A Brief Guide to Cleaning Your Roof

Regular roof cleaning is an essential part of owning and caring for a home. Keeping your roof clean adds to your home's aesthetic value by boosting its curb appeal and enhancing the longevity of your roof, all while keeping maintenance costs down year after year. 

In fact, routine roof cleaning is so essential that most roofing experts recommend getting it done at least once a year, typically in the fall to get rid of all the debris, filth, and biological growth that takes hold over the summer. If you live in a particularly dusty, windy, or humid area, getting two cleanings done a year might not be a bad idea to prevent harmful algae, moss, and grime buildup. 

In this guide, we'll go over why regular roof cleaning is so important and discuss some tips to help you get the most value out of the investment you've made in your home! 

Cleaning Your Roof is a Part of Routine Maintenance

As the seasons pass and years go by, more and more dirt, grime, debris, and biological matter can accumulate on your roof's surface; all of which can cause avoidable damage to your roof's materials! 

This can shorten the effective lifespan of your roof, resulting in unexpected repair or replacement costs. Keeping a clean roof is an essential part of maintaining your home and keeping it in good condition. In fact, regular roof cleaning is often recommended as a key piece of any roof maintenance plan, and for good reason. 

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Reasons to Clean Your Roofing System

There are plenty of reasons to prioritize regular roof cleaning: it's cost-effective, helps your roof last longer and look better, and prevents biological growths like mold and algae from spreading into your home. Taking the time to give your roof a good cleaning, particularly before winter sets in, is a great way to ensure your roof stays in good shape throughout the year. 

Algae, Moss, and Lichen Growth

Algae, moss, and lichen are more than just eyesores on your roof. While they do damage your home's appearance and could even get you in hot water with your HOA, these growths can be very harmful to your roof's materials.

If you see moss growth on your roof's surface, it is an almost sure sign that your shingles or tiles have started to get eaten away by the microbes that have taken hold. This can mean that your roofing materials lose the protective layers that help them reflect heat and moisture so your home can stay cool and dry. These damaged materials can also become loose or cracked, increasing their chances of falling off or being torn away by the wind. And to top it all off, if the algae or moss reaches the wood framing beneath the top layer of your roof, it can take hold and spread throughout your home, causing untold amounts of structural damage. 

Discoloration and Lack of Curb Appeal

As dirt and grime build up on your roof, the outer materials can become discolored, visibly dirty or worn-looking, and very unpleasant to look at. A dirty roof can ruin the appearance of an otherwise well-maintained home and severely depreciate its value and curb appeal. Roof cleaning can also remove or clear up some of the natural discoloration that occurs on roofing materials over time. 

Deterioration of Materials

Regular roof cleaning is vital to your overall roof maintenance because grime, debris, dirt, and biological growths contribute to the deterioration of your roofing materials, whether they’re shingles, tiles, or metal slats.

Over time, excessively dirty roofs lose their ability to effectively protect the homes they cover, and the worn-out materials must be replaced much more often."¯ 

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Tips on How to Clean Your Roof

Whether you plan to clean your roof on your own or enlist the help of a professional, there are several things you can do to make roof cleaning easier, safer, and more effective. 

While regular roof cleaning is essential for the health and longevity of your roof's materials, incorrect cleaning methods and chemical usage can end up doing more harm than good, so always be certain that you use the right tools for the roof that you have. If you're uncertain or have any doubts, always call a roofing professional for help. It's better to ask and be sure than take a guess and damage your roof, home, or health! 

Note: Safety First!

Any kind of roofing maintenance can be risky and potentially dangerous depending on your level of confidence and experience. Don't step foot on your roof unless you know for certain where to walk and how to move around. Always work with a partner who can spot you, and don't work with tools, materials, or chemicals you aren't familiar with. If you're ever unsure about your ability to complete the job, we highly recommend that you call a professional.  

