Perhaps the worst time to experience a roof leak is when the weather is cold and wet and you’re spending most of your time inside. However, home maintenance issues tend to pop up at the most inconvenient times. When it comes to preventing roof leaks, it’s important to understand what causes them in the first place. Below, we will discuss some of the most common causes of roof leaks during the winter.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are perhaps the most prevalent cause of roof leaks during the winter. Ice dams refer to mounds of ice that form at a roof’s edge. Typically, ice dams are the result of poor attic insulation. If an attic isn’t insulated properly, warm air will escape through the roof, causing the snow on top of it to melt. As the snow slides down, it will re-freeze at the colder edge of the roof and, eventually, a wall of ice will grow.

Such a wall will prevent melted water from flowing off the roof and, instead, will cause it to pool in the middle. Over time, the standing water may begin to leak through the roof or even cause it to collapse under the added weight. To avoid such damage, it’s important to insulate your attic properly.

Condensation in Your Attic

Another one of the most common causes of roof leaks during the winter is attic condensation. As heat from your home rises up into the attic and mixes with the colder air from outside, moisture can form on your roof. While the accumulation of condensation isn’t technically a leak, it can drip down and cause water damage in your home all the same. To prevent such condensation from forming, make sure you properly ventilate your roof.

Cracked Flashing 

Flashing is often installed on roofs to provide enhanced protection against leaks. Essentially, it is a thin material, such as steel, which is implemented to direct water away from critical areas on a roof, including around vents or chimneys. If flashing becomes cracked or otherwise damaged, water may seep through and cause a leak. To prevent leaks in your home, inspect your flashing periodically to ensure that it is in good condition.

Damaged Shingles

Old age, inclement weather, and falling branches can all cause damage to shingles over time. In such a case, melted snow and rain will likely seep through any holes or cracks that form. Checking shingles for damage and repairing them immediately will help prevent dastardly roof leaks from occurring during the coldest season of the year.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.