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Roof Cleaning 101: Prepare for Winter in Colorado

Roof Cleaning

While no one enjoys the thought of investing in roof cleaning, it is an important aspect of maintaining your home. A clean roof has a positive impact on more than just your home’s curb appeal, it can also improve the life expectancy of your roof. Here we will discuss how and why it’s important to clean your roof, whether or not your roof needs to be cleaned or replaced, and why you should clean your gutters and when.


Why Clean Your Roof

Although moss and algae don’t pose as much of a threat to roofs in Colorado due to its dry and arid climate, we do face harsh weather elements year round from hail storms in the summer to powerful snow storms in the winter and harsh winds year round. Depending on the type of roof you have, your roof’s lifespan can be affected by the sun, rain, dust and dirt, pollen, bird waste, and other types of debris like leaves or sticks. Taking a proactive approach to maintaining your roof, having it cleaned, and investing in other preventative maintenance, even if just once or twice a year, can help contribute to a longer lifespan and is certainly cheaper than replacing your entire roofing system.

How To Clean A Roof

When it comes to cleaning your roof, it’s something best left to the professionals. Most roofing systems are sensitive to pressure and can be easily damaged if not cleaned properly. Furthermore, roofing professionals will have the proper safety gear to inspect and clean your roof, while you can stay safely and firmly planted on the ground! However, it is beneficial to know how your roof should be cleaned so you can make sure you are asking the right questions to properly vet the professionals and make sure you end up with the right expert for your roof! 

How To Clean Roof Shingles.

Again, it’s always best to let the professionals handle your roof’s cleaning. They will be more knowledgeable about how to clean your roofing system and it’s also safer! However, here are a few questions you should ask when vetting the professionals:

  1. How will you clean my roof and what type of solution will you use?
    Tip: If they say at any point they will use a pressure washer, immediately cross them off your list! Pressure washers can loosen shingles and seriously damage your roof. Look for someone who uses a soft pressure washer. Chlorine bleach is a common solution used to clean asphalt roofs as well.
  2. What will you do to protect my landscaping?
    Tip: You want to look for a professional that will tarp your surrounding landscaping (and driveway) to protect them from the potentially harmful chemicals they will use to clean your roof. They should also hose off any grass or other landscaping after removing the tarps when the job is done.
  3. What can I expect from my roof after it’s been cleaned?
    Tip: A true professional will give you an honest answer. Will your roof look brand new? While it will probably have a significantly improved curb appeal, depending on the age of your roof it most likely won’t look brand new. If they are a roofing expert they may also be able to point out any damage or wear and tear they noticed while they were cleaning your roof and make recommendations as to whether your roof may need to be repaired or replaced. Be wary of contractors who are simply trying to take your money though.

How To Clean A Metal Roof.

If you have a metal roof, the cleaning process may look a little different than if you have asphalt shingles. It’s important to regularly clean your metal roof as this will extend the lifespan, improve its appearance, and rid your roof of any debris including pollen, water stains, spore deposits, acid or rust stains, dirt and dust, leaves and sticks, or other debris.

Metal roofs can be more susceptible to certain weather elements like acid rain and pollution particles that can cause degradation of the roofing system and its paint. One of the biggest indicators that your metal roof is degrading and may need to be cleaned is if you start to notice chalking.

Chalking is when a whitish residue starts to become visible on a painted or coated metal surface over time. This is caused when the paint system is exposed to sunlight and UV rays and overtime begins to break down. Continued exposure to the sun, oxygen and other pollutants causes the paint to lose its adhesion to the surface and the degraded particles begin to turn white.

Most roof warranties do not cover chalking if pollutants are present, so it’s important to have your roof inspected and cleaned regularly. For more information on why roof inspections are important and what to expect, click here.

How Long Does It Take To Clean A Roof?

For most residential roofs, you can expect your roof cleaning to take anywhere between two to five hours. This should include your landscaping, lawn, and driveway being tarped to protect them from any harmful chemicals, the process of washing your roof, and the removal of the tarps, and your landscaping, lawn, and driveway being rinsed off where any chemicals could have slipped through the tarps.

