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How to Fix a Winter Roof Leak in 4 Simple Steps

winter roof leaks finding and fixing rooftop

Who doesn’t love winter? Going sledding, ice skating, drinking warm cups of hot chocolate by the fire while the roof leaks above your head…

Wait. Hold up a minute. Did we just say a roof leak?

Yup. Contrary to popular belief, winter is the time of year when homes are more susceptible to roof leaks than ever. No matter what time of year it is, though, a winter roof leak is a serious problem that requires immediate action. Don’t worry, though. We are going to teach you:

  • How to identify a roof leak
  • What causes winter roof leaks
  • How to repair a roof leak

What Causes a Winter Roof Leak?

It can be mentally confusing to think of leaks developing in the colder months. After all, when we think of winter, we tend to think of frozen water.

The truth is, though, that there are all sorts of factors that can cause your roof to be at risk during the winter months. Here are some of the top causes of winter roof leaks.

  • Ice Dams – For most homeowners, ice dams are the cause of winter roof leaks. An ice dam forms when hot air escapes through your roof and melts the snow that is resting there. As the melting snow travels downward, it refreezes, forming an impassable dam made out of ice. Water gets trapped behind the ice, and this frequently leads to roof leaks.
  • Hail Damage – When the weather turns cold, hail storms can increase in frequency. The impact from hail can easily damage your roof and create space for a leak to form.
  • Condensation – With your HVAC system running at full force, it can be easy for the temperatures inside your home to have a huge contrast with the exterior of your home. This can lead to condensation forming on your interior walls and windows. While this may not look particularly troublesome, all of this condensation can leak down into your lower levels.
  • Hidden Damage – One of the nice things about snow is that it covers up anything that is looking a little worse for wear. When your roof is one of those things, you might not realize that the pretty snow is actually hiding roof damage. If your roof has been previously damaged, all of that snow can seep through the layers of your roof.

What Are the Signs of a Winter Roof Leak?

winter roof leaks dealing with water pooling

Now that you understand how your roof leak started, it’s important that you learn how to identify one in the first place. If you suspect that you may have a leaky roof, here are the best ways to tell.

  • Water Stains – Arguably, the most noticeable sign of winter roof leaks is the presence of water stains. These brown and yellow spots can pop up on the walls and ceilings of your home.
  • Musty Smell – Is your home (particularly your attic) smelling less than fresh? You may be dealing with mold and mildew. Mold loves to grow in areas that have lots of moist air. If you have a roof leak, your home may be a prime candidate. Locating the source of the musty smell can help you find your roof leak.
  • Damaged Personal Items – Most of us don’t spend too much time in our attics. Because of this, our personal items in storage can easily suffer from water damage before we notice it. If your finding water-stained boxes and other items in your attic, it is time to look for a leak.

5 Steps to Fix a Winter Roof Leak

When you find your roof leaking, you want to take care of the problem ASAP to avoid any further damage to your home. Here are the steps you should take when you discover your roof is leaking.

1) Locate the Leak

The first step is to locate the source of the leak. This may involve climbing into your attic or onto your roof. If you are inspecting your own roof, we encourage you to take all of the necessary safety precautions. Especially when it is icy out!

You’ll want to look for damaged or missing shingles or signs of rust.

2) Protect the Surrounding Area

Once you’ve found where a leak is coming from, you’ll want to do your best to protect the interior of your home. Start by mopping up any water that may be gathering on your floor. You can then place a bucket underneath the leak. We also recommend spreading out some absorbent towels to make sure that your floor is protected.

3) Perform a Patch

winter roof leaks patching roof repairman

If you feel confident in your DIY skills, you have the option to perform a temporary roof patch. This will keep your home dry until you can contact a professional roofer.

To patch your roof, you’ll want to start by removing the damaged shingles. Once this is done, it is important that you clear the area of any debris that may be nearby.

Slide the new shingle into place, and use a small amount of sealant to help it become waterproof. You’ll then want to use a hammer to nail the shingles into place.

4) Call a Roofing Professional

No matter how skilled a roofer you may think you are, we always recommend calling your local roofing contractor. A pro roofer will perform a roof inspection to assess the damage before advising you on what are the next steps for you to take.

How to Prevent Winter Roof Leaks

The best way to protect your home against winter roof leaks is to stop them from happening in the first place! Here are our top tips for preventing winter roof leaks.

Roof Inspections

Scheduling regular roof inspections is one of the best things that you can do in order to prevent damage to your roof. A professional roofer can advise you as to what roof repair will help you avoid roof leaks in the winter.

Keep Your Roof Clear

Your roof has to deal with a lot during the winter. Regularly removing rooftop snow and other debris that has been collected will help you to keep your home safe and prevent ice dams.

Add Insulation

As ice dams are the #1 cause of winter roof leaks, the best thing to do is tackle the problem at the source. This typically means adding insulation to your attic in order to prevent excess heat from escaping through your roof.

Get the Protection Your Roof Deserves!

Want some help dealing with your persistent winter roof leaks? At Dreamworx Roofing, we’ve got you covered. Our team of highly trained roofing pros will help you keep your home safe all season long. Contact us today to set up your free roof inspection!

winter roof leaks inspecting rooftop snow

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