Safe Ways to Wash Your Roof
When it comes to washing your roof, it can initially seem like a daunting task. It may feel overwhelming as you realise the size of your roof and quite how high it is. However, cleaning your roof is a fantastic idea, for numerous reasons and it is not as difficult as you may have once thought!
The roof on any building is arguably the most important part, yet it is an area that we typically ignore. When roofs are neglected, they can grow and develop a wide range of algae, moss, mould, lichen, and general dirt. This is of course far from ideal and can cause many problems, often requiring rather expensive solutions.
When you do clean your roof there are several precautions that you will need to take to clean it safely. There is a risk that whilst cleaning your roof you will cause further damage to it, and potentially cause additional damage to the inside of the property. As well as this, when working at heights or with powerful machinery and chemicals, there is a risk that you or others could be harmed in the process.
This article will discuss the benefits of cleaning your roof, what tools are available, and which are best suited for the job. We will then detail the safest and most efficient ways to clean your roof and the health and safety associated with it.
- Reasons Why You Should Wash Your Roof
- What do I Need to Clean my Roof Safely?
- What Chemicals Should I Use?
- The Cleaning Process
- Health and Safety
Reasons Why You Should Wash Your Roof
There are many reasons why you should wash your roof, from the visual benefits to the practical advantages, cleaning your roof is a great way to improve your home. Numerous issues can occur when roofs are left neglected, many of which can be a huge headache for you. Mould, moss, and lichen thrive on British roofs due to the wet environment. When these microbes are allowed to grow, your roof can begin to suffer severe consequences.
Moss can be a huge problem for your roof and can put additional weight and pressure on your roof, causing the internal structure to be strained. Moss is notorious for being able to store large amounts of water. This is an issue for two main reasons.
With moss capable of holding huge amounts of water in a small area, this can apply direct pressure on to your roof. This can then cause areas of your roof to dip or cave in, causing water damage to your property’s interior.
Moss can also grow under your roof tiles when allowed to grow for a prolonged time. When this happens, the moss can then drip water onto your roof’s insulation, causing damp and mould to grow inside your property. This can lead to warping and can cause irreversible damage to your building.
You will often see dark stains on your roof, which may appear harmless. However, these are algae spores that can grow due to the rain or from birds transmitting algae spores from one roof to another. When these algae are left to grow, it can turn into dangerous mould and fungi, which only leads to more and more problems for your roof.
Mould can have a damaging effect on anyone, but it has an especially dangerous impact on more vulnerable people. The elderly, children, and people with weakened immune systems, are especially at risk of complicated health problems due to the mould.
When fragments of mould are inhaled, this can lead to respiratory issues. It can inflame the airways, tighten your chest, irritate your throat, and can strain your lungs. Even if your building does not have vulnerable people in it, inhaling mould spores is unhealthy for anyone, and cleaning this off of your roof should be a priority.
The benefits that removing mould does for your health is an obvious reason why you should clean your roof, but there are additional benefits for keeping your roof clean.
By cleaning your roof, you can prolong your roof’s lifespan, and your shingles will last much longer. When moss, algae, and lichen have the opportunity to grow, they can grow beneath your tiles and cause them to come loose. When you have loose tiles, the risk of tiles falling off of your roof and breaking is increased.
This is far from ideal as replacing roof tiles can be difficult and expensive service, as it requires a professional roofer to fix this. Falling tiles is also a hazard for anyone that is walking past your building. This is a dangerous consequence of organic growth on your roof, and a result that can be entirely avoided through safe and regular cleaning.
The organic growths on your roof can also cause cracks on your roof tiles, which can impact the look of your property, as well as reducing the lifespan of your roof. With regular care and maintenance, you can ensure that your roof tiles do not become damaged by organic growth and debris, guaranteeing that your roof’s lifespan will increase.
When a roof has an excess of organic growth on its surface, animals such as birds, bats and squirrels are attracted to it. For these common pests, areas with moss are the perfect places to settle as it means that they are close to a water source, and a food source.
