From twigs to mould and everything in between, your roofs can and will get dirty. The dirt can pile up underneath and in the corners of your sheets and make your building look decrepit. One may be wondering why or even if a roof can and should be cleaned, because after all when it rains or when the wind blows the debris could get carried along with it. So if you are wondering how to clean your roof, this article has got you covered.

Most people assume this is a frivolous expense; while others think a roof should not be cleaned but replaced because the roof has had its run, why not toss it out to get a new one? Whatever your opinion is, cleaning or maintaining your roof is no child’s play. It in fact can be quite dangerous when you have no idea what you are doing.

How to clean your roof

Roof cleaning has grown exponentially in recent years; more property owners have become more aware of the fact that debris and algae stains can be damaging to roofs and that they can be removed. Roof cleaning has become an ever-expanding business and has, in turn, attracted small business owners who see this as a potentially lucrative opportunity.

As a property owner, you are expected to keep your building looking nice, no one wants a messy dirty looking building that is just an eyesore. Know that your roof is subjected to stains and growth patches caused by algae, moss, and fungus that can damage your roof through shingle deterioration and wood rot. An unkempt roof is quite expensive to repair and can shorten the lifespan of your roof. Cleaning your roof can help curb and minimize the damage and maintain the beauty of your roof.

READ ALSO: Roof Repairs, should I repair, patch or replace?

Types of roof stains

Cleaning your roof all on your own can be risky and quite expensive if you have no idea how to do it properly, it is always best to call an expert cleaning or roofing company. But in this enchanting age of DIY, you can find videos on almost everything teaching you how to do it yourself. Know that because your roof is constantly exposed to natural elements it will be exposed to a lot more than just dirt. These other substances are thicker and can be structured differently so you may need help from a professional roofing company.  Knowing what you are getting into involves distinguishing between the kind of stains, growth, or debris you are dealing with here are some common ones:

how to clean your roof, tools for roof cleaning
Image Source: Just Clean Property Care

●      Algae

These usually take a black-green hue and they can most often grow on wood and roofing sheets. They thrive in low sunlight conditions; the most common type of algae is Gloeocapsa magma (this bacterium feeds on water and expels oxygen). It causes black stains that appear on your roof. Know that your roof’s more shaded areas may have greater chances of algae being present.

How to rid of algae

Try spray washing, it is the easiest method to get rid of the moss. You could prepare a solution that is half bleach and half water for this, make sure you spray in a downward direction and leave the solution out for about 20 minutes then wash it off.

●     Debris

This is a phenomenon you cannot prevent no matter where you live or what season it may be. Falling debris like leaves, dead branches or a random stray polythene bag can be the reason why your roof looks dirty. Though they may seem harmless, they could choke your drain gutters preventing water from flowing freely through them and making the water find its way into the ceiling and in other circumstances the room. Branches could also fall, potentially injuring someone.

How to clean

Best to use a soft broom and do not be aggressive; take your time and wipe the necessary stains or use a leaf blower. This method can be much safer because you do not necessarily need to be on the roof.

●     Moss

This is the mat-like greenish growth that happens on your roof. Moss can be found between sheets and loves to grow in shaded and moist areas on your roof. Though moss growth is natural and, in some cases, can add to the aesthetics of your roof, moss is bad and damaging to your roof. Know that as the moss is allowed to grow, it could push under your roof sheets making them loose and creating damage to your roof. The damage caused by moss growth can lead to thin spots, holes and eventually leaks.

How To Clean Moss Off Your Roof
Image Source: Western Pacific Roofing

●     Fungus/lichen

Lichen is a combination of algae and fungi living together on your roof, it usually looks like some type of green crust that grows in patches. Fungus is the main component in lichen and it relies on algae to produce the nutrients it needs to allow it to grow and spread.

How to rid of lichen/fungus

Do the same treatment for algae and moss that is if it has not damaged the structural integrity of your roof already. Mix the bleach and water and spread it over your roof with a mop and then hose it off the roof with water

●      Oxidation

This is commonly known as rusting and it happens when the iron reacts with water and oxygen to form hydrated iron (iii) oxide, this turns it into a reddish-brown colour. Why metal roofs rust

READ ALSO: Effects of Weather Conditions on Roof

How to deal with rust/oxidation on your roof

Try painting it over, to do this you would want to make the surface as smooth as possible so that the new paint finishing sticks to it. So first remove all loose rust with sandpaper, wire brush or a chemical rust remover. Paint over and lightly sand glossy surfaces to make it look dull to the finish. For other options read: How to repair a rusted metal roof

●     Wood rot

We have two basic types of wood rot: wet wood rot and dry wood rot. Wet wood rot tends to look discoloured and darker than the wood around it. Moss could act as an identifier for wet wood because it is known to hold moisture.

