Can You Replace a Roof in the Winter?

Winter can present a number of challenges for Canadian homeowners. Strong winds, heavy snow, and a phenomenon known as ice dams can cause significant damage to a roof—damage that may not be able to wait until spring!

If you are wondering what you can do, and whether or not it is even possible to replace a roof in the winter, we have the answers for you!

Here is everything you need to know about winter roof replacement: 

Can a New Roof be put on in Winter?

Yes, a new roof can be put on in the winter—if done correctly and done by professional, experienced roofers! 

Winter is not exactly the perfect time for roof installation in Southeastern Ontario, but there are times when waiting until the spring is just not possible. 

The unfortunate reality is that roof damage does not always wait for the ideal weather conditions.

Replacing a roof in winter requires experience. Slippery surfaces, frigid temperatures, and specific requirements of the roofing materials must all be factored into the job. 

Can you Shingle a Roof in Winter?

The good news is that yes—you can shingle a roof in the winter. In fact, in some instances, it may be entirely necessary. 

Winds can be strong in the colder months, and this creates a risk of roof damage. Shingles may break off or you may experience damage from falling tree limbs. 

What’s more, ice dams can cause water to pool underneath your shingles, causing a world of problems. 

Ice dams are created when warm air escapes from a building through the attic, melting the snow on the roof. The melted water then drains down towards the eaves, where the temperature is cooler, causing the water to refreeze. This happens continuously leading to a build-up of ice and water. 

These backups can damage shingles and cause water to seep into your structure through the ceiling or windows. 

To shingle a roof in winter, you must first consider safety. Care must be taken walking along the roof and climbing up and down ladders. Snow and ice can create an extreme slip hazard. Proper footwear and hand protection will become even more important. 

Now, it is time to consider the materials being used. Cold temperatures can impact shingles and roofing equipment in a big way. It is important that all tools and materials are properly stored and prepared before being put to use. 

When is it Too Cold to Install a Roof?

The ideal temperature for installing a roof is between 4℃ and 26℃. Unfortunately, those are not temperatures we see very often during Ontario winters. 

But temperatures lower than 4℃ do not necessarily make it impossible to install a roof. 

When temperatures drop, shingles lose some of their flexibility becoming more brittle, so, generally speaking, shingles should be staged in a warmer location like a heated warehouse or garage. You do not want them to be bent or deformed as they are likely to hold that shape during the installation process.

It is also possible that the colder temperatures can prevent a proper seal on the singles, meaning they will not adhere to the roof properly and will not protect against water damage. But, experienced roofers know how to address these concerns and make changes to the application process to ensure a proper seal. 

Advantages of a Roof Replacement in Winter

While it may be slightly more complicated than a summer install, there are many advantages to a roof replacement in winter. 

The advantages of winter roof replacement include: 

  • Increased availability of roofing contractors: Because the winter months are technically the ‘off season’ for roofers, it is likely that you will find your contractor more available to address your needs on a timetable that suits you. 
  • Potential cost savings: Again, because it is the off-season, you may have the benefit of off-peak pricing, reducing the cost of materials and the install itself. 
  • Prevents further damage: There may be some situations that can wait until spring but in most cases, damage to your roof needs to be repaired immediately. Water damage can lead to mold and rot which will weaken structural elements of your home and/or increase health risks. 
  • Your heated home can help adhesion: Many of the adhesives used in roofing are heat-activated. During warmer weather, the sun takes care of most of this for you. But, given that the days are darker in the winter, you can take advantage of the warm air rising in your home, heating the roof surface and helping the adhesives do their job. 
  • Less damage to lawn and gardens: With your garden all under wraps, and the ground frozen or buried under a layer of snow, you can be sure that a winter roof installation will result in less potential damage to your landscaping. 
  • Peace of mind: No one wants to spend the winter worried about their roof. And worrying about a roof in winter can easily transition into worrying about a roof in the spring thaw and rain. By addressing your problems immediately, you will have peace of mind in knowing that your roof can stand up to whatever Mother Nature throws at it. 

Disadvantages of a Roof Replacement in Winter

With the good, you must also take the bad. And to that end, we feel it important to lay out the potential disadvantages of a roof replacement in winter. Both the advantages and disadvantages must be taken into consideration before moving forward with a winter roof replacement. 

The disadvantages of a winter roof replacement include:

  • Increased safety risk: Winter weather conditions can make the roof slippery. This can create hazards for the roofing team and may slow down progress as precautions must be taken. 
  • Shingles are more brittle: Because asphalt shingles lose their flexibility in cold temperatures, they will be at an increased risk for breaking or chipping. This also means that parts of your roof, like valleys, will be more difficult to replace as the shingles may snap if bent too far. 
  • Equipment may function differently: Tools, like air compressors, may not function at full capacity in the winter months. This means that nails may not be driven into the roof properly and shingles may not be installed properly. A professional team will have to slow down and take care. 
  • Self-sealing adhesive strips may not fix properly to the roof: Cold temperatures can negatively impact self-sealing adhesives. When an adhesive doesn’t adhere properly, there is an opportunity for water to penetrate below the shingles and cause water damage. Most professionals will hand seal the shingles using asphalt roofing cement. 
  • Jobs may be more complex: Winter roof replacements may require snow or ice removal before the installation can begin. And dealing with temperature and weather can make the job slower and more complex than one carried out in the summer. 

Trust Your Winter Roof Replacement to the Pros

The good news is that you can replace a roof in the winter. But this task shouldn’t be trusted to just anyone. 

Colder temperatures bring snow and ice and all of these weather conditions can conspire to make a winter roof replacement a little more complicated than your standard job. 

For your roofing needs, any time of year, you can trust the pros at Energy Kingston Exteriors. We provide a range of roofing services and will work with you to ensure that you are happy with every part of the job!

Contact us today to learn more or to get started!