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.
The Need for Clean
Over time, fungus and algae collect on roofs resulting in spots, stains and general discoloring. David Clarke of American Roof-Brite in Lynchburg explains that this is the result of the organisms feeding on the organic matter found within the shingles. Depending on the slant and angles of the roof lines, and how visible the roof is, these changes can be rather unfavorable to the overall appearance of the home. Cleaning the roof will restore it to its fresh, original state.
In addition to the aesthetic importance of roof upkeep, there are other factors that render this upkeep critical. Over time, buildup of organisms living on the roof can cause a rise in attic temperature due to increased heat absorption, thus raising the cost of cooling your home.
Fungus and algae living on the roof may also cause shingles to weaken and lift. When this happens, portions of the roof—or in some cases, the entire roof—will have to be repaired or replaced. In the long run, spending the time and money to clean the roof will be a good investment.
Besides affecting the home structure itself, organism growth can become potentially harmful to people living within the home. According to Clarke, “Fungus releases spores and other allergens that impact indoor air quality. People living or working in environments with mold or fungus can suffer hay fever-like symptoms or other more serious health problems.” Homeowners can avoid this by performing roof cleaning in a timely manner.
Hiring a Professional
Cleaning the roof requires access to 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. In addition to being dangerous, Clarke says that power washing and/or using bleach can damage the roof and the surrounding landscape. “Even if it works, the stains will come back again,” he says.
Though the thought of hiring a professional for tricky home maintenance is often associated with a hefty price tag, it’s helpful to remember that cleaning the roof is a task that can be complicated in its products, processes, tools and risks.
To ensure that the job is done correctly, looking to an expert might be a wise choice. Businesses such as American Roof-Brite offer safe cleaning systems—free from pressure washing and bleach—that keep all roof types clean by eliminating the problem-causing organisms. For example, Clarke’s company has the know-how and material to safely climb the roof and apply a biodegradable chemical solution, using a patented wand and a high volume of water applied at a low pressure. His company also uses a stain block on the roof after cleaning to help keep stains at bay. He recommends annual roof inspections, and reapplication of the stain block if necessary, suggesting that if these steps are followed, the roof really needs to be cleaned only once. The cost of an initial cleaning ranges from approximately $350 to $550. Another benefit? Most professionals often offer warranties on their work.
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.
Thanks to Joan and Mike Brady for allowing us to photograph their home.