If you live in the Midwest or Northeastern regions of the United States, it’s likely that you’ve encountered very cold, very harsh winter climes in the past. Remember those mornings spent shoveling deep snowdrifts along your driveway or sidewalk? Scraping the ice from your car’s windshield? Shivering as the wind cut right through your down coat? Chances are you’ve dealt with slippery roads, canceled travel plans, school closures and plenty of other challenges caused by nasty winter weather.
Many homeowners have faced extreme weather conditions, battling snowstorms and freezing rain, but few realize that their homes have also had to fight the effects of these unpleasant conditions. The effects of severe weather could negatively impact the performance of your home’s roof.
And it all has to do with thermal cycling.
Thermal cycling refers to the phenomenon that causes the expansion and contraction of building components. It’s an ongoing process and corresponds to the changes in seasons. During warm months, the building components in your home expand. During cold months, those same building components contract. This expansion and contraction causes tension in the building components that can lead to damage that requires roof repair or new roofing.
Most building materials expand and contract at different rates. That’s why the stress caused by thermal expansion is intensified when different component materials are installed in layers. The roof is a perfect example of such a structure. In a roof system, major components like ridge vents, roofing shingles, underlayment for moisture resistance and roof-deck protection, and the roof-deck itself are installed in layers. When a layer shifts due to a rise or drop in temperature, all the layers on top of it are forced to shift with it. This can result in damage to your roof.
The damage caused by thermal cycling can put the integrity of your entire roof system at risk. While no one can stop thermal cycling completely, you can limit its effects by ensuring that the temperature and humidity in your home’s attic space are as stable as possible. Having proper attic-space insulation and ventilation can go a long way to combat the harm caused by thermal cycling.
As your home ages, any damage suffered from thermal cycling will become more evident. But serious problems could be lurking where you can’t see them—even in new homes. It’s important to consult an expert—such as a qualified Champion roofing expert, located in any of our offices—in the field. They can help you determine the extent that thermal cycling has affected your roof’s performance and whether your attic space is properly insulated and ventilated.
If an inspection reveals that roof replacement is necessary, ask the following questions when you’re talking to contractors: Who manufactures the roof? Is it a thoroughly tested and proven system, or is it being cobbled together with parts of unknown origin or quality? Are the roofing components made in America? What is the warranty on the roof? Does the warranty cover the roof and its installation? Will the roof be installed by professionals? Who will service the roof? In addition, be sure the contractor inspects your roof-deck thoroughly before any work begins.
You can’t eliminate thermal cycling; it’s as certain as the seasons. But you can be prepared, protect your roof, and ensure that you choose a roofing company that stands behind their products and their people.