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Roof leaks are always a serious matter, no matter the time of the year. However, the cold months can be brutal to a roof. The lower temperatures, snow, and ice all create several problems that will lead to costly roofing repairs, mostly if you procrastinate on getting them repaired.

Leaks can lead to a lot of structural damage, so you need to quickly take action before it could create a host of problems, especially during cold months. Here are some extra hazards that winter can bring roof leaks.

Frozen Water Infiltrating Leaks

When rainwater enters your roof, it can cause multiple problems from short-term effects. This usually includes stains and ruined drywall to more long-lasting consequences like mold and insect infestations, and structural damage. The below-freezing temperatures during the colder months can create more problems in addition to that.

The water that squeezes in under the shingles or membranes can freeze and cause even more significant damage. When the water freezes inside these cracks, it can expand and cause the cracks to widen. A wider opening can lead to a free flow of moisture infiltrating your home.

Additionally, the water won’t remain frozen throughout winter. It will go through a constant freeze-thaw cycle. If the water got to the membrane, the process could cause the membrane to become brittle. This will compromise the waterproofing of the roof, resulting in more leaks when it rains.

Roofing felt can also sustain damage from frozen water. It is the extra protective layer between the shingles and adds some additional waterproofing. However, suppose water freezes underneath the shingles over time. In that case, it can start to wear away at the paper, especially in places where it was nailed down.

Injuries and Illnesses

No matter the weather or season, climbing up roofs is generally a dangerous thing to do. Roofing is considered one of the most hazardous careers as roofers are always at risk of falling and severe injuries during their jobs.

There are already risks in performing roofing projects even in perfect weather. However, it’s challenging and dangerous in the winter season. Snow and ice will be covering everything, including roofs. This increases the risk of slip and slide accidents. As a result, roofers will need to be extra careful to make sure they keep themselves safe up on the roof.

Additionally, the cold can be physically harmful and uncomfortable for the crew. Roofing jobs lead to extended exposure to below-freezing temperatures, which can cause frostbite, hypothermia, and dehydration. Not to mention, spending time out in the cold can feel miserable.

Most contractors won’t work when roofs are slippery from ice and snow to avoid accidents, which is why it’s often challenging to find roofers during winter. Some minor repairs are possible, but they might outright reject a major repair or replacement. Roofers are more likely to take jobs that they know they can complete safely.

This doesn’t mean you have to wait for spring to get your roof done. Typically, it just involves waiting for a few warmer days after the ice has had a chance to melt a bit.

Common Causes of Roof Leaks in Winter

If you want your roof to remain in top condition, keeping an eye out on your roof is essential to spot any problems as early as possible. Look out for the following issues to arrive throughout the winter season and not delay fixing these problems to prevent further damage in the future.

Ice Dams — Ice dams are one of the most common causes of winter roof leaks. This occurs when the melted snow in the middle of the roof gets stuck in clogged gutters before re-freezing. As a result, it creates a large dam that blocks water flow, trapping more melted snow water on the roof. With nowhere to drain, the trapped moisture will find any small pinhole and enter your home.

Condensation Winter roof leaks will not always be leaks. Some are a result of an accumulation of frost in the exhaust vent. The combination of poor insulation and ventilation along with the cold outdoor temperature can cause condensation. If left unchecked, mold and mildew will develop. This can compromise your health and safety and the home’s structural integrity.

Winter Winds – High wind speeds can rip loose or old roof shingles off a roof any time of the year. However, winter winds can be more aggressive in ripping off shingles than any other season. This is more likely to happen to old roofs. Make sure to check out your lawn after an intense winter wind event to look for any loosen shingles.

Excessive snow Load – Snow accumulation can have catastrophic consequences for your roof. The extra weight can cause severe roof leaks. In extreme cases, the excess weight increases the likelihood of structural collapse.


Additionally, it’s also essential to get your roof inspected by a reliable roofing contractor before winter sets. A professional roofer who knows how to find and fix leaks can make a difference in its performance for this season.

Fahey Roofing Contractors has the experienced and skilled contractors you need to help you with any necessary roof repairs and roof replacement. We serve various areas in West Virginia and Ohio. Visit our website today or contact us at (304) 826-1323 for West Virginia or (740) 523-0380 for Ohio to learn more.