Roof is not always to blame Cold winter weather can cause problems in your attic

March 26th 2014
Roof is not always to blame  Cold winter weather can cause problems in your attic

Folks, I have received many phone calls about roof leaks, which are not roof leaks at all. Let me explain.

Cold winter weather can take a toll on homeowners when they see water showing up on their ceilings and/or around light fixtures. They suspect a leak in the roof, only to find out after talking to me that there are other areas that should be checked.

During a cold snap, moist air can leak into the roof cavity through and around areas such as the attic access, plumbing pipes, wiring and the bathroom exhaust fan - if you have one.

What happens? The air being pushed or exhausted finds itself trapped in the roof cavity, meeting the cold areas, where high moisture (relative humidity) causes the air to condense and freeze into what's called an "ice dam". This ice can be protected by the attic insulation and remain there until warmer days cause it to melt.

When melting occurs, moisture can show up at a light fixture or along a drywall seams.

I have written before about the benefits of draftproofing your home. Unless you are inclined to be a do-ityourselfer, you should call in a professional to do this.

Home upgrades may be the cause of this ice damming. Such upgrades may include new high-efficiency furnaces or windows, and/or extra insulation. Other causes include a lack of draftproofing or no exhaust fans in bathroom or laundry rooms.

Do not jump to call in a roofer when you have moisture or water concerns showing up on your ceiling or indoor walls. It may not be the roof. Instead, wait to see if it continues or have your attic area checked by a professional.

In the future, I plan to have a seminar where you can learn more about this. Please watch my website for further information. I will have it posted soon.