4 Main Causes of Winter Roof Leaks

Just like frost on your windows and road salt caking the underside of your car, winter roof leaks are a frustrating part of the colder months. However, unlike those other nuisances, commercial flat roof leaks over the winter can cause serious damage to your roof structure and your building altogether.

In some cases, winter conditions can cause your roof to leak ONLY in the winter but stay dry every other season. These winter roof leaks have just as much potential to cause large scale property damage to your business.

J. Smucker Contracting is your flat roof specialist — we’re here to provide flat roof repair and roof restorations in winter as well as provide you with the knowledge to identify and stop flat roof leaks during the cold months.

Why Your Flat Roof Leaks in the Winter

roof in need of patching

Your commercial roof stands up to heavy spring rains and summer storms while staying water tight. When the weather turns cold and the snow starts falling, that’s a different story. Winter weather creates a whole new set of environmental obstacles that can damage your roof.

Here are the 4 most common causes of winter roof leaks:

  1. Ice Dams — One of the most common causes of winter roof leaks, “ice dam” is the term for a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. Like any other type of dam, it blocks the natural flow of water — in this case, trapping the melted snow water on your roof. When an ice dam traps water on your roof, the water will find any small pinhole or seam voids and enter the building.
  2. Bad Seams — During any season, the seams on your roof are some of the most susceptible areas for water infiltration. If the seams between panels or between rolls of membrane are already faulty, winter will make them leak. You’ll especially see the bad seams on a roof leaking when the temperatures rise in the days following a heavy snowfall. This causes the snow to rapidly melt, which funnels the runoff into the faulty seams, causing serious winter roof leaks.
  3. Cracking in Roof Membrane — The membrane of your flat roof works hard year-round to keep the building watertight. However, winter can prove to be a difficult season for the membrane to survive. The consistent freezing and thawing cycle of winter puts stress on the membrane itself, causing cracking in older roofs and eventually leaks.
  4. Susceptible Flashings — An unexpected cause of winter roof leaks, flashings that are secure to rain can be susceptible to infiltration from blowing snow. Since drifting or blowing snow can move laterally, it can enter the flashing and then melt. This is often the culprit for fairly new and well-built roofs that leak only over the winter.

Learn more about the year-round leak signs you can find on your own.

Flat Roof Repair in Winter

flat roof damage

Since winter is one of the most likely seasons to stress your roof, you need good options for flat roof repair during the winter. J. Smucker Contracting has your back. While some of our signature roof sealing solutions are not available in colder temperatures, you absolutely can — and should — repair winter roof leaks as soon as you discover them.

In order to do any major work, you’ll need to wait for the snow to melt. Once it does, you can leverage one or more of these flat roof repair solutions.

  1. Rubber Patches — If a few isolated sections of your commercial roof are responsible for all of your winter roof leaks, rubber patches are some of your best solutions. These temporary patches prevent water infiltration through a weak spot in the surface of your roof.
  2. Cold Weather Sealant on Seams — If a roofing expert identifies that your seams are letting water in your roof, we can apply our special cold weather sealant. Specifically designed to bond in cold weather, this sealant should keep your seams dry for the rest of the winter.
  3. Drainage Inspection and Clearance — If debris or poor drainage are causing ice dams, the number one thing to do is rectify the drainage issues to keep your drains free of debris. This will allow the water to flow more easily off the roof to prevent ice dams from ever forming. This a common single day roof repair we offer.
  4. Full Roof Replacement — This isn’t the first choice, but if your roof has sustained too much damage from winter roof leaks, this might be the only option. We are able to perform a full roof tear-off and replacement during the winter.

J. Smucker Contracting to Solve Winter Roof Leaks

flat roof repair in winter

Whether you know you have a winter roof leak or you’re starting to discover the signs, we can help you identify and fix the problem. While some commercial roofers shy away from flat roof repair in winter, we don’t.

Contact us to schedule your consultation today.