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Whats eating your roof?

Did you know, your roof is not dirty at all, it’s infested. Infested by tiny microorganisms that are dining on your roof like an all you can eat buffet. These algae, molds, mildews and bacteria are actually decomposing the surfaces they are growing on. Nature uses these tiny microorganisms to break down larger objects into smaller items eventually becoming part of the soil. This is called decomposition. Your roof and other surfaces around your property are being attacked and decomposed right before your very eyes.

In the past pressure washers were used to clean algae and mildew away from these surfaces. This is actually the absolute wrong thing to do. Water under pressure created the Grand Canyon by a process called erosion. Using a pressure washer and taking an eroder to clean away a decomposer, will actually accelerate the aging and decomposition of the roof and other surface you are cleaning with pressure washing. Pressure washing is old school and doesn’t solve the problem of algae, mildew and bacteria staining.

Think of those ugly stains and colonies of tiny pests. You would treat them with a solution to kill them and keep those pests from coming back right? Well why not treat your properties roof, exterior, decks and such in the same way? Our Soft Washing method is designed to treat staining like a pest not a stain. Our three in one process cleans the surface, achieves a 100% kill of the fungal pests and leaves behind a spore block inhibitor to protect against further infestations. Best of all we back our products & process with a 3 year spot free warranty!

Though esthetics alone can be a powerful augment for keeping homes and apartment community’s roofs clean, there can also be inequities, like energy consumption, that need addressed.

Though there are many things homeowners can do to save energy around their home few things help like a clean roof. In fact, when compared to other items like..

  •  Adjusting your thermostat up by 2 degrees from 76 to 78.

  • Lowering the thermostat setting on your hot water heater.

  • Shutting off lights when not in a room.

  • Washing your clothes in the cold setting.

Cleaning your roof can save more than all of these combined.

The streaks that are staining the roof are actually a bacteria called Gleocapsa Magma. This is the main culprit for most of the roof staining throughout the US. There are a few more culprits that also grow up on roofs making a mess of things. Roof top organisims like mildew and algae are unsightly but not as destructive as some of the more aggressive bacterias and fungus. Moss and Lichens also abound and are the final bad actors that show up after the party has been started by the fungal growths. These algae, molds, mildews, bacterias, lychens and mosses directly decompose and break down roofing materials. Thought to be just mildew, these streaks were from a strain of Cyanobacteria called Gloeocapsa Magma. Cyanobacteria are an ancient line of photosynthesizing bacteria that photolyse water, generating oxygen gas. This makes them very much like a plant.

Much of the organisms on a roof are there because of the warm, moist environment a roof creates, especially on the north and west sides of a roof.  Microorganisms populate in an abundance growing so well that they begin to be noticeable to the human eye. Many roofing surfaces are made with materials that can be metabolized by the micro organisms. Shingles now contain limestone as a filler mixed into the aggregate of the shingle. Many of the algae, mildew and bacteria’s utilize this limestone as the base nutrient of their roof ecosystem and begin to feed on it. The good news is that these stains / microorganisms can be safely removed.

Commonly called mildew the same Cyanobacteria, Gloeocapsa Magma will grow on wood, concrete, siding, aluminum and other surfaces as well.

Many times customers do not realize what is actually growing on their home and the damages it can cause. Organisms like these will begin to break down construction materials, creating a more inhabitable environment for higher organisms which will move in and cause greater damage.

It is important to remember that Gloeocapsa Magma is a bacteria, whereas algae are eukaryotes (cells having nuclei). It is also important as well to look at roofing stains as a bacterial infection.

Almost all forms of Algae, Mildew, Fungus and Lichen have a filament root system. Once that root system is attached to the roof or building surface the “roots” starts to break down and decompose that surface creating cracks and fishers.

Because we now know that the stains on the roof are actually living things we understand that this is not a cleaning function. In order to achieve a lasting clean we need to solve (treat) the problem not just blast away at the surface.

