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Are Solar Shingles Recommended?

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  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Al in New York has a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    AL: Wondering, since my roof blew away, what’s the progress on the solar-powered roof shingles?

    TOM: You say your roof blew away? What happened, Al?

    AL: Well, it’s old. It’s old. Like 40-year-old asphalt on top of cedar shingles. Then had a little storm here and there. We got $18 from FEMA.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: We got 8,000 from the insurance company, which is owned by the bank.

    TOM: Alright. Well, listen, at least you got something towards it. But listen, if you’re asking me are solar shingles to the point now where I would recommend them? My answer would be no. Solar panels are a great investment. But solar shingles, I’m concerned about their durability and their longevity. And every time I’ve evaluated them and see them at, say, building/trade expos and things like that, I found that the warranties on these things don’t even come close to the warranty on an average roof. So, I’m concerned about how long they’re going to last and what it would take to replace them. They’re very, very expensive, as well. So, I’m not a proponent of solar shingles yet, although perhaps that can change in the future.

    Now, as to your roofing project, you mentioned that you have asphalt shingles on top of cedar shingles. I actually had a very similar roof, because I have a very old house that was built in the 1800s. And just about two years ago, we took off that original layer of cedar shingle, which had been covered by asphalt shingles over the years. And it was in amazingly good condition.

    But we pulled it off and then we resheathed the roof. So this particular type of roofing project is an expensive project because, usually, cedar shingles are on top of furring strips and you have to put plywood down over those furring strips to do it right. Your option is, of course, just to pull off the asphalt shingles and put another layerof asphalt shingles on top of the cedar and you’ll get more years out of it. But it won’t lay flat, clean and nice as it should if it was on proper sheathing. Does that make sense?

    AL: Yeah, I know all that. As far as the local code is – you’re going to have to go down to the rafters, which means you’ve got to build up the existing furring strip and the existing – you know, the thicknesses.

    TOM: Well, what I would do is would leave the furring strips in place and attach the plywood right to that. That’s going to be a little less work and with an old house, it doesn’t make sense to pull those off. Just leave those and put the plywood right on it.

    Al, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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