Should You Clean Or Replace Your Roof?

If your roof cleaner is also a professional contractor, they should be able to recommend if your roof needs repairs or may need to be completely replaced. Even if they’re not a professional contractor, chances are they’ve cleaned enough roofs to spot damage and may be able to refer you to a local professional. 

It’s important to have your roof inspected at least once, if not twice a year. Many warranties will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance so having your roof inspected once or twice a year will help you to stay in good standing with your insurance policy. If it does turn out that your roof needs to be replaced, you can follow these secrets from the pros on how to get your insurance company to cover your roof replacement. 

“It is always the best choice to have a professional come out to look at your roof especially right before the snow hits to ensure your risk for leaks is minimal. A skilled professional will be able to easily spot most troubled areas quick and repair them efficiently.” – Natalie P., Roofing Specialist, Kapella Roofing

Not sure if you can clean your roof yourself or if you need to have it replaced? Give us a call for your free roof inspection and one of our roofing specialists will provide you with a free analysis! 

Gutter Cleaning - Stock

How Often To Clean Your Gutters

Cleaning your gutters is another huge factor in maintaining your roof’s overall health and life expectancy, especially in Colorado. It’s recommended to clean your gutters at least twice a year, but it depends on where you live and your surrounding landscaping. If you live in an area that’s dense with trees and your gutters are exposed to falling leaves, pine needles, sticks and branches or other debris, you may need to clean your gutters more frequently. 

Best Time to Clean Your Gutters

It’s best practice to clean your gutters once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Again, depending on your surrounding landscape you may need to clean your gutters more frequently. If your gutters are not properly cleaned and become clogged causing slow-running or standing water, your gutters will start to accumulate ice build-up during the winter months. This is referred to as ice damming, and its consequences can be detrimental to your roof. 

Cleaning your gutters during the fall is best practice for reducing the risk of ice damming. However, it’s important to follow up with a Spring clean of your gutters as well. Dirty gutters in the spring combined with increasing temperatures can begin to host insect and animal life. Water could also back up from your clogged gutters, potentially compromising roof shingles and causing leaks or even rotting of the wooden fascia under the gutters.

Ice Dam Prevention

While clogged gutters are certainly a huge cause of ice damming, there are a few other causes you should also be aware of and ways to prevent them:

  • Having ice and water protectors installed
  • Ensuring you have proper attic ventilation
  • Consider installing a radiant barrier
  • Sloping your gutters properly to prevent standing water
  • Cleaning your gutters regularly
  • Consider installing gutter guards

Tip: If your home is especially prone to ice dams or build-up of debris like leaves or pine needles, you may consider removing gutter guards in the fall and winter as it could actually make it more difficult to clean out ice buildup. 

Ice Dam Removal

If you find ice dams in your gutters, here are a few ways to safely remove them.

Disclaimer: You should not attempt to clear your gutters in cold or wet weather. You should not attempt to clear your gutters if you can not comfortably reach them with a 10 ft ladder. You should always have someone spot you when using a ladder. If you don’t feel comfortable, call a local professional who can safely perform the job for you.

    1. Melt the ice dam with calcium chloride socks. Calcium chloride is the same stuff used for melting ice on driveways and sidewalks. Fill long socks or the legs of pantyhose with the granules and then tie off their ends with string.
    2. Do not try to break up the ice. Using tools like an ice pick or axe, or even a small torch or flame can cause serious damage to your gutters or roof shingles, and you will likely just have to replace them in the spring.
    3. Do not attempt to salt your gutters or roof. This is equally as harmful as using forceful tools and can just lead to rotting or corrosion of your gutters and could even be harmful to your landscaping.
    4. For a temporary fix, head to your local hardware store for some heat tape and install it on the edges of your shingles. 

Not sure if you can clean your roof yourself or if you need to have it replaced? Schedule your free inspection below and one of our roofing specialists will provide you with a free, no-obligation analysis.

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