1) Account for Your Roofing Material

Different roofing materials respond to different levels of pressure washing and chemical use. Know and understand the roof type you're working with before you start buying equipment and cleaning products. For example, power washing asphalt shingles is all but guaranteed to destroy them instead of clean them, and certain harsh cleaners should only be used on a non-porous material like a metal roof. Do your research and ensure your cleaning methods will work with the type of roofing you have. 

Never Use a Pressure Washer on Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles should never, under any circumstances, be pressure washed. If they're hit at the wrong angle by high-pressure water, shingles can rip, tear loose, or, at best, be weakened and become more likely to fall off later. A high-pressure wash can also damage the individual granules that give asphalt shingles their color and fire-resistance rating! 

Different Materials Require Different Methods

Your roofing material will determine both the kind of cleaning products you use and what process you employ to clean your roof. Asphalt roof shingles can be cleaned with as simple a method as water from a garden hose mixed with a non-abrasive cleaning chemical, while metal roofs can be pressure washed with more abrasive chemicals, but you need to be careful around joints and flashing so you don't force water past the sealed sections of the roof. Clay tiles and wood shakes must also be delicately cleaned using the proper compounds and low-pressure water."¯ 

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2) Soft Wash vs. Hard Wash for Roofing

Very few roofing styles can take a high pressure washing and come out unscathed. When it comes to asphalt shingles, clay tiles, and wood shakes, avoid hard washing at all costs since it can damage or even outright destroy these materials.

To avoid damaging your roof, use low pressure equipment - for many roofs, even a garden hose will work great when combined with the right cleaning products. Soft washing protects your roof's surface and keeps the structure beneath dry and watertight. Before you crank up the pressure washer, make sure you know how much water pressure you should use for the roof you're cleaning!

3) Opt for the Right Products

It's always a good idea to research any chemical or cleaning product you intend to use to make sure it's the right fit for what you're cleaning. Some cleaning products are designed for specific roof types and have varying amounts of abrasiveness to target specific kinds of grime or biological growth. Cleaning products designed for use on metal roofs will probably be too abrasive or harsh on asphalt shingles, while "softer" chemicals made for shingles or tiles may not be tough enough to get the worst of the grime off of a hardier roof.

To ensure your roof receives a good cleaning without any side effects, read up on your cleaning products before you apply them.

Wet and Forget, Mold Armor, and More

Wet-and-Forget is an excellent cleaning solution for more delicate roofing materials like shingles and tiles. It doesn't require any pressure washing or scrubbing and is designed to be applied once a year. Simply attach the container's nozzle to your garden hose, spray your roof with the mixed water, and let it dry. Wet-and-Forget specifically targets mold, moss, mildew, and algae. Mold Armor works in a very similar way but should be washed off after it's applied. These products work great for home roof cleaning, are simple to use, and offer affordable options for taking care of your home."¯ 

4) Consider Calling a Roofing Professional for Tougher Jobs

If it's been a while since you've cleaned your roof and there is a significant amount of grime or algae growth, or you're unfamiliar with the process and don't want to risk damaging your home, consider contacting a professional roof cleaning service to help you get the job done.

As experts in the cleaning process, these professionals can help keep your home looking great year-round while ensuring that your roof stays in good condition for years to come. Contact the pros at PRQ Exteriors today to find a roof cleaning solution for you and your home!

PRQ Exteriors is a Leader Roofer in Colorado

For nearly a decade, PRQ Exteriors has been providing industry-leading roofing services throughout Colorado. Our wide range of professionally-designed solutions includes everything from minor roof repairs, roof replacements, new roof installations, roof inspections, cleaning, and more. When it's time to start your next roofing project, we're here to help! 

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PRQ Exteriors is the top rated Denver roofing company

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Since 2014, our team of top-notch professionals has been helping homeowners and property managers throughout Colorado meet and exceed their roofing needs with our proven roofing services. To learn more about how we can help you with your next roofing project, contact us today for a free estimate and consultation! 

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