WAIT! Does Cleaning Your Roof Damage it? (Expert Advice)

December 3, 2021

Sharing is caring!

If you’re a homeowner asking, does cleaning your roof damage it, it’s vital that you listen to the experts before you decide to power wash your property. High-pressure washing can be damaging to roof shingles in particular. In addition, it is often ineffective at addressing certain stains and discoloration. While it’s good to note some cautions about roof power washing, you also don’t want to put off needed roof cleaning either!

Using the wrong pressure washing tools and improper cleaning techniques can damage roofing materials. However, professional power washing with equipment and cleansers meant for roofing materials in particular actually protects a structure’s roof. Also, even lengthens its lifespan.

This quick answer might seem confusing to homeowners who just want to know how to take care of their home’s roof, and keep it looking its best! So that you avoid a few common power washing mistakes but still enjoy a clean and pristine property, note some vital details about roof cleaning and pressure washing in particular.

does cleaning a roof damage it

As always, ensure you discuss your questions with a pressure washing contractor near you before making any decisions. A power washing pro can typically offer lots of helpful advice on what’s best for your home’s roof and other exterior surfaces when it comes to needed cleaning.

Does Cleaning Your Roof Damage It?

While using the wrong cleaning techniques and tools can damage a roof, regular roof washing is an excellent choice for protecting shingles, tiles, and other materials. To help you better understand what that means, note some added details about what damages a roof, how cleaning protects it, and how to avoid damage during the cleaning process.

Is roof cleaning a good idea?

A homeowner might first note why roof cleaning is vital for your property, and why it’s a good idea to schedule professional cleaning regularly:

  • When debris accumulates on a home’s roof, it then ends up in the gutters, increasing the risk of clogs. Clogged gutters and downspouts allow rainwater and moisture from the roof to wash over their sides, risking water damage to exterior walls and a home’s foundation.
  • Storm debris can also block roof vents. These vents allow moisture and humidity in the home to escape; when they’re blocked, this humidity tends to build up in the attic or upper areas of the home, risking mold and water damage.
  • Algae feed off asphalt and limestone. Neglecting needed roof washing can allow algae to grow and spread, eroding roofing materials along the way!
  • Not only does algae feed off asphalt and limestone shingles but algae stains absorb heat. Excessive heat dries out shingles and tiles, making them brittle and more likely to crack or split.
  • Soot, air pollution residues, chemicals, and other airborne particles that settle on a roof can also dry out shingles and tiles, risking premature damage.
  • Lichens are algae and fungus and these also grow roots that penetrate asphalt shingles, risking severe roofing damage.
  • Moss is similar to algae and lichens but needs lots of moisture to thrive. As moss grows on a roof, it holds that moisture against shingles and tiles. This risks buckled, curved, softened, or otherwise damaged roofing materials.
  • Roof washing removes pollen, dust, airborne chemicals, residual ash and smoke from cigarettes or fire pits and barbecue grills, and other allergens and irritants, improving outdoor air quality.
  • A thorough roof washing can expose damaged shingles, tiles, flashing, or chimney stacks, so you can schedule immediate repairs.

Homeowners should also remember that regular exterior house washing including roof cleaning improves curb appeal instantly. You might not even realize how rundown and dingy your home looks until you schedule full-scale exterior property washing!

Is It Bad to Pressure Wash Your Roof?

cleaning a roof

High-pressure roof washing should be avoided by homeowners, as using too much pressure can strip shingle granules, bend flashing, chip the brick of a chimney stack, and create lots of messy splatter! However, just rinsing your home’s roof with a garden hose is also typically insufficient.

How to clean asphalt shingles

Never use high-pressure power washing equipment on asphalt shingles! Shingles are covered in granules that help resist standing water; high-pressure washing strips away these granules easily. Too much pressure can also crack and split soft shingles.

To clean asphalt shingles, mix one gallon of hot water, one cup of oxygenated bleach, and a squirt of dish detergent without moisturizers. Stir this mixture until the soap dissolves thoroughly and use a garden sprayer to apply it to your home’s roof.

Allow this mixture to sit for fifteen minutes, so it can saturate mold and other debris thoroughly. Use the garden hose to rinse it away, removing all traces of the cleanser. Ensure you rinse the gutters out once you’re done, removing any built-up debris.

