Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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If you have ever looked at a construction crew demolishing a roof, you may have wondered what happens when it starts raining. Roofs are on homes because they offer a layer of necessary protection against the elements. Before a roofing project is completed, the entire surface needs to be cleared of the old shingles, leaving the roof exposed to the elements.
Roofers need to be fully prepared for unplanned rainstorms to pop up during a job. When a rainstorm occurs during a roofing job, the roofers must first see how heavy the rain is and determine if it is going to be a lasting storm. If the storm is lengthy, they will need to cover the roof with tarps to protect the wood and other materials from becoming wet. If the rain is on the lighter and brief, they will likely climb off the roof and wait for it to pass before continuing the job.
In this article, you will learn about what you can do to complete a roofing job in the rain while minimizing the risk of damage.
What if Rain Falls During Roofing?
It is advantageous to have a strong awareness of the weather before beginning a project like roofing. However, there are times when the weather is unpredictable, and you may find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm during the roofing job.
If this happens, it is not ideal, but it also is not the end of the world. Ideally, you do not want to expose the roof to unnecessary moisture, but if a rainstorm comes up during a roofing project, there are things you can do to protect the property.
The most important thing is to determine if the rain is light or heavy and what the estimated duration of the storm is.
- If the storm is light and fast-moving, you will likely not have time to do anything.
- If the storm is settling in and appears to have heavy rain, you want to do the best job you can to cover the roof to prevent damage. (Source: Nombach)
How Do You Cover a Roof to Protect it From Rain?
Most roofers will have an ample supply of blue tarps at their disposal as well as several 2×4’s that can be used to secure the tarps in place. Although the contractors will put tarps in place, there is a chance that the roof will get wet because of the time it takes to secure the tarps in a rainstorm. So, there may be a slight delay in the installation while the roof dries.
(Source: Roof Replacement)
Types of Tarps:
When you are preparing to cover something as large as a roof, you want to make sure the tarps being used are durable because they are going to need to withstand varying weather and wind. To make sure the tarps will do their job well, you must invest in a heavy-duty brand.
Here are some options for durable tarps:
You will notice that these tarps come in a wide variety of sizes and are listed as heavy-duty or industrial-strength. This type of tarp is much more expensive, so you will need to be prepared to spend more for the type of protection your work area will need.
Securing the Tarp:
Once you have the proper materials, you need to secure the tarp to the roof of the house. It is best to use 2×4’s and long nails to help secure the tarp. Fasten the tarp with boards at the top and in incremental spaces along the length of the tarp. This will ensure wind and water do not get under the cover. Use caution when completing this process because wet tarps can be slippery. (Source: Grizzly Tarps)
Can You Continue Roofing in The Rain?
After reading the process of covering a roof to protect it from the rain, you may be wondering if you can just continue with the roofing job in the rain. Some circumstances would allow you to continue the project in the rain safely. However, you need to use your best judgment when doing this because it can be dangerous.
The circumstances that may allow you to continue roofing in the rain are:
- Very short and light rain (sprinkles)
- You are only a couple of shingles from finishing a job
- Emergency repairs
As you can see, the circumstances that warrant work in the rain are very limited and must be able to be completed safely. Most roofing companies will not work on the roof in the rain simply because it is too dangerous to do so.
Problems with Roofing in the Rain
There are different state laws regarding contractors, namely roofers, working in the rain. If you are not working with a contractor, you may be able to continue working in the rain, but there are some things you need to know before you do, such as:
- It is dangerous: You must remember the roof is the highest point of your house and likely towers many feet above the ground. Many roofs have steep slopes that make it challenging to maneuver when the shingles are dry. Add rain to the shingles, and you have a very slippery and dangerous situation. Although most roofers wear safety belts, the risk of a fall is not worth taking if you can wait.
There is also a high risk of being struck by lightning if you are working during a storm. Remember, you have nails and tools that are made of metal, and lighting tends to strike locations that are high above the ground. A lightning strike can be deadly. (Source: Sir Roof)
- It can affect the longevity of materials: While you may feel like you are being efficient and saving money by continuing to work through the rain, you could actually be counterproductive and end up costing yourself a lot more money in the long run.
The shingles have an adhesive that will have a difficult time sticking if there is water or dampness could build up under the shingles and cause mildew or water issues with the material under the shingles. Not only will water cause an issue with the shingles adhering to one another, but you may also be risking the warranty on the shingles. Most companies will void the warranty if the shingles are not properly installed.
Another issue with shingles that have not adhered or fastened properly is that they will allow the elements to get under the shingles and wreak havoc on your roof. The bad news is that you may not notice this damage for several months after the water has been seeping under the shingles during each storm. (Sources: Proven Contracting and A1 Roofing)
What if I Have to Shingle in the Rain?
Perhaps you live in a location where the weather is highly unpredictable, and rain can come out of nowhere. If this is the case, you may need to plan your work around the weather, which is far from ideal. However, it can be done because many contractors deal with weather situations daily.
If you know there is a possibility that you will be working in or between rainstorms, you must have a plan to ensure you are safe, and the shingles can maintain their warranty.
Here are the things you need to do to ensure both you and the materials are protected:
- Try to be aware of the weather: This is something that you need to focus on if you oversee working in any situation that is at the mercy of the elements. While you can check the weather, you need to understand that it can change, and you will need to plan accordingly to ensure you and your workers are safe.
