It's ice dam season in my neck of the woods. (Literally, I live in the woods.)
We all think of the freezing temperatures as time to watch our water pipes and cover outdoor hose bibs. Yes, that's sound winter advice, but there's another issue we tend to forget about in the winter until it rears it's cold, frosty head - ice dams.
It takes the right weather condition as well as some snow build up to cause ice dams. My personal observation is they occur after a deep snow and then an extended period of frigid temperatures that stay below freezing day and night.
Ice dams are caused by ice forming on the edge of the roof and/or in the gutter which backs up the edge of the roof. Then as the snow melts, or it rains, the water can't escape and it will find the path of lease resistance.
This usually means that it finds a way into the edge of the walls, insulation, and drywall. Sometimes it can be days before you see the staining to realize what has been happening.
In my case, damage wasn't done to the house, thank goodness, but the massive ice dams crashed through my composite deck when they finally slid off the roof. The good news, my new rain gutters were unscathed!
Once you notice you have an ice dam creating mayhem, call your insurance immediately. You'll want to clear it with them to hire a roofer or snow/ice removal expert to break up the ice dam. Your insurance will likely cover the cost of hiring a contractor to restore your water damaged home.