roof tile repair, first row

My girlfriend's house has a concrete tile roof, Spanish style, roughly 5/12 slope. The construction is a bit unusual, albeit sturdy, or so we've been told. The lower end of the first course of tiles sits on a mortar base that both adheres to the tile and pushes into the grooves on the bottom of the lower end of the tile. There's some foam/adhesive under the upper end of each tile. The house is about 35 years old but the roof was replaced about ten years ago (before she bought it).
Two tiles were badly broken. One, I replaced easily -- just slid a new one in. Didn't even have to do any additional breaking to get the old one out. But the other one is in the first course, and it's harder:
http://paleo.org/private/brokentile.jpg
In the pic, you see the mortar at the front. The tile to the left (barely visible in shadow) is held down by this mortar, and it won't lift up without serious force, which I'm pretty sure will break the tile long before the bond. Toward the back, the thing that looks like a light-colored stick is the foam. The tile's "feet" actually sit on the underlayment (roll roofing?) above the foam. I think that every tile has one of these foam worms holding it up -- both sticking it down and preventing it from sliding.
So I can't slide the new tile in from below because the edge of the tile has to be under the tile to the left, and I can't raise that tile. I could possibly break off a bit of the new tile at the upper left corner to get it started, but then getting the lower edge onto the mortar is just as much of a problem.
Things we've considered:
1) Hire a professional. We have a roofer coming out tomorrow anyway for an unrelated leak, and we'll ask him for a price on this too. He claims to specialize in repairs. Of course it would be good to get more information on just how difficult this is before he comes.
2) Use a circular saw with a masonry blade to cut two slots in the mortar so that I can take out the part under the new tile. Glue it to the bottom of the tile and slide it in. Add enough caulking to make sure it doesn't slide out, though friction seems to be quite adequate to hold in single tiles. (This is in south Florida, so no worry about earthquakes.) If this worked, it would probably look and function very well. But it looks like the blade would have to cut about 4" down from its platform -- basically a blade large enough to cut through a 4x board from one side. Don't have such a saw, though of course small jobs are great excuses for new toys. Even if it worked, it would be a messy job standing on a ladder running a saw to cut though this mortar with dust flying.
3) Cut off the double-ridge bead from the new tile, the part that has to slip under the tile to the left. This should enable me to put the new tile in easily, and then I'd run a bead of polyurethane caulking where the missing bead was cut off. Doesn't matter if a little water gets through anyway since this is tile and the roofing underneath will take the water. (You can see the water exit hole at the bottom of the photo, though it's in shadow and hard to see.)
Thoughts?
Thanks,
Edward
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wrote:

Maybe not earthquakes, but certainly hurricanes. I was in Ft Pierce in 1949 when the anemometer at the airport blew away at 149 mph and it is almost as bad as a tornado when the winds get that high. Any loose edge that the wind grabs starts a zipper effect and things go downhill very quickly after that. You might shorten the new tile to install it. But, I wouldn't just run a bead of adhesive around the back end, I would slobber adhesive on everything in sight.
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Hire a roofer.
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On Tue, 28 May 2013 19:18:55 -0700, "Guv Bob"
This is the advice we will be taking. The roofer's proposal for fixing the unrelated leak included replacing this tile (at no additional cost, he said), and the proposed price and timeframe were reasonable, so we are going with that. He described removing the lugs from the top end of the tile so that it would slide in, and said it would be simple. Obviously he has knowledge and equipment that we don't.
There are no nails; it depends on adhesive and weight. The roof was replaced in 2007 (house built in 1977) and so should have been built to modern Florida hurricane standards. Of course fraud might occasionally exist in the roofing industry ;-) but there's no sign of it here.
The roof is in generally good condition except for this leak, the broken tile needing replacement, and a few broken pieces that I'm going to glue back on with silicone. There's a few cracks with the pieces still in place, and I might caulk the cracks, but they don't matter because the underlayment is the water protection, not the tile. (The roofer said that the joints in the underlayment are hot-mop sealed, so it's actually tighter than asphalt shingles.)
Sorry about the     quality of the photo. Probably not much point in trying to get a better one now, but if anyone is curious, ask and I'll try again.
Edward
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Edward Reid wrote, On 5/29/2013 1:03 PM:

Are you sure? Roofs tiled as you describe normally have the first course nailed (in addition to mortar).
I've only had to replace one first course tile, broken by a falling limb, but it wasn't hard once I broke up the tile so I could cut off the nail and slide the new one in. In your case, the nail would be obscured by the foam.
--
dadiOH

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No nails here -- can't speak for anyplace else of course. When I pulled out the pieces of the tile, I didn't have to deal with any nails. Of course it could have broken at the nail holes, but most likely I'd have had to pull it past the nails. I can stick my hand in under the next tile and find no nails. There's indentations on the underside of each tile that look like places for nail holes to be drilled; I can fit the broken pieces back together and they weren't drilled in the tile I removed. And nails would breach the water barrier below the tiles and so would have to be carefully caulked.
Perhaps this depends on the slope? I think the slope on this roof is about 5/12. I see much steeper tile roofs in the neighborhood.

