Roof leaks can be one of the worst homeowner nightmares. Hearing that dripping sound during rainy days, seeing discolored patches on the ceiling or dripping down your walls, or feeling a droplet of water on your head while relaxing at home really makes your day-to-day feel like a headache. Discovering these signs will raise concerns about the state of your roof, especially when you’ve failed to identify why your roofing system is damaged. Thankfully, roof leaks are fixable, and the most common causes of a leaking roof can be addressed by the right roofers with decades of knowledge and experience in construction. 

This article will discuss the five most common causes of a leaking roof, how to identify them, and when to call a roofing company or expert like Select Renovations to fix your leaky ceiling and prevent further damage to your home’s integrity. We aim to give you the proper tips to identify potential issues needing immediate attention. Read ahead to learn more about this topic.

Key Takeaways

  • The five leading causes of roof leaks are weather damage, improper installation, animal damage, missing or damaged shingles, and poor ventilation in your attic or home. 
  • Weather-related damage like heavy rain, snow, and hail damage can severely crack your roof. Issues include worn-out seals, cracked shingles, and hail damage.
  • The quality of installation determines roof performance. Poor workmanship, incorrect flashing, and subpar materials contribute to leaks.
  • Animals like birds, squirrels, insects, and raccoons can damage roofs. Nesting materials, gnawing, and dislodging shingles are common issues that cause leaky roofing systems.
  • Cracked, loose, or missing shingles expose roofs to water infiltration.
  • Inadequate ventilation leads to condensation, mold, and ice dams, and excessive heat in the attic can deteriorate roofs, causing leaks and damage.

The Causes of Roof Leaks

Roof leaks are caused by several factors that are sometimes out of a homeowner’s control, like weather-related damage during rainy and snowy seasons, installation issues from previous contractors, or low-quality materials. Identifying the root cause will help you find a solution and make informed decisions when finding the right contractor or DIYing the task yourself. 

The five most common causes of leaky roofs in Michigan, according to our roofers at Select Renovations, are the following: 


1. Weather-Related Damage

Weather damage is the leading cause of leaky roofs and ceilings. Varying weather conditions, especially in areas like Detroit, Fraser, Macomb, and other surrounding cities in Michigan, can impact the structural integrity of your roofing system. Let’s have a closer look at the most common challenges imposed by harsh weather: 

  • Heavy Rain: Prolonged rainfall can threaten your roof, infiltrating vulnerable areas like worn-out seals and shingles. The duration and severity of rain can affect its integrity and exploit small, vulnerable areas on your roof. Water will leak through them, slowly infiltrate your ceiling, and wear it down until roof repairs are inevitable. 
  • Snow: Michigan is no stranger to snowfall and hail storms. When they accumulate on your roof, water can also infiltrate when it thaws. Frozen water can expand and contract and exploit openings in your roofing materials, which will then cause leaks.
  • Hail Damage: Hailstors are infrequent but can cause serious damage to your roof. They will create dents, cracks, and punctures, allowing water to seep. Signs of damage can include dented or cracked shingles, and addressing these issues quickly before they become more serious is crucial. 

2. Improper Installation

The quality of your roof installation process will determine its performance. Not all installations are created equal, and hiring unqualified roofers can lead to future issues like leaks and cracks. Some of the most common factors involving improper installation techniques include: 

  • Poor Workmanship: Inadequate attention to detail, taking shortcuts during installation to save money, and using low-quality materials can cause gaps and other issues. Improperly sealing the roof can also lead to leaks. Hiring roofing contractors with proven expertise and experience in the field is essential to avoid leaky roofs. 
  • Incorrect Flashing: Flashing is the material that roofers use to waterproof joints and intersections in your roofing. This material is critical for leak prevention, so when flashing is improperly installed around chimneys, vents, and other protrusions, it can create a vulnerable area for water to leak through. 
  • Subpar Materials: Cutting corners by purchasing low-quality materials is a recipe for disaster. Though cheaper, they become much more expensive in the long run and can lead to premature wear and tear, another leading cause of leaky roofs. Investing in high-quality, durable materials (like our Duro Last roofing for commercial properties) is a wise decision and investment for any property owner. 

