7 of the Most Common Roofing Problems in Winter, and Restoration Tips!

While it’s true that damage to your roof can occur at any time of year, some of the worst issues are much more likely to occur in the winter months.

Heavy snow loads, expansion and contraction of water as it freezes and thaws, and cold temperatures can contribute to issues with your roof. Being generally aware of some of the roofing problems that can be caused by the frigid winter temps can help homeowners be proactive in preventing some of these issues in the first place.

Leaky Roof

A leaky roof is probably one of the most common roofing problems, but especially so during the winter. Even the most carefully constructed roofs can spring a leak from time to time when extreme winter weather starts to roll in. A leaky roof most commonly occurs when shingles fail to hold up against the excessive ice and snow that comes along with a harsh winter. 

Ice Dams

Ice dams can be a very serious issue. They happen when the heat that is escaping through the attic causes snow to melt temporarily, only to re-freeze forming a solid wall of ice around the edge of the roof. This process continues, building up more and more ice throughout the winter, blocking gutters, and increasing the weight carried by the structural components of the roof. Eventually, the extra stress can cause a leak, or in the worst-case scenario, a collapse. 

Watch out for ice dams forming during the winter months when the snow is heavy, and if you see one, call your local roofing company to get it removed.


Large icicles dangling from the roof can cause the edge of the roof to warp and twist, as well as possibly causing damage to the gutters. Icicles are formed in a process similar to that of the formation of ice dams; through the melting and refreezing of snow and ice accumulated on the roof. Some icicles can get so big that they have been known to cause serious injury or even death to bystanders!  

Icicles can be prevented with good insulation by trapping the heat inside your home and preventing it from melting the snow accumulated on the roof. Making sure that your gutters are clear and allow for adequate drainage is another way to prevent them. However, in some cases, especially during times of significant snowfall, the formation of icicles may be unavoidable. You can help prevent damage to your roof and keep your family safe from falling icicles by periodically knocking them down with a broom or step ladder before they become too large.

Damaged or Sagging Gutters

Storms that bring strong winds and heavy snowfall can cause gutters to come loose, begin sagging, or fall off completely. We have discussed the critical role that gutters play in the management of melting snow, and ultimately preventing damaging ice dams, icicles. In the case of these major storm events, it’s imperative that you keep your gutters functioning properly at all times.

It’s important to keep your gutters clear of snow and ice buildup throughout the winter months. You can grab a broom or snow shovel and get to work clearing off your gutters.

Alternatively, call on a professional roofing contractor to help you clear off your gutters and inspect them for damage after major snowfall events.

Sagging Roof Line

The added weight of snow and the compression it causes to a roof can also contribute to roofs sagging over time. This may not be an immediate problem in most cases, but even during the warm summer months, as long as the sag remains there, it will add stress to your home’s structure and components that can eventually become a problem. For this reason, it’s important to keep snow off of your roof during the winter months, and be sure to call in a professional after storms if your roof has sustained any damages.

Missing Shingles

Extremely high winds may blow shingles right off of the roof! Missing shingles can be one of the most insidious of roofing issues, especially in winter. This is because a missing shingle can easily escape notice, but can quickly lead to leaks and major damages. Have your roof inspected for missing shingles before winter, and after any major wind storms to avoid these potential issues.

If you come across a missing shingle, it’s important to address the issue quickly. The sun and rain will quickly erode the wood underneath, allowing water to seep between shingles. This can cause extensive damage in a very short time.

Flashing Leaks

Flashing is a thin metal sheet that is installed to protect the most vulnerable places in the roof, usually placed within corners and joints. Something as simple as the weight of packed snow can be enough to loosen the flashing and cause underlying damage. If you see signs of wear and tear, hire a professional roofer to evaluate and repair the flashings on your roof.

Structural Damage

A roof that is poorly constructed may be prone to a full collapse during the wintertime. This will often occur because of an unknown leak causing the internal rafters to be compromised. 

Heavy snow will add excess weight, leading to the collapse of the roof. Employing the expertise of a professional roofing contractor will ensure that your roof is structurally sound and able to withstand heavy loads of excess snow.

Post Winter Roof Restoration Tips

After the long winter, you may want to consider some post-winter restoration procedures to be a standard for your continuing care and upkeep plan. Allowing any damage from the winter months to persist could result in irreversible issues forcing the need for a new roof completely. You should look to remedy any problems immediately after the winter is over. Refer to this list for some tips on what to look for.

Post Winter Inspection

A quick visual evaluation of any potential damage is important to prompt homeowners to address and damage before it can get worse. If you have the proper safety equipment you can conduct a brief visual inspection to assess for any obvious defects.

After a particularly heavy wind or snow event, check to make sure that your gutter system is in proper order. Make sure that the weather is clear before you do any climbing to perform your inspection.

Look out for any precarious accumulations of snow or debris that could fall, causing harm. If the weather does not allow you to perform a simple self-check of your roof’s condition, call a trusted roofing service provider in your area to come out and make an assessment.

Properly Care for Adjacent Foliage

After winter comes spring. Spring welcomes the new growth of the trees and their branches. In order to prevent any of the nearby tree branches from inflicting damage to the roof, they should be properly trimmed and pruned to ensure that they are an acceptable distance away from the house. 

Some roofs will have built-in edging to prevent the limbs from coming in contact with the roof. If your roof does not already have these edges, you may want to have them installed, as it is important that you take some precautions to protect your investment.

Rid Your Roof of Moss

Moss will grow rapidly in moist and humid environments. Amazingly, moss will not die in winter but can take in a lot of water which may settle and soak into your roof. 

Standing water caused by moss can eventually make its way in between the shingles and leak down through the ceiling. A post-winter moss treatment to get rid of moss can help to prevent damage to your roof. 

Rake Your Roof

Debris and leaves that have remained on your roof throughout the winter can help to build up excess weight. The additional weight may place damage on areas of the roof which were not designed to sustain more load, ultimately causing potential damage. 

By raking off any accumulated debris from your roof, you will be able to reduce the weight of your roof in preparation for the spring. Make sure to do this on a nice day, as you will need to climb up onto your roof.

Evaluate for Missing Shingles or Tiles

Expanding and contracting of ice and water with the changing of temperatures, accumulation of excess water, and high wind accompanied by precipitation can cause tiles or shingles to loosen and fall off of your roof.

It’s best to become aware of these problem areas and have them repaired before the hot summer sun can come along to cause even more issues. You should be able to spot any bare spots during your post-winter inspection.

Harsh winter weather can be especially tough on your roof. Snow and ice can cause serious issues that if not addressed, can cost you a wad of money. You should make sure your roof is inspected for defects after every winter season. Call Inland NW Roofing and Repair for a complete evaluation each spring. We will inspect your roof to make sure that it is in proper condition and recommend repairs before any issues arise.