Roof Cleaning Tips, Your Options And What To Avoid
by John Redihan
You are not sure what is on your roof that makes it look so dirty, you see stains and different growths, and so what are your options?
While driving in your car you see other buildings with similar problems, so you know that the situation on your roof is not an isolated case.
How can something grow on your roof? Quite simply, all it takes is food, water and air.
The food, depending on your roofing material is: for asphalt roofs, the limestone filler used to thicken the shingles, for wood shingle roofs it is just the wood.
As you probably noticed, your roof is clean on some sides but dirty on others, this because the shaded parts or north facing roofs hold moisture longer because of lack of direct sunshine providing water for this growth problem. If you notice long black streaks or stains, your roof is infected with black algae,if you can see flowering growths that could be either lichen, moss or a combination of both.
Is it damaging my roof? Yes, I have seen moss eat through two layers of shingles right into the wood under layment, black algae is a surface feeder, eating the shingle granules, while spreading over the roof. Just look in your gutter of the infected side, I guarantee it is full of discarded shingle granules. So, yes it can cut a 40 year shingles life expectancy in half or worse.
There are three options when it comes to roof cleaning. You could have the entire roof replaced with new shingles, buy a specialized roof cleaning product and tackle the job yourself or seek out a roof cleaning company.
Replace it - If you have that kind of money, great! Here is the bad news, even though the new shingles on the market are algae resistant, buyer beware! Read the warranty they only guarantee them for an average of 10 years, it takes that long before visible signs, from the ground, confirm that algae is present. If you have the money and want to buy yourself 10 years of a clean roof, go for it.
Roof cleaning companies - There are professionals out there who can safely and effectively clean your roof but make sure that you ask about their insurance coverage, this is a specialized insurance and very costly. A professional company should be able to provide local references and have a portfolio of pictures from completed jobs. Always check the product that they will be using, it should read "environmentally safe", not just "bio-degradable", there are products that will clean without causing damage to your plants or lawn.
Doing it yourself - Depending on your skills, this is the option many people choose. The trick is choosing the right product, there a many misleading products on the market, take your time to do some research. My first bit of advice when choosing a product is the old saying "if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is", you will find products that claim to clean your roof by just spraying them on your roof? Does this method work for any cleaning project?
I think not. There is only one way to clean your roof, apply the product, scrub it in to the affected area then hose it off. Find a product that is "environmentally safe" not just bio-degradable", a safe product will not harm your lawn or plants and will not stain your house. The work is not overly hard but does require some "handy man" knowledge.
When cleaning is complete, there is only one proven way to keep your roof clean forever, and that is by applying a strip of zinc flashing across the ridge of your roof. Examples of how well this works are everywhere, just look at any dirty roof and you will see clean areas underneath any metal objects that is because when it rains, metal ions flow off of the metal coating the roof below it, the ions in the metal will not allow fungus growth. Boat motors have zinc on them to prevent algae growth, the theory has been proved for years it is highly effective and zinc is cost efficient only costing about one dollar per foot. When buying zinc, you will need a product that is at least 3 1/2 inches wide, a rule of thumb is one inch for every 10 feet of roof below it, the wider the better. Keep safety in mind when cleaning, John Redihan
John Redihan is the founder of Wash Safe Industries of Brewster, Ma. Wash Safe produces roof washing products , purchasing the correct washing product can make the difference in how washed your roof comes out, zinc ridge stripping is also available through Wash Safe
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