It is extremely common for birds to settle and gather in large groups on roofs that have a build-up of moss and algae. This naturally leads to bird faeces appearing in large quantities on your roof and around your building. This can be a hazard as bird faeces are full of disease and bacteria, which of course you do not want to bring into your home or workplace.
As well as birds causing additional headaches for you when they gather and settle on your roof, bats can also cause an abundance of issues for you and your property. Bats can enter through small gaps in your roof, which can be caused by loose tiles or moss damaged areas.
Bats can damage your roof further when they enter in and out of your roof or attic, with repeated wear and tear this can lead to severe water leaks and structural issues. As well as this, bats carry many diseases and lots of bacteria that is extremely dangerous for humans.
Once you have bats living in your roof or attic, their removal can be a rather difficult process. Bats are protected by UK law, which means that you must alert the Bat Conservation Trust when you are aware that Bats are living in your roof or attic. They will then recommend specialist bat removers to assist you, yet this can be a long and expensive process.
If a squirrel gets into your loft, they can cause an unthinkable amount of damage to your home. Squirrels can bite through insulation layers and will target roofs that have missing tiles and therefore have an easier entrance to the loft.
Attics are the perfect place for squirrels to live, however, the presence of them in your property is far from ideal. Squirrels can gnaw on structural wood beams, as well as gnawing through electrical cables. This damage can be expensive to fix and removing the squirrels can be even more costly.
Professionals must be used when catching squirrels on your loft, as they can become aggressive and are likely to bite and scratch. When squirrels are caught, there are some complications when it comes to releasing them.
If red squirrels are caught, they can simply be released into the wild, but this should be done a significant distance away from your house. Professionals will take care of this to avoid a re-infestation.
If you have grey squirrels nesting in your attic this can be a slightly more difficult removal process. In the UK, it is an offence to release grey squirrels back out into the wild. Once they have been caught in a cage, they must be destroyed humanely. This is an unpleasant scenario that can be avoided with just a small amount of effort, not to mention the expensive costs of hiring a professional to take care of this issue for you.
All of these issues can be avoided through careful cleaning and regular maintenance of your roof. If your roof is clear of moss and algae, animals will not be as attracted to your roof. Animal-related issues can be prevented, and your roof will have years added on to its life span.
Washing your roof regularly can save you huge amounts of money in the long run and can even add value to your property. The cost of pest removal can be extremely high, and the price of roof repairs can be even higher.
A roof replacement costs an average of £6,000, a massive unwanted expense that can be entirely avoided with minimal time and effort. For the time and money that it takes to clean your roof, this seems like a no brainer.
By cleaning your roof, you can actually add market value to your property. Having a strong ‘kerb appeal’ helps your building sell better. Kerb appeal refers to the first impression that people get when they see your property. If you are in the process of selling your house, this can be a huge influencing factor for prospective buyers.
The front exterior of your house is the first thing that potential buyers see, and it is the image that will stick with them. If the exterior looks dirty and uncared for, they will be focussing on that, and not the beautiful interior. By taking the time to clean your roof, you can make your property more sellable, and generally nicer to look at.
What do I Need to Clean my Roof Safely?
There are numerous ways that you can clean your roof, from hiring a professional to using a water-fed pole to hand scrubbing. The method that you choose to use depends on the type of roof that you have, the condition of the tiles and the resources that are available to you.
Professional roof cleaners will, of course, do a highly effective job, but they can be substantially more expensive than doing the job yourself. There are many professional cleaning services available on the internet, and a quick google should point you in the direction of the best ones in your area.
If you don’t wish to spend so much money or would prefer to clean your roof yourself then there are a few things that you will need before you begin.
Invest in a hard-bristled brush and a scraper. These a fairly inexpensive and will last for multiple cleans. If you have certain areas of moss on your roof you can target these and hand-wash the moss off by using the scraper and brush.
You will, of course, need a safe and sturdy ladder to do this. You should take caution when working at heights, make sure that you are confident on a ladder and that you have someone helping to hold it steady. This handwashing method should only be used in small areas and is great for removing moss in between those big cleans.