3. Damage Caused by Animals

An overlooked cause of leaky roofing systems is animals. Creatures that look for shelter might choose your roofing to nest or burrow and cause unintentional damage like holes and broken shingles. Some common animals that injure your roofing include: 

  • Birds: Roofs are cozy, so birds will choose them as places to make nests. However, these nesting materials can clog your gutters and drainage system, accumulate water, and break your roofing. Visibly seeing these nests or finding droppings around your ceiling are signs of birds near your home, so it’s essential to keep your eyes peeled to prevent future damage. 
  • Squirrels and Rodents: Squirrels are natural climbers who will eventually find their way onto your roof. They can gnaw, scratch, and damage your roofing materials and create entry points for water that will eventually cause leaks. Trimming branches and limiting access points are ways to deter squirrels from accessing your roof. 
  • Insects and Termites: Ants, termites, and insects can severely damage your roofing. They will burrow into the wood and compromise its structure, which can lead to leaks and severe, extensive damage. Inspections and quickly addressing infestations will prevent long-term damage.  
  • Raccoons and Possums: Large animals like raccoons and possums can use your roof as a path or route between two points. They will dislodge shingles, damage your flashing, and eventually cause irreparable damage to your roofing, so eliminating food sources and inspecting your roof if you suspect animal activity can save you from future headaches. 

4. Damaged or Missing Shingles

Shingles are the primary defense that your roofing has against the elements. However, the risk of developing leaks increases significantly when they become compromised. Damage or missing shingles can impact your roofing in the following ways: 

  • Cracked Shingles: When your roof is exposed to harsh weather (like we discussed above), it can damage your shingles and cause them to crack over time. The constant battle of the summer heat, severe storms, and snowfalls will tear into your roof and cause openings that will lead to water infiltration. 
  • Loose or Missing Shingles: Strong Michigan winds, poor installation, and the natural aging process of your roofing can cause shingles to dislodge or fly away in their entirety. This makes your roof susceptible to water penetration, creating vulnerable spots and allowing rainwater to seep through the protective layers. 
  • Curling Shingles: Age, prolonged sunlight exposure, and improper installation can cause the edges of your shingles to curl. Curling shingles will expose vulnerable areas in your roofing and allow water to seep through the layers underneath. This accelerates shingle degradation and compromises the water-resistant barrier roofing systems that must be installed. 

5. Poor Ventilation

Ventilation is another one of those overlooked aspects of maintaining your roof. Improper or poor ventilation can lead to the formation of moisture-related issues that comprise the integrity of your entire home. Some ways in which ventilation can contribute to your leaky roof include: 

  • Condensation: Inadequate ventilation can cause condensation in your attic. When warm, moist air meets the cooler surfaces in the attic and condenses into water droplets. This will cause moisture buildup and lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which will cause your roof to decay. 
  • Ice Dams: In the colder months, improper ventilation in your home can lead to the formation of ice dams on your roof’s edge. It will melt when the weather turns warmer but refreeze at the colder eaves, creating these ice dams. They will trap melting snow and seep water into your roofing. 
  • Excessive Heat: In warmer climates, excessive heat accumulation in your attic and prolonged exposure to higher temperatures will deteriorate your roof, making it susceptible to leaks and damage. Facilitating air circulation and allowing heat to escape can prevent heat exposure issues on your roofing. 

Prevent Future Roof Leaks by Revising Their Causes

Issues like damaged shingles, holes on your roof, burrowing animals, poor ventilation, and harsh weather conditions can severely damage the integrity of your roofing system and are the most common causes of roof leaks. To prevent these issues, hiring professionals like the ones at Select Renovations for all your roofing work is essential. Why?

  • We provide emergency roofing solutions if your roof has damage that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
  • We are certified roof inspectors that will detect problems with your roofing before they cause further damage. 
  • Our pricing is transparent. We have been fixing and installing Detroit and Macomb County roofs for over twenty-five years! 
  • Our roof leak repair is the best in the Detroit Metro area. 

Call us today for a free estimate!