A metal roof is one of the best roofing systems you can install in your home. It is durable, long-lasting, and requires minimal maintenance. However, failing to clean your roof could negate all these benefits. Without proper cleaning and maintenance, you could need a roof replacement sooner than you think.
Cleaning your roof is not a challenging task, but there is a method to it. You should not cause harm to the panels or accessories while doing it. In this article, we tell you how to clean your roof and the right tools and cleaners to use. We also give you tips on what to do and avoid.
Table of Contents
- Why Does a Metal Roof Need Cleaning?
- How Can I Make My Metal Roof Look New?
- How to Clean a Painted Metal Roof And Avoid Accelerating Its Fading
- Pressure Wash vs. Soft Wash, Which is the Best Method?
- When Should You Clean the Metal Roof?
- 4 Things to Do or Avoid When Cleaning Your Metal Roof
Why Does a Metal Roof Need Cleaning?
Metal roofs are durable, long-lasting, and require minimal maintenance. However, minimal does not mean zero. A roof needs regular cleaning to live as long as expected. Here are three reasons why you need to clean your metal roof regularly.
Remove the Elements Accumulating on the Surface
Over time, various elements will accumulate on the roof's surface. These include dirt, pollen, water stains, oxidation, mold, and mildew, etc. Continued exposure to such pollutants will cause the paint system to degrade, leading to chalking.
Sometimes the degradation may be too subtle to notice, but the damage can be costly nonetheless. Remember, the warranties will not cover excessive chalking if there are pollutants present. Therefore, regularly cleaning your roof is essential.
Prolong the Lifespan of the Roof
The dirt, debris, and elements that accumulate on the surface could compromise the integrity of the panels, substrate, and paint system. Although a high-quality coating will effectively protect the surface, the dirt could interfere with the strength of the resin and coating. Getting rid of these elements will halt the degradation process and prolong the lifespan of the roof.
Maintain the Aesthetic Value of Your Roof
One of the strengths of a metal roof is the aesthetic value it adds to a home. However, it can look unsightly when dirt and residue are left to accumulate on the surface over time.
The roof is often the first thing people notice in your home, and it should look as good as possible. Cleaning it at least once a year will eliminate undesirable residue that could interfere with its overall appearance.
How Can I Make My Metal Roof Look New?
The only way to keep your roof looking brand new is through proper cleaning and maintenance. Although a metal roof with suitable treatment will not require refinishing for a long time, dirt and debris accumulation is inevitable. However, you can keep your roof looking new by employing some cleaning and maintenance tips outlined below.
Clear Leaves and Debris
Leaves and debris that fall on the roof will slide down faster on metal than on shingles or tiles. However, some can still accumulate in valleys and low-slope areas. Clearing them will avoid scratching and staining the roof, thus maintaining its original color finish.
Clean the Gutters and Drains
Do not forget to clean gutters and drains. If they are clogged, the standing water can lead to corrosion and other structural issues.
Eliminate Dirt and Dust Buildup
Dirt and dust will accumulate on your metal roof over time, though not as much as in other roofing materials. Such can stain the metal if you leave them on the surface for too long. Therefore, give your roof a good wash down once in a while.
Replace Cracked or Missing Sealant
A roof sealant will help keep out dirt, water, and pests. But it will not do its job effectively if it's not in perfect condition. Therefore, do not hesitate to reapply where the sealant is missing or cracked.
Repair any Surface Damage
Metal may be the most durable roofing material, but it is by no means immune to damage. It is still prone to scratching and scuffing. If there has been a recent storm in your area, it is advisable to check for scratches and repair them, if any. A protective re-coat paint will do the trick.
How to Clean a Painted Metal Roof And Avoid Accelerating Its Fading
Cleaning your metal roof is a straightforward process. Sometimes all you need is plain water, but you may have to use chemicals on stubborn stains. During cleaning, it is essential to observe safety precautions to avoid injuries or worse.
Best Cleaners and Tools
Before you commence the cleaning process, you need all the necessary tools and cleaners on hand. They may include the following.
- Clean water
- Mild detergent (car washing soap, mild dish soap, or laundry detergent)
- Solvent (rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits)
- A Sponge or cloth and
- Garden hose or power washer
Here is a step-by-step procedure that you can follow when cleaning your roof.
