Maintain that Tile Roof

Over the years, I’ve sold quite of few houses with tile roofs. I’ve heard home inspectors say how great these roofs are — they last decades, they need little maintenance, etc. They have superior insulating properties over asphalt shingle roofs and, to me, they just look great. Aesthetically, ceramic or clay tile roofs have it all over other roofs, in my book.

However, a buyer or homeowner can be lulled into a false sense of security with statements like those above. Having a tile roof may mean less overall maintenance, but it doesn’t mean to ignore the roof completely. Many homeowners with tile roofs buy into the idea that tile roofs last forever and need no maintenance. Not so!

Today is pretty windy and living in a “Tree City USA” has its benefits and its downsides. Falling tree limbs are a hazard to tile roofs, so it’s a good idea to inspect your tile roof annually and have any broken tiles replaced by someone who is qualified to work with tile roofs. Replacing tiles can seem expensive, but when you pro-rate the repairs and maintenance over the 60-some year life span of these roofs, it’s very reasonable.

You should also be aware of the quality of the tile used on your roof. Just like anything else, some roofers out there will sell you inferior quality tile — do your homework and make sure you’re getting the good stuff.

There is also the structure of the roof under the tile, and there’s the flashing. Either of these can fail and allow water to penetrate. We had water in our basement shortly after we bought our house and replacing the roof took care of it. Turned out we had rotted sheathing under our deteriorating shingles. While we don’t have a tile roof, the problems are the same. Broken or deteriorated tiles allow water and sunshine to reach the underlying layer, which weakens it. Next thing you know, you have a leak in the ceiling. Worse case, you have a skylight where none existed before.

So don’t assume your tile roof is indestructible. And if your house is over 50 years old and has a tile roof, it’s time have it examined thoroughly by a qualified professional. A little (or a lot) of preventive maintenance now can save you a lot down the road. A well-maintained tile roof can add value to your house when you go to sell it, as well.

© 2007 Susan Pruden

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