If you’re an Indianapolis homeowner and you aren’t familiar with algae and lichen, and what they can do to your roof, it’s never too early to learn. Why? If you’re not well-versed in how to keep them at bay, you might wake up one day and need a new roof all of a sudden. Let’s go over what algae and lichen are, and how to keep them from damaging one of your biggest home investments.

What is Algae and/or Lichen?

From a scientific perspective, algae is a very broad term for a large and diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms; from a roofing perspective, it’s a plant that grows on your roof and thrives particularly in warm, humid environments. If you’ve ever seen pieces of blue-green, fuzzy-looking growth on your (or anyone else’s) roof, that’s likely what it is.

If the algae on your roof develops a relationship with the right types of fungi, you could also be dealing with growths called lichen, which appear more branch or leaf-like and have a crustier texture. Lichen is more destructive and harder to remove from your roof than algae, so it’s best to nip the problem in the bud when you have algae alone.

Pick Algae-Resistant Shingles

There are many things to keep in mind when selecting shingles for your new roof, such as lifetime longevity and impact resistance to the elements, but another major thing to consider is resistance to algae growth. Some shingles will come with certain levels of algae resistance, which generally range from Class I to Class III. The better the rating, the higher the likelihood that the shingles will withstand the discoloration that comes after years of algae growth.

  • Class I: The highest possible rating; shingles are highly resistant to algae growth.
  • Class II: The second highest rating; shingles are moderately resistant to algae growth.
  • Class III: The lowest possible rating; shingles are slightly resistant to algae growth.

Algae-resistant shingles look just like regular ones, but they’re made with copper granules, stopping algae in its tracks much more effectively. The manufacturer should indicate how many years the algae resistance will last; once that timeframe passes, you may notice some algae growth, which you can remove by doing a soft wash.

Soft washes break apart the algae and lichen on your roof using a lightly sprayed chemical. Be sure to hire a roof cleaning and maintenance contractor to do it for you, because it’s important to get the chemical mixture right. If you hire someone who isn’t experienced or licensed, or you try to do it yourself, you’ll risk leaving your roof discolored, which is precisely what you’re trying to avoid by doing the soft wash in the first place! Always consider quality over price and choose a licensed, bonded contractor to do any repair or installation work on your roof or home.

Schedule an Annual Roof Inspection

When it comes to algae and lichen, prevention is your best bet. Life is full of responsibilities, and no one wakes up every day thinking about the shape their roof is in. That’s why it’s a great idea to have an annual roof inspection – if you have a dependable contractor, you likely won’t have to remember to schedule it because they should remind you.

Many companies, including Indy Roof & Restoration, provide a free annual inspection after repairing or replacing your roof, so cost doesn’t have to be a factor. Plus, these inspections are a chance for you to be aware of any and all issues going on with your roof, not just algae and lichen growth.

Algae or Lichen on Your Roof: What NOT to Do

Your roof is designed to withstand a lot of things, but it isn’t invincible. Here’s what NOT to do when you notice algae or lichen setting up camp on your roof.

Don’t Turn to Power Washing

If you notice dirt or debris all over your back patio, your first impulse is probably to blast that whole area with a high-pressure hose and call it a day. When it comes to algae or lichen growth, that’s the opposite of what you should do. Some people think a power wash will do the trick to get rid of algae and, while it seems logical, you shouldn’t do this under any circumstances! This method may help to eliminate the algae, but it’ll do more harm than good by washing away the protective granules from your shingles. These granules are critical, and washing them away would mean wasting a huge part of your investment in your new roof. They help reflect light from the shingles and reduce heat absorption (which keeps your energy bill down), plus they protect the shingles from the elements and add weight to strengthen them.

On top of that, power washing is a bad idea because your roof simply isn’t made to handle the amount of pressure you’d be putting on it. It could result in shingles coming off or damage severe enough to cause leaks. As if you need another reason, there’s a chance power washing will spread the algae around to areas it didn’t take up residence before, which certainly defeats the purpose of your efforts. As tempting as it is to do, a soft wash is by far your best option and is safest for the integrity of your roof.

If You Already Have Algae, Don’t Wait to Treat It

If you’ve already noticed algae growth – whether it was on your own or through the company that inspected your roof – be sure to treat it while it’s easy to do so. A simple soft wash should do the trick if you act as soon as possible. If you wait months or years, you risk the growth of lichen (or other things such as moss, bacteria, mold and mildew), which could cause irreversible roof damage that requires extensive repairs or even an all-new roof. Although your roof protects you, it’s also important that you protect your roof with proper maintenance and prevention, otherwise, it won’t last nearly as long as it was designed to.

Roof Algae Prevention in Indianapolis

Noticed algae on your roof? Perhaps you want to get ahead of the game and schedule an annual inspection? At Indy Roof & Restoration, we have your roof covered, from inspections to repair and replacement. Call us 24/7 with any questions you have, and we’ll be there to provide you with the best service in Indianapolis.

Aaron Christy

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