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Q.We have a lot of trouble installing fiberglass shingles in cold weather. The shingles tend to split and the tabs won’t seal. The old organic asphalt shingles seem to be unavailable. Any suggestions?

A.Your problems are common. I’ve seen shingles in a 50-mph wind that looked like the flip card section at a college football game. The tabs will not seal until there is a sunny day or two above 40°F. If there is dust blowing around before the shingles seal, it may coat the adhesive and they will never seal.

The adhesive on self-sealing fiberglass shingles seems to be their major problem. If it sticks well enough to hold the shingles on the roof, it may not creep enough to allow the roof sheathing to move with changes in moisture. The result is that the shingles split. The old organic shingles would creep within the shingle itself, but the fiberglass does not. And using an adhesive with enough creep may not hold the shingles down.

It helps to store the shingles in a warmer area until they are needed on the roof, to keep them flexible, but this creates more work. At least one company has attacked the problem of flexibility by adding 12 to 14% styrene/butadiene/styrene (Shell’s "Kraton"). The resulting shingle is flexible down to 0°F. These shingles have reportedly been installed in temperatures as low as 20°F in Alaska. The manufacturer, Malarkey Roofing Co. (P.O. Box 17217, Portland, OR 97217; 503/283-1191), is only distributing this shingle as far east as Denver. Other manufacturers may soon be using a similar formulation as the demand increases.