Cleaning a roof that has solar panels installed is a tricky process.
Solar panels on a dirty roof add a lot of complexity and can be dangerous due to electricity.
As you may know, water does not do well with electricity.
Roof cleaning is a process that uses a lot of water, detergents, soaps, and chemicals making it worse.
Does this mean you shouldn’t get your dirty roof washed if you have solar panels?
The answer is, you should get your roof washed even if you have solar panels.
But you need to know the protection that needs to be in place before the roof cleaning process can begin.
Lack of property protection and caution will result in property damage and injuries.
How Do Solar Panels Add Complexity To The Roof Cleaning Process?
If your solar panels are going to go on your roof, they better have a strong and durable outer shell.
Solar panels use tempered glass and are some of the toughest glass you can get. The glass can withstand several storms of hail damage. That is a good thing as we folks in Texas go through hail storms quite a lot every year!
Tempered glass is tough and that’s great. But what makes them so tough? The reason they are tough is that they’re created with heat and chemicals.
If you don’t know how roof washing works, please read this article on What Is Roof Cleaning And Why Is It Important? It will clarify a lot of things and how roof cleaning works.
Roof cleaning uses a biodegradable solution that uses detergent, soaps, and chemicals.
Chemicals on chemicals will cause certain reactions to occur.
This is a huge issue as it makes the solar panels prone to scratches, etching, and harsh staining.
One of the main ingredients in roof cleaning is sodium hypochlorite also known as bleach. The average strength of sodium hypochlorite used to clean a roof is around 3-5%. That’s enough strength to do tons of damage to solar panels.
How Does Roof Cleaning Soap Solution Damage Solar Panels?
There are three ways a roof cleaning soap solution damages your solar panels.
- Through chemical reaction with the glass
- Residue dried from the chemicals on the solar panel’s surface
- Electrical circuits get fried or malfunction
1.) Through Chemical Reaction
When the roof cleaning solution gets onto a solar panel’s glass it causes a reaction to occur. The reaction causes heat and can cause discoloration on the solar panel.
The more damaging part comes from another reaction that causes the glass to become dull. Dulling of the glass makes it weak and causes scratches to occur at the slightest agitation.
How does the dulling reaction work?
It occurs because the tempered glass has silica as one of the large components. Silica does not react well with the ingredient in roof cleaning which is bleach.
Well, then why don’t you clean the roof without bleach? Why not clean it with a pressure washer?
Then you wouldn’t have a clean roof. You’ll have a damaged roof that will void your roof’s warranty.
Please, avoid pressure washing a roof. It is unsafe and very damaging.
Pressure washing is excellent for flat surfaces, and even then, it can be damaging. Understanding the types of surfaces, conditions, and situations will help prevent damage.
2.) Residue Dried From The Chemicals On The Solar Panel’s Surface
The roof cleaning solution when left to dry on your solar panels will crystalize. The crystallization will leave your panels with scratch marks throughout the surface.
You don’t need to agitate the solar panel’s surface for these crystals to scratch your panels. All it takes is a bit of wind and the crystals sliding across to cause scratches.
If your solar panels get scratched, it will reduce the efficiency of your panels. Scratches may also void the warranty on your solar panels. Please check your policy to make sure.
3.) Electrical Circuits Get Fried Or Malfunction
Cleaning something as big as a roof will need a lot of water and soap/chemicals.
Water and chemicals at a high volume can seep into the electrical units at certain angles over a period of time. water is a great conductor of electricity and can cause electrical issues or even a fire.
It’s always best to make sure the electrical components of the solar panels get covered. It would also be wise to ensure the solar panels get shut off during the cleaning process.
Complexity Of The Project In Maneuvering
An issue most roof cleaning companies will have with solar panels is maneuvering. The cleaner must be watchful of their steps on the roof and make sure their lifeline does not get stuck on panels.
The risk of falls and injuries is much greater if it is a metal roof with solar panels. Most cleaners will want to avoid cleaning high-pitched metal roofs. It can get complex and will need a lift to complete the project.
Safety is a huge factor in roof cleaning. Water and soap make a very slippery slope when you’re working at heights. When you’re hiring professionals to clean your roof, insurance, and workers comp. need to be in hand.
What Should You Do And How To Move Forward With Cleaning A Roof That Has Solar Panels?
Cleaning roofs with solar panels don’t have to be all that bad if it’s done with care and caution.
Avoiding any damage to your solar panels is very simple but often forgotten or neglected. The key is to cover it all up and any exposed electrical units in plastic covers and tape any openings.
Also, be sure to shut off your solar panels during the cleaning process and not forget.
As a homeowner or property owner, you should ask your roof cleaner:
- What method will you be using to clean my roof?
- How will you protect my solar panels?
- Are you insured and have workers comp?
- What are your safety procedures for being up on the roof?
- Do you cover the electricals on the solar panels even though they are safe for outdoor?
- Do you have a method of cleaning solar panels that prevents damage?
Generally, as a homeowner, it’s your right to know exactly how your professional will take care of you.
Roof cleaning is not a DIY type of project as it is a dangerous task. Please seek help from a professional company with process/safety training to get it done.
When done right here’s what you get
- The results and professional cleaning you’re looking for.
- Maintaining the efficiency of your solar panels and expanding the life of your roof.
- You’ll have peace of mind.
- You’ll save hundreds and thousands on repairing damages.
- You’ll not void your warranty for both roof and solar panels.
- You’ll avoid any medical bills and lawsuit bills from injuries.
Do you have solar panels on your roof?
We hope this article helps you make better and more informed decisions.
A roof with solar panels can add complexity to a roof cleaning. With this article, you can mitigate a lot of the risks and have the project completed with peace of mind.
Check out our article on How To Clean Solar Panels The Right Way!
Until next time friends!