Roof leaks are not uncommon, but they can be a real pain for homeowners who must deal with the aftermath of costly repairs. Many factors can cause leaky roofs and ceilings, especially during rainy seasons. Some instances are more common than others. It is crucial to identify them before the damage is too extensive to be dealt with by an easy fix. Select Renovations has been fixing leaky roofs in Fraser, Detroit, and other locations around Michigan for decades. We know what damages your roofing systems and how to fix them in the most efficient way possible. That is why we’ve developed this guide about the ten most common causes of roof leaks. In this post, we’ll discuss how damaged shingles, problems with flashing, clogged gutters, poor ventilation, and other factors can contribute to roof damage.

Read ahead to learn more about roof leaks, how to prevent them, and how Select Renovations can help with your roof repair issues.

The Usual Culprits Cause Common Roof Leaks

When you think about water damage on your roof, you usually consider the usual causes, like ice dams, bad weather, and broken shingles. These factors are, in fact, some of the most common causes of roof issues. Below, we’ll discuss the common causes of potential roof leaks beyond storm damage, hail, and other weather-related factors.


Weathering & Age of Roof

The older the roof, the more likely it is to develop some damage. Detroit has diverse weather conditions and temperature fluctuations that may deteriorate your roofing system over time. When they’re exposed to damaging environmental factors like intense sunlight and heavy rain, your roof will degrade. As certified roofers, we see it all the time in shingle and metal roofing in businesses and residential properties all over Metro Detroit.

The damage can manifest as cracking, brittleness, shingle curling, and even loss of granules in asphalt shingles. Detroit summers are hot and humid, and winters come with freezing temperatures. That intense heat or heavy snowfalls subject roofs to stress and accelerate aging.

We’ve seen roofs that have sustained much damage over a 25-year span. Others begin to crack and weather in half the time when they’re not properly installed. To prevent these issues, regularly inspecting and addressing signs of damage early can prevent issues from escalating in both commercial and residential roofing.


Missing or Damaged Shingles

Damaged shingles that eventually tear or fall off your roof are among the most common causes of roof leaks. In a city like Detroit, it’s particularly common because of high winds, snow, and hailstorms. In 2023, we were exposed to a hail storm that damaged thousands of roofs throughout the city. Select Renovation got to work fixing vulnerable spots and leaks for clients all over the Metropolitan Area.

When shingles are missing or compromised, they leave vulnerable spots that cause water infiltration. It can lead to even more issues like rot, mold growth, and damage to roofing membranes. The last thing any homeowner needs is a collapsing roof in their hands.

Missing shingles will expose your ceiling and other underlying structures to the elements. Water will penetrate your roof deck and damage the sheathing, underlayment, and insulation systems. Inspecting your roof after severe weather or if you find any visibly missing roof tiles or damaged shingle pieces is necessary to prevent a catastrophe.


Flashing Issues

Flashing is all about keeping your roof watertight and proofed. Your roof flashing is typically made of metal and durable materials that divert water from vulnerable areas like your chimney, vents, skylights or roof windows, and dormers. If water infiltrates your roof, these materials will direct them away from seams and joints. When flashing deteriorates, it can lead to leaks because it’s been exposed to the elements or hasn’t been properly installed.

You can identify problem areas in your flashing if you spot visible corrosion, cracking and splitting, or lifting or detachment. Flashing that doesn’t extend far enough or doesn’t provide full coverage makes your roof vulnerable. It’s one of our priority points when building and fixing roofs. We also make sure to properly seal it to prevent water from seeping.

Regularly inspecting your roof, especially after severe weather, using reliable roofing contractors, and properly maintaining your flashing can save you from future headaches. Don’t fix your roof until water stains appear; prevent problems before they happen.


Poor Installation

Not every roofing contractor is created equal. Professional and serious companies like Select Renovations stay updated with industry trends and installation techniques. We use high-quality materials that prevent problems like premature deterioration and structural damage. When hiring a roofing company, they must guarantee your roof’s longevity. A roofing system has to last against diverse weather conditions like snowfalls, winds, and temperature changes is essential.

Poor installation problems that cause leaks are related to the following:

  • Improper fastening of roofing materials
  • Inadequately sealing flashing, vents, and chimneys
  • Improper installation of roof pitches and slopes
  • Incorrect installation of roofing nails to fasten shingles
  • Using mismatched roofing materials or combining incompatible products
  • Sloppy or rushed techniques used during installation
  • Improper attic ventilation that leads to excess moisture
  • Incorrectly installed gutters or wrong roofing materials

Ice Dams and Water Damage

Water damage and ice dams can cause serious holes in your roofing. When water accumulates, and gutters can’t redirect flow off the roof, it becomes stagnant and damages adjacent structures. Ice dam buildups are also common concerns for Detroit homeowners. The heat from the interior of a building causes snow to melt. The water refreezes and creates a barrier or dam of ice along the roof edge. This also causes water backup under shingles.

The formation of an ice dam on your roof can be attributed to inadequate insulation and ventilation, damage or holes in your roof pitch, continuous sun exposure, and snow accumulation. Water infiltration caused by ice dams can cause multiple roof leaks, severely damaging your home if left unaddressed.


Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

Another very common issue is clogged gutters and downspouts. It’s one of the most frequent reasons we get called for roof leak repairs in our 25 years of operating in the Metro Detroit area. During periods of heavy rainfall, water tends to accumulate when gutters are blocked by debris. Leaves, twigs, dirt, and ice accumulating in downspouts and gutters prevent proper drainage. Since water is not derailed properly, it eventually damages adjacent roofing areas.

