Don't Neglect Your Tile Roof Maintenance

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Concrete Roof Tile

A concrete tile roof is one of the most durable and attractive roofs that you can put on a home. It is also highly resistant to high winds and bad weather. But it is not "maintenance free".

Just because the life expectancy of a concrete tile roof is considered to be 50+ years by many experts, it doesn't mean that you can neglect your roof and expect to get the full potential of it's expected life. A  tile roof needs regular maintenance to ensure it's longevity. 

The roof should be visually inspected annually. The best way to inspect it is to walk it. If you don't feel safe doing this, then you should hire a roofing contractor or qualified home inspector.

The roof should be visually inspected annually. The best way to inspect it is to walk it. If you don't feel safe doing this, then you should hire a roofing contractor or qualified home inspector.

Walking a tile roof

A tile roof can be safely traversed by an experienced professional without causing damage to the tile. While on the roof, you should inspect all of the roof penetrations to ensure that joints are caulked, exposed nails are caulked or sealed, and the valleys and gutters are unobstructed.

A valley is the gray sheet metal pictured above. The arrow is pointing to an obstruction. The other item is a plumbing vent. The joint where the plastic meets the metal pipe flashing should be caulked. Check this area for cracking in the caulk seal.

A valley is the gray sheet metal pictured above. The arrow is pointing to an obstruction. The other item is a plumbing vent. The joint where the plastic meets the metal pipe flashing should be caulked. Check this area for cracking in the caulk seal.

Mud joints on tile roof

Another area of concern with a tile roof is the "mudded" joints. These are areas where dissimilar tiles meet, and colored mortar is used to make the transition as shown in the picture below. Or this is also done to seal the end of a ridge cap as shown in the picture above

This should be inspected for cracks and sealed as needed.

This should be inspected for cracks and sealed as needed.

solar panels on tile roof

With the popularity of solar panels and solar water heating on the rise, it's very common to see these systems on the roof also. How they are attached to the roof should be inspected to ensure it has a good seal. 

This is a solar water heating system for a pool. The attachments to the roof are particularly vulnerable to leaks.

This is a solar water heating system for a pool. The attachments to the roof are particularly vulnerable to leaks.

Gutters should be inspected and cleaned.

Gutters should be inspected and cleaned.

downspout placement

As noted above, gutters should be inspected and cleaned. You don't want debris in the gutter washing down into your drain system and clogging it. You should also note where downspouts empty. In the picture below, the downspout empties onto the lower roof. This just concentrates more water into one area, and is not the best practice. Your inspector will help you with alternative options to consider.

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chimney flashing

The flashing around chimneys and skylights requires the expertise of a skilled installer to be done right and ensure it won't leak. Skilled installers are becoming a rare commodity.

This chimney is particularly tricky because of it's close proximity to the ridge cap.

This chimney is particularly tricky because of it's close proximity to the ridge cap.

Many times skylights will come with installation "kits" from the manufacturer.

Many times skylights will come with installation "kits" from the manufacturer.

The inspector, or the brave homeowner, should also look for cracked and broken tiles. It's acceptable to repair cracked tiles with a special polyurethane caulk. Broken tiles should be replaced by a licensed roofing contractor.

moss on tile roof

Microbial growth can commonly be found on tiles with a northern exposure. Beyond the mere fact that it doesn't look nice to have a dirty black algae covered roof, the bacteria can actually granulate the surface of the tiles, and in the case of concrete tiles, reduce the color of the dye in the concrete.  It can also cause premature aging. These tiles should be cleaned by a qualified professional.

This is a northern exposure roof covered with damaging microbial growth.

This is a northern exposure roof covered with damaging microbial growth.

The bottom line is, if you take care of your roof, your roof will take care of you. A qualified home inspector, or a licensed roofing contractor, can inspect your roof and help you get the maximum life out of it. And if you are not experienced with walking on tile roofs, then it's best if you hire a professional.