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The Science & Technology of SoftWash Roof Cleaning
Excerpts from AC Lockyer's Book, So What's Eating Your Roof?


Roof cleaning as an industry is very new. Bursting onto the scene in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s there have been as many methods for cleaning roofs as the organisms growing on top of them. Roof cleaning initially was certainly a "garage art" at best.

Primarily a phenomena in the Southern United States, roof cleaning was thought of as a regional service with the hot bed being the State of Florida. Initially the focus of ridding the roof surface of ugly black streaks was a function of cleaning. In 1992, I used my background in horticulture to look at the problem of algae streaking in a somewhat different way.

I knew that in the nursery industry a plant that had a fungal infection was sprayed with algaecides to rid it of that infection. Why couldn’t real science be applied to actually ridding the roof surface of algae and keep it from returning? It was a different approach than any other had taken, however this application of science allowed for a roof to be cleaned in a totally different way than ever before.

Soon the coating of a cleaning solution much like a pest control application was developed. Instead of utilizing traditional pressure washing equipment commonly used in the exterior cleaning industry, I went with a totally chemical approach. This “completely chemical” cleaning system was developed in 1991 and called the Mallard System.

The Mallard System revolutionized the exterior cleaning industry in Florida. Though created for cleaning roofs, it was quickly found that the Mallard Cleaning System worked on driveways, screen enclosures, wood decks, fences, vinyl siding and alike. In fact the company that I owned rarely ever used pressure washers to perform maintenance cleanings. For over a decade, My company Mallard Systems did not even own a pressure washer.

(The photo to the right is from 1994 and shows AC Lockyer treating a shingle roof with the SoftWash System.)

The True Culprit

The streaks that are staining the roof are actually a bacteria called Gleocapsa Magma. This is the main culprit for most of the roof staining throughout the US. There are a few more culprits that also grow up on roofs making a mess of things. Roof top organisims like mildew and algae are unsightly but not as destructive as some of the more aggressive bacterias and fungus. Moss and Lichens also abound and are the final bad actors that show up after the party has been started by the fungal growths. These algae, molds, mildews, bacterias, lychens and mosses directly decompose and break down roofing materials.

Much of the organisms on a roof are there because of the warm, moist environment a roof creates, especially on the north and west sides of a roof.  Micro organisms populate in an abundance growing so well that they begin to be noticeable to the human eye. Many roofing surfaces are made with materials that can be metabolized by the micro organisms. Shingles now contain limestone as a filler mixed into the aggregate of the shingle. Many of the algae, mildew and bacteria’s utilize this limestone as the base nutrient of their roof ecosystem and begin to feed on it.

The good news is that these stains / micro organisms can be safely removed. In fact, professional cleaning / sanitizing systems have been created to deal with this roof top menace. Cleaning systems like soft wash agricultural style sprayers, chemicals and products give a professional the tools they need to safely remove the pests.

In 1968, Alan J Brook published an article in the Journal of Phycology  titled The Discoloration of Roofs in the United States and Canada by Algae. In this article, Brook identified several strains of blue-green and green algae that were growing on roofing surfaces.

Thought to be just mildew, Brooks stated clearly that these streaks were from a strain of Cyanobacteria called Gloeocapsa Magma. Cyanobacteria are an ancient line of photosynthesizing bacteria that photolyse water, generating oxygen gas. This makes them very much like a plant.

Though very little scientific study exists on what these algae, fungus and bacteria do to a roof, it is widely accepted by the experts in this field that these bacteria and algae do harm roofing systems. There is an abundance of photo documentation of roofing surfaces left unchecked and exposed to these micro organisms, that show significant degradation to the roofing materials.

(The photo to the left is of a 30 year old shingle roof that has been seriously attacked by algae, mold, mildew and bacteria.)

^ Brook, Alan J. (1968). "The Discoloration of Roofs in the United States and Canada by Algae". Journal of Phycology 4: 250. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.1968.tb04722.x.

Commonly called mildew the same Cyanobacteria, Gloeocapsa Magma will grow on wood, concrete, siding, aluminum and other surfaces as well.

