Locating Leak on Tile Roof

I am trying to trouble shoot a leak on a tile roof. The customer, who recently purchased his house, called me out yesterday and showed me an area where his ceiling leaked water in his master bedroom during an unusually windy, heavy storm. He said he was able to collect more than a pint of water. The house, and roof, are only 13 years old. I went to the attic to look for water staining on the underside of the decking but was unable to locate any due to the spray foam insulation on the bottom side of the decking. I did locate a water stain on the top side of the sheet rock near the can light. There is also an ac unit with a drain pan not far away. I ruled that out since the water was coming in during the storm and it’s a little distance from the stained sheet rock. I did make note that the leak area is directly below a valley and sort of down hill from a flue pipe and plumbing stack. I climbed on the roof and I don’t see anything that I would believe to be the source of the leak. The location of the leak is about 3ft inside the outside wall about 6 ft or so up the valley in the pics.

My first thought is this storm was super windy and it may have pushed water uphill in a way it normally wouldn’t, but I don’t think that’s an acceptable answer for the customer. I’m also thinking, should I try to recreate the leak and try to locate it from the attic then. I’m just not sure what to do. I don’t have much concrete or clay tile experience, although I have been around roofing my whole life. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Is the leak directly below that chimney and particular plumbing flashing?

Valley metal could be clogged up with debris under the tiles and damn up in super heavy rains.

Hey roof_lover, the damaged sheet rock is directly below the valley about 6 ft or so, up the valley, from the eave. You can see my telescoping ladder in the pic showing the pool, from there up about 6ft. I guess it’s possible that the flue pipe or the plumbing stack above the valley could be the source. It’s just so hard to tell with the spray foam insulation. Do those stacks look problematic to you?

IslandRoofing, so you think it’s possible that some debris could be building a beaver dam under the tiles and the water could be backing up under the tiles, possibly even through a lap in the valley metal? Would you water test it to see if it can be replicated?

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If its where you say it is, then I would guess the valley as well. If you go to where the leak is approximately in the attic, remove about a tile or two from the valley above that spot. I would suspect either the metal turnback is either clogged or completely bent down. Hard to replicate if it only leaks in heavy rains.

Part of solving this is knowing where you are located. A tile roof in the Pacific Northwest adhering properly to TRI specs should not leak, even with water intrusion. The underlayment should be tight, base flashings on all vent pipes sealed to underlayment, and elevated battens to allow any water under tile to make its way out. A dam in the valley could cause this but you would see a lot of moss and debris on your roof if this was the case. Also it would have to have been happening for a while to finally rot through the underlayment. The easiest way to find this leak is start taking off tile from the point it showed up until you lose the water trail. Beauty of a tile roof is how easy it is to remove, unless you’re in Florida and it is adhered with foam. Then you’re screwed.

Hey Tileman, I am in North Texas on the Oklahoma border. I guess removing some tiles from the valley and looking for the leak is the best option. Have you ever used FLIR for leak detection on tile roofs?

Question for all of you experienced tile guys. Do you do you run your tiles all the way into the valley like that? Almost every tile roof pic I see is done that way. I’ve done all of 1 tile job in my life and left an open metal valley. It just seems to me that you are asking for leaves and pine needles to clog up your valley when you do it like that. My tile experience is very limited so i’m Interested to hear your thoughts.

We do run our valleys like that but we use a five rib valley flashing that allows debris to flush through under the tile. We maintain these roofs in areas with lots of trees and moss and rarely see problems. The old style valley metal would definitely have issues. The reason most roofers do not install open valleys is you would have to wire every cut piece in place like a clay tile roof. With a closed valley they hold each other in place.

I have not used any kind of leak detection on tile since it is so easy to find moisture. I can remove and reinstall 100 pieces of tile in less than an hour on a standard batten installation. Remove tile in and above the leak area and you can easily find that leak. I’m guessing they may have ran the paper over the valley.

Thanks Tileman, I will go remove some tiles and see what I see.