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Why Is my Rubber Roofing failing?

Date: November 18, 2023


In the unpredictable climate of Wisconsin, where extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions are the norm, rubber roofing, also known as EPDM roofing, has established itself as a dependable choice due to its remarkable durability and reliability. Nevertheless, even the sturdiest roofing material can encounter challenges in this environment.

These challenges often arise from inadequate initial installation practices or a lack of consistent maintenance. Fortunately, for property owners looking to protect their investments, these issues associated with rubber roofing are not insurmountable hurdles. By dedicating yourself to meticulous care and taking prompt actions when needed, you can effectively address these concerns and establish proactive measures to ensure your rubber roof endures the test of time.

One of the most prevalent challenges faced by rubber roofs in the state of Wisconsin is the emergence of leaks. These leaks can be attributed to a range of factors, and it's essential for property owners to be well-informed about these potential causes. The three primary culprits contributing to rubber roofing leaks are the gradual degradation of the rubber material itself, issues related to flashing around roof penetrations, and improperly sealed seams.

These factors can collectively weaken the integrity of your rubber roof and compromise its ability to shield your property from the elements. Understanding and addressing these causes through vigilant inspection, timely maintenance, and effective solutions is instrumental in preserving the resilience of your rubber roofing, which remains a valuable choice for enduring the challenges of the Wisconsin climate.

Rubber Roofing

Here are three common causes of rubber roof leaks for rubber roofing, along with their respective causes and solutions.

1. Degrading Rubber or Holes in Rubber:


The primary cause of rubber roof leaks often stems from the gradual degradation of the rubber material over time. Exposure to the elements, including extreme temperatures and UV rays, can take a toll on the rubber's integrity. Additionally, punctures or holes can occur due to a range of sources, such as falling debris from nearby trees or buildings, foot traffic, or even wildlife activity. These issues compromise the rubber's ability to provide an effective barrier against moisture infiltration.


Regular Inspection: Perform routine inspections of your rubber roof. Look for signs of degradation, such as surface cracks or punctures. Inspecting your roof at least twice a year, particularly after severe weather events, can help you catch issues early.

Repair with Sealant: If you discover small holes, cracks, or minor damage, promptly address them by using a compatible rubber roof sealant. Clean the damaged area, apply the sealant evenly, and ensure it adheres properly to create a watertight seal.

Consider Roof Coating: To provide extra protection against UV rays and the elements, consider applying a rubber roof coating. Roof coatings are designed to extend the life of your rubber roof by forming a durable barrier. Make sure to follow manufacturer guidelines for proper application.

2. Improperly Installed, Missing, or Failing Flashing for Penetrations:


Leaks can be attributed to the inadequate installation or deterioration of flashing around roof penetrations, including vents, chimneys, or skylights. Flashing is a vital component that redirects water away from vulnerable areas on your roof. Inadequate installation, rust, or damage can compromise its effectiveness, leading to water intrusion during rain or snow.


Inspection: Regularly inspect the flashing around roof penetrations. Look for signs of damage, rust, or detachment. Ensure that flashing is correctly installed and in good condition. If you spot any issues, address them promptly.

Replace or Repair Flashing: If you find missing or damaged flashing, replace it with new, weather-resistant material. Properly seal the flashing to prevent water intrusion. Pay attention to the quality of the seal to ensure it remains effective.

Regular Maintenance: To prevent future issues, schedule periodic inspections and maintenance. This includes cleaning debris from around penetrations, ensuring flashing is secure, and checking for any signs of wear or damage.

3. Failing or Improperly Done Seams:


The integrity of your rubber roof can be compromised when seams, where rubber roofing sheets are joined, weaken or fail. This can occur over time due to adhesive breakdown or poor initial installation. Properly sealed seams are essential for maintaining a watertight barrier. When adhesive deteriorates or seams were not initially sealed correctly, they become vulnerable to water penetration.


Thorough Inspection: Carefully inspect the seams of your rubber roof. Look for any areas where adhesion has failed, or seams have opened up. Pay close attention to corners, edges, and areas around penetrations.

Reapply Adhesive: If you find failing seams, reapply a compatible adhesive to reinforce them. Ensure the adhesive is spread evenly and that seams are securely joined and sealed. Properly press the seams together to create a strong bond.

Professional Assistance: For more extensive seam issues or if you're uncertain about the repair process, consider consulting a professional roofing contractor with experience in rubber roofing. They can ensure that seams are repaired correctly and help you maintain the integrity of your roof.

By addressing these common causes of rubber roof leaks with thorough inspections, proactive maintenance, and prompt repairs, you'll help safeguard the durability and reliability of your rubber roofing, ultimately preventing water damage to your property.


In conclusion, addressing the common causes of rubber roof leaks is crucial for maintaining the durability and reliability of your rubber roofing, which is essential in safeguarding your property from potential water damage. By conducting regular and thorough inspections, being proactive in your maintenance efforts, and promptly addressing any identified issues, you can significantly prolong the life of your rubber roof and ensure it continues to provide dependable protection against the elements.

It's worth emphasizing the importance of professional assistance when dealing with extensive roofing problems or when in doubt about the best course of action. Roofing experts have the knowledge and experience to tackle complex issues effectively, ensuring long-term protection for your rubber roof and your property as a whole. Don't hesitate to reach out to a qualified roofing professional, particularly in the challenging climate of Wisconsin, where the integrity of your rubber roof plays a vital role in preserving the structural integrity of your building.

Staying proactive in caring for your rubber roof is not just a matter of maintaining your property's aesthetics but is a fundamental aspect of ensuring its longevity and resilience. Your property's protection indeed depends on your commitment to regular inspections, maintenance, and the involvement of skilled professionals when necessary. By doing so, you're making a valuable investment in the longevity and structural soundness of your property.

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