The Costly Dangers of Algae and Moss on Roof Shingles
Algae and moss typically begin to appear around springtime when the rain is heavier. A thin layer of moss growing on your home’s roof may have a quaint and rustic look, but algae and moss can lead to costly damages and deterioration of your roof. Although they are somewhat similar in nature, algae and moss are different from one another. However, when it comes to your home’s roofing system, both algae and moss pose a high risk of damaging the performance and longevity of the shingles as well as blocking gutters and pipes and leaving black marks on brick, siding and patio slabs. Both algae and moss will gradually spread over your entire roof, causing significant and costly damages to the shingles as well as potentially causing structural damage to your home.
What Is Algae, and How Does It Affect Roofing Shingles?
When most people think of algae, they associate it with underwater plants that cover the bottom of a pond. So, how did it get on your roof? Algae is a broad term that is used to describe a variety of different organisms that receive nutrition through photosynthesis. The algae on your roof comprise a colony, so it doesn’t need to be submerged in water in order to survive, but the moisture that comes with high humidity can lead to the growth and spreading of algae. Once algae settle on roofing shingles, it grows quickly and spreads spores through the air, possible onto other roofs in the neighborhood as well as on the cladding on your home, decks and patios.
In most situations, blue-green algae may not pose too much of a risk to the structural stability of your roof. The main concern with algae on roofing shingles is that it looks dirty and slimy, which can make your home less appealing, especially if you are considering selling the home in the future. If you have an energy-saving roof that is designed to reflect sunlight and maintain the temperature in your home, a colony of algae can block the reflective panels, ultimately ruining your investment.
What Is Moss, and How Does It Affect Roofing Shingles?
Moss is a non-vascular plant, and unlike other plants, it absorbs water through its leaves instead of the root system. Spores are often spread by the wind, but they can also be spread by animals. Moss holds water, so, unlike algae, it can be extremely damaging to the roof. Once moss begins to grow on the roof, it’s the first sign that you have a problem with moisture on the roof, because it needs moisture to grow. The more moisture that is present, the quicker moss can grow; in fact, in many situations, it can double or triple in size extremely quickly. Moss can cause a vast array of damages to the roof shingles, including:
Moss absorbs moisture, so it exposes your roof to moisture, which means the potential growth of mold and bacteria can even cause wood rot.
Moss eventually establishes roots in the roof that will begin to lift the shingles.
Moss causes the roof to become extremely slick, making it dangerous to walk on when doing repairs.
Moss can greatly reduce your home’s curb appeal.
Moss creates tiny fibers known as rhizomes that penetrate into the roof’s substrate, which loosens the granules on shingles. The granules on roof shingles are designed to protect the shingles from cracking, drying and warping.
Moss, as well as algae, mold and mildew, can all reduce the life span of your roofing system.
In some situations, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the damages to your roof that are caused by moss. It is common for insurance companies to periodically inspect the condition of the homes they are insuring, so if your roof is covered in moss during the inspection and you later file a claim, it may be denied.
Preventing the Growth of Moss and Algae
The main goal when it comes to moss and algae is prevention. There are a variety of things you can do to prevent moss and algae from growing on your roof, including:
Remove debris off the roof to avoid a buildup of leaves and other matter that will provide feeding material for moss to continue growing.
Trim and prune tree limbs and branches that hang over the roof. This will allow direct sunlight to reach the roof, reducing the roof’s exposure to moisture and minimizing the debris that may accumulate on the roof, which the moss feeds on.
Make sure the airflow is directed downward. If the air is flowing downward, it will prevent debris from getting trapped on the roof.
Keep the gutters clean to prevent clogging. Clogged gutters retain rainwater and moisture, which may build up near the roof, providing debris and food as well as additional moisture for moss to spread.
Talk with a local roofing company about installing asphalt roofing shingles that contain copper granules. If you don’t want to invest in new shingles, another option is to use strips of zinc or copper around the edges of the roof. Zinc and copper prevent the growth of moss, so when it rains, the water washes over the strips of copper or zinc, which creates a metallic-infused liquid that washes over and kills any moss.
At the first sight of moss or algae on roof shingles, it is important to clean the roof. There are a few different options as to how to remove moss from the roof. One way is to remove the moss and algae by spraying it down with a garden hose and scraping it off. The best way to remove it this way is by hiring a professional roofing company to use a pressure washer without damaging the roofing system. Another option is to use a solution of bleach and water to spray on the roof; however, it is important to keep in mind that the roof will be slippery, and you must wear protective gear, so this method should also be completed by a professional.
If you notice algae or moss on your roof, contact Community Builders. As experts in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, we can evaluate the roof and help you determine the best option for your needs.
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