The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Roof 

Image of roof installed by Canuck Roofing

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and with that often comes holiday light installations!  Stunning displays often bring attention to one’s home, elicit cheer, and bring joy to festive walks. But with that may also bring unwanted attention to your roof. Take a look; it may be time to give your roof a clean before this year’s snowfall. Here is your guide to the dos and don’ts for roof cleaning.

Your roof’s appearance

If you are noticing black streaks on your shingles, your initial thought might be mold. Not to fear! It’s much more likely to be algae. Algae is an extremely common substance that grows on roofs, and it won’t deter the health of your asphalt shingles. Algae is spread by wind, favouring and settling on north-facing portions of roofs due to its exposure to the sun and moisture.  On its own, algae is slow to deteriorate your roof. However, it can create lichen when working alongside fungus as an accomplice. This is the perfect breeding ground for moss which can catch seeds, sprout grass, and home other unwanted friends. If you see green on your roof, it’s most likely moss that you’re dealing with.

So now that we can identify the organisms we’re working with, how do we clean them?

When to use a pressure washer.

As much as pressure washing is a satisfying and often tempting process due to its speed… using a power washer on your roof can severely loosen and damage it. Costing you more time and money in the long run. A pressure washer will have damaging effects, especially to asphalt shingles and cedar shake roofs although it can be used on concrete tile or metal roofs. It is extremely important to hire a professional contractor when considering using a pressure washer because a trained professional will know the right pressure to use, certain areas where  you can or can’t use the equipment and most importantly, complete the project safely.

What can you do? Hire a professional who uses an eco-friendly moss and algae treatment.

Most common product on the market today is called Soft-Wash. This is a spray treatment that is applied to the roof which will kill the moss at the roots. It will take a little time afterwards for the moss to shrink and fall off naturally. The black steaks on the roof, algae, will be removed naturally as well but almost immediately.

Do NOT forget about your surrounding areas.

Whichever product you end up using, make sure it is eco-friendly so you don’t damage the roof materials, the surrounding vegetation, make an pets or animals sick or put chemicals into the  water stream.

What can you do? Protect what you can!

Although you are using an eco-friendly product, it is important to protect the surrounding areas from overspray and runoff. A professional company should have this all taken care of. If you are pressure washing, the use of many tarps will be required to protect your property and neighbouring properties. This will also make the clean-up process far more efficient.

Do NOT clean your roof in the sun and/or heat.

Sunny days are for enjoying not for roof cleaning! It is best to clean you roof on a cloudy day before it rains.

What can you do? Clouds are your friends!

By waiting to clean your roof on a bleak, cloudy day you will ensure the best results. But make sure there’s no wind or rain because that will also deter your efforts by either spreading or  diluting your solution.

Do NOT forget your safety precautions

With every project, the saying “safety first” applies. Don’t forget to apply this to your roof cleaning as well. Hire a professional company who has active WorkSafeBC coverage and liability insurance so you know you and the companies employees on the roof are protected in the unwanted event of an injury.

What can you do? Assess!

Although we always recommend hiring a professional, if you are considering the DIY approach, please consider the slope of your roof. If it is steep or slippery due to copious amounts of moss, consider hiring a professional to clean your roof for you. If you do feel safe enough to traverse your roof, make sure to use shoes that have slip-resistant rubber soles and quality eye and skin protection but most importantly fall protection properly with installed safety anchors!

What can you do? Be preventative.

If you truly want to prevent any nuisance when you don’t see stains on your roof, trim overhanging branches and clear debris (like leaves) from your roof and gutters so that bacteria isn’t attracted to the warm environment that those create. The most efficient way to remove loose debris on the roof is with a leaf blower. Make sure to follow these recommendations when cleaning your roof. Its best practice to hire the professionals to ensure an efficient and safe project well done. Happy cleaning!