Algae is a spore-based plant that likes to grow on moist surfaces. It is a particular bane for homeowners with backyard pools and roofs. The higher your average humidity, the more likely algae will find a home on your roof. This is an extremely common and troublesome problem in Michigan, the 7th most humid state in the nation. Surrounded by the Great Lakes and rife with our own smaller waterways and ponds, the average relative humidity (RH) here in Canton, MI is 72.1%.
While this makes for a comfortable climate, it’s unfortunately also welcoming for algae growing on your roof. Rooftop algae is notorious for appearing as black streaks, almost like soot or black mold to naked eye. However, if you look closely, you will discover that these black streaks down your roof is actually a growth of blue-green algae.
Algae is tenacious and must be continuously prevented. The good news is that roofing technology for algae-prevention is both well-tested and is continually advanced. While washing and algicide spray are commonly used, the best solution to roof algae growth is also the latest: algae resistant shingles with time-release capsules that repel algae for the entire lifetime of the roof.
This article will take you through a detailed guide on roof algae; what it is, how to get rid of it, and how to never worry about roof algae again.
The first and most important thing to understand is that algae is everywhere, ever year. Algae is an extremely common plant. It releases tiny spores that blow in the wind and, like mold, settle on any consistently damp surface. A home roof in Canton, MI is the perfect place for algae to land. If there is no protective coating or recent algicide application, the algae will take hold of your porous, moist roof surface and begin to grow.
This happens every year when algae spores blow in the wind, which starts new growths and helps old growths get bigger in the warm seasons. Algae is also very durable and survives under a layer of frost through the winter. Rooftop algae is often sustained by the faint heat from your attic and the moisture from melting snow as it slides off the roof.
Algae resistant shingles are important because algae eats into your roof shingles without protection. Even worse, however, is that it’s ugly. If algae were like ivy, a beautiful addition to your home, then you might have mixed feelings. But blue-green algae looks like a spreading soot stain or can be mistaken for a dangerous colony of black mold.
While the algae is harmless up there (except to your shingles), it also makes your home look prematurely old. It makes the roof look dirty and even damaged with only a surface growth. Algae can lower your home’s overall property value and decrease the inherent value of a mid-lifespan roof.
If your Canton, MI home’s roof is already growing algae, there are a few decisions ahead. A roof older than 15 or 20 years is approaching its next replacement date. In this case, your most practical long-term solution for roof algae growth is to reinstall your roof with algae-resistant shingles.
If your roof is relatively young and in good condition, then you will want to build an algae cleaning and prevention system until your roof can be upgraded to today’s roofing material technology.
The only way to remove an algae growth from your roof is to clean it with chemicals that kill the algae. This can be a challenging task but the tools required are not hard to find. With a garden hose, dispenser, and sprayer attachment, you can mix chemicals with water and coat your roof. Killing the algae will go fast. However, removing the stain from the algae growth can take many washes and even rounds of scrubbing with long-handled brushes.
There are several options for chemicals to kill your roof algae. Bleach is the most common mixture, but there are also forms of algicide and other –less toxic– cleaning solutions that can be used on your roof as well.
Frequent algae growth on your roof can cause long-term damage in two ways. First, algae growing into the shingles is not good for asphalt integrity. But even in removing the algae, you can damage the shingles. Washing your shingles repeatedly with chemicals can wear away the protective layers and cause the shingles to soften.
Be careful when scrubbing and bleaching your roof to remove the algae.
Naturally, the best solution is to prevent algae growth entirely. There’s no need to worry about damaging your roof with cleaning and stain removal if the algae never grows. There are two options for preventing algae growth, based on the current age and state of your roof.
For older roofs and non-asphalt roofs, algicide treatments are the tried-and-true solution. If algae is definitely going to try and take root on your roof, keep it at bay with regular coatings of something algae finds distasteful. There are several options for non-toxic and minimally errosive algicide for home roofs. Algicide must be re-applied regularly to remain effective.
For more recent and modern roofs, asphalt shingles are designed to include copper. Originally, roofers noticed that copper flashing used to sheath chimneys and other roof elements do not grow algae. Algae finds copper toxic and won’t take hold if exposed to copper. So roofing manufacturers began working copper into the shingles themselves. When your roof shingles include traces of copper, algae won’t take hold and your roof doesn’t need regular treatments or cleanings to stay pristine.
