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Best practices for multi-story clay tile roof?

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  • Best practices for multi-story clay tile roof?

    First let me apologize if this is the wrong venue to air this questions.

    First some background. I recently had solar panels installed on a sloped multi-story clay tile roof. The contractor doing the work removed all the clay shingles around where the solar panels are installed and bolted the panels straight to the roof. The underlayment in the now exposed areas was covered by comp shingle.
    Moving past the fact that this does not look very appealing since there are large gaps between the clay shingles and the panels all around. I am very concerned that the roof underlayment is now exposed to copious amounts of water where the contractor did not lay down the comp shingle. To compound the issue, the roof lines have a metal skirt that the last row of clay tiles rest on that now acts as a water dam during heavy rain. The skirt ends up trapping the water that enters the roof through the large gaps between the panels and tile leading to water penetrating in large amounts to areas that do not have any comp shingle, just underlayment.

    The contractors website has videos showing installation on clay tile roofs without removing the clay tiles. There is also a generic picture in the proposal that shows a clay tile roof, again no tiles are removed under or around the panels. I have reviewed all the paperwork and none of what I was provided went into detail as to how the panels were to be installed.

    What is best practice when installing on clay tile roofs? Feedback and thoughts on how to handle the situation are greatly appreciated.

    Last edited by bubu; 01-13-2018, 11:56 AM.

  • #2
    I'm not prone to fear mongering, but while some think the type of arrangement you describe might pass muster or, at worst be of no consequence - even if done with some attempt at paying attention to what needs to be done which, if what you write is a reasonable representation of what you got for a finished installation, sounds like your installer didn't do, lots of others think it's a ticking bomb.

    I'd vigorously argue against putting comp. shingles under an array where the rest of the roof was and remains clay tile. Not only is it far from best practice - it's nonsense and poor practice. If I ruled the world, I'd promulgate a universal building code that made doing such things a criminal practice.

    Even if it's done with a lot of attention to detail, about the best that can be said for mixing top layer materials is that it increases the probability of leak paths, dams and water retention that will cause problems sooner rather than later.

    Maybe equally as bad or perhaps worse, it's next to impossible to inspect or even see potential problems much less get at them.

    As a matter of some common sense, the only party that benefits from replacing tiles under an array with comp. shingles is the installer. Every one else loses, mostly the owner of what's under the roof.

    After reviewing prior to install, and monitoring/inspecting well over 100 installs in my HOA, I've pissed off more than a few installers by telling them our arch. guidelines specifically do not allow such a practice, and that it has nothing to do with aesthetics, but more about common sense.

    At that point, the most common argument I hear from installers is that clay or concrete tiles cannot be walked on and installation over such tiles is impossible. After pointing out that the 100 + arrays in my HOA all have clay or lightweight concrete tile under them (mine being lightweight tile with neighbors array's on either side of me being clay tile), and point out that there is not one roof in the HOA that is not either clay or flat concrete tile, with most of the concrete tile being of the lightweight type that breaks quite easily, and about half the homes being multistory, I then get the argument that it costs too much, apparently giving the impossible a price. Both arguments are simple B.S. In all such cases of installer balking, lo and behold, they've always found a way to do the impossible and do it right for no increase in price, making every job a miracle it would seem. Or, maybe they got called out for trying to pull some cheap-out B.S.

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    • #3
      J.P.M., your response confirms what my gut feeling was telling me, the contractor pulled cheap-out B.S. They really should have used tile hooks like all of their marketing materials indicate. The home is less than 5 years old and the "clay tiles" are concrete tiles. To add insult to injury this contractor charged a $5,000 surcharge for a complex "clay tile" install. There is nothing complex about removing tiles from a roof. I have an independent roofer coming out in a few weeks to conduct an inspection...the earliest I could get someone without skin in the game to look over the work.

      With that said I find myself pondering my next move as I have not yet paid the contractor beyond the initial deposit. Is demanding that they reinstall the tile and reinstall the panels with hooks unreasonable? The contractor has a 100% satisfaction guarantee so I guess I will see how far that truly extends.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bubu View Post
        J.P.M., your response confirms what my gut feeling was telling me, the contractor pulled cheap-out B.S. They really should have used tile hooks like all of their marketing materials indicate. The home is less than 5 years old and the "clay tiles" are concrete tiles. To add insult to injury this contractor charged a $5,000 surcharge for a complex "clay tile" install. There is nothing complex about removing tiles from a roof. I have an independent roofer coming out in a few weeks to conduct an inspection...the earliest I could get someone without skin in the game to look over the work.