Dry root rot is a more serious form of fungal decay in wood. This form of wood rot attacks the timber in your roof, this breaks down parts of the timber that gives it strength, risking the integrity of your whole roof and spreads without any source of moisture since it can make its own moisture through digestion of the timber.

Roof cleaning products

When cleaning your roof, you could either opt for a professional cleaner or you could try the DIY style, but know that for either, there are do’s and don’ts as well as its advantages and disadvantages. There are numerous cleaning products you can use to clean, some can be made at home, and others can be purchased online or from a hardware shop near you. Some basic homemade ones include:

  • Bleach(Chlorine Bleach)

The easiest cleaning product you can find readily available to you is bleach, though it is not meant as a cleaning product it does a relatively effective job if used correctly.

  • Soda/soda water

This can be used on specific stains or growth. When mixed with water it can throw off the pH balance of growth like moss or algae.

  • Washing detergent/dish soap

It can be effective against some types of algae and moss and it is readily available on the market.

  • Water

This may seem too simple but it can wash off dusty roofs and even animal droppings. When used together with other cleaning products it works wonders.

 Cleaning Your Metal Roof

Let’s talk about metal roofing because this is the most popular type of roofing option most Ghanaians opt for. It comes in a variety of colours and can be made to mimic other types of roofing materials like clay tiles and asphalt shingles. It is known to have a much longer life span and is great for our tropical weather condition.

Metal Roofs like other roofing materials are subject to the same type of dirt, growth or debris; the major difference a metal roof can be susceptible to is that metal roofs do not tend to have a higher frequency of moss growth they also do not often stain from blue/green algae growth and depending on the type of metal you use rust can be evident on this type of roofing.

picture of a metal roof, metal roof cleaning

Luckily metal roofing is one of the easiest types of roofs to clean and most of the dirt that affects it can be cleaned with water though there are some substances or growth that might need a more detailed cleaning; this could mean someone has to climb up the roof. They can be made with a variety of materials namely, aluminium, zinc, copper, galvalume or stainless steel.

No matter the type of material used, the most common misconception about cleaning metal roofing is that just water is enough and though it can clean and some dirt can simply be hosed off, it is usually not enough to free most of the growth on the roof and using a power wash may dent the metal and cause some parts of the roof to corrode. Left unchecked dirt or growth on your roof can chalk over time and make the roof look old and displeasing.

READ ALSO: Factors To Consider When Selecting A Roofing Material

Basic cleaning tips for your metal roof

  • Make sure to do routine cleaning, to wash and pick up fallen debris.
  • Metal roofs can be very slippery so never clean a roof alone always have someone around to keep an eye on you as you clean.
  • If you decide to use a store-bought cleaner make sure to follow the direction so you do not overuse the cleaning agent.
  • Never use Paint remover or thinners, high-pressure power washers, scouring sponges, scouring powders, wire brushes, sandpaper on your metal roof it removes the coating and paints on the roof.
  • Always test the product on a smaller patch of your roof before you use it for the whole roof, this allows you to see the effect it will have on your roof.

Procedure for roof cleaning

  1. Know the type of roofing you have because different roof requires different treatments
  2. Safety first: clean your roof only if you can determine it is safe to walk on, get slip-resistant well-fitting shoes, a helmet, something to cover your eyes with and the right clothes for skin protection.
  3. Climb up to the roof using the ladder to inspect the areas affected by algae, mould, moss, dirt or lichen.
  1. Remove unnecessary debris this includes random leaves, twigs, dust build-up and so on.
  2. Do extensive research on the type of substance build-up you have and the appropriate treatment for it.
  3. Prepare your cleaning material.
  4. Pour mixture into a garden sprayer
  5. Get back on the roof carefully climbing the ladder, and apply the mixture to the affected areas.
  6. Scrub gently with a soft sponge the wet areas and continue to apply the solution to the dry areas and scrub those areas too
  7. Use the hose to rinse the roof.
  8. Repeat the process until the shingles are clean.

Contact us for your quality Aluminium or Aluzinc sheets that require little maintenance with a warranty. We offer after-sales services on all our installations. Get a free quote with our estimator tool.