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What is Roof Cleaning & Why is Roof Cleaning an Important Part of Maintaining Your Home?

I’m glad you asked! Roof cleaning comprises gently applying a mixture of water, chlorine bleach, and a specialized soap (as recommended by The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA).

The chemical solution must be applied using very little water pressure. Any water pressure stronger than what your garden hose produces can cause damage to your roof.

Note: NEVER use high pressurized water or a pressure washer to clean a roof. This can and likely will cause extensive, and costly, permanent damage. But more on that in a little while..

What’s Eating Your Roof?

It is commonly believed that the black streaks on the roof displayed in the photo below are mold or mildew but it is actually a thick layer of black algae (Gloeocapsa Magma). Believe it or not, this algae is actually a plant, and it is feasting on the limestone filler in your roof shingles. As the algae bacteria growth develops, it can advance into a thick green moss.

dirty roof before cleaning greensboro nc
The black streaks on this roof is a bacteria called Gloeocapsa Magma, or black algae.

When the algae spores eat away at your roof shingles and are left untreated, the bacteria will cause permanent damage to your roof shingles. This includes contributing to shingle rot, which causes your roof to leak. This is one of the #1 fears for most homeowners as roof leaks are not usually a cheap fix and homeowner insurance companies rarely cover fixing a leaky roof if the leak was caused by ‘Gradual Damage‘. Essentially, if your roof has been left unmaintained, and the damage was caused over a period of years, fixing your roof will not be covered.

Speaking of Homeowner Insurance..

In some cases, homeowner insurance companies have canceled the homeowner’s insurance policy because the integrity of the roof was compromised by this, avoidable, shingle eating bacteria.

Homeowner Insurance Companies Canceling Policies Due To Dirty Algae Infested Roofs

Property value

When your roof is dirty, it gives off the appearance of needing to be replaced, even if the roof is only 5 or 10 years old! We all know replacing your roof is a very expensive project, so this misconception can cause your home’s value to drop by up to $10k. Look below at the same home we looked at before, but this time it has a clean roof. Which home would you appraise at a higher value?

roof cleaning greensboro nc
Notice how much more inviting this same home is, all just by having the roof professionally cleaned.

If you are prepping your home to sell, I strongly recommend having your roof professionally cleaned to maximize your homes full worth!

The Wrong Way To Clean A Roof

As we covered briefly earlier, NEVER use a pressure washer to clean an asphalt shingle or clay tile roof! When you use a pressure washer to blast the algae bacteria off your roof, you will also blast away the granules on an asphalt shingle or blowing clay tiles right off the roof.

improper roof cleaning damage
Roof damage caused by a pressure washer.

Is Bleach Really Necessary for Roof Cleaning?

Yes. A bleach solution is the only recommended method for cleaning roofs provided by the Asphalt Shingle Manufacturer Association.

A bleach solution is the safest method available to kill the organic bacteria on your roof while being gentle to not undermine the structural integrity of your roof. There are other alternatives to using bleach, however, they are not recommended by many roofing manufacturers and the results are sub-par.

But Won’t Bleach Kill My Plants & Lawn?

If proper preventative measures are not taken, then yes, the recommended bleach solution for cleaning roofs will kill your plants, flowers, and lawn.

Here are 3 ways you can prevent killing any organic matter you do not mean to. (Remember: the bacteria on your roof is an organic matter, just like your plants and flowers!)

  • Flood the roots and surrounding areas of your roof with fresh water from a garden hose before, during, and after the chemical application process. (THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT!) Flooding the roots before cleaning and rinsing the vegetation off during and after the cleaning process will be the most effective method to prevent killing your foliage. Consider having a helper there to help rinse while you are cleaning. Dilution is the solution!
  • Tie thick “gutter bags” to your downspouts (if applicable) so if any of the chemical runoff drains into your gutters it will be captured in the bag, not leaking into your lawn!
  • You can also cover your plants using tarps or Tyvek material, although this isn’t always the most effective method as the chemicals will still run off the covers. The material you may use to cover your plants can also cook your plants by trapping heat and their natural gases. Use this preventative method carefully!

How Can We Help?

If you would like more information, a free quote, or if you need assistance with your roof cleaning project, feel free to reach out to us at Martin’s Pressure Washing.

Martin’s Pressure Washing
Greensboro, NC
[email protected]

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