Do I Need to Replace My Roof to Add Solar Panels?

Solar power is an efficient, environmentally friendly form of power that more and more people are incorporating into their homes each year. By adding solar panels to your home, you can cut down on your power bills while doing your part for the earth. It’s an appealing prospect, but if you’re considering adding solar panels to your home, you should know the effort required.

The fact of the matter is, you’ll likely need to replace your roof before you add solar panels to it. Most solar panels are built to last for 20 to 25 years, and removing them to repair your roof after they’re installed can be a difficult and expensive process. Unless your roof is already new, it will likely need work done on it before it comes time to replace your solar panels. That’s why we recommend ripping the Band-Aid off and replacing your roof now. It may be a bigger ordeal than you were planning to embark on, but in the long run, you’ll be thankful you did.

Get the Help of an Expert

If you try to replace your roof and add solar panels on your own, you’ll just end up in a world of hurt. This kind of roofing work is well beyond the skill set of even the handiest homeowners, so call in professionals such as Interstate Roofing before you try to do anything on your own. It’s not just the extra helping hands you need either. What you really need is their expertise.

Not all roof damage is visible at a glance, so having someone who has the experience needed to spot any problems the untrained eye might miss will be invaluable. Have a conversation with your contractor about what you’re planning to do, and they’ll be able to assess what roofing work might be necessary to make your dreams a reality. Together with their help, you can devise a plan of action for how best to proceed.

Assess the Layout of Your Roof

First and foremost, you’ll need to take stock of what you’re working with. Measure the dimensions of your roof to get an idea of how to best situate the solar array. Take a look at the environment around you and determine if anything might block light from reaching the array. You don’t want to go through the trouble of installing solar panels only to have a tree branch or your neighbor’s house stop the sunlight from reaching them.

Do what you can to mitigate any shade, trimming branches if you need to. Check to see if there are any vents, antennas, or other protrusions that might need to be moved and make plans to adjust their positions. Keep in mind that if you need to move anything connected to your HVAC or plumbing system, you may need to get in touch with a contractor to relocate it.

Start Any Necessary Repairs

Removing a solar array to repair a roof can be a pain, so it’s best to take care of any problems sooner rather than later. After you and your expert help have taken the time to analyze the situation, determine what might need to be addressed before you replace your roof and install solar panels. If you find any weak spots or damaged sections of the roof, they will need to be repaired before even attempting installation. This goes for not just problems on the exterior of the roof, but for under it as well. Water damage, leaks, or damaged rafters will also pose a problem.

A single solar panel is heavy enough, but an entire array will add a massive amount of extra weight for your roof to support. That’s why we strongly recommend you replace your roof before you install solar panels. By taking the time to replace everything first, you can be sure to address any problems now, as well as steeply reduce the odds that you’ll need to remove the array for any future repairs.

How Will You Connect to the Grid?

Unless you’re planning to replace the roof and add solar panels to a cabin out in the middle of nowhere, you’re going to need to figure out how your new array will connect to the grid. Get in touch with your utility provider and see what they’ll need from you to smoothly integrate the solar panels into your home. Are there any fees required as part of the setup? How long will it take and involved is it to get the array connected? How will you be compensated for the energy you generate, and how often?

The financial question will likely be the trickiest, as different states set different reimbursement rates depending on their outlook on solar energy. In states where the reimbursement rate is lower, you’ll need more time to see a return on investment. Everyone’s situation is unique, so take the time you need to sort out the details.

Set Yourself a New Maintenance Schedule

Once you’ve taken the time to replace your roof and add solar panels, you can’t just let them sit up there for the next few decades. As with many aspects of home care, regular maintenance is key to keeping your solar array firing on all cylinders. You’ll still have all the standard roof maintenance, of course. Unfortunately, adding a solar array can make what would be standard roof repairs quite tricky. Again, this is why we highly recommend you have your roof redone before installation.

Then set up a regular inspection with a trusted roofing company, if you don’t already have one, so that you can regularly have expert eyes to spot problems early and nip them in the bud. Solar panels can make it harder to properly drain and ventilate your roof, with the array catching and collecting debris that would ordinarily slide off your roof, so staying on top of any blockages that form is crucial. For the same reason, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any critters that might use your solar panels as a shelter. With frequent inspections, you can stay one step ahead of damages, blockages, and unwelcome neighbors, leaving you to enjoy your green energy for years to come.

 

How To Shingle a Steep Roof

Performing any sort of work on your roof is a tricky proposition. You’ll have to make sure you have the proper tools, as well as a thorough understanding of what you’re doing. The steeper your roof is, the trickier the task becomes. This is especially true if you’ll need to be crawling around the entire roof, attempting to repair or replace the shingles. In most cases, you’ll want to contact a professional to perform a job like this, but it’s possible to do it yourself, provided you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and money to do so safely.

If you need to shingle a steep roof—or re-shingle—there are a few steps you must familiarize yourself with.

Best Tools for the Job

Most of the tools you’ll need will be the same as for any roofing job. You will need, first and foremost, safety equipment. The right ladders are key. Look for a ladder that is specifically designed for roofing. It should be able to connect securely to the house itself so that it doesn’t wobble or fall while you’re climbing onto or off of the roof. It should also have a ladder hoist equipped. You’ll definitely need both hands free when climbing, and a ladder hoist will help you do this by providing a place to put your tools and supplies.

You will need a shovel or crowbar for prying old shingles off, as well as a hammer or roofing hatchet for replacing them. A hook blade and a staple gun are also used in the process of putting shingles on a roof.

You’ll need all the other requisite safety gear as well, including heavy-duty boots, sturdy gloves, and eye protection. A full-body harness as well as ropes and carabiners are critical for safety.

The high pitch of the roof means you’ll need to install roofing brackets as temporary steps for you to climb over. These are 90-degree metal brackets that you can place 2x6s across for use in climbing the roof.

Working on a steep roof will likely also require temporary scaffolding. In this way, you can walk around the roof without having to worry about standing directly on top of it. You can rent scaffolding from most tool rental companies.

If you have any hesitancy about maintaining safety while you shingle your steep roof, it’s best to contact a roofing contractor.

Materials for Shingling

Once you have the tools, you can begin to shop for the materials. Shingles aren’t simply nailed directly to the roof. They have a layer underneath them called an underlayment. This underlayment can be purchased in large rolls.

A sealant for the shingles is an important material for a roofing job. You can usually get it in a caulking tube that’s specially designed for that purpose. You’ll need flashing for the roof as well, which comes in various types, depending on the need. Flashing is the material used to deflect water away from more vulnerable areas of the roof, such as around vents or around the chimney. Along with the underlayment, this prevents water from getting underneath the shingles, where it can do serious damage to the roof.

Getting Started

The first step when shingling your roof is the setup. Find the most level ground possible in order to make sure the ladder is stable. When setting up your roofing ladder, it’s necessary to do so at the proper angle. If the angle of the ladder is too steep, it will be nearly impossible to climb. Too narrow, however, and it will not be safe. The best angle to use is approximately a 4:1. That is, approximately one foot back for every foot of height. You can then use sturdy straps to anchor the ladder to the roof. This is a critical step, to prevent the ladder from falling.

The next thing to do is to set up the scaffolding. Scaffolding also requires level ground to sit upon. If it will sit upon dirt, grass, or any other soft ground, you should set down some plywood first, to prevent the scaffold from sinking due to its weight.

How to Shingle a Steep Roof

Shingling a steep roof definitely comes with a learning curve. It will be a slow process at first, but soon enough, you’ll be able to attach shingles quickly and effectively.

Start by using your crowbar to remove the old shingles if there are any. You can then lay down the underlayment by rolling it out. Use your staple gun to fix it in place. Each row of underlayment should overlap around three to four inches or the manufacturer’s recommended overlap.

Installing the flashing is next. Once again, it should be placed around chimneys, vents, edges, and other vulnerable areas of the roof. Next, you can attach the shingles one by one, making sure that they’re properly layered over one another. Nail them down with the proper technique, ensuring that the head of the nail is flush with the shingle itself.

If You Opt Not to DIY

Of course, the job of learning how to shingle a steep roof is a massive undertaking, and one that can be dangerous and expensive, depending upon how much equipment you need to rent. If you would prefer not to do it yourself, you can contact a professional like Interstate Roofing. We can perform the job for you, safely and effectively, and be able to maintain your roof after the fact so that it lasts for many years.

 

What Are the Steps of Roof Replacement in Portland?

If it’s properly maintained, a well-built roof can last for many years, often decades. Over time, though, the damage caused by a ceaseless barrage of wind, rain, and sunlight will eventually take its toll. Sooner or later, even the most solidly constructed, well-cared-for roof will need to be replaced.

Because roof replacement is an event that usually only happens every few decades, most homeowners won’t have to do it more than once or twice (unless something catastrophic occurs). This means that most people who are not professional roofers won’t have much experience with the process. How exactly does it work?

Answering this question depends on a number of factors. What type of home do you have? What is your roof made from? And, of course, what is your geographic location? An area like Portland, where there’s a lot of rain, will have different requirements than an area that’s primarily sunny. Read on to discover what you can expect when you need to replace a roof in Portland:

Step One: An Inspection

Replacing your roof is a costly process, not to mention an invasive one. So it goes without saying that you should only have it done when it’s absolutely necessary. Of course, there will come a time when it is definitely needed, either because the roof has reached the end of its useful life or because it has undertaken catastrophic damage. Knowing when the roof needs to be replaced should come at the recommendation of a skilled roofer, such as one from Interstate Roofing. A good roofer will be able to tell you if you truly need to replace the roof or if the problem can be dealt with through a smaller maintenance job.

Step Two: Clear the Surrounding Area

As you might suspect, there aren’t too many bigger home renovation jobs than roof replacement. Portland homes, in particular, can be a challenge because of all the rain the area receives. Before you even start the process, you need to make a lot of room around the outside of the house. Park vehicles in the garage or away from the home, but not in the driveway. Move picnic tables and other objects elsewhere. Most importantly, make sure there won’t be any people or animals nearby while the roof replacement is taking place.

Step Three: Remove the Old Roof

Once you’ve made room for them to work, your roofer will begin clearing away the existing roof, making room for a new one. This, in and of itself, is a huge job. They will need to remove all the shingles that made up your old roof. Nails will be pulled out, and the entire structure will be disassembled.

Step Four: Roof Deck Inspection

Once the shingles and underlayment have been removed, your roofer will need to do another inspection of the roof deck. It’s possible, especially on old or damaged roofs, that the wood that makes up the roof deck of your home is rotted or otherwise weakened. If this is an issue, it will need to be replaced in the interest of safety. This isn’t necessarily an inevitable part of the process, however. The wooden infrastructure of a home, including the roof deck, can last an incredibly long time, provided it has been properly protected from the weather.

Step Five: Begin Building the Roof Back Up

If everything looks good and safe, it will be time to begin rebuilding the roof. When opting for a roof replacement, Portland homeowners don’t always want the exact same roof they had before. Sometimes, they choose to make an upgrade: better quality materials mean a longer-lasting roof, which also boosts curb appeal and adds to your home’s value. Your roofer from Interstate Roofing can make recommendations if you want a roof upgrade, rather than a simple replacement.

Step Six: Add a New Underlayment

Especially in Portland, or other rainy parts of the country, it’s critically important that your roof be water-resistant. This is where your underlayment comes in: made from a water-resistant material, it sits underneath the shingles and protects your home from the elements. There are several things roof underlayment might be made from; rubberized asphalt is particularly common. Your roofer will carefully lay down the material you’ve chosen and nail or staple it into place.

Step Seven: Replacing the Shingles

The next step will be to replace the shingles that make up your roof. This is an important one because shingles need to be properly affixed or they’ll simply be carried away the first time a heavy wind sweeps through your neighborhood. They also affect your home’s curb appeal and, therefore, value. Talk to your roofer about the best shingles to use in your area. Among the most common materials are asphalt, wood, metal, and slate.

Step Eight: Reattaching the Vents and Other Details

A roof can last for years, but your new roof won’t last long if it can’t effectively carry away water and snow away from your home. Your roofer will have to make sure that all the flashing, vents, gutters, and other details are in place to help protect your home from the elements.

Step Nine: Regular Inspections for the Lifetime of the Roof

In order to wring the maximum life out of your new roof, you’ll need to ensure that it’s cared for regularly. This is a big part of why a company like Interstate Roofing is a great choice for roof replacement. Portland roofers with years of experience, like Interstate, offer warranties on newly constructed roofs so that you can rest easy, knowing that wear and tear and damage can be handled easily.