Moss growth can create several problems on shingle roofs. While a small layer of thin moss isn’t too troublesome, large clumps of moss can degrade shingles, get beneath them and create opportunities for leaks. Further, many of the methods of removing moss that are recommended online actually damage the shingles, which could significantly increase your odds of getting a leak. So, how do you safely remove moss from a roof? If you plan on replacing the roof, do you need to remove the moss first? And how do you prevent moss from growing back after you have removed it? We’ll answer those questions and tell you other things that you need to know about how to handle the moss on your shingle roof.
You may feel that a bit of moss gives your roof some charm, just as ivy growing up the side of your house might. While moss may be beautiful, it is a detriment to your roof. Here’s why:
Most plants gather water from their roots, but mosses gather water from their leaves. Therefore, they do not mind that shingles, unlike soil, are a dry and relatively nutrient-free environment. They will grow roots directly into the shingles, which can destroy the shingles and create the opportunity for leaks.
When it rains, moss will soak up water and retain it, creating consistently wet conditions on your roof. Moss growth will also interfere with proper drainage of water off the roof as water needs to trickle through or around the moss instead of running straight down to the gutters. The resulting constant exposure to water can degrade shingles.
Over time, moss can also work its way under shingles, lifting them up. This uplift creates opportunities for water to penetrate lower layers of the roof and, potentially, your home.
While minor moss infections may not cause many issues, it is likely to become severe over time. Once you spot moss growth on your roof, you should take steps to resolve it. If you have a severe infection, you may have no choice but to remove the shingles that have been damaged by it. A professional roofer can help you assess what kind of intervention your roof needs.
If the weather has been consistently dry, moss may appear to be dead. However, some species of moss can stay alive when dried out for months. All it will take is one rain for it to recover and continue growing. If your moss has dried out, take the opportunity to have a roofer remove the moss from the roof.
If your roof has sprouted a moss infection, you can remove it before it becomes serious enough to impact the performance of your roof. Moss is tough and typically you will not be able to remove it by hand. However, you can use a chemical solution to loosen the moss without damaging the shingles. We don’t recommend that you step on the roof for moss removal.
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How To Remove Moss From a Roof
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad advice out there about how to remove moss. While these methods may be effective at removing moss, they may also damage shingles in the process. We don’t recommend you try to remove your moss by:
Using any of these methods may also void your limited warranty on the roof. If you’re in doubt about the safety or effectiveness of a moss removal method you want to try, consult with a professional roofer. A handful of roofers in areas where moss infections are common do specialize in removing moss. They may be able to do the work for you and, if not, may have recommendations about what your specific roof can benefit from.
When you need a new roof, it may be tempting to add a second layer of shingles over your existing shingles. Doubling up your shingles can save time and expense on your roof replacement as your roofer doesn’t need to remove and dispose of the old shingles. This strategy is convenient for homeowners because the replacement won’t take as long or make as much of a mess. However, there are some circumstances where merely adding a new layer of shingles isn’t a good idea.
For example, when you have significant moss growth on your roof, simply covering it up with new shingles isn’t wise. Several potential problems may occur if your roofer simply adds a new roof over your existing, moss-covered roof. These potential problems include:
When you get a roof replacement, you may want to have your roofers install the new roof over top of the old. In certain circumstances, this can help you save money. However, if your old roof has moss growth, can you still use this method?
You may need to deal with the moss before the full roof replacement. Your roofers will need to remove all the shingles on your old roof, or they may need to remove the largest chunks of moss with a pressure washer and then apply the new roof. It is only advisable to use a pressure washer because you no longer need to worry about the condition of the old roof. The new one will offer the protection your home needs.
While you may not necessarily have to remove the moss-covered shingles before a new roof installation, you should consider it. There are many benefits of removing the moss-covered shingles, including:
Now that you have a brand-new roof, you’ll want to take steps to protect it from getting a moss infection as the last one did. Here are a few ways to prevent moss growth on your roof:
If the moss does return, do not rely on harsh chemical treatments or dry spells to kill it. Chemical treatments may harm shingles as well as moss, creating a more significant problem. Dead moss must still be removed by hand, or it will impede the flow of water off the roof and create issues. It may cause standing water. It may also clog gutters or allow for leaks.
Some homeowners find moss enchanting, like ivy growing up the side of their home. If you’d like to grow moss or other plants on your roof, you could consider investing in a residential green roof. Thin, extensive green roofs are enough to grow succulents and mosses. If you’re interested in taller plants, consider an intensive green roof.
Whether you need to remove a few moss-infected shingles or replace the whole roof, a professional roofer is your best resource. Reach out to one through IKO’s Contractor Locator.
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