Why Pressure Washing is a Big No-No When It Comes to Roofs

It is tempting to take the easy way out to clean a dirty roof. But, pressure washing may damage asphalt shingle roofs and cause them to need replacing sooner. There are types of roofs that are fine to pressure wash, including metal roofing and clay tiles. Asphalt shingle roofs can lose valuable grit from the surface when pressure washing is done with too much pressure.

How To Clean That Asphalt Shingle Roof

Every spring, step back and examine the home’s roof. When you see moss, dirt, and other debris on the roof making it look older and in bad repair, it’s time to clean the gunk off the roof. But, don’t use methods that cause the need for roof repair. Consulting a local trusted roof repair and replacement company can be the answer. Their experts will look at the roof and decide which cleaning method is the best. They can also find roof damage and provide a free quote for repairing it before the roof starts to leak.

Leaf Blower

If the roof’s main problem is a buildup of leaves and small branches, try using a leaf blower on a low setting to sweep the roof clean. Once the debris is swept away, decide if more effort is needed to clean the roof.

Garden Hose with Spray Nozzle

Roofs that have mold, moss, algae, mildew, or other dirty stains need a little more attention. Try using a garden hose with a spray nozzle and some recommended non-toxic cleaning chemicals. This will get rid of stains and streaks without damaging the roof, but it takes a little more effort than hiring a pressure cleaner.

Contact the Roof Manufacturer

Whatever material is on your roof, look in the roofing manufacturer’s information or contact the manufacturer for their requirements for roof cleaning. Some roofing materials, such as clay tiles, do well with pressure washing. Pressure washing on a lower level of pressure may also work for other types of roofing materials.

Roof May Be Worn Out

If the roof is more than 10 to 15 years old, be sure to have it inspected by a roofing professional before spending the money and time to clean it. The discoloring and dingy look may be a signal that the roof is worn out and needs to be replaced. In this case, it is better to put the roof cleaning money toward a new roof.

Why is Pressure Washing Harmful?

Though pressure washing has many good uses and benefits, washing an asphalt shingle roof is not one of them. Pressure washing on a low-pressure setting wielded by a professional may work, but use caution. Roofs are designed to withstand rain, snow, and hail falling on them, but not a concentrated stream of water at high pressure. Cleaning a roof with high pressure can remove part of the grit from the shingles and can also do other damage.

The strong jet from the pressure washer can damage the adhesive bond keeping the shingles sealed down. The high-pressure water can also find its way under or around shingles to damage the roof materials under the shingles. Another problem is that the pressure throws debris into the air, and those materials can land on other parts of the roof, soiling them.

If the homeowner is trying to clean their roof with a rented or purchased pressure washer, they can be injured hauling the heavy equipment up the ladder and across the roof. In addition, the heavy equipment might damage the shingles it is sitting on. Dragging the equipment can cause damaged shingles and lifted-up shingles that leave the roof vulnerable to water leaks and wind damage.

A Better Plan

When a roof looks dingy and streaked, call a roofing professional to inspect the materials and determine the best way to clean them. Choose a roofing professional with a good reputation as well as licensing and insurance. Local online service ratings sites are a good place to start. Once you feel you have the right professional, listen to their advice. But, if the first thing they suggest is pressure washing, choose a different professional.

So, What is Asphalt Roof Tile?

Asphalt roof tiles are made with a base layer of asphalt covered with the surface layer meant to be exposed to the elements. This layer of adhesive covered with grit or granules protects the roof. The granules can be slate, schist, quartz, ceramic, brick, or stone that have been ground. Shingles feel like really coarse sandpaper. The granules or grit are designed to prevent UV damage to the roof and add color and texture to the shingles.

There are other roofing materials for the homeowner to choose from that may do better with pressure washing. They most likely will cost more. Some common roofing materials include metal, slate, wood, cement, tile, and green roofs that are alive and do not require cleaning. There are new roofing materials being introduced, including solar panels, cool roofs, and new composite polymer roofing shingles.

When is it Time For A New Roof?

Eventually, all roofs need to be replaced rather than cleaned or repaired. They are exposed to harsh conditions all year round and suffer damage. Asphalt shingle roofs last from 15 to 20 years while slate, copper, and tile roofs last 50 years or longer. Wood shake roofs last about 30 years. Metal roofs can last up to 70 years. The lifespan of any roof depends on the quality of roofing material and the skill of the roofing installer.

When the roof on your home has reached the end of its life and is costing more in repairs as time goes on, it may be time to replace the roof. When choosing a roofing material, choose the best-quality roof you can afford. The better-quality roofs may cost more initially, but they last years longer. Since the labor to install a roof is a major part of the cost, having a roof last longer saves money.

The best way to save money on roofing is to keep it clean and maintained for its whole life. When storm or other damage happens, get it repaired ASAP. When there is mold, algae, or moss, get rid of them quickly in a way that is safe for the roof. A roof that is well taken care of will last years longer.