Many people are beginning their spring-cleaning plans now that the weather is warming up, but some residents tend to neglect their roofs during this time. While metal roofs do not require much maintenance, routine cleanups are important. A metal roof is a sound investment for virtually any homeowner and can provide tremendous value over time, lasting much longer than a roof made of standard roofing materials. However, this is only the case if Michigan homeowners take care of their metal roofs.
Spring cleaning is a great time to check your metal roof for debris and damage. However, you should also consult your manufacturer when it comes to expected maintenance for the type of metal roof you own and the climate of your Michigan area. Most metal roof manufacturers offer warranty coverage for a limited time, but only if you follow the guidelines for coverage and properly maintain your metal roof.
What Happens to a Poorly Maintained Metal Roof?
A metal roof is certainly stronger than a standard roof, but that does not mean it is indestructible. Over time, poor maintenance can lead to a metal roof leaking, and fixing a leaky metal roof is usually much more complicated than a standard roof leak. Failure to clean off accumulated grime and mildew can lead to galvanic corrosion, degradation, and create a scuffed and scratched appearance.
Metal roofs add value to Detroit homes; they require replacement far less frequently than typical roofs and can increase the property value of a home, but only when the homeowner takes care of it properly. Failure to keep track of metal roof maintenance can lead to expensive problems later for both the roof and everything under it. Like any other structure in a home, careful maintenance on a regular basis can help preserve the functional integrity and aesthetic appeal of a metal roof.
One: Decide on a Cleaning Schedule
Springtime is usually the top choice for cleaning a house. The change in the weather means homeowners can open their windows and clear out the accumulated dust and debris from the winter. Spring is a great time to address your metal roof’s maintenance issues, but ultimately you should find a time that works best for your personal schedule and the yearly climate in your area. The climate in your area should also dictate how often you clean your metal roof. For example, a metal roof on a house in a milder climate in Pennsylvania will likely need maintenance less frequently than one on a home in a harsher climate like Arizona.
Detroit metal roof owners will find that the summer months offer the best conditions for cleaning a metal roof. Homeowners will contend with less rain during the summer, and ample daylight helps you stay warm and comfortable while cleaning your roof. Less precipitation also means a lower risk of slipping on your metal roof. Regardless of what time of year you select as your roof maintenance time, be sure to always use appropriate safety equipment for all roof maintenance or consider hiring a professional roofing service that can safely and effectively clean your metal roof.
Two: Scour Dirt and Mildew Off Your Roof
Accumulation of dirt, grime, mold, and mildew is bad for any roof, but metal roofs are especially susceptible to corrosion from prolonged contact with certain substances. It is essential to clean any accumulated grime off your metal roof on a regular basis. Chemicals that seep into rainwater in your area may cause corrosion on your metal roof sooner than expected. Cleaning your metal roof on a regular basis also helps preserve its aesthetic appeal, as dirt and grime left unchecked will eventually cause damage and degrade the overall appearance of your roof.
Consistent exposure to sunlight in combination with accumulated grime can lead to a breakdown of the paint used on your metal roof. This may not be immediately noticeable, but you may start seeing a chalky residue on your hands and fingers after touching your metal roof panels if this occurs. Consistent cleaning helps preserve the look and functional integrity of your metal roof.
Three: Know the Different Types of Cleaning Agents to Use on Your Metal Roof
Depending on your climate, the area surrounding your home, and the time of year, you may need nothing more than a hose and water to clean your metal roof. However, certain types of metals require specialized cleaning agents, and you may need different cleaning solutions for certain types of grime.
• For mold, mildew, and algae, a bleach solution offers the best cleaning properties and disinfects the affected areas of your roof, preventing the spread of these substances. Left unchecked, mold, mildew, and algae can grow and seep into the lower materials under your metal roof, potentially causing expensive property damage and exposing you and your family to a serious health hazard.
• To remove rust stains, use a solution of water and vinegar with a non-abrasive cleaning pad and work the stain until it is gone. Start by removing any particles causing the rusting, and then gently clean the rust stain away. Severe rusting may require a solution of water and diluted hydrochloric acid, citric acid, muriatic acid, or oxalic acid if vinegar is not strong enough to completely remove it with gentle pressure.
Keep in mind that most of these cleaning agents can be hazardous to your health, causing illness or even physical damage from contact with corrosive cleaning agents. Always use protective gloves, eye protection, and keep these cleaning agents away from exposed skin. If you do not feel comfortable cleaning your roof yourself or lack the necessary safety equipment to do so, hire a professional roofing service to tackle the job.
For mild dirt accumulation you may need nothing more than water to clean your roof. Always refrain from using abrasive cleaning agents or cleaning pads on your roof and ask the roofing company that installed the roof about how to care for the painted finish. You will find that cleaning on a regular basis makes cleaning much easier. The longer you leave a metal roof uncleaned, the more grime will accumulate and increase the risk of serious damage.
Four: Flush Out and Clean Gutters and Downspouts
The gutters and downspouts attached to your metal roof carry water off of your roof and away from your home, preserving it from water damage. Over time your gutters will accumulate twigs, leaves, dirt, and other particles. Failing to clean your gutters on a regular basis can interrupt the flow of rainwater off your roof, potentially causing it to pool or even rupture a gutter. This can lead to repair bills and possibly water damage to your home’s interior.
Standing water on or around your roof that cannot flow through clogged gutters and downspouts will eventually start to corrode the materials of your metal roof. Gutter cleaning is more of a chore in milder climates with dense trees and more precipitation. For example, a Pennsylvania homeowner will likely need to clean his or her home’s gutters at least twice each year whereas an Arizona homeowner may barely notice the gutters at all since the state sees so little rain.
Downspouts can be a little trickier to clean than gutters. While you can safely clean lower-level gutters with a ladder, gloves, a bucket, and a hose, you may need a high-powered water stream to blast out the inside of a downspout and clear away any clogs and debris. If your roofer installed your gutters with your metal roof, be sure to ask about what type of cleaning schedule you should expect and how to handle clogged downspouts without damaging your gutter system.
Five: Remove Debris and Harmful Substances
A home with a metal roof built in a clear, open space may have less to worry about when it comes to debris and harmful substances sticking to the metal roof than a homeowner surrounded by trees in a temperate climate. Some substances can cause serious damage to a metal roof in a relatively short amount of time, especially in wooded areas. Low-hanging tree branches can also cause scratching and scuffing on a metal roof. The homeowner’s paint warranty on the roof will likely exclude this type of damage from coverage. It is ultimately the homeowner’s responsibility to use reasonable care in the maintenance of the metal roof.
Some types of metal debris are especially harmful to your metal roof. If a piece of metal debris somehow sticks to your roof, the contact between the two metals can result in a corrosive chemical reaction with exposure to water. The next time it rains, this metal debris could severely damage a section of your metal roof, leading to costly repair bills.
For example, Galvalume roofing material should not come into contact with certain other materials like brick, treated lumber, iron, concrete, or copper. Water is an electrolyte, and when Galvalume is in contact with one of these materials and water contacts the connected surfaces, the anode or more active material will begin losing electrons, causing corrosion. Regular inspections of your roof and gutter system helps ensure no metal debris can cause this type of damage.
Six: Address Physical Damage Immediately
In most cases, whenever a metal roof sustains any physical damage like a deep scratch or penetrating damage, the homeowner will likely need a professional roofing service to handle the repairs. Attempting to repair your metal roof on your own can not only void your warranty but also lead to much greater out-of-pocket expense for fixing the damage. Your roofing contractor will know the best method for handling this type of damage.
Superficial physical damage that only results in mild scratches may be fixable with a touch-up paint pen. However, ask your Detroit roofer for advice before using any of these products or any other touch-up kits. Follow your roof manufacturer’s instructions for touch-ups and repairs very carefully. If you misuse one of these products, it could not only make the damage more noticeable but also cause further damage.
Any puncture damage will likely mean the damaged segment requires replacement. Depending on the warranty coverage that came with your roof and the type of insurance you have, handling this type of repair may come at little cost as long as you report the issue immediately before it can worsen.
Seven: Ask Your Roofer About Extensive Paint Chipping and Chalking
A painted metal roof is subject to the same type of damage as any other painted exterior surface. If you notice any significant chipping, flaking, chalking, or discoloration, the problem is not likely to be something you can fix alone. Ask your roofer about what to do for these issues. Your roofer could point out an environmental cause like the type of trees surrounding your home, climate conditions, or other factors that could be damaging the paint finish on your roof. Again, do not attempt to use any touch-up kits on your roof yourself without consulting a roofer, especially for larger damaged areas.
Your Michigan roofer may find an underlying issue with your metal roof, so thorough and frequent visual inspections can help you address these issues as soon as they appear instead of allowing them to worsen over time. An experienced roofer can help you diagnose the cause of your paint problems and point you in the right direction to fix them. You may need to contact the manufacturer of the roof if a design flaw or material defect is responsible for the chalking, flaking, or chipping you see.
Preserve and Protect Your Metal Roof for the Future
Detroit homeowners who invest in metal roofs do so for the aesthetic appeal, increased property value, and overall value a metal roof can offer. However, metal roofs are different from standard roofs in various ways and require a different approach to maintenance. Taking the time to develop a thorough spring or summer cleaning schedule will ultimately help keep your roof functional and beautiful longer.
Regular maintenance also decreases the amount of effort you will need to put into each cleaning. Allowing your metal roof to remain unchecked for too long can allow a small issue to turn into a very expensive problem. Metal roofs generally cost a bit more than standard roofs and therefore cost more to repair, but the tradeoff is that the homeowner can rely on the roof for much longer than a standard roof with regular careful maintenance.