Important winter roof inspection

Winter can be a harsh and unforgiving season, particularly for roofs. Regular roof inspections are crucial to identifying potential leaks, water damage, or structural issues. And during winter, it’s especially important to pay extra attention to your roof. Heavy snow, ice accumulations, and freezing temperatures can cause extensive damage to your roof surface, leading to costly repairs or even roof replacements. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why winter roof inspections are essential, how to locate leaks quickly, and the best way to shovel snow off your roof to avoid any damage.

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Disclaimer: This article is meant to be a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or expertise. While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the content, it is important to use this information only as a starting point. For more detailed information and guidance regarding roof inspections in winter weather, please contact Advance Roofing LLC at We are always delighted to help! Furthermore, Advance Roofing LLC has proudly served the Spokane, WA area with top-notch roofing solutions for years. 

Types of Roofs to Inspect in the Winter 

During the winter season, it is crucial to inspect different types of roofs for potential damage caused by harsh winter weather conditions. The type of roof, surface, slope, and material all affect its durability and ability to withstand winter elements. 

  • Flat roofs, for example, are more prone to water accumulation that may lead to leaks, while low-slope roofs may experience ice dams that can cause structural damage. 
  • Metal roofs tend to expand and contract in response to temperature changes, which could result in warping or loosening of the material. 
  • Other types of roofs that should be inspected during winter months include those made of shingles and those with roof valleys. Shingles can crack or break under heavy snow loads, leading to leaks and water damage. Similarly, roof valleys are susceptible to water accumulation and can pose a threat to the roof’s structural integrity. 

Regular winter roof inspections are essential in preventing costly repairs and ensuring that buildings are up to code and safe. Professional roofing companies can assist in identifying any signs of damage and provide advice on repairs or replacements. By staying ahead of the potential damage caused by winter weather, property owners can ensure that their roofs will last for years to come. 

Pre-Inspection Prep 

Before heading to the roof for a winter inspection, it’s important to prepare and gather necessary items to ensure safety. 

  • Firstly, check the weather forecast and choose a day when conditions are dry and calm.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather, including sturdy footwear with non slip soles and warm clothing. 
  • Next, gather the necessary equipment like a ladder, safety harness, and roofing boots with special traction. 
  • It’s wise to have a partner present to assist with the inspection and safety measures. 
  • Additionally, be sure to bring a notebook or camera to document any signs of potential leaks or damage spotted during the inspection. 

Taking these pre-inspection steps will help ensure a thorough and safe roof inspection. Safety Precautions 

When it comes to inspecting roofs in the winter, safety should always come first. Before you start any inspections, it’s important to take necessary precautions to prevent accidents or injuries. Here are some safety tips to consider: 

  1. Secure Yourself with Proper Safety Equipment: Always wear a harness, ropes, and lifelines while working on a roof, especially if it’s slippery or steep. This will help you avoid falling and suffering serious injuries. 
  2. Hire a Professional with Proper Training: If you’re not a professional, don’t attempt to inspect your roof on your own. Instead, it’s better to hire a roofing professional with proper training and equipment to handle inspections. 
  3. Avoid Climbing Ladders: Slippery or icy conditions can make ladders unstable and risky to climb. It’s better to stay off the ladder altogether and use other methods for inspections. 
  4. Keep Away from Potential Dangers: Avoid areas on the roof where there might be lead based paint, asbestos, or black mold. These hazards can be detrimental to your health and should be handled by professionals. 

Taking these precautions will help ensure a safe roof inspection in the winter. Remember to prioritize your safety and leave the job to the professionals if you’re unsure about handling inspections on your own. 

