There is no doubt about it, solar panels can be a great long-term investment in your home as they can decrease your utility bills for years to come. However, from a roofing perspective, there are a few things to take into consideration.
First, your solar panels (or pool heater panels) are going to hide the shingles below them. This means that your rate of deterioration of the shingles is likely to be impacted as sun and wind exposure do accelerate aging of shingles. However, the areas where the panels are secured to the roof will affect how water drains off of your roof. So one aspect could offset the other but either way, it is recommended that when you have your panels maintained by the company who installed them, you should ask them to take a picture of the shingles they are hiding. This way, you can track the deterioration of those shingles over the years and when the time comes, you can provide those pictures to a roofing company for further assessment in order to more easily determine when the roof needs to be replaced. These pictures are critical because most roofing companies will not go anywhere near solar panels or pool heater panels because they do not want to risk causing damage to them.
Second, if you are in an area which is prone to animal damage, your roof could suffer damage that will not be easy to see. Something that is important for homes that have solar panels installed on them, is to make sure that trees are kept well cut back and this will limit an animals access to your roof. But some of the furry creatures who inhabit Southern Ontario are persistent and have been known to climb up downpipes in order to gain access. If you believe your roof has suffered from animal damage, it will be important to first get your roof checked out by the company that installed the panels. If they confirm there has been damage to the roof, they will need to remove any of the panels that are located in the area of the damage so that a qualified roofing company can attend the property and complete a proper repair.
Third, the panels installed on your roof are secured to the deck with bolts that can occasionally shift and result in leaks. A professional can access your attic and see if there are any leaks coming from these locations based on staining that is occurring on the underside of your roof deck. Once the issue has been identified, the company who installed the panels will need to coordinate with a roofing company so the damage can be repaired properly.
One final note: if you get your roof replaced and then have a company install or reinstall solar panels or pool heater panels, it is very likely to void any warranty that is provided by the manufacturer of your shingles.
Please note: Chouinard Bros. does not recommend any homeowner complete repairs to their roof of their own. Our technicians are skilled at performing this work and have received years of training to understand how to complete repairs safely.