Written by Mike Weiner, Director of Marketing, QuickBOLT
Wood shingle roofs are reliable and classic in ceilings, but that doesn’t mean they’re a flawless solution. Their installation allows and often requires more roof penetrations than other roofing materials such as tile or metal roofing. Despite all those nails and staples in the mix, shingles do their part in keeping the surfaces underneath dry.
Solar fixture manufacturers often hear the question, “How about a roof warranty?” Most installers only cover their bases, and see the assurance they can get beyond the quality of their work. What seems to bother everyone is that most roof warranties are only a guarantee of quality workmanship; Ensure that the product has been manufactured to the standard intended by the manufacturer. So where do the lines get blurred?
To provide insight into the problem, we’ve compiled warranty documents from the most popular chipboard manufacturers in the country. First we will delve into the common types of collateral.
Types of guarantees
Any supplier worth their salt will offer a manufacture or product warranty, ideally for a period that matches how long they’ve been in business; Anything longer and the length of the warranty period is speculation. Most solar mounting manufacturers offer a 25 year warranty on their mounting solutions – this means that they will replace products with defects attributable to the manufacturing process for up to 25 years after the date of manufacture.
A service guarantee is a different type of offering that covers forms of work. Truck reels, crew size, and subsequent warranty coverage are common components of service warranties. It’s rare to see a manufacturer offer a warranty for service. This leaves the secondary market filled with solar insurance/warranty providers (such as SolarInsure) who cover parts and labor on warranty claims.
We will now run a few manufacturers alphabetically and detail their warranties. Anyone who is not listed, does not provide explicit documentation addressing the question, or is outside the scope of our research cannot be reached.
Atlas Roofing appears to be the first roofing company to address the issue of solar installations and roof warranties. The company published an article in 2014 explaining how its warranty is affected by solar installations.
Atlas recommended that homeowners check with home insurance providers to see if solar is covered, and for installers to offer a third-party warranty/insurance plan.
CertainTeed is the rare condition that offers a joint manufacture/service warranty – under the right conditions. Its warranty coverage is tied to the approved installer program by benefiting contractors with two levels of coverage. When installed by “certified” or “master installers”, the certified warranty covers any manufacturing defects And the Workmanship defects for 15 or 25 years in a row. This makes viewing very flexible only if you are an authorized installer.
GAF warranties will still apply if a solar system is installed on top of their roofing products. GAF issued a technical bulletin a few years ago detailing the coverage and its limitations: If you need to remove the GAF solar system to inspect defective shingles, this cost is not covered by the warranty.
Malarky roofing products
Malarkey provides a first-hand breakdown of the manufacturer’s warranty in an easy-to-use technical leaflet. Solar installations are permitted on Malarkey roofs and do not void the manufacturer’s warranty. But the prospectus states, “Damage resulting from a solar/PV system installation does not constitute a manufacturing defect and is not covered by the warranty.”
Owens Corning Warranty Simple – Wood Panel warranties remain in effect even when the solar system is installed. This warranty covers only manufacturing defects in Owen Corning’s own products, other manufacturers’ products are not covered by the standard warranty.
Like GAF, Owens will not cover the cost of removing the solar system to replace a defective roofing product covered by the standard warranty.
TAMKO does not have any documentation dealing with solar installation, but its technical team’s answer over a phone call was, “The roof warranty will still apply” if PV is installed.
So, will a solar installation void the roof warranty?
Most likely, no, but this warranty did not protect you or the homeowner from anything other than a defective roofing product. At the end of the day, manufacturing warranties aren’t as important as the quality of your work.
If you come prepared with the roof, you can increase your chances of getting it right the first time. Taking directions from manufacturers is key to successfully using their products and installing a cohesive solar system. If you think you have a better method, let them know so they can develop a better product or modify their instructions using your field experience.
Other ways to plan for a successful installation is to take advantage of innovative mounting solutions – solutions that work with the ceiling, not against it. QuickBOLT has produced minimally invasive mounting solutions for a decade, and most of our peers in the mounting industry now offer their own top-mount solutions.
The past three years have seen a huge boon for shingle-mounted solar enclosures that minimize the impact on the roofing materials underneath. The fewer penetrations you make into the roof and the less you lift the shingles, the better the roof integrity remains.
One day we’ll see the rapid decline of shingle ripping, destroying the existing integrity of a roof and forcing installers to ask with pry bar in their hands, “Will this void a roof’s warranty?”