How Winter Affects Your Roof

Red brick house with snow covering the ground, trees and house

Cincinnati winter weather is unpleasant at times and it can also be dangerous — not only to you, as you walk or drive through town, but to your roof. Learn how wind, ice, and snow affect your roof and ways to protect your roof from damage caused by harsh winter weather.


Over the course of a long winter, snow piles up on your roof. If snow piles gets too thick, they can exceed your roof’s weight bearing load. When this happens, the roof can sustain structural damage. Creaking sounds from the heavy snow load are the first indicators of excess roof strain. Cracks along the doors and windows are the next indicator. You need to take action if you see these signs to avoid a roof collapse.

Snow also becomes a problem when freeze-thaw cycles develop. When water expands and contracts it can cause structural damage to the roof.


Many homeowners worry about ice dams in winter. Ice dams develop when melted water cannot clear the roof line before it freezes again. Water may back up if the gutters are clogged, or when your gutters are frozen over.

Ice dams can become quite heavy, so there is a risk that they will tear the gutters away from the roof and cause structural damage. In some cases, ice dams can also harm the roof flashing. To prevent ice dams, have gutters cleaned in the fall. If ice dams are already present, use a liquid de-icer to thaw them before things get worse.


When the winter winds start to blow, they can cause shingles to come loose from the roof. Roof ridges and rakes are most susceptible to wind damage.

While you cannot prevent the wind from blowing, there are a few ways you can proactively protect your roof. First, always choose premium quality materials when replacing a roof. Second, have yard trees trimmed away from the roof so branches do not drag on the roof when they shake from wind. Third, get the roof inspected in fall and have any problems fixed before winter sets in.

With the right understanding and a little preventative maintenance, you can prevent most winter roofing problems. Brandstetter’s KangaRoof offers comprehensive roofing care throughout Cincinnati, and we’re here to help you and your roof make it through winter. To speak with a roofer or request an estimate, contact us.