Why is Winter The Worst Season For Your Roof?

Why is Winter The Worst Season For Your Roof?

Hainesport, New Jersey is not a fun place to be if you aren’t a fan of the cold. As we never seem to have a shortage of it during our winter seasons. With a seasonal average low of 26 degrees Fahrenheit in January, it can get a little nippy to say the least. This cold weather however does not just affect you, it also affects your roof.

Cold Asphalt Shingles:

Think of it this way. Have you ever been out in the cold for an extended period of time, without the proper apparel to keep you warm? You begin to notice that your fingers start to get stiff! Or that you can feel that the joints in your body are tighter than they should be? This is all an effect of the cold on your bones. The cold has the same effect on your roof. When your asphalt shingles get cold, they stiffen up and become brittle. These stiff, brittle shingles then become susceptible to a wide variety of things that they otherwise would be less affected by normally.

Cold Weather that Affects your Asphalt Shingle

  • Hail- Hail is caused when water droplets in the clouds freeze into balls of ice before falling to the ground. These balls of ice can have a variety of sizes, however, even the small pieces can pose a risk. Think of when you drop an apple on the ground vs. when you drop an apple that was in liquid nitrogen in the water. In the first scenario, you may find some bruising on the apple, but it will otherwise be fine. In the second scenario, however, your apple will be brittle and will shatter on impact. This holds true for a shingle that is just slightly cold in hail vs an asphalt shingle that is below freezing in a hail storm.
  • Strong winds- Strong winds have and will always pose as a treat to shingles. It always seems to find any weak point it can find and will extort it for all that it’s worth. Let’s assume a similar scenario to the one mentioned in the hail discussion. If you were to take a rubber pencil and try to bend it, there will be some give, and it will bend instead of crack. However, if you were to take that same rubber pencil and leave it in the freezer overnight, it will stiffen up, and become brittle. So when you attempt to bend it, it will shatter. Your shingles are composed of asphalt and composite materials. In normal circumstances, it will have some play and be able to combat the wind, however, when cold, it is much more likely to break instead of bend.
  • Falling branches- Similar to the hail, falling debris will be much more likely to crack asphalt shingles when they are cold compared to when they are warm.

Although all of these pose a risk under normal conditions, they are a borderline death sentence to cold and brittle asphalt shingle.

Ice Damage:

Most people don’t think about it, but ice can at times be more detrimental to your roof than any of the things mentioned above. Water is phenomenal at getting into every place it’s not supposed to, due to the fact that it’s a liquid. Pair that with strong Hainesport winds and you’ve got yourself an almost unstoppable force. If a little water was to get under your asphalt shingles normally, it wouldn’t be a huge issue.

There is a waterproof underlayment on roofs that helps repel water in the case of such an incident. However, if you get water under your roof in below-freezing conditions, well that’s a different story. Like most liquids, water has this interesting property where it will expand when it freezes.

Expanding Water Damages Your Roof

Water will expand by approximately 9% which may not seem like a lot, but once there is a gap established between the plywood and the shingle, it’s a slippery slope down. Some may think, “There’s no way expanding water could do that much damage, shouldn’t a properly nailed shingle be able to withstand that?” and you would be valid to think so, as it does seem odd. However, take a moment and think about how you are always told to run your water during very cold weather, to prevent your water lines from bursting. Running water is infinitely harder to freeze than standing water, and if you let the water sit in your pipes, it will have enough pressure to crack through a metal tube! If it can crack through a metal pipe, it can surely do some damage to your roof.

The Dangers of Snow:

Snow is yet another huge problem for winter roofs, as it puts a lot of pressure on the plywood underneath. Let’s break a roof down to its core so we can better understand its anatomy. The basic from wood and shaping of the roof is done using wooden beams, or rafters. Then, plywood sheets are laid on top of the rafters. This seals off the roof and gives a foundation for the rest of your waterproofing materials.

Next, underlayment is added. This is a layer of protection between your plywood and shingles, as a precautionary measure. And finally, your roofing is laid. This includes shingles, ridge cap and vent, flashing, and gutters. This is all-important to know because it shows that there is already a decent amount of weight on your roof, and all of this weight falls onto your plywood and rafters.

In your normal conditions, this is perfectly fine and your roof is more than capable of handling said weight. However, when snow falls dense, it can be as heavy as 21lbs per cubic foot! With the average roof being 1,700 square feet, this is a substantial amount of weight being added! If you have a weak section on your roof, all this extra pressure could cause a cave-in, so be cautious!

Be Prepared:

Although a pain, it is quite easy to make sure your roof is ready for the upcoming winter season. There is only one step you have to take, and that is a roof inspection. Give us a call today at Champion Exteriors for a free roof inspection. We will make sure your winter roofs are in prime condition for the snowstorms.