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May 22, 2024

What Are the Cons of Roof Cleaning?

The cons of roof cleaning include possible damage to roofing materials, risks of accidents or injuries during cleaning, and environmental concerns related to cleaning solutions and runoff. Costs and time associated with professional cleaning or DIY projects should also be mentioned. This list doesn’t stop here, so keep reading!

dirty slab roof and copper roof

Are the cons of roof cleaning a dealbreaker?

No, the cons of roof cleaning aren’t a dealbreaker, as there are numerous benefits as well. However, they need to mention it to get an accurate image of roof cleaning. Neglecting to clean the roof can alter the roofing materials and lead to expensive repairs and even roof replacement.

A clean roof is a roof that can do its job: to protect the building and everything inside, occupants and belongings. Even if there are several cons to roof cleaning, they can all be surpassed with an in-detail approach. From choosing the right cleaning process to hiring professionals for roof cleaning, many things can be done to minimize the downsides of roof cleaning.

No.1 con: Possible damage to roofing materials

Pressure washing and abrasive cleaning methods may pose important risks to delicate roofing materials such as wood shakes, asphalt shingles, and clay tiles. Here’s how:

  • Dislodge granules from asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are made of a layer of asphalt shingles and granules embedded on their surface. The high pressure of the water when pressure washing may dislodge the granules. As a result, the protective outer layer of the shingle will be compromised.

Without the granules, the asphalt shingle becomes vulnerable to UV rays, weathering, and moisture infiltration. It will degrade faster and will need replacement long before its time.

  • Splinter or damage to wood shakes

Wood shakes are natural, porous materials that high-pressure water or abrasive cleaning methods may easily damage. The force of pressure washing may splinter and even break wood shakes. It will weaken their structural integrity and expose them to moisture infiltration, rot, and decay.

Moreover, abrasive cleaning methods such as scrubbing with stiff brushes or abrasive cleaners may scratch the wood shakes’ surface. The durability and appearance of the wood shakes will be significantly altered.

  • Crack or break the clay tiles

Clay tiles are brittle and have a significant risk of cracking when under pressure or intense force. Pressure washing at high pressure or using abrasive cleaning tools can make the clay tiles crack or break. They also risk dislodging from the roof.

Even if the cracks or chips are small, they will no longer be able to repel water. Leaks will form and water will seep in and alter the roof’s structure and the underlying materials.

  • Weaken flashing and sealants

Pressure washing may also damage flashing, sealants, and various components of the roofing system that reduce the risk of water penetration. High-pressure water may damage or dislodge flashing around vents, chimneys or skylights. They will no longer direct water away from the roof’s sensitive areas.

Abrasive cleaning methods can also degrade sealants and caulking that seal roof penetrations, joints, and seams. Therefore, the risk of water infiltration and leaks increases significantly.

How to minimize damage to roofing materials

  • Use gentle cleaning methods

Employ gentle cleaning methods to lower the risk of damage to roofing materials. For instance, soft washing uses low-pressure water and environmentally clean solutions. It can efficiently remove dirt, debris, moss, and algae without damaging the roofing materials.

  • Don’t use harsh chemicals

Opt for cleaning solutions specially made for roof cleaning and safe for the roofing material. Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or chlorine as they can damage roofing materials and harm surrounding vegetation and wildlife.

  • Test in a small area

Test in an inconspicuous area the cleaning solution before applying it to the whole roof. You have to be sure that it doesn’t damage or discolour the roofing materials.

  • Use adequate tools

Use brooms and soft-bristled brushes to gently scrub away debris and stains from the roof’s surface. Don’t use abrasive tools or pressure washers as they may dislodge materials.

  • Work carefully

Pay attention to your movements and the pressure exerted when cleaning the roof. Don’t step on delicate roofing materials nor apply excessive force that might cause cracking or breaking.

Con no.2: Risks of accidents and injuries

Roof cleaning is performed at heights and has important safety hazards:

  • Working at heights

One of the main safety hazards of roof cleaning is working at heights, especially if the roofs are steep or sloped. Working at heights has a risk of falls which can cause severe injuries and even fatalities. Climbing the roof or accessing the rooftop requires good physical conditions, a set of skills, and safety equipment.

