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Should I Replace My Roof Before Going Solar?

If you’re thinking about solar, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions: Is my roof in good enough shape to support a solar energy system? How do I know if my roof needs repair or replacement? 

The first thing we tell everyone who asks about roof repair or replacement is to have a reputable roofer come and do an inspection. Our solar installers will come to do a site inspection but are not trained as roofers. It’s important to talk to the experts if you’re unsure about the state of your roof.

We spoke to Sarah Jay at American Home Contractors, Ipsun’s residential roofing partner, to get the scoop on things to consider when thinking about roof replacement.

How Old is Too Old?

Jay explained that even without visible damage, the age of your roof can tell you whether an inspection is needed, or if a replacement makes sense. 

“Most roofs between 15-20 years old should be replaced, and between 10-15 years old should be inspected before adding a solar system,” she said. “All of our roofing systems have a 25-year warranty. It’s ideal if you can have the warranty for your roof and your solar panels match. That way you won’t have to remove the panels later to replace the roof,  adding an extra expense.”

Ipsun’s standard product warranties are 25 years, and can be increased to 30 years with an extended warranty backed by Solar Insure. The actual lifespan of your solar system can be much longer, with many systems producing well through the 40-year range. If any roofing work needs to be done, we always recommend taking care of it before installing solar so that within that 25-30 year warranty lifespan of the solar, removal and reinstallation isn’t necessary.

The average cost for removing and reinstalling panels for an 8kW system is about $1,000. The extra expense is no fun, plus the added complication to a roofing project is another, possibly more compelling reason to avoid this situation. 

Visible Signs Your Roof May Need a Repair or Replacement

Another consideration no matter your roof’s age is obvious damage. “Some examples are damage from fallen limbs or hail, visible loose shingles, or if you can see granules from the shingles flushing down in your gutters after a rainfall,” Jay said.

If any of these are an issue, it’s important to have a roofer come do an inspection so that repair or replacement can be done before installing solar panels.

Some specific things to look for:

  • Missing shingles. This is easy to spot, and a common problem. Severe wind can lift roofing material away, leaving a gap in coverage.
  • Damaged shingles or tiles. Curling shingles and cracked roofing tiles are easy to spot from the ground. Asphalt shingles that have lost too much of their granules will start to quickly degrade from UV exposure and start to curl around the edges. If you see this, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Lots of shingle granules washing away. If you see a lot of shingle granules washing out of your downspouts or caught in your gutters, that’s a sign that your shingles are nearing the end of their life. Granules will start to separate more easily from the shingle as the asphalt dries out and degrades, so if you see a lot of granules at the base of your downspout, that’s a sign that you need a roofer to take a closer look.
  • Damp spots in the attic roof. If you don’t have a cathedral ceiling (one where the underside of the roof is finished), go up to your attic and take a thorough look at the underside of the roof sheathing. If you see any signs of rot or water stains, that’s a sure sign that you have an issue.

Maximize Solar’s Potential by Moving Obstructions

Another great benefit to having a roofer inspect before you go solar is to assess the obstructions on your roof. Sometimes a vent or other obstruction will be in a place that prevents our designers from adding as many panels as possible, thus reducing your roof’s energy production potential. A roofer can let you know whether these objects are easily moved to optimize your roof space.  

Get in Touch to Learn More!

Give us a call to talk through your options. Our solar experts can check out your roof’s potential and give you a free, virtual quote right over the phone to get you started, and we’re happy to put you in touch with our roofing partners or any other reputable roofer in the area to see what shape your roof is in. We look forward to talking with you!


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