the panels can remain functioning safely. 

Do solar panels extend roof life?

Yes, in many instances, solar panels can fortify and extend the life of a roof rather than cause damage or leaks. While installed, solar panels protect your roof against the elements with their hard weather-tested exteriors. From falling branches to heavy hails, solar panels extend roof life for the entire area protected beneath an installation.  

Knowing this, the best time to install solar panels is when you install a new roof. Solar panels have highly functional lifespans of up to 25, 30 years, and more, which can be even longer than some modern roofing materials like cement and asphalt shingles.  

As part of a whole home energy system, solar installations can also complement other upgrades such as battery storage, electrical panel replacements, and energy efficiency improvements. With safe, professional installations, homeowners that install Tesla home charger stations can literally run their vehicles on solar power. 

How Solar Panels Protect Your Roof

Although many people are initially concerned about property damage, in reality, solar panels protect your roof from the harsh rays of the sun, weather damage, and more. Essentially acting as a shield against the elements, rigid solar panels are typically built to be tougher than average roofing materials and heavily resistant to hail and extreme weather events.  

Even further, solar installed a few inches above a roof will absorb all of the sun’s rays while creating a small air pocket between the panels and the building itself. This helps cool down the area shaded below the solar panels and can even reduce air conditioning costs in a home that receives less direct sunlight. 

Go solar without damaging your roof: Contact PPM Solar today!

So to answer the question, “Are solar panels bad for your roof?” We hope this article has helped clarify that damage is extremely rare when working with a certified, professional installer. If you’re worried about roof leaks after installing solar panels, you can curb your fears by choosing a professional team like PPM Solar. 

Offering free assessments for residential and commercial solar panel installation in Florida, PPM is your renewable energy partner in Tampa, Gainesville, Orlando, and beyond. Contact us today to get started on your Florida solar energy project.

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