We're not sure where to even begin on this story. Inspired by what we have seen in the field, we felt compelled to warn consumers about what is happening on their rooftops when they take the steps to go solar. Though this particularly example is one of the more extreme samples, the reality is that solar providers and electricians are installing solar arrays on rooftops every single day here in Los Angeles and Orange County and they know very little about the roofs they are working on, how to properly waterproof them and how to successfully warrant the roofs against leaks. It is important to know this part of the solar process when considering purchasing or leasing a system for your home.
Recently, we were called into West Covina, CA to inspect this property and give the homeowner an estimate of what it would cost to dismantle his rooftop solar array, tear off the roofing system and then re-roof and reinstall the solar system properly. Before we even got on the roof, we asked the homeowner a series of questions as to what had happened, how old the system was, was this permitted, was the company that installed it still in existence, etc. This is what we found...
1- The original roof is Cal Shake, which is discontinued and was involved in a significant class action lawsuit. Red flag #1, as we would have never recommended to the homeowner installing a 20-25 year solar system on an old, discontinued roofing system which has had significant failures.
2- The solar contractor, pulled permits on this project, did what may go down as one of the worst roof repairs our company has seen and then walked away form the job with the homeowners money... A year and a half ago! Not only was this solar roofing system never finalized by the city, it now has been tied up in a lengthy lawsuit. red flag #2.
3- The solar installer has since gone out of business, at least in his former company name, and is now operating under a different license and name. red flag #3.
4- Because so much Cal Shake roofing was destroyed during the install on the main back section of the roof, the solar installer attempted to "tie-in" a comp shingle with the Cal Shake and simply caulked the broken tiles together in the smaller sections of the solar array. When we heard this, this was red flag #4 before we got on the roof.
Hard to believe as this home and this customers backyard are absolutely beautiful, but what we found when we got onto the roof was absolutely, positively the worst roofing work we have seen from a solar provider. The pictures say and show it all.
Folks, we can't stress enough the importance of properly qualifying your solar installer. It is also very important to think about the longterm costs associated with your roof and solar system. Saving a buck today, to not properly waterproof your roof and solar system will end up costing this customer at least 3 times what it should have cost him in interior repairs, legal costs, dismantling and reinstall of the solar system and a new roofing system which should have been installed in the very beginning.
Here are just a few things to ask your solar installer:
1) How much experience do they have personally in roofing, solar and electrical?
2) If they are subcontracting parts of the work, are those people fully licensed, insured and bonded and how much experience do they have?
3) Can they provide references?
4) What kind of warranty is offered on solar array itself, as well as the roof from leaks?
5) What has their experience been in dealing with the local building department and utility company when it comes to permit process and utility connection?
6) What is their payment schedule and is some money held back until the system is fully signed off by all necessary parties?
7) Will the roof last the life solar system which in most cases is expected to be 20-25 years?
This post is written by Trevor Leeds- President of Chandler's Roofing
Posted on 04/23/2014 at 12:00:00 AM