A Clean Roof Over Your Head
By definition, a roof is simply the top covering of a structure. But to a home, the roof serves as a defender against all outside elements—water, ice, wind, debris, and anything else that makes its way onto the vast surface we live beneath. With this in mind, keeping the roof clean and healthy helps homeowners avoid the stress of having to repair or replace a roof before its normal lifespan is over.
Over time, fungus and algae collect on a roof, yielding spots, stains and general discoloring. Depending on the slant and angles of the roof line, and how visible the roof is, these changes can be unfavorable to the overall appearance of the home. Necessary maintenance can restore your roof to its fresh, original state.
Eliminating organism growth not only improves looks but will extend the lifespan of the roof. Chip Holdren of Dominion Surface Solutions explains the devastating effects of organisms growing on the roof. “Once attached to a shingled roof, fungus begins to feed on dead organic matter such as asphalt used in the manufacturing process,” he says. “As the fungus begins to break down the asphalt, the ceramic granules are loosened and begin to fall off. The ceramic granules are layered on top of the roofing material in the manufacturing process to protect the roofing material from UV degradation, and once removed, the roof will begin to deteriorate prematurely.”
Buildup on the roof can do more than stain or deteriorate the structure; it can also create a higher electric bill for homeowners. According to Holdren, “A roof covered in algae absorbs heat and results in higher heat levels in the attic, raising cooling costs.”
Besides the effect on the home itself, organism growth on the roof may harm those people living inside. “Many people are allergic to algae and mold spores,” says Holdren. “A roof that is inhabited by algae colonies is releasing mold spores into the air surrounding the home.” In the long run, spending the necessary time and money to care for the roof will be beneficial to everyone at home.
Hiring a Professional
Cleaning the roof requires access the highest point of the home—a potentially dangerous task if not done with caution. While some homeowners may think this is a task they can tackle with a power washer and bleach, they may want to think again. Holdren explains that bleach can damage vegetation and dry out shingles, and produces temporary results. Bleach addresses only surface algae and not the root system underneath those ceramic granules. “In addition, bleach around the home could void any termite treatment, as chlorine neutralizes many of these chemicals,” he says. Though hiring a professional for tricky home maintenance can incur a higher price tag than the do-it-yourself approach, remember that cleaning the roof is a task that can be complicated in its products, processes, tools and risks.
Professional roof cleaners can provide safe cleaning systems that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and harmless to a home’s landscaping. For example, Dominion Surface Solutions applies their cleansing solution, then uses a low-pressure rinsing machine to remove stains and streaks. The cost of this service varies, based on a variety of factors: the size and pitch of the roof, how accessible the roof is, how dirty it is, and what types of stains are present. Regardless of price, professionals often offer continued treatment to keep the roof in good condition. According to Holdren, “Once the roof has been cleaned by us, at the customer’s request, we will return once a year for a fraction of the cost of the initial cleaning to apply a preventive treatment.” Additionally, it is important to note that roof maintenance is not a one-time job. “Without the annual preventive treatment, the homeowner must realize that after the roof cleaning, their roof will be as clean as a new roof. It is likely that airborne algae spores will again adhere to their roof at some point, beginning the process all over again,” explains Holdren.
Though there are certainly areas of the home more exciting than the roof, keeping this structure in pristine condition will help to avoid many frustrations. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, ensure that your roof stays intact for as long as possible by keeping it clean and free from fungus, algae and other problematic conditions.