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8 Types of Winter Roof Damage Homeowners Need To Know About

Types of Winter Roof Damage

snow on roofs potential winter roof damage

Ice Dam

Ice damming is one of the greatest threats that can be posed to your roof during the wintertime. They can cause major winter roof damage that can be costly. They form when the heat from heat loss from within your home combined with the sun’s heat melts the snow on warmer parts of your roof. This will have melted snow run down your roof towards the gutters. But as the melted snow trickles down over the cold snow covering the gutters, it refreezes. This creates an ice dam blocking any run off by creating more ice as it melts down the roof and refreezes as it travels over it.

Ice dams pool water as the winter goes on. Which as many homeowners know, sitting water on your roof is never good. Water will always find a way to seep through the cracks in your roof and shingles to cause leaks and further issues.

ice dam winter roof damage

Icicle Formation

Another common type of winter roof damage is icicle formation. While typically this happens in tandem with ice dams, it can also happen elsewhere. Ice dams usually form off the edge of your gutters. While icicles make great winter time photos, and look cute in videos, they can be dangerous to you and your home. When they melt, eventually they will fall. Depending on their size, they can be quite dangerous to anyone who is near them. They are also a lot of added weight to your gutters. This will tend to pull the gutters off your roof, opening up space for cracks and leaks in the attached shingles and roofing.

icicles on gutters roof

Attic Condensation

Attic condensation can cause many winter roof damage related problems. The entire issue stems from poor ventilation in your attic. If your attic does not have good ventilation to regulate temperature, then you are going to have an unpleasant winter. Usually this happens when the heat from your home enters the attic combined with the cold roof.

When you have something hot contained by something cold, it forms condensation. As the ceiling in your attic and your roof form water from the condensation, the condensation will freeze and create ice. This leads to mold, water damage, assist in creating ice dams, and a plethora of other issues. Attic condensation will lower the overall life expectancy of your roof and weaken its support overtime. This is not a winter roof damage related problem you want to overlook.

mold attic condensation winter roof damage

Heavy Rooftop Snow Loads Can Cause Winter Roof Damage

Snow can be fun to play in and feel light and fluffy when dealing with a small amount. But when you deal with several inches to feet in snow, it can become problematic. Anyone who has been waist deep in snow knows that it’s not so light then, but rather heavy. Heavy snow fall can add a lot of weight to your roof that you would not typically expect. While this may not be an issue for a brand new roof, older roofs will feel its effect.

Any poorly installed or loose shingles can buckle and break. Any preexisting conditions become more obvious when the snow melts, causing cracks, leaks, and potentially water damage. While it may seem harmless on the outside, if you have an older roof or a roof that has not been inspected in a while, you could be exposed. Therefore, it is important to have regular maintenance and to check your roof regularly to avoid costly winter roof damage.

Flashing Leaks

Flashing is what protects and seals your roof, skylights, chimney, plumbing pipes, and any other extremities on your roof sealed properly from the harsh elements. Nothing is permanent on a roof. While flashing can last for quite sometime if properly maintained, it still poses a risk for winter roof damage if left unchecked. Snow melts slowly, causing long-term exposure to water. Usually this will lead to rusting out of your exposed flashing. If not properly installed, winter storms can also pull it away from your roofing material. Any openings, rust, breaks, cracks, etc in your flashing will lead to water leaks. Inspect your flashing every six months to prevent potential winter roof flashing damage related problems.


While this can be a common type of winter roof damage, it is very relative to where you live. If your climate is very mild during the winter with little to no snow/hail, it is unlikely you will run into this issue. For other climates with a heavier type of winter, this may be a more common occurrence. Hail itself is like little pellets hitting your roof. It is almost as if your house is under an attack and it’s a war against the hail. Sometimes hail can become larger than a pellet and this is where large, actual damage can happen.

Regardless of size, during a hailstorm any weakened or preexisting issues will be amplified and exposed after it. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent issues causes from regular hail, but if your experience damage caused by the storm; it may entitle you to have your homeowner’s insurance pay for the roof repair/replacement.

Meltwater runoff

Meltwater runoff is an interesting type of winter roof damage, as it has a few issues that can come from it. While ice dams, roof leaks, and other roof surface issues are the most common, depending on how your water management system and gutters condition are in your home; you may have more issues to deal with.

If your gutters are clogged, this can lead to water damage/entry through the gutter and where they are connected on your home. It is possible you could have stagnant water that pulls your gutters off your home. Water spill off from the gutters can lead to water in the basement. Your water management system may be poor and also lead to water in your basement. There are many types of winter roof damage that may occur from this completely dependent on your current roof’s condition, the gutters condition, and your placement of where the water will go after it enters and exits the gutter system. Regular inspections and maintenance will help prolong the life of your roof & home, and ensure it prepares you for these harsh winter conditions.

Winter Roof Damage Worsens Existing Problems

If you have pre-existing roof issues, then any winter roof damage that occurs will only amplify your previous issues. All the problems listed above are possible to happen during the winter, but they will also worsen any issues you currently have, leading to costly repairs/replacements. A roof can be made to last a long time, but not forever. Therefore, it is important to do regular maintenance and inspections of your roof. If you catch it while the problem is small, it is usually cheaper to fix the problem before it becomes a water damage disaster. Any leaks, cracks, weak frame, flashing, shingles, etc that you have, if exposed to the winter elements are almost guaranteed to break, worsen, open, and allow more water to come in when present.

Roofing Inspection

Target Roofing and Restoration is committed to the roofing industry and serving the Columbus region. If you are currently experiencing any roofing issues, need a free inspection, or have questions; do not hesitate to reach out. Let’s connect!