Our roof cleaning services include cleaning asphalt, tile, slate, shingle, and wood shake roofs. Roof cleaning is becoming more important to the property management industry as black stains appear on roofing systems. These unappealing black stains can increase utility fees, cause damage to shingles, increase temperatures in attic areas, and ruin curb appeal of the property, among other problems. These black stains are caused by Gloeocapsa Magma, a species of bacterial algae that is spreading further up into the Northern areas of the United States. Gloeocapsa magma is a species of cyanobacteria, an ancient line of photosynthesizing bacteria that photolyzes water and generates oxygen gas. This bacterium infects exterior surfaces and accumulates overtime, developing a touch and dark UV-resistant coating that appears as unsightly black stains.
The black stains from Gloeocapsa Magma can reduce the curb appeal of any property and increase utility fees by placing strain on air conditioning systems. They feast on the components of shingles and pave the way for moss, lichen, and other algae to infest the roof material and cause premature structural failure. Experts estimate that as many as 50% of roof replacements have resulted from the blemished appearance of the roof rather than its decreased functionality.
Roof Cleaning And Black Stain Removal Services By Commercial Restorations
The Black Stains from Gloeocaspa Magma are unsightly and therefore affects the curb appeal of any property. The dark stains place an added load on air conditioning systems as well. As this bacteria feasts on the components of shingles, ultimately it invites moss and lichen and algae to infest the structure of the roof material and cause premature failure of the roof. It has been estimated that as much as 50% of all roof replacements have been done because of the appearance of the roof and not actually because of its functionality.
Professional Roof Cleaning Services
Commercial Restorations has provided exterior building cleaning and other pressure washing services for over 30 years. However, over the last five years, we have seen a huge increase in roof cleaning services by other contractors, and most of them are untrained and inexperienced. This is dangerous for employees working on rooftops 40 feet in the air, as well as dangerous for the building surfaces and roofing systems when these employees use high pressure cleaning methods.
Before hiring a roof cleaning company, make sure they understand the basics of roof installation and that they have taken some type of Industry Training for roof cleaning to learn how to clean roofs. It is also equally important that your roof cleaner is familiar with the function of all roof structures to avoid causing mechanical damages and leaks.
If your roof cleaner can identify the common fixtures on a roof, the next step is to identify what surfaces they will be cleaning. Again, the most common reason for cleaning asphalt and shingle roofs is to remove Gloeocapsa Magma – though this type of algae is airborne and can collect on any type of roof. In most cases, property owners do not notice the algae growth until it spreads over large sections of the roof surface, forming its dark brown and black stains.
Removing Gloeocapsa Magma from roofing is a difficult process. It requires careful use of specialized roof cleaning solutions while avoiding damage to the roof itself. Some manufacturers of these solutions suggest using a mixture of TSP and industrial bleach, while others suggest a sodium hydroxide based cleaner instead.
Regardless of which cleaner your roof cleaning company uses, it is important that someone checks with the manufacturer of the roof to meet their guidelines for cleaning the material. Some manufacturers will void the warranty on shingle surfaces for one cleaning solution, but not the other. However, all roofing manufacturers agree that high pressure should never be used to clean roofs! Most specifications set the safe pressure range at 50 PSI, but the rule of thumb in the industry is to use the least amount of pressure and the mildest roof cleaning solutions possible, while still achieving the desired result: a clean surface.
Cleaning Asphalt Shingle Roofs
Illustrated here is an example of an asphalt or composition shingle roof covered with the black streaks of Gloeocapsa Magma. Notice how the streaks start at a specific point and spread downward?
Also illustrated is a close-up of “architectural” composition (asphalt) roofing, which is the most common type of shingle on upscale properties. Four out of five communities use asphalt shingles for their roofing systems. As you can see, shooting 500 PSI water at these shingles could cause serious problems, including damage to the exterior surface and interior surface via leaks. Imagine the damage a standard pressure washer could do, with their average pressure ratings of 3,000 PSI!
Asphalt shingles are tough, and resistant to damage when walked on. They have a sturdy lifespan of 10 to 30 years, if properly maintained, manufacturers rate them to last from 15 to 30 years! A roof loose, broken, or missing shingles should be replaced entirely, an expensive process, but a structurally sound roof that is simply marred by algae stains be cleaned at a fraction of the replacement cost – though take care with your choice of cleaning service, or you may be forced to replace the roof after all!
If your properties need roof cleaning, exterior building cleaning, graffiti removal or other pressure washing services, call Commercial Restorations at 301-216-2555 for a proposal.
Below are some key points about cleaning asphalt shingle roofs, quoted directly from a Technical Bulletin by the ARMA – the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association.
“For many years, roof discoloration caused by algae has been observed throughout the United States and Canada. This is commonly referred to as “fungus growth.” The discoloration usually has a brown to black appearance, and may be mistaken for soot, dirt, moss, or tree droppings.
The primary species of algae being observed is Gloeocapsa Magma. This type of algae is contained in and transported through the air, and tends to collect and grow upon roofing structures. Natural pigments produced by the algae may cause a white or light colored roof to gradually turn dark brown or black. The algae discolorations should not be confused with moss or tree droppings, which typically produce only localized discolorations.
This type of roof discoloration has been most widespread in the Gulf States and along the Northwest and Eastern Seaboards. It is not, however, confined to only these regions. Algae growth occurs to varying degrees in all regions of the country, especially those subjected to warm, humid conditions. It should be noted that almost all types of roofing systems are susceptible to algae discoloration. It is, of course, most readily visible upon white or pastel roofs, while it is not so visible upon darker shades of roofing.
Algae discolorations are difficult to remove from roofing surfaces, but may be lightened by applying a solution of chlorine bleach, trisodium phosphate, and water. Solutions for these ingredients may vary between shingle manufacturers and depend on the amount of discoloration.
Be sure to apply it carefully to avoid damage to other parts of the building and its surrounding landscape. Avoid scrubbing the surface, as this friction may loosen and remove granules. If possible, always work from a ladder and/or walkboards to avoid direct contact with the roof surface. Observe all possible safety precautions when working on or near the roof. Be warned that applying this solution the roof surface will become slippery and potentially hazardous to walk on during treatment. Caution! High pressure washing systems for algae removal should not be used.”
If your properties need roof cleaning, exterior building cleaning, graffiti removal, or other pressure washing services, call Commercial Restorations at 301-216-2555 for a proposal!