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How to Deal with Roof Algae: Cleaning, Preventing and More

Roof algae can present a major problem. Although algae’s effect on the shingles themselves is relatively minor, it can result in more problematic growths like mold and lichen, which can give way to moisture damage. Additionally, algae can drastically lower a home’s curb appeal. So what’s a homeowner to do?

The Problem of Roof Algae and Other Pesky Plants

As you drive or walk through your neighborhood, take a look at some of the homes – specifically the roofs. You might see a film of green or black algae on some of these roofs. If your home is among them, you’ve got a serious cosmetic issue that could easily lead to something much worse.

The presence of algae, especially during warmer weather, indicates that the surface provides enough shade and moisture to harbor more problematic plant growth, like lichen and moss. These growths hold significant moisture and, as a result, reduce the life of your roof covering.

Asphalt and wood shingles are particularly susceptible. They retain water when leaves and debris pile up on the roof, as well as when moss and lichens begin to grow. As a result, shingles experience faster wear and tear. Retained moisture is especially a problem during the winter, when freezing temperatures cause the wet areas to expand, cracking the shingles underneath the plant growth.

During warmer times of the year, moss and lichens put out roots that can eventually penetrate the shingles and areas in between, which further speeds up their expiration. Lichens, a kind of fungus and algae combination, are less of a problem than moss because they hold less water. However, they have a tighter “grip” where they grow, so cleaning can cause serious and irreparable harm to the roof itself. Additionally, lichen is quite acidic, which can also cause damage.

How to Get Rid of Existing Algae

How to Deal with Roof Algae: Cleaning, Preventing and MoreIf you have roof algae, moss, or lichen growth, there are a few different ways you can approach solving this problem. You can create a homemade combination of bleach and water or try a trisodium phosphate solution. Zinc herbicides are another option, but they should never be used on a roof or home that has any copper gutters or flashings, because they’ll corrode the metal, causing more problems than they solve.

Unfortunately, these solutions – also known as “roof shampooing,” according to some marketers – will only temporarily remove the stains, but may leach unwanted chemicals into the soil surrounding your home. These harmful chemicals may seep into the groundwater and cause harm to the local environment.

Whatever you do, don’t power wash your roof. Algae can cause some erosion of shingle granules on asphalt shingles over time, but power washing will remove many of the granules entirely, causing permanent damage. Power washing will also seriously damage wood shingles if they’re already in old or worn condition. Additionally, never try cleaning a roof that has both plant growth and worn out or fragile shingles – if you’ve reached this point, you’re in need of a new roof.

Should you choose to attempt cleaning, take excellent care to minimize damage as much as possible. Brush or rake gently on a small area before you start working on the entire roof to get a sense of the shingles’ condition underneath the growth. Then, carefully scrape away the thickest areas of moss and lichen. Use a wide scraper and file down the sharp corners so they become rounded – or you’ll risk gouging your shingles.

When you’re done cleaning, take a closer look at the condition of the roof. Plant growth may have masked serious problems that need to be addressed immediately. Curled, cracking, or brittle shingles are all signs that you need to replace your roof. While cleaning may improve its appearance, it will also reduce its lifespan.

Protecting Your Roof

How to Deal with Roof Algae: Cleaning, Preventing and MoreMany major roof manufacturers create shingles with added copper, which can help prevent the effects of roof algae. However, research and experience shows that these shingles only keep algae growth from forming for around half a decade. Algae won’t void a long-term warranty, but because cleaning presents such a problem, you’ll be stuck with an ungainly (not to mention expensive) roof.

On the other hand, Atlas Roofing Corporation and 3M have partnered to create roofing shingles with Scotchgard™ protection. Using the research and techniques developed by 3M, Atlas uses copper encased in a mineral solution, applying it extensively – up to 10 times as much as other manufacturers – to ensure the shingles are well protected. The resulting roof shingles are both attractive and effective at guarding against algae’s unsightly streaks, as well as other problematic plant growth.

Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with algae, moss, lichen, or other roof growth, it’s time for a replacement. An infestation of these plants can cause irreparable damage to your shingles. Whatever you choose as your solution for problematic algae, moss, lichen, and other roof growth, make sure you decide in the interest of protecting your roof – which, in turn, will protect your investment in your home and family.

Atlas Roofing is the only major manufacturer that produces shingles created specifically with the use of powerful Scotchgard™ protection. This technology contains copper granules – a much more effective solution than rooftop strips.

The Solution Is Prevention: Atlas Roofing from K & B Home Remodelers

K&B Home Remodelers is a trusted source for high quality roof design and construction using powerful algae-repellant shingles. Not only will these shingles repel plant growth, but they also contain preservative substances that prevent discoloration, allowing them to retain their true, vibrant color throughout the life of the roof.

If you’re doubtful about the upfront cost of replacing a roof with algae-resistant shingles, consider the current cost of washing your roof. If you spend $250 on average per cleaning, and clean twice a year, you’re faced with a massive bill over time. However, installing an Atlas roof with Scotchgard™ protection will allow you to enjoy an algae-free roof without the requisite careful cleaning other roofs require.

For more information about algae-resistant shingles or to receive a free quote for your new roof, contact us today.

About Mike Damora

Mike Damora is vice president of sales and marketing at K&B Home Remodelers, in Randolph, N.J. You can follow him on Twitter @madamora catch him on Drift.

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