In general, winter is not kind to structures, whether they are homes or businesses. Weather conditions, such as snow, ice, and severe winds, can cause significant damage to a roof. Consequently, roofing in the winter is a delicate endeavor. Roofing installations and repairs in the winter need to take into account a wide range of environmental factors, as well as the potential for poor weather to wreak havoc.

Roofing problems during the winter are typical in the northern Midwest, the northeast, and the Great Plains. Property owners should check on their roofs frequently from the time snow begins to fall until the thaw in the spring. Problems with the roof can be repaired more quickly and with less risk if they are caught early.


Winter Roofing Problems

The key to successful prevention is developing the ability to spot winter roofing difficulties. Sadly, a substantial proportion of property owners are unaware of the indicators that might suggest the existence of a problem on their land. The following is a comprehensive list of typical roofing problems that can be easily spotted during the winter months, along with suggestions for how to avoid them.

1. Condensation

One of the most prevalent winter roofing problems that goes unnoticed by property owners is condensation that occurs as a result of poor ventilation. When warm air from the interior of a building comes into contact with the cold surface of the underside of a roof that has been exposed to cold winter temperatures, condensation can form. It is possible that it will result in a musty odor in addition to the growth of mold and mildew.


Ventilating the roof in an appropriate manner is the most effective method for preventing condensation on roofs. The installation of ventilation enables the greatest possible movement of air. The amount of warm air that is allowed to come into contact with the chilly roof is decreased, which helps to prevent condensation.


2. Ice Dams

Temperature fluctuations are what lead to the formation of ice dams. When the upper areas of the roof are warm enough to melt the snow that has accumulated on the roof but the lower portions of the roof remain below freezing, an ice dam will form. A dam of ice forms at the point where the edge of the roof meets the gutter system as a result of water running down the roof and finally freezing.


In order to avoid the formation of ice dams, it is necessary to insulate and ventilate the top areas of the roof. This will prevent the upper portions of the roof from becoming too heated. However, insulation should not be crammed up against the roof in such a way that it restricts air flow; doing so would only serve to promote condensation.


3. Icicles

Icicles form when water from melted snow runs down the roof and begins to drip from the gutters. During its descent, temperatures are just cold enough to freeze the water. Icicles form and, if the problem is not corrected, continue to grow in length.


Icicles form when water from melted snow travels down the roof and begins to drip from the gutters. This causes the water to freeze and harden into icicles. During its descent, temperatures reach a point where they are just low enough to cause the water to freeze. Icicles begin to form, and if the underlying issue is not resolved, they will keep growing longer.


4. Flashing Leaks

Flashing is composed of all of those pieces of aluminum that are placed around chimneys, vents, pipes, and the edges of roofs. In order to prevent moisture from getting through the spaces that are left between roofing materials and exposed subsurfaces, flashing is created to bridge those spaces. It is susceptible to damage by strong winds and the production of ice.


The freeze-thaw cycle causes flashing leaks, which are extremely common throughout the winter months. When age-related corrosion begins to set in, flashing is also susceptible to damage. In order to prevent flashing leaks during the winter, it is necessary to evaluate the flashing and make repairs prior to the arrival of winter, ice, and wind.


5. Strong Winds and Severe Weather

During the winter months, roofing suffers damage from not only high winds but also harsh weather. Strong winds can lift or peel back shingles, cause damage to flashing, and force moisture into roof vents. Strong winds can also damage the flashing. Unfortunately, there is not much that property owners can do to protect their homes and businesses against damage caused by wind or other acts of nature. The prudent thing to do is to keep an eye on the forecast for severe weather and make preparations in advance so that you won’t be caught off guard when it finally arrives.


6. Tree Limbs

Roofing work performed in the wintertime is always dependent on the natural conditions. For instance, a property that is densely forested with a large number of mature trees is one on which tree limbs present yet another threat to roofing materials. The rough surface of asphalt shingles can be scraped off by tree limbs, and they can also pull shingles up and allow moisture to get underneath them. The impact of large tree limbs that have traveled a significant distance can even puncture roofing materials.


It is simple to protect your property from harm caused by tree limbs by performing tree trimming in the summer and fall. Any branches that are closer than six feet to the roof should have the appropriate trimming done to them.


7. Squirrels and Rats

The presence of rodents and squirrels on your roof throughout the winter presents a challenge that may not be immediately visible. If there is even the tiniest hole in any section of the roof, these vermin will find a way to get in and make themselves at home. Squirrels and rats will have no trouble nibbling their way through an opening that exists but isn’t quite large enough for them to enter.


In order to prevent animals from entering attic spaces, the roof must first be inspected, and then any potential entry points must be sealed off. It is highly recommended that this task be completed before the onset of winter weather.


How to Address Roofing Concerns During the Winter

In the event that you do not have previous experience roofing in the winter, it is strongly recommended that you contact a professional roofing contractor in order to address the problems that have been outlined above. Roofing is a dangerous job at any time of the year, but working on a roof during the winter is especially hazardous. Roof problems can be fixed safely in the winter by a professional roofer with the right knowledge and experience.

Exteriors Plus is widely regarded as the industry’s best roofing contractor. We offer the highest possible level of quality and service for any roofing, siding, or gutter work you want, and we have been recognized as one of the best companies in Minnesota. Check out the fantastic feedback we’ve received from our happy clients.

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