        With that said I find myself pondering my next move as I have not yet paid the contractor beyond the initial deposit. Is demanding that they reinstall the tile and reinstall the panels with hooks unreasonable? The contractor has a 100% satisfaction guarantee so I guess I will see how far that truly extends.
        Be careful what you allow your gut to confirm. My opinion on these matters is strong, but it's still just one opinion. So, what follows is not to be considered advice - just opinion.

        I'm reluctant to give advice but if it was me, I'd be very careful at this point. Keep in mind things like mechanic's liens and other facts of life.

        Still, if it was me, and it obviously is not, I'd do my homework and consider options like contacting any local media whistle blowing junk yard dog/consumer reporting types, but only after considering a paid consult with legal counsel, and not until exhausting all reasonable means of trying to resolve the matter with only you and the contractor involved.

        Depending on the cost of the remediation, there is also and always small claims court after your second opinion from a roofer and probably another solar outfit to add in an estimate of the cost of what will amount to array removal and reinstallation on top of the roof repair.

        Along the way, be prepared to answer the question of why you waited until the job was apparently complete before voicing concern.

        Also keep in mind that while many knowledgeable folks and others think replacing tile with comp. shingles or mixing roofing materials is a bad idea, there are those who see it as not a problem.

        There is also probably no specific prohibition in most building codes against doing so.

        To reiterate, not advice, just a few thoughts.
        Last edited by J.P.M.; 01-13-2018, 11:01 PM.

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=bubu;n369791 To compound the issue, the roof lines have a metal skirt that the last row of clay tiles rest on that now acts as a water dam during heavy rain. The skirt ends up trapping the water that enters the roof through the large gaps between the panels and tile leading to water penetrating in large amounts to areas that do not have any comp shingle, just underlayment.


          [/QUOTE]

          Have you already had rain, and water penetration? From your description it sounds like just a matter of time until damage WILL occur. Is their nothing to prevent water from going under your tiles at the transition from comp/underlayment to tile/underlayment? Is the water just allowed to run under your tile? While removing the tiles is clearly the easy, ghetto way of doing this install, the very least of which should have been done is to remove the tile all the way down to the eave and comp shingles installed continuously whether the tile was replaced or not.
          Last edited by littleharbor; 01-14-2018, 06:55 AM.
          2.2kw Suntech mono, Classic 200, NEW Trace SW4024

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          • #6
            No detectable water penetration yet but there are signs of water directly on the underlayment. We just had our first heavy rain of the season in southern california so this was my first chance to observe the mess. The tile was removed down to the edge/eave but not on the sides of the panels. As I mentioned, the skirt the tiles rest on acts as a water dam, there is no drainage path. I can not really observe the 2nd or 3rd story roof drainage as I was not about to climb up there during a rainstorm. I assume the what I observed on the first story is happening there as well.

            I think I have recourse with the contractor. There is a once in a lifetime reinstall clause for roof work in the contract. The challenge will be to get them to agree to restore my roof and use tile hooks to reinstall. I think I have some leverage but I guess I won't know which way things will go until I speak with the rep at length. I confronted the contractor immediately on why things were done this way and the excuse of it being a difficult roof came right up. Either way, I don't think this will end up in any sort of litigation unless the contractor fails to reinstall to my satisfaction and also sues me for payment. From my perspective its either do it the right way or don't get paid.

            Bleh, this is literally the last thing I need to be dealing with.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bubu View Post
              No detectable water penetration yet but there are signs of water directly on the underlayment. We just had our first heavy rain of the season in southern california so this was my first chance to observe the mess. The tile was removed down to the edge/eave but not on the sides of the panels. As I mentioned, the skirt the tiles rest on acts as a water dam, there is no drainage path. I can not really observe the 2nd or 3rd story roof drainage as I was not about to climb up there during a rainstorm. I assume the what I observed on the first story is happening there as well.

              I think I have recourse with the contractor. There is a once in a lifetime reinstall clause for roof work in the contract. The challenge will be to get them to agree to restore my roof and use tile hooks to reinstall. I think I have some leverage but I guess I won't know which way things will go until I speak with the rep at length. I confronted the contractor immediately on why things were done this way and the excuse of it being a difficult roof came right up. Either way, I don't think this will end up in any sort of litigation unless the contractor fails to reinstall to my satisfaction and also sues me for payment. From my perspective its either do it the right way or don't get paid.

              Bleh, this is literally the last thing I need to be dealing with.
              After all the rain, it may also be wise to inspect for the extent of water damage/leakage before any remediation. Probably not a good idea to bury any recent damage in a fix that will then remain an unknown and unnoticed but festering future problem.

              I'd respectfully suggest you consider the benefits of sitting on the roof with a camera during any remediation attempts, start to finish, and using it very freely.

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