Necessary Equipment

Necessary Equipment

A proper winter roof inspection requires specific equipment to ensure safety and accuracy. Here are some necessary tools that you’ll need: 

  1. Ladder – A sturdy ladder is essential for accessing the roof and carrying out a thorough inspection. The ladder should be tall enough to reach the roof’s surface, and it should be secured to ensure stability. 
  2. Gloves – Gloves are crucial to protect your hands from sharp edges, splinters, and other hazards. Inspectors should wear gloves that provide a good grip to avoid slipping on wet surfaces.
  3. Tape Measure – A tape measure is necessary to measure the dimensions of different roof areas and identify potential leaks. It helps to record the measurements for future reference and any inspection reports. 
  4. Flashlight – You’ll need a good quality flashlight to illuminate dark areas and reach crevices and corners of the roof. Inspectors should use a powerful and durable flashlight that illuminates the entire roof surface. 
  5. Safety Equipment – It’s essential to have safety equipment such as harnesses, lifelines, and ropes while working on a roof. This will help prevent falls and serious injuries in case of accidents. Inspectors must ensure that their safety equipment is in good condition and working correctly. 

Make sure to have all necessary equipment before performing winter roof inspections. This will ensure efficiency and safety while enabling the inspector to identify any potential damage or leaks quickly. 

Weather Conditions to Avoid

Weather Conditions to Avoid roof damage

As a homeowner or property manager, it’s essential to keep an eye on weather conditions and their potential impact on your roof. While modern roofing materials are designed to withstand harsh weather, certain conditions can still cause significant damage or even lead to roof collapse. Here are some weather conditions to avoid and how they can affect your roof: 

  1. Heavy Snowfall – Heavy snow can accumulate on a roof and add weight to the structure, causing it to collapse. Snow can also cause water damage when it melts and seeps into the roof’s surface, leading to leaks and potential structural damage. It’s important to remove snow from a roof during and after a storm to avoid costly repairs. 
  2. Icy Conditions – Ice accumulation on a roof can cause severe damage, especially for flat or low-sloped roofs. The ice can expand and contract, leading to cracks and leaks. Additionally, ice dams can form, preventing meltwater from draining correctly and causing water to back up under the roof’s surface. Heated cables or regular inspection and maintenance by a roofing professional can prevent ice accumulation. 
  3. High Winds – Strong winds can lift shingles and cause them to fly off, exposing the roof’s underlayment and leading to leaks. Additionally, falling branches or other debris can cause significant damage to a roof during high wind events. 
  4. Hailstorms – Hail can cause dents, cracks, and punctures in roofing materials, leading to leaks and potential structural damage. After a hailstorm, it’s essential to inspect the roof for any signs of damage and make necessary repairs promptly. 
  5. Excessive Heat – Extreme heat can cause roofing materials to expand and contract, leading to cracking and other types of damage. Over time, this can cause the roof to deteriorate and require costly repairs or replacements. 

It’s crucial to be aware of weather conditions that can impact your roof and take necessary precautions to prevent damage.  

Locations of Inspection

During the winter months, it is important to inspect several locations on your roof to ensure it is in good condition and can withstand harsh winter weather. 

  • Firstly, check for any surface damage, such as cracks or missing shingles, as this can lead to leaks and further damage to the roof. 
  • Secondly, look for any debris on the roof, such as branches or leaves, and clear them away to prevent clogging of the gutters and drainage issues. 
  • Inspecting flashing around the chimneys, vents, and skylights is also crucial since it prevents water from entering the roof at the joints. 
  • Additionally, check rooftop units and equipment, such as HVAC systems and ventilation units, for any damage or leaks. Interior inspections can also be conducted to look for any signs of water damage or leaks, such as stains on the ceiling. 
  • Finally, inspect stairs or access ways, ensuring that they are clear of debris and safe to use during snowy or icy conditions. 

Thoroughly checking these areas for any signs of damage or deterioration and making necessary repairs promptly can help prevent costly repairs or replacements in the future, ensuring your roof is in good condition and can withstand the winter weather. 

