Roof, Eaves and Gutter Cleaning
At one time or another, homeowners will experience mold, roof moss, mildew, and algae build-up on the roof of their homes. While these problems do not damage roofing materials, the build-up can trap water in roofing materials, thereby accelerating the process of wear and tear. The good news is that it is fairly easy to clean a roof, and even easier to prevent mold, mildew, moss and algae from reoccurring.
Roof Cleaning Methods
Where moss is concerned, a standard bristle scrub brush should do the trick. Use a bristle brush on a pole to tear the moss from the shingles. This can be done by pushing the brush down the roof. To lessen the risk of breaking the bond between shingle layers, do not brush up. To remove algae, non-toxic oxygen bleach may be used. Coat the surface of the roof and let it sit for around 20 minutes. If you scrub lightly, algae on the roof surface should come off fairly easy. Oxygen bleach may also help to loosen moss roots. It is best not to use chlorine bleach on roofs as the high sodium content causes an electrochemical reaction that reduces the elasticity of asphalt tiles and may cause the shingles to become brittle and stiff, or even to curl. For environmental reasons it is not wise to use chlorine bleach on any roof. It is also not very effective, as it does not kill the whole algae colony should this be a problem. The colony will reappear within 12-18 months.
Trees, birds, leaves, or pine needles do not cause ugly roof stains.
The stains are caused by the air-born spores from black algae, fungus and mold. The spores land on your roof and grow on the asphalt material the shingles are made from.
Black algae usually grows on the North side of the home as well as areas under trees. The North side of the home gets the least amount of sun and therefore stays wet the longest. The moisture allows the algae to flourish.
If left untreated for long enough, the algae will harm your shingles. Over time the algae growth can cause them to dry, crack and curl. Leaks will result leading to premature roof replacement. With proper maintenance, your roof should last at least as long as the warranty period.
There are literally hundreds of chemical products on the market. It is beyond the scope of this paper to review their pros and cons. Choices range from old-fashioned toxic solutions to biodegradable, environment friendly cleaners. Preventative stain shields are also available. Any of these treatments should be applied by an experienced cleaner.
With so many roofing materials being used today, the best advice is bound to come from the original manufacturer. Some roofing suppliers have even developed their own products. Don’t use the same product for ceramic tiles as you would for cedar shakes. Check with the people who make them!
Never use a standard commercial pressure washer to clean your roof. Using a pressure washer will clean the stains from your roof but will also remove the surface of your shingles. Many homeowners have replaced their roofs within just a few years after cleaning it with commercial pressure washers. If the roof shingles are in good shape, power washing may be effective but only if done by a professional with an effective gentle pressure. Even those sold for home use may be too strong.
A Good Time for General Maintenance
Since there is already a person up on the roof, or hanging off a cherry picker, it is also a good time for shingles to be checked for damage from the winter months. If there are any bent or damaged roofing, this would be the time to change them.
Roof cleaning includes looking for clogged gutters that need to be cleaned out. As the rain and snow drains into these eaves/gutters, a back up from leaves could cause big problems for the home internally (see below).
If the roof is not cleaned from season to season, the leaves become stuck in the gutter or down the leaders and a back up could start. Then in the middle of winter, when it is hard to clean the roof because of the cold, ice, and frost sitting on the roof or just the heavy rains, the house could start to have leaks inside.
By having the roof cleaned yearly you can eliminate any future problems of water damage inside the home. Twice yearly is recommended if you have a lot of organic debris falling on the roof. Late fall after the leaves have dropped, and spring to remove leaves trapped over the winter, are common sense times to clean.
Eaves, Gutters and Drainpipes
The sole function of these rather unaesthetic and sometimes maddening pieces of metal (or vinyl) is to save your home’s siding the stress and damage that would ultimately be caused by all the water draining off your roof.
Without redirection, your house would be saturated by a deluge of water every time it rained, causing wear against outside walls, windows and doors, and compromising the seals that keep your house water-tight.
Gutters take the run-off from your roof and direct it to downspouts, which move the water down and away from your home’s foundation, to help prevent flooding. If your gutters become clogged it puts your entire home at risk of water damage.
As with many home maintenance tasks, the best medicine is prevention. Clean your gutters once a year, or have a service do it, depending on the house size and number of floors, and how much you want to put yourself at risk of an accident. If you live is an area that sees a lot of rainfall it never hurts to clean your gutters and downspouts twice a year, in the autumn and the spring, which will limit your exposure to rotting leaves and other debris. If you have birds roosting on or around your roof, it will help limit the clogging their dung inevitably causes.
If you have lots of trees near your rooftop, you should pay special attention to the gutters near areas where they shed leaves. Evergreen needles are particularly troublesome, working their way between and under shingles, breaking the bond with the roof.
Unclogging gutters and downspouts may not be much fun, but it is an easy job if you do it regularly and don’t wait until it becomes a necessity—usually during a terrible rainstorm when water starts entering your house.
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