The trees are shedding and the pollen is falling. They do it every year and in Florida it’s all year, some homeowners are proactive, while some never look up to even notice and some either don’t care or understand the consequences of what piles of leaves and debris on their roof and in their gutters will do.
If you are the proactive type and clean off the debris from your roof and gutters regularly or hire someone to do it then you are ok as long as the crew doing the cleaning is doing it correctly and thorough. I will go over our process at the bottom of this blog.
If you live near, around or under a canopy of oak, pine or camphor trees. Chances are you have debris issues on your roofing system and/or gutter system as well. Camphor trees especially shed a lot of twigs and berry pods that have tacky oils that will cause other debris to stick in valleys and roof surfaces and also cause backups in your downspouts which in time will start to pile up and get compacted to the point that a regular clean out has turned into a more costly extraction.
So I am going to go over what I have seen and noticed from 22 years in the industry. What damages have been caused and ways to prevent it from happening to you.
First, I should go over what debris buildup on your roof especially in the valleys and the damage it can cause if left for prolonged periods of time. As the debris sits at first it is normally dry leaves, pollen pods with a few twigs mixed in, when it rains they become wet and then they dry. That cycle will repeat many times over a years span. In one year the stuff on top is dry, the stuff on the bottom is damp and those leaves usually stay damp, they still hold the shape of the leaf and are a dark brown color. Over a span of five years without touching it, what is underneath the pile at the very bottom has become peet and mud. Kind of like sediment layers with the dry stuff on top. Now it is a perfect place for other plants to root in and grow, a place for bugs, termites and worms to live and for moisture and mildew to really set in. The damage begins and the cost went from an average of 150.00 and up depending on the roof size and pitch for a blow off once a year to possibly thousands of dollars in roof repairs from decking damage caused by wet rot and the only thing that kept water from making its way all the way through was the mud layer sealing the little pin holes under the shingles or tile underlayment. So blaming the guy who finally removed the debris for a causing a leaky roof is probably not the case.
Roof debris should be done regularly, once a year is normal under normal circumstances and some cases as much as quarterly under severe circumstances where trees canopy the entire house. Having a licensed and insured company with experience do the work unless you are comfortable doing it yourself. Make sure you trim away any branches that are close to touching the roof, remove hanging moss that you can reach, start at the top and work your way down. Check any vents like dryer vents for any lint blockage as well. It is pretty self explanatory, just be careful.
Gutters especially are vulnerable to serious damage as I have seen gutters that were full to the top with 6 inches of mud with a thin layer of dry leaves on top. Gutters are made to handle some weight. The weight from a situation like that adds hundreds sometimes thousands of pounds depending on the width and length and is literally pulling the gutters away from the fascia along with causing sagging that causes water to pool up away from the downspouts to sit in the low spots normally found in the center of the span and render them useless. Downspouts when blocked up at turns will almost always have to be detached, debris extracted and reinstalled. I have even seen a few times on 2 story houses where there is literally mud packed downspouts from the roof line to the ground. There are instances that the cause was even from the gutter installer using a 3 inch screw or screws to fasten sections together. When I detach and reinstall I use aluminum or copper rivets depending what material the gutter is made of. I also add mesh boxes at the tops of downspouts to prevent sticks and twigs from falling in and getting stuck causing another inevitable clog and pile up. Gutters that stay full of debris for prolonged periods will have a shorter lifespan as the sediment, loose granules, acidity from the leaves and moisture will eventually eat its way through and create thin spots and pinholes in the aluminum or copper. Copper gutters hold up a lot longer with sitting debris but still should be cleaned often.
Make sure you keep gutters cleaned out and free of debris once a year minimum in some cases quarterly depending on the amount of trees over or close to your home. There are remedies that you can use to keep debris out of gutters. Some work most do not. The best ones I have found that work best are: Mill Finished Aluminum gutter guards (product code SCGG5 from http://www.guttersupply.com they do not collapse in or have openings where debris will find it’s way in and are durable and long lasting. They also make it easy to blow off debris that collects on top. The “Gutter Helmet” though a good concept and idea with the liquid adhesion theory I have found many times where so much debris still gets in the gutters by rolling over with the flow of water and eventually they get full too. The gutter helmet then needs to be removed to clean the debris out and is costly for removal, inspection and reinstall. Other ideas like the black foam inserts and the galvanized screen mesh tend to get debris pieces that get stuck to the guards and make the cleaning more time consuming and the mesh guards rust and cave in. Vinyl guards just avoid those all together, they start warping within a year and wind blows them out easily.
Our roof and gutter debris cleaning processes are either basic blow off and out, tidy up the ground area and bag debris. To full service debris removal, inspection, extraction, disassemble, repair and clean up. On the more severe cases we will first blow off the roof debris and clear valleys, crickets behind chimneys and box vents. We will inspect and clear dryer vents that exhaust on the roof. We will remove any screens on the vents and replace once clear. Then we will blow out the gutters and downspouts by pointing the blower down the top end of the downspouts and there is always a ground guy to confirm if the downspout is clear or if it is blocked up. Once done up top and if there is one or more blocked downspouts we will determine where the blockage is and how far up or down the debris is that is blocking the downspouts which will determine whether we can use one of our snake out tools or if we will have to disassemble and detach the downspout from the system, clear it and reinstall it with new fasteners. In those cases we will install screens at the top end of the gutter where the downspout meets to prevent another blockage. We will rake up and bag all the debris and blow and tidy up any leftover small debris like dust and small particles from AC tops, window sills, tops of shrubs, driveways and walkways and other flat surfaces. We have never left a mess behind and never will. If there are any span sections of gutter that are not level and have low spots or need simple to complex adjustments, leaky corners or seams we will do the repairs and give an exact estimate of cost before we proceed and if you choose to get a few other estimates from other contractors feel free to do so. Just remember we know exactly what is needed then and there and have the experience, equipment and knowledge to do the job right the first time and work that will last. Once you see our results that is our full on work ethic with all we do. SoftWash Roof cleaning and full service gutter cleaning is our main specialization we have perfected over 22 years as well as all other exterior cleaning services we provide.
Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems is an A+ and 5 star rated company and has been for 2 decades. I am present at every single job to ensure that my expectations exceed your expectations. This is why we have the best clients and best reputation the Orlando market has ever had. That is why you never see our advertisements in publications, magazines, the Google AD section or flyers in your driveway or on your front door from us. We do not need to advertise, our work and results along with our impeccable reputation and great and friendly staff who all must carry a good attitude, outlook at life, respect to everyone, polite and personable, clean background and above all good work ethic. We never rush jobs and never will, the way we do things is a lot different than anyone else in every way. It is comparable to maximum OCD overload habitually and instinctively.
Thank you for reading! – Jeffrey H. Worth President Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems, LLC.
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