Chicago, winter is here – time for your snow shovel, your bag of salt and your roofer. What? Your roofer can’t diagnose – let alone fix – roofing issues you may be experiencing due to the season in the middle of winter. Or can he?
The problems that winter brings aren’t limited strictly to the roads. Often times, winter can highlight the inefficiencies of your roof system in a multitude of ways. Ice dams can reveal ventilation issues. Icicles hanging from your gutter drainage system – though lovely and undoubtedly part of the season – can call attention to clogged gutters or an improperly draining system. Water spots on the ceiling or walls can announce the obvious appearance of a leak.
And yes, it’s true – winter generally makes existing roofing problems worse. The fluctuating temperatures we experience in the winter, the freeze-thaw cycle, causes roofing materials to expand and contract. This can lead to a host of issues:
- shingles curling and cracking;
- broken roof penetration seals;
- ice dams;
- gutter freeze, which may lead to the gutters pulling off of the roofline;
But, there’s nothing that can be done about any of it until spring’s thaw. ..right?
It turns out that that thought process isn’t quite true. In fact, winter can actually be a good time to diagnose and fix the roof problems you may be experiencing, though extra precautions DO need to be taken when working on a winter roofing project. Licensed, professional roofing contractors know that safety ALWAYS comes first.
Most material manufacturers call for temperatures above 26°F to install new products. For example, most glues and adhesives that are installed in temps below 26° may freeze, rendering them useless in terms of protecting building occupants from water penetration. And, products installed outside of the manufacturer specifications will void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Additionally, for many of the products with self-adhesive properties to adhere properly, temps need to reach 40°F+ for several days in a row to “heat” the product enough to activate the “self-stick” properties. Also, shingles should be hand-nailed to avoid the possible cracking and splitting that may be caused by the use of a nail gun.
Underlayment, also known as an ice and water shield product, is also particularly susceptible to the ultra-violet rays of the sun and should not be left exposed for more than 30-45 days. A minimum 30 lb felt (or better) should be used and this should be installed with cap nails instead of staples.
Finally, when doing a winter roofing project, your roofer should not tear-off more than can be re-covered in a short amount of time should the weather turn.
What are the pros for attempting a winter roofing project? When temperatures begin to rise, even slightly, pooling water on the roof surface and shrunken sealants can be an easy to spot culprit for likely sources of a roof issue. Also, roofing contractors are likely not scheduled out weeks in advance, so your winter roofing project may be able to be completed sooner than if you were to reach out during the busy months of spring and summer. Plus, depending upon the issues you are having, your roof may not make it through the winter.
Remember, any roofing project that you attempt during the winter months should be approached with caution. Additional precautions need to be taken to ensure that the roof repairs or new installation will last for many years to come for jobs completed during the winter months, but they CAN be done. Who says winter is only good for snow?
A word of caution: if you think you are experiencing a roof issue, DO NOT ATTEMPT to go on your roof to diagnose the problem yourself. Do not attempt to shovel your roof yourself. Roofing in the winter is dangerous work if you do not take the proper precautions, which your local licensed, professional roofer is sure to take. Call one and let the pros handle it if you believe you are having an issue.