What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Roof
In addition to unnecessary wear and tear on your roof tiles from the weather, the number one concern that you should have if you don’t regularly clean your asphalt shingle roof is moss growth. As moss thickens and continues to grow on your roof over time, it can actually raise up the singles in an unnatural way.
Not only will this allow debris to gather in an area where it doesn’t belong, but it also promotes water buildup. This in turn not only limits the lifespan of your roof and could cause individual tiles to rot, but it also makes a leak much more likely – leading to damage inside your home, as well.
Black algae and similar types of issues are also very common on asphalt shingle roofs that are not properly maintained, all of which mean that cleaning your roof on a regular basis should always be a top priority in the life of any homeowner.
Cleaning an Asphalt Shingle Roof
Most asphalt shingle roof cleaning methods require the use of some type of chemical – this is especially true if you’re dealing with algae stains and other visual issues. Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t use harsh chemicals or you could artificially shorten the life of your tiles. Use a product specifically designed to not only remove moss and algae stains, but one that is marked safe to use on asphalt shingle roofs.
Once you’ve taken the chance to wet down your entire roof with the aforementioned solution, give it a chance to sit – usually about 15 minutes or so will do just fine.
Tips And Tricks To Maintain Your Clean Roof
Besides roof cleaning, there are other ways for you to maintain and prolong the lifespan of your roofs.
1. Trim any protruding branches
Sometimes you cant help it when trees grow towards your property. Youll be surprised one day to come home and find a branch of your neighbors tree on your roof! Oh no! The branch might fall on your roof and damage it.
Luckily, you can prevent this by trimming the branches. Its easy, and it wont take long!
2. Clean your roof of any debris
As a general rule, you want your roof to be exposed to sunlight as much as possible. Why? Moss and algae are less likely to grow and accumulate in your area! Remember, algae growth also allows debris to build up in time.
If you dont want to encounter this problem repeatedly, we recommend roof cleaning regularly. You can use a leaf blower or garden sprayer to clear the area!
3. Install zinc or copper-coated sheet metal
Alternatively, you can also install a sheet of zinc or copper-coated sheet metal on your asphalt shingle roof.
Moss and algae are less likely to develop and grow because copper is toxic to them. So its a great and natural way of getting rid of them!
4. Spray Anti-Moss Biocide
If you dont want to install copper sheet metal on your roof, we recommend spraying anti-moss biocide instead.
Youve probably scrubbed your roof clean after all the hard work youve done, but did you kill the spores? Water and bleach might not be the solution to get them out of your roof.
How To Use Bleach To Clean Other Types Of Roofs
Some types of bleach for instance oxygen bleach, can be used to clean other types of roofs. It is environment friendly and it does not damage the color of the roof on wooden roof shingle shakes. This procedure requires the bleach and water
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Choose The Right Chemicals
If you search online, youll see hundreds of posts on roof-cleaning methods. In less than 10 minutes, youll sign off convinced that all you need is a few gallons of household bleach and a power washer set at its lowest setting.
We dont recommend that approach. Even at low pressure, a power washer can seriously damage shingles. Plus, chlorine bleach is a corrosive agent that can damage metal roof flashings, gutters and downspouts. It can lighten the color of your roof and bleach anything the overspray contacts. And the runoff harms plants. But heres the kicker. Bleach may kill the top layer of algae and lighten the stains, but it doesnt kill the underlying algae. So the algae colony gets right back to work.
Sodium hydroxide products, on the other hand, work better than bleach and are less harmful to vegetation. But theyre also corrosive, and using them requires you to don full protective gear.
So look for a roof-cleaning product thats noncorrosive and safe for the environment. We chose Defy roof cleaner for this story , but there are other brands.
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What Is The Best Roof Cleaning Method
Not all roof washing methods are alike! Most pressure washing contractors specializing in roof cleaning will use a soft wash system, starting with detergents and chemicals meant to dissolve thick dirt and grime and that kills mold and algae. This surfactant also seeps into roof nooks and crevices, ensuring nothing is overlooked.
A soft wash system then employs a low-pressure rinse, typically just slightly stronger than a garden hose with a sprayer nozzle. That low pressure is all thats needed to remove dissolved dirt and grime and other residues. Soft wash systems also create very little splashing and splatter, ensuring you dont end up with a bigger mess than before roof washing began!