Yeah, in this case the problem is mostly caused by the way the mortar embeds into the longitudinal ridges at the lower end of the tile. If I could easily cut out the section of the mortar under that one tile, I could slide the new tile in super easy.

There could be a nail inside the foam bead, but that wouldn't provide much security for the tile.
Edward
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pics and a bit of story at
http://paleo.org/private/replacetile/
Even the pro took about ten minutes ... he couldn't do it without breaking one adjacent tile, but he glued it back together. I now know that gluing broken tiles is standard practice.
And as for the leak (the main reason he was here), they removed all the tiles around the valley, cleaned it (finding the obvious defect in the process), put a new later of whatever they call it (modified bitumen?), mudded it in, then returned the next day and replaced the tiles. Total time on site, about two hours.
They broke loose the ridge tiles above the valley, leaving the mortar attached so they could replace the assembly as-was. Then they worked down the valley, nearly ignoring the foam as they pulled up the tiles, setting them aside in order. Cleaned the valley and there was a quarter-size gap in the underlayment, which he said could be from too much tar or too much heat at installation. They sealed all the edges, and beneath the lower end, with rubberized flashing cement.
Came back the next day and put all the tiles back, which was quick work because they had done the removal systematically. They used caulk (Titebond Metal Roofing Sealant) on the edges to glue the assembly back together, in place of the foam underneath which originally did that. Twelve hours later, TS Andrea came in, and dropped a couple of inches of rain between about 4 and 5 this morning. No leak.
Edward
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Yeah, the mortar is basically bird stop. And perhaps mouse etc stop. I think these tiles require something holding up the low end of the first course, as otherwise they would be at a different angle from the rest. Perhaps other tiles handle this differently; these are the only concrete tiles I've had a chance to examine up close.
Edward
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Sounds like that would make it a lot easier to repair the first course.

House was built in 1977 but roof was replaced in March 2003. Do not know anything about the previous roof.

This is Tampa ... same culture. Perhaps.
Edward
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wrote:

These are not Spanish tiles, they are interlocking tiles, very common in the uk. Real Spanish tiles are laid on to a mud base supported on a timber structure. They take the form of a plain half tapered cylinder and are just bedded into the mud. The same tile is used alternately one way up then the other. The roof pitch/slope is very shallow so they don't slide off.
Back to the tiles you have. They are clearly very poor quality, such tiles should last for sixty or seventy years. Normally they are hooked on to horizontal battens and nailed. Check under your roof from inside if it is visible. There should be no foam, this is a bodge. To remove them you need a tool called "ripper " in the UK. This slides under the tile you want to remove, hooks on the nail and a sharp tug pulls the nail out/bends it. http://www.rapidtoolsdirect.co.uk/product/slate-ripper-quality?oo=0
Once the nail is removed, the tiles above can be eased up to allow new ones to be fitted. Obviously no nail can be fitted to the replacement tiles.
Needless to say all depends on you being able to get spare tiles.
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harry wrote, On 5/29/2013 4:29 AM:

Why do you say that? Because one tile got broken?
To me, they look like perfectly normal and acceptable concrete tiles. __________________________

They do. ____________________

That would be correct if you had said "Sometimes" instead of "Normally". Mudding in tiles over 90# hot mopped felt is quite common. I had my roof done that way, didn't want battens to rot not to mention 1000s of nail holes. __________________________

I'm not sure what a "bodge" but I suspect it is derogatory and refers to a cheap and/or shortcut way of doing something.
If so, it's not. It is used in place of mortar. Seems to stick things well and is certainly lighter but I wonder about its longevity. Me, I'd stick with mortar. ____________________________

Apparently, that is no problem for him.
--
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wrote:

A couple more thoughts. You need to check the whole roof to see if it is all in poor state or not. If it is in poor state better to replace the lot than be buggering about. Maybe even a different roofing system. These roofs rely on gravity to be wind resistant. I imagine in a hurricane they might soon blow off and be very dangerous if they hit someone. We don't get hurricanes in the UK!
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