How To Clean Roof Shingles Properly (Homeowner's Guide)
old asphalt roof shingles in need of cleaning
  • Roofing

How To Properly Clean Roof Shingles (Step By Step Guide)

Homeowners should be more excited about cleaning their shingles on the roof. Roofing experts agree that it is essential to keep your shingles clean to extend the life of your roof. You may look up and see black streaks or other debris on the surface of your roof. If this is the case, it is time to clean your roof. We will cover how to clean roof shingles.

Importance of Cleaning Roof Shingles

Your asphalt shingle roof is exposed to everything that weather has to offer. Wind, rain, and snow can cause significant wear and tear to your roof. A dirty roof looks dingy and can lead to damage causing roof leaks, so it is best to clean your entire roof to keep it in good shape. 

Responsible homeowners should know how to clean their asphalt shingle roof every two years.

Many roofing companies will clean your roof for a fee. They are experts who know how to remove algae and moss and can recommend the best chemicals to yield the best results. Professional roofers can clean the surface of your roof and your gutters. Maintaining your asphalt shingle roof will ensure a longer life.

However, many homeowners choose to take on the task of keeping their roof clean. You should consider safety precautions and gather the right equipment for the job. It can be a simple chore when you know how to clean roof shingles. Keep an eye out for stains on your roof shingles that indicate a problem you need to address.

Common Types of Algae on Your Roof

roof algae on rooftop in need of cleaning maintenance

You may see dark spots on your roof that will eventually become black streaks. Unfortunately, this means that you have algae growth. This algae, gloeocapsa magma, thrives on asphalt shingles and will ultimately damage your asphalt shingles by drying them out. The GM will feed off the asphalt and limestone roofing found in cool, moist areas.

Homeowners may also see the presence of lichens. Lichens are a fungus that wreaks havoc on your roof’s surface. Lichens have roots that can penetrate asphalt shingles, looking for food. Any penetration can cause damage to the shingle and can lead to wood rot. Lichens are very difficult to remove and often reappear when wet and humid.

Algae and moss growth is almost a certainty when you have overhanging tree branches, and moss is a plant requiring a great deal of moisture. If you notice moss, it is a good bet that you may run into problems like mold and mildew. Mold and mildew spread incredibly quickly and can find their way into your home, and these issues are challenging to eradicate.

How To Clean Asphalt Shingles

Homeowners may think it would be best to use a pressure washer and chemicals to clean asphalt shingles. Even at its lowest spray setting, pressure washing can damage or blow the shingles off the roof. If unsure, leave the roof cleaning to professionals to prevent unnecessary damage to your asphalt shingles.

Choose an overcast day for cleaning your roof. A cloudy day will be much cooler for working on the roof, and sunlight can make the cleaning agent evaporate too quickly. Safety equipment for roof cleaning is essential, and you will need a safety rope, safety goggles, and slip-resistant shoes. Treading carefully as you walk on the shingles is crucial to avoid causing damage.

You can try a leaf blower to clear debris from your roof and gutters and angle your leaf blower to prevent too much pressure. Once clear, you can apply a cleaning solution with a low-pressure sprayer like a garden sprayer. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. Check your asphalt shingle manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate chemical cleaner.

You can also use a solution of laundry-strength chlorine bleach and water for cleaning asphalt shingles. Mix a ratio of 1:1. The sodium hypochlorite will clean moss and algae from asphalt shingle roofs. Apply the solution to your roof and allow it to set for about twenty minutes. It would be best if you rinsed off the cleaning agent with a garden hose. 

asphalt shingle roof peak cleaned by professional

Cleaning roofs require a specific technique. Start at the roof’s peak and slowly work down to the bottom row of shingles. It is best to focus on a small area and then move lower. Cleaners should avoid walking in wet areas because they will be very slippery. It would help if you used slow and even strokes when roof cleaning. You don’t want to miss any areas.

Install zinc or copper flashing is a great way to prevent black algae. You can install this flashing around any protrusions on your roof. You can also install a strip of zinc or copper under the shingles next to the roof’s peak for inhibiting algae growth. Homeowners will enjoy their tidy asphalt shingles. They won’t have to worry about further damage.

Will Bleach Damage Asphalt Shingles?

Harsh chemicals can damage asphalt shingles, and you should ensure that you are familiar with any cleaning agent you use. You can clean dirt from your asphalt shingles with just soap and water, but this solution might not take care of black stains. Most people use bleach to clean their roofs, and it cannot damage your roof if you dilute it.

It is essential to use a solution of bleach and water to dilute the strength of the bleach. Diluted bleach is the most efficient way to clean asphalt shingles. You don’t want strong chemicals finding their way into your gutters and emptying on your plants. It would be best to cover any plants that may be affected by water raining down from the roof.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning an asphalt shingle roof may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Grab your pump sprayer and suitable cleaning agents and carefully climb up on the roof. Spray, rinse and watch your algae stains and debris disappear. Roof algae can be difficult to eliminate, but your house will look much better when it’s gone.

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