The Alexandria softwash Roof Cleaning Service
Have you ever noticed those black streaks on the roofs in your neighborhood or place of business? Maybe they appear on your own roof. If you have noticed these streaks and stains then I am sure you will agree that they are unsightly. What you may not know is that they are also accelerating the aging process of the shingles and causing them to age and fail prematurely. The good news is that this damage is entirely preventable with routine maintenance cleanings. To understand why this is important, let’s begin with a basic explanation of what is growing on your roof. The streaks you see are not stains or dirt, but rather an infestation of several forms of bacteria and fungus. The infestation usually appears first as black bacterial streaks known as Gleocapsa Magma. The most common location is the north facing slopes or other heavily shaded sections of the roof. As the infestation progresses, several forms of fungus such as moss and lichen begin to appear and spread. They embed their filament root systems in the shingle and secrete acids which cause an aggressive decomposition process. Basically the roof is slowly being eaten. As the shingle breaks down it begins to lose the granules that protect it. Left untreated, severe infestations can decrease the service life of the roof by as much as 50 percent.
Now that you know what the problem is, how do you stop it and prevent it in the future? The simple answer is to perform routine maintenance cleanings which requires specialized techniques, training and equipment. Pressure washing or any form of manual scrubbing is not effective and can actually cause further damage to the roof. Doing this will remove even more of those protective granules and may even void the shingle’s warranty. In addition, it leaves the bacterial and fungal root systems intact which allow the infestation to regrow quickly. Installing zinc or copper strips is also ineffective and, because they are attached with exposed nails, can cause leaks.
Pressure washing or any form of manual scrubbing is not effective and can actually cause further damage to the roof.
The cleaning process recommended by the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) is to use a no-pressure, chemical based process to safely kill the fungus along with their root systems and spores. This specialized cleaning process is known as “softwashing.” Softwashing is a cleaning technique using agricultural style spray equipment at very low pressure (40 psi – 80 psi) to safely apply specifically formulated, 100 percent biodegradable cleaning solutions to treat the roof surfaces. The goal of this process is to kill not only the visible bacteria and fungus, but their root systems and spores as well. The application is done at a pressure similar to rain falling on the roof so that it avoids causing damage to the roof ’s surface. Once the roof has been properly softwashed, the black bacterial streaks will be visibly removed. If the infestation has progressed to moss and lichen, additional time is required for the roof to appear completely clean. The goal of the cleaning process is to kill these fungi in the same way as a weed is killed with an herbicide. After treatment the moss and lichen will turn whitish/brown in color and become dry and brittle. In the weeks and months following the cleaning, these dead fungi will separate from their root systems and fall off with natural weathering. The amount of time required for this process depends on the extent of the infestation and the amount of rain and wind that follow the cleaning. This is the safest way to achieve removal while protecting the roof from further damage. These maintenance cleanings are recommended every 3-7 years to keep the roof free of infestation and maximize its service life. Frequency of cleanings will be determined by roof orientation, amount of shade, and local climate conditions.
Softwashing has been shown to be effective and can also be applied to the cleaning of other exterior building surfaces. And the best part is that it can be done for a fraction of the cost of replacement. Before you incur the large expense of roof replacement, consider having it safely softwashed instead.