When it comes to tackling those big roof cleans, there are a few tools that we recommend using. High powered pressure washers are not suitable for cleaning your roof with, as although they can easily remove the dirt and organic growth on your roof, they can cause additional damage to your shingles.
If you have any loose tiles or cracked shingles, a blast from a high-powered pressure washer can cause these to break or fall off. Using a pressure washer could leave your roof in an even worse condition than when you started.
The easiest and safest way to clean your roof is with a sprayer, or a soft washer and a cleaning solution. A soft washer is essentially a low powered pressure washer. Whereas a pressure washer applies upwards of 1000 pressure per square inch (PSI), a soft washer’s PSI is less than 1000. Soft washers also typically have a widening tip, to reduce such a severe point of pressure.
Soft washing can get fantastic cleaning results on your roof, without the risk of damaging your roof tiles. Soft washing typically uses a chemical cleaning solution, which is sprayed on to your roof before being rinsed off.
There are a variety of chemical cleaning agents available on the market, which we will discuss further later in the article, see “What Chemicals Should I Use?”.
It is important to note that pressure washers of any kind should never be used whilst on a ladder. As you spray the water out of the nozzle, the recoil on the spray wand can cause you to lose your balance and fall off. This could cause a serious injury and should be avoided at all costs.
When you use a soft washer on your roof, you should purchase a telescopic lance. This will enable you to reach and wash your roof from the safety and comfort of the ground level. This is also a very useful tool when washing out your gutters.
Telescopic lances are easy to find and you can order them off of amazon as well as major hardware shops. Telescopic lances also provide a slightly more gentle water stream, which effectively removes the moss from your roof, all whilst keeping your roof tiles intact.
By using a telescopic water fed pole you can safely and effectively clean your roof, without the hazard of any falls from a ladder or any additional damage to your roof tiles. When you wash your roof, it is important to make sure that you wear gloves and safety goggles. You will be using a chemical cleaning agent, and wearing gloves will protect you from any irritants that may be in the cleaning solution.
You should wear safety goggles whenever you are operating your soft washer or when you are spraying anything on your roof. This will prevent any chemicals from getting in your eyes, as well as ensuring that pieces of debris do not damage your eyes either.
What Chemicals Should I Use?
There is an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to choosing the right chemical for cleaning your roof. All roof surfactants eliminate basic dirt from your roof, but you may need to choose a more specific cleaner, depending on the state of your roof.
Before you use soft wash your roof, you should scrub the problem areas. One natural way that you can clean your roof tiles is by using vinegar and baking soda. This combination is capable of removing the majority of dirt and organic growths on your roof and is a more natural alternative to other chemicals.
However, bleach is one of the best choices for cleaning your roof, as it will kill your organic growths at the root. Although you cannot just use common household bleach for this.
You could purchase Sodium Hypochlorite, which is the main component in bleach. It is extremely effective in disinfecting your roof of any viruses and bacteria, as well as destroying all the organic growths. As well as this, it is capable of removing any unwanted odours, which can be a blessing if your roof is covered in bird faeces. However, this is typically reserved for professionals when it comes to roof cleaning.
There are different types of bleach that you can use to clean your roof. Many professionals use chlorine-based bleaches, but this should be reserved for industry specialists only. Due to the high levels of sodium, chlorine-based bleach can damage the shingles on your roof and can make them overly brittle. This type of bleach should be avoided when cleaning a shingled roof.
Oxygen bleaches are a great alternative, as they clean your roof of organic growths effectively, whilst allowing your shingles to retain their original colour. To clean and protect your shingles, this is the best option. Oxygen bleaches are available from most hardware shops or can be ordered online.
When using any bleaches, it is important to pre-soak your surroundings before applying the cleaning solution. This process will be discussed in detail further on in the article, see “The Cleaning Process”.
When using bleach, you should ensure that you read the mixing instructions on the packaging. This will guarantee that you are using the correct bleach concentration. Typically, this is a 50:50 mix of water and bleach, but you should check on the packaging. If you are not sure, contact a professional.
