Do you have moss, lichen and other living organisms growing on your roofing? If you are worried that moss grow this affecting the structural integrity of your roof, or is blocking your gutters meaning you a having to have a regular gutter cleaning service or you are simply fed up of moss falling from your roof onto your paths, patio, driveway or cars then we are here to help.
Maybe you have got some roof moss removal quotes and thought it sounds expense for removing some moss of a roof! Are you wondering how to remove moss from your roofing & get rid of moss from your roofs for good?
In this guide we talk you through the best way to remove organic growth from your roof, including moss, algae & litchen, highlighting considerations that you may not have thought of.
Why is moss a problem on your roof?
Did you know that moss can flourish in places where weeds find it difficult to survive. It develops by releasing spores just like many other plants and grow’s well without sunlight. Moss growth compounds, the more moss you have the faster more will grow! If you see moss appearing on your roof, there’s the possibility that a part of your roof faces northward, thats because moss normally starts growth on the north facing side of a roof. The North side does not get much sunlight making it the perfect environment for moss to grow. A TV aerial, chimney or anything else that allows birds to perch above a roof will also encourage moss growth.
Most homeowners do not usually worry about moss until it starts causing problems. Moss grows well on all kinds of roof including roof tiles, shingles, and slates, although growth is much more common on roof tiles made with concrete or clay. The properties of concrete and cay tiles mean that they hold moisture, exactly what moss need’s to grow.
Moss absorbs water from rainfall. It retains this water, which isn’t problematic until it freezes. When it freezes it causes the moss to expand and moss is great at getting deep into cracks in the tile – meaning broken tiles, and the start of a problematic roof.
What to Consider Before Removing Moss from Your Roof Tiles
Efficiently removing moss from your roof requires a specialized set of tools and great consideration for safety.
However, If you want to carry out your own roof moss removal this guide will tell you exactly what you need, and how to clean your own roof, treat your roof and prevent organic regrowth for years to come.
How to Identify The Type Of Roof Tile You Have
Clay Roof Tiles
Concrete Roof Tiles
The first step of cleaning your own roof is to identify which type of tile you have as cleaning clay roof tiles and roof slates is a much more delicate process than what is required to clean concrete roof tiles.
The easiest way to check which type of roof tile you have is to get up a ladder and physically check the tiles.
First of all you are looking to see if you have tiles or slates, slates will appear grey in colour and relatively smooth in texture. Slates are also quite large usually measuring at least 8 inches in width.
If you think your roof is made with clay or concrete roof tiles then follow this simple process:
Remove a roof tile by lifting the front edge of the tile, slip your hand or a trowl under the tile and lift the tile rear of the tile off the baton which it hangs on. Remove the tile and flip it over, there is usually a make and tile name on the rear. A simple Google search will confirm if the tile is clay or concrete.
Generally if a roof tile is curved then it is highly likely to be a concrete roof tile.
Clay tiles are generally a small tile, approx 6 inches wide – sometimes new and sometimes reclaimed.
Once you know which type of tile your roof is constructed with then you will be able to assess which type of access is best.
Safe Access To Clean Your Roof
When thinking about safe access to clean your roof you must consider they structural integrity of the roof itself along with the following:
- Never walk or put a roof ladder on clay roof tiles
- Only use a roof ladder on roofing slates if spreading the load very well & remember a slate roofer is expensive to call out, even for one broken slate!
- Using a roof ladder on small or thin concrete roof tiles requires extreme care not to cause breakages
- Always use a roofers safety harness and safety line when on a roof ladder
Your access options will be decided by the type of roof tile you have and also by the shape of your roof along with what directly surrounds your property.
Roof ladders are only generally suited for use on concrete roof tiles where the pitch of roof goes to a ridge at the top, the roof ladder hooks over the ridge. A roof ladder can not be used on a hip end.
If a roof ladder can not be used then your next access option would be hiring a mobile access tower from a local plant and tool hire company. A weekend hire will cost around £120 – £150 including collection and delivery, depending on where you are located in the UK.
A mobile access tower will give you a platform to work from at gutter height. The tower can be assembled on sloping ground as they have height adjustable legs and only take around 15 minutes for 2 people to assemble to 2 story gutter height (Around 6 meters usually). If scraping the tiles from a tower you will need to use a telescopic scraping tool to scrape the tiles.
If a access tower or roof ladder will not get you to where you need to scrape then its time for the big boys toys!
There is a wide range of cherry pickers available for hire – as a roof cleaning company we generally find one of three machines does the job, depending on access for the machine.
17.75 Spider Lift
The 17.75 Spider lift is narrow enough to get through a single gate, while giving an outreach of approx 6 meters at 2 story roof height
18-21 Meter Boom Lift
An 18 or 21 Meter Boom Lift will give around 8-10 meters of outreach at 2 story roof height. Perfect for accessing the hip end when no other access method works.
Truck Mounted Cherry Picker
A Truck mount is required for extreme outreach when no other machine will do the job.
Warren Access Hire are a great company for truck mounted access hire.
The next consideration is what tool you will use to scrape the moss from your roof tiles.
Roof Cleaning Tools
There are a wide range of tools that can be used for the job.Your choice of tool will also depend on your chosen access method – which will in turn will be dictated by the size and shape of your roof.
You can buy a handheld scraping tool from and DIY store such as Wickes
The one in the image abpove can be found here
Professional Roof Scraping Set
If you have a profiled roof tile then one of these kits will save hours of back ache whilst effectively removing moss.
Purchase a roof scraper kit here
Professional Telescopic Pole
A professional roof scraping set will require a professional telescopic pole, at 20-25ft is ample for roof cleaning.
Steps You Should Take to Remove Moss from Your Roof
Now that you have the main tools to do the job and the correct access equipment that will keep both you and your roof as safe as possible throughout the cleaning process you can get to work.
Before you start bear in mind that you will get mucky, if its hot you will sweat by the bucket load, moss spores will stick to you and if its cold and wet you will need tough skin and a strong determination to get the job done – it really is hard dirty work, so make sure you dress right!
It is a good idea to protect the ground where the moss will land when falling from the roof, the easiest thing to use is a tarpaulin. This makes cleaning up at the end of the day much easier, while protecting grass and other surfaces from the falling moss.
Before starting to scrape the roof you should first disconnect the downpipes from your rain gutters, or block them at the top with tennis balls or gutter downpipe stoppers – this will prevent any debris entering your soakaway and the associated expense of a blocked soakaway!
When you start scraping the roof itself be very gentle with the tiles, ensuring that you remove the majority of the moss from the surface of each tile, don’t forget to get the front edge of each tile too.
- Start at the top of the pitch of roof you are cleaning
- Scrape the ridge tiles 1st
- Work in sections of the pitch
- Scrape each row of tiles at a time
- Push loose moss down the roof as you scrape
Once completely scraped use a leaf blower or hosepipe to blow or rinse the loose debris down the roof. If it is a dry day I would highly recommend the blower option as opposed rinsing the roof as dry moss is much easier to work with then wet moss!
Once fully scraped you then need to clear the gutters of all loose debris.
Leave your tarpaulins in place to protect plants before the next stage of your roof clean.
How to Stop Moss from Growing On My Roofing Again?
The use of a biocide to wash your roof will gently cleanse the roof and prevent organic growth for years to come – but only when applied in the correct strength and in the correct quantity.
There are a few DIY biocides on the market today including the one which we recommend for the DIY roof cleaner Smart Seal Moss Clear Pro , which is a ALKYL DIMETHYL AMMONIUM CHLORIDE based biocide.
On the first application of biocide, following moss removal you should mix at the rate of 5:1 (that is 5 liters of water per 1 litre of biocide) and apply at the rate of 1 litre of mixture to each square meter of roof. Applying from the bottom of the roof upwards for the best saturation and longest lasting results!
You should always wear PPE when working with biocides, they are very harmful to breathe in. Smartseal also sell a PPE Kit.
Deepening on the size of the roof you are treating and your chosen method of access a backpack sprayer or pump up sprayer may not be man enough for the job!
We use the Clarke SPE1200SS pump to pump biocide at a perfect rate onto the rooftop via a chemical delivery hose, but for a DIY roof clean you could use a garden hose. (Just don’t water kill the flowers with it afterwards!) We the biocide mixture from our on board mixing tanks in the van, but you could use a garden bin which you can buy from a DIY Store.
Once you have treated your roof there are a few other things you could consider to slow the return of organic life on your rooftop such as cutting back overhanging trees, removing unused TV Aerials and regular re-treatment of your tiles with biocide.
How to Stop Moss from Growing On My Roofing Again?
Now you are armed with the knowledge to remove moss from your own roofing, bear in mind it is a very hard days work and only suitable for those with a head for heights, determination to get a job done and those who are very fit and well.
You should carefully consider the risk to yourself and also of damaging your own roof.
The task at hand is time consuming, a terraced house roof will take an untrained person 1-2 full days of hard work to clean the roof moss and apply the biocide wash – particularly if the property tiled with curvy roof tiles.
When factoring the cost of the equipment, tools and chemicals to safely carry out the process on your own roofing, along with the time it will take you, the cost of waste disposal and the risk – you should certainly consider the benefits of hiring a professional roof cleaning company.