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Signs That Your Roof Needs Cleaning

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Many things can endanger the roof of your home. There is the danger of water infiltration and the weight of snow. There is the danger of damage by the force of wind and falling objects. And there is danger from animals making their home inside the roof. But perhaps the danger homeowners pay the least attention to is danger from accumulated dirt or other materials.

Apart from making the roof unsightly, what harm can dirt do to a roof? The answer is quite a lot. Homeowners often only see the physical debris that accumulates on a roof. What they don’t see is how the presence of dirt on a roof’s surface facilitates other processes that result in damage, warns Windermere Management.

Dirt and debris on a roof surface will accelerate chemical and biological actions that decay the roof and weaken its internal structures. How is this possible?

How Dirt & Debris Can Harm Your Roof


  • Leaves and twigs that fall on a roof do so as part of their natural biological cycle. But that cycle does not end when the leaves fall off the tree, it continues as the organic materials are further broken down.

This process of organic matter breakdown is where the danger to your roof lies. The microorganisms that proliferate on the roof surface and the chemicals that are released by the process are deposited on the roof and they transfer their actions to the roof.

  • Debris on a roof allows water to stay on the roof surface longer. Water is a universal solvent and given enough time, it will dissolve almost any material, including your roof. 

Also, the water on the roof is loaded with biological and chemical agents that it draws from the atmosphere and organic matter around. These amplify the water’s corrosive capabilities and make it more potent in harming your roof.

  • Third, moss and algae need water and dissolved minerals to thrive. They get these from the matter that accumulates on a roof’s surface. The roots of moss also penetrate the substrate of asphalt roofing and weaken the shingles. And algae will feed on the minerals that make up the shingles. Algae and moss also lead to increased water retention on the roof’s surface and make it easier for a roof to decay or corrode.


  • All these make the roof surface more attractive to rodents, reptiles, and other creatures. The roof becomes more conducive for nesting and food gathering. And eventually, these creatures can make their way into the internal structures of the roof and build a home inside the roof. Once inside they will destroy the roof’s wooden structures and their waste matter will cause the roof to deteriorate even faster.

  • Finally, dirt on a roof surface leads to more debris in the gutters and downspouts. If these become clogged with debris or because debris encourages animals to nest in the gutters, the home’s structure will be in grave danger. 

Water that should be discharged away from the building will be diverted onto the walls and foundations as well as into the roof. This is a major cause of damage to a home’s walls, insulation, and foundation.

Keeping the roof of your home free of dirt and debris will help you avoid these problems. And when the roof is clean, it is easier to spot damage to the roof from other causes. So, how can you tell when your home’s roof needs cleaning?

Signs That Your Roof Needs Cleaning


  • The presence of moss or lichen
    If there is any type of visible growth on the roof’s surface, the structure needs to be cleaned. Delaying the removal of these growths will inflict damage on the roof that cannot be reversed even when the growths are eventually removed.

  • There are black streaks on the roof surface
    This usually indicates the presence of algae. Algae thrive where there is water and also increase the roof’s tendency to hold water. Algae is a precursor to mold. These are reasons to deal with algae instantly.

  • The buildup of dirt and grime
    Dirt buildup on the roof will cost you in two ways. It will create an environment that encourages damage to the surface and internal structures of the roof. It diminishes the home’s curb appeal and hurts your property’s value.

  • Roof shingles that are lifting
    If the shingles on your roof are starting to lift, it could be due to the action of moss, lichen, and algae. These may have worked their way around the edges of the shingles and caused them to move upwards. Lifting shingle exposes your roof to water damage.

  • The roof has not been cleaned in a long time
    The recommended frequency for cleaning your home’s roof is once a year. If the roof has not been cleaned for over a year, you should wash it, whether you see any of the above signs or not.


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