Angie's List: Clean shingles can improve curb appeal

Advice on getting those gables spic and span

TAMPA - First impressions are everything, and that's no different for our homes. Having great curb appeal will add value to your home, whether it is on the market or you plan to stay forever. There are many ways to increase your home's curb appeal – for instance, landscaping and painting – and more companies are offering roof cleaning.

Angie's List , the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated roof cleaners about what types of infestations can take place on a roof. "If you see algae or moss streaking on your roof removing that can make your house look a lot better," said Angie Hicks, the "Angie" in Angie's List. "At face value roof cleaning can feel like a do-it-yourself project, but it's not. Let's face it, you're going to be on the roof, on a ladder, using water and detergent which can make the roof very slippery. You should leave this project to a professional."

Asphalt shingle roofs that are in constant shade tend to attract algae growth which feeds off of microscopic particles in the limestone used in the shingles. This growth can be seen as a black or dark green staining on the roof.

According to Angie's List, before hiring a roof cleaner, ask a few questions. What kind of cleaning process do they use? The contractor should explain in detail the equipment and the cleansers they use. Will the products damage your roof material, lawn or plants? Are their products environmentally safe? "Be careful of are anyone that considers pressure washing or abrasive detergents in order to clean the roof," Angie said. "They could potentially damage your roof or void your warranty."

Michael Spiczenski who owns a roof cleaning business said they use a gentler, but still effective approach. "We use a solution that we put on the roof, it's called a soft wash. We spray it from the gutter line and we have an air compressor on our truck which run the pumps. They are called off low pumps. We are able to shoot 50 feet from the ladder on the roof itself."

Ask about insurance. Any type of roof work is dangerous, and roof cleaning is no exception. Ask the contractor for proof of insurance/workers' compensation before hiring.

Is there a warranty? What steps will the company take if the algae and/or moss streaking reappears after a certain amount of time? Also ask for references. A reputable company will provide references of past clients and a portfolio of before/after work.

Roof cleaning costs can range from $350-$1,200. The price depends on various factors including the size, shape, pitch, an infestation of the roof. "Roof cleaning is a lot more affordable than people think. Generally speaking I'm usually asked what is the cost of roof cleaning and I tell people it's anywhere between 3-5% of overall replacement costs," said Spiczenski.

Finally, don't ignore repairs. If your roof is in need of repairs or replacement – it doesn't make sense to invest in a cleaning. If you're not sure, have a home inspector check out your roof before you do anything. Have your roof professionally inspected every two to three years.

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