3 Types of Roof Damage to Watch Out for This Winter


Winter can be particularly harsh on roofing systems and there are various issues that it can cause – some more and some less serious. In order to stay one step ahead of those issues and be able to tackle them successfully, it is important for homeowners to know what to expect.

It is usually not a good idea to leave your roof at the mercy of winter, ignore what may happen or wait until spring to address potential issues.

It is, however, a good idea to manage the issues as they come – if they come – to the best of your ability or with the help of a professional.

Therefore, in order to prepare yourself and your roof properly, read on and find out which roofing issues you can expect this winter.

Ice Dams

Ice dam formation is one of the most common issues that occur on roofing systems during winter. Ice dams are more likely to form on roofs in areas that get a lot of snow or ice but they are also known to form as a result of freezing temperatures and rain.

The leading cause of ice dam formation is a roof that is too hot and has uneven temperature distribution. Usually, the upper areas of the roof are warmer because of the warm air that rises from the inside up to the attic while the lower-hanging areas (i.e. roof edges) are colder. The snow that accumulates on the roof will, therefore, start to melt from the top and run toward the edges. And because the edges of the roof are cold or even below-freezing, the melted snow will once again freeze on the edges and in the gutters. A layer of ice will start to form there and that is what we call ice dams. And as this process of melting and refreezing repeats and continues, ice dams will grow larger and may spread to the very top of your roof. And as ice dams grow larger and thicker, they will also back up further melted snow behind them, causing water to seep under the shingles and into your home. 

There are three potential ways of dealing with the ice dam problem. Firstly, you can clean your gutters before winter and make it easier for the melted snow to run off of your roof. Secondly, you should install, add or repair attic insulation and ventilation that will prevent the roof from overheating. And thirdly, you can rake the snow off of the roof as it accumulates, especially from the edges, and thereby decrease the risk of melted snow refreezing. 


Icicles are closely related to ice dams and are the result of the exact same processes described above. Icicles may signal ice dams on your roof but they do not always appear and form together. Ice dams can form on our roof without the presence of icicles, so don’t wait for icicles to appear to check your roof for ice dams.

Icicles usually form due to uneven temperatures on the roof and the melting snow but what further enables their formation are clogged gutters and downspouts. When gutters and downspouts are clogged, water from the melted snow will stand and pool in the gutters and on the edges of your roof as well as seep over them. This will ultimately lead to icicle formation when the temperatures hit below freezing.

While icicles hanging from your roof edges may look appealing, they are actually a hazard for you and your roofing system. They can easily break off and fall down – which is a big safety risk if you or your family members are walking beneath them. Apart from that, their weight can pull down the gutters, fascia, and roof edges, damaging them along the way. This can be prevented by knocking the icicles down once they form but you should do it only if there are no risks to your own safety.

However, stopping icicles from forming altogether is a much better way of dealing with them and preventing damages to your roof and home. The same principles that work for ice dam prevention will work here as well: make sure your gutters are clean and unobstructed, your ventilation on the roof and attic is functioning well, and the accumulated snow is cleared regularly.

Attic Condensation 

Winter and snow can cause damages to the interior of your home as well. And these interior damages can often lead to even more serious consequences. When you heat your home during the cold months, the hot air rises up, all the way to the attic. And without a way to escape or properly circulate, it will linger there. 

When this hot air comes in contact with the cold surface of the roof, this leads to condensation, i.e. moisture builds up in your attic. The moisture build-up then causes mold and mildew growth as well as wood rot. Both of these are serious issues that can spread quickly and turn very costly. 

They are also health and safety hazards for you, your family, and your property, which is why they should be prevented altogether or stopped before they grow further.

The best way to stay ahead of the attic condensation issue it to make sure you have proper attic ventilation installed, as well as attic insulation. They will ensure healthy air circulation and help control indoor temperatures. Therefore, if you don’t have a ventilation system installed, you should think about installing it as soon as possible. And if you have one, make sure all the vents are open and unblocked or call an expert to inspect it more closely. 

Stay Safe This Winter

Winter is a beautiful season that comes with many great joys but it can also come with some risks to your property. While many people love the snow and the holiday atmosphere that it brings about, snow can lead to issues such as ice dams, icicles, condensation, and different water damages. With proper preparation and safety measures in place, you can avoid some or all of these damages and enjoy this winter stress-free.

Your local roofing contractor will be able to help you in this process, so don’t hesitate to call us for a pre-winter roof inspection or professional advice.