  • Slippery surfaces

Roof surfaces become slippery, especially when cleaning solutions are used to remove moss, debris, and algae. During roof cleaning, slip and fall accidents are likely to happen. The risk is high if safety precautions such as wearing non-slip footwear are skipped. Wet and uneven surfaces pose a risk of losing balance and falling which turns into injuries.

  • Handling equipment

Handling specialized equipment such as pressure washers, extension poles, hoses, and cleaning solutions has safety risks. Incorrect use and mishandling of the equipment may lead to accidents, injuries, and damage to the property.

When not correctly handled, the high-pressure water stream of the pressure washer may cause injuries. The recoil of the spray gun can also cause injuries.

  • Electrical hazards

When using pressure washers or extension cords, electrical hazards are present. Incorrect use of electrical equipment or touching the overhead power lines may cause electric shock, burns, and even electrocution.

  • Weather conditions

Weather conditions such as wind, rain, snow, or ice may aggravate the safety hazards during roof cleaning. Wind gusts may lift individuals off balance, destabilize ladders and increase the risk of falls. Wet or icy surfaces also increase slipperiness and pose dangers for people cleaning the roof.

  • Chemical exposure

Cleaning solutions used for roof cleaning may contain chemicals that cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and various health issues. Professionals carefully store and handle the chemical solutions and follow safety protocols to minimize the risk of chemical exposure.

  • Structural integrity

Roofs may present structural weaknesses or defects that endanger integrity and stability. Walking or working on an altered roof can cause collapse or structural failure. People on the ground can also be hurt.

How to minimize risks of accidents and injuries

  • Prevent falls

Use safety harnesses and fall protection equipment to prevent falling off the roof or slipping from heights. Harnesses have to properly fit, to be securely anchored and connected to anchor points. They can arrest falls and protect you when working at heights.

  • Ensure stability on ladders

Ladders are crucial to access the rooftop. Use sturdy, safely positioned ladders to lower the risk of trips, slips, and falls while climbing up and down from the roof. Place ladders on level and stable ground. Secure them at the top and bottom and extend at least 1m above the landing surface for safe entry and exit.

  • Protect against head injuries

Wear helmets or hard hats for protection against head injuries from falling objects, collision with roof or impact. Head protection is paramount when working in areas where debris or tools may fall from above. They are also essential where there’s a risk of striking overhead obstacles.

  • Prevent slips and trips

When cleaning the roof, one should wear slip-resistant footwear with adequate traction. It lowers the risk of slips and trips on slippery, wet, or uneven roof surfaces. Non-slip footwear helps maintain stability and footing, especially on steep or pitched roof surfaces.

  • Reduce exposure to hazards

Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety glasses, and respiratory protection protects against hazards such as chemicals, sharp objects, or airborne particles from the roof cleaning. When the PPE is well-fitted, it will protect one from injuries and ensure safety while cleaning the roof.

  • Compliance with Safety Standards

Professional roof cleaners follow safety standards and regulations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. This ensures a safe working environment and lowers the risk of accidents or violations.

  • Professional Responsibility

Professional roof cleaners prioritize safety in their work practices and provide appropriate professional training, equipment, and supervision to their employees.

Con no.3: Environmental concerns

Roof cleaning brings environmental concerns due to the impact of runoff of cleaning solutions, chemicals, and debris into waterways. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Chemical runoff

Many roof cleaning products are formulated with chemicals that are harmful to the environment if they go near water sources (rivers, streams, or lakes). Chemical runoff may contaminate waterways, affect aquatic life, and even harm the ecosystems.

  • Air pollution

Some roof cleaning methods use pressure washers or sprayers. They may generate air pollution when releasing particulate matter. Emissions from equipment like pressure washers or generators may also be present.

  • Harm to plants and wildlife

Chemicals used in roof cleaning solutions may be toxic to plants and wildlife when they directly touch them. Chemicals are also harmful when washed off the roof and onto nearby vegetation.

  • Disruption of microbial balance

Roof cleaning may alter the natural microbial balance of the roof’s surface. This results in affecting the ecosystem of microorganisms that break down organic matter and keep the roof’s integrity.

  • Waste disposal

Disposal of waste from the roof cleaning process like cleaning solution runoff or debris removed from the roof may contaminate the soil and water sources.