Many times customers do not realize what is actually growing on their home and the damages it can cause. Organisms like these will begin to break down construction materials, creating a more inhabitable environment for higher organisms which will move in and cause greater damage.

If left unchecked, a small ecosystem is created and the waste stream from this ecosystem creates acids that will also break down construction materials further more deeply impenetrating that surface.

It is important to remember that Gloeocapsa Magma is a bacteria, whereas  algae are eukaryotes (cells having nuclei). It is also important as well to look at roofing stains as a bacterial infection.

(The photo to the right is a microscopic view of gloeocapsa magma cells.)

There are other strains of blue-green algae that inhabit the surface of roofing and other building materials. Some are nitrogen fixing algae. Nitrogen fixing algae can grow on and in environments where there are very little or even no nutrients to support life.

These algae have nodules on their filament root systems that allows them to create their own nutrients. Plants that you are familiar with that do a similar process are peanuts. In fact, for centuries farmers have used a system of crop rotation to plant beneficial crops that return nutrients to the soil after crops that draw the life out of the soil within a few harvests. Nitrogen fixing plants and algae can make their own nutrients creating a base for them and future organisms to live on. 

Almost all forms of Algae, Mildew, Fungus and Lichen have a filament root system. Once that root system is attached to the roof or building surface the “roots” starts to break down and decompose that surface creating cracks and fishers.

Because we now know that the stains on the roof are actually living things we understand that this is not a cleaning function. In order to achieve a lasting clean we need to solve (treat) the problem not just blast away at the surface.

More Than Cleaning

Cleaning and sanitation chemicals, used in solutions mixed according to label instructions, can be effective against these pests. Chemicals that are sanitizing agents like bleach can be augmented with surfactants and activators to make sure the sanitizing agent permeates deep into the colonies of the algae and bacteria. Colonies are best described as the groups of algae or bacteria that are growing in proximity and or directly upon one another. Sometimes the first signs of infestation on a roof are silver dollar size colonies that appear as black circles.

Once there are multiple colonies on a roof, moisture and gravity cause them to elongate and appear as streaks. Each individual streak is one colony of algae. Eventually, these streaks or colonies grow together creating a super colony.

(The photo to the left shows the dramatic difference between an infested roof verses where soft wash chemicals have cleaned the roof.)

Now that we have established what the streaks are up on a roof or building exterior, we know why they are there and how they survive. We know that it is possible to clean the roof and how is the safest way to do so. We know how to do more than clean. We need to sanitize the roof. Now, let’s absorb some more science on how a roof is broken down and what not to do to clean it.

Here you can see an Asian temple being overtaken by a tree.  Because algae and fungus have a filament root system they are growing on and digging into your roof much like this tree. The roots open up tiny little cracks in the shingles, tiles or other roofing materials. As they grow so do their roots, much like that tree that was four feet away from the sidewalk ten years ago. As the tree grew, it took up more area and its root system expanded. Eventually, it overtook the sidewalk and began to uplift and tear it apart.

Many of these organisms growing on roofing surfaces do much the same thing. They actually spread a shingle like a fan. Because the shingle is attached in the back, the front ends of the shingle flare and roll.  This is because the shingle is widened more in the front than the back. Filament root systems are what directly causes shingle curling.

The process of algae, fungus, molds, mosses and lychens breaking down large items into smaller pieces is called decomposition. These micro organisms are called decomposers. Like a tree or a rock in the wilderness being broken down, so will your building surface or roof be broken down by these decomposers.

Under pressure! Driving winds, flowing waters, cascading waterfalls and slow moving rivers, the effects of all of these on our geology is called erosion. Erosion can break down the largest rocks and move mountains. Erosion can cut a canyon through the hardest, flattest terrain. Erosion is one of the forces of nature you cannot ignore.

The Grand Canyon is one of the mightiest examples of erosion on our continent. Through thousands of years, what in places is a slow moving river gives way to rapids, and cuts a path through the landscape that is thousands of years old.

