Cleaning your roof: what to know to stay safe
Last modified: 2019/02/01 | Approximate reading time 4 mins
Obviously, the roof is a tough spot to keep tabs on. It’s difficult to access and hard to survey, and thus, is likely not at the top of your list for parts of your home that need regular care and maintenance. Since your roof does significantly protect your household, it’s important that you begin to conceive of ways to pay attention to it. It gathers a significant amount of dirt, dust, grime, and debris and as a result, requires cleaning. But how can you access and clean your roof safely?
Since you’ll be up high and likely on a slant, there are specific safety precautions that will need to be considered before you climb up on a ladder. For all of the necessary measures, read on!
Cleaning your roof: what to know to stay safe
Weather & ladder safety
Cleaning and clearing off a roof won’t take all day. In fact, this task can be completed in an afternoon. Of course, there are some ideal ways to approach this project, including some initial thoughts and precautions to consider.
First, let’s talk about the weather. Spending a sunny day cleaning your roof may not sound ideal, but we’d consider a clear and bright morning the right conditions for this job. We suggest morning because plenty of daylight hours will offer the most stress-free roof cleaning experience, as you’ll avoid the necessity to rush and potentially make mistakes. Also, be sure that it’s not below 0 or too cold, so do get this job out of the way before winter.
The way you use a ladder is another key point, as climbing up and down an unstable ladder is an easy way to injure yourself. Check that it’s completely flat on the ground as well as stable. Move it back and forth a bit to be certain it doesn’t wobble. Depending on the conditions of the ground around your home, a wood board placed underneath could easily work to make it stable.
Further, depending on the job you’re completing, your ladder may need to be placed against a flat surface. In some cases, you may be climbing directly onto the roof and will only need it for getting on and off. When using the ladder, be certain to have three points of contact at all times.
A friend in need!
Although you can complete this job on your own, we’d suggest asking a friend or family member to tag along. Cleaning a roof can be straightforward, but working at heights requires extra precautions. A friend can spot you as well as hold the ladder in place to make sure things are secure. If you can’t rope a friend in to help out with the task, make sure someone in your household knows you’ll be cleaning the roof. This way if anything goes awry, someone will be there to check up on you.
As we hinted at, it’s important to take your time during any task where you’re working at heights. We all know it’s better to be safe than sorry and thus, make sure that when you make it up onto your roof, you watch where you step. A roof can be slimy from a buildup of moss while also having missing or loose shingles. As a result, it’s incredibly easy to slip or lose footing and fall. Take careful steps and put plenty of time aside for this job so that you stay safe while accomplishing everything.
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Avoid using a pressure washer
Although a pressure washer might seem to speed up the roof cleaning process, we are suggesting you avoid this solution at all costs. A pressure washer is much too harsh to use on roof shingles or tiles and will cause them to deteriorate and thus, affect their longevity and shorten their lifespan. Not only will it remove granules on shingles, but it could also cause flooding in your attic or crawl space.
Dark streak and stain removal
If you’ve climbed up on the ladder and surveyed the surface of your roof, you might notice an accumulation of algae and moss. These organic materials can shorten the lifespan of your roof as well as decreasing both the resale value and curb appeal of your home. There are plenty of cleaners and chemicals on the market that can aid in the removal of these materials.
Before applying any of these chemicals, moss will need to be gently scraped from the shingles by way of a trowel or stiff brush. Anti-algae solutions will also need to be applied as to avoid the regrowth of this material. In most cases, you can leave the solution on the roof until the next rainfall. But in every case, it’s important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Other roof cleaning solutions: Zinc and Copper
As a more permanent solution, you can install a strip of zinc or copper that runs horizontally underneath your roof’s shingles. These metals help to prevent the growth of algae and moss and can be especially helpful if you are finding this an ongoing problem.
If you're looking for more information on why you should clean your roof, check out our article on the subject.
In all cases of roof cleaning, if there is any hesitation or feelings that you may not be able to perform these tasks safely, we suggest hiring a contractor or professional to complete this job.
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