How to mitigate the environmental concerns

  • Biodegradable cleaning solution

Select biodegradable and eco-friendly cleaning solutions that are safe for the environment and aquatic life. Biodegradable cleaning solutions will naturally break down in time and lower the risk of harm to the waterways and ecosystems.

  • Correct dilution and application

It’s crucial to follow manufacturer recommendations to dilute cleaning solutions. This way, one can reduce the concentration of chemicals in runoff. The cleaning solutions should be applied sparingly in targeted areas to avoid excess runoff and environmental impact.

  • Containment and collection

Employ containment measures such as barriers, tarps, and gutter guards. You may capture runoff and avoid entering waterways or storm drains. Collect and properly dispose of runoff. Follow local regulations and guidelines for wastewater disposal.

  • Preventive measures

Take preventive measures to reduce the need for roof cleaning. Trim overhanging trees, install gutter guards, or use algae-resistant roofing materials. Regular maintenance and cleaning reduce the buildup of debris, dirt, and organic growth. The need and complexity of roof cleaning will reduce as well.

  • Water conservation

Preserve water and use effective cleaning methods and equipment to reduce water usage. Use as little as possible water when cleaning the roof. Opt for low-pressure washing or manual cleaning techniques that use less water.

  • Correct disposal practices

Follow local regulations and guidelines for the correct disposal of cleaning waste, debris, and contaminated materials. Don’t dump cleaning waste or debris into storm drains, waterways, and sensitive ecosystems. You risk polluting and harming aquatic life.

  • Education and Awareness

Learn about the environmental impact of roof cleaning and the importance of correct practices. Educate yourself and others about environmentally friendly cleaning procedures, products, and disposal methods to ensure sustainable roof maintenance.

  • Regulatory compliance

Ensure compliance with local and national regulations on wastewater disposal, pollution prevention, and environmental protection. Get familiar with applicable laws, permits, and guidelines for roof cleaning

Con no.4: Costs and time

Whether you choose to hire professionals or clean the roof on your own, costs for equipment, cleaning solutions, and professional services are related to roof cleaning.

  • Purchase or rental of equipment

If you clean the roof on your own, you will have to rent or buy the equipment. Pressure washers, extension poles, ladders, safety harnesses, and cleaning solutions bring costs to roof cleaning. The cost of renting the equipment depends on the duration of the rental, the type of equipment, and the rental provider’s rates.

Should purchase the equipment upfront, the initial investment will be high. In the long run, the investment will be cost-efficient if you’re confident in you always cleaning your roof.

  • Professional services

When you hire professionals, you will pay for the labour, expertise, and equipment they use for cleaning your roof. The prices for roof cleaning services vary on factors like the size and complexity of your roof, the level of dirtiness, the location, and the contractor’s pricing structure.

Some contractors charge a flat fee for roof cleaning services. Others, base their fees on factors like the roof’s size, pitch, access to the roof, and roof cleaning method.

  • Additional costs
    • Safety equipment like harnesses, helmets, gloves, and non-slip footwear is crucial for DIY roof cleaning projects.
    • Environmental considerations—using eco-friendly cleaning solutions and employing methods to reduce impact on the environment may increase the spending.
    • Repairs and replacements—using incorrect cleaning methods may damage the roof and lead to repair work or even roof replacement.

Let’s discuss the time required for roof cleaning

DIY cleaning efforts

You will need time to plan, prepare, perform the roof cleaning, and clean afterwards. You also need time to gather the equipment, purchase cleaning solutions, and schedule the cleaning. The duration of the cleaning process depends on the roof’s size, complexity, level of dirtiness, cleaning methods, and your level of skills.

If unexpected problems occur during cleaning, the duration of the cleaning will increase. Even if DIY roof cleaning can be cheaper than professional cleaning, it does require an important time investment. Also, the quality of the results is questionable as it depends on your expertise, equipment, and cleaning methods.

Professional appointments

When you schedule roof cleaning services, you need to contact them, get estimates and set a time and date for the service. Once scheduled, professional roof cleaning takes the roof cleaning problem off of your shoulders. Professionals will take care of every step of the cleaning, from beginning to end.

Professional roof cleaners are faster and more efficient than homeowners as they carry the expertise, equipment, and resources to efficiently complete the cleaning job. Homeowners will have free time when outsourcing roof cleaning to professionals.

