Everything You Need to Know

How Winter Heating Affects Your Roof

Winters are often considered difficult times for homes and roofing. Weighty snow can affect the structure of your home as melting and freezing can create leaks. The main concern for how winter heating affects your roof is ice damming. Ice damming is very common in the northern states due to the large snowfall that collects and sits on homes.

What is ice damming and how does it work?

Ice damming is a direct result of heating your home in the winter. When the temperature outside drops, we turn our heat on in order to keep a consistent temperature inside. When large amounts of snow falls, the top layer of snow creates an insolation while the bottom layer of the snow melts from the inside temperatures of the home. As melted snow turns to water is moves down to the edges of the roof, towards your gutters, where it is cooler, and this is where it once again freezes. This freezing at the edge of the roof is an ice dam. Once the ice dam starts, the water still melting from the snow above will then start to move back and under the shingle tabs and edgings as the dam grows.

If ice damming occurs it does not mean you will definitely have a leak in your roof, however, the chances will certainly increase as it continues. Also consider that as the ice grows, so does its weight, which can harm your overall structure. Once stuck there, the melted ice can then sink into the roof decking, and eventually, you’ll see signs of it in your ceilings.
This issue can also lead to moisture buildup in your attic spaces, which is why it is very important to keep your attic ventilated properly. It’s also important to note that ice damming can happen on both shingle and metal roofing. While it seems unlikely on metal roofing, it occurs to those that do not have a sharp slant. Both ice damming and moisture buildup are huge concerns of how winter heating affects your roof.

Preparations for Winter:

Insulate your attic.

Make sure your attic is well insulated. If your attic is well insulated it can help keep the inside temperature of your home from affecting the underside of your roof too much, which can then help the issues of melting the underlayer of ice that leads to the ice dams.

Clean your gutters.

While gutters aren’t a direct issue of ice dams, make sure that they are clean to help prevent any extra water buildup around the edges of your roof. The edges are what will be the coldest as they have nothing below them to keep a higher temperature, so keeping clean gutters can do nothing but help.

Consider Heat Cables.

If ice damming is a normal result of how winter heating affects your roof, consider having heat cables installed around the edge of your roof. These cables will ensure a stable heat where the ice dams normally form to keep water from building up and ice from hurting your shingles and roof decking.

winter heating affects your roof
Roof Inspection

Other winter roofing things to consider:

Old tars and bindings can become brittle in the cold and create cracking for leaks to get through. Have a professional check for decaying putties around the edges of your shingle, vents, and chimneys. The bindings around old chimneys specifically can crack and decay enough that it can create a leak that runs down the center of your home.


Look at your gutters and replace or refasten any that are damaged or pulling away from the home.


Make sure all downspouts are connected to your gutters and that they have enough space to release winter water without freezing and blocking the spout.

Winter can be trying on your home’s roof, but Clayton Hoover and Sons is dedicated to your needs and we want to see everyone secure and cared for throughout Indiana’s weather. Contact us at ClaytonHoover.com/roofing for a free roof inspection to help you prepare for winter!