What causes algae on roofs?

roof with algae and moss

Is Moss on Roof bad?

To know what causes algae, we need to what it is, where it comes from, how it develops.  Moss or algae on roofing, along with fungi and lichens are bacteria that most people refer to as roof mold. This blue-green yuck leaves behind growth and unsightly stains when it dies, leaving your roof looking dirty and old. So, is an algae-free roofing possible? Keep reading for more information! 

Algae is an aquatic plant without flowers, leaves, or roots. It thrives in humid environments, heat and moisture are what it feed from, especially in a damp, shady area. It does require nutriments, like anything else, and it gets the nutriment it needs from asphalt shingles. The limestone used in asphalt shingles is a favorite food for algae. Does this mean for an algae-free roofing, you can’t have the most popular roofing material, asphalt shingles? No, it just means a different approach to roof maintenance is needed. 

One single spoor of algae or fungus can be blown onto your roof from who knows where. They could come from a neighbor’s roof, a tree branch hanging over your roof, or your own gutters if they aren’t cleaned regularly. If the conditions of your roof are an open buffet of limestone and other asphalt shingle making materials, then it stays, dines, and spreads. We are going to talk about the steps you can take that will clear your roof of the issues that cause this and make your roof an algae-free roofing zone. 

There are pros and cons to the growth of moss on roof tops. For many, depending on the architecture of the house, moss on the roof is “charming” or “quaint”, but for others, there is a fear of what impact moss has when left to itself. Will moss damage your roof? Should you be focused on having a moss and algae-free roof more than worrying about the appearance being charming and quaint? 

If your home is surrounded by trees and in a damp climate, it is susceptible to being inhabited by algae, lichens, and moss. As we noted above, what may be just one spore of moss can feast on your asphalt shingles and spread its ‘love’ all over roof and blow on to neighboring roofs. Moss is to roof that COVID-19 is to humans.  

  • Mold: This abundantly growing matter will retain moisture and water, becoming heavy. That moisture and water leads to bacteria, rot, and more mold growth. While this isn’t harmful to human life, it is to asphalt roofs and will significantly shorten the lifespan. Mold attracts critters, insects, and rodents which will make their way into your home after feeding off the mold growth. 
  • Holes: As moss is allowed to sit on your roof, it creeps up under the shingles, slates, or tiles, causing them to lift and loosen. Holes form under the roofing materials and leaks can begin while the structure of the roof is degenerated. Once this has started, any cleaning of the moss will raise the loose shingles, slate, or tiles and allow the moss to get even further under the roofing material and spready more. 

So, yes, moss is 100% bad for your roof, it can create damage that is irreparable, causing you need to need a new roof.  More bad news: Your homeowner’s insurance isn’t going to pay for that new roof. They see moss removal as homeowner’s upkeep not an Act of God or peril accident.

Okay, so is algae on roof bad for it? Algae stains start off as small spots, and with time, those spots will become streaks. Algae is frequently confused as mildew or moss, and while it doesn’t have a curb appeal to your home’s appearance, it isn’t harmful. 

Can I brush moss off my roof?

That green moss layer on a roof can look charming, cozy, quaint, even rustic, but not everyone wants their house to look like it came from a fairy tale book. Follow these three steps for a straightforward way to remove that moss: 

Step One: Hose the roof off using your garden hose to brush any loose moss loose off the shingles. Do not use a pressure washer, a garden hose is sufficient. Do this on cloudy days so the sun’s UV rays don’t evaporate your cleaning solutions too fast.

Step Two: Once you have your roof wet, apply a DIY cleaning mixture of to remove the moss, letting it sit for more than 20 minutes but no longer than 45 minutes. Then scrub with a soft bristle brush. After the scrubbing, rinse with clear water from the garden hose. Some different DIY mixtures include: 

  1. Eight ounces dish soap to two gallons of water.
  2. One pound powdered oxygen bleach to two gallons of water.
  3. One and half to three and half cups chlorine bleach to two gallons of water.
  4. One and half to three and half cups white distilled vinegar to two gallons of water.

How do I get rid of algae on my roof?

You now know that algae on your roof isn’t good for it, but how to get algae off roof to have that algae-free roof without paying a contractor is a common question among homeowners.  One of the most effective ways for algae roof cleaning, is a mixture one part laundry liquid chlorine bleach with equal part of water applied with a sprayer. Spray the roof and then let the solution sit for at least 15 minutes but no longer than 20 minutes. Then thorough rinse with a low pressure. 

algae roof

How do I clean my roof myself?

Absolutely, if you’re not afraid of heights and being on wet surfaces at high levels.  Once you get up that ladder, you may decide hiring a professional isn’t a bad idea after all. For those who want to give it a try, we offer the following steps: 

  1. Protect Landscaping by wetting it down with water before starting and after you’re done.  – 
  2. Mix the Roof Cleaning Chemicals in the garden sprayer using a 50/50 ratio for asphalt roofing. Remember, with chemicals, less is more. 
  3. Start at highest point of the roof and work downward, applying an even coat in sweeping motion. 
  4. Double coat any stubborn areas after 5 minutes of first round. 
  5. Rewet the landscaping to rinse off any of the chemicals that have gotten on them.  
  6. Carefully come off the roof, get a cool drink, then sit back and enjoy your work! 

All of this information is helpful, but it didn’t tell you, “How do I stop algae growing on my roof?” The following are tips to give you that algae-free roof every homeowner desires: 

  • Keeps the trees trimmed back off the roof.
  • Keep standing water eliminated around the house and in the gutters.
  • Have the roof professionally washed twice a year.

The big thing you can do is have a new roof installed that is an algae-free roof. Is there such a thing? Yes, you can have a copper roof installed that has been infused with chemicals that stop algae growth. Or ask your roofing contractor about shingles that are algae-free roof treated. Need help with an algae free roofing system in Cincinnati, OH? Call 513-563-9988 today.