We are asked frequently about the potential for roof leaks by prospective solar pool heating buyers, and understandably so. The roof over your head, and the house under it, are precious. The headache of a leak can by frustrating and expensive. So how do we address this major concern?
First, it is important to note that the solar pool heating industry as a whole does not have a major roof leak issue. If it did, the industry would not be booming. Professional solar contractors are very good at making sure proper techniques are used, and materials and sealants have come a long way. If you read about roof leaks from solar pool heaters, it’s probably an older system, or it was just done wrong. In the local Southwest Florida market, frankly, the whole industry (including our competition) is pretty good about ensuring roofs are protected, but problems do occur occasionally.
Although there is a very low chance you will experience and issue, we do a lot more to ensure you have a trouble-free experience than others.
Most prospective buyers are worried about the solar panel attachments and the fasteners used to attach solar panels to the roof. The insider’s secret is that this should really be the least of your worries (although improper technique, materials, or sealant can cause attachment leaks). The real worry should be:
- Panel couplings rubbing into shingles.
- PVC Plumbing rubbing into shingles.
- At fittings
- At hips and ridges
- PVC pipe clamps improperly installed or sealed.
That right — all of those “holes” in your roof from stainless steel fasteners are extremely reliable if done right. The most common and serious issues come from the plumbing and couplings between panels, and their interaction with the roof surface!
I don’t want to scare you — for the faint of heart, please look away. In these pictures below, plumbing installed by other contractors has caused serious roof leaks. These pictures demonstrate what not to do, but some keep doing things the “old fashioned way” for some reason, even though better materials and methods are available.
The best way to address plumbing causing abrasion on the roof is to raise the plumbing off of the roof and take special care around fittings and couplings. That sounds obvious, right?! We take every precaution and use special spacers to raise plumbing and secure it at proper intervals. Below are some pictures showing how our materials and methods are far superior, and will work to protect your roof.
Inevitably some plumbing will rest on the roof. The key is to reduce the potential for abrasion at key points and to secure plumbing properly. We are the ONLY local dealer in Southwest Florida that takes precautions by using specially designed plumbing spacers to reduce the potential for abrasion.
There are some other things we do along the same lines that are important. By virtue of using a header clamp along the top header, the panel couplings are naturally suspended above the roof, cradled above the roof surface and allowed to expand and contract as needed. We install aluminum flashings at the lower header junctions to eliminate the risk of long-term abrasion from hose couplings. We also use ultra-premium roof-compatible sealants liberally. These are just a couple of the added steps we take to protect your roof.
Why doesn’t everyone do it? Money — that’s the only reason we can think of. There is no magic here. We charge a little more for our installations, but we feel that it’s worth every penny, and you can’t put a price on protecting your roof. After all, you will have your solar panels for well over a decade, and doing it right is the only way we will do it.