Cold-Weather Temperatures and Metal Roofs- Questions and Answers

by Nate on August 9, 2010

Cold-Weather Temperatures and Metal Roofs- Questions and Answers

The cold weather is quickly approaching and with the long months of winter ahead, come many questions and concerns regarding one’s metal roofs.


For those of us who reside in a northern state where we receive a substantial amount of snowfall during the winter months, a common question is, can you clear your roof of the snow or ice dams? The commercial roofing company, Thermal-Tec Roofing agrees with NRCA when they say that roof owners should not try and remove ice and snow from their roofs metal. We do not recommend building owners to try and remove ice and snow from their roofs for several reasons. The most important concern is for safety purposes. Only experienced roofing consultants should perform work on roofs. Secondly, it is very easy to damage one’s roof metal with a shovel when removing snow. Most roof contractors will not cover roof repairs if the roof coatings and gutters are damaged due to owners trying to remove the ice and snow themselves. Trying to remove ice and snow from your roof yourself can end up costing you more money than having a roofing company come out. Thirdly, many building owners have “roof rakes” – customized rakes with extra long handles— to remove snow from roofs while standing on the ground. A roof rake can only reach so far; reaching only the snow from a roof system’s lowermost sections. The remaining snow that is not reachable with a roof rake can potentially cause a secondary ice dam on your roof. Most roofing companies do not install ice-dam protection membranes more than 24 to 36 inches beyond the roof/wall intersection. Areas where there are secondary ice dams building up will likely notice a leaking roof.

If you are a building owner who has experienced problems with ice damming, there are several solutions available. Ice damming is best addressed when your roof systems are still in its designing or construction stage. If that is not a viable option, here are some ways to prevent ice damming. Avoiding ice damming can be as easy as properly ventilating your attic space and installing additional insulation to your attic floor. Properly ventilating your attic space will help keep attic temperatures lower and reduce ice damming. Secondly, if you reside in an area where the average January temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, NRCA recommends you have a commercial roofing specialist install an ice-dam protection roofing membrane. Even with an ice-dam protection membrane, building owners should still make sure their attic is properly ventilated and insulated to avoid having your commercial roof company come out and perform any roof repairing needs due to roof leaks. Gutters are the most common place for ice dams to form. Eliminating gutters if at all possible can diminish the possibility of ice damming. If eliminating gutters is not an option, gutters and downspouts should be cleared of all debris before winter. As a final point, NRCA advises against installing electric heat cables because of the potential drawbacks. Electric heat cables not only cause a safety concern, but they can also damage the roof coating. Some electric heat cables even require exposed fasteners that penetrate roof coverings allowing for the possibility of a future roof leak.

Another common question is, can asphalt shingles can be installed in the cold-weather temperatures? NRCA says there is no definitive cut-off temperature, but they do offer some suggestions. As the temperatures drop, fiberglass and organic asphalt shingles become more and more brittle. Shingles are prone to cracking during installation if it is cold outside. Because cold shingles become brittle in the winter, it is also important to be cautious when nailing shingles. Nails tend to break through the shingles in lower temperatures. Finally, Most asphalt shingles have self-sealing adhesive strips used to increase shingles’ wind resistances. The adhesive is thermally activated by the exposure to the sun or high temperatures and lower temperatures can hinder proper adhesion of self-sealing strips. An alternative to self-sealing strips is manual sealing shingles that can be used with asphalt flashing roof cement.

One final recommendation from NRCA, do not use de-icing salts. De-icing salts are corrosive and can eat away at the roofing system, gutters, downspouts and whatever may be on the ground below.  Contact a commercial roofing specialist for any other questions


Thermal-Tec Roofing is a leading Midwest Commercial Roofing Contractor, Asphalt Roofing and Industrial Roofing Company that provides our MR Multi-Ply® Roof System to commercial roofs and industrial roofs throughout the Midwest including; Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Alabama and all other Midwest states and cities.  Our award winning Roofing Company has been successfully maintaining roofs, repairing roofs and installing commercial and industrial roofs since 1983 and has grown to having offices in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.  Visit our Commercial Roofing Website here.

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