Why Do Insurance Companies Require Roof Cleaning?
Homeowners insurance is designed to protect you in the case of a disaster. Many homeowners pay a good amount of money every month for their coverage – which should pay for replacement or repairs in the case of unforeseen disaster or emergency. Unfortunately, an increasing number of homeowners are receiving notice from their insurance company that their policy will be canceled or not renewed due to a lack of proper roof maintenance.
Failing to take care of your roof correctly can give your insurance company the power to revoke its coverage. Some insurance companies will also threaten to cancel a policy unless the homeowner replaces it. To avoid this issue, it is recommended that homeowners take basic steps to maintain their roof’s long-term.
Roof cleaning is an important way of keeping your roof in great shape. This not only makes your roof look nearly new, but it can also optimize the service life of asphalt shingle roofs. That said, there are some things that all homeowners need to know about this cleaning process to avoid getting their insurance policy canceled or revoked. Let’s discuss.
Insurance Companies Can Cancel Policies for Improper Roof Maintenance
The leading reason insurance companies revoke or cancel coverage comes down to the risk of replacement, repairs, and associated issues. Insurance companies like to make safe bets. They do not want to provide or maintain coverage for homes that may need expensive repairs or even complete replacement sooner than the expected service life of the roof. The average residential roof should last 30 plus years – if properly maintained. Once signs of excess wear or damage appear, or if there are signs that the roof is not being taken care of, the insurance company may threaten to cancel its coverage.
During a home inspection, the insurance company will be looking for any potential “risks” that the home presents. For obvious reasons, the roof is an area where they like to focus. It is the home’s number one defense against the elements. It can also be pretty easy to see obvious signs of neglect, such as moss and lichen growth. Houses with old or damaged roofs that have not been properly maintained could qualify as “high risk.” Failing to clear your roof of debris at least annually can lead to corrosion or structural issues, which could require expensive repairs. The build-up of leaves and foliage can block proper drainage and harbor the growth of moss, mold, and mildew.
Roof ‘Algae’ (actually bacteria) may start to grow on the roofing material, especially in more humid and damp areas. The most affected areas are almost always shaded areas and North facing facets. This common bacterial growth causes unsightly dark staining and striping. When insurance companies complete their inspection, they will quickly notice signs of dark shading, which often includes the growth of moss and lichen.
Asphalt Shingle Roof Cleaning
If an insurance inspector finds any signs of algae, bacteria, moss, or lichen growth on your roof’s shingles, they may threaten to cancel your policy unless you have the roof replaced. Thankfully, there is a solution to this issue: non-pressure, detergent-based roof cleaning.
Proper Roof Cleaning Can Extend the Life of Your Roof
It is highly recommended to have your roof properly cleaned to remove mold, bacteria, moss, and algae. This, along with annual inspections to correct any signs of damage, can help to extend the life of your roof and lower the chances of issues with your insurance coverage.
Debris is removed during a roof cleaning, which helps prevent growth that causes discoloration, moss growth, and shingle degradation. This not only makes your roof look amazing (see examples here), but it can help it last longer too.
That said, the way your home’s roof gets cleaned matters. Using soap and water is not enough to remove the organic growth that typically flourishes on common roofing materials.
Roof manufacturers themselves suggest that a specialized chemical cleaning solution that contains biocides and oxidizers be used. For example, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends cleaning shingles with a specific detergent-based solution to kill bacterial growth. If you look into roof cleaning services, you will notice that most companies promote pressure washing. Homeowners need to AVOID pressure washing their roofs at all costs.
Roof manufacturers strongly advise against the use of pressure washing.
Pressure Washing Can Negate Your Insurance Warranty
The high-pressure water stream damages shingles and blasts away the protective granules that reflect UV rays. According to ARMA (Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association), a pressure washer should never be used to clean shingles – as this will violate the warranty coverage. Additionally, insurance companies may revoke insurance policies if the roof has been pressure washed since it leaves it susceptible to damage and violates the manufacturer’s warranty coverage. This leaves you – as a homeowner – in a very sticky situation if your roof needs replacing or repair. You may be responsible for the entire cost since you do not have a warranty or insurance policy to fall back on – all because of improper roof washing.
So, how should homeowners wash their roofs to prolong its life without potentially losing their insurance coverage?
Non-Pressure Detergent-Based Cleaning is Best
Non-pressure detergent-based roof cleaning, often referred to as ‘soft wash,’ is the best approach. Ideally, soft washing uses a custom-blended cleaning solution that kills 100% of bacteria and mold spores on contact. The detergent is applied using low pressure and sprayed on the roof for a comprehensive, deep clean that does not damage slate, tile, metal, or asphalt shingles.
Unfortunately, the term ‘soft wash’ has become a loosely applied buzzword. Many inexperienced window cleaners, pressure washing companies, and handymen feature the term ‘soft washing,’ then extol the virtues of pressure washing. Their websites feature no photos of the results they achieve, just a stock image of a person pressure washing a roof. And while they may be ‘insured’, these companies do not have the proper coverage to provide professional roof cleaning services.
Professional non-pressure roof cleaning is much more than just ‘cleaning.’ With the transformative results commonly lasting over a decade, roof ‘restoration’ is a better description.
Pacific Exterior has specialized in providing non-pressure detergent-based cleaning for over a decade. Our ‘Safe Wash‘ process has been featured in multiple national and international publications. We have successfully restored countless residential and commercial roofs throughout Northern California with this technique. The ‘Safe Wash‘ method causes no damage and consistently delivers extraordinary results that last for years. We have worked with and satisfied the requirements of all major insurance providers. If you are interested in our services or want to learn more about Pacific Exterior, schedule an appointment online or give us a call at 650 687-0895 (Bay Area) or 831 275-1296 (Monterey Bay).