How To Clean A Metal Roof. Plus Metal Roof Maintenance Tips
You may have noticed the last time you looked at the outside of your home that your metal roof is looking a little dirty. You want your metal roof to look its absolute best as it's the statement piece of your home's curb appeal.
Cleaning the metal surface is also important for reasons beyond aesthetics. Getting off the dirt and leaves can actually aid in the longevity of your roof. By cleaning the roof periodically, you're preventing dirt that is stuck to the roof from damaging the paint. By removing leaves, you're preventing buildup in your gutters that can result in your roof system not working properly.
While it's not as quick and easy as washing your car, cleaning a metal roof is relatively simple and definitely worth it.
At Western States Metal Roofing, we go beyond just manufacturing metal roofing. We are continuously creating content to keep our customers informed on topics that include how to care for their roofing and metal panels.
In this article, we're going to discuss how to safely clean your metal roof. Plus, we'll go over how to find a reputable roof cleaner in case you'd rather hire someone else to clean it for you, or if your roof is too steep for you to walk on.
Roof Pitch: Is Your Roof Safe To Walk On?
Roof pitch refers to how steep your roof is. A steep roof is not safe as it increases the chances of someone losing their balance and falling, especially when it's slippery from water during cleaning.
If your roof has a high pitch and is steep, it's not safe to walk on. A roof with a pitch greater than 6:12 is generally considered to be too steep to be on without proper safety equipment. It is safer to use a ladder and spray the roof without actually going on it.
Walking on your roof can kill you. There is a 2014 study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that documents 647 fatal falls from roofs. It's always best to hire a professional that's trained to walk on a sloped roof regardless of the pitch. If you are determined to wash the roof yourself then you must do it safely.
This is an excellent article that covers the following items:
- Secure the ladder
- Wear a harness
- Use proper footwear
- Have a quality tool belt
- Ensure the weather conditions are appropriate
- Clear the roof
- Mark off your work area
You may also choose to hire a professional which we will discuss later in the article.
Metal Roof Cleaning Tools
Before you get started cleaning, you need to make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job.
- Mild detergent
- Soft bristle brush
- Solvent (for spot cleaning only)
- Cloth or sponge
Metal Roof Cleaning Mix
For most basic cleanings, a mild detergent mixed with water creates a solution that is a strong enough cleaning agent to remove dirt. You only need to add a ¼ cup of detergent per gallon of water.
Examples of mild detergents:
- Car wash soap
- Detergent solution or PH neutral mild dish soap (Dawn, Ivory etc.)
- Laundry detergent
Metal Roof Cleaning Brush
A soft bristle brush should be used during cleaning because it helps remove dirt while not causing damage to your paint.
Do not use a wire brush or steel wool when cleaning your roof. These products are too abrasive and can strip the paint off of your roof.
Sometimes you need something a little stronger to remove a tough stain. In these cases a solvent can be used, mixed with water, to spot clean harder to clean stains. Do not use this solution on your entire roof, only the areas that are in need of extra attention.
Read and follow the directions of the cleaning solution. Only clean a small area of your roof with these solvents to verify that they will not damage the paint. Also refer to your paint warranty to insure that you don't use cleaning products that will void the paint warranty.
Examples of solvents:
- Mineral spirits
- Rubbing alcohol
When working with these harsh chemicals, use caution. Keep your work area properly ventilated because solvents can be toxic and flammable. Avoid any open flames or sparks. It's also important to be sure to wear eye protection and protective clothing
Cloth Or Sponge
Besides your brush, you'll want an additional cleaning tool, such as a cloth or sponge, to wipe the panel down after it's been cleaned. Whatever you use should only come into contact with plain water and not have any detergent on it to prevent streaks from forming.
How To Clean A Metal Roof
1.Remove Any Excess Leaves Or Debris From Roof
If there is any large debris on your roof, remove it either by hand or with a broom prior to starting the cleaning process so you have a clear surface to work with.
2.Start At The Top Of Your Roof
When washing your roof, dirty runoff will drip downwards so you want to start at the top of your roof and work your way lower. Otherwise, when dirty water runs down the roof, it will be ruining the area below it that you just cleaned.
3. Clean. Rinse. Repeat.
Clean each panel with your cleaning product and brush. Once you are done, rinse it immediately with clean water until the water runs clear to prevent streaks. Then wipe the panel again with a cloth soaked in plain water.
Pressure Washing A Metal Roof
A different and faster cleaning approach you can take to clean a metal roof is using a pressure washer. However, you want to use caution with this method. A very high pressure can potentially damage the roof. Do not use more pressure than is needed.
We recommend a hot water pressure washer as the the heat is is more effective at breaking up debris as opposed to cold water.
Have Your Metal Roof Professionally Cleaned
As we mentioned earlier, if you do not feel comfortable cleaning your roof yourself (or simply don't want to do it), you can hire a professional to clean the roof for you.
Once you find a roofing cleaning service in your area, set up a consultation so they can give you a quote in person after seeing your roof.
The price of your cleaning will depending on several factors including:
How Often Should My Metal Roof Be Cleaned?
We recommend doing a thorough cleaning of your roof once a year. However, like with any other type of cleaning, the more you stay on top of it, the less daunting of a task it will be.
The time it takes depends on the size of the roof and the method used, but cleaning should take about 3 hours.
Cleaning Is Part Of Metal Roof Maintenance
We get that it’s not fun, but keeping your metal roof clean will not only make it look nicer, but it will also make it last longer. Think of it as a part of the maintenance to upkeep the longevity of your roof that helps you get the most value out of your investment.
Besides cleaning, we recommend the following maintenance for your metal roof:
- Have Your Metal Roof Inspected Annually
- Trim Branches To Avoid Contact With Roof
- Keep Gutters Cleaned Out
- Clean Off Any Dirt Or Debris From The Roof’s Surface And Valley
- Remove Heavy Snow
- Perform Inspections After Storms
To learn more about metal roof maintenance, we suggest reading: