Many people might need roof repair done in the winter months. However, they may wonder if it is worth doing roof work in this period. Perhaps it’s better to wait for the spring when temperatures are rising.
Roofing contractor don’t like being on the roof, even if it’s not hot outside. While the concerns about roof quality in winter warrant a thorough answer, and the concern regarding the roofer deserves thoughtful answers, I think the answers to the first concern will suffice to show that most roof work doesn’t need to be delayed. And, well, if everyone thought that way roofers would be fired.
Roof Repair Tips
Roof work that is to be done in winter must first be divided into two categories: “Repairs” or “Replacements”.
Repairs to roofing systems can be made in winter and summer, so it doesn’t matter if they are damaged. Caulking can be used to seal gaps between shingles where there is not enough warmth. A good way to make a minor repair a major one is to allow shingles to remain on the roof in winter. Snow can build up on the roof making repairs very difficult. Additionally, snow melt can cause significant water damage to drywall and make it more difficult to repair. Not forgetting that melting snow can lead to leaks in places where rain wouldn’t. One example is the “ice dam”, but water that melts beneath snow can take a more direct path, allowing it to reach roofs in ways that steady rain might not. Yes, snow closer to the roof will melt first, creating a layer of water between the shingles, and the bulk of snow. This is due to heat loss from the inside. The roof will leak throughout the time that snow is melting, not just after it has melted. The time before major snowfall is the “last chance” for homeowners to avoid potentially disastrous consequences from roof damage. While I don’t want to be a shill, I will say that we have successfully repaired roofs even when there was 6 inches of ice.
We need to break down roofing projects into three main categories when it comes to complete replacements. We will first look at flat roofs. Next, we’ll consider shingle roofs. Finally, we’ll discuss “rigid roofing” which is a roof that doesn’t require a tar strip or is not flat.
Many flat roofs are temperature dependent by design. Self adhering systems are a prime example. These roofs are not suitable for installation at certain temperatures, as specified by the manufacturer. Two other major flat roofing systems are still available in residential roofing. There are two types of flat roofs: those that use a torch to attach them to a surface and those that are mechanically attached. Both systems can be installed outside without any consideration for temperature. The mechanically attached system can be installed without the need to think about “burning down your home”. This is a great feature. One such system is “Duralast”, which is specifically designed to “enclose the fasteners” during installation. Details of the roof (seams and skylights) are completed with a “heat gun”. A heat gun is used to complete the roof details, which is a safer way of installing it.
Shingle roofs are most susceptible to winter damage from installation. However, this depends on a variety of factors. The first thing to do is to assess the surrounding area of the house that will be covered. Is there a place where dust could build up between the shingles and cause them to fall apart before Spring temperatures can fix them? You might consider putting off your winter shingle job if there is a lot of construction around your home. The roofer who will be doing the job is another important factor. “Does he ensure that the nail guns are not driven too hard by his fasteners?” Does his crew use nail guns? Do they “shoot high” to avoid a low nail? He should not be roofing your home if he is unable to look you in the eye and verify that he understands how temperature affects wintertime shingle installation. A winter installation is acceptable if you’re confident in your roofer and not concerned about dust. Think about how many roofs are installed in winter by subcontractors on dusty construction sites using 60 mph rated Shingles. You will be amazed at the details that can make a roof great, despite all the variables.
“Rigid roofs”, which are made of metal, slate, composites and cedar shakes, don’t rely on the “seamlessness” of their installation or a “tar sheet” to keep them in place. Instead, they rely upon the fasteners (nails screws clips). Although these roofing systems can be installed in winter, some require modifications during installation. Composite slate, fake slate, and shakes, can be attached with a gun during the warmer months. However, they must be either hand-nailed in colder months or warmed up in the interior before installation. High winds can make it difficult to install metal roofs that require roofers carrying large panels on the roof. These roofs can be installed during winter without any loss of life or increased risk of problems.
As you can see, roofing is a trade that requires adjustments to account for weather variables. However, it doesn’t stop when it is cold or when the chance of rain is high. Roofers are used to extreme weather. You can feel sorry for them if that’s what you want, but it shouldn’t stop you from helping the good ones.