Step 1: Observe Safety Measures
A metal roof is slippery, and you can easily fall and injure yourself if you are not careful. Always secure yourself by wearing a safety harness attached to a ridge clamp or bolt-strap, or chimney. Also, wear protective clothing if you intend to use chemicals and put on shoes with good traction.
Avoid cleaning the roof in wet or sunny weather. That's because the roof is slippery on rainy days, and the reflected sunlight can blind your vision. If you are going to climb onto the roof, wait for dry weather and an overcast sky. Also, never do it alone. Always have a partner who can alert you about any possible hazards and call for help in case of accidents.
If your roof is too steep, do not risk your life by climbing onto it. Instead, be content in cleaning the parts you can reach if it is too risky to clean certain parts. You can always use a hose or power washer to extend your reach. But if the out-of-reach areas require further scrubbing, consider hiring a professional.
Step 2: Clean With Pressurized Water
Using a garden hose or power washer, blast the dust and debris away with pressurized water. If the hose is long enough, you may not even need to climb onto the roof.
Clean water will be sufficient most of the time, especially if you clean the roof regularly. But if you are dealing with stubborn stains, you can add soft chemical cleaners such as detergents. Only ensure you rinse with clean water afterward to avoid leaving streaks and film behind.
Avoid using more pressure than needed since you could risk damaging the roof. If the stains are tough, use hot water instead of increasing the pressure. It will break up the debris more effectively than cold water.
Step 3: Scrub off Stubborn Stains
Mix ¼ cup detergent per one gallon of water and soak a sponge or washcloth in the mixture. Use the sponge or cloth to scrub the panels and rinse with clean water immediately after clearing the stains. Later, soak the sponge or cloth in clean water and wipe the surface once more to avoid streaks and film.
If the stains do not come off right away, do not be tempted to increase the pressure when rubbing. Instead, scrub for longer. If the stain persists, consider using stronger cleaners.
Step 4: Use Stronger Cleaners
Sometimes you could be dealing with tough stains such as oil, grease, and tar. These would require something stronger. Here, you can mix a solvent with water to remove the elements. Consider solvents such as rubbing alcohol and mineral spirits.
Note that solvents could potentially damage your roof. Therefore, only apply them to the areas affected and not the entire structure. Also, ensure you check the label for directions on how to use the product. And wear protective clothing since most of the chemicals are toxic.
Pressure Wash vs. Soft Wash, Which is the Best Method?
The main difference between pressure wash and soft wash is the amount of PSI. Pressure washing uses high amounts of pressure ranging from 1300-3100 PSI. On the other hand, a soft wash involves spraying water at low pressure to remove stains.
Again, pressure wash is used to clean durable materials such as concrete. Conversely, soft washing is used on fragile materials that may get damaged by high pressure. It relies on detergents and bleach to clean tough stains.
Both methods have their place. However, it is not advisable to use high pressure on metal since it can damage the panels. Therefore, soft wash is the best method as regards cleaning a metal roof.
When Should You Clean the Metal Roof?
You should clean your metal roof at least once every year. The more frequently you do it, the easier it will be since less debris will have accumulated. You should also clean the roof whenever you notice any excess stain, dirt, or oxidation that could damage the roof.
4 Things to Do or Avoid When Cleaning Your Metal Roof
Protecting the metal panels should be your priority. Here are several things to consider when cleaning your metal roof.
1.Practice Moderation When Using Cleaning Agents
Always follow the laid down instructions when using cleaning agents. Overusing can damage your metal roof or void your warranties.
2.Only Use Approved Products
Many chemicals and cleaning products can cause damage to your roof. If you are unsure about a product, check with the manufacturer before using it on your metal roof. Some products and tools to avoid include sandpaper, steel wool, wire brushes, and paint thinners.
3.Test Products First Before Use
If you have doubts about a product, try it on a hidden area of the roof first. Only use it on exposed areas after ensuring it will not cause damage.
4.Hire a Professional
If you are worried about your safety, you can always hire a professional cleaning service to handle the task on your behalf. It is better than risking your life.
A metal roof is durable and requires minimal maintenance. However, dirt and debris can cause damage to the metal if left to accumulate. With proper cleaning and maintenance, you can protect the aesthetic value of your roof and ensure it lasts for many years.
Cleaning your roof is a straightforward process, but you need to do it right to be effective. Always use the cleaning solutions as directed by the manufacturer and avoid products that could potentially harm your roof. If the task ahead seems risky, it is always advisable to hire a professional.