How to Clean Your Metal Roof: Tips and Tricks

Whether it’s a commercial or residential building, metal roofs are becoming increasingly popular due to their durability, longevity, and energy efficiency. However, just like everything else, metal roofs require regular maintenance and cleaning to keep them in top condition. Metal roofs can deteriorate over time if they aren’t regularly maintained.

This article will discuss the steps for cleaning your metal roof and provide tips to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating. If you need a reliable and trusted contractor for steel and metal roofing, look no further than Ottawa Metal Roofs. For more information, click here to get more details and a quote.

5 Tips for Cleaning Metal Roofs

Cleaning metal roofs is pretty straightforward. There is no need to use harsh and expensive chemicals or cleaning tools, except for very stubborn stains. Typically, you need plain water, a mild detergent, a sturdy ladder, a soft cleaning brush, and equipment like a floor drying fan to dry the roof after cleaning.

Let’s explore some metal roof cleaning methods.

Use Plain Water

If your metal roof is painted, use plain water to clean the surface. This will clean any loose dirt, debris, or other substances on the surface. We won’t recommend using a high-pressure washer initially, as it can potentially damage the roof. The high-pressure water can strip off the protective coating on the roof and cause damage to the surface. It’s best to avoid using pressure washers on metal roofs unless necessary.

Get mild detergent or cleaning solutions

If plain water doesn’t eliminate all the dust, dirt, or stains from your metal roof, using a mild detergent is recommended. However, avoid harsh chemicals, especially when cleaning painted metal roofs, as the chemicals can remove the paint and possibly corrode the metal beneath. We suggest you use a non-toxic or pH-neutral cleaner to prevent damage.

There are various cleaning solutions for cleaning metal roofs. If you can’t find any near your location or don’t want to buy them, you can make your own roof cleaning solution by combining a mild detergent with ingredients such as trisodium phosphate, mild dish soap, or a car cleaner. Experiment with these alternatives and use the one that works best.

Mix one of these products with a few gallons of cold water, and using a garden sprayer, apply the cleaning solution to your roof. Remember to spray the solution on the entire surface evenly. Once you have done that, wait for around 10 minutes to allow the chemicals to work their magic.

After that, scrub the roof in a gentle circular motion with a soft-bristled brush or sponge. Pay extra attention to areas that appear more stained or dirty. Don’t use a metal wire brush, as it will damage the paint on your roof. Once you’ve done it, thoroughly rinse the roof with plain water and ensure that there is no residue left on the surface.

Apply Solvents

If you’re dealing with stubborn stains such as tree sap or bird droppings, consider using solvent-based cleaners. These products are highly effective in eliminating such stains. However, it’s important to note that they can be harsh on painted surfaces and can cause discoloration. Therefore, use them as a last resort or follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Before using solvent-based cleaners to clean metal roofs, ensure the products don’t have toxic chemicals like methylene chloride. For personal safety, use cleaners with mild and less toxic chemicals such as vinegar, muriatic acid, rubbing alcohol, and mineral spirits.

Use special metal roof cleaning situations

Metal roofs can accumulate debris that goes beyond mere dirt and leaves. If you find your roof fitting into any of the following categories, you may tackle the cleaning process yourself or opt for the services of a professional cleaner. This way, you can ensure a thorough cleaning without causing any damage to the paint.

Removing mildew, mold, or algae

If you happen to live in humid areas, there is a high possibility that your roof will have mildew, mold, or algae. Removing them can be challenging and may require special cleaners or solvents. However,  make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to prevent any damage or discoloration to your roof.

Cleaning rust stains

Rust stains are a common sight on metal roofs. Removing rust stains can be challenging, but it is possible to eliminate them with specific cleaners or solvents. Again, we suggest not using harsh chemicals and abrasive materials like steel wool that can damage your roof’s surface. Use a rust stain remover designed to be used on metal surfaces.

If your roof has minor stains and you don’t have a rust stain remover, prepare a mixture of lemon juice and salt and apply it to the stained areas. Let it sit for a few hours before scrubbing it off with a soft cloth or brush. Then, rinse it off with plain water. Don’t scrub the rust aggressively, as this could damage the roof’s paint.

For stubborn rust stains, you may need to use a strong solvent such as oxalic acid. Apply the mixture to the rust stains, and scrub using a toothbrush. If the rust is still visible after rinsing, gently scrub the area with a wire brush.

Hire a metal roof cleaning professional

If you’re not at ease with cleaning your metal roof or if it’s a large project, it’s worth considering hiring a professional. There are many companies that specialize in metal roof cleaning, equipped with the necessary experience and tools to complete the job efficiently and safely.

Safety precautions when cleaning metal roofs

If you aren’t experienced in cleaning roofs on a regular basis, it can be risky. If you don’t want to hire a professional cleaner, make sure to take safety precautions. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and the proper footwear to prevent accidents like slipping from the roof or ladder. Here are some important safety tips:

  • Avoid cleaning metal panels in direct sunlight, as the chemicals can become more potent and cause eye irritation and breathing problems.
  • Always have someone else hold the ladder for added stability.
  • Begin cleaning from the top of the roof and work your way down.
  • Use mild detergents and cleaners if possible.

Final Thoughts

Although metal roofs are built to withstand the elements and adverse weather conditions, they are not impervious to the detrimental effects caused by the build-up of dirt and debris. The accumulation of dirt and debris, such as leaves, will not only diminish the roof’s aesthetic appeal but also increase the risk of rust, which can reduce its durability. Keeping your metal roof clean and well-maintained can ensure its longevity for decades.

You can manage most of the regular cleaning yourself with common tools. However, hiring professional roofers for a detailed inspection would be a wise decision.

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