|Jeffrey Hausmann, pressure supervisor at Custom Window Cleaning and Property Maintenance, scrapes the moss off of a roof in Eugene. For many window cleaners in the US, winter/spring is the perfect time to offer roof/gutter cleaning.|
Time to tidy up the roof - Dos, don’ts from Lane County experts for removing moss and keeping gutters flowing free: Trees can be hard enough on roofs, what with their falling needles, leaves and limbs. But even worse, usually, is a silent plague bred by dark and moist Willamette Valley days.
“The last two winters have been ridiculous,” declares roof-maintenance specialist Doug Holston. “Moss has grown on everything. If you have wet, warm, mild winters, you’re going to have more moss growing.” The only way for homeowners to know how their roofs have fared against moss, debris and wind over the winter is to have a look.
|Workers use harnesses and safety ropes when cleaning a steep roof.|
Leave inspections of steep roofs to the pros, implores Holston, owner of Custom Window Cleaning and Property Maintenance in Eugene. His crews harness themselves to anchored ropes for their own safety on slippery pitches.
Homeowners with milder roof pitches — 5/12 or less — can venture a look-see themselves if confident of their balance on both roof and ladder. “Be sure it’s not too steep and slippery, and that you have your tennis shoes on,” advises John Davey, co-owner of long-time River Roofing in Springfield.
Autumn and spring are the best times to go up top and inspect. “At least get up there once a year,” Davey advises. “This is a great time right now, with spring arriving. You can check on any damage from winter weather and clear off debris that’s accumulated up there.”
|Moss actually eats away at the roof, causing it to deteriorate faster.|
Kill and remove moss
The bane of rooftops in Oregon is moss. When dampness accumulates on a shaded area, moss breeds, potentially causing long-term damage to roof shingles and support structure. Before moss digs in and spreads, kill the growth.
Most moss-control products contain zinc sulfate. “Green” treatments, such as sprays of diluted white vinegar and baking soda, can be effective, too. However, alternative moss control solutions can void the warranty on some brands of asphalt shingles, so be sure to read the fine print before application.
“Whether you use those natural products or a chemical moss killer from the store, in about six weeks the moss will die and then you can go up there and scrape it off,” Davey says. What you absolutely must not do with a composition shingle roof is use a pressure washer to remove debris. Pressure washing can damage asphalt shingles and cause the roof to leak. Davey recommends a stiff broom and a small, light steel brush. “Work (the moss) loose, but don’t get too aggressive with it,” he says.
Pressure washing is OK on roofs of cement, steel, concrete or metal, but even then Davey recommends an initial cleaning followed by a light wash.
|While pressure washers should never be used to clean an asphalt-shingle roof, it is OK to remove debris with an air blower.|
Clean gutters crucial
Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to seep under a roof’s fascia and rot the wood. Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least once a year. Examine both the gutters and the downspouts for leaks and gaps in the seams.
“Gutters used to be installed with silicone, but now we use an aluminum-based sealant that stays pliable during temperature changes,” says Kelly Carter, who, with her husband, owns and runs Hedge Carter’s Continuous Gutter Service based in Dorena. “You won’t get the leaks you did in the past.”
Larger gutter spouts also are now available, “and that makes it much easier to clean and maintain,” she adds. Wire-mesh screens and some other gutter coverings can help keep needles, leaves and limbs from clogging drainage. But any covering requires periodic cleaning.
“There is no maintenance-free gutters, screens or anything else, no matter what anyone tells you,” Holston says. “Nothing is maintenance free.” Always make sure that gutters and downspouts lead water away from the home and its foundation, and that brackets hold downspouts tightly against the house.
|Maintenance on steep roofs should be left to pros with proper safety equipment. Upkeep on roofs with milder pitches, at 5/12 are less, is within the realm of homeowners confident of their balance on roof and ladder.|
Check for wear and tear, too
With spring, also check your roof for missing or damaged shingles. Quick replacement helps to prevent water damage that might result when rainwater pools around curled or missing shingles. Also, be sure metal flashing remains intact around vents, exhaust pipes and chimneys. Check to see that the flashing isn’t bent, and existing sealant isn’t dried up or loose.
Seal cracked mortar or caulking around joints and chimneys if there are signs of deterioration. New sealants are extremely flexible in hot and cold weather, and are much more durable than their predecessors, Davey says.
He suggests using polyurethane sealants rather than the more traditional roof mastic. “These newer polyurethane options have a tendency to stick better to brick, glass, wood and shingles,” Davey explains, “and they have a longer life.”
Trim trees so their limbs do not overhang the roof and shower it with needles or leaves. And keep an eye out for animal damage, too. Various birds and insects love your roof and its underpinnings.