Have you ever wondered if your tile roof is in need of service, or perhaps even replacement? Here are some of the things you can check:
How old is the roof?
Tile is typically marketed as a 50 year roof. Bi-annual roof inspections are always a good idea, but as the roof ages checkups become more important (just as they do for humans). Neglected, tile roof details and flashings can break down and must be replaced or regularly maintained years before the tiles themselves fail.
Roofing tiles can be manufactured from concrete, various grades of clay, ceramics and even metal. Most roof tiles are somewhat brittle, so weather, foot traffic and other factors can shorten their life. One of the primary factors that affects the lifespan of the roof is the quality of installation. Tile is one of the more difficult materials to install correctly, particularly in the valleys and around roof protrusions.
Tile roofs are more prone to moisture penetration from wind driven rain and snow than any other roofing material. The batten system and flashing, and how they were installed, is very important and one of the keys to how long your tile roof will last. The good news is, it is often possible for a skilled roof professional to repair leaks and correct other problems resulting from a poor original installation.
Broken or missing tiles
Wind, poor installation, gravity and physical damage are some of the most common causes of broken or missing tiles. If you have tree branches near your roof, consider cutting them back. Fortunately, hail damage to tile roofs in BC’s Lower Mainland is very rare.
With a properly installed batten system, flashing details and proper walking technique, tile breakage risk due to foot traffic is minimized, but it still may be best if you inspect your roof from the ladder. Also, please note that tiles can be very slippery when wet.
If you do notice tiles that have been damaged, or have been taken by the elements, you’ll want to have the roof professionally inspected and repaired as soon as possible. With the roof’s ability to shed water compromised, damage to the wood battens, underlayment and deck can take place fairly quickly.
Slipped tiles can result from several conditions. Sometimes the tile fails, breaking away from the fastener. The nails can work themselves loose or the tiles can become dislodged from the battens during high winds. Moisture can cause the battens to decay, allowing the nails to pull out. Or the nails themselves can fail due to corrosion. If you notice that some of your tiles are responding to gravity, and no longer form a neat row, you’ll want to have the sliding tile(s) refastened or replaced.
Moss, algae and mould between the tiles
On older roofs you may discover moss or algae growing on or between the tiles. Moss can be removed and chemically treated, but as it grows, it can often increase the erosion rate, allowing potential ingress of water. Mould and algae between tiles generally indicates dampness below. If any of these conditions exist, you’ll want to have the roof checked.
Damaged or improperly installed flashing
Flashings around vents, skylights and chimneys can in time allow water to seep in. Expansion and contraction, storms and water can permit fasteners to loosen and the metal to lift. The metal in some flashings may oxidize and break down. Sealants can become brittle from UV exposure and crack. Debris can build up in critical detail locations. Flashings need to inspected periodically and repaired if they have been compromised.
Tile roofs are extremely durable when they are inspected and maintained. It’s important to handle small repairs before they become big expensive problems. Broken, slipped or missing tiles, and damaged flashings, are relatively easy to fix as they are discovered.
Regular roof inspections are recommended, so potential problems can be detected in the early stages.