Roof cleaning, after 20 years what I have experienced and learned.

I have officially been in this industry for over 20 years, my how time does fly! Seems like not so long ago I was just a water guy helping lead techs at the company I earned my bachelors degree in roof cleaning at, now I hold a doctorate in roof cleaning and exterior cleaning if there ever was one as well as have my own practice since 2001 lol.

When I was a kid, I was always taught. If you have no clue what you are doing, learn how to or find another path. I mastered roof cleaning at the age of 18 and there is not a roof I have been on that I was not able to clean successfully. To give you a rough idea on the number of roofs I have cleaned since I started, 25,000 or more myself. Over 100 million sqft of just roofing from 12/12 pitch shingle to flat membrane roofs, Brazilian clay, Italian Glazed, Large and Small profile barrel tile, 3 tab shingle, flat concrete tile, cedar shake, slate, metal, architectural and now some solar panel roofs as they are starting to show up on the radars in the roofing and roof cleaning industry. I learned how to before starting my business instead of jumping the gun and using people’s homes as testing grounds, I see a lot of newbie cleaners on social media forums getting the worst advise and buying the worst equipment every day falling for the greed of suppliers and chemical gurus. I am going to go over some of the stuff I have seen lately and over the past 2 decades. If you are a new roof cleaning business owner and have been duped into these products I am not bashing you for buying into those, only advise I give is good advise and I could not do a bad job if I tried. That is why I am so successful in this business without spending 1 cent on advertising and I never try and push a sale when a cheap shopper looking for the lowest price and not the best quality, because I always know my schedule will be full and the weeks end revenue is better than most companies running 5 trucks week after week. It is just me and my helper Ben who has been with me for 6 years now and my wife Danelle who does all sales and book keeping.

I guess if I was to start on a topic it would have to be cleaning products. This one is simple, the only product that works effectively, efficiently, safely, safe on plants (only if the person applying it knows what they are doing) and will prevent the roof from regrowth of mildew and algae without damaging the roof, longer than any other product out there that has ever existed and will ever exist unless of course someone like Elon Musk invents some new product through space age technology is bleach based aka chlorine based products.

I know some of you may be thinking “OH MY” chlorine!! that is some harsh stuff!! Well by itself it is pretty harsh, but when you know how to mix it into the correct water/chlorine ratio which should never exceed 50/50 on 95% of all roofing materials then you factor in the low amount that is applied plus the amount of water used to rinse the roof off, the chlorine becomes more like water. There are a lot of roof cleaning companies who spray hot, don’t rinse roofs and tell you to wait for rain who massacre landscape and grass every single day without a care in the world. The gypsys is what we call them. Those are the ones who give roof cleaners a bad name and they are the ones who possess people into either destroying thier roof by using high pressure or gimmick so called ” alternative roof cleaning products ” that I know for a fact do not work at all, are overpriced, need to be blasted off using a pressure washer which totally defies the whole concept of cleaning a roof without destroying it, to make it even worse. The roof will be back to black in 6 months, so another roof beat down is due and usually by then a shingle roof is smoked and a tile roof is so pitted and faded that it is doomed or will need serious repairs soon after.

The number one product I hear more homeowners say they tried and failed and at $30.00 a gallon is “spray and forget” or as we in the industry call it “pray and forget” or “Buy and Regret”. To coat a 2000 sqft shingle roof with S & F you will need about 35 gallons which will equal $1050.00 plus your time and safety and the roof will still look black or you can hire an experienced highly trained roof cleaner for around $500.00 you do the math.  Another one that I have tried, btw…. I have tried and tested every single product that exists on this planet over the last 2 decades in the hopes that there is a better alternative to bleach that cleans safely without scrubbing or using 4000 pounds of pressure to clean it.  So this one is one of the most laughable products I have ever witnessed, I have been to a product demonstration for it and when I watched them apply it and then proceed to fan tip it off with a pressure washer I pretty much rolled my eyes as granules from the shingles were pelting everything and everyone within 100 feet of the tip of that wand I literally got in my truck and drove home, it was not a waste of time because I learned that it too did not work and for the price they tried to tell me I would need to fork over to be an applicator of this product was around $30,000 plus renewals and I had to pay for the product at $15 or $25 per gallon for cheap useless for roof cleaning, copper sulfate which is also highly toxic and scentless full of carcinogens. This product is called Roof A Cide, we in the industry call consumers who have used roof cleaners who apply it “roof a cide victims” and from the many homeowners I have met who have used it absolutely hated it, and the roof of thier home has a weird feel to it and a weird pattern of granule loss and regrowth pattern. That process is also so over priced that a 2000 sqft shingle roof will cost you 3000 dollars with a promise of a bogus warranty with paragraphs of fine print, pretty much they take you for your money.

Here is list of what does not work at all for roof cleaning without the use of high damaging pressure. Roof shampoo, wet and forget, roof a cide, spray and forget, OX cleaners, and simix.

