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Roof Algae Cleaning Is Not Complex

Updated on March 22, 2011

When people finally get around to understanding that it’s roof algae that is causing the black stains on their roof and not dirt or grime then they usually try to figure out if there’s a solution and what exactly can be done. For some reason they assume that the remedy must be extremely technical or scientific. But it really isn’t complex at all.

Your first option might be to try the myriad of options and products for roof algae cleaning available on the internet. A bunch of roof cleaners have sprung up on the market and quite often they’ll have pretty good seasonal sales on their sites as well. These powders, foams, and concoctions are usually applied with a sprayer and then allowed to work on their own over time or used in conjunction with a power washer for more immediate results.

My preferred method, however, especially for those who want to make sure not to use pressure for roof cleaning is to turn to a typical household chemical that you’ll have either in the laundry room or pool shed. Yes, I’m talking about bleach and chlorine, which are both actually sodium hypochlorite. Doesn’t it make sense that if chlorine can clean the algae in your pool then it can clean the algae on your roof? Now roof algae can be quite hardy and so the mixture will need to be stronger than pool water, but the basic physics are the same.

Which brings me to my next point. I always hear people say that they heard somewhere that bleach and chlorine are bad for cleaning roofs and that it will hurt the shingles and gutters and kill all the plants and other such nonsense. Let me put it this way to you – if you’re okay with swimming in this chemical and exposing your skin, eyes, and kids to it every time you go to the neighborhood pool then why should you be so scared of putting it on your roof? As long as any run-off or overspray is properly rinsed down and diluted then you have nothing to worry about.

Any home professional or inspector will tell you that cleaning a roof with non-pressure methods and a bleach-based solution is the proper way, and this opinion is also backed up by ARMA (the asphalt roofing manufacturers association) and GAF (North America’s largest shingle manufacturer). So you need not fear the algae on your roof as long as you have some bleach or chlorine around the house and a mind for safety during the cleaning. Apply the chemical. Rinse with water. Brag to your friends. That’s all there is to roof algae removal.

If you clean your roof correctly then it should stay clean for years.  I would say the average is two to four years before the algae stains begin to show up again, though I've seem some roofs go as long as five to seven years or more before another cleaning is required.  Compare this type of longetivity with other types of home cleaning services and you can understand why there tends to be a price disparity.  Roof algae cleaning is also much more dangerous and time-consuming than cleaning a carpet, for example, so you should expect that it's going to cost more to hire this kind of work out.


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