Is My Roof Really Leaking In Freezing Temperatures?

Home Inspector with Foundation-2-Rooftop, Inc.

Source #1.

After a blizzard, always check up in your attic for snow that may have sucked in through your attic ventilation exhaust vents.  If you're attic ventilation isn't proper and you don't have adequate intake vents, then your exhaust vents can essentially work backwards and become an intake vent.  Over 10 years ago, we had a blizzard and I noticed our ceiling starting to leak.  I climbed up into our attic to find 5' high mounds of snow piled up on our insulation directly below the turtle vents.  I had to shovel the snow out of my attic using a 5 gallon bucket before it melted and made a royal mess.  In my situation, we had plenty of soffit vents, but they had become clogged.  What a way to find that out!

Source #2.

Check for frost on your roof deck while you're looking around in your attic.  That is another easy way to determine if your attic ventilation is inadequate.  If the moisture that your house produces (shower steam, cooking steam, moisture from running your humidifier, etc.) becomes trapped in your attic, it'll freeze to the roof deck.  A little frost on the nails isn't serious.  A thick layer of frost or ice across the entire roof deck throughout the attic is a different ball game!  With it all frozen, you've got until it decides to melt to dry it out.  Tick, tock.  If it melts from sudden warm weather, all of that water will drip down and take the path of least resistance through your ceilings.

Heavy frost on roof deck

The 2 pictures below were taken from 2 of my recent home inspections in Omaha:

Barely any insulation causing ice buildup

Bet you can't tell which house has almost no attic insulation? The freezing temperatures combined with our recent blizzard makes it easy to spot these houses. The sad thing was every house on this block was like this! Just imagine if everyone spent $300 two decades ago to insulate these homes how many thousands and thousands of dollars of heat loss would have been saved per home!!!

Watch for ice damming

Source #3.

This home has ice damming occurring along its eaves.  If the snow melts fast enough, the water will take the path of least resistance.  With the ice blocking it's way, the water can run up between the shingles, and leak through your roof.  If you have a situation like this, taking a roof rake to scrape off the heavier areas of snow will help reduce your damage.  Obvisously, if you have a reoccuring trouble spot, it might be best to install heat tape before the winter season to prevent the ice blockage altogether.

For more home inspection photos and advice, check out our website:

Comments (2)

William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Because of the insulated properties of snow it could be melting under the snow

Feb 27, 2019 07:42 PM
Jenma Jinma
jenmajinma - Batesville, VA

I agree Sir.

Apr 09, 2022 10:11 AM