How to reduce time and costs for roof cleaning

  • Regular maintenance

Follow a regular maintenance schedule to avoid the buildup of moss, dirt, and algae on the roof. Regularly remove debris and run minor cleaning tasks to avoid the need for deep and expensive roof cleaning procedures.

  • Preventive measures

Instal zinc or copper strips along the roof ridge to stop the growth of moss and algae. The strips release ions that inhibit the growth of organic matter and reduce the need for frequent cleaning.

  • Efficient equipment

Low-pressure washers, soft wash systems and other efficient equipment can be used on the roof and reduce water usage. High-quality equipment eases the cleaning process and reduces the time needed for procedures.

  • Compare quotes

Get several quotes from reputable roof cleaning companies and compare their pricing.

  • Bundle services

Ask about bundling services such as gutter cleaning or roof inspection to decrease costs and maximize the value of roof cleaning services.

  • Seasonal timing

Plan roof cleaning during seasons with nice weather for cleaning, like spring or early summer. Don’t schedule roof cleaning during extreme temperatures or inclement weather conditions. The cleaning will take a longer time and the costs will increase.

  • Negotiate discounts

Negotiate with the company for discounts or promotions, especially for repeat business or referrals.

Con no.5: Voiding warranties and further problems

Incorrect cleaning methods or neglecting manufacturer guidelines can have severe repercussions such as voiding warranties. Here’s what can happen:

  • Voiding warranties

Many roofing materials come with warranties that cover defects in materials and workmanship. Warranties also consist of clauses that are void when the roof is improperly maintained or cleaned. Using harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaning tools, and high-pressure washing may nullify the warranty.

  • Decrease energy efficiency

Damaged roof materials may alter the insulation and energy efficiency of the building. The costs for heating and cooling will increase. Displaced or cracked shingles, for instance, may allow heat to escape outside in the winter or let it inside in the summer. The indoor temperatures will be uncomfortable.

  • Weaken roof structure

Sometimes, incorrect cleaning procedures may weaken the roof structure, especially if pressure washing is used with excessive pressure. Weakened roof structures are vulnerable to structural failure during inclement weather such as heavy rain, snow loads, or strong winds.

  • Alter aesthetic and property value

When the roof is improperly cleaned, it will alter the property’s curb appeal and decrease its resale value. Stained, damaged, and poorly cleaned roofs make a negative impression and keep possible buyers or tenants away from the property.

How to avoid such consequences

  • Read the warranty terms

Carefully read the warranty teams mentioned by the roofing manufacturer or installer. Pay attention to all clauses related to roof maintenance and cleaning requirements to make sure of compliance.

  • Follow manufacturer guidelines

Follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning guidelines for the roofing material. The guidelines refer to approved cleaning methods, products, and frequency.

  • Use approved cleaning products

Only turn to cleaning products that the roofing manufacturer approves of. Should you use unauthorized or harsh chemicals, you risk damaging roofing materials and voiding the warranty. Always use cleaning products specially formulated for the materials of your roof.

  • Avoid high-pressure washing

Avoid using high-pressure washers or abrasive cleaning methods that can damage roofing materials and destroy integrity. Employ gentler cleaning techniques such as soft washing or low-pressure rinsing to efficiently remove dirt, debris, and stains.

  • Document cleaning procedures

Keep in-detail records of the cleaning process, including the methods used, the cleaning products applied, and any precautions taken. Documentation will be evidence of compliance with warranty requirements in case of disputes or warranty claims.

  • Reach out to certified professionals

If you’re unsure about how to properly clean your roof without voiding the warranty, consider hiring certified roofing professionals with experience in roof maintenance and cleaning. They will ensure compliance with warranty terms and offer expert guidance on safe cleaning procedures.

  • Plan regular inspections

Plan regular inspections of the roof to promptly detect any maintenance or cleaning needs promptly. Addressing issues early can reduce the risk of severe damage and maintain warranty coverage.

  • Communicate with the manufacturer

When you have questions or concerns about cleaning your roof while maintaining warranty compliance, contact the roofing manufacturer for clarification and guidance. They can offer specific recommendations based on your warranty terms and roofing material.

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