How to Clean an Asphalt Shingle Roof

Given the ongoing industry advancements in performance and style, it’s no small wonder why asphalt shingles continue to grow in popularity. They’re cost-effective, easy to install, and available in a broad spectrum of colors to match the look of your commercial property.

Despite the efficiency of asphalt shingles, they can also be a headache if you don’t maintain them. They last for at least 20 years, but without regular care, you’ll only get a fraction of that time before needing repairs.

If you want to get the most years out of your asphalt shingle roof and save on the exorbitant cost of replacement, you’ll need to start a cleaning and care routine. It can feel daunting, but simple techniques and the right equipment can make roof cleaning easy and effective.

Why Clean Your Asphalt Shingle Roof

To enjoy the benefits of asphalt shingles, you need to protect them from wear. Damage can come from many outdoor elements, including:

  • Debris such as leaves and tree branches
  • High wind
  • Rain, ice, and hail
  • Algae, moss, lichen, and mold
  • Temperature changes

While you can’t control the weather, you can control some of the fallout with roof maintenance.

Damage from Debris and Water

Erosion from debris and standing water can degrade the protective granules on the surface of the shingles. UV light, moisture, and a host of other elements can then attack the substrate once the granule layer gets worn down.

The premature wear on the shingles will force you to repair or replace the roof. By cleaning your roof regularly, you get rid of any damaging detritus that can erode your roof or collect water.

Organic Growth

Outright impact with your roof is one problem, but the slow onset of moss and mold can be equally damaging. Unchecked growth can cause mold to spread and moss to loosen and displace shingles. Meanwhile, blue-green algae, a common issue across the country, can discolor your shingles and ruin your building’s aesthetics.

When you don’t manage a dirty roof, you risk an early replacement. Even with the cost-effectiveness of asphalt shingles, that’s still at least a few thousand dollars you could have saved. And with the incredible amount of asphalt shingles that go to landfills every year, regular roof maintenance can be an eco-conscious decision.

How to Clean an Asphalt Shingle Roof

Asphalt shingles are sturdy enough to withstand decades of abuse, yet they’re surprisingly delicate in the face of roof maintenance. You can’t approach your roof cleaning chore with abrasive equipment, or you’ll end up wearing down the granular coating. Instead, follow these roof care steps for your asphalt shingles.

Pick an overcast day to clean your roof. You don’t want it to be too sunny and hot, or else your cleaner will evaporate before it takes effect. It can’t be rainy either, as that will present unsafe working conditions and wash your cleaner off before it can dissolve the stains.

Step 1: Sweep the Roof

Sweeping your roof is only necessary when you have leaves, twigs, and other debris that can’t wash away with a hose. If you do have to sweep your roof, it’s crucial to be as gentle as possible.

Don’t walk on your roof if the pitch is too steep, generally more than 6/12. If you have a low-pitched roof, you can walk on it, but you need to walk with care to prevent damage to the shingle granules.

For a steep roof, stand on the ground and use a long-handled soft-bristle broom or a roof rake to pull off leaves and branches. You can use a leaf-blower on a low-pitched roof, but be careful to avoid damaging the integrity of the shingle. Excessive wind force can lift and displace shingles, opening up leaks and requiring repairs.

Step 2: Soft Wash the Roof

The best way to clean an asphalt shingle roof is to use a soft wash. Pressure washing your roof is one of the worst roof maintenance mistakes you can make because it can pry shingles loose and shift them out of place. A soft wash will keep shingles in place and stop the granules from falling off.

Before washing your roof, you’ll need to protect any vegetation below your roof. The runoff will damage your landscaping, so you’ll have to cover it with plastic.

Once you prep your landscaping, create a DIY spray solution with one part water and one part chlorine bleach to kill organic matter and refresh your shingles. If the toxicity of bleach concerns you, you can try oxygen bleach as an environmentally safe alternate.

Using a hose attachment or a garden sprayer, you’ll saturate your entire roof with your cleaner. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, adding a second application if needed.

After letting your cleaner take effect, you can use your garden hose to wash down your roof. Stand on the ground and start soaking your roof, starting from the top and working your way down.

There are also roof cleaning products available at home improvement stores to tackle tough roof stains. If your DIY solution isn’t doing the trick, try one of these advanced cleaners, making sure to follow the manufacturer’s use and safety instructions.

Step 3: Clean the Gutters

After washing your roof, you should clean your gutters. The debris and washed-away grim can accumulate and create clogs. If you don’t clean them out after washing your roof, it could cause leaks that can damage your roof, walls, or foundation.

Maintain Your Asphalt Shingles with Regular Cleaning

You should clean your asphalt shingle roof at least twice a year if it’s in good condition. Older roofs and those prone to moss or algae buildup need more frequent cleaning, usually every year. Depending on the pitch and complexity of your roof, you may need to hire a professional to manage your commercial roof.

When done well, staying on top of roof maintenance will ensure long-lasting performance. But even with regular care, roofs eventually require professional help. If you’re looking for reliable roof repair for your commercial property, contact our team at Mid-State Construction & Roofing today. 

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