Importance Of Roof Cleaning
A commonly overlooked home maintenance task is roof cleaning. When the siding of your home is dirty or the paint is peeling, this becomes a rather obvious sign that it is time for maintenance, however the roof of your home tends to be a bit more out of the line of sight- out of sight, out of mind. What many homeowners fail to consider is that a roof that is not properly cleaned and maintained can lead to damage which will shorten the lifespan of perhaps the most important protective feature of your home. We covered some of this in another blog about our recommendations for roof cleaning in the Pacific Northwest.
Your roof is exposed to the elements all day, every day. Dirt and debris will collect on it. Natural rainfall is typically enough to wash off the appearance of most dirt. However, the dark stains and green areas that appear on your roof are caused by other natural elements:
These contaminants are more difficult to remove and require the aid of proper roof cleaning services.
Perhaps you have noticed black stains on your roof. These stains are a growth called algae. Algae feeds off both asphalt and limestone roofing in moist, cool and shaded areas of the roof. When there is minimal light, GM forms a blue-green color. The more shaded areas of the roof are more likely to have these algae, which can harbor various types of molds. This explains why some roofs are stained only on one side. These algae spores are transported by wind or animals and can quickly spread from rooftop to rooftop in neighborhoods of single-family homes, townhomes and apartment complexes.
Lichens are essentially a combination of algae and fungus. Lichens are a fungus that grows along with algae. These plant-like organisms form a branching growth of root-like tentacles that penetrate deep into the shingle’s base for nourishment. Lichens are tough to remove from the roof and can reappear from humidity and rain.
Unlike the algae and lichens, moss is an actual plant. Moss has a shallow root system and requires a lot of moisture to survive. Areas with less sunlight remain damp longer. Overhanging tree branches not only provide more shade, but they also drop debris that serves as a food source for moss. Like algae, moss spores are often transferred by wind or animals and can easily spread throughout neighborhoods.
How Can This Damage My Roof?
The stains and growth patches caused by algae, fungi and moss can damage your roof through shingle deterioration and wood rot. Both lead to expensive repairs and can shorten the life of your roof. Roof cleaning can help minimize or reverse this damage.
As mentioned above, algae is a bacterium that feeds off both asphalt and limestone. That means that these organisms are literally eating away at your shingles. Furthermore, roofs with algae stains absorb heat. This results in extremely high heat in the attic, which can reduce the lifespan of the shingles by essentially baking them from the inside out. Lichen colonies can be quite damaging to shingles. The penetrating tentacles create pock marks where they grow and eventually ruin the shingles. Moss is even more detrimental to roof shingles. Moss can cause the edges of the shingles to lift or curl—often the first sign that a roof replacement is needed. And because moss holds in moisture, it can freeze in the winter, causing even more shingle damage.
Moss can hold in moisture and divert water, which makes your roof deck susceptible to wood rot and leaks. It tends to grow in the slots between shingles, which is the last place water evaporates from a roof. Moss growth on your roof is easy to spot. But the signs of wood rot are not always obvious to the average homeowner. Wood rot not only shortens the life of your roof, but it can also cause mold growth, which can be hazardous to homeowners and their pets.
Roof cleaning not only maintains a beautiful appearance, but it also protects your investment by extending the life of the roof. While it is tempting to make roof cleaning a DIY project, it is recommended to hire a professional roof cleaning company. These professionals use special equipment that does not harm the shingles, unlike standard high-pressure washers. Reputable roof cleaning companies will also use a biodegradable cleaning solution. A DIY roof cleaning project typically uses a solution of water and bleach. While that can help rid the roof of algae, it is harmful to plants and the environment.