Why recent extreme temperature fluctuation in Texas affects your roof, and how to fix it

Madeleine Cook/mcook@star-telegram.com

With temperatures dipping into the 40s in North Texas during Thanksgiving week and the winter season one month away, you may be wondering how various components of your home may be affected and how to protect them from the frigid air.

Sudden weather changes like the drop in temperatures we’re seeing this week can cause issues with your roof, namely cracks and leaks.

Here are the potential problems that your roof can have during the cold weather, according to RoofCrafters, a Central Texas roofing company offering services in the Austin area for over 40 years.

Cracks and leaks

Wintry temperatures cause the roof to shrink while warm temperatures make it expand. As it expands and shrinks during temperature fluctuations, seams can open and form cracks in the roofing. That’s called “thermal shock.”

If ice gets into these cracks, it opens them up even more. When ice melts and refreezes, it makes the cracks become larger, resulting in a leak into your attic that can create mold and mildew. The leak can also damage things you’ve stored there, paint on the walls and lights and fans on the ceiling.

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Getting your roof checked this season

Older roofs are more prone to cracks and leaks during the winter as they lose their elasticity, per RoofCrafters. Low-quality asphalt shingles are especially at risk during temperature drops as they near the end of their lifespan, anywhere from 15 to 30 years.

Every homeowner should have their roof checked before colder weather this winter, according to RoofCrafters, because thermal shock can threaten roofs regardless of material, particularly as they age.

Your roofing contractor should inspect transition areas more prone to small fractures such as where shingles or panels meet at a significant angle and around chimneys, pitch pans and parapet walls. The flashing, which is a a thin metal material that provides protection from water damage, can loosen where the angle or shape of your roof shifts.

For metal roofs, your roofer may look at missing fasteners, the condition of washers, the penetration sealant’s condition and inconsistencies in every horizontal-to-vertical change in slope.