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Black Roof Algae is a Growing Problem in New England

This summer O’LYN Roof Cleaning is celebrating its third full summer season. Since we started the roof cleaning division, black roof algae has gone from almost non-existent in the New England region to a problem of epidemic proportions. Homes  throughout the area have seen the telltale black streaks appear suddenly and then quickly spread to cover the entire roof. Wet and increasingly hot weather have only made the problem grow worse and more pervasive.

Black roof algae is also known as Gloeocapsa Magma, a hardy type of algae that feeds on the crushed limestone used in asphalt shingles. Rain spreads the algae down the roof causing the black streaks. Historically, this type of algae is common in the southeast, where persistently hot and humid conditions provide ideal conditions for algae growth. But over the last few years, the northeast has experienced increasingly warm temperatures and jet stream currents that help bring algae spores from the south. Unfortunately, this combination has made black roof algae quite common in the region.

The spread of black roof algae can be compared to that of dandelions. Winds blow algae spores from roof to roof until entire clusters of homes in a neighborhood are impacted. “If you see black roof algae on one roof in a neighborhood, you can probably bet that scores of roofs surrounding it will have it growing in various stages.” Says Todd Mellor, Production Manager at O’LYN Contractors, Inc. The only way to deal with the problem is safely cleaning the roof and maintaining that treatment on an annual or bi-annual basis, depending on how bad the problem is in a particular area.

Unfortunately the most common methods of cleaning can do more harm than good. For instance, pressure washing is enormously damaging to an asphalt shingle roof and will void the manufacturer’s warranty. It removes the protective granules on a shingle, the part that actually protects your roof, and can break and remove loose or damaged shingles, exposing the roof deck to leaks. The typical chemicals used are either chlorine or copper sulfate based, both of which are toxic to plants, pets, and people.

O’LYN takes a different, more environmentally friendly approach to roof cleaning. The company uses a proprietary, non-destructive roof cleaning process utilizing non-toxic chemicals. This service allows customers to combat roof algae without causing additional damage or putting kids, pets or the environment at risk. As roof cleaning becomes more common in New England, it is important that homeowners educate themselves on roof cleaning choices and the processes involved. Then they can make educated decisions that put the safety of their home, themselves and the environment as a top priority.