If you travel down to the floor of the canyon, you can see signs of erosions mighty little helpers, decomposers.  Water erosion is so effective because of it’s mighty force but that “great mite” sometimes needs to find a crack to get it’s will behind.  Lichens, algae and even bacteria weaken the surfaces they grow on. Getting into cracks that seem so small forcing them open and exposing the weakness to the water under pressure.

Pressure Washing is dangerous for cleaning roofs. Though pressures less than 800 psi at the pump head can be acceptable for rinsing away dead algae, using any gas operated pump on a roof is a professionals job. Pressure washing should never be used for direct cleaning of a shingle roof’s surface. In fact, at the nozzle of the spray gun the water pressure should not exceed 150 psi.

Why would you use an eroder to clean off a decomposer?  That is why roofs and many other surfaces like drive ways, wood decks and siding prematurely age from the destructive cycle of “decomposer attacks and eroder removes”.

Poured driveways and other flat concrete is tapped to send floating stone aggregate to the bottom of the slab. This way the rocks are not visible at the surface. Then the concrete finisher adds a broom stroke to the concrete for non-skid and decoration.

When these areas are frequently pressure washed the broom stroke erodes away along with layers of the concrete. The stones that were tapped down deeper into the concrete become exposed. Professionals using SoftWash equipment have been trained to use chemicals to make the job easier and reduce high pressure erosion.

If you look at a picture of swollen, poorly maintained shingles you can clearly see four forces working away at them. There is no question that the shingles are being attacked. Let’s break down the four areas of shingle deterioration caused by algae and fungus..

1. Shingles break down from decomposition caused by algae and fungal filament root systems. In the picture to the left, you can see how the shingles have cracks in them, they are curling and swelling.

2. Shingles break down because algae and fungus have a hunger for limestone fillers. Limestone, which contains phosphates, is an excellent source of nutrients for algae and fungus.

3. Shingles break down from the waste created by the algae and fungus metabolizing the limestone fillers. This waste is acidic and damages the shingles.

4. Shingles break down because of excess heat caused from the darkening of the shingles. The darker the shingles get from algae streaking, the more heat they absorb. This excess heat dries the shingles and ages the petroleum in them.

There are many types of shingle roofs. More than types, there are styles and colors. From the most basic shingle pattern to the highest end products, all are made of similar materials. There are three tab shingles as well as architectural shingles. There are 20, 30 and 50 year ratings. Colors designed to reflect light and heat and colors that blend into the buildings overall color scheme. No matter what type rating and color roof is on a building, roofs are expensive and require maintenance like any other building surface.

The end goal is to get as much wear, use or return on investment  you possibly can from the roof you purchased. Some southern climates can be very hard on roofs. However, with the spread of Gloeocapsa Magma, we are seeing premature roofing failures in the northern states as well. From my experiences in Florida, a 20 year, 3 tab, shingle roof will fail before it reaches 10 years. It is common to see roofs being replaced, on homes that were roofed with 50 year, architectural shingles, well before their 25th birthday.

This is alarming because these home and building owners are receiving only 50% of the full duty cycle of their roofing system. This premature failure of roofing materials is costing the owner big bucks!
It has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt that this premature ageing is directly attributed to these major reasons.

  1. Fungal Decomposition due to filament roots.
  2. Fungal Decomposition due to acid waste.
  3. UV Breakdown.
  4. Thermal Deterioration.


These four main reasons for premature failure of a roofing system are more demonstrated in the fact that shingle manufacturers perform a test in their labs that  simulates 30 years of shingle life. This test is done in specially equipped ovens that bake test shingles at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, at 100% humidity for 30 days. Just in the two variables used in these testing ovens you can see how much heat and humidity play a role in the failure of roofing systems.
To the left, you see a 30 year old, 3 tab shingle roof. As you can clearly see, this roof is in absolutely poor shape. This roof has multiple leaks and has needed replacement for some time. As you study the roof, you can clearly see that under the plumbing vents and along the roof transitioning to a small foot wall, the roof is clean and a light gray color.