The Cleaning Process
The first step in cleaning your roof is manually removing the large clumps of moss. Using a hard-bristled brush and a scraper, whilst up on a securely placed ladder, you can begin to brush and scrape away at these growths. As discussed, this should only be for small areas, as you could end up spending your whole day cleaning your roof.
If you have any particularly stubborn areas of organic growths, you can use a vinegar and baking soda mix to help dislodge them. Once you have removed the worst of the algae, you can put the ladder away and move on to the next step.
Next, you will need to pre-soak your surroundings. When you are using any cleaning products, even those that claim to be eco-friendly, it is crucial that you pre-soak the area around your building. You should ensure that all plant and grass in the surrounding landscape have been thoroughly soaked with clean water before you continue with the cleaning process.
By giving your plants a generous soaking before you begin the cleaning process, you protect your plants from getting an accidental splash of highly concentrated chemicals, that would kill your plants in days. If you have especially precious plants, you can place a large tarpaulin over them as well as pre-soaking them.
Once you have thoroughly soaked your plants in clean water, you can begin to prepare the chemical cleaning solution. Before you do this, make sure that you are fully aware of how much bleach you need to mix with water. You should make sure that you are wearing gloves and safety goggles when you begin the chemical mixing process.
Now that you have correctly mixed your bleach solution, using your telescopic lance you can start to apply the solution to your roof. As a general rule of thumb, you should start cleaning the top of your roof and then work your way down. This allows the dirt to run off of your roof quickly.
You should ensure that you have applied an even coat of the bleach solution on your roof. There is no need to worry about overapplying this as you have mixed the chemicals correctly and have the right concentration of the mixture. Once the solution has been applied, leave it to soak in for approximately half an hour. Refer to the instructions on the packaging if you have any concerns about the cleaning solution that you are using.
Using clean water, wash away a small test area to double-check if an additional layer of cleaning solution needs to be applied. If the solution has achieved the results that you want, you can continue to rinse the rest of your roof. Like with the application process, you should start from the top of the roof and work your way down.
You should start to see your roof transform before your eyes! Make sure that you give all areas a generous rinse to ensure that no cleaning solution is left on the building. Rinse your plants and grass once more to guarantee that all the chemicals that you used have been thoroughly diluted.
Your roof should now be clear of dirt, mould, and moss. Leave your roof to dry completely before moving on to the final step of the cleaning process.
Sealants are an important step in maintaining a clean roof and are often overlooked. Sealants act as a protective layer for your roof tiles and shingles and can fill in any cracks or chips that they may have. This can prolong your roof’s life expectancy, as the sealant acts as a barrier for your tiles and prevents them from being damaged by additional weathering.
You should use a long spray pole to apply the sealant once the roof has dried completely. This does not need to be washed off and will help protect your roof tiles and shingles from new organic growth, general dirt and weathering.
This cleaning process can be repeated as many times as required, but you should endeavour to repeat the cleaning process regularly every few years. By following this cleaning regime your roof will be clean, healthy and full of life!
Health and Safety
When you clean your roof there are naturally many risks associated with it. Exercise caution when cleaning your roof and follow our health and safety tips to ensure that you clean your roof safely.
When you clean your roof, you will begin the process by manually hand cleaning the large clumps of moss. To do this you will need to use a ladder. It is important to use a sturdy ladder, that is properly fixed on to your building and is stable before climbing it.
Make sure that you are wearing shoes with good grip and that you feel confident working at heights. You should ensure that another adult is holding the bottom of the ladder to help keep the ladder stable. Gutters are not stable enough for you to rest a ladder on, and you should avoid resting your ladder on any of your gutters. You should pick a more secure part of your roof to rest your ladder against.
Never use a pressure washer while working on a ladder, as the powerful recoil of the spray hose can knock your balance and can cause you to fall off the ladder. When soft washing your roof you should use a telescopic spray wand, this allows you to clean all of your roofs from the safety of the ground!
When you are working with chemicals, you must wear gloves at all times. This will prevent any irritants from getting on your hands when you are pouring the bleach in. You should also wear safety goggles when mixing chemicals as this will prevent any chemicals from harming your eyes.
