Whether you own a historic home with a decades-old clay tile roof or a new construction home with a brand-new one, the roof requires regular inspections and occasional minor repairs to keep it in good condition. If you believe the hype that a clay tile roof lasts for centuries without any maintenance and ignore your home's roof, then you run the risk of discovering a major problem that could have easily been prevented.
Since you can't walk on a clay tile roof without breaking the tiles, you can safely inspect it the following ways:
Use a Ladder and Binoculars
The easiest way to inspect your clay tile roof is to do so from the ground using a pair of binoculars. Going layer by layer, look at the tiles and make sure there is no mold, moss, or lichen growing on the tiles and there are no breaks. Additionally, check for damage to the fascia boards and rain gutters.
If you have areas you cannot see from the ground, then using a ladder will help.
Check Flashing From the Ground on a Windy Day
Since it's hard to check a roof's flashing from the ground, even with a pair of binoculars, checking it on a windy day will help. Go out with your binoculars on a windy day and watch to see if the flashing moves around. Flashing that moves in the wind is too loose and needs to be reattached.
Inspect the Attic Space for Signs of Leaks
Though it is not safe to walk on your tile roof, it is absolutely safe for you to walk around in your home's attic space. Go up into the attic during the early morning hours on a sunny day when it will still be cool inside and bright outdoors.
Turn off all of the lights in the attic and look for areas with sunlight coming through the roof. If you see any sunlight, then you absolutely have a leak in need of repair.
Next, turn on as much light as possible in the attic and look for dark water stains on the rafters and for mold or mildew growing on moist timbers that should be dry.
Check Your Interior Drywall for Stress Cracks
Finally, it's important to note that if your home didn't start out its life with a clay tile roof and you find stress cracks in the interior drywall, then you should have it professionally inspected by a licensed residential roofing contractor. Stress cracks on drywall aren't always indicative of a foundation problem. Sometimes homeowners unknowingly install clay tiles on a roof that isn't able to safely support all of the weight and the stress cracks drywall and other structures. If you feel this could be a problem with your home, then professional help is recommended ASAP.