Where the plumbing vents and this wall meet the roof there has been installed zinc to flash in those transitions. What is called plumbing lead is actually soft zinc. Also galvanized flashings are made by adhereing zinc crystals to the metal flashing. Zinc when it ages creates zinc oxide. This presence of zinc oxide washing over these roofing materials in small amounts poisons the algae and fungus leaving the roof clean.

Now, look at the magnified area of the wall flashed with galvanized metal. You can even see the silver strip between the painted wall and the roofing surface. Though this roof is over 30 years old, where the zinc has kept the roof clean the shingles almost remain unaged. Keeping a roof free of algae and fungus can keep it dry, cool and algae free as well. Roof cleaning is an important part of any building maintenance plan.

Granular loss can be explained in several different ways. The loss of aggregate from composition shingle roofs is not uncommon. It is actually a part of the life cycle of the shingle itself. To understand granular loss you must understand why the granules are there themselves.
The layers of a shingle are simple. Layer one is the fiberglass mat that makes up the body of the shingle. Layer two is petroleum asphalt. Finally, layer three, is the shingle aggregate itself.

Aggregate is pressed into the hot asphalt of a shingle to protect the asphalt and fiberglass from physical damage as well as damages from the UV rays of the sun. The aggregate is made of small pieces of ceramic and limestone. The ceramic is made to reflect the damaging rays of the sun away from the roof surface. Limestone has recently been introduced as a filler.

Even a new shingle roof with no damages looses a great deal of aggregate over its first years of life. Much within the first year and then tapering off each following year. By year three, any aggregate that was loosely adhered during the manufacturing process has fallen off.

It has been noted that even the softest non evasive roof cleanings will uncover loose aggregate. In these cases, sometimes the roof cleaning company is blamed for causing the aggregate loss. This is unfounded and the cleaning merely uncovered the granular loss. Would you blame your doctor for your cancer if he merely discovered it during a routine physical?

Weathering is one of the most common ways aggregate is removed from a shingle roof. Hail storms, hard rain, wind and damaging UV rays from the sun can wear away at a roof little by little. Some of the aggregate on your roof is actually “sacrificial” for that reason. The manufacturer of the roofing materials will add 30 to 40% more aggregate to the roofing surface to account for initial loss in the first three years as well as weathering.

Mechanical agitation is the final way that aggregate is removed. Items and situations that cause mechanical agitation are, foot traffic, pressure washing, scrubbing, tree branches and alike. These are unnatural, unintended ways of granular loss. To keep these from destroying the roofing system, avoid walking on roof, never pressure wash a roof, do not use a scrub brush on a roof and keep tree limbs trimmed away from the roof by at least 10 feet.

We have discussed above about how shingles are made, how they are classified and how they can be cleaned. It is now important to bring this all down to basics about how this directly effects the serviceable life expectancy of a roof. Without sound principals and findings, your ability to sell this service will be compromised.
Not only shingle roofs, but all types of roofs can loose valuable years of service life from not being properly maintained. Roofs whether shingle, tile, slate, shake, membrane or metal can loose as much as 50% of their rated service life from infestation of micro organisms.

A 2,500 square foot roof, with architectural shingles on a residential home can cost $8,000.00 to purchase the product and install. If the service life expectancy is 30 years, then the amortized yearly cost of that roof is $266.00 a year. If poorly maintained and the life is cut in half, that yearly cost is now $533.00 a year.
A properly maintained roof means keeping it free from debris and cleaning it of algae and fungus. That 2,500 square foot roof would cost about $600.00 to clean once every 5 years. That would add about $120.00 a year to the maintenance of the roof. If by keeping the roof cleaned you are able to realize the full service life of the roofing system, then you have saved $146.00 a year, saving the roof from early replacement.

Roof cleaning should be looked at as a necessary preventative maintenance for any roofing system. Other factors like energy efficiency and health issues will be addressed later in this work book.

