The Safest Way to Clean Your Roof

Man cleaning his roof with a power washer

Your roof needs cleaned when debris begins to block your gutters and trap rainwater. You also need to clean when you see moss or algae growing. Black streaks caused by the growth of blue-green algae start to show on your roof’s surface. When your roof begins to look dull, it’s time to clean it. Did you know that cleaning your roof is crucial to helping it reach its potential lifespan? Did you also know that cleaning your roof can be dangerous when not done right?

The Importance of Roof Cleaning

Before and after roof cleaning image. One roof is dirty and and the other is clean.

Wind and/or animals can carry and deposit moss and algae spores to rooftops. They go from rooftop to rooftop, leaving entire neighborhoods affected often. Algae aren’t harmful to asphalt shingles, but moss is. Moss causes the edges of shingles to curl in an upward motion. This makes them more susceptible to blowing off when there are high winds. While algae aren’t harmful, it can interfere with the reflective properties of some roofs. “The build-up of dirt, soot, algae, or other residue can alter the amount of light and heat your roof absorbs or reflects. Washing it is necessary to keep it as efficient as when it was installed.”

Roof cleaning will extend the life of your shingles, and or any other material of roof you have. It can prevent the buildup of food sources for birds and rodents. It can also prevent chemical buildup, which would damage the roof membrane. Regular cleaning will also remove mud and other debris before it enters your gutters. It can also ensure that if an area needs to be repaired, you’ll be able to see it. Not cleaning your roof can damage it and cause it to need to be replaced before reaching its lifespan.

Dangers of Improper Cleaning

  • Environmental Concerns– Protect plants, shrubs, and other parts of your building. These things are prone to damage by run-off. This is true especially if chemicals like bleach are being used. Bleach is harmful to the environment. It will kill plants and grass, and it can also harm the exterior of your home.
  • WarrantyYour warranty may not cover it if you’re washing your roof for aesthetic purposes. It could if washing it is necessary to keep it as energy efficient as designed. Know what will and what won’t negate your warranty before starting or hiring a contractor. If this is the case, the manufacturer or installer may have recommendations for you to follow. This will dictate what type of brushes to use, what to use, and what pressure a pressure washer can set at. Any damage you cause is going to be on you.
  • Safety- People not used to working on roofs may not take the necessary precautions. If you can do the job from a ladder and maintain three points of contact, this is safest. It would be difficult to apply necessary soaps and water without letting go of the ladder. This is a concern on flat roofs as well as sloped roofs. Be aware also of the correct footwear, and eye/face/hand protection. Footwear that doesn’t slip is a must when you’re on a roof. Eye/hand/face protection is crucial when working with chemicals, especially bleach.

Should You Clean or Replace Your Roof?

Mossy house roof with Aapex logo in bottom right.

Clean roofs showcase problem spots. You would be able to recognize potential need for replacement by looking at it. A dirty roof is more difficult to assess on your own. Buildup of algae and moss on your roof can make shingles look like they’re in bad condition. Sometimes it appears much worse than it actually is. A second opinion might be the best option if you’re unsure. A professional roofing contractor can inspect your roof and explain its condition. If they think that cleaning is the right option, then you can choose to hire cleaning or do it yourself. If your roof is too far gone, they will tell you. They can offer you next steps and give you recommendations. A roofing pro can also give you advice on keeping your roof clean and how often to schedule cleanings. Hiring a professional to look at and clean your roof is the best way to know if it needs replacement or not. They have much more knowledge about how it’s supposed to look and what to do to restore it if somethings not right.

How to Safely Clean Your Roof

The National Roofing Contractors Association advises against any DIY work on your roof, including cleaning it. Roof cleaning is a job to leave to the pros.” This means the absolute safest way to clean your roof is to hire a professional to do it for you. If you choose to attempt it yourself, there are safety precautions and tips you should follow. Never use a power washer. This goes for both asphalt shingles and metal roofs. It can loosen shingles and dent metal if it’s done too close. You should always start by wetting plants and shrubbery with water. You should then cover them along with surrounding areas of the house. This is to avoid run off damage. Clean your roof on a cloudy, calm, dry day. Wind, rain, and sun will all affect the cleaning process.

Always take safety precautions. This is the most important part of DIY roof cleaning. Don’t clean the roof if you can’t walk on it. If the slope is too steep or if your house is more than one story, you should hire a professional. Wear well-fitting shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles. Wear eye and skin protection. Have someone else with you. Finally, remember to have patience. The first cleaning may not remove everything. There are different cleaning recommendations for different roof materials. Following the steps for your roof type will give the best results. The recommendations are:

  • Asphalt roofs- “Use a sprayer attached to garden hose that’s filled with equal parts chlorine bleach and water. of laundry strength liquid chlorine bleach and water. This is the best way to clean a roof if you have asphalt shingles. After spraying the roof with the mixture, allow it to sit on the surface for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with clean water.”
  • Metal roofs- “We recommend mixing a ¼ cup of detergent, which can include car washing soap or mild dish soap, with a gallon of water. Then, you’ll just need to apply to solution to your metal roof with a sponge, microfiber cloth, or soft-bristle brush, and let it sit on the surface for 5-10 minutes.”

In Conclusion

If you’re maintaining your roof, you won’t need deep cleaning as often. Consistent removal of branches and debris will help maintain your roof. Cleaning your gutters will also aid in this process. If you’re unsure if your roof needs cleaned or replaced, get a second opinion. While roof cleaning is crucial when needed, it can also be dangerous for you to attempt by yourself. There are tips to ensure a safe way of cleaning your roof, but the safest is to consult a professional. We’d love to help! We’re here to give you that second opinion and offer roof cleaning services.

Contact us today to get a quote or learn more.

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