Homeowners often assume that, if their roofs make it through a tough winter, they should be all set until the temperatures start to drop again. In fact, while winter may be the hardest season for residential roofs, summer brings its own set of unique threats. Read on to find out about the dangers posed by the summer heat, sun, and storms and how to avoid roof damage.
Five common sources of summer roofing damage
In the winter, homeowners have to worry about snow loads and ice dams. While these cold-season issues are not a problem in the summer, roofing contractors know that there are plenty of other concerns that must be taken into account. They include:
1. Storm damage
Summer storms tend to be short, but they can also be quite violent. Though homeowners can prepare their roofs for summer by scheduling roofing maintenance tasks for the less volatile months of late spring, they can’t avoid every potential threat. Falling trees can take out even a well-maintained roof, so it’s a good idea to have a roofing company like rooftec on speed dial to get help after a serious storm.
2. UV exposure
Even on cloudy days in the winter, a home’s roof is exposed to dangerous UV rays. That said, UV exposure increases significantly during long summer days.
The sun’s rays can dry out the oils found in most roofing materials, causing asphalt shingles to buckle and split and wood shakes to become bleached, weakened, and cracked. Untreated roofing materials are far more prone to UV damage than treated alternatives. If homeowners notice UV damage, they should contact a qualified roofer to discuss options before it gets any worse.
3. Heat damage
The sun’s UV rays don’t just damage roofing materials directly. They can also cause indirect damage in the form of increased heat exposure. Unshaded roofs can reach temperatures ofup to 90 degrees Celcius, and at those temperatures, even asphalt can begin to melt.
Excessive heat can also speed up the effects of UV radiation and cause additional roofing concerns. If, for example, the home’s attic is not properly ventilated, the excess heat will build up above the living areas of the home and cause condensation problems. All that heat can also leave homeowners managing unnecessarily high monthly cooling bills.
4. Thermal shock
Even though summer days can quickly become unbearably hot, the nights still tend to be much cooler. When the roof reaches high temperatures when the sun is out, then cools rapidly at nightfall, it can cause the materials to expand and contract. This repeated expansion and contraction can weaken any roofing material’s structural integrity over time, but metal is especially prone to thermal shock.
Thermal shock can warp metal tiles and panels, leading to the formation of gaps between the metal elements of the roof and the rest of the structure. These gaps allow water to infiltrate the roof deck and, eventually, into the attic, causing untold damage. Most contractors get around this problem by applying coatings, but those who work with bare metal roofing materials often rely on more traditional techniques like pre-pinning, hand-seaming, and soldering instead of caulking to reduce the negative impacts of thermal shock.
5. High humidity
The summer months aren’t just hotter than the fall, winter, and spring. The summer air also tends to be more humid, which can be just as damaging. All the water in the air can create problems with condensation, which can settle beneath shingles and cause substantial water damage. If any water can infiltrate into the roof deck, it will eventually result in leaks, mold growth, and damage to the attic and the rest of the home.
The good news
Homeowners don’t need to panic about the negative impacts of summer heat, humidity, and sun on their roofs. The damage from these factors is cumulative, which means it builds up over time instead of causing the roof to fail all at once. If the roof is less than 10 years old, there’s no reason to worry about summer roof damage, especially if homeowners invest in professional maintenance.
How to prevent summer roof damage
If a home’s roof is more than 10 years old, it will be more prone to failure from the cumulative effects of summer damage. Thankfully, there are a few ways to prevent roofing failures even on an aging roof. They include the following items.
Ensure proper attic ventilation
A well-ventilated attic will alleviate the worst impacts of summer heat and humidity. Unventilated attics are known within the roofing industry as hot roofs. It’s easy to fix a hot roof. Just hire a contractor to add insulation and a ventilation system that will allow hot air to exit the attic instead of building up beneath the roof.
Install solar panels
Installing photovoltaic solar panels or solar collectors is a fantastic way to protect a roof from heat damage. The panels keep the sun’s energy from hitting the roof directly while simultaneously providing free electricity or heat.
Plant a rooftop garden
Flat roofs are relatively rare in residential homes, but those homeowners who do have flat sections on the roof can take advantage of these unique designs by planting rooftop gardens. A rooftop garden is a great way to protect the surface of the roof while simultaneously taking advantage of the sun to produce vegetable crops or flowers.
The bottom line
The heat, humidity, and excess sunlight that typify the summer season all wreak havoc on unprotected roofs, but summer storms pose an immediate threat. The damage from these other factors is cumulative, so all homeowners need to do is schedule annual roof inspections and take steps to maintain or repair their roofing materials as needed.
Preventative steps such as ventilating a hot roof, installing solar panels, or even planting a rooftop garden can also go a long way toward reducing the roof’s exposure to the sun and keeping it in good shape for longer. However, homeowners should always schedule consultations with qualified roofers before taking these steps.