Several factors contribute to the formation of clogged gutters and downspouts, including:

  • Leaves from surrounding trees that accumulate in the gutters, especially if they’re not regularly cleaned
  • Other debris in gutters, like twigs, pine needles, and small branches that accumulate over time
  • Improperly installed gutters without a slope or pitch that don’t allow water to flow to downspouts


In cold weather, condensation is a concern when warm, humid air meets cold surfaces in your home. Insufficient ventilation, insulation, and air sealing can worsen condensation problems, increasing moisture buildup and potential damage to materials and air quality.

Several factors contribute to condensation in buildings, including:

  • High humidity levels from indoor activities like cooking, showering, and laundry that produce moisture vapor
  • Temperature fluctuations, especially in places like Michigan
  • Inadequate ventilation in bathrooms, kitchens, and other high-moisture areas
  • Poor insulation in exterior walls, roofs, and attics that allows warm indoor air to come into contact with cold surfaces
  • Air leaks around windows, doors, and skylights that allow warm, humid air to infiltrate

Condensation can cause more than a skylight leak. The consequences can be significant. When there’s too much condensation in your home, it can become vulnerable to mold growth and more water damage.

Lack of maintenance and proper upkeep can make condensation issues more significant.


Roofing Punctures

Punctures are much more common during severe weather events like hailstorms. They can also be caused by foot traffic, falling debris, or poor installation techniques. When there’s a puncture on your roof, it creates openings that leave it vulnerable to water infiltration. In Detroit, MI, where extreme weather conditions such as heavy snowfall, hailstorms, and strong winds are common, punctures pose a significant risk to the integrity of roofing systems.

Look out for punctures on your roof if your home has experienced any of the following:

  • A severe weather event like a thunderstorm, tornado, or a hailstorm
  • Falling debris from overhanging tree branches, satellite dishes, HVAC equipment, or other objects near the roof
  • Recent foot traffic from maintenance workers, contractors, or a family member accessing the roof for repairs

Rot and Decay

Rot and decay in roofs are major worries for Detroit homeowners and building owners, especially in areas with high humidity and exposure to moisture from rain, snow, and condensation. These conditions promote the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause damage to wood, sheathing, insulation, and other roof components.

Decay in roofing materials can be caused by water infiltration through leaks, punctures, or inadequate waterproofing. Wood, insulation, and other porous materials absorb the water and begin to rot. It can also be caused by inadequate ventilation, accumulation of debris, and excessive humidity.

Preventing rot and decay in roofing materials requires proactive measures and regular maintenance.


Chimney Damage

Chimney problems are issues we frequently see in Detroit. They are caused by age, weather, neglect, and settling. The chimney is crucial for venting a home’s fireplaces, stoves, furnaces, or water heaters. Damage to the chimney can weaken its structure, creating safety risks, leaks, and energy waste.

Chimney damage can be attributed to many factors, including:

  • Harsh weather conditions like rain, snow, ice, and freeze-thaw cycles. They can cause deterioration of masonry materials over time.
  • Shifting or settling of the chimney structure that causes cracks, leaning, or separation from the roofline,
  • Excessive creosote buildup. This increases the risk of chimney fires and can cause damage to the interior lining, mortar joints, and chimney cap.
  • Lack of regular chimney maintenance, such as cleaning, roofing inspections, and repairs. This contributes to chimney damage and deterioration.
  • Failure of flashing or sealant around the chimney base, roofline, or chimney cap

FAQ Overview

We’ll condense and answer all your roof questions related to leaks below:

What is the most common cause of roof leaks?

The most common cause of roof leaks is damaged or missing shingles. Shingles can deteriorate over time due to exposure to sunlight, extreme weather, and aging. When shingles become cracked, curled, or loose, they create openings that allow water to penetrate the roof’s protective barrier, leading to leaks.

Where do most roof leaks come from?

Most roof leaks originate from areas where the roofing material is compromised or damaged. This includes missing or damaged shingles, deteriorated flashing around roof penetrations (such as chimneys, vents, and skylights), improperly sealed seams on flat roofs, and clogged gutters or downspouts that cause water backup.

How do I find the source of a leak in my roof?

To find the source of a roof leak, start by inspecting the interior of your home for water stains, dampness, or mold growth on ceilings, walls, and attic spaces. Once you’ve identified the leak’s general location, examine the roof’s exterior for signs of damage, such as missing or damaged shingles, deteriorated flashing, or cracked sealant around roof penetrations.

What part of the roof is most likely to leak?

The most vulnerable parts of the roof where leaks are likely to occur include areas around roof penetrations. Chimneys, vents, skylights, and roof valleys are common areas with damaged or missing shingles. Flat roofs are also prone to leaks at seams and around rooftop equipment.

Do you need a roofing contractor to repair your roof?

While homeowners can sometimes do minor roof repairs with basic DIY skills, it’s often best to hire a professional roofing contractor for roof leak repairs. Select Renovations has the expertise, experience, and safety equipment needed to properly diagnose the cause of the leak and perform effective repairs that ensure the integrity of the roof system.

Hiring a contractor also reduces the risk of injury and ensures that repairs are done correctly to prevent future roof leaks.


If you have a roof leak, chances are you found the most common causes listed above. One of them is the culprit for those water stains and leaky ceilings. Constantly maintaining and inspecting your roof for problems, especially after severe weather fluctuations, will prevent leaks from completely destroying your roof. While missing and damaged shingles are the most common cause of roof leaks, they can also be attributed to issues like flashing problems, rot and decay, and clogged gutters.

For roof leak repairs, call Select Renovations and schedule an appointment with us. We’ll inspect your property and provide a solution for your roofing system.