I came across a small article in an email today that I have wanted to briefly discuss for some time now. You might have guessed by the title of this article that I am referring to the tile roofs typically found here in Southern Nevada. Most of the active real estate agents here know that roofing issues are commonly found in many home inspection reports. When we start talking about roof issues, an owner or potential home owner might start thinking about a movie from the past called “The Money Pit” starring Tom Hanks and “FREAK OUT” Sometimes there are some major concerns in regards to roofs; however, in many cases these fears are typically over reactions to simple repairs; however, if left untreated, like a common flu, things can get much worse. There are several areas of a roof to consider, such as the actual tile, the felt below, the flashing points around different intrusions and some routine maintenance needed. Let’s start by talking about the common concrete tile.
Concrete tiles are strong, durable and do a great job of dispensing heat and protecting the integrity of a roof; however, they are not indestructible. Some of the very common items we as agents see on inspection reports would be out of place or broken tiles. These tiles are typically held in place by only one or two nails, and can easily be blown out of place and or broken as they shutter in the wind, or by the occasional baseball delivered by the neighbors twelve year old “Nolan Ryan”. It is common for homeowners to believe the tiles keep moisture out of the home. While they certainly do help with this by channeling and diverting water, their main job is to protect the tar paper “felt” beneath them.
What is tar paper? It is the layer of felt that is laid beneath the tiles. It is petroleum based paper that keeps the moisture out of your roofs interior. When tiles are broken and the felt is exposed to the environment it can dry out from UV rays and lose its ability to repel water. It is important to keep it protected from the sun and weather. In conjunction with the tiles and protective felt layer you also need to inspect all of the flashing points on a roof.
A roof has several necessary access points such as vent pipes for: the plumbing, the furnace, and water heater to name a few that penetrate the roof. These penetrations are sealed and need to be inspected for integrity as they can be a source of moisture in your roof. This brings me to some of the routine maintenance necessary to help ensure your roof stays leak and damage free.
Ok, so like everything in life, nothing lasts forever. This is true in regards to your roof. A concrete tile roof is often referred to as a “50 year roof”. Mother Nature and the kids next door tend to be your roofs nemesis. Yes, your tile roof can last a very long time; however, this does not mean they are “MAINTENANCE FREE”. It is important to routinely inspect or have a roof inspection done to make sure these tiles are in place and not broken. As mentioned earlier, exposed felt will degrade and open the door for moisture to enter your home. It is equally important to inspect the flashing around intrusions of the roof as they are exposed to the outside weather and degrade over time. Unless you are a roofer or experienced in roofing, it would be advisable that you hire someone who knows what to look for, and knows how to be safe in the process. Falling and or breaking tiles while walking on them occur routinly. I am not a roofer by any means; but, have seen my share of inspection reports with broken tiles, and the flashing degraded or damaged. These are fairly easy to repair and should not cost a lot to get fixed. Certainly less than repairing a roof that has been damaged by the weather, such as water! Of course there are other roof concerns that will require much more attention. See your local roof inspector if you have any questions or concerns as your roof is one of the most important parts of your home.
On a side note: Home and roof inspectors are finding additional ways to inspect your roof without the need to walk on every inch of it. For instance the use of UAV otherwise know as drones are widely being used these days. Check with your local FAA / HOA rules and regulations that may apply; but, this could afford you the ability to routinly inspect your roof safely and efficiently without breaking tiles or falling. Word to the wise, you should be profecient at flying them as well, as they could take the place of the occasional baseball on the roof.