When cleaning your roof there is the potential that you may make existing damage worse. For example, if your roof has any loose edges, damaged flashing, or cracked tiles, you may break these beyond repair. Before you start on any cleaning, check for any cracks, loose tiles, or edging. Make sure that you remove any loose parts or your roof and get these areas repaired before beginning the cleaning process.
You should take care when operating the pressure washer, ensuring that you always wear safety glasses when you are operating the pressure washer. This prevents any debris from going in your eyes as well as stopping any of the chemical cleaning solution getting into your eyes when you are spraying up towards the roof.
When you are soft washing your roof, you should take extra care when spraying water near any powerlines, electrical masts or electrical outlets that are close to your building. Make sure that you maintain a minimum distance of six feet when you are spraying water anywhere near these. Do try and avoid spraying these altogether.
If you are using an extension lead to power your soft washer, the plug must be inside your building and away from the water spray. This will prevent any electrical issues and the risk of electrocution.
When you have finished using the soft washer, you should turn it off at the switch and then turn the tap off. After this, squeeze the trigger on the spray wand to release all of the pressure and water that is in the system. This will prevent any burst pipes or damaged equipment.
Make sure that you turn off the pressure washer when you are not using it, and that the water is off also. If you change nozzles, ensure that the pressure washer has been switched off.
You should never point the spray nozzle at any people or animals. Once you have finished cleaning your roof, you should have a bath or shower. This will make sure that any cleaning chemicals that may be on your skin will be thoroughly washed off and diluted, any mould spores and dirt remanence will also be cleaned off. This prevents bacteria from being transmitted all through your house. You should also wash the clothes that you cleaned your roof in, to prevent any bacteria from growing in your house as a result of bacteria or microbes living on your clothes.
Once you have cleaned your roof, and done a great job of this, you will want to protect and maintain these results for as long as possible. Roof maintenance can be done in a few ways, from spot checks to sealant, regular maintenance can keep your roof functioning safely and look sparkling!
Applying a sealant to your roof can hugely extend its life expectancy. Sealants add an extra layer to your roof tiles, acting as a protective sheet. The sealant takes the majority of the force from the sun, rain, and the ice, instead of your roof tiles taking the full brunt of this.
As well as protecting your roof tiles from weathering, sealant also prevents the growth of mould and algae. We know that organic growths on your roof can cause lots of damage to your property, therefore by regularly applying a sealant to your roof you can save yourself the headache of mould damage!
When it comes to applying a sealant, you should aim to have this done every few years. This can be applied by yourself but if you have a larger roof or if you are sealing your roof for the first time, you should hire a professional to do this job.
Spot cleaning can be an easy way to tide your roof over until the next big clean. As we have discussed, you can spot clean small areas of your roof that have an excessive build-up of moss and mould. Areas of your roof that are in the shade, such as underneath tv satellites, tend to have a larger build-up of moss and may need more frequent spot cleaning to avoid damage.
You should try and inspect your roof every few months to make sure that you do not have any excessive organic growth or any damaged tiles that may fall off of your roof. This will help you to keep control of your roof and will help you prevent any severe damage to your roof.
Cleaning your roof can yield a wealth of benefits, from improving your property’s aesthetics to adding years to its lifespan. Although cleaning your roof can protect your home from damage, there are many risks associated and it is important to clean your roof safely.
To wash your roof safely, you should invest in a telescopic water-fed pole. This will be the most useful tool when it comes to cleaning your roof safely. By using a soft washer with a telescopic pole, you can reach the top of your roof without ever needing to step off of the ground! You can effectively and safely clean your roof, without the need for professional intervention.
You must take certain precautions when cleaning your roof to ensure that the cleaning process is done safely. Make sure that you wear gloves, safety goggles and that you wash yourself and your clothes once you have finished cleaning. This will prevent any irritants from harming your skin.
Make sure that you follow our health and safety advice, as well as using your common sense to stay safe when cleaning your roof. With thorough and safe cleaning, your roof will be shining and you will reap the rewards!