Although there are many effective ways to clean the roof on your Monroe, Connecticut home, pressure washing isn’t one of them. Countless homeowners have made the grievous mistake of using simple, store-bought power washing equipment to scour away built-up moss, mold, dirt, and other grime. Although many pressure washers are marketed as being safe for this task, using them can cause far more harm than good. Here are several reasons why.
Pressure Washing Can Strip Off Your Shingles’ Protective Coating
Asphalt shingles are currently one of the most popular roofing materials in the nation. There are good reasons why. These shingles are affordable, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. However, although some asphalt shingles are rated to last as long as 30 years, this is only true when they receive proper and regular maintenance. Both negligence and failure to use the right cleaning and repair methods can shorten their lifespans by decades.
Pressure washing a roof, especially when using low-cost, store-bought power washing equipment, can actually strip off its shingles’ protective coating. This is a thin, outer layer that protects the underlying shingle against UV damage, heavy winds, and moisture. Even if your roof looks fully intact after a self-administered power wash, it will likely age at an accelerated rate thereafter. The more that you power wash your roof throughout the years, the shorter its lifespan will ultimately be.
Store-bought Power Washers Lack “Soft Wash” Settings
There are a number of roofers and power washing companies that offer pressure washing services for roofs. However, commercial-grade pressure washing equipment is far different from the equipment that can be purchased in a store. While your power washer might have cost just hundreds of dollars, professional treatments are performed with highly adaptable tools that often cost thousands.
Although the two terms are frequently used interchangeably, power washing and pressure washing can mean two very different things. The power washing tools that are sold for modest prices at local home and hardware stores are designed to emit water with the highest amount of force possible. Comparatively, high-end pressure washing tools have multiple pressure settings. They can emit water with extreme force, or they can be used in a gentle, “soft wash” capacity that’s only slightly more forceful than a garden hose with an attached sprayer.
Not only can excess pressure strip off the protective coating on roof shingles, but it can also cause them to curl, bend, lift up, or even fall off. High pressure settings can remove shingle granules, damage gutters, and downspouts and allow water to seep down into the roofing substrate. The likelihood of building damage is exponentially increased when roofing is already worn, aging, and riddled with leaks at the time that power washing is performed.
How Aggressive Roof Cleaning Can Cause Water Damage at the Building Interior
Your home’s roof is comprised of multiple layers. Together, each of these layers creates a strong, resilient barrier against the outdoor elements. However, individually, each layer has its own unique range of vulnerabilities. High-pressure power washing can peel a roof’s individual layers back to create multiple points of ingress for water.
The highest pressure settings on low-quality power washing equipment can damage roof flashing at all roof edges and valleys so that water can seep down into the roof’s substrate. Once here, excess moisture will cause wood rot, mold, and countless other problems. More importantly, when the roof’s substrate is exposed to moisture, the risk of water spots on your ceilings, blistering paint, and pervasive, moldering smells in the building interior is greatly increased.
A quick power wash might seem like an easy and hassle-free way to restore your roof back to its original, pristine appearance. As the days and weeks go by, the damages caused by these treatments will gradually manifest. Water will immediately enter into weak spots, holes, tears, and other openings during treatment, and more water will seep into these spaces during future weather events. Worse still, moist roofing materials have a tendency to expand and separate over time. Thus, small points of ingress will eventually become far larger ones.
Excessive Force Isn’t Necessary When Cleaning Your Roof
Using more power doesn’t mean that your roof gets cleaner. In fact, most homeowners are able to get impressive results by simply using their garden hoses or garden hoses that have attached sprayers. If you have dark, stubborn patches, colorful mold, dusty mildew, or other issues that require a more thorough cleaning, contact a roofer.
When roofs develop stubborn coatings and stains, this is often a sign of underlying problems. Having these problems identified and fixed rather than scouring their symptoms away can save you tons of money in the long run.
Although you may be tempted to look for pressure washing equipment that does have a “soft wash” feature, it’s important to note that the pressure settings on your unit may still be too high for your roof. When roofers and power washing companies pressure wash roofs, they choose pressure settings that reflect the unique needs of the surfaces being treated. They account for factors like age, design, roofing materials, evidence of existing wear, and more. Having the right amount of pressure applied to your roof by a seasoned professional is far safer all around.
What About Black Mold?
If you stand in front of your home and look up, you might see large, dark patches spreading across your shingles. This may be a sign of black mold. Over time, unchecked black mold can undermine the integrity of your roof and affect resident health. Fortunately, black mold can be thoroughly cleaned off. There are also strategies that roofers can use to prevent it from recurring.
However, seeing irregular dark patches on your roof isn’t enough to positively identify black mold. These patches can also be an indication that your roof has reached the end of its lifespan and is ready to be replaced. Assuming that you have dark mold, power washing an old, failing roof can lead to serious property damage. In this instance, you’re virtually guaranteed to develop a major roof leak.
Dark spots are frequently caused by the widespread loss of shingle granules. When roof shingles age, their granules fall off. The result is a smoother, darker shingle surface, and a black, patchy appearance that looks very similar to the development of black mold. You can tell whether your roof has black mold or aging shingles by inspecting your gutters and downspouts. If there are tiny, black or tan granules in your gutters or at the base of your downspouts, it’s probably time to start preparing for a roof replacement.
If there are no granules on the ground or around your roof’s drainage system, you can assume that you have black mold. However, you should definitely have a professional roofer handle it. A professional cleaning will minimize airborne mold spores. It will also give your roofer the chance to find out why black mold has formed. It may be necessary to seal up cracks, replace damaged roofing materials, add more insulation, improve attic ventilation, or take other preventative measures.
At CMW Roofing & Siding, we’ve been providing reliable roof installation, maintenance, and repair services to residents of Monroe, Connecticut for more than 10 years. We also offer vinyl siding and gutter cleaning services. If you’ve got a dirty roof and want to clean it without damaging it, give us a call today!