Archive for the ‘sodium hypochlorite’ Category

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!


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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.

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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!


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