Originally, manufacturers used the granules on an asphalt shingle to contain copper. This is one of the reasons those granules are multi-colored. Some grains protect from UV light, some are copper protecting from algae. The trouble with traditional asphalt shingles is that the granules fall off over time. The wind, scraping branches, scampering animals, and the occasional human shoe knock granules off each shingle.
Eventually, algae will be able to grow on older roofs that no longer have enough copper granules for protection.
This realization led the roofing industry to innovate again. Instead of granules on the surface, we decided to infuse the entire depth of shingle with copper pockets. To do this, time-release capsules were designed that are mixed into the asphalt material for each shingle. The capsules cannot wear away like a layer of granules or algicide because they are an embedded part of every layer of the shingle. If the top of a shingle is worn away by the wind or feet or pounding hail, there will still be exposed copper capsules there to keep the algae from taking root.
Time-release copper capsule shingles are designed to ensure your roof stays algae-free from installation to the end of its natural lifespan. This technology will eliminate the need for algicide and roof cleaning because algae will never have a chance.
If you cannot choose asphalt shingles for some reason, then we suggest you opt for a darker color of shingle, tile, or shake. In some situations, a property owner may not have the option of choosing the most practical or technologically advanced roofing option. You may be restricted by neighborhood or contract definitions. You may need to use traditional building materials or you may be required to choose a specific material like tile or metal instead of asphalt shingles.
In these cases, make a plan for regular algicide treatments and, we recommend, use dark-shaded roofing. If and when algae does grow, it will be less apparent and do less visual damage to the roof.
Now that you understand the importance of algae-resistant shingles, the challenge is choosing the right singles for your roof. Homes in Canton, MI tend to have asphalt or composite roofing. This is good news for most homeowners planning for algae prevention in the long term. If your home is roofed in asphalt or you can easily switch to asphalt shingles, this also makes algae-resistant technology available to you.
From here, your task is to choose the exact shingles that are right for your Canton, MI home. We can help you break down the criteria for choosing algae-resistant roofing shingles.
When searching through asphalt shingles, only a small selection are designed with the latest algae-resistant technology. The traditional approach for alga-resistant shingles is a layer of copper granules on the surface. The more advanced and recent option is time-release copper capsules embedded throughout the asphalt material. Algae-resistant capsules are longer-lasting and ensure that your algae resistance is through-and-through; it can’t wear away.
Look for the latest shingle design with time-release algae resistant capsules. These will last the full lifespan of the shingle roof and many come with a limited warranty that also lasts a practical roof’s lifespan.
Every homeowner needs to consider the color and size of their roofing shingles. If you belong to an HOA, you may need to closely match the appearance of your neighbors’ roofs. This maintains a unified appearance throughout the neighborhood and can also help to maintain local property values throughout. Even if you are not bound by HOA terms and membership, you may want to match the style and texture of your neighborhood so that your home is flattering and flattered by neighboring houses.
If you are not worried about matching other homes on the street, you may have your own ideas about a lovely roof style or color. You can match the previous roof for the house or you can completely update the appearance of your home by choosing a new color for your roofing shingles.
Next, consider the durability of your shingles. Here in Michigan, the storms can be fierce and often wreak havoc on roof integrity. The sturdier your shingles, the better. For asphalt shingles, durability can be measured in three ways. Size, thickness, and number of tabs. The tabs help shingles layer and attach together in a more secure way. Thicker shingles are less likely to bend or break when subjected to howling seasonal winds.
You may want to look for algae-resistant architectural shingles which have a more textured look and provide advanced durability for a home roof. Even if you do not choose architectural shingles, compare two shingle options based on their thickness and product preducted durability. Shingles that last longer will give you more reliable service through the years.
One of the best things about installing a new roof is a new chance for warrantees. A warranty on your roof usually provides either payment or repairs if a fault is found in the roofing products. A warranty offered by the roofers may gurantee the quality and integrity of their installation work. Algae-resistant shingles are not only a beneficial feature for your roof, they also decrease the chances of your roof taking damage over itme. This makes it more rewarding to offer warranties for modern roof shingles. Algae-resistant shingles can include a practical warranty of up to 25 years.
This kind of warranty is very valuable to homeowners, whether it is offered by the manufacturer or the professional team that installs the roof.
Are algae-resistant shingles right for your Canton, MI home? If your previous roof had algae troubles, the latest in time-release copper capsule technology can prevent that from ever happening again. If your neighbors have algae growths, it is smart to take your own precuations. Our team would be honored to help you choose the right algae-resistant shingles and install them as part of your new roof. Contact us today to consult on your local algae rooftop concerns and how we can solve them.