How Thermal Shock Affects Your Roof

Knowing how thermal shock affects your roof is important to properly deal with it and ensure that your roof will protect you for as long as you need it to. Here are some of the most common issues and how to fix them.

What is thermal shock?

Thermal shock occurs rarely, but it is still possible for your roof to be afflicted by it, with the chances soaring during summer and fall. In simple terms, thermal shock happens to your roof when it suffers from sudden temperature changes. How thermal shock affects your roof is often somewhat concerning since the sudden expansion and shrinking can cause various adverse effects that eventually lead to the development of leaks. It does, however, help to know when you can expect this to happen so you can inspect your roof immediately after. The most common causes of thermal shock are sudden summer rains on scorching days. They shift the temperature of your roof too quickly for it to adapt appropriately. Another example is the snap chills that happen to your roof during fall and early winter mornings. In other words, steady temperatures are preferred.

Cracks and buckling

You do not need to learn much about maintaining your roof to know that any cracks or buckling in your tiles or shingles are nasty. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common ways thermal shock affects your roof. Therefore, you must check your roof thoroughly for them as soon as possible after noticing sudden temperature shifts. Cracks and buckling significantly open up your roof to leaks, especially the former. And if thermal shock caused by rainfall is the reason, this also means that you should take the time to inspect your attic for any sign of water damage, too. If you do not, you can easily miss the problem and leave puddles of water to spread mold slowly. Not to mention the other forms of damage throughout your attic. Since attics are typically used as storage space, this is understandably undesirable.

Formation of gaps

Shingles or tiles suddenly expanding or shrinking can lead to gaps forming between them. Significantly if they have shrunk due to a sudden onset of a cold. They may have been nudged out of alignment even if they have expanded. This leads to the exposure of the lower layer of your roof, which means leaks immediately appear. This problem is that it’s often quite tricky to spot this type of roof damage. While some cracks and buckling can even be spotted from the ground, and the largest of gaps can easily catch your eye, smaller gaps can pass undetected unless you take the time to climb your roof and take a closer look. On a sunny day, entering your attic and paying attention to rays of light somehow making it through your roof is a good alternative, but it isn’t a foolproof method.

Damaged flashing

The final way thermal shock affects your roof negatively is by damaging your flashing. Flashing covers all the ‘connections’ between different parts of your roof that would typically result in gaps. Examples include where your roof meets your chimney or the connection between your roof and a skylight. The best and most often used material for flashing is metal. But there are alternatives such as plastics and various composite materials. Unfortunately, thermal shock affects all of these materials. However, metal takes the punishment much better. Still, flashing is so tricky because it needs to be a perfect seal. And any minor warping or damage threatens its integrity. If you’re planning on inspecting a home when buying it, you should make the necessary checks and pay attention to flashing. Flashing is also very difficult to examine without professional knowledge, so consider hiring a professional to assist you.

Differences in how various materials deal with thermal shock


There are many pros and cons of wood shake roofs and other types of wooden roof construction. Generally, wood is a pretty good choice when it comes to withstanding thermal shock. The damage wooden roofs experience from it is minimal since wood is naturally resistant to most temperature changes.


Metal is one of the most resistant roofing materials. Therefore, metal roofs can last anywhere from forty to seventy years in good condition. Whether warping, cracking, or extreme shrinking/expanding, a metal roof will often show no sign of damage, even under extreme temperatures. Of course, the experts from still recommend having a home inspection before moving in. Mainly because roofs have many easily overlooked things if you are not examining them with a professional eye.


While there are many benefits of a concrete tile roof, if you live in an area where the thermal shock is common, you want to pass up on this type of roof. Concrete roofing tends to crack under such pressure, which is not ideal. Still, concrete tiles and shingles are hefty, resistant beasts. If your neighborhood’s temperature changes are not too severe, they make for a decent roofing option.


Asphalt is a slightly worse alternative compared to concrete. It will also develop cracks, but tiles and shingles made of this material are thinner than concrete roofing. This makes it easier for them to get damaged. Of course, asphalt roofs have their advantages. Mainly the fact that they are cheaper and much easier to install. The modularity of such a roof also makes it relatively easy to fix one up. The tiles are simple to remove and replace.

Final word

Now that you know how thermal shock affects your roof and which materials withstand it better, you can plan out how you want to protect your roof. Just remember that no matter how well made your roof is, maintenance is still crucial to keep it in top condition.


More Posts