Soft wash systems are also an excellent choice for gutter cleaning, which many homeowners schedule along with roof washing. When a roof is covered in dirt, moss, and other debris, the homes gutters are also typically clogged with muck as well!
Clogged gutters allow rainwater to wash over their sides, leading to the risk of water damage and unsightly stains. Cleaning gutters by hand is often difficult, messy, and ineffective, but using too much pressure with power washing equipment can pull gutters from connectors and create lots of unsightly splatter and mess. A soft wash gutter cleaning ensures a thorough clean without damage.
Best Solution To Clean Metal Roof
Before you learn this step, definitely consider hiring a highly skilled professional as your roof is probably one of the most expensive investments you make on your home and would be worth its weight in gold to have it cleaned professionally, safely, and effectively. The active ingredient we use and recommend is Sodium Hypochlorite. Most hardware stores keep Sodium Hypochlorite in jugs at 6.5% as that is the highest concentration they can legally sell to the normal consumer base. We get the product for about half the price as consumers can get it for as we purchase in large quantities and we also get a contractor discount because we buy so much. Also the concentration we are able to get is around 12.5% and is labeled as Sodium Hypochlorite/Pool Shock anywhere it is stocked. So here are the ratios for cleaning your metal roof.
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Things To Know About Roof Cleaning
Preventing Regrowth Of Algae
If youve had a lot of algae on your roof, its important to be proactive and try and prevent it from regrowing. One of the best ways to do this is to use a stain-blocking solution.
In addition, here are some other helpful tips for limiting the possibility of moss and algae growth on your roof:
- Make sure to trim tree branches back to allow sunlight to reach your roof. This will help minimize debris accumulation on your roof, which can make it harder for algae and moss to grow.
- Anytime a big storm blows through or in the fall when leaves are falling on your roof, make sure to clean all that off consistently. Dont give it the chance to accumulate and build-up. Otherwise, youre putting your roof in danger of moss and algae growth.
- Airflow should be directed down the slope to avoid driving debris under the edges of the shingles.
- Keep gutters clean to promote proper water drainage. Dont allow gutters from an upper roof to drain directly on a lower roof.
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Most Common Types Of Organic Growth On Your Metal Roof
Roof bacteria can reveal itself in many different forms and appearances. You may think you have mold growing on your metal roof, but it really could be moss, mildew, algae, lichen, or Gloeocapsa Magma. Metal roofs typically turn black with a greenish tint to it when they are saturated with organic growth. Organic growth can also grow on wood, asphalt shingles, concrete, slate tiles, Spanish tiles, and many other substrates especially if the sunlight is not so good in that area.
Black Streaks On Roof Shingles
One of the most common stains on an asphalt shingle roof are the black streaks that seem to cascade down the face of asphalt roofs. While these streaks may resemble mold or mildew, they are a specific type of blue-green algae. This type of algae travels by air and can be transferred to your roof from a neighbors roof.
This type of algae loves hot, humid environments. Most commonly found on shingles in the Southeast, it will grow anywhere that experiences hot, humid weather at any time of year. This type of algae will coat shingles and degrade them, trapping moisture on top of the shingle. You can defeat this type of algae with a simple bleach wash, which well describe below.
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What’s Involved In Roof Cleaning
During roof cleaning, the focus is on killing and removing the algae or moss growth. Chlorine bleach, the same kind you use to whiten laundry or scrub your toilet, is enough to kill off moss and algae spores. The ARMA recommends a 1:1 ratio of bleach to water to clean a roof. They also advise against using a pressure washer on asphalt shingles, as the force of the water can damage them.
After being allowed to sit on the roof surface for up to 20 minutes, the bleach solution should be rinsed away with clean water. A few rain showers should be enough to wash any remaining algae off the roof. The person cleaning your roof might also use a leaf blower to remove any leftover pieces of moss.
Tips To Prevent Roof Algae & Moss
Roof algae and moss usually grow because of moisture and bacterial growth. You can stop that growth from ever starting in the first place, effectively making your roof last longer. Here are a few ways to prevent future growth once you have gotten rid of moss and algae:
- Trim trees near the home: Overgrown trees often spread bacteria onto the roof and cause algae growth. Make sure to plant trees far enough away from the house and trim them back regularly so they arent hanging over the roof.
- Get rid of standing water: Standing water is another factor that can contribute to mold and algae growth. Minimize standing water on the roof by fixing shingles, cleaning gutters, and performing small roof repairs as necessary.
