Enemies of Your Roof – 13 Things You Need to Avoid

Roof enemies - raccoon

Most people know it’s important to replace your roof every so often and that you should clean your gutters, but you might not know why these things are so important – until you start to see evidence all around, or worse, inside your home.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with common roof enemies so you can avoid more costly repairs down the road.

Here are roof enemies you need to avoid:

  1. Debris and BranchesLeaves in gutters
    There are three ways your tree branches may be hurting your roof:

    • Scraping branches
      If you have branches hanging low enough to scrape the shingles, it means they are scraping away important parts of the roof. Maintain your trees so you don’t have to keep maintaining your roof.
    • Mold growth
      Low hanging branches, especially if they’re dead – create more of an opportunity for mold growth onto your roof.
    • Leaves
      If you have enough branches to dump a load of leaves into your gutters every fall, this can create water backup in the gutters leading to mold on your roof as well.
  2. AnimalsSquirrel on roof
    Mice, raccoons, squirrels, rats, birds, and bats often use roofs and attics for their nests. They enter through soffits and soffit vents, tearing at the surrounding material until they’ve made a big enough hole to enter. They can also remove shingles, bore through rotting wood, or use a chimney or gutter to get inside. Once a hole has been made, it becomes easier for water to enter and destroy wood and shingling.

    Attic access for animals can also mean destruction of your electrical wiring and interior wood as well. Routine inspection of your home – roof and attic space – is a must for the prevention of damage by animals.

  3. Moss and Algae
    Moss and Algae are often mistaken for mold or mildew – which is why it’s important to contact a professional. They are also different from each other in how they spread and grow. They require different procedures for removal.

    • Algae forms where moisture dwells on your roof’s surface. Coastal or humid climates are most conducive for algae growth. It protects itself from the sun’s UV rays by covering itself in dark pigment, hence the black color. It may begin as dark spots, but quickly forms dark streaks on your roof plane. Once you can see it, it’s been there for several months.

      Algae spores are carried by the wind and by animals and can spread from one rooftop to another. Although not physically damaging, algae can destroy the look of your roof if left too long.

    • moss-roofMoss gets watered through its leaves, unlike most plants which gather water through root systems. It tends to grow on north facing roof planes. Overhanging branches can encourage moss growth as they supply shade and drop debris that holds in moisture for moss to grow.

      Moss spreads similarly to algae but is actually detrimental to shingles, causing them to curl and lift – which can lead to shingles blowing off in high wind. The buildup of moss can cause water damage to the roof deck and inside leaks if it gets bad enough.

  4. HailHail from storm in Highland, MI 2014
    The damage hail can do may be obvious. This article shows what hail can do: Hail: A Roof’s Worst Enemy – What You Need to Know.
  5. High Winds
    Forceful wind can hurt a roof, especially if it has been compromised by any of the other factors we list here. Here’s some more information about what you can do for your roof in high winds: How to Prepare Your Roof for Strong Winds.
  6. Snow and Ice
    Snow and ice can create a problem for your roof – and your house – if your house is not properly insulated. If you don’t have a proper barrier in your attic, you’ll be losing warm air out of the top of your house. When the warm air hits snow sitting on your roof, it melts the underside, causing water to trickle down between the layers of snow and shingles until it reaches the eaves.

    The eaves stay cold because they extend away from the house. The water trickling down freezes and grows into a mound of ice. The flatter the pitch of your roof, the easier it is for an ice dam to form. Gutters can trap snow and ice and create a foundation for this buildup.

  7. Sunshine
    It might seem like the most basic thing, and different types of roofing material are made to withstand different types of direct heat, but most tiles will dry out and lose their flexibility over time because of the constant exposure to sunlight.

    Roofing tiles are made with oils. This is good for the many different types of weather your roof will encounter, but the sun is the single most damaging thing to the oils, causing them to dry. It also constantly tears away at the weather-proofing chemicals put into roofing tiles. Once the weather-proofing is gone, tiles start to dissolve.

  8. Shingle Wear and Tear
    Weak and crumbling tiles can be disastrous to the main structure of your roof and house.
  9. Roof Punctures and Penetrations
    Obviously, holes and tears through the tiles and structure of your roof need to be dealt with right away before any of the above problems start to get worse: animals, water damage, etc.
  10. Rain / Clogged Gutters
    There are a few ways simple rain can hurt your house if you haven’t kept up with cleaning your gutters:

    • Foundation damage
      Rain can damage your home’s foundation if your gutters are clogged and not working properly. Gutters are made to siphon water away from the foundation, but if they aren’t doing their job, water sits near the house either causing damage there or encouraging mold buildup.
    • Wood damage
      The boards holding the gutter system are often made of wood. If wet leaves are sitting against them, this causes them to rot. Clogged gutters can also allow water to escape the roof down the sides of the house, possibly causing damage to any wood used in the structure of your home.
    • Ice Dams
      As mentioned above, gutters can become a foundation for an ice dam on your roof in winter. This can happen more often if they are clogged with leaves and debris.
  11. Missing or Torn Shingles
    Missing or torn shingles need to be replaced to prevent some of the issues mentioned above from affecting the rest of your home.
  12. Condensation
    Any time warm, moist air meets a cold roof, condensation will form. In areas of the country with more heating days per year, this is especially pertinent. Water always spells trouble for wood and building materials. It’s best to have a proper barrier between hot and cold air. Going too long without can cause damage to your home.
  13. Lack of Roof Maintenance or Poor Installation
    This may go without saying, but as you can see, lack of roof maintenance can cause real problems for your entire home. Your roof and the surrounding areas need to be checked and maintained regularly or you may be vulnerable to animals, leaks, ice dams, mold or a host of other problems.

    It can be a headache to correct the improper installation someone else did on your roof, but it will be an investment worth your time and money. Sometimes, by correcting a roof improperly installed, you can do away with the hassle of so much maintenance every year.


Familiarizing yourself and avoiding these 13 common roof enemies will help you minimize potential roofing problems. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. We’re here to help.

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