Metal roofing has exploded in popularity due to its low-maintenance durability and eco-friendly benefits. Did you know that a metal roof can last two or three times longer than a traditional asphalt shingle roof? But low maintenance doesn’t mean “no maintenance.” If your home or building has a metal roof, there are some essential housekeeping items that you can do to keep your roof in great shape for many years to come.
Why It’s Important to Maintain Your Metal Roof
A metal roof can look great and last for a long time. But environmental factors can lead to premature failure. To protect your investments, it is important to take care of the small stuff before it compromises your metal roof. This includes removing debris and inspecting the roof regularly to check the integrity of the panels and fasteners. And, if you tend to get a build-up of moss or algae, that needs a good cleaning too.
Routine maintenance for your roof should include:
- Cleaning panels with soap and water
- Chemical washes to remove moss and algae
- Regularly Cleaning Gutters and Drains
- Trimming tree branches away from the roof
- Inspecting panels and fasteners/screws
How to Clean a Metal Roof
The term “metal roof” applies to a broad category of roofing materials made from durable metals like steel. However, these panels or shingles come in a variety of styles and compositions. Before cleaning your metal roof, check with the manufacturer for specific maintenance requirements. You may not be able to walk on all areas of your roof without damaging the metal panels. And you certainly don’t want to use any chemicals that may damage the paint. With that being said, the following recommendations are generally safe for most metal roofing systems.
First and Foremost, Be Safe!
There are half a million falls from roofs and ladders every year, and 97% of them happen at home. Steep pitches and slick roofing materials can make it difficult to get around on the roof, so starting with safety first is essential to successfully cleaning a metal roof. Keep these tips in mind:
- Always Work in Pairs – at least two people will make sure that you have a set of eyes on the ground in case the worst happens.
- Wear Good Footwear – high-tread, enclosed shoes or boots made from water-resistant leather are your best bet.
- Use the Right Equipment – An OSHA-approved ladder or platform is a good starting point. Also ensure you have a pair of safety glasses to keep water and chemicals out of your eyes and gloves, as well.
- Hire a Professional – If you feel out of your depth, let the pros that have the experience and equipment take care of it for you.
Start with a Garden Hose
One common misconception is that you need to get up there with a pressure washer. While most metal roofs can handle the intense stream from a pressure washer, in most cases, it is not warranted. A low-pressure wash from a garden hose is enough to remove most dirt and debris build up on a metal roof. For stubborn spots, a mild detergent like laundry soap will get the job done without damaging the paint. And for mold or algae, a laundry bleach solution diluted with plenty of water works best.
Only Clean What You Can Reach
Going back to the precaution of safety, it is generally unsafe for most homeowners to climb around on their roofs. In most cases, the wind and rain will remove most of the dirt and debris from the rooftop. Good housekeeping, like trimming away tree branches, can also help. And a long-handled brush with soft bristles paired with a garden hose is enough to get the rest. If you have serious concerns about maintenance needs that are out of reach, it is time to bring in a professional with the right equipment to do the job safely.
The Bottom Line on Maintaining a Metal Roof
Your metal roof can last a very long time, but it is not impervious to wear and tear from the environment. A little bit of routine housekeeping and inspection can help keep your roof in great shape while also giving your curb appeal a boost. All it takes is an eye for safety, a couple of people, and a garden hose.
Brian Haraf is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation. With 21 facilities nationwide, Metal Sales manufactures metal roof and wall panels for the agricultural, commercial, architectural, and residential markets since 1963.