Archive for March, 2011

Just found this wonderful initiative that started in Germany to plant a tree for every blog in the Word! It’s called, “My Blog is Carbon-Neutral” and they are networking blogs all over to join in.  It’s relatively easy to join and they do good work. Check out this excerpt from their site:

The trees are planted in Plumas National Forest in Northern California by “Arbor Day Foundation” our partner in US for the “My blog is carbon neutral” initiative. The “Arbor Day Foundation” is a non-profit conservation and education organization with the goal helping reforest 5,500 acres of Plumas National Forest with 792,000 trees.



Read Full Post »

As any business owner will tell you, if your image is dirty – clean it up! That goes for the appearance of staff, vehicles and all buildings. Dandyland Pet Care Center, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is operated by a pet-loving family. The offer long term boarding as well as other services. What better way to enjoy animals than to care for them and then send them home? All the benefits of pet ownership without all the cost.

On their homepage, there is a picture of a lean-to roof to protect the animals when it rains. It was very dirty and they called the roof cleaning professionals at AccuWash to safely remove all that dirty and grime. No need for pressure washing and no more roof streaks for Dandyland!

Morgan Clickner

Office: 410-482-4367



Read Full Post »

We like to say, “Buyer Beware,” but a lot of consumers just pick what is cheapest. This can royally screw the pooch, so to speak. Check the manufacturer bulletins before proceeding with any home improvement. When it comes to cleaning your house, deck or roof; not every surface can be cleaned the same way. Make sure you hire the most knowledgeable company. In this article, I examine two technical bulletins: Ashpalt Roofing Manufacturer Bulletin (ARMA) Trex Deck Cleaning Guide and the Dryvit Technical Bulletin.

Ashpalt Roofing Manufacturer Bulletin

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) is a trade organization made up of roofers in North America. They spearhead the research and development within the asphalt roofing industry and as such, has created a cleaning bulletin for informational purposes. ARMA works with shingle manufacturers, lobbyists, the EPA local government to help the asphalt shingle industry grow and thrive.Formed in 1915, ARMA has been involved in the fire resistant shingle trend in the 1970s and the recyclable shingle movement of the 1990s.Today, asphalt shingles make up about 80% of American roofs.

One of ARMA’s publications it the “Algae Discoloration of Roofs,” where the explain what is growing on the shingles and recommend treatment procedures. Gloeocapsa Magma grows on many surfaces, asphalt shingles being an important one, causing dark discoloration and unsightly streaking. Some advancement in algae resistant shingles has been made, but just like gutter guards, each house is its own micro-environment. That means that the pitch, location and age of the roofing material all contribute to how bad the infestation will get. Algae resistant shingles are more expensive than regular shingles and come with a thick warranty detailing ways the manufacturer will not reimburse you if the Gloeocaps magma grows on the roof. ARMA recommends a cleaning method they call temporary and suggest buying algae resistant shingles.

Now, I would compare the cost difference between shingle types and get a quote from a reputable roof cleaner to see which path is right for the house. We live in nature and as such, cannot completely keep life from forming on dwellings. Between the wind and the rain, a shingle roof will only last about 25 years. ARMA is in the business of helping roof shingle manufacturers, not in keeping those shingles free and clear of algae. There must be a community or organization of roof cleaners that has cropped up to tackle this problem!

Dryvit Bulletin: Cleaning and Maintenance

A step down from the roof, after the gutters, are the house walls. Whether it is vinyl, wood, metal, brick, stucco or composite, the long term appearance is due to care and maintenance. Dryvit is a relatively new coating with an acrylic finish that does not require pressure washing. In fact, Dryvit specifically recommends that no pressure is used to clean the surface as high pressurized water can strip away the protective coating. Dryvit helps to insulate a building, which is good for the environment and your pocket.

Trex Deck

One of the most popular decking alternative, Trex Deck is a composite material that holds up better than wood. Like any porous material, it will trap moisture, dirt and grime. Unlike other manufacturers, Trex supplies a detailed cleaning guide based on the type of stain/dirt. They specifically do not recommend the use of a pressure washer or sandblasting as this will put lines in the material.

