Icicles hanging from the roof of a house, indicating the need for possible roof replacement.

Owning your home is a beautiful feeling. But to keep the feeling well in your house, you need to take care of it. Otherwise, problems occur, especially during winter, and especially on the roof. In some cases, they don’t go away, so roofs start leaking. And it’s not very comfortable to live in a house with a leak, no matter its stage.

We hope your roof is all right and you’re reading this to learn how to prevent problems, not deal with them. But even if your roof is already leaking (or you can see early signs), this article will help you. You’ll know where to look (and who to call).

Overflows Caused By Clogged Gutters

Gutters cause more leaks than people think. If you follow the list of tips about preparing your roof for winter, you may never learn how dangerous gutters can get.

But not everyone takes care of their home. They can’t do their job if gutters get full of debris, twigs, leaves, and granules. That means water can’t get away from the house, so it overflows and pours down the walls to the basement. It damages the drip edges and can reach underlayment through the tiniest cracks on shingles.

And sometimes, it’s more dangerous to have a tiny leak that slowly rots your decking than an obvious one that forces you to repair it immediately. So it really pays off to clean your gutter before winter. Also, the debris and granules are a fire hazard. So neglecting your gutters can cause different disasters, not just leaks on the roof and walls.

Slow-Melting Ice Dams

Ice dams on roofs are common in cold areas. Sadly, they’re a common cause of leaks on residential roofs too. And the worst part about ice dams is that they don’t seem as dangerous as they are. You can think that nothing is happening because the dam will look the same, but the real danger is hidden.

Ice dams cause leaks because the roof is warmer than the air outside, so it slowly melts the bottom of the ice dam. But that water has nowhere to go because it’s trapped in a frozen prison. Water doesn’t surrender easily, so it starts looking for a way out. And gravity helps it.

Water enters all the capillaries and cracks on the roof. It slowly rots everything organic it touches. So by the time an ice dam melts, your roof might already be seriously damaged.

An additional problem with dams on roofs is adding weight, which puts pressure on the entire structure and makes the roof more vulnerable to leaks.

Rusted and Damaged Flashings

Yes, gutters and ice dams are dangerous, but they are more-less obvious, so everyone knows they should do something about them. However, there’s a sneaky roof part. It causes more leaks than ice dams and clogged gutters combined.


That’s right, most leaks in winter are caused by flashings, especially those around chimneys. The problem occurs when a homeowner does a DIY roof inspection and doesn’t see the damage on flashings. We don’t blame them. It takes experience and skills to see the early signs of damaged flashings.

And those who have chimes and use them should pay even more attention to the chimney flashing. It will be cold outside, and the chimney will heat up because the fire beneath creates a temperature difference. That makes the metal expand and contract, which creates tiny cracks. And water loves those.

So if you have to pick one tithing to take care of if you want to avoid leaks this winter, make it your flashings.

However, don’t do a DIY replacement because it’s more complex to make a flashing waterproof than it looks on YouTube. But be careful who touches your roof because poor installation and repairs are common causes of leaks in winter.

To be sure you’re getting a roofer who won’t create new problems, but solve those you have, call an experienced Rockford IL roofing contractor.