Clay roofing tile problem??!

6 Replies

We looked at a house today that has a Spanish-style clay tile roof, which is not that common in our area. The house is in pretty good shape, with a few notable exceptions including a big hole in the master bedroom ceiling. However, when we went in to the garage and looked up into the rafters, we can see the clay tiles just sitting on the rafters with no apparent underlayment material whatsoever. We were able to see up in to the hole in the master bedroom and, sure enough, you can see the under side of the clay tiles there also. In the picture below, you can see what I'm talking about. You can also see that the dark spots on the tiles are moisture (it's been raining hard here.) We were shocked to see that there's no underlayment on this roof and the research we've done on installing clay tiles all indicates that there should be. It looks like the entire roof was installed this way. The house was built in 1985. Hoping some contractors/home inspectors/roofers can give an opinion. Is this normal? Is it Code compliant (California)? Are we going to have to replace the entire tile roof because of this? Any help would be much appreciated.

that's how clay roofs are (were) installed. underlayment is not really needed.

now sure what the new code is, we dont have them up here

As an expert roofer. here is the deal.

No, it is not normal. It is wrong. Tile roofs (clay or concrete) must have an underlayment. A double underlayment is required if the slope is <4:12.  The tile is not the waterproofing. The tile holds a cosmetic value and provides a 'water-shedding' capability-- not waterproofing.

There was a time, in which underlayment was not required in some places; including in CA in the 70's.  

The real question is what to do?  

1) Fix each leak as it happens.

2) Replace the roof

Hairline cracks typically do not leak. However, there is no secondary layer and any damaged tile does result in a leak, as does debris that blocks valleys. In addition, the concrete is porous, so as the glaze wears, water will soak into the concrete. Since Shasta sees snow, I wonder how that holds up. I would be concerned about ice dams and other cold weather problems, in addition to breakage of tile from the cold. 

What to do?  Take a hose and run it on the roof all over, see if you see any leaks.  Even small drops in the attic should be looked at.  An experienced roofer would run the water from the hose, like rain. If there is no leak, you are good to go; however, with time you will have to keep replacing titles until you add the underlayment.

Here is an idea you may want to consider.  I would give this a try once I started to experience leaks and in your situation, and if I was in a tight budget situation.  I would add "insulation foam" under the tiles.  However, it's not going to look nice.

@Justin Stanfield Wasting water like hosing a roof is a direct violation of CA water conservation law, they can be fined by the fire dept, or cited. I tried to wash the sides of a commercial bldg and the fire dept caught us (before i knew about water cons), he yelled at my guy and told him what the F are you doing? My guy yelled back Washing the wall so paint will stick. The fireman yelled back, I don't care, put more paint, or i'll write you a ticket. First time I heard the story I was laughing at it. So now we are looking at air to remove dust, lol.

@Chris Low Most cities will bring in a code enforcer and write that up. Depending if it were originally constructed that way, or if the city has files (LA has post 1950s) they can be grandfathered in, on small city like Redding, chances are slim, but ask B&S. However putting on an investors hat, I would remove and replace that, will cost about 5-8/sf to dispose, install new sheating, new asphalt shingle.

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