In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, reducing your electricity bills, and becoming energy self-sufficient, solar energy has many other benefits.
However, a legitimate concern for anyone making the switch to solar energy is this:
Would installing solar panels cause a leaky roof? The answer can be both yes, and no.
Our homes are our most valuable assets, and the last thing any one of us wants is any damage when all we’re expecting are benefits. Some common questions that arise when making the transition to solar energy are:
Will you end up paying more for roof repairs than you save on energy bills?
Will the installation process damage your roof?
In this 3-minute read, we share five possible reasons that could cause your roof to leak after a solar panel installation.
Before we begin to look into possible reasons for roof leakage, let us first understand how solar panels are installed.
How are solar panels installed?
The installation process of a solar system typically involved a racking system, wiring to connect the panels to the junction box, electrical and mechanical hardware, and the solar panels themselves.
While installing the panels, the installer will drill holes in your roof for lag bolts. These bolts help secure the panels to the roof. Lag bolts are inserted into holes made in the roof based on the material that makes up the roof. These holes are determined by the thickness and size of the roof.
Even though holes are drilled into your roof, the scope for leakage is made almost non-existent by the use of flashing which prevents water from seeping into the holes.
The hole is then filled up with a sealant.
After installation of the racking system and the solar panels, wiring is used to connect the panels to an inverter, changing the direct current to a usable alternating current.
In this entire process, the possibility of a leak is minimal. However, in those rare cases where roof leaks have occurred after the installation of a solar panel, five factors are primarily found to be at fault.
What causes your roof to leak?
- Ageing – like most things, roofs also experience natural wear and tear with time. Factors such as the expansion and contraction of roofing materials, changes in temperature, and continuous contact with harsh rays of the sun all contribute to the wearing of roofing materials.
Improper maintenance of the building spanning years, constant contact with moisture and rains without adequate roof coating also affect the nature and durability of the roof.
With all these contributing factors leading to a weak roof, the added pressure of a solar panel, however properly installed will eventually lead to a leaky roof.
- Missing or Loose shingles- shingles are overlapping pieces on a tiled roof. A missing or loose shingle could cause moisture to seep through and damage the roof. It should be instantly replaced to prevent the roof from leaking.
- Incompatible solar panels- even though all solar panels are designed to be installed on roofs, some roofing materials are more suited to solar panels than others. Incompatible roofing materials include terracotta, slate, wood or clay. These materials are not always sturdy enough to withstand the drilling required to install solar panels. In instances where these materials are put to use, you can choose to use composite shingles on such surfaces. This will ensure proper installation of the solar roof panels, thus minimizing the possibility of future roof leakages.
- Improper installation of solar panels- a hasty or improper job by an inexperienced person is extremely likely to cause your roof to leak. A qualified professional will focus on and avoid costly mistakes. Such a professional will also take into account both external factors (like the weather), as well as internal factors (such as the building material) to install the solar roof panels in a manner that will prevent any sort of inconvenience in the future.
- Damaged or broken flashing- a flashing is a thin material, usually galvanized steel that professional roofers use to direct water away from critical areas of the roof, wherever the roof plane meets a vertical surface like a wall or a dormer. If a broken or damaged shingle is not replaced properly, the roof is bound to leak.
To answer the question asked in the beginning- NO, Solar panels do not cause roof leaks.
It is also worth noting that other factors, as described above, can contribute to leaks after a solar panel has been installed. Considering those factors in your solar panel risk assessment before installation can go a long way in helping mitigate the possibility of leakage.
For professional advice and installation of solar panels, reach out to us at Solar Power Nation today for a Free Quote!