Do you have ugly roof stains? We know you have questions when it comes to choosing the right roof cleaning contractor in NJ who can clean your roof without causing more harm than good. We appreciate customers who do their due dilgence and scour the net for the best information pertaining to roof cleaning. We also realize the problems you may run into. Different contractors will use different methods to treat roof stains. Before we get into different methods, let’s first figure out exactly what’s growing on your roof so you, the homeowner, can make a more informed decision on how to best approach a roof cleaning project.
Black staining that appears as streaks on a roof is nothing more than a single celled bacteria. The food source for this organism is a mix of moisture and the limestone in the roofing shingle. Limestone is an organic material that is added to the shingle for weight and strength. There is plenty of it in the shingle which will provide plenty of nutrients for this bacteria to thrive. It is a hardy strand of bacteria that develops a UV repellent outer husk for protection. This organism can thrive even with long periods of drought. It never goes away and will always get worse if untreated. Once it lands on your roof from airborne spores or transmitted by birds or squirrels it begins to grow. At this point a roof has become a petri dish. When it rains it pulls the bacteria downword giving it the streaking pattern.
If you looked at your neighbors house do you notice any staining on their roofs also? It is likely that you may since this strand is extremely contagious. It can jump from roof to roof. So considering this bacteria is so contagious, if you so choose to treat any type of stains on a roof, it’s best to treat the whole roof and not just the affected area. Just because some areas may appear clean does not mean no spores are present. They just haven’t grown to the point where they can be seen. Usually the north side of a roof gets less sunlight and provides more moisture. This is usually where the staining is the worst.
Pressure Washing vs. Chemical Treatment
Which method will best suit you? Pressure washing doesn’t necessarily mean jumping up on the roof with a traditional wand. Most who use a pressure washer to clean roofs use what’s called a surface cleaner. A surface cleaner looks like a floor buffer and the high pressure nozzles are contained underneath the head of the cleaner. There are usually 2 nozzles that spin in a fast motion to force the bacteria off of the roof using high pressure water. There are 2 reasons that makes this method questionable: First is that this method does not kill the bacteria. It does not penetrate the hardy UV repellent shell of the bactria. Though this method may appear to give insant results, there can be no guarantee of a 100% kill ratio of the organism. If any spores are left behind the staining will sure return quickly.
The 2nd and more pressing concern of this method is that it can dislodge large amount of roofing granules. Roofing granules are the gritty parts of a roof, like large granules. This is the part of the roof that protects the underlying membrane of the shingle. These granules can dislodge very easily, even with rain. If you need proof, go look into a gutter system of a home. In any gutter can be found some amount of granules that have been washed down by rain and wind alone. So imagine what pressure washing can do! When a roof has been compromised with heavy granule loss, it’s life has been shortened. If you bought or sell a home, a good home inspector can go on a roof and tell you how many years of life are left in the shingle. What they’re checking is the granule content. The more the granules the longer the roof will last, and vice versa. Without the granules to protect the roof the underlying membrane can succumb to UV rays. It will then dry out, crack, and split.
Most roof cleaning contractors throughout the United States perform chemical cleaning to treat a roof. The benefits of chemical cleaning are that you can be assured a 100% kill ratio on the organism to insure that the roof will stay clean for a longer period of time. The other benefit to chemical cleaning is that you can be assured 0 (zero) granular loss. If you are selling a home and need to take a realtor picture by tomorrow, this may not be the choice for you. Chemical cleaning, especially when it comes to solid growths like moss or lichens, does not achieve immediate gratification. The chemicals used are formulated exactly to what is necessary to choke off the moss or lichens. It is also formulated to penetrate the outer husk of the bacteria to insure its demise so it cannot have the opportunity to reproduce.
Most contractors will use chlorine, or sodium hypochlorite, as a main ingredient to the roof detergent. We understand how using words like “chlorine” or “chemicals” can make some people cringe. These chemicals, as well as others, can have an adverse effect on landscape. Professional roof cleaners who use chemical cleaning have processes in place to protect landscape by either saturation with water, covering with palstics, or both. In full strength chlorine can be a skin and lung irritant. But one thing is for sure about chlorine: it is a proven non-carcinagenic chemical. It is safe enough to be added to municipal water supplies and used to disinfect swimming pools. There is no difference in the chlorine used on a roof then the chlorine used in municipal water supplies. The chlorine used is in the form of sodium hypochlorite, which is essentially bleach in commercial form. Read the active ingredients in the bleach that you use to wash your clothes. You will see it contains anywhere from 5% to 6% solution.
So the choice one would have to make would be if they are willing to sacrafice years of life from the roofing shingle by pressure washing it. The manufacturer of roofing shingles actually suggest the use of bleach and warn against using a pressure washer. Most contractors perform the non-pressure chemical cleaning. A well known roof cleaning franchise called “Roof Shampoo” uses a surface cleaner and a pressure washer to achieve the cleaning. If you choose an independent contractor who has bought into the Roof Shampoo licensing agreement, make sure they can display a gauge of pressure on the machine to insure they are using less than 150 psi of water pressure. Do not accept a verbal confirmation that the pressure is low. Make sure you can read a gauge which shows the pressure. Remember: Rain alone can dislodge granules. The working pressure of a garden hose is 60-80psi. Anything over 100 to 150psi of pressure is damaging your roof.
Here is a short list of contractors throughout the United States who use the manufacturer perscribed suggested chemical roof cleaning:
Thompson Roof Cleaning and Powerwashing, Woodbridge NJ, 732-726-9261, www.thompsonpowerwashing.com
Diamond Roof Cleaning, Williamstown NJ, 800-ROOF-CLEAN, www.Diamondroofcleaningnj.com
Apple Roof Cleaning, Tampa Fla., (813) 655-8777,www.saferoofcleaning.com
Roof Cleaning by A & E, Dallastown Pa, 717-324-4208, www.roofcleaningpa.com,
Spray-Wash Exterior Cleaning, Tallahasee Fla, 850-528-3226, www.spray-wash.com,
There are literally thousands of roof cleaning contractors using the non-pressure roof cleaning method. For a contractor in your area feel free to call us at 732-726-9261. We’d be more than glad to refer you to a certified contractor in your location.
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