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Does roof cleaning prolong the life of your shingles?

Replacing a shingle roof can be a major financial burden. Members of Angie’s list spent an average of $8,900 to get a new roof, even when they used low-cost asphalt shingles. With high-end materials, a new roof can cost as much as three times more. The good news is, with proper care you can prolong the life of your shingles and stave off this expense.

Roof Issues to Attend to Regularly

Some roof issues have no direct negative impact on your roof’s shelf life, but some can lead to serious problems that will affect the serviceability of your roof. You can avoid shelling out big bucks for a replacement by regularly inspecting your roof for the presence of algae, moss, and lichen.

Algae, Moss, and Lichen

Algae, moss, and lichen commonly appear on roofs made of shingles, particularly on the shaded side of the house.


. Black algae (Gloeocapsa Magma) is a bacterial growth that can appear as black streaks or splotches across your roof. These streaks are actually colonies feeding off the moisture on your shingles; they usually start to grow when the algaecide applied by manufacturers has worn off.

There is not enough evidence to show that algae is directly damaging to your shingles, but many industry experts believe that this growth eventually contributes to the deterioration of your roof. At any rate, if you are thinking of selling your house, those algae streaks will certainly not help you make a sale.

Your safest bet for ridding your roof of algae would be to use a “softwash” cleaning method. Avoid high pressure blowing or blasting because this can damage your shingles. If the algae infestation on your roof is mild, and your roof slope is gentle enough to work with, you can do the roof cleaning yourself with a garden hose, a garden sprayer, a supplemental water pump, and a non-corrosive, non-toxic solution for roof cleaning. To play it safe, use a full body harness while you work.


. Mosses are tiny thick-leafed, flowerless plants that grow in carpet-like mats or clumps in damp, shady areas. Moss is bad news for your roof, and it will cause your shingles to deteriorate faster than they should.

Moss growing under the shingles can actually raise them at an angle that will allow water to enter and debris to get trapped. Eventually, this will cause your roof to leak. Moreover, when strong winds blow, raised shingles can loosen or get detached.

If you detect moss early enough, you can just remove it by sweeping it off. However, these species have spores and given the right conditions, these spores will revive your moss carpet. If you find that there is already a heavy growth of moss on your shingles, you will have to kill it by applying a solution, preferably a non-toxic one based on potassium salts of fatty acids (soap salts). Apply this only where the moss is growing.


. If you see some greenish grayish splotches on your roof, and they are not as thick or as green as moss, you probably have lichen. Like moss, lichen can spread under your shingles, cause moisture buildup, and shorten your roof’s life expectancy.

To get rid of lichen, gently scrub affected shingles with a mixture of biodegradable liquid dish soap and bleach, and then use clear water to rinse the shingles well. Many home and garden supply stores carry effective solutions for the removal of lichen and stains, but you need to make sure that the solution you choose will not corrode your shingles.

If you read up on how you can prevent moss and lichen from growing back, you will probably come across the suggestion that you install copper, lead, or zinc strips along the ridge of your roof. Some believe that when it rains, the elements in these strips flow down and inhibit moss and lichen from growing back. Not all industry experts subscribe to this method, but others have obtained good results from it.

Weighing Your Options

Cleaning your roof will help ensure that it will live out its expected life span. If you are comfortable working on the roof and are reasonably skilled as a handyman, you will probably want to save money and do the job yourself. As long as you take adequate safety measures, it should be a fulfilling challenge for you. However, if keeping your balance on a slanted surface is a problem, and you have never attempted roof jobs of any kind, play it safe and consider calling an expert. Just remember that whether you go through the DIY route or pay a professional to do this, cleaning your roof is a worthwhile investment for you.

Posted on by USA Gutter, Window, & Roof Cleaning
Does roof cleaning prolong the life of your shingles?

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