For More Information

Visit these links for more information about the manufacturers profiled in this article.
Roof Cleaning Technical Bulletins
List of Technical Bulletins from various manufacturers under research page.
Drvit Bulletin: Care and Maintenance
Direct link to the Drvit Technical Bulletin
Asphalt Roofing Manufacturer Association
ARMAs Website
Trex Deck
Trex Decking Website
Morgan Clickner

Office: 410-482-4367

Read Full Post »

This roof in Waldorf, MD had a bad infection of gloeocapsa magma and lichen spotting on the front half of the roof. The back half was pretty clear of any visible black streaking, but we treated the entire roof since this organism spreads aerially. With the strong rain storm we are having today in Maryland, this roof and all the others we did last week will be rinsed clean – looking fresh, clean and new!

Read Full Post »

Garage interiors can get pretty dirty, but the worse is the mildew and mold that can grow. Moisture stays trapped in many garages as homeowners do not regularly clean the inside of their garage.  Small patches start out, hidden from view behind boxes and before you know it – one entire wall is green or black! Never just paint over it, never! Trapping the organism in a moisture rich environment just help promote growth. The paint will flake off and the original problem will be ten times larger.

The first step is to clean it with a bleach solution. House-hold bleach, water and a scrub brush doesn’t sound like my idea of a fun weekend.  An exterior cleaning company can take of that problem for you. We are treating the inside of a garage today, prepping it to be painted with a mildew resistant paint. A strong sodium hypochlorite based solution will rid the entire space of the pest without any pressure washing or major scrubbing. We found that Sherwin-Williams exterior paint already has a mildewcide in it, but they sell individual packets to mix into any paint.  This costs less than the interior bath paint that also already has their mildewcide mixed in.
For the floor, Drylok is one of the best products out there. An epoxy, this stuff lasts for years. We cleaned and epoxed a front walkway in white and three years later, it looked as good as new. To view this exterior cleaning, visit our Gallery page on our website.

Read Full Post »

Dirty Roof – What is that Stuff?

Gloeocapsa magama is growing on your roof – just because you can’t see it yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there! Asphalt, tile or metal roofs are not immune to this invasive pest that appears to be dark stains creeping up a roof. Gloeocapsa magma is a species of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are an ancient line of photosynthesizing bacteria, which photolyze water generating oxygen gas. Ancient cyanobacteria were ancestral to the chloroplasts of all plants on earth. We live in nature and nature keeps trying to take back over – look up sometime and you will see the visual evidence. This bacteria grows like an algae on your roof, it feeds off of moisture and some calcium from those asphalt shingles. Then, moss and lichen feed off the algae, creating a nice little forest bed on your roof. Well, it isn’t that nice, not really.


Gloeocapsa Magma

The above picture shows an asphalt roof with an infestation of gloeocapsa magma. Comparatively, the picture here shows the same shingle type before infestation. Notice the difference? Those little rocks or granules help keep your roof in tip-top shape. A roof without any granules doesn’t keep the rain out and a new roof can cost thousands of dollars. So, the obvious next step would be to pressure wash that pesky algae off your roof, right? Very Bad Idea, Folks. While a pressure washer his good for striping wood for restoration, the last thing you want is to apply that technique to your shingles. The goal, here, is to kill the infestation and to leave as many granules as possible on the roof.

The first step is to do your research: Read your roof warranty – you do not want to choose a method that will void that warranty. If you have a warranty that includes treatment for this, great! It can be difficult to obtain a check, but it won’t hurt to call and find out. The ones I’ve read from ARMA and GAF both say the same thing – no pressure roof treatment. At this point, many consumers may start to get bids. I would do some more research first, just so you get exactly what is best for your roof. Visit the Roof Cleaning Institute of America, they have written the first 50 point standard on roof cleaning. There is a public forum where anyone can read up on techniques and then look at the work of local contractors.

It’s not just about price shopping, it is about getting what you pay for. A low-baller may not even have liability insurance, let alone some sort of guarantee. These are general called Chlorine Cowboys, because they spray Sodium Hypochlorite on everything, even those surfaces that will be ruined (i.e. Plants). At the same time, you don’t want to be price gouged, but know that quality and safety cost a little bit more. Check a few references as any decent roof cleaner will have a stack of satisfied customers and get a certificate of insurance that will give you extra protection.

