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Common Rooftop Solar Panel Installation Problems To Avoid | Pacific West Roofing

rooftop solar panel installation problemsA well-installed rooftop solar array doesn’t just generate clean energy. It also needs to have a solid, long-lasting foundation, which in most cases is a rooftop. In fact, about 80 percent of today’s solar panel installations are done on flat and sloped roofs.  This is because roofs are the ideal setting; they get the most unobstructed sun of any other place on most properties, they’re close to power lines, and on a sloped roof you don’t need any racks to mount the panels on.

But, what is a rooftop solar array truly worth if the roof is leaky or damaged? These installations have been growing in popularity for decades, but we still see situations where the installer did not understand or take the conditions of the roof into account.

Here are some common problems to avoid:

1. INSTALLING NEW PANELS ON AN OLD ROOF

Ideally, the array’s life and the roof life should be about the same. Your solar panels may generate power for 20 years, and your financing or Power Purchase Agreement could last just as long. Having such a system installed on a roof that only has about 10 good years left is asking for trouble. Many roof systems, such as a metal roof or cool roofing membrane, can last 20 years or more and are well suited to support a solar array.

2. INSTALLING AN ARRAY ON A ROOF THAT IS UNSUITABLE FOR SOLAR

A roof has to provide just the right conditions for your solar panels to perform well. For example, panels should be oriented toward the South or the West to get the most sun. They generally work best in cooler environments, making a cool membrane ideal. Most roofs are not designed to support the weight of a solar array or the foot traffic introduced by installation and maintenance. And in most cases, numerous penetrations will be made into the roof to mount the panels, which may be against the recommendations for many roofing systems. Unless you’re lucky, making sure your roof is 100 percent compatible with solar often requires planning years in advance.

3. INTERRUPTING THE FLOW OF WATER

Your roofing system is designed to shed water from the rooftop and away from the building. But, when solar panels are installed without regard for this, racks and wiring often interrupt the flow of water and keep if from draining properly. Water could even be forced upward, which usually results in a leak. Ballast material can also escape and clog drains. Repairing a roof can be much more difficult when there are solar panels installed, so it’s best to make sure these issues are addressed right away.

4. TREATING THE ROOFTOP LIKE A CONSTRUCTION SITE

A good roof system is durable, but they all have their limits. A solar installer might drag racks and panels across the roof or drop tools without respect to the shingles or membrane, which can easily cause penetrations. Debris that doesn’t get cleaned up can clog drains and cause all kinds of problems. To avoid this, make sure to hire an installer who understands the needs and nuances of your roofing system.

5. NOT HAVING A MAINTENANCE PLAN

Even without solar panels, a roof will need maintenance and regular inspections. But with solar installed, that need is heightened. You won’t get the return on your investment if your panels are covered in layers of dust or sitting in a pool of standing water. Regular roof and solar panel maintenance is always recommended to keep small problems from becoming big ones.

Many other roofing problems can arise with solar panel installations, and as installers develop new mounting methods the roofing system must always be a serious consideration.

Together, roofing and solar power make perfect sense, and we expect to see many more solar installations and clean energy integration in the future.  But, we hope that you will do your part to protect your roof by choosing the right solar installer, planning ahead, and committing to regular maintenance.

Pacific West Roofing works with many solar installers in the area to make sure that rooftops remain in good condition and that all penetrations made when mounting racks and panels are properly sealed. Contact us about your rooftop solar project today! Call 503-635-8706 or visit our contact page.

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How Are Solar Panels Installed On My Roof? | Pacific West Roofing

Thinking about going solar? Switching to solar powered panels on your roof can be an incredibly wise investment – one that is great for the environment and your energy bill!

Solar panels generally last for 30 years or more and require very little maintenance. They will not harm your roof if they are properly installed. In fact, these panels can protect the areas directly beneath them from excessive heat and light. It is actually very common to notice that the rooms that have the solar panels installed directly above will remain cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, regardless of what other type of insulation you have.

How does the installation process work?
The company will first insert giant lag bolts into the framing structure of the roof with Fastjack, which is a special metal flashing used in solar panel installations. The panels are bolted to the rafters then they are attached to the infrastructure of the home rather than the roof, so there is no safety concern about the panels weighing too much and pushing through the roof. The panels themselves are not that heavy. The company then uses high grade sealant that will prevent any leaks from occurring. The most time-consuming part of the installation job is finding the exact center of the rafters. However, there are new mounting products that have recently been released that help reduce the amount of time required for this process.

How much does it cost to install a solar paneled roof?
First of all, the type of roof you have will make a big difference in the installation process and price. It will be more expensive to install solar panels on Spanish tile roofs or wood shake than on simple asphalt shingle roofs. Tile or shake roofs are brittle and extra time is needed to ensure that the attachment areas are totally sealed. This extra time can increase the price of the installation job.

Oftentimes, if you install solar panels, you can qualify for a rebate. Contact your utility company and Oregonians can contact Energy Trust of Oregon to see what kinds of incentives are available, as there are often city-specific or federal energy rebates that can help offset the initial cost of the project. Looking for ways to conserve energy? Solar panels are one of the best ways you can do that. Once you decide to install your new solar panel system, you will be on the path toward tangible energy savings.

At Pacific West Roofing, we can answer any roofing and solar-panel-related questions you may have and map out the best strategy for adding solar panels to your roof. Give us a call!

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Eco-Friendly Roofing Ideas | Pacific West Roofing

Eco-friendliness and energy efficiency have been important trends in the construction of office buildings and other urban developments, but finally, the average homeowner is also beginning to incorporate green building elements into the design and construction of their homes. If you’re looking eco-friendly roofing ideas, here are 10 great options.

1. LIVING/VEGETATED ROOFS

One of the most favored and certainly the most attractive green roof option is a living roof. But, it’s harder to pull off than it looks. If you’re looking for an easy way to plant a garden on your roof, Green Paks are a smart way to go. Offered by Green Roof Blocks out of St. Louis, these affordable modules are made of a long-lasting, high density polyethylene knit. They come pre-filled with designer soil and, if you choose, pre-seeded with regionally appropriate plantings. Just cover your roof with Green Paks (with a drainage/root barrier layer in between), plant and/or water as necessary, and watch your living roof garden grow.

2. FINDING THE RIGHT PLANTS

Experts in living roofs have been focusing more and more on plant selection. Until somewhat recently, plants for green roofs were chosen without any real consideration for climate. Now, horticulturalists are working with green roofing contractors to choose plants that are native to the region, thus requiring minimal care. Scientists have also developed grasses that are more drought resistant, making a living roof easier to maintain in drier climates.

3. PREVENTING RUNOFF

A number of eco roofing companies have established drainage and runoff containment systems for vegetated roofs. They use special rubber edging to keep rain from draining out of the soil and plants, thereby preventing the runoff that pollutes our waterways. A living roof with a system like this could retain half of annual rainfall, but you’ll definitely want to make sure the membrane remains in good shape as pooling water has always been the arch nemesis of a roof.

5. INTEGRATED SOLAR TECHNOLOGY

Solar panels have become a popular roof adornment for the eco conscious homeowner, but many problems can arise from improper installation, which is unfortunately pretty common. If you’d rather not go that route, thin film solar technology is emerging as a more appealing method of collecting solar energy. Manufacturers have incorporated photovoltaic solar cells into various roofing products, which are expensive now, but will soon be available to the mainstream.

7. SOLAR TUBES

As an alternative to skylights, solar tubes can also help you harvest natural light and save on your energy bills. They start with a plastic dome on your roof, then a tube funnels sunlight into any room using highly reflective fixtures. Solar tubes can provide enough light that you don’t have to use lamps or overhead lights. And if the sun’s not out (as usual), some models are fitted with LEDs to provide light when the weather is grey.

9. COOL ROOFS

Cool roofs are actually the fastest-growing sector of the roofing industry right now.

Some of the most popular cool roofing systems for flat roofs use a white membrane that reflects sun rays and prevents heat emittance to keep cooling costs and rooftop temperatures down. However, keeping the heat out can be a problem for folks living in colder climates, so researchers at MIT created a roofing tile called Thermeleon that turns white in warm temperatures to reflect heat and then turns black to absorb heat when it’s cold out.

10. METAL ROOFS

Metal roofs are nothing new, but they are still one of the most environmentally friendly roofing systems available. They are finally being marketed more heavily to the average homeowner, and availability has skyrocketed. Metal roofing materials are recyclable, incredibly durable and long-lasting, and they’re the prefered roofing material for harvesting rainwater.

If you’re interested in a metal roof, cool roof, solar tubes, or a dependable foundation for a vegetative roof, we would love to help. Call Pacific West Roofing today at 503-653-8706 or contact us via email.

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The Business Benefits of Green Roofing Systems | Pacific West Roofing

As a way to conserve energy and slow climate change, many flat roofs are now becoming green roofs. Traditional black roofing materials absorb a tremendous amount of heat, especially when we get a lot of sunshine. This increases the need for air conditioning, which creates one of the most harmful emissions polluting the air today.

For the past 30 years or so, architects and roofing material manufacturers have been working to find and produce environmentally conscious (and affordable) solutions for flat roofs.

COOL ROOFS

One of the most effective ways to improve a building’s energy efficiency is to install a roof membrane that will reflect sunlight (Solar Reflectivity) and release absorbed heat (Infrared Emittance). According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), these two properties could cut a building’s annual energy costs by up to 20 cents per square foot on average, depending on the climate and the quality of the new roof .  Check out their Cool Roof Calculator.

When it comes to cool roofs, Pacific West Roofing works with FiberTite® materials. The Cool Roof Rating Council gave FiberTite® roofing membranes one of the highest ratings in the industry for both Solar Reflectivity and Infrared Emittance, and it’s also ENERGY STAR® compliant.

LIVING ROOFS

Why not take it another step further, and cover your roof with plants that clean the air? People have had rooftop gardens for centuries, but just in the last few decades, they’ve become a popular design feature for eco-conscious commercial buildings and retrofits.

What can a living roof do for you?

  • Filter harmful pollutants and re-oxygenate the air.
  • Naturally reduce heat and help lower localized temperatures (Urban Heat Island Effect).
  • Insulate your building and cut energy costs.
  • Reduce the risk of flooding and wastewater overflow by retaining rainwater.
  • Slow water down so as not to overload the sewer and river systems.
  • Extend the life of your roofing membrane by reducing temperature fluctuations.
  • Provide a noise barrier, making a quieter work environment.
  • Give building occupants a private outdoor area for gardening and relaxation.

A vegetative roof requires a very special infrastructure. Without it, rot, mold, and disaster are inevitable. For a truly watertight roofing system, nothing beats a FiberTite membrane, with molecularly welded seams for unprecedented strength. They are designed to resist the damaging effects of chemicals, plant microbes, and rooting. And, with the combined technology of densely packed polyester fabric and a unique DuPont Elvaloy coating, FiberTite membranes are flexible yet unpuncturable.

If you’re interested in making your roof an integral part of your energy efficiency goals, give us a call and let’s discuss your options. We can also talk about mounting solar panels!

Contact Pacific West Roofing today by calling 503-635-8706, or click here to send us an email.

Portland Roofing Contractor Since 1980!

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