Earlier we spoke about the anatomy of a shingle. I explained that shingle aggregate is pressed into the asphalt on a shingle for protecting the shingle from wear and UV rays from the sun. The ceramic aggregate on that shingle is specifically made to refract the sun’s rays keeping UV damage from happening to the shingle.
Also shingles are especially vulnerable to heat. If shingles are installed on an area of the roof that does not get much attic circulation below them, they will fail before the rest of the roof fails. This is common over porches where there is no crawl space. It is like they are baking from both sides and they fail quickly.
To the left you see two cars. One is white while the other is black. If you were sitting in a parking lot and it was 90 degrees outside which car would be hotter to the touch? The white car or the black. Same with roofing materials. The darker a roof gets from algae and fungus stains the more heat it will asorb.

Have you ever noticed that solar water heaters are black. They are that color because black absorbs heat better than any other color. Black is so efficient in absorbing heat that covering a 2,500 square foot roof by only 30% with black solar water panels will raise the temperature of a 30,000 gallon pool by nearly 20 degrees.

Imagine if your entire roof was black. Do you have a 30,000 gallon attic? Possibly smaller?  When your roof gets black with algae and fungus the under roof temperature can get as high as 140 degrees or more.

The combination of extreme heat on top of the shingles matched with extreme heat below the shingles bake the roofing system. This causes the petroleum or asphalt to age, dry and fail.

The Florida Solar Energy Commission had a University in Florida do a study on the effects of solar heating on various roofing materials. They took a building and separated the attic into eight sections. Each section had the same amount of attic space as well as ridge and eave vents. Each section of the roof was covered with different roofing materials and different vent styles. The basic roofing materials were, Black Shingle, White Barrel Tile, White Metal and Red Barrel Tile. Duplications of roofing materials were used with different add on venting.

The study, though not commissioned to prove the effects of algae staining on roofs, did confirm one truth. That truth is that the darker your roof becomes the more heat it absorbs. The findings of the study showed that black shingle roofs had an under attack air temperature higher than white tile or white metal roofs. In fact, red tile roofs absorbed more heat than white tile roofs. The difference in temperature between a black shingle roof and a white tile roof was almost 60 degrees within the attic.

The higher under roof or attic temperatures radiate into the ductwork of your air-conditioning system directly effecting home cooling costs. The study noted that a black shingle roof could cause a homeowner to pay as much as 40% more in cooling costs. On a $300.00 electric bill the cost of having a black shingle roof could exceed $100.00 per month.

There are some extreme examples of roof staining causing roof deterioration and high energy bills. Sometimes how it works out is not fair. Example: People living in apartment communities that are multilevel can have radically different electric bills. The resident on the bottom floor can have low cooling costs being that they have no roof above them and very little crawl space if any.  However, the residents living on the top floor not only have heat radiation coming from the roof and attic, but the compounded heating of a black stained roof.

Though esthetics alone can be a powerful augment for keeping homes and apartment community’s roofs clean, there can also be inequities, like energy consumption, that need addressed.

Though there are many things homeowners can do to save energy around their home few things help like a clean roof. In fact, when compared to other items like..

  1.  Adjusting your thermostat up by 2 degrees from 76 to 78.
  2. Lowering the thermostat setting on your hot water heater.
  3. Shutting off lights when not in a room.
  4. Washing your clothes in the cold setting.

Cleaning your roof can save more than all of these combined.

In this age of Green Living, it can be said that a good Green plan would include cleaning your roof. A better Green plan would include cleaning your roof according to current roof cleaning association standards.  Standards using small 12 volt pumps that run off the electric the contractor’s truck makes anyway and use biodegradable cleaning chemicals.

Now that we clearly understand how a clean roof saves energy, it is important that you understand how to educate the customer on that fact. Actually, on this one fact standing alone, you can comfortably tell a customer that roof cleaning is free. Yes, I said roof cleaning is FREE!
Here is how you would break it down,

Customer has a 2,500 square foot home. The roof square footage is actually 3,000 square feet. Let’s say for demonstration purposes the cleaning will cost $600.00 and the customer has a $250.00 a month electric bill. Let’s assume that 5 months out of the year the customer runs their A.C. Finally lets use a 20% post cleaning savings to be super conservative.

