Many homeowners are in need of emergency roof repairs or replacement during the winter. But homeowners often question whether or not they can have a new roof installed in cold, wet, snowy winter weather. If you find yourself with roof damage this winter, this article offers homeowners important information, provided by the Pros at Helping Hands Restorations, to assist them with making an informed decision regarding roofing in cold weather.
Not for the Faint of Heart
Winter roofing is not for the faint of heart, especially in climates such as Ohio. Nonetheless, roofing can be done in cold weather, but be prepared for the extra hassle and expense (unless it’s insurance related).
Roofing in winter weather is not ideal and can be quite complicated. Almost all types of roofing material utilizes adhesive during the installation process, and almost all adhesive requires warm temperatures (heat source) to properly cure and fasten. A roof that is not properly fastened will often fail quickly, if not immediately. During the summer months, the sun is an adequate heat source for the proper adhesion of most roofing materials: asphalt shingle, EPDM (rubber) single-ply membrane, roll roofing, peal and stick roofing, and modified bitumen. These materials cannot be applied in cold weather without a great deal of added effort and expense.
Considering four out of five homes in the U.S. are roofed with asphalt shingles, a professional roofer must be aware of the manufacturer’s detailed requirements concerning the temperatures at which their materials can be installed, or the quality of the finished product may be adversely affected.
The ideal temperature range to install asphalt shingles is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder than 70 degrees and the adhesive will not reach the ideal elasticity and will not create a perfect seal.
If asphalt shingles are installed during colder than ideal temperatures, the shingles will not seal adequately and are vulnerable to high winds and rain. An improperly sealed shingle can be blown off by the wind or allow rainwater to seep underneath and into the roof decking. In addition, asphalt shingles installed in winter often have edges that appear raised or curled. Warm temperatures are required to keep the shingle pliable enough to consistently lay flat against the previous course.
Nonetheless, many roofers will take the chance in cooler spring weather to go ahead and install the shingles knowing warm summer weather is just around the corner. In most cases, asphalt shingles will eventually reach a high enough temperature to properly cure the adhesive, and the roof will function properly. In other cases, a storm producing high winds or driving rain could damage a shingle before it has a chance to seal properly.
Asphalt shingles can be installed properly during cold weather (late fall and winter) only if additional, costly measures are taken. Most asphalt shingle manufactures require that a specialized adhesive is manually applied to each shingle if temperatures are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When installing composition shingles, roofers also need to be careful not to damage the shingles when nailing them into the roof. According to the owner of Helping Hands Restorations, Aubrey Holley, to properly install a roof during cold weather, no roofing guns should be used at temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Holley says, “At Helping Hands Restorations, we hand-nail all our winter installations to ensure our homeowners are receiving the same service as our Spring/Summer customers; a state-of-the-art roofing system that will be hassle free for years to come.”
Dam that Ice!
Many homeowners in the northern United States are all too familiar with ice dams. These are thick accumulations of ice that form over the eaves of a house. Water then collects behind the dam and gradually works its way beneath roof shingles through a cycle of freezing and thawing. The result can be leakage into the living areas of the home, which in turn can produce sagging plaster, stains, and other damage.
Low-pitched roofs are the most likely to be affected, but the cause is a warm roof. Heat escapes the living areas of the home and rises, warming the blanket of snow on the roof. As the snow melts, it flows down the slope of the roof only to refreeze on top of the unheated roof overhang. The ice builds up, the thawing and freezing cycle continues, and the flow begins.
Ice dams are preventable. If new roofing is being added at your home, make sure that proper precautions are being taken. The key steps to avoiding ice dams are these:
1) Ensure adequate ventilation.
The roof needs to be vented both at the eaves (usually in the soffits) and at the peak, either in the roof itself or via vents in the end walls of the house. An air space above the insulation in the ceiling or attic then allows cold air to move freely, keeping the roof cold and preventing the snow cover from melting. When a roof is being constructed, inexpensive Styrofoam baffles may be installed to ensure that there is a passageway for cold air from the eaves to the peak.
2) Seal off the house.
Proper insulation of the attic rafters or ceiling joists is another part of the solution. So is a tight vapor barrier to prevent moisture from passing from the living areas into and through the insulation.
3) Install a snow and ice shield.
There are a number of products on the market that, when installed immediately on top of the sub-roof and beneath the shingles covering the overhang of the roof, will prevent water from working its way into the home. A snow and ice shield consists of a bituminous membrane that seals the roof, forming a continuous barrier to water. Helping Hands Restorations installs ice & water shield on every roof we install to prevent wind-driven rain and melting ice and snow from leaking through the roof deck.
Install Between the Bad Weather Days
Winter conditions only make a bad roof situation worse. Some roofs are in such poor condition that the homeowner cannot wait until spring to repair it. Fortunately, as us Ohioans know, the weather forecasts in Ohio are made up and the seasons don’t matter. In Dayton, Ohio, there are many days with bright sun and temperatures in the upper 50’s during the winter season. Last February, there was a four-day stretch where the temperature reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit. So, befriend a good roofing contractor, such as Helping Hands Restorations, that watches the weather and schedules roof installations between the bad weather days.