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Solar trouble: Roof leaks from faulty installations


MIAMI – July 14, 2017 – Rooftop solar power installations are booming, says Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. The panels may have a more affordable price tag than in previous years, but the installations are coming with another price: leaky roofs.

The Solar Energy Industries Association says many homeowners are not using professional roofers to install their solar panels and that's causing growing reports of "messed-up and screwed-up" roofs.

The solar industry "has adopted a number of best practices to maximize the durability of roof penetrations," says Barry Cinnamon, who hosts a renewable energy podcast and is the former owner of Akeena Solar. "But these practices are not always followed, resulting in roof leaks and potential hazards from loosened solar panels. If these leaks happen, it's usually a roofer who is called in to repair the damage."

While installing, contractors might drag the heavy panels across the roof and ultimately damage it.

"Dropped tools, panels getting dragged across the roof's surface, or other negligent use of the roof's surface can lead to leaks and holes," writes Lennie Moreno, founder and CEO of Sofdesk, a web app provider for solar and roofing companies. "It could take years, but a careless installation of solar panels could end up resulting in huge repair bills that could have easily been avoided."

Aaron Nitzkin, CEO of Solar Roof Dynamics, says that one rainstorm in California last year caused as many as 40 percent of solar-supporting roofs to leak.

"When you're growing really fast and people have minimal roofing experience, they don't know what they're doing," Nitzkin says. "In a drought you can get away with it, but when it starts to rain we see leaks."

Another common problem Nitzkin sees is solar panels being installed on roofs that are near the end of their lifetime. Homeowners then have to pay $3,000 to $5,000 to have the solar panels removed so the roof can be replaced.

Source: "Solar Installs Leading to 'Screwed Up' Roofs," Replacement Contractor (July 5, 2017)

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