The widely accepted treatment contains:
1. Sodium Hypochlorite – gives that visual result of making those black streaks disappear
2. Algaecide – does the hard work of killing off the algae, moss and lichen
3. Hydrogen Dioxide – water is used to dilute the solution
4. Surfactant – helps the solution “stick” to the roof so it won’t just rinse off
5. Other Ingredients – each company will have its own proprietary recipe

The first item scares a few of you, I understand. Sodium Hypochlorite (SH) or commonly called, bleach, envisions “bleached” items. Believe it or not, but SH is used in water treatment and can be used safely. SH, not the household variety, breaks down rather quickly when exposed into a salt compound. An experienced roof cleaner will be able to explain all the safety methods needed to apply SH and how it will not discolor your roof.


Environmental Impact

Flora and Fauna

If this roof treatment kills organic matter, what will it do to my yard?

This is a valid concern and one that can only be prevented by qualified roof cleaners. No pressure roof cleaning means that the chemical solution is applied in a very controlled manner. That being said, a few precautions are necessary to protect your plants. If you have gutters, the downspouts should be covered with bags so the draining solution is collected. If a mist of the solution kills the algae on the roof, imagine what a pool of the solution will do to the environment? Additionally, soaking the surrounding ground with water will create a barrier between the plants and the spray. Sometimes, a tarp is necessary for more delicate plants.

Sodium hypochlorite is a gas and a liquid, which means that safe application is tantamount to the bottom line. When you get your roof cleaned, keep all animals and people inside and make sure all the doors and windows are securely shut. After a few hours, the SH will break down into a salt compound that will not be harmful. The aroma will be of a pool in high summer, but that too will dissipate. If there is a spill accident, a pool of this solution can kill a patch of plants. If flooded with water right away, the plant/s may survive even though it may look dead. A misting that does not get immediately rinsed will produce dead spots on leaves/petals. This will not kill the plant, only discolor it for a time. Typical shrubs, trees and ground cover are hardy enough that only a spill will harm them.

Why not take a few pictures of your lawn, plants and roof the day before your roof is treated? That way, you will have proof of the state of your plants right beforehand.


The Roof Cleaning Industry

As of this article publication date, the roof cleaning industry is largely un-regulated. There is one budding group, The Roof Cleaning Institute of America (RCIA), that has put together a 50 point standard and is working on a certification process. This group is made up of roof cleaners who recognize the necessity to legitimize their industry. Their goal is to create a nation wide network of highly skilled, professional roof cleaning companies that all consumers will recognize. Right now, this is completely volunteer organization with a Board of Directors. For more information from the source of the industry, click on the RCIA Picture.

Good Luck and Let the Pros do the Roof Cleaning!


Read Full Post »

Commonly asked questions for cedar roofs include does my cedar roof need replaced if it is growing moss or lichen?  The answer is not usually.  If a cedar roof is curling or falling off than this is the time to repair or replace it.  One of the benefits of a wood roof are that individual shingles can be replaced.  They do not always match the existing shingle but over the period of one to two years the shingle colors will usually start to match due to oxidation from sunlight.  In most cases wood roofs that have started to turn black, grey or are visibly growing moss or lichen can be treated with a cleaning process that kills the growth on the roof and the roof can be restored to near its original luster.

In the case of roofs turning black with the growth of gloeocapsa magma bacteria, the roof can generally be cleaned with a no pressure treatment process that does not require rinsing.  In the case of wood roofs growing moss or lichen the same treatment can be used and must contain a bleaching agent along with a fungicide and algaecide treatment. Some contractors will want to use a pressure washer or use a brush to remove the moss and lichen.  This can be done, but must be done at precise pressures by an accredited contractor.  In a case were a wood sealant is to be used after cleaning low pressure washing is recommended to remove any loose debris prior to sealant application.  In the cases were no sealant is wanted then Accuwash recommends that the infested panels or entire roof be treated with the above mentioned solutions and left for the rain to remove the dead treated substances on the roof.  Accuwash has found this to be the safest for the longevity of the roof.  For those seeking instant results moss and lichen can be removed or loosened with a pressure washer or brush.  Pressure washing to rinse a roof will generally add a very large amount to the cost of the service and poses a much larger threat to damaging the roof to treatment alone.  When left for the rain to remove the treated substances it will generally take two to three months for the moss and lichen to be completely removed from the roof surface.  This gentle, natural roof cleaning provides the safest method for removing the debris from the roof.  In most situations were a roof is growing moss or lichen the roof itself can still be salvaged as long as the shingles have not begun to split and deteriorate, usually recognizable by shingles falling off the roof from cracking, splitting and warping.



Read Full Post »