Weather is hard on your roof no matter what materials it uses, and winter weather is no exception. It’s cold and snowy, and snow has a way of causing roof damage due to its weight, ability to turn to ice, and more.

Here are three ways snow damages roofs.

Effects of Snow Roof Damage

Snow can be dry and fluffy, wet and heavy, or anywhere in between. It freezes, thaws a little, freezes back into ice, and more. All of these things can cause the three problems below, which can cause severe damage to your roof.


If you live in snow country, you might have seen old outbuildings on farms that have fallen into disrepair, often with sagging or collapsed roofs. Perhaps you’ve even seen one not too long after the roof came down due to ice and snow. Once a roof is in that kind of condition, it only takes one or two heavy snowfalls to bring it down.

The weight of snow and ice puts stress on your roof. When your roof is in good condition, it can handle even a bad winter.

However, if your roof is in poor condition (or if your area experiences an insanely high amount of snowfall that year), all that weight can cause your roof to collapse.

It won’t happen all at once. If you think back to the old farm buildings, you know that because you witnessed it happening gradually. It will happen gradually to your roof, too, if you don’t address it.

Ice Dams

ice dams caused by snow roof damage

You get ice dams when you have a lot of snow on your roof that freezes, melts, and re-freezes repeatedly. As it does so, it slides down your roof and builds up along the edge, usually starting in your gutters.

Ice dams coexist with icicles and that thick shelf of snow you see forming along the edges of your roof during a wet winter. They can loosen, tear, or break shingles, and rip your gutters away from your roofline.

When these things happen, the heat from inside your house causes the ice to melt a little, and water starts getting into your sub roofing, insulation, walls, and more. That, in turn, causes sagging and other structural damage, along with problems with mold and mildew.

Freeze-Thaw Cycle

The stress on your roof from ice and snow can cause tiny cracks to appear, and water can seep into those cracks when the ice melts, even just a little. When it freezes again, it expands, which makes those cracks worse.

As cracks worsen, they can also cause new fractures to form. You get a cascading effect when your roof begins to crack while enduring the freeze-thaw cycle that’s so common in snow country.


Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent snow damage to your roof and thus, prolong your roof’s life.

To prevent ice dams, make sure your roof has the proper insulation and ventilation. You can have vents installed along the eaves and the ridge of your roofline that will keep air circulating at a constant temperature under your entire roof.

prevent snow roof damage

Also, cap whole-house fans in the winter and clean all gutters and downspouts regularly to ensure water flows away from your roof. Ensure that all your exhaust vents lead outside through walls and your roof rather than the soffits.

As far as stress goes, inspect your roof regularly (ideally, once a year) and have a professional inspector take a look at it after an extreme weather event. Regular inspections can reveal damage in its earliest stages, when it’s easiest and cheapest to fix it, and before the next snow season arrives.

Final Thoughts

If you live in snow country, you have threats facing your home that people living in warmer climates don’t have. Ice and snow can quietly cause a lot of damage to your roof, often becoming serious before you even know it’s there.

There are three ways snow roof damage can happen to your roof, but if you’re aware of them, you can find ways to deal with them. However, the best way to handle these three problems is prevention, especially regular inspections and repairs to any damage the inspections discover.

If you live in snow country and take proper care of your roof, it’ll protect you and your home for years to come.