Roof maintenance is one of those responsibilities that come along with being a homeowner. Since your roof is the protective layer that protects your home from the elements, it tends to take most of the damage from weather and such. You may deal with roof replacements, storm damage, and other issues over time, but did you know that mold, fungi, and other growth pose a danger to your roof too?
Preventative maintenance is one of your greatest weapons against roof problems. Keeping your roof clean can prevent a number of issues primarily related to age and decay- but what happens if you don’t invest in these services? How important is it to keep your roof clean?
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Roof cleaning probably isn’t a part of your normal cleaning routine when you clean your house. That’s understandable, as getting up onto the roof takes considerable effort and can even be dangerous if you have a sloped roof. So how do you clean your roof in the first place?
First of all, using a pressure washer is never a good idea. Aside from the fact that your pressure washer (or a rented pressure washer) may not even be long enough to reach up to your roof, you can actually knock the shingles off of the roof with a pressure washer if the pressure is turned up so high.
In general, it’s not advisable to perform any roof work, including cleaning, by yourself. Being up on a roof may not seem like that big of a deal, especially for one-story houses, but there are plenty of risks that come with it. There’s always a risk of falling off the roof, for one thing, which increases exponentially in the winter when it gets snowy and icy.
Falls aren’t the only risk when you’re up on a roof- there are also staples, nails, and other sharp objects that you could step or sit on and injure yourself. Overall, it’s best to hire a professional roof cleaning service.
The idea of cleaning your roof might sound silly. After all, it’s outside, so of course it’ll get dirty over time. It’s not so much dirt itself you should be worried about, it’s moisture and organic matter. When dirt meets rainwater, especially if there are places for it to collect, all sorts of things can begin to grow. Here are just a few of the potential consequences of not keeping your roof clean.
- Algae, moss, and lichen growth. You’d be surprised how many tiny crevices there are in your roof, each one with just enough room for things to grow. Algae, moss, and lichen are all plants that are commonly found growing on roofs, porches, logs, and even siding. They thrive on the surfaces of homes because none of these species have roots, meaning they don’t need to be in the dirt to grow.
- Roof leaks. Some species of fungus and mold that grow on your roof end up damaging it. While most species of algae are fairly harmless to your shingles, moss can damage the edges of your roof and increase the likelihood that they will blow off in the wind, causing leaks. Mold growth can especially weaken your roof, to the point where you may even end up with a small hole.
- Water pooling in odd places. Moss is the main culprit for this one. It’s great at retaining water, like a sponge. The downside is that if you have this “sponge” all over your roof, rainwater could end up pooling around it and the moisture can form a weak spot in the roof.
When you think about cleaning your roof, you should also be thinking about cleaning your gutters. The gutters collect rainwater as it rolls off the roof and direct it away from the house. Twice a year or so, usually around the fall and the spring, you should have your gutters professionally cleaned. Fall gutter cleaning is especially important since large amounts of leaves, dirt, and other debris tend to accumulate in gutters as they come down off the trees.
Not keeping up with gutter maintenance and not cleaning your roof usually result in similar consequences. If the gutters aren’t kept clean, they accumulate water and can overflow, leading to more weak spots and more leaks. Worse, the water may not go the way it’s supposed to if the gutters are clogged, meaning the water could end up in your basement if it spills over to the ground directly around the house.
Taking good care of your roof is the number one way to extend its lifespan and get your money’s worth from it before having to replace it. Roof cleaning is an easy way to take care of your roof and remove potentially harmful mold and fungi before it has the chance to cause damage. Not only will it improve the longevity of your roof, it’ll also keep you from having to call a professional for leak repair every few months.
Once your roof is clean, how long will it last? It’s generally recommended that you have roof cleaning done once per year, and some experts recommend having it done before winter. Once per year is sufficient for most homes, but keep an eye on the roof and use your best judgment. If you’re noticing black spots or green or white growth, consider calling the roof cleaning company sooner rather than later.
How much can you expect to pay for roof cleaning? HomeAdvisor puts the average cost at around $300 to $600, or $0.20 to $0.60 per square foot. This cost could change depending on how long it’s been since your last roof cleaning, how many trees are near your home, the slope of your roof, and more. Be aware that when it comes to roof projects, you can expect labor to make up roughly 60% of the final cost.