$250.00 Electric Bill (20%) = $50.00 Savings / Month
$50.00 Savings / Month (5 months) = $250.00 Savings / Year
Roof Stays Clean 3 Years…
$250.00 Savings / Year (3 Years) = $750.00 Total Savings
$750.00 Total Savings - $600.00 Roof Cleaning = $150.00 Profit.

See how the math works?

If the customer has a light grey shingle roof that is now black with fungal stains they can certainly see even more radical results. In some cases in the extreme South Eastern US homeowners can see a immediate return on investment paying for the roof cleaning within one calendar year.
It is important to communicate to potential customers this benefit of roof cleaning!

Algae, mold, mildew, bacteria, etc. are well known culprits when it comes to allergies. In fact, they top the list of known allergy irritants. May people suffer from allergies and look everywhere for relief. Many times they have no idea that the stains growing on and around their home are contributing to their illness.

Sick Building Syndrome is another condition where algae and molds are problematic. HVAC systems suck in air from their intakes on top of roofs on commercial buildings.  It is very common for even hospitals to have these intakes on top of roofs that have flat roof decks that are infested with algae, mold, mildew and bacteria. These microbials blast seeds or spores into the air that are collected by these intakes and distributed throughout the building. Then any moist warm area will begin to produce colonies.

Legionnaires' disease is caused by an airborne bacteria called Gram negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella.Legionnaires' disease though not directly attributed to roof and exterior stains can be found in HVAC systems, water fountains, ice machines and other areas that hold moisture and cultivate mold and fungal growth. Legionnaires' disease is a prime example of how illness can be created from environments that harbor mold, mildew, algae and bacteria.

Your roof, home and surroundings need to be safeguarded against the possible health issues that can come from mildew, algae, fungus and bacteria. Starting from your roof, many areas can be effected by these microbials.  Every time it rains, every morning  dew, the fungus on your roof drips down spores onto sidewalks, driveways, decks, walls and more. These spores then attach and grow new colonies. These colonies are then transported into your home by foot traffic, pets and by air itself.

Think of it like this, your roof is like a giant Petri Dish growing and cultivating fungal samples like a super lab. You can break much of this cycle by keeping your roof clean. Then focus on the other areas of the outside of the home. Decks, drives, walls all need to be cleaned. Remove any standing water. Discarded pots from plants hold water. Look everywhere to make sure that your home and surroundings are free from unneeded moisture and fungus.

Yes, there are already thousands of spores for every square inch of air. What are you going to do with your air?  Even when you open up a door or window the algae growing in the immediate vicinity of that door or window has the most likelihood to be drawn into the air inside your home.

Round Up has done an excellent job educating the public about home weed control. They have effectively taught that if you pull a weed and you do not get the root the old weed grows back. Now, apply that concept  to algae and fungus removal. Using a cleaning process that is very surface oriented will leave behind reminants of the old “plant” and the reminant algae will just return.

It is our responsibility to educate the consumer about what is growing on their roof and how we remove it as well as Round Up did with weed control. Almost everyone you repeat the phrase mentioned above to completes the sentence  “the old weed grows back” Through educational advertising customers will see the value in our service and appreciate our price.

It is also important to remember that customers do not have an aversion to chemicals entirely. Rather, customers just want to feel comfortable that the company they have chosen to work on and around their home will be qualified and responsible.

Algae are like weeds, actually like tiny plants. They have roots, they have what are like leaves, they even have flowers “blooms”. Algae even can go through photosynthesis like a plant taking in carbondioxide, creating food and giving off oxygen. So for educational purposes using a weed as an example of how algae is completely removed is good. You must use a chemical that will kill the entire plant.

Weeds have roots and can grow in the most obscure places. To effectively kill the weed you must break it’s hold on the surface. You must penetrate all the way to the root. To rid the surface of that weed you must achive a 100% kill ratio. All of this applies to algae, mildew, fungus, lichen and bacteria growing on roofs and exteriors as well.

We have all heard the phrase, “wow that grew like a weed” well nothing grows as fast as algae and fungus. Knowing  your products and chemicals and how to apply them in a consistant and efficient way will guarantee that you are able to stop the lifecycle of micro organisims on roofing and other building surfaces.

