Ask the Expert – Roof Woes

The Cleaning Experts at  A Clean Streak answer your toughest cleaning questions.

Bird on RoofJason B. from Skagit County asks: When I was raking all that snow off my roof a few weeks ago, I noticed a lot of white spots on my asphalt shingles. Upon closer inspection, I realized that those spots were bird droppings. I’m guessing that I should do something to clean the shingles, but I’m not sure what method would work best. What do you think? Should I pull out the pressure washer as soon as it’s warm enough? Or just let my roof stay as it is?

A Clean Streak, The Window Cleaning Experts answer:  Hi Jason. In the long run, bird droppings (which are highly acidic) can definitely do some damage to your shingles. Of course, damaged shingles can cause portions of your roof to be exposed to the elements…which can lead to water leaks…resulting in mold and/or rot in your ceilings and walls. So we suggest you address this issue as soon as the weather permits. And though using that pressure washer may seem like the quickest route to a clean roof, we don’t recommend it.  Not only will a pressure washer strip the granules from the asphalt shingles – and those granules are crucial to protecting your roof from the elements – but even a little slip in the direction you’re aiming that wand can cause shingles to shift, creating potential for more leaks and roof rot. But don’t despair – with a little know how, you can clean those shingles yourself.

Tools to Clean Bird DroppingsFirst, gather your materials. Since you’ll be climbing up on your roof to do this project, be sure to have appropriate safety gear including shoes with good traction, gloves, eye protection, a dust mask, and a safety harness.

You’ll also need a sturdy ladder, garden hoses long enough to reach from the spigot to all areas of the roof, a bucket, ecologically friendly liquid dish detergent (make sure it doesn’t contain a degreaser – asphalt is just “hardened grease” and you don’t want the detergent to dissolve the shingles), some old towels or rags, and a very soft bristled hand brush.

Start by donning all your safety gear. After you’ve set up your ladder, climb to where you can reach the roof and have a friend hand you the hose and other cleaning materials. Alternately, you could use a long line to haul the materials from the ground up to the roof. We never recommend carrying supplies while climbing a ladder.

Put a little dish detergent into your bucket, and fill it with water. Soak the rags in the bucket. Then, working from the top of your roof down, spray the roof, lay the wet rags down over the droppings, and spray the area again. Leave the rags on the roof for about 20 minutes, before carefully removing them. Immediately spray the droppings (again, working from the top down). The soapy rags should have loosened up the droppings enough that a gentle rinse from the hose will wash them away. If you find stubborn stains, gently use your soft bristled hand brush to clean them…but be careful not to scrub vigorously enough to remove the shingle grit.

Repeat this process on all areas of your roof stained by the birds. After you finish cleaning your roof, thoroughly rinse your gutters and downspouts. Bird droppings often contain undigested seeds that can easily take root in those areas, ultimately creating clogs.

Thanks for contacting us Jason. Keeping your roof shingles clean can go a long way towards lengthening the lifespan of your roof…but if not done correctly, you can easily damage your roof (or worse, hurt yourself)! If this project sounds overwhelming, we invite you to give us a call. At A Clean Streak, we use a gentle soft-wash system to clean your roof. Plus, we can safely and effectively rid those shingles of moss, algae and lichen.  For a free project estimate, call us 360-395-5748 today.

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If you have a question for us, EMAIL the pros at A Clean Streak or call us at 360-395-5748 today.