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PROPERTY MANAGER GUIDE TO ROOF CLEANING

John Redihan; Wash Safe Industries


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If you have been in the property management field for more than a few years, odds are pretty good that you have dealt with roof cleaning issues. Roof cleaning can be very costly. Worse, damage caused by poor roof cleaning practice is a common occurance. But proper cleaning can limit cost and headaches and limiting problems is what property management is all about.

There are many funguses that can settle on a roof that are both destructive to the roof and repulsive to look at. Moss, lichen, black algae (black mold), green mold/algae make up the bulk of matter that require removal. Roofs need to be cleaned for a variety of reasons; to prevent destruction and early replacement, to control energy costs and to optimize property value.

Asphalt shingle, cedar shake and tile roofs are the most commonly affected roofs. Each is affected differently.

 Asphalt roofs are destroyed more rapidly than the others. Fungus can grow under shingles lifting them until they crack and fall off. The fungus tendrils or “roots” also dig through the reflective granules causing them to dislodge and fall off. This results in the thinning of shingles, taking years off the expected life of the shingle as they curl and cup.

Cedar roofs need to remain dry to last. When a cedar roof is covered with fungus, the fungus traps moisture in the wood which causes rotting, thus inviting wood feeding insects that further deteriorate integrity of the wood.

Tile roofs are most commonly found in the south. Although fungus can’t destroy tile like it does asphalt or wood, when roof cleaners walk on the roof, their weight damages tiles. Tiles become fragile after baking in the sun for years. The damage isn’t apparent at first but as the cracks wash out with rain water they will become dislodged and fall off.

Other than destructive damage the fungus can cause, the home owner can expect an increase in energy bills. Fungus is generally dark colored and dark colors absorb sunlight, thus increasing heat in attics, crawl spaces and second or top floors. This causes air conditioners to work overtime to cool those spaces, resulting in higher than normal energy bills.

To top it off, the majority of the roof cleaning products on the market require plants, bushes and any foliage around the home to be either covered or constantly wet down. Toxicity in most cleaning solutions kills foliage. As careful as the roof cleaner may be, there are often casualties within the foliage.

Typically the worst effect of roof fungus the worst to a property manager is diminished asthetics and how that impacts salability and rentability.  

  • If you have to have a roof cleaned, specify that the roof cleaners use a solution that will not harm the foliage or alter the look of the home.
  • Do proper preventative roof maintenance. Coating roofs periodically with a solution that will not allow fungus to mature, no cleaning is necessary and the following rains wash off the fungus that was removed.

Proper preventative roof maintenance is by far the most cost effective way to keep roofs clean. Monies can be budgeted for periodic roof treatments instead of shocking a home owners association with a massive budget breaking roof cleaning estimate. Maintenance sprayings can be done from the gutters edge, this way avoiding workers need to be walking the roofs. Proper maintenance schedule will mean roofs never getting dirty again, never degrading the appearance of the community.

Most roof cleaning contractors use the “old school” the product - bleach. You don’t need to suffer  through foliage damage, terrible fumes and odors, staining of painted surfaces, etc. Ask your contractor to use Roof Wash and schedule periodic roof coatings.

Wash Safe formulates an eco-safe roof cleaner called “Roof Wash” that will not harm plants (there is no need to even cover them). Roof Wash has no chemical odors or fumes (in fact it has a clean citrus scent), it will not harm the roof in any way and keeps roofs clean twice as long as bleach because it was designed to clean deep in every pore and crevice. The complete spore and fungus rooting system is removed.

John Redihan is president of Wash Safe Industries. Please visit Wash Safe Industries at www.wash-safe.com to learn more about roof cleaning and other eco-safe cleaning products.

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