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Article by George / July 18th, 2022

How to Clean a Metal Roof

As a homeowner, keeping up with regular house maintenance is critical.

One element of your house that can easily be overlooked is the roof — particularly metal roofs. A metal roof is slicker than other materials, allowing debris to slide off it more easily. However, metal roofs still require maintenance and cleanings to stay in good shape.

This article will discuss how to clean a metal roof, including what supplies you will need and six key steps for accomplishing this task. 

Keep reading to find out how you can benefit from a professional roof cleaning service!

How Often Does a Metal Roof Need to be Cleaned? 

Keeping your metal roof clean and well-maintained is the key to having a long-lasting roof that does not need replacement or repairs for many years. 

Ideally, you should give your metal roof a deep cleaning at least every two years. However, it is also a good idea to clean your roof and gutters between fall and winter. Not only will this allow you to properly winterize your gutters but it will also enable you to rid your roof of any debris that has built up over the spring, summer, and fall seasons. 

Moreover, it is always a good idea to inspect your roof for any damage or major debris following a major storm or other severe weather event. 

What Supplies are Needed to Clean a Metal Roof?

  • Ladder or Lift: Before you can clean your roof, you need a way to get up there. Some houses may come equipped with flat surfaces on your roof that you can stand on. However, in most cases, you will need either a ladder or a lift (such as a boom lift) to reach the heights of your roof.
  • Mild Detergent: To clean dirty areas of your metal roof that have tough-to-remove grime, such as mildew, you will need a mild detergent. You can purchase either a cleaning solution made specifically for metal roofs or you can use household detergents like car soap, dish soap, or gentle laundry detergent. 
  • Cleaning Brushes: Cleaning brushes are a necessity when cleaning a metal roof to get out any tough spots where grime build-up is especially concentrated. Opt for soft-bristle brushes that are gentle on metal surfaces — harsher brushes like steel wire brushes can damage your roofing materials. 
  • Towels & Rags: As you clean your metal roof, you will undoubtedly get both yourself and your ladder or lift wet. To keep everything as safe and dry as possible, it is essential to have many towels and rags on standby. 
  • Buckets: You will require a bucket to fill with cleaning solution and carry up a ladder. Remember that your bucket will become significantly heavier when filled with liquid, so choose a bucket on the smaller side that will be easier to bring up to your roof with you.  
  • Tool Belt: Any time you are doing housework on a ladder, it is crucial to have a tool belt for easy storing and access to your supplies. Wearing a quality tool belt helps to ensure you always have free hands to keep yourself steady and clean with. 
  • Hose: A hose can be a useful tool to bring up to your roof with you, as you can spray off your roof with clean water after you are done with any scrubbing or filth removal. Plus, a hose helps clean tough-to-reach spaces that may be out of reach of your ladder. 

Additionally, you should always practice good ladder safety protocols when using a ladder to clean your metal roof. Supplies you will need to follow basic ladder safety practices include:

  • A construction helmet
  • Non-slip or slip-resistant shoes
  • A shovel for ground leveling 
  • A harness — harnesses are generally considered optional but can be useful for helping you stay stabilized while cleaning your roof

Can You Use a Pressure Washer on a Metal Roof? 

Yes, you can use a pressure washer on a metal roof.

However, there are some extra considerations that come along with pressure washing a metal roof. For starters, you will need to either purchase or rent a pressure washing machine. Then, you will need to set up a stable platform to stand on while you use the pressure washer.

Additionally, metal roofs can be damaged by pressure washers, so must use a lower pressure setting than you would on house siding or pavement. 

In general, if you wish to have your roof pressure washed but do not have much experience with this type of maintenance, it is best to hire a professional pressure washing service

6 Steps for Cleaning a Metal Roof

If you plan on cleaning your metal roof on your own, then it is of the utmost importance to know the proper steps to take when cleaning a roof.

Here are the 6 essential steps to follow for cleaning your metal roof:

1. Plan Accordingly with the Weather

Before deciding to clean your metal roof, one of the first and most important steps is to check the daily weather forecast.

When cleaning a metal roof, you want to plan to complete this task on a day that is dry and cloudy. You want to avoid days that are too sunny, as this will cause your metal roof to become extremely hot to the touch, making it difficult for you to clean the topmost areas of your roof.

Likewise, you should also avoid days when it is overly humid with the potential for rain. Metal roofs become incredibly slick when wet, making it more difficult for you to stay stable on your ladder or lift. 

Of course, if you feel particularly bold, you can plan to clean your roof before a rainstorm, allowing the rain to wash away any leftover cleaning solution or debris. However, we do advise you to be cautious and to always prioritize safety over convenience. 

2. Mix Your Cleaning Solution & Set Up Supplies

After you have selected the ideal day for cleaning your metal roof, your next key step is to set up all of your supplies and mix your roof cleaning solution. 

Cleaning solutions for a metal roof can be easily made using a mild detergent, such as car wash soap or dish soap. While you can adjust the ratio to your needs and liking, we recommend a 1/4th detergent to 1 gallon of water ratio. 

As for the rest of your supplies, it is important to keep things easily accessible and well-organized. Going up to your roof on a ladder or lift will only allow you to take a limited amount of items with you, meaning you will need to make a few trips up and down to grab supplies.

The supplies you should ensure are kept in a handy location include:

  • Extra Cleaning Solution: To be safe, you should only bring a small amount of cleaning solution up to your roof with you at a time in a small bucket that is easy to carry. In turn, you will need to leave a larger supply of cleaning solution on the ground to refill with. 
  • Clean Brushes: If you have areas of your metal roof that are particularly dirty, you may end up expending your cleaning brush in your efforts to clean them. Thus, you should keep at least 1 to 5 extra brushes on hand, depending on the level of cleaning required for your roof. 
  • Dry Towels or Rags: As you clean your metal roof, you will likely drip or spill some of your water or cleaning solution onto yourself and your ladder. It is essential to keep your ladder dry as you move up and down it, so keeping a good stock of dry towels and rags on hand to use is key. 

3. Set Up Your Safety Ladder or Lift

Once you have all your supplies set up and ready, the next step you will take is setting up a ladder or lift. 

Boom lifts give you a greater level of stability while cleaning your metal roof, as they are attached to a sturdy foundation, unlike ladders. However, you do not have as much control over the placement of the lift, and lift rentals can be a good deal more expensive than a standard ladder. 

As for ladders, you will generally want to use an extension ladder that has an adjustable height. Extension ladders come in several different sizes, allowing you to either purchase or rent a ladder that is compatible with the height of your house.

The biggest concern when using a ladder is stability. When you reach the top of the ladder to clean your metal roof, you will be moving around a good bit. Thus, your ladder needs to be positioned as securely as possible to ensure you stay in one place and are not at risk of the ladder falling over. 

To set up an extension ladder, follow these steps:

  1. Determine what height you need your ladder to reach and adjust it to that height. Keep in mind you should have several rungs above your head for safe use, so make sure to adjust your ladder to a height based on where you need your body to be. 
  2. Set your ladder’s angle by moving it closer or further away from the building wall. 
  3. Make sure the feet of your ladder are on level ground or use your shovel to level the ground.
  4. Attach additional ladder safety measures, such as a cleat at the base that will prevent the feet from moving or sliding. You can also purchase a ladder stabilizer accessory that can help keep your ladder in place as you climb up it. 
  5. Climb up and down the ladder slowly and carefully using three points of contact at all times.

Additionally, you should always have at least one other person with you when using an extension ladder. This extra person will help keep your ladder steady, watch out for any potential problems with the ladder, and stay on standby in case an accident occurs. 

4. Take Only What You Need Up

When you are ready to ascend up your ladder or lift, it is crucial to only carry what you need at the current moment. Don’t try to haul up your entire supply of cleaning solution, brushes, and towels — this will only leave you with more items to hassle with.

Instead, fill a small bucket with enough cleaning solution to clean the area of your roof you can reach from where your ladder is positioned. Make sure your bucket is not overfilled to keep any slippery spills from occurring while you are up on your ladder or lift. 

Although it may take you extra time to go up and down the ladder to retrieve supplies as you need them, this is by far the safest option for cleaning a metal roof. 

Plus, heading down the ladder every now and then will give you a good opportunity to rest and regain your grounding and balance. 

5. Focus on Areas with Severe Mildew or Debris First

Once you have reached the spot on your ladder where you intend to clean, we recommend focusing on the dirtiest areas of your roof first. These spots will take the most effort to clean, so it’s a good idea to focus on getting them cleaned up while you still have a good amount of energy for the task. 

The areas with a large amount of mildew, debris, or other layers of grime are where you want to concentrate your use of your cleaning solution. Areas of your metal roof that only need light rinsing and cleaning off likely will not need the solution applied, and avoiding using the solution whenever possible will help you preserve any paint or protective coatings your roof may have on it. 

For these other less dirty areas of your metal roof, a simple brushing or rinse with plain water should do the trick. You can either haul up a bucket of plain water for this job or bring a hose up if you have one long enough to reach your roof. 

6. Rinse Off Your Metal Roof

The finishing touch to cleaning off your metal roof is to give the whole thing a good rinse. 

To achieve this as easily as possible, position yourself at the bottom of your roof to start off and then work your way up from there. Once you have reached the top of your roof, you can poor water or spray a hose downwards to rinse off all of the remaining cleaning solution and loose debris. 

If you have a stable place to stand, you can also employ a pressure washer to help give your roof a final rinse. When using a pressure washer on a metal roof, use a lower pressure setting to avoid damaging the roof and its finishing. 

However, if you do not have a stable place to stand, we do not recommend using a pressure washer. 

Bonus Step: Clean Your Gutters While You’re Up There 

Keeping your gutters clean and free of debris is just as important as keeping up with roof maintenance.

Your gutters help to catch runoff water when it rains to protect your home’s siding and foundation, as well as your yard and landscaping. 

When your gutters get too full with debris, such as sticks and leaves, they can end up becoming clogged — which can ultimately lead to water damage to your home’s foundation. As such, it is highly important to keep your gutters clean. 

While you are up on your ladder or lift to clean your roof, it is also worth your while to bring a scoop with you to remove any gunk or grime build-up in your gutters. You should generally only need a good gutter cleaning 2 to 3 times a year, though you may sometimes need to perform an extra cleaning after a major storm or severe weather event. 

Final Thoughts: When to Hire a Professional Metal Roof Cleaning Service

Let’s face it — keeping up with home maintenance can be hard. Add in a full-time job and a family and the task can feel nearly impossible!

Hiring a professional home maintenance company to clean your metal roof offers you:

  • Convenience: Above all else, having a professional company handle your metal roof cleaning needs saves you hours or even days of time, depending on the size of your roof.
  • Quality: If you are inexperienced with metal roof cleaning, it may be difficult to achieve the quality of work you would hope for. Hiring a team of professionals ensures the service you receive is of the highest quality. 
  • Expertise: With the knowledgeable eyes of a trained professional, you can rest easy knowing even the smallest details of your roof have been noticed and accounted for. Plus, a professional can point out any pressing maintenance issues that need your immediate attention.

For any homeowners living in Houston, our team at Advantage Pro Services can provide you with the fast and professional maintenance your home needs. We can help you preserve your home’s quality and offer many key services, including pressure washing, driveway cleaning, and deck cleaning.To learn more and to get a free quote, get started with Advantage Pro Services today.

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