Winter roof installation is a bad idea. In fact, many roofers flat-out refuse to install roofs during the cold winter months. Why? Not only does a winter roof installation present many safety risks for their crew, but they also can’t guarantee the same level of installation excellence that they can when certain basic conditions are met, such as consistent temperatures, a safe work environment, and stable materials.
Why Can’t I Install My Roof in the Winter?
During the winter months, cold temperatures are only part of the reason why winter roof installations are not recommended. Conditions on a roof can get icy fast, materials don’t adhere the way they should, and the roof installation process leaves sensitive parts of your home exposed to the elements. All of these factors risk the integrity of your roof, the safety of the roofing installation crew, and your investment in the project. For these reasons, if you want a winter roof installation, your roofer will strongly recommend you do it in the fall before the temperature starts to drop or push it back until the spring or summer — what is generally known as “roofing seasons.”
In some unique circumstances, things happen and you just need your roof installed during the winter. Maybe a tree fell and damaged your roof, you need a new roof installed before you can sell the home, or you need to replace your roof before the end of the year to meet insurance requirements. There may be situations where winter roof installation is unavoidable, but conditions are not ideal, and the process comes with risks the homeowner must understand before work begins.
Risks of Winter Roof Installation
If you can plan to install your roof in warmer weather, you absolutely should. Here are some of the reasons why:
Unsafe Work Conditions
During the winter, conditions on your roof can turn slick quickly, creating an unsafe environment where your workers could slip and fall, hurting themselves or damaging your roof. Also, the cold is difficult to work in, as roofers need to be able to move freely, bending down and working across your roof — which is difficult to do in thick winter clothes. If they have to carry equipment while wearing heavy coats and boots to keep warm, it takes more time and energy to do a job they’re used to doing quickly in nice weather.
It’s challenging for anyone to stay motivated when they’re cold. With a winter roof installation, you risk workers rushing to complete the job if the temperature is freezing, Whether it’s because they’re wearing thick gloves and don’t have the same feel for the materials, or if the limited amount of daylight is running out and they need to meet a deadline, you don’t want your roofing crew to miss any crucial steps when installing this important part of your home.
Ineffective Materials and Tools
Cold temperatures affect the quality of the materials and the effectiveness of tools used for a winter roof installation. Roofing equipment and tools, like nail guns and compressors, are affected by lower pressure air, which may cause imperfections in the roofing installation process if the crew is unaccustomed to working in the cold.
Asphalt shingles are less flexible in the cold and could become more brittle, more difficult to cut straight, and more likely to be overdriven by nails when they’re attached to your roof. They also typically involve a glue strip that’s designed to self-seal when it’s activated by the sun’s heat. This activation process doesn’t occur in lower temperatures, so the shingles may not adhere properly, or they must instead be sealed by hand, which is difficult to do consistently with every shingle in freezing temperatures, even for experts.
A hasty winter roof installation could lead to product failures and problems with your roof warranty may not cover. For example, if your shingles have to be hand-sealed because it’s too cold for the self-seal to adhere properly, defects that occur as a result of winter roof installation are typically not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. If your roof loses shingles to high winds, or a leak forms from an improperly-sealed shingle, the fault occurred from attempting to install the roof in the winter, not as a fault of the manufacturing process.
Winter roof installation jobs generally take longer than those that occur during the warmer months of the year. The combination of colder temperatures, heavy winter clothing, and extra sealing work makes it more difficult for the crew to work as quickly as they normally would. Also, the days are shorter during the winter, so only so much can be done when there is good light. A longer timeline for a roof installation means your home spends more time exposed to the elements during a time of year when heavy rain or snowfall can happen without much warning — particularly in areas where lake-effect snow is common. Even if you schedule your winter roof installation when the weather appears to be clear, it can be difficult to predict with certainty.
All in all, it’s not a great idea to have a new roof installed in the winter. Instead, try to schedule your roof installation before winter arrives, by calling your local roofing team this fall! Give the Werner Roofing team a call now, and we’ll do our best to get your project on our list before the snow falls.