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Should You Clean A Shingle Roof
If your asphalt shingles dont look damaged, and the roof looks about the same as when it was installed, then it doesnt need to be cleaned. A little fading should be expected but does not necessarily indicate a need for cleaning.
If you do notice damage, such as black streaks or white lichen splotches, then it is time to consider a clean. If you dont clean the shingles, the problem will not solve itself. Leaving dirt, lichen and other roof damage left to sit will result in several issues if not dealt with, such as:
- Water damage
- Increased likelihood of blowing away
- Aesthetically ugly and decreases home value
- Algae stains
Choose The Right Day And Prepare The Area
Check the weather forecast and choose a cool or overcast day with little to no wind so the spray hits your shingles, not the neighbors. Those conditions allow the cleaning solution to soak deep into the algae colonies without evaporating too quickly.
Next, repair any loose shingles or flashings, and clean the gutters and downspouts so they can drain freely.
Then prepare the area by moving lawn furniture and covering vegetation, because youre going to have overspray. Even though the product we chose isnt toxic, the runoff can be pretty ugly. So a little prep work will save you cleanup time later.
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Prepare Your Cleaning Materials
There are specific ways and requirements for you to clean asphalt shingles, and no, its not just soap and water.
Instead, youll need to use specific types of chemicals like sodium hypochlorite, to get rid of algae stains and other dirt your roof may have.
Whatever the case, never use a harsh chemical! Thats strictly forbidden because it could potentially depreciate the lifespan of your roof.
As a general rule, make sure to use products recommended and safe for asphalt shingles.
If you dont want any of the commercial cleaners in the market, you can make your own as an alternative! Its easy because all youll need is equal parts of water and laundry-strength chlorine bleach. Youre good to go!
How Often Should You Clean Your Roof
You may love to experience the four seasons each year in the Pacific Northwest, but your roof doesnt. Rain, fog, ice, and even shade from large trees can create the perfect environment for moss and fungi to grow.
Moss, mildew, algae, and lichen grow into your shingles and wear away the material. They can even lift shingles. This creates space for water to pool and eventually leak into your home.
People in Portland and Vancouver often ask us: How often should I clean my roof?
Its a good question, but unfortunately, theres no easy answer. How often you should clean your roof really depends on several factors that affect the condition of your roof. Ill go over those today so you can decide whether your roof needs cleaning. First, well talk about how to safely and effectively clean a roof.
Lets dive in!
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Does Spray And Forget Work On Roofs
A: Spray & Forget will not work to remove dirt, pollen, sap, or soot, but is very effective on roof moss. A: Yes, Spray & Forget will work on almost any exterior surface and actually works faster on these surfaces then on roof surfaces. Apply 5 gallons of water to 1 gallon of Spray & Forget mixture to these surfaces.
Can You Power Wash Asphalt Shingles
No. You should never power wash a roof. A garden hose sprayer is the highest pressure a roof shingle should experience no higher than 70 psi. Since pressure washers commonly spray up to and beyond 3000 psi, they should be avoided. Shingle manufacturers even ask that shingles not be walked on, much less pressure washed.
Using a pressure washer to clean your asphalt shingles can void their warranty and speed up the decay of your shingles. After pressure washing, youll likely notice tons of roof granules in your gutters because youve blasted your shingles too much. Avoid.
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What If I Like The Moss
Some homeowners find moss enchanting, like ivy growing up the side of their home. If youd like to grow moss or other plants on your roof, you could consider investing in a residential green roof. Thin, extensive green roofs are enough to grow succulents and mosses. If youre interested in taller plants, consider an intensive green roof.
How To Remove And Prevent Black Algae Stains On Asphalt Shingle Roofs
If you live in a humid area of the country, youve probably seen unsightly dark streaks on asphalt shingle roofs. Though often attributed to an accumulation of dirt, defective shingles, mold, or mildew the most common culprit is actually a blue-green algae known as Gloeocapsa Magma that is spread by airborne spores.
While algae growth does little harm to roofing, the stains dont help the overall appearance or resale value of your home.
You may also have noticed that algae stains are absent directly below the metal flashing around chimneys or roof vents. This is due to fact that copper and the zinc coating on galvanized sheet metal are toxic to algae. Every time it rains, trace amounts of metals are washed down the roof, inhibiting algae growth.
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