Top 5 Roof Cleaning Mistakes & Misconceptions

Facts vs. Fiction:
This is a list of the Top Mistakes and Misconceptions by Homeowners and Property Managers when it comes to Roof Cleaning.

Roof Cleaning is becoming more common in many areas of the US. Unfortunately, it is usually being offered by Pressure Washing or Window Cleaning Companies that have virtually no training, experience, or qualifications. Everything they know has been gleaned from questionable websites and through Trial & Error on properties like yours. And the damaging use of high-strength chlorine bleach (pool chlorine) is quickly becoming the method of choice for these contractors.

Also, while many of these companies might have General Liability Insurance, most usually don’t have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If one of their employees is hurt on your property, you are liable. A common technique used by these contractors to avoid Workers Comp premiums and confuse Customers is to claim a Workers’ Comp Exemption. This is a loophole that allows small contractors to forego insurance on themselves as long as they are Owners of the company. This DOES NOT apply to employees and it DOES NOT protect the Homeowner or Homeowners’ Association. It simply allows the contractor to work without the coverage that would be required if they had employees.

Every Roof-A-Cide applicator are reputable companies who are licensed, insured and professionally trained in roof stain and prevention.

Roofing Materials Manufacturers offer general guidelines for cleaning & maintenance, but do not make recommendations on specific companies or products. Most manufacturers’ general guidelines for cleaning include using very mild solutions of bleach or very light pressure washing – but almost all of them have approved alternative methods that do not require bleach or pressure cleaning and NONE of them recommend the use of high-strength pool chlorine in the concentrations that are commonly being used today.

In addition, ARMA is a trade group that represents Asphalt Shingle Manufacturers. They drafted a technical bulletin 30 years ago recommending that homeowners use household bleach to try & lighten roof stains caused by algae. Today, this is commonly used by contractors as “proof” that roofing manufactures recommend cleaning with bleach. But ARMA is NOT a manufacturer and they have nothing to do with Concrete or Clay Tiles, Stone-Coated Metal, or Slate Roofing systems.

Note: Roof-A-Cide® has been Tested and Approved by the Largest Actual Manufacturers of every common type of roof – Asphalt, Concrete Tile, Clay Tile, Stone-Coated Metal, and Slate.

It is also worth noting that while most Roofing Companies, especially here in Florida, know that a roof can immediately look clean by spraying it with a high concentration of Pool Chlorine, you won’t find any of them doing this because they know what it will do to the critical areas of the roof that are the source of most leaks – such as the valleys, underlayments, and flashings.

Since Manufacturers suggest using chlorine bleach, then chlorine bleach is safe for the roof, and a stronger mixture should work even better.

One of the most common sales pitches of companies using high-strength pool chlorine (aka Softwash, Softwashing, ARMA Approved, Manufacturer Recommended) for Roof Cleaning is that this is the ONLY recommended method for cleaning. This is simply NOT TRUE. And, more importantly, these contractors are usually using the chlorine bleach in concentrations that are not safe and not even close to what Manufacturers suggest. Here in Florida, it is very common for these contractors to mix 60-70 gallons of pool chlorine with 30 gallons of water and spray this concoction on your roof.

Note: The typical contractor using these terms as part of their sales pitch has been “educated”, “trained”, or “certified” by the Whack-A-Mole type websites and organizations that charge them a small fee for Roof Cleaning Information. They are constantly popping up and shutting down – giving inexperienced contractors just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

While most Roof Materials Manufacturers do suggest using a very light solution of chlorine bleach and using a little bleach is effective without being harmful, most contractors offering Roof Cleaning using Chlorine Bleach have taken this to an extreme and are using dangerous concentrations of bleach that are NOT SAFE for the environment or the roofs.

To mislead the Customer, contractors will say that their methods are environmentally safe, or they’ll use code words to hide the fact that they’re using Chlorine Bleach. They will also add various scented products to hide the potent chlorine odor.

Roof cleaning is unlikely to void your Manufacturer Warranty unless it is done in a grossly negligent manner. The more important warranty to be concerned about is the Workmanship Warranty.

Manufacturer warranties are assurances of the roofing product and usually not the roofing system. In most cases, the roofing system is covered by the Workmanship Warranty of the roofing company and Customers should consider the Workmanship Warranty as equally, if not more, important for their roof. This is most likely to be the warranty that comes into play if you have problems with your roof in the first ten years after installation. And this will usually be the first warranty that will be affected by improper roof cleaning.

Roof Cleaning Warranties are creating the most confusion recently. Roof Cleaning warranties are generally issued by the company that performs the roof cleaning. This should be a written guarantee that the roof will stay clean for a specified period of time and should specifically state what the recourse and costs are to the Customer in the event that the roof does not stay clean.

We are seeing more companies offering very vague and unenforceable Roof Cleaning warranties as a sales gimmick. With terms like “Lifetime Warranty*” and “5-Year Limited Warranty*”, these do not provide the Customer with any real guarantee. Instead, the Customer will pay for a service every 6 months or pay to have the roof cleaned again when stains reappear.