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Roof Maintenance 101: How To Properly Clean The Things Attached To Your Roof

Wondering about roof maintenance? Thanks to the heavy weather we get every year during the Atlantic hurricane season, roof maintenance is even more crucial right here in Florida than it is in many other places. Staying on top of roof maintenance (no pun intended!) can save lots of money.

Most shingle roof manufacturers advertise their products as lasting for about 30 years. In Florida, the average figure is actually closer to 20. That’s because of the intense combination of wind, rain, and hot summer sun. There are just so many ways to broil, bake, or fry your roof!

You don’t have to just hope for the best. You can be proactive about roof maintenance.

One element of your roof maintenance plan is a roof inspection. A roof inspection should be done annually on shingle roofs. Residential metal roofs are less prone to damage from a variety of sources, so they can skip a year on inspections.

With a professional roof inspection, your Central Florida roofer can spot small problems before they become big ones. That makes your life a whole lot easier – especially when you schedule inspections ahead of hurricane season and get everything done while the weather is still clear.

Believe it or not, cleaning is an essential part of roof maintenance, too.

A clean roof is about more than how your roof looks. Cleaning helps prevent mold, mildew, and a range of other issues that could cause the roof to deteriorate. You don’t have to be worried about the roof all the time, but it’s a wise idea to focus on it at least once a year.

Why It’s So Important to Keep Projecting and Attached Roof Elements Clean

Even the best roofs in Central Florida are made up of many different parts. They’re never in the form of one single piece. You already know, for instance, that your own shingle roof probably has hundreds of individual shingles. Beneath that lies the waterproof underlayment, then the structural timber.

Projecting and attached features of the roof are particularly vital. Why? They inevitably represent points of weakness in the structure. These spots are more likely than others to develop leaks. Leaks can happen when your attached elements corrode or warp. Keeping them clean helps prevent such issues.

Of course, every aspect of a roof is designed to stand up to an appropriate amount of wear and tear. That includes structural pressure and damage from the elements. But these components can’t endure forever. In fact, they’re likely to require replacement before the full-service life of your roof.

Many of your attached elements are metallic. They’re made of stainless steel or another material that’s highly resistant to corrosion. When they get dirty, though, they’re highly noticeable. Likewise, the areas around them can be weakened over time and require attention.

When you clean your roof attachments regularly, you’re supporting the overall well-being of the roof. Not only that, but you can call a trusted Central Florida roofer whenever an issue develops, preventing matters from spiraling out of hand.

Mercifully, cleaning roof attachments isn’t really that hard.

With the right materials and know-how, it can even be fun.

Roof Attachments You Should Clean Every Single Year

We recommend customers make a roof cleaning part of their usual spring cleaning. But here in Florida, you don’t necessarily have to wait until spring. Sometimes, fall and early winter can offer opportunities. Any time you might be on the roof, you want mild temperatures and overcast conditions.

In the past, we’ve strongly cautioned against getting up on the roof. We know many of our customers prefer to use a cleaning service and leave it to the experts. But you can also do a great job yourself as long as you use appropriate roofing shoes and take time to learn how to move safely on the roof.

Once you’ve decided to clean the roof, here are the parts you shouldn’t miss:

1. Flashing

Flashing is a metallic protective element used to guard the joints of a roof or areas around projecting features. In other words, everything else you clean on this list will have some flashing nearby. Joints represent another significant weak point to be aware of in your roof.

Flashing can be made out of aluminum, which is most common these days or lead. Lead flashing is still sold today and does not have any of the safety concerns associated with lead paint. Lead flashing can also be coated with copper to reduce corrosion risk. Overall, it’s stronger than aluminum.

If you need to clean lead flashing, mildly acidic substances like vinegar or lemon juice are best. You can gently apply them with a nylon brush. Fine wire wool is also acceptable but carries a slightly higher risk of damaging the surface. After drying, add patination oil to prevent lead carbonate formation.

If you want to clean aluminum flashing, the process is even simpler. It all comes down to a bucket of warm water and an all-purpose cleaner. Spic and Span, 409, and even some types of Dawn soap would all do nicely. Once done, car wax can be used to enhance the appearance of aluminum flashing.

Copper flashing is rare, but not unknown. Many people avoid copper flashing because it is the priciest option. However, it’s the strongest and can be very beautiful with the right roof. Flour paste combined with salt and vinegar will provide the ideal copper flashing cleaner, used with a soft brush.

2. Gutters

Gutter cleaning is an iconic chore. Everyone knows they should do it, but nobody ever wants to!

Cleaning out the gutters can be a hassle, but it’s a necessary part of roof maintenance. In fact, it’s one of the most critical items on this list. The gutter is there not just to protect your roof, but the foundation of your home as well.

Gutters are angled to prevent rainwater from sinking down into the foot of your building. Since there isn’t as much topsoil in Florida as in many other places, it doesn’t take nearly as much water to cause saturation. Slowly but surely, water seeps into the ground, infiltrates the concrete, and causes cracks.

That can put your entire home at risk!

Luckily, you can stave off the whole-house effects of foundation erosion by cleaning your gutters at least twice a year. Most gutters in Florida are made of aluminum and are easy to clean using warm water and an all-purpose cleaner. Getting all the gunk out takes first priority over cleaning the outside, naturally!

The easiest way to clean gutters in Florida is to use a purpose-built gutter scoop or a garden trowel. Be sure to get decked out with heavy-duty work gloves. Remove debris by the handful or scoop and drop it all into a bucket waiting below. When the gutters are clear, flush them to ensure water flows correctly.

Here’s how to clean more unusual gutters:

  • Copper: Four cups flour combined with equal parts vinegar and salt
  • Vinyl: Liquid detergent plus two gallons of water, half a cup of bleach
  • Steel: White vinegar and warm water; flush with downspouts closed

Dangling gutters can usually be reattached, but if your gutter springs a leak, it’s best to replace it.

3. Soffit Vents

Soffit vents are the vents on your roof’s eaves. They shouldn’t be confused with the plumbing exhaust vent, which should only be cleaned by a plumber. Cleaner soffit vents ensure better ventilation within your attic, which supports natural air circulation and reduces the costs of cooling your home.

Blow out any junk with several short bursts of compressed air. Dust, debris, and loose insulation can get into soffit vents and they might go years between cleanings. You’ll need an air compressor for this task – bottles of compressed air you can get for electronics don’t offer enough oomph.

4. Skylights

As before, start your skylight cleaning by identifying the kind of flashing around the skylight and applying appropriate cleaning methods – most skylights in Florida use aluminum flashing which will be replaced every five years or so. Feel around to make sure the flashing is completely secure before you move on.

Rather than climbing up to clean a skylight, most homeowners have success using the old-fashioned pole and rag method. The glass in a skylight is pretty much the same as glass anywhere else in your home, but it may have a glaze to protect it from the elements. It washes up with regular dish soap.

5. Chimneys

Despite the warm climate, Florida has a lot of homes with chimneys. You’ll never need to worry about snow, but you can still use a fireplace to take the edge off a cold winter morning or evening. Fireplaces are most common in Southwest Florida, where the sea breeze can be especially brisk.

The #1 thing to remember about chimneys is that they’ll have flashing around them; all the rules above apply. If you notice the flashing is loose or, worse, hanging, replace it right away. For a mason chimney, saturate it with water and use a clear soap or one specially formulated for brick.

Modern chimneys typically have a protective chimney liner that can be made from several different materials: Aluminum, stainless steel, terracotta, and much more. This flexible tube runs all the way through the inside of the chimney and should also be cleared out at least once a year.

Even if you haven’t used your chimney lately, debris can end up there from trees and animals!

Make Your Florida Roof the Best It Can Be with Sheegog Contracting

At Sheegog Contracting, our Central Florida roofing experts are here for you.

We don’t offer roof cleaning services in Central Florida, but we can help with anything and everything in the world of roof repair, roof replacement, and roof installation. If you’ve noticed something about your roof that makes you worry about the future, worry no more – we are here to handle it.

Homeowners and commercial customers alike love our proven five-step roofing process. We make the journey of getting a new roof in Central Florida easier than you ever thought possible. And we can get you a roof so nice, you might actually look forward to cleaning it!

Don’t worry about scrimping and saving for your new roof. With in-house new roof financing, we can give your project the green light fast. That means never having to wait for the work you need! Prompt action now might save thousands of dollars in the long run.

Contact Sheegog Contracting today to learn more or get started.

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