There are many types of shingle roofs. More than types, there are styles and colors. From the most basic shingle pattern to the highest end products, all are made of similar materials. There are three tab shingles as well as architectural shingles. There are 20, 30 and 50 year ratings. Colors designed to reflect light and heat and colors that blend into the buildings overall color scheme. No matter what type rating and color roof is on a building, roofs are expensive and require maintenance like any other building surface.

The end goal is to get as much wear, use or return on investment you possibly can from the roof you purchased. From my experiences in Florida, a 20 year, 3 tab, shingle roof will fail before it reaches 10 years. It is common to see roofs being replaced, on homes that were roofed with 50 year, architectural shingles, well before their 25th birthday.

This is alarming because these home and building owners are receiving only 50% of the full duty cycle of their roofing system. This premature failure of roofing materials is costing the home owner big bucks!
It has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt that this premature ageing is directly attributed to these major reasons.

  • Fungal Decomposition due to filament roots.

  • Fungal Decomposition due to acid waste.

  • UV Breakdown.

  • Thermal Deterioration.

These four main reasons for premature failure of a roofing system are more demonstrated in the fact that shingle manufacturers perform a test in their labs that simulates 30 years of shingle life. This test is done in specially equipped ovens that bake test shingles at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, at 100% humidity for 30 days. Just in the two variables used in these testing ovens you can see how much heat and humidity play a role in the failure of roofing systems.

Granular loss can be explained in several different ways. The loss of aggregate from composition shingle roofs is not uncommon. It is actually a part of the life cycle of the shingle itself. To understand granular loss you must understand why the granules are there themselves.
The layers of a shingle are simple. Layer one is the fiberglass mat that makes up the body of the shingle. Layer two is petroleum asphalt. Finally, layer three, is the shingle aggregate itself.

Aggregate is pressed into the hot asphalt of a shingle to protect the asphalt and fiberglass from physical damage as well as damages from the UV rays of the sun. The aggregate is made of small pieces of ceramic and limestone. The ceramic is made to reflect the damaging rays of the sun away from the roof surface. Limestone has recently been introduced as a filler.

Even a new shingle roof with no damages loses a great deal of aggregate over its first years of life. Much within the first year and then tapering off each following year. By year three, any aggregate that was loosely adhered during the manufacturing process has fallen off.

Weathering is one of the most common ways aggregate is removed from a shingle roof. Hail storms, hard rain, wind and damaging UV rays from the sun can wear away at a roof little by little. Some of the aggregate on your roof is actually “sacrificial” for that reason. The manufacturer of the roofing materials will add 30 to 40% more aggregate to the roofing surface to account for initial loss in the first three years as well as weathering.

Mechanical agitation is the final way that aggregate is removed. Items and situations that cause mechanical agitation are, pressure washing, scrubbing, tree branches and alike. These are unnatural, unintended ways of granular loss. To keep these from destroying the roofing system, avoid frequently walking on roof, never pressure wash a roof, do not use a scrub brush on a roof and keep tree limbs trimmed away from the roof by at least 10 feet.

Not only shingle roofs, but all types of roofs can lose valuable years of service life from not being properly maintained. Roofs whether shingle, tile, slate, shake, membrane or metal can lose as much as 50% of their rated service life from infestation of microorganisms.

Algae, mold, mildew, bacteria, etc. are well known culprits when it comes to allergies. In fact, they top the list of known allergy irritants. Many people suffer from allergies and look everywhere for relief. Many times they have no idea that the stains growing on and around their home are contributing to their illness.
Your roof, home and surroundings need to be safeguarded against the possible health issues that can come from mildew, algae, fungus and bacteria. Starting from your roof, many areas can be effected by these microbials.  Every time it rains, every morning dew, the fungus on your roof drips down spores onto sidewalks, driveways, decks, walls and more. These spores then attach and grow new colonies. These colonies are then transported into your home by foot traffic, pets and by air itself.

Round Up has done an excellent job educating the public about home weed control. They have effectively taught that if you pull a weed and you do not get the root the old weed grows back. Now, apply that concept to algae and fungus removal. Using a cleaning process that is very surface oriented will leave behind remnants of the old “plant” and the remnant algae will just return.

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