How to clean clay tile roofing

Clay tile roofing can withstand more water pressure than asphalt shingles, but a homeowner should still avoid using high-pressure power washing equipment! Too much pressure can split or crack tile or loosen them from their connectors. High-pressure washing can also result in water seeping under or between those tiles, risking damage to the roof’s underlayment and decking.

To clean clay tile roofing, start with the lowest pressure on power washing equipment or use a garden hose with a pressurized spray nozzle. Give the roof a good rinse, removing as much loose dust and dirt as possible. You might be surprised at how clean the roof is with just a thorough rinsing!

For moss, lichens, and other growth, choose a fungicide roof cleaner from the hardware store and mix it according to package directions. Ensure you allow the mixture to soak for several minutes, to remove as much debris as possible. Give the roof a thorough rinse, directing the debris downward so it slides off the roof completely!

How to clean metal roofing

As with clay tiles, metal roofing can withstand higher pressure than asphalt shingles, but you still don’t want to overdo it. The excessive water pressure might dent or ding metal panels or risk water getting between and under those panels.

One simple tip for cleaning excessive dirt and grime from a metal roof is to use car wash cleansers. Detergents you buy for washing your car work well on a metal roof, since the materials are similar. Mix the detergent with hot water according to the package directions and use a garden hose attachment to apply it.

metal roof cleaning

Rinse your home’s metal roof with hot water as well. Hot water is much more effective at breaking up dirt and grime and for dissolving mud, dust, and other debris. Ensure a thorough rinse of the metal panels after cleaning.

How to clean slate roofing

Slate roofing is often somewhat challenging to clean, as dirt and dust can get ground into the pits and pores along the stone’s natural surface. In many cases, simply rinsing a slate roofing is insufficient for removing all that built-up dirt and debris!

To clean slate roofing, invest in a medium bristled brush and use a detergent meant for stone patios. Mix the detergent according to package directions and use the brush to gently scrub the roof’s surface. Avoid using a pressure washer to rinse as this can damage slate; try a garden hose with a light pressure nozzle instead.

Should You Power Wash Roof Tiles?

If these simple steps don’t get your home’s roof clean, you might wonder if it’s time to rent or buy a pressure washer. This is a mistake, as even professional power washing contractors don’t use high-pressure cleaning on most roofing materials!

Soft wash systems are typically recommended for a home’s roof when needed. Soft wash pressure washing starts with a specialty cleanser designed to dissolve thick dirt and grime. These cleansers seep into all the nooks and crannies of shingles, metal, tile, stone, and other exterior surfaces, so no dirt is left behind.

power washing roof tiles

Once all that dirt and grime is dissolved, a power washing contractor will use a low-pressure rinse to remove it from a home’s roof. In some cases, he or she might also use specialty brushes and other tools meant for roof cleaning. This process ensures a safe and gentle clean for roofing materials.

How Often Should You Pressure Wash Your Roof?

A homeowner should schedule roof washing as often as it’s needed! Most property owners find that having their home’s exterior surfaces washed every other year is sufficient, but some properties might need more frequent roof washing and gutter cleaning:

  • Large, mature trees hanging over a roof tend to drop lots of debris, including twigs, moss, seeds, leaves, and sap. If you have lots of trees on your property and especially if the branches hang over your home’s roof, consider annual roof washing and gutter cleaning.
  • Tropical areas and those near large water bodies often see layers of sand, silt, and other gritty debris build up on roofs quickly and easily. This debris etches and scratches roofing materials and creates an unsightly appearance! Consider annual roof washing if your home is near a large lake or the ocean.
  • Busy roadways, production facilities, marinas, and airports typically produce excessive air pollution, soot, and other airborne residues, which end up on nearby roofs. If your home’s interior is often dusty, this might indicate that the roof also needs more frequent cleaning than average.
  • Storms also mean lots of debris deposited on area roofs. Consider having your home’s roof cleaned after any strong storms move through, and more often if you live in an area with frequent storms.
  •   If you have breathing difficulties or entertain often outside your home, consider annual roof washing! Removing pollen, dust, smoke and ash, and other debris improves outdoor air quality, while the regular roof and exterior wall washing also ensure a comfortable environment for visitors.

