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Does Solar Damage Your Roof?

The words "Does Solar Damage Your Roof?" over an image of a female solar installer bolting down solar panels, representing ways to avoid solar roof damage when going solar, and what to ask your solar installer to make sure your solar panels don’t cause roof damage.
PublishedJune 12, 2023
UpdatedMay 17, 2024
AuthorBrian ChurchWriterEditorCory O'Brien HeadshotCory O'BrienSenior Director - Growth Marketing
In this article
01.
5 Ways To Avoid Solar Roof Damage
02.
Solar Panel Roof Damage FAQ
03.
Verdict: Do solar panels cause roof damage?

If the fear of possible roof damage has delayed your decision to go solar and lower your energy bills, then we have good news for you: When installed correctly, adding solar panels to your home will not damage your roof. (In fact, they can actually help protect your roof from damage!)

Except in the event of a freak accident or botched construction from an unprofessional contractor, solar energy systems are very unlikely to cause any roof damage that would require repair.

With that being said… there are still some solar horror stories that continue to haunt neighborhoods throughout the country, including tales of shotty installations leading to roof damage, leaks, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Although roof damage is extremely rare, there are a few easy precautions you can take to eliminate the possibility of necessary home repairs after you go solar.

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5 Ways To Avoid Solar Roof Damage

While not common, solar roof damage can happen in the wrong set of circumstances. To prevent the likelihood of experiencing any problems with solar panels on your roof, you can follow these five steps to stop damage before it happens:

1. Work With A Professional Solar Company

The number one thing you can do to avoid solar roof damage is to work with a professional solar installer for your project. By going solar with a licensed, insured, and reputable business, the possibility of improper installation techniques can be mitigated, making it very unlikely any damage will occur.

In the worst-case scenario (when highly-unanticipated variables do cause damage) working with a professional solar company may also make it easier to remedy the situation.

Whether your installer has a dedicated customer service team or offers industry-leading warranty coverage, working with a great company will put you in a better position to guarantee your solar investment and roof safety.

For the best possible experience, contact Palmetto about your solar installation today.

2. Install Under-Panel Protection

After solar panels have been installed on your home, the small, shaded gap between the equipment and your roof can become a highly desirable piece of real estate for many different kinds of animals.

From birds and squirrels to opossums and other common neighborhood critters, the space beneath your solar panels may be the perfect place to nest or simply cool off in the hot summer sun.

If left unprotected or unmonitored, excessive bird or rodent activity could cause complications from debris buildup, chewed wires, and more. Although this is more likely to cause harm to your solar system than your roof, preventing animal damage is important to take care of before the problem grows worse.

Known as a critter guard or solar screen, you or your installer can add a wire mesh fence to your panels, designed to let air and liquid pass through while keeping animals out. This may add some installation expenses for required materials and labor, but solar panel guards can significantly lower the chances of system issues and related roof damage.

3. Maintain Your System To Reduce Debris Build-Up

Operating outdoors and exposed to the elements 24/7, your rooftop solar arrays may collect dust, leaves, debris, and other particle build-ups on the surface of your panels, around the mounting materials, and on top of other system components.

Whether you are in a neighborhood with ample tree coverage or in an arid region with heavy winds, cleaning and maintaining your solar panel system can help ensure that there is no related damage to your roof, while also allowing it to generate power at maximum efficiency.

Much like the practice of cleaning out your gutters, if any leaves, sticks, or dust particles have built up on the sides of your system, it is a good idea to keep a clean slate for operational success.

While rain and snow can do a pretty good job in helping to wash away debris build-up, you may also choose to clean your solar panels with a small amount of soap, warm water, and a towel. For the best results (and the sake of your safety) we recommend contacting a professional solar cleaning company or working with your original installer to maintain your system for optimal performance.

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4. Consider A New Roof Before Going Solar

In rare instances, your roof (and not your solar panels) may actually be to blame for related damages after an installation. Although most professional contractors will be able to spot the possibility of roof damage upon a site inspection, rushed jobs on unfit roofs can lead to serious consequences and necessary roof repair after solar panels have been installed.

If your roof is showing signs of age, you may want to consider replacing your roof before installing solar panels. Not only can this mitigate possible damages from a solar installation, but it can also help you save money on your total project costs with two home upgrades bundled together.

Learn more about why a roof replacement is the best time to go solar.

5. Never Skip The Permit

Above all else, if you’d like to prevent roof damage before it happens, never install solar panels without the proper permitting in place. With nationally recognized checks and balances to ensure a system can operate safely, all grid-tied solar panels in the US must be approved by both local building authorities and your electric utility, before and after construction.

Not only is it in your roof’s best interest for your system to pass inspection, but failure to obtain building permits and construction approval (especially if you go the DIY Solar route) can be downright illegal for most solar projects. In short, getting the proper permits is a necessary step in any quality solar installation process.

When working with a professional installer, the likelihood that your system will gain design and interconnection approval rises exponentially. Most reputable solar companies can give you instant access to experts qualified to inspect your property, develop professional plans, execute flawless construction, and ensure safe system operation.

Solar Panel Roof Damage FAQ

If you are still worried about possible solar panel roof damage, here are three quick questions and answers that may help calm your nerves.

Will solar panels put holes in my roof?

Although some roof penetrations must be made to install certain solar mounting equipment, no, solar panels will not put holes in your roof that could lead to damage or leaking. When solar panels are mounted onto your roof rafters, professional installers include flashings and other protective measures to ensure an airtight seal around any roof penetrations.

In some instances, like on clay tile roofs, your mounting hardware and materials may also be simply hooked onto your roof without any penetrations necessary. If you are worried about drill holes in your roof from solar, talk to your installer about whether or not any penetrations will be necessary, as well as what is covered under your roof warranty if something were to go wrong.

Can solar panels ruin your roof?

While there is a small chance that solar panels could cause roof damage if installed incorrectly, it is very unlikely that a properly installed solar power system will ruin your roof. When designed, constructed, and maintained correctly, solar panels will not ruin or damage your roof in any way. Instead, solar panels can actually protect portions of your roof from exposure to excessive sun, hail, and other weather-related damages.

Does removing solar panels damage your roof?

No, removing a set of solar panels will not damage your roof when the procedure is performed correctly. When taking your panels down, either at the end of their working life or to replace your roof, a professional installer will take all of the necessary safety precautions to carefully remove and reinstall the equipment without causing any unnecessary harm to your property. Like during the installation stage, choosing the right person or company to uninstall your system is just as important to prevent possible damage.

Verdict: Do solar panels cause roof damage?

In summary, if you are weighing the pros and cons of solar panels on your roof, damage should not be a concern when working with a professional solar company like Palmetto. Although it is possible to damage your roof when attempting a DIY project or working with an unreputable contractor, any solar panels installed by a licensed provider are very unlikely to damage your roof.

When you work with Palmetto, you can rest assured knowing that our experts always do what it takes to avoid any possible roof damage, with guarantees to ensure your return on investment. To learn more about what it's like to go solar with Palmetto, reach out to one of our Solar Advisors today for a free consultation.

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About the AuthorBrian ChurchWriter

Brian is a writer, NABCEP PV associate and outdoor enthusiast living in Denver, Colorado. As a freelancer, Brian has written hundreds of articles to help individuals, businesses and our planet benefit from solar power and sustainable energy systems.

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