Thermal Shock: The Scary Syndrome That Might Affect Your Roof This Summer

New seasons bring new roofing challenges, and summertime is no exception. With longer days and sunny climes come the temperature extremes that relentless sunshine brings – and the sudden dips following low-pressure storm systems. Though temperature fluctuations can occur during any season, summer’s highs and lows are the most dramatic, with average rooftop temperatures spanning from a low of 50° F to a high of 150° F.

Thermal shock is your roof’s reaction to major temperature fluctuations. The multi-layered system experiences confusion with the rapid rise and fall of extreme temps – which triggers irregular expansion and contraction in response to those temperature shifts. In the summertime, this is most common before / after thunderstorms.

At its core, the primary function of a roofing system is to protect against nature’s elements. That means a weatherproof, watertight barrier between you and the outside world. A roof isn’t simply one layer, though; a common roofing system has between 2-3 layers and involves an average of 4 components (think: pipes, vents, edges, et cetera). Because each layer / component is made of a different material, each reacts differently to temperature extremes – expanding with heat and contracting with cold, all at individual rates.

So, what does that mean for YOU?

Well, mainly, it means that massive temperature swings can affect that watertight seal your roof provides. Since each layer and component swells and shrinks at different rates, their essential function within the overall roofing system can be compromised. Swelling of one layer can place excessive pressure on an adjacent counterpart; a seal or joint can crack if it constricts too quickly.

What’s the solution?

How do you stabilize something as transient and ever-changing as your roof’s temperature?

Proper ventilation and ongoing maintenance checks by a professional roofing contractor will ensure each element of your roofing system is in top shape. Having professional inspections routinely done allows you to quickly intercept smaller issues, like cracked seals, clogged vents, and so on. Taking care of those minor issues right away prolongs the lifespan of your roofing systems, protects the structural integrity of your home, and overall maintains your home investment.