Winter can be a tough time for roofing contractors. Rain, frost, ice and snow can mean projects suffer delays and working conditions become difficult. But challenges can be overcome. Jackie looks at how to weather the storm and get through the season.

 

Believe it or not, in the roofing industry, work doesn’t stop just because it gets cold.

 

In fact, with due precautions and proper equipment, nearly all construction projects can continue into winter and at no difference in cost.

 

In fact, there may even be several advantages to getting a jump start on a project in the bitter months between November and March.

 

Firstly, the homeowner or building owner may profit by saving interest on there investment by securing earlier use of the structure.

 

And secondly, although equipment needed for protection and artificial heat in winter construction requires some additional expense, these may be offset by the saving in salaries and the reduction in the contractor’s general overhead.

 

This is because labour tends to be more efficient in winter as skilled workmen can be more easily obtained and building materials sometimes can be obtained at somewhat reduced prices because of the smaller demand.

 

Prepare your client:

 

One of the most important thing to consider when working in winter, is how to manage your clients expectations.

 

In the colder months, there are less daylight hours in which to work. There is also a significant risk of frost, snow or ice which can mean jobs take a lot longer to complete than they might mid-summer.

 

Clients should be given realistic contract periods as opposed to aspirational dates.

 

Prepare your contractors:

 

The safety and wellbeing of your staff should be paramount, whatever the time of year.

 

Icy conditions can making working conditions more treacherous.

 

Make sure all employees have proper training about health and safety in the workplace and suitable protective clothing.

 

You should also provide all equipment needed to ensure safety during the job.

 

What roof systems can you work on in winter?

 

The flat roof:

 

Many of these are temperature dependent by design. Self adhering systems are the prime example. These roofs cannot always be installed under certain temperatures as determined by the manufacturer.

 

Having said that, two other major flat roof systems remain in the residential roofing category – PVC and TPO. These are thermoplastic single ply flat roofing products, which are installed using hot air welded seams, instead of various other types of adhesives which can result in potential leaks if applied in colder weather.

 

The following flat roof systems should not (or cannot) be installed in the winter:

 

- Rubber Roofs (EPDM)

 

- Modified Bitumen (cold applied or torch applied)

 

- Any type of Peal-n-Stick flat roofing products, such as GAF Liberty or similar.

 

Shingle roofs:

 

Shingle roofs are the most likely to suffer as a result of a winter time installation, but this is dependent upon a number of factors. First, consideration must be given to the immediate surroundings of the house.

 

If a large quantity of dust is likely to deposit itself between the shingles before Spring temperatures adhere them together this could pose a problem.

 

Second, the roofer undertaking the work needs to understand the effect of temperature on winter time installation. They must not bend and crack the shingle or trap moisture under them.

 

Asphalt shingle roofs are also highly dependent on the proper seal between the overlapping shingles, which requires solar heat to melt the seal strip. Such roofs installed in the winter often do not seal properly until warm weather rolls around, causing them to leak, and as a result, wood rot often develops under a brand new roof.

 

Metal roof:

 

Metal roofs can easily be installed in the winter without any compromises to quality.

 

First of all, a metal roof sheds water and ice, minimising ice buildup on the roof.

 

Secondly, the interlocking design prevents water from traveling upward.

 

Cold weather also does not affect metal roofs, as they won’t crack due to improper handling and metal roofs are designed to allow for expansion and contraction.

 

Plan ahead:

 

If you don’t want to have roofing work carried out in the winter, there are ways to protect your roof ahead of the season.

 

  1. Check the roof for weak spots – getting a simple roof inspection carried out can save you from roof damage in winter that could become more serious as the weather worsens, affecting the whole structure of your property.
  2. Check your guttering – a check in the autumn, before winter sets in, in is often the best time because you can also perform maintenance work such as clearing your gutters of leaves and debris so that they are able to allow water to drain from the roof. If water backs up in your guttering, then it can cause real problems when rain water turns to ice.
  3. Carry out simple repairs – sweep rooftops, clear away moss and nail loose slates to ensure they are stable, replacing them if needs be. You can hire a professional roofer to do this maintenance work for you. For a comparatively small price, you can let the experts get your roof ready for winter.