Is My Roof Leaking or Do I Have an Ice Jam?

At this time of year, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to fluctuate from day to day. If there is any precipitation, this can lead to a cycle of thawing and refreezing. You may notice leaks inside your home and assume your roof is leaking.

But here’s a general rule of thumb – if you didn’t have a leaking problem during the rains last summer or fall, there is a good chance you have an ice jam, and not a leaky roof.

We have shared this information with you before, but we think it is worth revisiting. If you have an ice jam or an ice backup, you may be seeing water on the ceiling, typically in a bathroom. Frost can develop on the plumbing stack when the temperatures fall below freezing, and the heat from a shower can rise and melt that frost. This can lead to water marks on the ceiling, raising concerns about leaking roofs.

The problem is not a leaking roof, but more likely an issue with improper attic insulation and soffit ventilation. Inadequate insulation not only allows heat to escape your house, but may also be contributing to the leaking problems.


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Soffit vents that have become plugged with things like insulation, paint, debris, or cotton from trees will begin to act like a vacuum, sucking in moisture from snow that has accumulated. This can lead to the development of an ice jam or ice backup. It’s important to keep vents clear, and ensure your attic is properly insulated in order to prevent ice jams from forming.

Keep in mind, if your roof wasn’t leaking before winter it is probably not leaking now, and the water you see in your home if likely caused by an ice jam or backup. If you are concerned, give us call!