Frequently Asked Questions
Softwash roof and exterior cleaning is a relatively new service for a relatively new problem. Here are some of the most common questions homeowners and property managers are asking.
(top) What are those streaks, stains, and growths on my roof and what’s causing them?
Dark staining on roofs and siding is a combination of microorganisms (bacteria and algae) called Gloeocapsa Magma. In recent years this strain of blue-green algae has migrated from the south and adapted to less humid environments like New England. Algae cells develop a black coating to protect themselves from the harsh UV rays of the sun and appear as dark streaks and stains as their colonies grow. Depending on your home’s environment, larger plant organisms such as fungi, mold, moss and lichens may develop, building on the moist, organic foundation created by algae. Lichens are mutualistic plants formed by a combination of fungi and blue-green algae (Gloeocapsa Magma).
(top) Are the growths harmful to my roof or just an eyesore?
Roof growths are not just eyesores that diminish your home’s curb appeal and resale value. When plants infest your roof or any other part of your home they become pests that cause damage and can lead to premature failure and replacement costs. Cedar shake and shingle roofs are especially prone to the degradation of moss, molds, and fungi, which can diminish their lifespan by half.
(top) Is the process you use safe for my shingles?
Our softwash process and solutions are recommended by ARMA (Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association), the makers of shingles. ARMA also recommends you never use any pressure whatsoever on the roof. Our process will not harm minerals or effect the true coloration of your shingles. Our softwash (non-pressure) process is also the safest and most effective method for cleaning other roof types, such as cedar, which can easily be damaged by the use of pressure washers.
(top) Is your process safe for my plants and pets?
Yes. We are pet and plant friendly. Mike has a background in horticulture and is an avid pet owner. Every job we do involves careful assessments of all plant and animal concerns we may encounter and the strategies we’ll use to protect them. We take great pride in leaving every customer’s home better than we found it.
(top) Why are some areas of my roof affected but not others?
Algae, fungi, moss and lichens thrive in shade and moisture, which is why they usually occur first and foremost on northern exposures receiving the least sunlight. Roof areas below over-hanging tree branches receiving shade, nutrients and moisture trapping debris from above, also create favorable environments for growths to occur. Southern roof exposures, on the other hand, subject to dryness and harsh ultra-violet rays from the sun, may inhibit or delay the formation of visible growths and remain unaffected. Sections of roofs under chimneys and vent pipes will also remain unaffected due to metal ions leaching out of their flashing, creating Ph levels unfavorable for plant growth development in those areas.
(top) Do you need to see our house in order to give us an estimate?
In most cases we’ll visit your house to better determine the scope of your job and what your cleaning goals will be in order to fine tune our estimate and take job notes for the work ahead. If distance is a factor we can estimate your roof from satellite views and various other means of correspondence.
(top) Can you tell us if we need a new roof or just a good cleaning?
Yes. We are experienced roofers. When we visit your site we’ll evaluate the condition of your roof and determine if cleaning will extend its lifespan and be a good value for you. If we think you need a new roof we’ll tell you, and if interested we’ll recommend the names of good roofing contractors in your area.
(top) Are you a franchise?
No. We are a father and son partnership. We will be the team who manages your job from start to finish.
(top) Do you clean siding and decks too?
Yes. If time permits we often clean siding, decks and other exterior surfaces on the same day as our roof cleaning.
(top) I have a cedar roof. Do you clean cedar roofs?
Yes. We are certified cedar roof cleaners. Cedar requires more care and maintenance than conventional roofs. Our softwash process and proprietary solutions are specifically designed for the special needs of cedar. Our solutions clean and condition cedar siding, decks, and fences as well.
(top) When will I see results and how long do they last?
Our cleaning produces same day results. Your roof will be clean, disinfected, and look like new again before we leave. Depending on tree cover and other subjective variables, a softwash roof cleaning in our area should last 8 years or more.
(top) How will you get on our roof to clean it?
In most cases we won’t have to go onto your roof to clean it. We do most of our cleaning from ladder top settings around your house with the use of stand-offs that protect us and your roof, too. As experienced roofers we are able to safely walk your roof when necessary or more convenient.
(top) Can you clean roofs anytime?
No. Roof cleaning is a seasonal job, usually April through November. On our day of cleaning weather conditions must be reasonably dry, non windy and at temperatures of 40º or above.
(top) We live on a lake. Are your solutions safe around water?
Yes. We’ve worked directly on many of New Hampshire’s most pristine and protected lakes. Our cleaning solutions are environmentally friendly and don’t include phosphates or other ingredients unsafe around wells or waterways. We are EPA clean water act compliant.
(top) Do we need to be home for our cleaning?
No. Although we encourage customers to learn more about our process, as long as your water is on we’re okay. Some customers prefer not being around when we clean their roofs and will schedule us accordingly.
(top) Is there anything we need to do in preparation for the day of cleaning?
For rinsing purposes we will need access to outside water and all windows and doors shut. We also prefer that other exterior contractors like painters and landscapers, etc. not be scheduled on the same day as our cleaning.
(top) After cleaning do you recommend installing metal strips as a way to prevent new growths?
No. We’ve found that lead based zinc strips, the most common product for this purpose, are ineffective unless installed in 3 ft. to 4 ft. intervals over an entire roof area. Typically one strip is installed just below the ridgeline at the top of a roof. Over time we’ve seen that the benefits of a single strip diminish below 3 to 4 feet, and growths return. Aside from their unattractiveness and expense to install, the benefits of metal strips diminish as their heavy metal ions leach out. We also caution customers, especially near waterways, to be aware of the possibility of introducing lead contaminants into their environment.
(top) Do you have a maintenance plan to prevent growths from reoccurring or starting in the first place?
Yes. We can’t stop growths from re-developing but our timely maintenance treatment will prevent ugly stains and growths from progressing to a noticeable level at a fraction of the cost of a larger restoration job.
(top) Can you help us with our insurance company that’s saying we need to do something about the stains and growths on our roof or siding?
Yes. We’ve dealt with this on many occasions. Insurance companies are learning that damage claims related to expensive repair and replacement costs due to plant infested roofs and siding can be avoided with cleaning. In order to limit their liability, insurance companies have begun notifying policyholders that they need to address this problem or risk cancellation and non-renewal. We will represent you from start to finish with written reports and photo documentation until all concerns are satisfied.
(top) I have no idea how much roof and exterior cleaning costs. Is it expensive?
On average, roof cleaning is a one-time expense at a fraction of the cost of re-roofing or painting your house. Cleaning will extend the lifespan of your roof and siding, allowing you the full value of your original investment. Size of homes and cleaning goals vary with each customer. We look at every job and customize our estimates accordingly.
(top) Can roof growths be harmful to my family’s health?
Possibly. Sick house syndrome has been associated with roof algae and mold. As plants proliferate and gain mass on your roof they hold more and more moisture. A dry roof is a healthy roof. Molds caused by water leaking into drywall can affect indoor air quality, raising mycotoxin levels, especially in poorly ventilated areas. Roof plant spores may also infiltrate your living space by way of window and door openings. Young and older family members with breathing problems are most at risk.
Feel free to contact us anytime with your own roof and exterior cleaning questions.