Homeowners might also notice dirt and debris on their home’s roof for a variety of reasons. Construction projects nearby, air pollution levels, and other factors can mean a dirty roof sooner rather than later. Schedule roof washing as needed to keep its surface clean and pristine.

It’s also recommended you schedule roof washing before putting the house on the market, to ensure it looks clean and ready for buyers! You might also schedule roof washing and other outdoor pressure washing before hosting special events such as holiday parties, or when you’re ready to open the patio or deck for the season. This will ensure your home is as beautiful and welcoming on the outside as it is on the inside.

Cleaning My Roof Without a Pressure Washer

A homeowner shouldn’t use a pressure washer on their roof in any circumstances, given the risk of damage. If your home’s roof needs heavy-duty cleaning, call a power washing contractor offering soft wash systems, for a safe clean.

Between pressure washing appointments, you can keep your roof clean with a roof brush or rake, designed to remove dirt and debris from shingles and tiles. These will have a telescoping handle, allowing you to stay safe on the ground or a ladder while cleaning the roof. Work from the top of the roof and sweep or brush debris downward, so you don’t dislodge tiles or shingles.

roof cleaning work

A garden hose with a low-pressure nozzle can also remove lots of dirt and dust. Ensure you don’t spray the water from the bottom of tiles and shingles, but aim it at the highest point on the roof you can reach and allow the water to run downward. It’s also good to give the gutters a rinse while you’re working on the roof!

How to keep a roof clean throughout the year

Along with regular brushing and rinsing down the roof with a garden hose, consider trimming back tree branches hanging over a structure’s roof. Branches drop lots of debris, creating an unsightly mess! Branches also provide a roosting place for birds, and their droppings are not only messy but are also caustic, risking damage to shingles and tiles.

Ensure your home’s gutters are also clean and clog-free. Not only do clogged gutters allow water to wash over their sides, risking damage to exterior walls and a home’s foundation, but if the gutters are clogged, dirt and dust on the roof has nowhere to go!

Taking Moss Off Your Roof

If there are small patches of moss on your home’s roof, schedule soft wash pressure washing, noting to your contractor that your structure’s roof needs moss removal. However, if the moss has been left untouched so that it now covers large sections of the roof, it’s probably time for a new roof altogether!

Moss holds moisture against a roof; shingles, tile, flashing, underlayment, and roof decking all absorb that moisture, getting soft and weak over the years. In many cases, a moss-covered roof is so soft that it cannot support a person’s weight! Simply cleaning also won’t address this damage, even if you should remove the moss itself entirely.

cleaning a roof and gutters

A roofing contractor can note if a moss-covered roof is beyond cleaning and repairs, and if it’s time for reroofing altogether. Replacing the decking and other layers of the roof rather than trying to clean away moss ensures that the roof is in good condition for years to come.

If you live in the tropics or an area prone to moss or mold growth along the roof, check your local hardware store for zinc or copper roofing strips. These are applied to the top of the roof peaks; as rainwater hits these strips, it creates a solution that helps prevent moss and mold growth.

Getting Rid of Streaks On My Roof

Black streaks on your structure’s roof are probably not just dirt but algae! While you might think of algae as brown or green, there are certain types of airborne algae spores that end up on roofs and then create unsightly black streaks or stains.

To address these stains, you want to use a product designed specifically for algae growth on roofs. You can also mix equal parts water, bleach, and trisodium phosphate, available at most home improvement or cleaning supply stores.

Apply this mixture to your home’s roof with a garden sprayer and allow it to sit for 15 minutes, so it can penetrate those spores. Use a low-pressure rinse to remove the cleanser and algae. If this doesn’t do the trick, avoid using brushes or other tools as these are usually ineffective at killing and removing algae. Instead, call a roof soft wash power washing contractor for a more thorough clean.

roof with streaks pro cleaning

ProClean Pressure Washing Palm Harbor is happy to bring this information to our readers and hopefully, it answered the question, does cleaning your roof damage it? If you need roof washing, exterior wall washing, gutter cleaning, or patio and paver cleaning, call our expert Palm Harbor power washing contractors! We specialize in soft wash systems that provide a gentle, safe clean for roofs, exterior walls, gutters, concrete, pavers, and more. We also start every project with a FREE consultation and price quote, so what are you waiting for? Give us a call today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram