Being a homeowner carries a bit of pride. Tackling cleaning, maintenance or repairs without needing to reach for the phone every time something arises is empowering. It provides a sense of accomplishment. However, knowing what you should do on your own and what your limits are is important. You can do more harm than good.
Sometimes it’s best to pick up the phone and leave it to the professionals. Plumbing, electrical, and roofing are 3 such areas where DIY is not recommended.
Risk of falls
Of all the reasons for hiring a professional, your safety is at the top of the list. Roof maintenance carries a significant risk of falls. Even on roofs with minimal slope, all it takes is stepping on a small branch or a loose shingle to lose your footing. Many falls simply occur from carelessness. Set a piece of flashing or a tool on the roof, then turn around or step back and….it’s a sudden thud when you hit the ground. For all the pride and the sense of accomplishment you wanted, you end up with an embarrassing story (or far worse).
What goes up must come down.
Before stepping foot on the roof, you still need to tackle the ladder. Is it in working order? Is it tall enough? Do you know the correct angle to set it against the house? Do you have someone on the ground holding it?
Getting up the ladder and on the roof carries one set of risks. You still need to get down. According to an OSHA ‘Fall’ Hazards training guide, ‘Twice as many falls occur stepping down compared to going up ladders.’
Stepping onto a ladder climbing off a roof adds an element of not being able to see where you are stepping. Plus there is the risk the ladder falls BEFORE you get on it. While you won’t get hurt, you will be stuck.
Safety 1st – hire a professional.
Experience and Expertise
Roof (and gutter) cleaning is not overly complicated. It isn’t exactly straightforward either. If it was just loose debris on your roof, that can be swept off easily (don’t forget the gutters). Properly cleaning and maintaining your roof involves a bit more.
Cleaning your gutters may seem easy. There isn’t much to do other than scoop out all that muck…until you realize you need to clean out those downspouts. They need to be cleaned too. Simply dragging a hose up to your roof to use water to flush them may not be enough. Sometimes a bit of high pressure is needed. That brings us back to the safety issue. Now you’re dragging a house up (and down) a ladder and wet surfaces increase the risk of slipping.
Whenever your gutters are cleaned, they should also be inspected. Are they attached well? Are they angled correctly to collect rain and drain properly? Clean gutters are worthless if they can’t actually collect and drain.
Algae and Moss
In the great Pacific Northwest, our climate is perfect for moss and algae growth. The preferred method for cleaning is pressure washing. It’s the most thorough and efficient way to remove any growth. Done properly by someone with experience, it’s also the least damaging to the roof surface, flashing, and chimneys. The average homeowner or unskilled professional can do significant damage with pressure washing.
If you choose the approach of using chemicals or solutions purchased at the local home repair mart, you MUST apply them in the exact amounts and evenly across the entire roof surface. If not, you likely won’t eliminate all of the growth and you’ll leave unsightly blemishes. It will be easy to tell where the roof was cleaned and where it wasn’t. Chemicals not spread evenly will create an ugly patchwork effect. Now your roof isn’t completely clean and your curb appeal is shot.
Too many decide on taking DIY to the extreme. They opt for creating their own ‘chemical solution’. The usual ‘Google’ recommendation is to spray wash the roof with a 50 percent mix of water and bleach and use a brush to scrub the roof. This method will both damage the roof material (scrubbing destroys the integrity of asphalt shingles and other roofing materials) and anything else the spray contacts – including siding, expensive landscaping, decks, and garden furniture.
The cost/time factor
Hiring a professional to properly clean your roof or gutters is not that expensive. It is likely less expensive than doing it yourself.
Think about the amount of time the process will take: The trips to the store for the chemicals, a cost to rent a pressure washer, the time to set up, clean your roof and gutters, then the time to clean up. It adds up. Then you step back, look at your work and realized you missed spots.
The worst case scenario…you damage something in the process or get hurt. That adds up to costly repairs (though you’ll likely try them on your own first) or time off from work.
Roof cleaning is best left to the professionals.
Get it done properly, save money, and stay safe.