How to Clean a Roof
A roof is one of the biggest investments for the homeowner but roofs don’t last forever – a new roof is a cost no householder wants to face. There are three key factors to roof longevity and these are:-
- The choice of roofing material
- The condition of the roof and how well it is maintained
- The location – exposed roofs normally have a shorter lifespan than a roof on a more sheltered property.
Looking after your roof can help prolong its life, cleaning and regular maintenance will maximise the roof’s performance and help to spot small problems before they become more serious allowing for timely and effective repair.
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Why is it important to clean a roof?
Cleaning a roof is an important part of roof maintenance and care. Roofs are subject to deterioration and weathering; cleaning can help minimise the impact of the weather and other environmental factors like leaf drop and moss growth. It also facilitates regular inspection of the condition of the roof.
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How to clean a roof
Roof cleaning is usually a specialist job because it involves working at height and there is an imperative not to damage the roof either by climbing over it, walking on it or using the wrong materials. Some property owners will clean the roofs on single storey buildings like bungalows and garages because they are easily accessible. Roof cleaning can involve:-
- Removing moss from the roof material and the guttering – moss can grow almost anywhere and only needs water to survive and it particularly favours damp, shady areas where there is little sunlight. Moss acts like a sponge and prevents the roof from draining properly which can cause water accumulation and damp problems, it needs careful removal with a tool that will lift the roots from the tiles or slates. This is particularly important for some materials as slate roof costs can be higher to replace compared to other materials.
- Clearing out rainwater goods so guttering and downpipes which will accumulate moss and leaves causing blockages and overflows
- Clean soffit boards and fascias which provide the seal between the roof and the top of the wall - this will keep them in good condition and provide a pleasing appearance aesthetically
Cleaning a roof may reveal damage - moss predation is a great disguiser of problems – it is an opportunity to inspect the roof for missing or broken tiles, cracked chimney flashings and worn-out seals around Velux windows or rooflights.
How often should you clean a roof?
A regular programme of care and maintenance will usually involve cleaning a roof a couple of times a year. Spring and autumn are the favourite times as there is always a build-up of debris and detritus after the winter and then again at the end of the summer with dust, organic matter and tree sap.
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As well as cleaning the roof, how else can you improve its lifespan?
Factors like the orientation of the roof – south-facing roofs have more sun exposure which can reduce their longevity – the type of roofing material, the pitch of the roof and even the colour are not things most people can alter unless they are at the point of installing a replacement roof. These factors can all impact the life of the roof. So what can a homeowner do to help prolong the life of the roof on his home?
- Make sure the roof is regularly inspected for repairs particularly after extreme weather or a serious weather event like a storm – some damage will not be visible from the ground. Roofs should have a regular maintenance programme of care and repair
- Always use a reputable contractor to do the work whether that is repairs or upgrades as poor workmanship is one of the biggest contributory factors to a shorter roof lifespan
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the roof space (this is why cleaning and repairing soffit boards is so important) - a roof area that is too cold will hold onto snow and ice in the winter months and prevent melting. This can saturate the roof and cause the formation of ice dams which trap melting water and prevent it from running off the roof
- If you are re-roofing then always use materials local to the area, these have been designed to withstand local environmental conditions
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a roofing contractor who does repairs also clean a roof?
Roof cleaning is one of those jobs that is often lumped together with either window cleaning or guttering clearance so most householders would have a regular company they use for cleaning and a different contractor for roof repairs which are more specialist.
How can I find a reputable contractor to clean my roof?
Once most people find a reliable tradesperson, they hang onto them. There are numerous companies advertising roof cleaning services so try and source one from a personal recommendation from a friend or neighbour. There are trader platforms online where you can find a supposedly verified contractor with genuine reviews but some of these sites are little more than advertising directories; a personal recommendation is always best. Some local community groups on social media can be a good source of local tradespeople. Always obtain three or four estimates as roof cleaning costs can vary widely. A cowboy cleaning company is only likely to damage your roof and sometimes this can be hard to see from the ground and these problems may not be discovered until a roofer is present for a maintenance inspection or to do some work at a later date.
How to clean a roof is not something that troubles most people as they usually pay someone else to do it. However, it is as well to be informed so you understand the importance of using the right people to do the work and the correct tools and cleaning materials otherwise you could end up with damage and roof repair costs that weren’t factored in before they started.
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