Best advise is to use a company preferrably one who is an independant roof cleaning contractor that uses bleach based products, why do I recommend independant roof cleaners is that it is usually the owner of the business and usually in that case they will do a far superior job than a company who sends out random short term employees. Lets face it, roof cleaning a dangerous, dirty and sometimes a not so fun job and for a person who is paid 15.00 per hour or less to do it will not take as much pride as someone whos reputation is on the line and who is definately paid a lot more.

Next topic is looking at a paticular company to hire, ones that spend thousands a month on advertising usually cannot keep a customer. I have well over a few thousand customers that use me over and over for cleaning everything from roofs, exteriors, screen enclosures, driveways and sidewalks, walls, fences etc… Repeat and referral business is us, we do have a website and signs on our rigs and trucks but I get maybe 2 jobs a year from the signs, I get another 250 to 300 from word of mouth. I kept my business small for all these years with the ability to grow and run several rigs, but like the old saying is the bigger they get the lower the quality gets no matter how hard or how you try. A good roof cleaning tech is a diamond in the rough. They are so hard to find that in 20 years I found 1, yes 1 that I could trust to go out and do a good job without stressing that he is goofing off or botching my jobs. Unfortunately he has had knee and shoulder problems from sports when he was younger and needed a more laid back job that is less physically intensive so I was back to full time lead with a ground guy.

Now a multi truck company is not a sign that they do bad work, 2 good friends of mine own multi truck cleaning businesses. Josh Snider who owns Semper Fi Pressure washing and Ryan Wilkins who owns beacon roof cleaning both run tight ships and do extremely fantastic work as well as keep good techs on board. I have tried to hire and grow once and had 2 rigs running with a 3rd on plan but I guess I am a worry wart and in 2008 business got ambushed by the economy and I was back to 1 truck full time and 1 on standby, also I wanted to make sure at the time my guys had steady work. The task of keeping up with everything from employees, trucks, scheduling, sales, payroll, taxes, overhead, insurance, workers comp etc…. you know the good stuff… the stuff that keeps it flowing correctly was so costly that I was making less, working more with 3 rigs than I do with 1 rig, and I don’t mind going out and doing the work at all, as a matter of fact I absolutely love cleaning roofs, gutters and exteriors but driveways and screen enclosures not so much but I still am too good at it that it affords me to live the life I live, put my kids in private school, no debt, good insurance, I get to fish all over the world on some of the finest boats, I am a licensed USCG Master Captain and a professional tournament angler salt and freshwater. My main focus is and always has been my wife and kids, so I went back to 1 rig and work a schedule to my liking so that I can spend more time with them and more time on the water without the thought in the back of my mind, are my guys going to show up on Monday? Are they doing the job like I would? There were too many questions in my head to be stress free and I had to make it to where I was stress free or at least live with a lot less of it.

Now for the equipment I use, my system has been perfected over the years. I have it down to a science to where my cleaning rig is so dependable that it cannot leave me stranded on a job to where I cannot finish it. It cannot and does not leak, it is easily fixed, there are no unnecessary gauges, lights, switches and only has 2 valves for sending and 2 valves for flushing. I have used this same set up for the last 8 years and every single job is done without a hitch. I have cleaned apartment complexes with 40 buildings just me and my helper in 7 days with it. I have cleaned entire shopping plazas, malls, 8 story buildings with it, I built the rig myself so in all I am about $10,000 in it including all the hoses, replacement and spare parts, tools, 2 machines, 2 pumps, wands, ladders, safety gear etc…

I see guys spending 30, 40, 50 grand and up on a new rig that does nothing but break all the time, leaks chemical and costs them money and time, delays on jobs, reschedules all the things that you do not want that make you lose on revenue. I see it all the time on forums, buying expensive products that are useless or not needed, using high output pumps that break every other month and these pumps pour out so much chemical it is overkill and the ground guy cannot even keep up, hot water setups for jobs that only require cold water setups. I have never used a hot water setup in 20 years. They are for cleaning vent hoods in kitchens, heavy grease, gas stations, auto shops not for cleaning residential or commercial exterior jobs during the day. I see guys using surface cleaners on painted pool decks or worse on roofs. The stuff I see out there makes me shake my head and wonder how long they will be around before I see their equipment on craigslist or the social media classifieds sales. Yeah, I am guilty of pondering buying those rigs and parting them out to the right guys I know who may need a hot water set up or extra hose reels or even using them to start a side business cleaning grease traps in kitchens.

Lastly, when you see or choose a company to clean your home and they claim they have done it for so long and did x amount of jobs look at their website or even better social media page for photos, I clean A LOT of roofs. If you go to my facebook page and look at the before and after photos you can view a few thousand alone.

Check credentials, insurance, license and references from people in your own community so you can know better and have peace of mind. Like I have always said, there are a lot of good cleaning guys out there but there are 10 times more shady ones as it is an unregulated industry. Anyone can buy the equipment, not everyone knows how to do it correctly. They are looking for a quick buck on the side so consider doing your research first.


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