- Work in sections: If you know that you may run into trouble with the weather, it would be wise to work in small sections. If you work on the roof in small sections, you will be less likely to have issues with potential water damage. It will also be easier to cover the un-shingled portion if it is smaller.
- Have tarps available: Even if you aren’t anticipating rain, bring an ample number of tarps and 2×4’s to cover the roof area if needed. The last thing you want to do is make a mad rush to the hardware store in the middle of a storm and roofing project.
- Plan to extend your schedule: If there is a chance that you will be competing with rain during your project, you need to be flexible with your schedule and be prepared to make extensions as needed. While this is not ideal and can be challenging, especially if you have several jobs that need to be completed, it will help protect you and your workers.
When scheduling a roof replacement, there will be many factors that determine the length of time that will be required. The number one factor is the size of the roof. Obviously, the larger the roof, the longer amount of time you will need to complete the job. The other factor will be the materials you are using, as some materials require more time during installation. On average, you can plan to spend between 1 and 9 days completing the job. (Source: Elite Construction and Roofing)
- Know the laws/codes: Depending on what state you are working in, there could be laws or building codes that would be violated if you continue with the job. If this happens, you may end up redoing the work to ensure it is up to code.
When using the term laws, it doesn’t mean you will go to jail if you are roofing in the rain, but it does indicate that the building may not pass inspection if there is water or dampness trapped under the shingles, causing them to adhere to the roof improperly.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when you think about installing or working on a roof in the rain. While it may seem simple enough to do, you could be opening yourself up to a lot of trouble, so it is important to think carefully and plan before you begin.
Are Roof Shingles Slippery When Wet?
You have likely seen roofers traversing some of the highest and steepest roofs with ease. While they may make it look like a graceful movement that is quite simple, it is important to know how treacherous working on the roof can be.
When shingles are wet, they are typically only slippery when they are old and worn. New shingles, like asphalt, have rock granules on the surface that allow for better traction (Source: How to Look at a House)
Although the shingles may not be slippery when they are wet, it is not advisable to try walking on a steep roof in the rain because it is much easier to lose your footing and fall. The best bit of advice is to stay off the roof when it is raining.
My Roofing Materials Got Wet Before Installation
Perhaps you have found yourself with the issue of your roofing materials getting wet before installation. As you may know, when you order shingles and other roofing materials, they are dropped off in your driveway on large pallets. Sometimes the pallets are wrapped in plastic, as are the shingles, but some of the material, like the felt, may not be.
If you find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm, do not stress out about your materials being ruined. They will likely be fine to use for your project and can even be used if they are a bit damp. But if the felt is dripping water puddles when you pick it up, you may have a problem and should consult an expert if needed.
Your materials will be fine if it was a brief rainstorm; even a day-long storm should not render your materials useless. However, if your materials are left in the elements and subjected to many days of wet weather, they could become unusable. (Source: Home Guides)
How to Protect Your Roofing Materials from The Weather
If you have ever spent money to have your roof replaced, you know how expensive the project can be. Therefore, you want to ensure the materials are protected before they are put onto the roof.
Depending on the climate you live in, this may be challenging:
- If you live in an extremely hot and humid climate, it is not ideal for the shingles to remain outside for a long time before installation, and it may be recommended that they are kept in a more temperate and ventilated setting.
- If you live in a location where the weather is typically dry and temperate, you will likely not experience any problems with the shingles and other materials being outside before installation. Again, this depends on how long the materials have been outside before the installation occurs.
If you are uncertain about the best method of storage, speak with your contractor or another roofing expert. You want to ensure that the integrity of your materials is not compromised. (Source: Preferred Roofing Supply)
How to Tell if Shingles can be Used?
Many times, people move into a home and will find an excess supply of building materials such as extra tiles or shingles. While this is super helpful if you have a repair that needs to be made, it can also present an issue because you do not know how they were stored or cared for. If they were not safely stored, they could be useless to you.
Two factors determine if shingles can be used:
- Storage: If the shingles have not been stored in a cool, dry place, the adhesive may have melted, which will make the shingles nearly impossible to take apart from the package. If you manage to pry them apart, you will likely damage them, and they will not offer the proper protection to your home.
- Packaging: If the shingles have been taken out of the package and stacked, they may also be unusable because the adhesive could have dirt on it, or it may be melted or stuck to the other parts of the shingles. This could also deem the shingles unusable.
(Source: Done Rite Roofing)
While it can seem quite handy to have an excess supply of building materials in your home, you need to remember and understand the life of the materials. Even when stored in pristine conditions, the shingles will only last for so long and maintain the original integrity. If you are in doubt about the condition of the shingles, ask a roofing expert for their opinion before placing them on your roof.
Clearly, roofing is a task that cannot be completed by just any person that is looking for a DIY job. You need to be very aware of the conditions in which you are working and the ramifications that come along with working in those conditions.
While it may seem both cost-effective and time-saving to work on the roof in the rain, it is usually neither. You may be adding an extra cost because of water damage or even increasing your risk of personal injury.
Even with the best safety equipment and most highly skilled roofers, the rain can destroy your roof and efforts. Take the time to understand the best roofing conditions before beginning a project.
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