It is important to point out that simply saying that pressure washers or power washers are dangerous to roofs, is a kin to saying that guns kill people when actually people kill people not guns. Now, I do not want to start a political retort about gun owners rights however the analogy is pretty much dead on.

Pressure washing machines do not damage roofs. The unprofessional, untrained, irresponsible contractor damages roofs. In fact, gas powered power washers can be modified into great low pressure cleaning machines. However, without the introduction of the correct chemicals to sanitize the roof as well as clean it, power washers only strip away the top of the algae bloom.

Power washing also leaves behind the root system, as well as blasts the spores of the algae and fungus deeper into the surface cracks and fishers in the building materials. Then, instead of leaving the chemicals on the roof, power washing actually rinses the chemicals and any residual value from them away.

Pressure and or power washing is not best for maintenance cleanings. The constant blowing and blasting accelerates ageing on the building surfaces.

It is amazing to me that after spending 7 years in the Horticulture industry and recieveing a vocational degree in Horticulture with 720 hours of training that I would be using that education to clean roofs. That training and experience allowed me to look at the issue of dirty roofs differently.

There are two schools of thought when attacking the issue of dirty roofs and buildings which we now know are actually infested with algae, fungus and bacteria. School of thought one was, Pressure Washing. School of thought two was, pest control. I developed my process from the school of thought more closely aligned with pest control. “How do I spray something on this that will clean it, kill it and keep it from coming back.”

A play on words I use when educating a customer about pressure washing vs. SoftWashing / chemical treatments is this:

When you mow your grass on a regular basis, it grows back thicker and healthier.
When you prune your hedges on a regular basis, they grow back thicker and healthier.
When you pressure wash your algae on a regular basis, it grows back _______________________________.

Pressure washing, in my 20 years in the industry, just seems to prune the algae, spread the spores, more deeply inpenetrate the algae into the surface and make the issue worse over time. Each cycle between cleanings gets shorter and shorter and the algae infestation gets larger and deeper.

Zebra Striping is the common name for the zig, zag striping that occurs when pressure washed algae begins to grow back. Like lines in a freshly mowed lawn, the algae grows back in the uniform motion in which the pressure washing wand was moved back and forth across the surface cleaned.

This condition is very evident on flatwork like driveways, sidewalks, pool decks and alike. It is also very evident on tile roofing materials when cleaned with a pressure washer. This can be very damaging because the algae is not truly removed and the very much alive filament root system remains behind continuing to decompose the roof or building surface.

There are times when pressure or power washing is beneficial. Pressure washing can be used to remove wasp and other bug nests from building exteriors, for true paint prep, for removal of oil and other non organic stains on concrete and for removing clay or other non organic soiling. There is absolutely a time and place for pressure washing, we just feel that SoftWashing is much better for maintenance cleanings.

In conclusion, we have discussed four major reasons for cleaning a roof. These points should be the foundation of your presentation to your customers. There is real science when talking about what is on the roof, how to rid it, why rid it and the benefits of riding it. Your ability to communicate this science and educate your market will be tied directly to your success.

More than understanding the science to sell this service you need to have a firm grasp on the basic principals of what algae is and how it can be cleaned and safely removed from the roof surface. You have to know your enemy to beat your enemy.

The four basic reasons for cleaning a roof are estethics, roof life, energy savings and health. Knowing how to communicate these four thoughts will show customers that you are an expert in this field and garnish their respect. Be prepared to be met with skepticism and know how to defend your points.

You now have this six workbook program that gives you such a head start above your competition in this industry. Keep this program and the DVD set handy so you can refresh your knowledge from time to time.

Roof cleaning is nessecary maintenance for a property owner.  You should continuously educate yourself with the latest data, tests, information and products so that you position you and your roof cleaning business as the industry leader in your market.

No one ever hits a goal without setting out the target. Because you are taking this class you have already shown yourself to be very deliberate about growing your business and securing your future.

Copyright 2011, AC Lockyer & HRHIC Industries Inc.
Do not use without written permission.

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