A homeowners guide to roof tile maintenance

Marley roof tile on housing project

Many homeowners probably don’t think about their roof tiles very often – at least not until there’s a problem. Unfortunately, by the time you notice there’s something wrong with a roof tile, a once small issue may have grown into something much more substantial. That’s why it’s important to be proactive about your roof maintenance: look up on a regular basis to inspect the roof and spot potential problems. That way, you can act on any trouble areas before they become big problems.

Common roof tile problems

Many things can affect the weather tightness and structure of a roof. Understanding these potential problems makes it easier to carry out roof tile maintenance and recognise when something has gone wrong. In most cases, when an issue is caught early, it will be easier and cheaper to repair.

Missing, loose or broken roof tiles

When a clay or concrete roof tile becomes loose, damaged, or falls off, it makes the underlying roof structure vulnerable to weather damage and leaks. Repairing cracked roof tiles is usually an easy job for a professional roofer, and they can also determine if there are underlying faults or roof tile maintenance issues that caused the damage.

Moss, algae and lichen growth

These organisms often grow on roofs that don't receive much sunlight – including north-facing roofs, and those under trees. The growth typically begins in the spaces under and between roof tiles, and it can cause various problems, such as retaining moisture and lifting tiles, exposing the roof to weather ingress.

The amount of roofing maintenance required to deal with the growth of moss, algae or lichen will depend on how much it has spread and how well rooted the plants are. Often, the organisms can be washed away with a hosepipe. Scraping or brushing with a handheld tool is also possible, while moss remover products can also be applied. Pressure washers are not recommended as the high pressures can damage the tiles or reduce their overall service life, particularly if repeated often.

Faulty installation

Roofs are complicated structures with many elements that must work together to create a sturdy and weather-resistant cover for your home. From the rafters, underlay and sarking to the battens, roof tiles, fixings and flashings, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Incorrect roof tile placement is one area where problems can occur. This can include inadequate tile lap, nails used in the wrong place, incorrect fixing methods, or tiles being unsuitable for the roof pitch. If faulty installation is the cause of your roof tile problems, it’s best to get an expert out to diagnose the situation and advise on the best course of action.

Other roof problems

As well as the issues above, which directly affect roof tiles, other roofing problems can also have a detrimental effect on your roof and, consequently, the roof tiles. For example, blocked guttering and drainage pipes can cause flooding, leading to damp and damage to the roof and supporting structure. Inadequate ventilation can cause condensation to build up in the roof space, and improperly installed flashing can compromise the weather-tightness of the roof.

Routine roof tile maintenance

Clay and concrete roof tiles are designed to be robust and trouble-free. They are typically expected to have a lifespan of 60 years and, in the right conditions and with proper care, they may last much longer. Good roof and roof tile maintenance are key to ensuring you get the most out of your roof covering.

Most experts recommend that roof and roof tile maintenance be carried out twice a year – once in the autumn in preparation for the cold and rainy season, and once in the spring to see if the winter storms left any damage. It’s also a good idea to visually inspect the roof after any big storms.

The twice-yearly roof tile maintenance routine should include an inspection of the roof and roof tiles, as well as clearing all eaves and gutters of debris. Remove any moss, lichen or algae growth and cut back any overhanging trees or foliage. Once this is all complete, be sure to carry out a roof tile health check to help you spot any potential problems.

A roof tile health check

Thorough roof tile maintenance means keeping your roof clean and repairing any damage – but some problems may be harder to spot than others. That’s why we’ve put together this roof tile health check, to help you spot potential issues before they become big problems.

✔ Visually inspect roof tiles, looking for cracks, breaks or other damage.
✔ Examine any gaps to ensure that roof tiles aren’t loose or missing.
✔ Inspect roof valleys, looking for signs of deterioration, damage, or blockages.
✔ Examine top-edge and abutment flashings for damage.
✔ Check all gutters and drainage pipes to ensure they are clear of debris and that water flows freely.
✔ Inspect the roof for signs of moss, lichen, or algae growth
✔ Examine bedding mortar for cracks
✔ Check nearby trees to ensure branches are not touching the roof, or at risk of falling, and that foliage will not impair drainage

If you notice any problems during the roof tile health check, be sure to take steps to address the issue as soon as possible. In most cases, it’s best to enlist the help of a professional roofing expert, as they will have the tools and knowledge to carry out the work safely and to a high standard.

Roof maintenance advice and assistance

Here at Marley, we have a huge range of resources available to help homeowners get the most from their concrete or clay roof tiles. Our Find an Installer tool can help you find a roofing professional to make repairs, replace roof tiles or carry out routine roof tile maintenance.

We can also provide advice on any other aspect of roofing maintenance or installation. We have a variety of online guides, a quick and efficient sample service, and our technical team is on-hand to answer any questions. You can visit our roof tile help and support page to find out more.

Category: Roofing