I had a new roof installed this summer and I had trouble with my roofer (had several leaks). Now it's winter and it's been abnormally cold the last few days. When I put the Christmas decorations away, the pictures below greeted me.

There is a lot of frozen water on the bottom of all of the nails on one side of the house. There is also frozen condensation on many of the boards. The wood splintered in one area and you can see that there is a lot of frozen water on the roofing material.

I called my roofer and he tried to tell me this was a poor insulation problem. After I told him I have 18 inches of extra insulation, he tried to tell me ventilation instead. His argument (ventilation or insulation related) is all about condensation. No way it could be his fault.

As reference, the side of the house with the water currently has very little snow resting on it. The side with no water on the inside has a covering of about an inch of snow outside. Both sides of the roof get approximately the same amount of sun.

I need help. I have no idea if my roofer is lying to me. I have had a lot of trouble with this guy in the past and I do not trust him at all. So... is this normal? If it is abnormal, how do I get my roofer to take action? I talked to him on the phone and it's abundantly clear he thinks this is not his problem and has no plans to do anything about this. When I had the earlier leaks I had to show him a picture of a steady drip before he would do anything.

Please help!

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  • I see ventilation sleeves in some of your rafter bays... what other ventilation do you have in the attic? (Gable/ridge vents?) FWIW, that's pretty trivial condensation, as pictured. Jan 6, 2018 at 20:35
  • I have 2 gable vents and vents in the soffit. When the contractor put in the roof this summer, he added a new ridge vent that goes the length of the house.
    – Bob McNees
    Jan 6, 2018 at 20:40
  • Is it trivial to have the condensation on the wood and on the black roofing paper as well? That surprised me more than the condensation on the nails.
    – Bob McNees
    Jan 6, 2018 at 20:43
  • 1
    Do any bathroom fans or dryers vent into the attic? Any leaks in their ducting?
    – mmathis
    Jan 6, 2018 at 21:16
  • 1
    Regarding frost and condensation: you have an extremely cold exterior and relatively warm interior. The shot through nails are obvious conductors of cold, but the tarpaper (by merit of being close to the cold and completely uninsulated) is also a good conductor of cold. Those will readily turn free moisture into frost. 2 things I'd check: (a) that the rafter sleeves have some ventilation at the bottom, and (b) that you have foil tape on the joints of the bathroom ducting. Jan 6, 2018 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


I'm late to the game, but this is obviously frost due to condensation. Leaks would appear as icicles. I've witnessed this phenomenon personally in very cold climates, and it's often just the result of seasonal changes that leave moist air in place from warmer days.

You may have a ventilation deficiency, but there's no evidence of roof leaks here, at least what's visible in the photos. Of course, you could have a leak elsewhere that contributes water vapor.


I would put a nail in the roof A frame underside and see if I have that effect there just to satisfy the other comments about cold nail condensate (I don't buy into that). Just look at the wood itself - looks wet, and plenty of frozen condensate - something is not right with your roof.

I am sorry condensation and temperature differences - I have never seen any such thing on the interior of a roof - cold cold cold weather and nothing - think the inside of a car does not get this way - the outside does. You had several leaks - you still have leaks - I wonder if they insulated the roof with new paper / removed old shingles replaced bad boards etc.. . Get a second roofer to look at it - you will have better information from a pro.

Then you can talk to an attorney (free consult) after that you can talk to your roofer and explain you want it fixed or see him in court.

In short your roof is leaking..

  • Thanks! How can I objectively prove that there are leaks? Is there a tool or something that I can use? I'm hoping to take a measurement when the conditions are dry, and then take another measurement during a heavy rain (relatively warm so condensation can't be the cause).
    – Bob McNees
    Jan 8, 2018 at 22:19
  • @bMcNees - you can record your humidity levels over time, cold air is dryer - your insulation looks to be right above your ceiling and not on the underside of the roof. Your warm air is internal to the house, your cooler air is above that layer - so what is the temperature of the attic and the outside these two things I would document. As for determining a leak - you will need to catch that when it is above freezing, when water can actually run. If the issue was simply condensation; why don't all the nails frost especially when unfrosted is surrounded by frosted nails?????
    – Ken
    Jan 10, 2018 at 22:44

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