Common Winter Roof Issues

When the weather dips below zero and the snow begins to fall, we all know issues can arise, especially with our homes and vehicles. Canadian winters can be extreme, and in Calgary, our frost/freeze Chinook cycles can wreak extra havoc. You can’t get your garage door closed, the furnace needs maintenance, and most of all, your roof takes a lot of additional stress. When it comes to your roof, it’s best to tackle pre-existing repairs before the cooler months approach.

With numerous potential winter roof issues, we are here to tell you how to avoid new problems or worsening pre-existing ones. Below we’ll also address what you should watch out for when the snow starts to fall.

Avoiding Winter Roof Issues 

Protecting your roof and attic from snow is an important part of roof maintenance. Below are the basics every home should have to help guarantee it stays protected during the winter. 

Proper Attic Insulation

Insulation in the attic helps your home regulate its temperature and allows for an air-tight seal in the house.

Attic Ventilation

Ventilation in the roof and attic is necessary to regulate the airflow in your home. This way, the hot and cold airs don’t mix, causing moisture problems.

Frequent Inspections

Maintenance and routine inspections are crucial. Taking a good look at your roof can ensure it doesn’t have vulnerable spots that can cause a break or a leak, creating further damage during the winter.

Materials Used

When you are installing your roof, knowing which materials hold up best is critical. The craftsmanship of the roof itself can be the reason why your roof lasts longer. It can also be why your roof holds up better to avoid winter roof issues.

Identifying Problems & Fixing Them

The first place to start when a winter storm rolls through is identifying potential problems. It is always important to inspect your roof throughout the year, especially at the beginning and end of each season. Often, a visual inspection will be enough to identify issues. But at least once a year, hiring a roofing company to come to take a look at those hard to see places can help you prevent future problems. A fall inspection can be vital to ensure you don’t need to fix anything right away before the weather changes too drastically.


Typically, when condensation occurs in a home, it is because it isn’t properly ventilated. Without proper ventilation, water can remain trapped in the insulation in the form of condensation. When the humid air sits in your attic like this, the moisture buildup causes mould and mildew throughout your home. It can become a significant health hazard. Having proper ventilation will help your home breathe and is essential for moisture can escape.

Roof Ventilation Issues 

If you aren’t getting enough ventilation in your attic and condensation occurs, contact your roofing contractor. They will be able to determine the amount of open-air passing through the attic based on the square footage. They can then determine the area’s volume to balance the exhaust vents’ intake to release this humid air back outside. In turn, keeping you and your family mould and mildew free.

Ice Damming 

When the snow freezes, it causes blockages in the eaves. Meaning water and other debris cannot pass through the system, rendering it ineffective. It causes an impasse with water beginning to pool and overflow. The overflow can trigger leaks in the roof and into your home. The ice formations also weigh down the eaves and gutter and can potentially rip them away from the roof, leaving open holes and no way for water to be redirected away from the home’s foundation.

Check Your Gutters Often

Checking your gutters regularly is important to guarantee ice damming won’t happen. Ice dam prevention is essential! It can be challenging to remove ice dams after forming, so proactive measures are your best bet. You can also install heated gutter cables, which will prevent ice buildup in the first place. Another preventative measure would be installing netting to make sure the snow doesn’t fall into the gutters at all.  

Watch For Icicles 

Icicles may look pretty hanging from your roof, but they can pose a real danger. If they fall, you, a loved one, or your pets could be seriously injured. Icicles are often the result of clogged gutter and ice damming. Their extra weight hanging off the gutters can cause sagging and bending, making it harder for water to flow off the roof. The excess weight can even rip the gutters off the house. Just like ice damming, the water can overflow, leading to pooling and leaks in the roof.

Leaking Flashings 

Roof flashing is the metal pieces found on the roof joints and around the vents and chimneys. They deflect water from getting into these joints and crevices on your roof. When a flashing piece isn’t holding up, it can cause leaks into your roof and home. Normally, when ice and snow buildup becomes too much, it can cause moisture to begin leaking through the flashing, weakening it even more.


When inspecting your roof, be sure to check around your chimney and roof vents to see if the flashings are attached properly or need repairs. You can also check in the attic to see if you can find any signs of a leak. Another option is to call a roofing company to take a look. Professionals know what to look for and can often spot an issue that homeowners may miss. 

When inspecting for water damage, look to the chimney and roof vents first. If either appears to be letting in water, the flashing likely needs a repair or replacement.

Heavy Snow & Ice Build Up 

Living in Calgary, we are accustomed to the heavy snow and ice buildup on our roofs. However, many of us don’t know what to do when snow and ice start causing damage.

The weight of snow and ice can do a lot of damage to a roof. It can weaken the joints, cause leaks, or even collapse a roof if the weight is too heavy. A good thing to look into when a huge snowfall occurs is hiring a snow removal service. They will come out and clear the heavy snow and ice buildup from your roof so you can rest easy.

Heavy Snow Indicators

Indicators of the snow on your roof becoming too much weight for your home to bear are;

– Doors On Your Home Are Becoming Hard To Open & Close,

– Reoccurring Creaking & Popping Sounds Can Be Heard From The Roof

– Cracks & Leaks Start To Form At An Alarming Rate.

If you begin to notice these indicators, it’s important to contact a local roofing company right away to assess the problem and fix it before it gets worse.

Additional Signs To Watch Out For 

Weakening Tree Limbs 

Often when a big storm rolls through, the trees in your yard take the hit more than your house or roof does. When limbs break off, they can fall, causing damage to your roof, the home’s exterior and power lines. Keep track of tree growth near your home and trim back any branches that could impact the roof if broken in a storm. 

Strong Winds

When strong winds occur, especially in the winter months, it can cause a lot of damage to your shingles, gutters and eavestrough. If ice has managed to get underneath old shingles and expanded, they could be loose and just waiting for a good storm to blow them off. When a strong wind blows by, it will most likely tear those shingles off your roof — leaving them vulnerable to snow, causing leaks.

It can also rip your eaves and gutters off if there is ice or heavy snow in them. The weight of the snow will make it more susceptible to being blown away.

If you notice shingles on the ground after a winter windstorm, call a roof repair company right away to have it patched quickly before your roof springs a leak. Then when the weather gets a bit nicer, it might time to think about reroofing, or at the very least having an inspection to check for any repairs. 

Animal Hideouts

When the weather turns cold, many animals try to find warm hideouts wherever they can. Your home is usually a prime spot for making a small nest to burrow in. It’s always good to inspect your home for pests, especially in the roof and attic. These little creatures cause trouble by chewing things, blocking gutters and creating holes in your ceiling.