Leaking roofs are a common annoyance in the winter, especially in areas that receive a lot of snow. All you need is one warm day, and the 2 feet of snow on your roof can turn to water and find its way into any hole or gaps. Though common, roof leaks do not have to be a fact of life in the winter. By properly preparing your home before the cold weather hits, you can significantly reduce your chance of a leak.
Check for missing shingles—they're not always obvious.
You can't always see missing shingles from the ground. On a nice day, have a friend hold your ladder steady as you climb up to take a thorough look at the roof. Look particularly along ridges and corners. If you spot any missing shingles, call the roofing company sooner rather than later. Once your roof is covered in snow, it will be a lot harder to repair.
Make sure your flashing is secure and in good repair.
Flashing is the metal that surrounds joints and ridges on your roof. You'll see it around chimneys and in roof corners. If you're comfortable climbing on the roof yourself, make sure your flashing is tightly attached and that it's not bulging or peeling away from the roof. If you're not comfortable climbing on the roof, it may be worth your while to have a roofing company come examine your shingles and flashing at least every couple of years, so you can avoid problems before they occur.
Make sure your attic vents are not blocked.
In order to make sure your attic does not become too warm and cause the snow on your roof to melt unevenly, most attics have vents. There are several types of ventilation systems, ranging from simple soffit vents underneath the roof eaves to ridge vents that run the length of the attic. Locate your vents and make sure they are not blocked by insulation or other materials. Blocking the vents could cause your attic to become warm, which would cause snow to melt and trickle towards the edges of the roof, forming ice dams that can work their way under shingles and cause leaks.
Check for moist spots in the attic.
While you're up in the attic looking for vents, keep your eyes open for any moist spots. If you do find a spot, make a note of its location, and check the roof for any structural defects. If you're unable to find and fix the source of the leak on your own, contact a roofing company. It's easier and less expensive to take care of the problem now than after 15 gallons of water have leaked in during spring.
When you live in an area with heavy snowfall, your roof forms a barrier between you and the precipitation. Take the time to make sure it's in good repair, and it will be better able to serve you.