The wintertime has varying effects on all of us. Not only is the weather much more frigid, but it also gets darker outside far earlier in the day and stays darker long into the morning. This can have something of a jarring effect on those of us who do not particularly care for this time of year.
Another thing that you might encounter is that you suddenly hear loud banging noises on your metal roof. This can be pretty alarming to hear for the first time or two, but it is not a cause for panic. The noise might make you think that there is some kind of lurking intruder or that a tree has fallen on your roof, this is actually the effect that low temperatures can have on the roofing materials.
The banging you hear is the shrinking of the material that is occurring due to the shrinking of the material and it isn’t always a serious structural issue at hand. It does, however, require a bit more information to fully grasp.
Why does the roof make noise?
Let’s take a step back for a moment. Before you can truly understand what is happening with your roof, the concept of thermal expansion and contraction is something that you should have a handle on. The materials used to construct your building are all differently affected by the temperature of the environment that they inhabit.
During the winter, when temperatures have declined sharply, these changes can become much more noticeable. Colder temperatures can shrink any exposed materials. These materials are bound to one another as well as any interior materials by fasteners (this can include things like nails and screws).
Different materials will contract and expand at different rates; this can mean that all of the materials that encompass your roof are contracting and expanding at different rates as a response to the sudden shifts in temperature. This is what can cause these banging noises and is nothing to necessarily be alarmed about.
Inside conditions vs outside conditions
Though the exterior of your roof is constantly exposed to the shifting temperatures of winter, the inside of your house is generally kept warm and is not exposed to shifting temperatures. The heat that is inside of your house is constantly moving upward toward the cold outer portion of the roof.
What this means is that the roof itself is shrinking due to the cold while the rest of the house is not. This can cause a buildup of pressure and distortion as well. When that pressure builds up, the joints and other areas where connections are made end up moving slightly; this creates those banging noises that might startle you during those cold nights.
It is important to not be alarmed. If you live in a colder region where there are typically large drops in temperature between daytime and nighttime during the winter, this is something that cannot be avoided and is not something to worry about.
What you might not have realized is that the same expansion and contraction is taking place is a far quieter fashion when water pipes are cooled or heated with each use. This contraction and expansion also take place with window and door frames even in the summer when the temperature cools from daytime to nighttime.
Another fact that you might not have even considered is that builders are well aware of the effects of thermal expansion and contraction and take that into consideration when they are building. For this reason, they try to choose compatible materials that are adjacent to each other and then tightly securing those connections in order to resist any excessive movement.
It is worth noting that you should probably make a point of clearing off your roof if several inches or more of snow have piled up. This snow provides additional weight to the roof and runs a greater risk of providing water damage to any areas that it stays in.
Insulation won’t make a difference
While there are certainly some instances where adding more insulation to your roof can help to quell those banging sounds that are being made as the roof and other components shift and contract, it ultimately cannot stop that expansion and contraction. This is because the roof is exposed to the elements and outside temperatures.
Adding any more attic ventilation could help to minimize the contraction and expansion through reducing the attic’s daytime temperature, but it likely will not end the banging entirely. Adding a little bit more of insulation to the attic could help to muffle those sounds if you truly are bothered or concerned by the metal banging of your roof during the winter.
As stated, it generally speaking is not a matter of concern if you hear your metal roof banging during the winter months. This is something that has been taken into consideration by the builders and is typically not a sign of something more serious like structural damage.
If the banging becomes more frequent or louder in nature, it might be worth calling in a contractor to perform an inspection. It might feel like overkill, but it is better to be safe than sorry. This way, the contractor can inspect your roof for the overall condition and ensure that what you are hearing has nothing to do with structural damage or any potential issues with the roof itself.
Your metal roof acts as any other material would in the colder months. That constant expanding and contracting that the materials do under the changing temperatures are nothing more than a cause for annoyance at best.
Though you may wish for the banging to go away, it is part of having a metal roof in colder regions of the country. There is not much to be done to alleviate this issue and it is something that you generally just have to take with the colder months of the year.
So, don’t freak out the next time your roof starts to bang. It’s just doing what nature makes it do.