Can I Replace My Roof in the Winter?
The busiest time for roof repair and replacement is August and September. Homeowners are looking forward to winter weather and thinking about whether their roofs are up for another season of cold and rain.
But sometimes things go wrong. On a cold, rainy winter day you notice a discoloration on your ceiling. Pretty soon it becomes a drip and you know it’s time to call in a roofer. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your roof replaced or repaired, the damage may be worse than you think.
So there you are, mid-winter, looking at a whole new roof. Can it wait until spring? Not always. So the question comes up: Can I replace my roof in the winter?
It seems like an obvious question. There are all kinds of possible problems with winter roof replacement. Isn’t it too cold to work? What if I get caught in a storm mid-repair? Will the roofing materials behave normally in cold weather?
Do roofers even work during the winter?
The short answer is: Yes! Roofers work during the winter and you can replace your roof in the winter. And here in Georgia we are blessed with relatively mild winters. There are roofers in New England and Canada who work in the winter and are practically dressed for ice climbing or winter mountaineering. That’s less of an issue here.
But you will run into some issues with winter roof replacement. Most issues will arise when the weather drops below 40 degrees, which does happen pretty frequently during Atlanta’s coldest months. While ice and snow are rare, temperature can become an issue.
Winter Roofing Materials
Much of the concern with winter roof replacement is around materials. In general, there are a few very common roofing materials and several more less common (usually more expensive) roofing materials. By far the most common, and cheapest, roofing material is asphalt shingle. Another increasingly common roofing material is metal or aluminum shingles.
Each of these types of roofing, and the other less common roofing materials, have their own concerns when installation will take place in cold weather. Some are better to suited to cold weather installation than others.
Asphalt Shingles and Cold Weather
Asphalt shingles are best installed in 40 to 85 degree weather. That’s because of how the shingles stick to the roof. Asphalt shingles are nailed into place, usually with a nail gun. But each shingle also adheres to the shingle beneath it with an adhesive that uses the natural heat of the sun to form a tight bond. The roof will not be fully sealed until the weather warms up a bit.
Here in Atlanta that is less of a problem than in areas further north. You generally don’t have to wait for spring to get a day or two of sunshine above 40 degrees. But it is an issue that is still worth considering.
Another issue that may arise is ice dams. These are not common in the Atlanta Metro Area, but may arise in parts or North Georgia that get a little more snow. If snow sticks around on a roof for more than a couple of days, an ice dam can begin to form. Ice dams occur when a layer of snow sits on a roof and escaping warmth from the roof begins to melt the underside of the snow. The resulting water trickles down the roof to the eaves, which are colder than the rest of the roof because they overhang the house and are exposed to cold air on all sides. When the water reaches the eaves, it refreezes and begins to build a little mound of ice.
Ice dams are less common in Georgia than in colder climates, and very rare in the Atlanta Metro Area. But the possibility of ice, as well as the very real issue of having to wait for a warm day for your shingles to seal, do present a problem.
What Cold Weather Does to Asphalt Shingles
One problem for roofers installing asphalt shingles in cold weather is the way the shingles themselves react to cold weather. Asphalt shingles are pliable and can bend slightly in appropriately warm weather, making them easy to work with. In colder weather that flexibility decreases along with the temperature. Roofers run the risk of cracking or breaking asphalt shingles that have become brittle in the cold.
One way to keep asphalt shingles from getting brittle is to store them indoors or under a shelter that will keep them a little bit warmer. Because asphalt shingles will take the shape of anything they are place on, especially under the weight of piled up shingles, it is important to keep asphalt shingles flat in storage. The should never be placed on the ground for an extended period.
So your best bet, if you absolutely must replace an asphalt roof in the winter months, is just to wait for some slightly warmer weather. Here in Georgia that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, since “warmer weather” really means anything over 40 degrees. It will allow your shingles to bond properly and make sure that no moisture is caught between your new shingles and your roof, which could spell trouble down the line.
If there is one kind of roof that takes the cake for cold weather installation, it would be metal roofing. Unlike asphalt, cold temperatures have little effect on metal shingles. Metal shingles maintain their shape and strength even in cold weather. They also don’t rely on the warmth of the sun for any aspect of their insulation.
If you’re thinking about installing a metal roof, there’s no need to wait. Installing a metal roof in the winter poses no specific problems due to the material. However, there are other concerns to be aware of.
Roofers and Cold Weather
Roofs are not installed by robots. They are installed by human beings just like you and me. And just like you and me, roofers are affected by cold weather. Working outdoors in extreme cold takes a toll on a roofer, so there are some concerns that should be addressed.
First of all, roofing work should be done during daylight hours. While it is conceivable that a roof could be installed by the light of high powered industrial worksite lights, it is generally impractical. The winter months mean fewer daylight hours, so be prepared to take a little more time for the installation then during summer months with plenty of working hours.
Second of all, cold weather affects how people work. The worst case scenario is a sloppy or dishonest roofer who cuts corners to get the work done quickly and minimize time spent on a cold roof. The professionals at Eagle Watch Roofing would never cut corners that way, but there is a limit to how long they can spend in the cold before taking a break. Again, be prepared for a winter roof replacement to take a little longer than it might in the summer.
You Can Replace a Roof in the Winter
The bottom line is that yes, you can replace a roof in the winter, especially here in the Atlanta or Georgia in general. There are a few things to be aware of going in, but nothing that makes it impossible. If your roof needs to be replaced, don’t wait for the damage to get worse. Call Eagle Watch Roofing today to set up your risk free estimate. And if you have any hesitation, be sure to check out our testimonials to hear what our many satisfied customers are saying about us. There is no time like the present to take care of your roof.