Areas of Interest 

Winter is a crucial time to inspect the roof of your home or business, especially after heavy snowfall. The weight of snow and ice can cause significant structural damage, which can lead to costly repairs if not detected early. Here are the essential areas that should be inspected: 

  1. Roof valleys: These are the areas where the roof slopes meet, and they are prone to accumulating snow and ice. Inspecting roof valleys ensures that they are clear of any debris or blockages that may obstruct the flow of water, which can lead to leaks and potential damage. 
  2. Roof vents: These are openings on the roof that provide ventilation for attics and crawl spaces. Inspecting roof vents ensures that they are sealed and free of any debris that may cause clogging, which can lead to ventilation problems and ice dams. 
  3. Sloped roof: The slope of the roof is crucial in preventing water from pooling and causing damage. Inspecting the slope ensures that it is even and free of any damage that may cause water to accumulate. 
  4. Flat roofs: Flat roofs are more susceptible to water damage as water can accumulate easily. Inspecting flat roofs ensures that there are no standing water or debris, which can lead to leaks and potential structural damage. 
  5. Entire roof: Inspecting the entire roof ensures that there are no potential leaks or signs of wear and tear. It’s essential to inspect the roof regularly and especially after heavy snowfall to detect any damage early on.

During the Inspection Process 

During the inspection process, several important factors need to be considered to ensure that your roof is in good condition and ready to withstand the harsh winter weather. Finding and fixing potential leaks, identifying signs of wear and tear, assessing the structural integrity of the roof, and monitoring any accumulation of snow and ice are just a few key elements of a comprehensive roof inspection. These steps not only prevent costly repairs but also ensure the safety of your home and family. In this section, we will discuss in detail how to identify leaks in your roof, the best practices for shoveling snow off your roof, and the importance of regular roof inspections during the winter months. 

Signs of Damage from Snow and Ice

Signs of Damage from Snow and Ice

The winter season can be tough on roofs, especially when it comes to snow and ice. 

  • One of the most obvious signs of roof damage caused by snow and ice is sagging ceilings. The weight of the accumulated snow or ice can cause the roof structure to weaken, which then puts pressure on the ceilings, causing them to sag. 
  • Another sign of damage is severe roof leaks. When too much snow or ice accumulates on the roof, it can cause leaks to develop. These leaks can lead to water damage, which can eventually lead to mold growth. 
  • Cracks in walls or masonry are also signs of snow and ice damage. As the weight of the snow or ice accumulates on the roof, it puts pressure on the exterior walls of the building, which can cause cracks to form. 
  • Popping and cracking noises can also indicate damage. If you hear these noises coming from the roof, it could be a sign that the weight of the snow or ice is causing the roof structure to weaken. 

It’s important to be aware of these signs of damage and to address them right away. Snow and ice damage can lead to costly repairs if not addressed in a timely manner. If you suspect that your roof has been damaged by snow and ice, it’s best to contact a professional roofing company to assess the damage and recommend the best course of action. 

Structural Damage or Deterioration Caused by Snowfall Weight

Winter weather can have a significant impact on the structural integrity of a roof. 

  • Heavy snowfall can cause damage or deterioration to a roof by adding stress and weight to its structure. The weight of snow puts added pressure on the roof, which can be particularly dangerous for flat roofs. This pressure can cause the roof to sag, leading to structural damage and leaks. 
  • Different types of roofs can also be affected differently by snow weight. For example, metal roofs tend to handle snow weight better than flat
  • roofs. However, even with a sloped roof, snow can accumulate in the valleys, leading to a higher concentration of weight in specific areas. 
  • Heavy snowfall can also cause damage to a roof’s surface, including the shingles, vents, and gutters. Additionally, the freeze and thaw cycle can lead to ice dams, which can create leaks and cause moisture damage inside the home. 

It is important to regularly inspect your roof for signs of damage or deterioration caused by heavy snowfall. Signs of wear and tear to look out for include visible cracks or splits in shingles, leaks or water spots, and signs of water damage in the attic or ceiling. Catching these potential issues early can help prevent costly repairs down the line. 

