Should You Get a Roof Inspection Before Solar Panels?

Solar Roof Inspection

Installing solar panels on your roof is a great way to reduce your energy bills and improve your home’s energy efficiency. But for solar panels to save you money, you need to be sure your roof can support them. You want your roof to last as long as your solar panels, so you should have any necessary repairs done before installing them. A professional roof inspection will identify any vulnerabilities in your roof that could compromise its ability to support the weight of solar panels. An inspection can also reveal the need for a roof replacement, which will save you money if it is done before solar panels are installed instead of after.

Why Your Roof Should Be Inspected Before You Install Solar Panels

To make the most of your investment in solar panels, have your roof inspected for damage before you install them.

Roof inspections for solar panels:

Prevent Future Problems and Expensive Repairs

Most solar companies don’t perform thorough roof inspections before installing solar panels. It’s in your best interest to have your roof inspected by a professional roofer and have them collaborate with the solar installer. This is because damaged roofs don’t always leak or crack, and you might not notice damage until after your solar panels are installed. For example, the weight of solar panels might cause a weakened roof to crack.

Understand Your Roof’s Age and Overall Condition

You should consider your roof’s age before installing solar panels. The average roof lasts 15 to 30 years, while solar panels can last more than 25 years. If your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, it’s not a good time to invest in solar panel installation. 

For instance, asphalt shingles eventually become brittle because of prolonged exposure to sunlight. Brittle shingles can crack easily during solar panel installation, leading to leaks and other roof issues.

Additionally, tile roofs have an underlying vapor barrier that may not last the lifespan of the overall roof. If the vapor barrier starts drying out, it can tear, leading to a leak when heavy solar panels are installed.

Identify Unseen Damage

As a homeowner or property owner, you will probably notice missing shingles, debris, or moss growth on your roof, but these problems can often signal underlying damage. If you notice any of these signs, you should have your roof professionally inspected. A certified roofer can check your attic for water damage and issues with the roof decking and take an in-depth look at the outside of your roof for compromised flashing, loose shingles, etc. 

Steps in a Solar Inspection

Inspections to prepare for solar panel installation should include both interior and exterior inspections and a consultation to discuss all the findings.

Interior Inspection

A roof inspector should start by checking out the ceiling of your attic for any signs of roof issues, including mold, mildew, and problems with insulation and ventilation. 

Exterior Inspection

The inspector will then move onto the outside of your roof, looking for signs of aging, weather damage to shingles, leaks, loose shingles, and more. The goal of an inspection is to get an idea of your roof’s overall health and identify anything that needs to be fixed, replaced, upgraded, or stabilized before any other roof work is done. Your gutters should also be inspected for proper drainage to prevent water issues in the future.

Consultation & Recommendations

Finally, your roof inspector should inform you of any issues they find and the overall condition of your roof. Taking your budget and specific roofing needs into consideration, they will provide any recommendations for repairs along with a detailed cost and time estimate to prepare your roof for any future work you want to have done, including solar panel installation. 

Roof Types and Solar Panels

Asphalt, metal, tile, and tar and gravel roofs are all suitable for solar panel installation. The most ideal option is standing seam metal roofing because the solar bars can be attached to the seams instead of penetrating the roof, and it’s always best to avoid penetrating your roofing material.

Solar panels are most commonly installed on asphalt shingle and metal roofs.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

It is not recommended to install solar panels on a roof that’s over 10 years old because your solar panels will likely outlast your roof. It is more cost-effective to have your roof replaced before installing solar panels to avoid the extra cost of the solar company uninstalling and reinstalling the panels and solar bars while you get your roof replaced. 

Metal Roofs

Metal roofing is highly compatible with solar panel installations, especially standing steam metal roofs. Standing seam metal roofs allow solar bars to attach to the seams instead of penetrating the roof. Corrugated metal roofs will likely require solar panels to be installed with mounting brackets that use fasteners to penetrate the corrugated metal panels. However, the strength and durability of metal roofs are ideal to support the weight of solar panels, mounting racks, and associated hardware.

Preparing Your Roof for Solar Panel Installation

Preparing your roof for solar panel installation is fairly simple, as long as you have a reliable roofer who can perform a professional inspection:

  • Professional inspection: If you have a newer roof that is in good condition, you most likely will not run into issues during solar panel installation. But if you have an older roof or one with extensive damage, it might need to be replaced before solar installation. A professional roofer can evaluate your roof and inform you if repairs or a replacement is needed.
  • Repairs and upgrades: Once you’ve had your roof inspected, you should have any recommended repairs or upgrades completed. Common repairs before solar panel installation include replacing rotted wood and damaged shingles.
  • Collaboration between roofers and solar installers: Your roof inspector and solar panel installer should work together to make the installation go as smoothly as possible and limit the risk of roof damage. 

Long-Term Benefits of a Solar Roof Inspection

Your roof’s ability to handle solar panel installation will affect the efficiency and longevity of your solar investment, which is why solar roof inspections are so important.

Long-term benefits of roof inspections for solar panels include:

  • Enhanced efficiency and performance of solar panels: The size and design of your roof will impact the performance of your solar panels. To maximize their energy efficiency, you’ll need about 400 to 600 square feet of roof space facing south with a 180 to 195-degree orientation. Solar panels need over six hours of sunlight per day to recharge, and chimneys, trees, or neighboring buildings can cast a shadow and impact their electricity production. During an inspection, a roofer can measure the size and slope of your roof and determine the best place to install solar panels.
  • Increased roof and solar panel lifespan: Inspections can also determine how much weight your current roofing structure can support. Panels generally weigh about 40 pounds per piece, and installing several panels on a small area of your roof can have a significant impact on the structural integrity of your roof. Ensuring that your roof can support solar panels will allow both your roof and your solar panels to last as long as possible.
  • Financial savings: Identifying structural issues during an inspection, instead of after solar panels are already installed, will spare you the expense of uninstalling and reinstalling the solar panels to perform roof repairs or a replacement. Regular inspections also reveal roof problems before they become serious.

Get a Professional Solar Roof Inspection in New Hampshire & Massachusetts

At Adam Vaillancourt Roofing, we’re experts in performing comprehensive roof inspections. We always perform them before roof replacements and solar panel installations, but we also encourage you to receive yearly roof inspections to identify any problems early on and prevent the need for expensive repairs. 

Our inspections include an assessment of both the interior and exterior of your roof, and we will inform you of any issues we find in addition to an honest, detailed cost and time estimate for any recommended repairs.

For trusted residential roofing services and solar roof inspections in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, turn to Adam Vaillancourt Roofing. 

Contact us for a free inspection and estimate today.