Spring is the time to get your home ready for that hot summer weather. One area that’s easy to overlook is your roof. Cleaning a roof is important because of the many issues that can arise if it’s neglected, especially after a heavy winter. Not only that, but cleaning the roof makes the house more aesthetically pleasing, and it could even increase its value if you plan on selling it.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a checklist of the five most crucial actions to help you get started.
Clear out the gutters
Clean out the debris that washed down from the roof during winter storms. Make sure the downspouts are also clear and draining properly, so rainwater will flow away from your foundation and not puddle around your house.
Clean up around your skylights and chimney
Look at the flashing around these features and make sure it’s still intact and not letting water in where it doesn’t belong.
Trim tree branches that hang over or near your roof
If branches hanging over the roof get weighed down with snow, they can break off and damage shingles or gutters when they fall. Also monitor branches that grow close to power lines that lead to your house — if they get tangled with those lines during a windstorm, your home could be at risk.
Clean off your shingle
After winter has taken its toll on your roof, it’s a good idea to give it a good clean off. A roof cleaning product can help wash away dirt and improve the overall look. Later in this chapter I will tell you how to make your own roof cleaning solution at home for cheaper than the store-bought chemicals.
Check for leaks
Go into your attic armed with flashlights and check for signs of moisture along every rafter and truss. Make sure you check any areas that have had previous water damage as well. If you find any leaks, call a professional roofing company to repair the damage as soon as possible.
Why Bother Cleaning Your Roof?
Out of sight, out of mind, right? You may think that you don’t need to clean your roof because it’s way up there and no one really sees it, anyway. But what you might not realize is that while your roof might be invisible from the ground, it could have endured some damage from seasons changing and built up debris. Roof cleaning is one of the preventable items on the honey do list that has multiple benefits:
The fungi, algae, and moss that grows on your roof can damage its structure and lead to leaks. This will cause rainwater to collect in places where it isn’t supposed to, leading to mold growth, which could be very hazardous for your health. Cleaning your roof will keep these pathogens from growing out of control and causing problems.
A clean roof also means a safer home for you and your family. If there are shingles missing or damaged, then they could fall off at any moment if the wind is strong enough. And if you have debris on top of your house, then this could fall down on people or pets below.
Another benefit that homeowners sometimes overlook is that a clean roof improves curb appeal. If you are planning to sell your home soon, a clean roof makes a big difference. Real estate agents, stagers, and homebuyers all note the condition of the roof!
Prevent Plant Damage
Moss, lichen, algae, and fungi can cause serious damage to your shingles over time by eating away at their protective granules. If there are branches overhanging your roof, they can scrape away the granules when they blow around in high winds or during storms. Tree sap can also cause staining on roofs that is difficult to remove. Keeping your roof free from these damaging elements will help extend its life considerably and prevent costly repairs down the line.
Prevent Heat Damage
A dirty roof is going to get damaged by UV rays. This is because UV rays are more likely to degrade roofing materials if there are dirt particles covering the protective chemicals that reflect sun and heat. That means that your roof will not have as long a lifespan as it should because those little dirt particles are going to speed up the degradation process.
There are shady areas on your roof where Moss thrives. Moss holds moisture against your roof, promotes decay of the shingles, and weighs down your roof. This last point is most important because extra weight on your roof can lead to water infiltration and damage to your home’s interior.
Debris buildup in your gutters prevents proper drainage and can cause damage to soffits, fascia boards, and window sills. It can also be a breeding ground for pests of the flying and slithering variety.
Why You Might Hire a Pro
Roof cleaning is dangerous. Many roofs are steep, and hard to access. It’s easy to slip or lose balance. A professional roof cleaner has the knowledge and experience to do the job safely. They also have the right safety equipment, like harnesses, safety lines, ladders, and other specialized gear to get the job done safely. And it’s not just safety equipment, something as simple as a gutter guard is common practice for a pro, but maybe not top of mind for a DIYer.
Professional roof cleaners have access to advanced equipment and chemicals that ensure maximum impact with minimal risk of damage. Commercial-grade power washers remove mold, mildew, and other stains from your shingles without harming them. They also use advanced solutions that kill mold and mildew but don’t damage your shingles or vegetation around your home or business. When you visit your local hardware store and purchase what’s on the shelf you may find yourself taking an additional trip later in the season, because the chemicals didn’t have the lasting effect that commercial-grade does.
A professional has the expertise and training to ensure that your roof is thoroughly cleaned of mold, mildew, and other stains. Cleaning products used by professionals kill 99% of all mold spores before they start keeping you safe from the elements and prevent your house from wasting energy. This is more than just a cosmetic issue. A dirty roof can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and hazardous materials.
Why I Would Do It Myself
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a pretty frugal guy and so when it comes to cleaning my roof, I would rather risk injury and death then spend more than I have too. If you’re of a similar mindset and have a shingle roof, let me show you what you need to do the job right the first time.
Soft Washing Method
What You Need:
• Metal adjustable ladder
• Gutter Guard (Order Online) - Trust me this matters if you don’t want to damage the gutters
• Three gallon hand pump to spray the roof - This is slow, steady and safe for you and the roof
• Small plastic gutter cleaning tool or cut an old half gallon milk jug
• Multiple 5 gallon buckets
• Dawn dish soap
• Pool shock chemicals
Once you have all those tool its time to get to work:
1. Mix 1 gallon pool shock + 2 gallons H2O + 4 oz. dish soap (I prefer dawn) give it a good stir
2. Secure the ladder and put gutter protection in place
3. Clean the gutter of any debris and buildup so the solution can flow freely down the gutter
4. Gently spray your entire roof, but do not use a broom unless its very soft bristles and you absolutely must
This method is called the soft washing and here is why it’s my preferred method to clean a dirty roof. First, it’s the only method recommended by the ARMA (Asphalt Roof Manufacturers Association). If you were to use a strong broom or wire brush you more than likely would be scrapping away significant shingle grit along with the mold and algae buildup and could shorten the life of your roof by years because of it. Depending on who installed your original roofing, using a wire brush or hard bristle broom might even void the warranty all together. The downside of soft washing is that it can take months for the mold and algae to finally fall off your roof since you’re depending on the weather to push it off once you killed it with the chemical solution you made. So if you are looking for immediate results call the pro and make sure the can guarantee they won’t void existing roofing warranty. One final note: DO NOT USE A PRESSURE WASHER ON YOUR ROOF, using one could cause massive damage to your roof and also remove shingle grit again shortening the roofs life. Most shingle warranties will void if you use a pressure washer, so don’t risk it.
Maintaining your roof is not only good for your home, but it’s also good for the environment. Plus, it’s easy. If you don’t have the time or knowledge to climb up on your roof and clean it yourself, just hire a professional to do all the heavy lifting for you. Either way, make sure you add the roof to your spring cleaning list.
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