Detecting Leaks and Moisture Buildup 

Winter roof inspection is crucial to prevent costly repairs caused by leaks and moisture buildup on the roof. One effective way to detect leaks is through a flood test. To perform a flood test, flood a section of the roof with water and add a pigment to the water to trace the leak’s path. Follow the dye trail to identify the location of the leak. 

Be sure to also check attics and crawlspaces for wet, moist, and rotting wood, as these are signs of a roof leak. Follow the water marks and trail of dye to locate the leak source. Remember to also check for mold and mildew as these are indicators of moisture buildup. 

To prevent future leaks and moisture buildup, make sure to regularly check and maintain roofing materials, such as shingles and flashing. Additionally, ensure adequate ventilation and insulation in attics and crawlspaces to prevent condensation and ice dams. 

By following these steps, homeowners can identify and address any leaks or moisture buildup on their roof promptly and avoid costly repairs in the future. 

Identifying Weaknesses from Icicles and Ice Dams 

During winter months, ice dams and icicles can form on the roof surface, potentially causing damage to the roof structure. 

  • To identify weaknesses caused by icicles and ice dams, start by visually inspecting the roof surface for hanging icicles and ice buildup. These can indicate areas where ice dams have formed and water is not able to properly drain off the roof. 
  • Additionally, check for water damage inside the home, such as water stains on ceilings or walls. This can be a sign that melting snow and ice is penetrating the roof and causing water damage. 
  • Ice dams can also cause damage to the roof itself. Look for signs of wear or weakness, such as warped or cracked shingles, bent gutters, or damage to roof vents.

To prevent ice dams and their associated damage, ensure proper ventilation and insulation in the attic space to prevent heat buildup and melting of snow on the roof surface. Additionally, consider installing heated cables or a snow rake to remove ice and snow buildup from the roof surface. Regular roof inspections by a professional can help identify and address weaknesses before they cause costly damage. 

Post-Inspection Analysis & Recommendations

Post-Inspection Analysis & Recommendations

After conducting a thorough winter roof inspection, the next critical step is post inspection analysis and recommendations. This involves the compilation and analysis of data obtained from the inspection process to identify areas of damage or potential problems. 

The first step in this process is to create a comprehensive inspection report that outlines all findings and recommendations. The report should include a damage assessment that highlights areas of structural damage, leaky roofs, signs of water damage, and signs of wear and tear. 

Based on the damage assessment, the report should suggest appropriate repair recommendations, preventative maintenance, and long-term solutions. These recommendations should be specific to the type of roofing material and the severity of the damage, and they should take into consideration the building codes and regulations. 

It is essential to prioritize the identified areas of damage and recommend immediate repairs. These repairs should be followed by preventative maintenance to ensure that the roof is in optimal condition and can prevent future damage. 

Post-inspection analysis and recommendations are crucial to maintain a roof’s integrity. The inspection report should provide a clear and concise summary of all findings and suggest appropriate actions to be taken to ensure the roof’s longevity. 


In conclusion, it is important to conduct a winter roof inspection to prevent costly repairs in the future. By checking for signs of damage and weaknesses, such as icicles, ice dams, water stains, and warped shingles, homeowners can identify any problems before they become too serious. Additionally, proper ventilation and insulation in attics and crawlspaces should be maintained to help prevent moisture buildup and ice dams. Regular inspections by a professional are recommended to ensure that roofs remain in optimal condition throughout the winter. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Roof Inspection

What should I do if my roof has been damaged by wet snow?

If you suspect that your roof has been damaged by the weight of wet snow, it is important to contact a roof repair specialist or roofing contractor. They can assess the damage and make necessary repairs before more expensive repairs are needed.

How much snow should I remove from my roof?

Generally, it is recommended that homeowners remove at least six inches of snow from their roofs. This will help reduce the risk of costly repairs due to ice dams or other damage caused by heavy snow accumulation.

What tools are best for removing snow from roofs?

Roof rakes are the most common tool used for removing snow from roofs. The rake helps to evenly distribute the weight of the snow and prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. It is important to be careful when using a roof rake as too much force could cause damage to your shingles or gutter system.