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Roof Leaking in Winter: 6 Causes and Prevention


roof leaking in winter

The winter temperatures have fallen, along with issues like drafty rooms, slippery driveways, bursting pipes, and wet roofs. Although you expect your shingles to withstand winter weather, even the sturdiest roofs can be damaged. A roof leaking in winter can be another cause of water damage in your home.

You’re not alone if you recently found a leak in your roof. Many homeowners face this problem, but there are ways to prevent it and keep your interior dry. We’ll share reasons for the leak, prevention methods, and how our team can help. Let’s start.

Roof Leaking in Winter: What are the Causes?

Is your roof leaking in winter or cold weather? It may be due to several reasons, but here are some of the most frequent causes.

1. Ice Dams

Ice dams cause the majority of leaky roofs. They are formed when snow and ice accumulate on the roof, and the heat inside the house causes the bottom layer of snow to melt. 

The melted snow reaches the colder edges of the roof and freezes, causing a dam to build up. This dam traps the melted snow, seeping under the shingles and into the attic, insulation, and walls. It can result in water damage, mold growth, and decreased air quality.

2. Deficient Attic Insulation

Attic insulation may cause roof leaks in winter months if not caused by an ice dam. Insufficient insulation can result in excessive condensation in the attic due to conditions leading to ice dams. Inadequate attic insulation can allow excessive warm air to enter the space.

Excessive condensation occurs when warm air from living spaces rises and enters the attic. The heat turns into water vapor and, if not adequately ventilated, collects in the attic causing large droplets that can rot roofing beams and promote mold growth. It also causes roof sagging and can lead to unexpected leaks.

3. Condensation from Exhaust Vents

Bathroom exhaust fans eliminate moisture from damp rooms such as bathrooms by expelling the air outside. However, the fan often ends up in the attic. But if the fan exhaust terminates in an unheated attic, the moisture-filled air from the fan can freeze in the duct and cause a leak as it melts and penetrates the ceiling.

4. Low-Slope Roof

When winter precipitation lands on a home with a standard or steep roof, it can easily flow downwards toward its exterior walls as it melts. However, a flat roof can cause water to accumulate instead of flowing downwards.

Consequently, the water stays still and can harm shingles, allowing moisture to penetrate the roof and reach the inside walls. Flat roofs often have poor drainage, making them prone to leaks quicker than others, especially during heavy rain seasons.

5. Damage Caused by Water in a Building’s Structure

The roof leaks you observe may stem from structural water damage affecting your roof’s shingles and trusses. When water is prevented from flowing away from the roof, it can accumulate and harm the property’s exterior and interior.

That’s why having routine roof inspections for maintenance is crucial. The signs of this type of water damage may not be noticeable at first, but a professional can quickly identify them and guide you on what to do next.

6. Clogged Gutters

Rain gutters serve to divert water away from your home. If clogged with leaves, sticks, or other debris, it’s time to clear them. Prolonged water retention can cause rust and harm the roof leading to expensive, hazardous leaks.

Blocked gutters also allow water to linger on the roof for too long, causing the structure to eventually break down, resulting in water dripping from the ceiling.

Roof Leaking in Winter: Ways to Stop Before It Starts

To avoid winter roof leaks before they happen, follow these steps:

1. Clear gutters of leaves and debris regularly.

Don’t assume gutters are clear, check and clean them frequently. Regular attic inspections can help detect signs of moisture and prevent winter roof leaks. Look for mold, wet insulation, and other indicators of excess moisture.

2. Inspect roof shingles and repair any cracks or damaged areas.

Worn, weak, or missing shingles can reduce curb appeal and allow precipitation to enter your roof. Call a professional to minimize damage at the first sign of a compromised roofing area. Time is crucial in this situation.

3. Ensure proper attic insulation and ventilation to prevent ice damming.

Having the right insulation and ventilation in your attic can prevent the formation of ice dams, which are ridges of ice that build up on the roof. Good insulation helps control the temperature in the attic, which lowers the risk of snow melting and refreezing at the roof edge, leading to ice damming

4. Trim tree branches that could damage the roof.

Trimming tree branches can help protect your roof from damage. Branches that hang over the top can scratch or puncture the shingles during high winds or heavy snowfall. Trimming them back reduces the chances of roof damage, helping preserve their integrity and overall health. 

Regular maintenance of surrounding trees can keep your roof in good condition and prevent future repairs.

5. Hire a professional for regular roof maintenance inspections.

Hiring a professional for routine roof maintenance checks is vital in ensuring the longevity of your roof. A professional inspector has the experience and expertise to identify potential issues before they become more significant problems, such as leaks, missing or damaged shingles and improper ventilation. 

Regular inspections can also catch any potential safety hazards, such as loose or damaged flashing, that can lead to accidents or further damage. By hiring a professional, you can have peace of mind and prevent costly repairs in the future.

Roof Leaking in Winter? We’re Here to Help

As soon as you step outside, the cold seizes you to the core. To make matters worse, now your roof is leaking. No worries! Superior Restoration Irvine has experience with similar cases and is ready to assist you with your roof leaking in winter.

We are a competent team of roofing and water damage professionals with expertise in all aspects of the field, including restoration, installation, maintenance, and repair services. We are available 24/7. Contact us today to get an estimate and embrace winter, not fear it.


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