What are those
Perhaps the better questions are "What's Eating my roof?" and "What can be done to Clean and Restore my roof?" This accompanying video displays it well. These stains are a cyanobacteria, an infestation with the scientific name Gloeocapsa Magma, or in more common terms, algae. As this algae spreads it digs into your roof with its microfilament root system and starts to eat your roof. As the video shows, this growth is alive and growing, and as other "living" organisms, it eats, excretes waste, and reproduces. Around the late '80's the shingle manufacturers started adding crushed limestone as a filler material which was mixed in with the aggregate of the shingle. It was perfect, both readily available, and cheap. This added weight allowed shingles to resist lifting and
Besides extending the life of your roof which in turn saves you money, there is a more tangible savings. Depending on how dirty your roof is, you could see a savings of up to 40% in your electric bill. Think about when you were at Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion last. You're getting out of the car knowing it will be between 95-100 degrees that day. On the walk into the park you see someone wearing all black, black pants, black shirt, black shoes, and maybe even a black hat. The first thought through your head is, "Wow, they are going to roast and be miserable today wearing all those dark colors!" Science has proven that darker colors absorb more energy from the sun, and that translates into a hotter roof, hotter attic space, and more heat radiating down into the living spaces. Beyond that, most air conditioning air handler units are in the attic so the air in the duct work is not as cool as it could be with a cooler attic. Bottom line, your dirty roof is causing you to have a higher utility bill, longer air conditioning run times (more wear and tear on the AC unit), and a less comfortable home.
How can I restore my roof?:
There are many ways to clean a roof, but the two most common are a method called "Soft Washing", and an older and recognizable solution called Pressure Washing. Never allow anybody to pressure wash your asphalt roof! The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) states clearly in their Technical Bulletin, "Caution! High pressure washing systems are likely to damage asphalt roofing and should not be used on asphalt roofing for removing algae or for any other purpose. Meaning you will likely void your manufacturer’s warranty on your roof which is the highest priced maintenance item on a home. Panoramic Clean subscribes to the Soft Washing method as it is the professional level cleaning that the ARMA spells out in their technical bulletin as the correct, safest and most effective method to clean your roof, achieving a 100% kill of the organisms damaging your roof. Because these organisms are killed versus just blasted at, the clean lasts 4-6 times longer than pressure washing. Soft Washing does not cause damage to your roof. Soft Washing is using a cleaning solution that is applied much like the name suggests, "Soft". Where pressure washers range up to and beyond 6,000 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch), Soft Washing is applied as a more gentle feather coat, at 40 to 50 PSI. To give a real world comparison, most homes are pressure regulated to 50 to 60 PSI, which is close to what you have at your shower head. The primary difference to understand is pressure washers use high pressure water to blast the algae, lichen, moss, mold and mildew off your roof, along with the protective granules, using the pressure of the water to force these organisms away where Soft Washing uses an electric pump running off of a 12 volt battery and the pressure is only used to push the cleaning solution up to the roof where it is sprayed out and then falls to the roof.
better protect your roof against high winds, and the limestone also provides some weather and heat resistance to asphalt impregnated shingles. This was great for the manufacturers and homeowners in many ways, but unfortunately, the limestone also served as an abundant source of nutrition for the algae and fungus to feed on and grow. Combine that with the Virginia weather which provides consistent morning dew as the daily watering source and an all you can eat buffet of limestone, this algae tends to spread quickly. Because the north and west sides of the roof typically receive less sunlight, these portions of the roof hold moisture longer and tend to show the algae growth first. The micro-organisms in the video are tiny and unable to be seen with the naked eye, but these algae stains on many roofs are so thick they can be seen with the naked eye for hundreds of yards. Rest assured if you can see these stains on your roof, the algae has spread across your entire roof even if it has not reached the point of being visible to the naked eye.
Unfortunately, algae is not the worst of it. After the algae is present on your roof, it creates an inviting surface for more damaging plants like Lichen and Moss. Lichen and moss grow tightly around the granules on your roof and over time (like a tree breaking cement) they push, lift and separate these granules from your shingles, decreasing the effectiveness and life expectancy of your roof. Once these organisms appear, you can be losing as much as 50% of the remaining life of your roof.
stains on my roof?
Healthier Living spaces:
Algae, lichen and moss on the roof hold moisture, and allow for growth of mold and mildew. Ever seen a 2,500 square ft. petri dish? If you have a 2,000 square ft. home, by the time you factor in the pitch of the roof, you are likely to have a 2,500 square ft. roof. If you have mold and mildew on your roof, the spores can float down into open windows, be pulled in through open windows or doors. It is not too far different from "Sick Building Syndrome". Another bonus of Soft Washing over Pressure Washing is our soft washing process will also kill the mold and mildew that may be present on your roof, which can reduce the number of allergens around your home. By comparison, although pressure washing may visually appear to remove the stains, it does not kill the algae, lichen, moss, mold or mildew, it simply blast it to the side to the areas to the sides (including the areas just cleaned), including a radius around the roof where these still living organisms land to be tracked inside the house by foot traffic and pets.
Compare your home to the photographs below. Is your home ready for entertaining guests?
What's eating my roof? Continued: