Category Archives: Orlando Gutter Cleaning

How debris buildup on roofs and in gutters can cost you a lot of money in damage and repairs.

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 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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Before you act, think logically before you agree to hire a “Roof Cleaner”

Again and again I see it keep happening over and over and over again. It makes me cringe…

21 years in this industry and 16 years as the owner and founder of Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems. I still always see homes we quoted for homeowners who scoffed at our prices, shopped for the lowest price and then getting their roof cleaned by someone who has not the slightest clue what they are even doing or should not even be doing the work at all. Like one case last week while doing work at a long time repeat client of ours and the ones who highly recommended and highly suggested that they use us home. I sat and watched a guy using an orbital tip aka turbo nozzle at maximum psi (4200) that is only to be used for stripping off old paint, etching concrete before applying epoxy or coatings, removing dried concrete spills… pretty much the last resort tip if all else fails, to give an example this tip can literally cut right through a cinderblock in about 20 minutes, not a hole but cut it in half. This guy was using it to clean a DECRA aka metal tile roof with a granular surface and is a fantastic, long lasting and very good looking roofing material with a very long warranty, however the warranty is not valid if the roof has been cleaned using high pressure methods and to be technical all roofing materials have the same warranty point, if the roofing material was cleaned using any type of high pressure the warranty will be voided. Don’t think that roof inspectors or adjusters for those companies won’t know that the roof was pressure washed. It is evident in every way by just glancing at it without even putting up a ladder. Anything over 100 psi is considered high pressure and even the “No bleach so called Eco Friendly” cleaning companies state that the psi they use is safe. But it is still at a minimum of 1500 psi. I just don’t get how or understand to this day why people choose to either risk hiring a Jack of all trades to save a little money or hire some new magic cleaning product company that charges five to ten times more than us.

One fact I came up with is that they have been burned by some guy, guys or a company that did the work, got paid and killed their landscape and grass damaged the exteriors paint and left a disaster behind with zero response from them to fix their mistakes.

Once bitten twice shy. Luckily many of those bitten know better than to fall for the “plant safe” snake oil products or another El Cheapo to do the job. Many times they called us first to begin with but due to our cost they hired the lower price guy and paid for it badly, then used us and realized why our prices are what they are and afterwards usually compliment us on how much more thorough and detailed we are as well as how easy I made it look even though they know only someone with my experience can do that and in a quarter of the time than the last ones that hacked up the job. No we do not gouge nor do we see a million dollar home and charge more assuming they will pay more because they have the money. It is quite the opposite actually. We charge every single client the same price which is based off of size, type and pitch of roof times whatever the per square foot rate is for each. If you have a 1000 sqft shingle roof it is going to cost 170.00 if you have a 10,000 sqft shingle roof it is going to cost 1700.00 if you have a 1000 sqft tile roof it is going to cost 250.00 and 10,000 sqft tile roof it is going to cost 2,500 and if you have a 1000 sqft clay or terracotta roof it is going to cost 350.00 and the same type of roof at 10,000 sqft is going to cost 3,500 dollars. Ofcourse we offer new customer discounts and group discounts as well as our fully gutter and French drained home discount. We rinse every roof guttered or not, we offer our 2 year unlimited unconditional warranty on all roofs except flip homes, roofs with storm damage, roofs with canopies of trees above the roof and flat roofs with poor drainage.

A lot of requests for estimates from our website 75% of requests are for roof cleaning quotes. If I could make this business to where the only thing I clean is roofs I would. But the fact is I am really good at anything and everything I do, especially cleaning homes and commercial properties. So over the years of building Tropical to where it stands today,  I have cleaned anything and everything aside from roofs from screen enclosures and decks of all types and sizes to patio furniture to homeowners boats and RV’s to elaborate home exteriors to the most basic 4 sided structure to entire communities, flat surfaces, boat docks, statues and so on.

Being really good at something is one thing, being really good on top of being completely transparent, honest, thorough, habitually OCD never cutting corners or shortcuts no matter the circumstances and fixing mistakes that can occur right away is a whole different breed of really good. That is who I am. I never sugar coat or lie or push to make a sale I also will not give myself away and drop the price either. I know what my work, expertise, skill, knowledge and quality is worth and I also know what my competitors are worth. I see right through the tactics and ways they swoon potential customers into what they are providing or selling. I see the work they do all over town and wonder how or even if they got paid for the sloppy work they do or did. I know what the truth is and just nod my head and feel for those unlucky people who actually fall victim to those shady and not so good people or even companies. I know who the bad guys and good guys are, yet I never badmouth the bad guys. I just let things take their course and do the work I have on my books and mind my own.

Ok, to the point now. The time has come to get the most important part of your home cleaned. When you are reading information on roof cleaning on company websites that offer that service these are the ones I highly advise to avoid. Critically first avoid the ones who claim to use no chemicals whatsoever, that is another way of them saying that they will be coming to pressure wash your roof. Second, avoid using companies that state pet and plant safe products used, for one if it cannot hurt your plants then it will definitely not kill and remove the black and green stuff growing on your roof and guess what, they too will be firing up the big guns and putting a good 1500 to 4200 psi on your roof. I have used and tested EVERY SINGLE NEW PRODUCT THAT HAS EVER COME TO MARKET, none worked without the use of high pressure or what they assume is (1500) psi low pressure. A rain shower removes a little bit of granules from a shingle roof, 1500 psi on a basic fan tip can cut through a 2×4 after about 20 minutes so 1500 psi to anyone with common sense should know that is not low pressure. Third, be weary of those who state low pressure roof cleaning. That could mean way too many things. Fourth, avoid anyone who requires a deposit for any residential 1 day cleaning job, any company that asks for one usually does bad work or has a bad reputation that may be revealed after the fact so that way you are locked in and cannot back out. AVOID COMPANIES WHO ASK FOR A DEPOSIT! on residential jobs. We only require deposits on commercial jobs that exceed a scope of work that has a duration of over 2 days and or over $10,000 and that is only to cover the cost of labor, fuel, chemical, materials and rentals for boom lifts if needed. If the commercial project has agreed and signed to pay upon completion no deposit is required. Just a signature.

Above where I mentioned, if it cannot kill plants then it will not kill what is growing on your roof. Yes, the chemical we use “can” kill plants and grass and yes I have had it happen on my watch before. 21 years and average of 700 roofs a year it happens, with me you have a better chance at winning the Powerball 3 weeks in a row than having plant damage. 16 years in business 9 plant damages is probably a record in the industry. I fixed them all even if it cost more than the job itself and was unavoidable like a French drain system that all routed to 1 unknown location until after the roof was cleaned and rinsed and was all concentrated at the roots of 10 foot tall portocarpus trees 250 feet away from the house and cost me 2k dollars out of pocket and hours of my time finding the right size and breed and the homeowner telling me to not worry about it. I was raised differently and I also know that pay it forward and what goes around comes around is true. I also know that repeat business is gained guaranteed only by doing 100% not 99% word of mouth spreads fast if it is good and faster if it is bad. Why do you think 90% of roof cleaning companies only last a few years at best unless they pay fortunes for advertising in every publication and search engines just to keep new customers coming since they can keep repeats and even they too will run out of customers and sink eventually unless they stop putting profit margins first and customer service last.

A lot of good roof cleaners here in Orlando, but there are way more bad ones ten fold. So before you act, think logically before you hire a “roof cleaner” and please no matter how much you think you can DIY your roof with some box store product like spray and regret. Save yourself time, money and most importantly your safety and call someone who does it every single day. Call me 407-951-3634

Thanks for reading – Jeffrey H Worth President Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems

The truth about “roof cleaning” from a true 20+ year veteran of the industry.

It is amazing how fast time goes by, in 21 years I have cleaned multi millions of square feet of surfaces, 80% of those surfaces have been roofs.

Since I was 17 years old after graduating early and leaving my job at Pizza Hut, I have been in the exterior cleaning industry ever since. I started at a large roof and exterior cleaning company, worked my way up quickly, got my “doctorate” in every aspect of roof and exterior cleaning, I learned everything to do and most important what not to do. I personally have cleaned countless commercial and residential structures and surfaces of all types, sizes, heights, scenarios from exteriors on buildings over 10 floors, to repelling off the Grand Floridian at Disney World doing section cleaning and balcony wash downs, to every water park and theme park ride and attraction in Orlando, malls, automotive dealerships, churches, huge college and professional sports stadiums, apartment complexes, townhomes, the beautiful masterpiece homes of the elite of the elite who reside in the Orlando area or have one of their homes here. I have cleaned the tiny home nation style 150 sqft home to the 20,000 plus sqft mansions scattered all over Windermere and Winter Park to the nice quiet spreads all over Central Florida’s rural areas. I clean more stuff that most others will not touch or cannot clean. I can clean anything you put in front of me, I love putting the proof in the pudding.

My impeccable record over 21 years, my solid reputation and customer service, my inability to do poor quality work even if I tried my inability to take advantage of anyone for anything has even the best of the other roof and exterior cleaning companies referring me highly to customers of theirs when they cannot get to them. I have had people call me and say they will only use me! no matter the price, and will wait weeks even months to get on my schedule and no I do not over price those people just because I can. Trust and reputation added with second nature good work ethic and customer service go a long way. Well, many times the referrals go with me and foolishly sometimes they choose the other route by hiring the cheap option, the inexperienced off duty firefighter who already has a good salary and does it for side cash or the new guy with the flashy name like BLASTAWAY or HYDROWAVE SOLUTIONS (both names I made up but you get the idea) who has 40 ratings on google all 4 to 5 stars and who has been in business a whole 4 months (I do my research on every new cleaning company that pops up on my radar) (THANK YOU SUNBIZ!) who had all his family and friends give ratings and on top of that, they will use numerous i.p. addresses while they can strike and put another false self generated review while paying google ads or adsense top dollar to get them above everyone else or is just a third level marketer with a degree in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or is just good with web design and development but cannot clean a plate in a sink correctly. That is what “we” the handful of great roof and exterior cleaning companies in Florida have to now deal with. The internet has become a melting pot of misinformation, horrible products that are the definition of ripoff gimmicks, new pop up hack companies with zero experience and not just the roof cleaning and pressure washing industry but just about everything else out there. Personally, I do not know how they can live with a clear conscious by capitalizing and preying on consumers who want a certain service or service provider but they do not know where to start or look. For every misinformed or clueless person there is always a snake trying to sell them the oils they secrete. All they care about is money, money and more money. Obviously, we are in business to make a living, save for the future and give the best to our next generation. We are also in the business to make sure we can serve as many people as we can not for maximum profits but for me, it is to provide services that are high quality, will have long lasting results, no mess or issues,  and leave the customer impressed and happy with peace of mind. It doesn’t matter if I do a job for free for those who truly are in need (I do them all the time) mainly single mothers, elderly, disabled veterans, terminally ill. The ONES WHO NEED HELP. I do as good of a job for them at no cost as I do on every other job that pays full price. I spare no expense, I do not cut any corners, it is not in my nature to. OCD?? Maybe so, I am a perfectionist and always have been my whole life. How do you think I have been in business as long as I have been with all the success I have had and spend nothing on advertising? Referrals and repeats are our staple and not even the best salesman with the finest sales pitch can take a customer from me. Most of my 1700 clients who are repeats of over 5 times out of the 7000 clients I have in quickbooks have been screwed over by so many tradesmen and other service providers that when I first sat down and educated them on who I am and what I do they are so gun shy that they seem skeptical until the work is completed and yes those are the ones who watch you knowingly or unknowingly the entire time. After that, they never worry about a thing when I come back or my guys come to do the work. I have a list of 1 or 2 of each of who I know for a fact that they are the best contractors for each specialty trade from roofers, painters, carpenters, electricians etc. who take pride in their work and do high quality work or I would not even consider referring because it is also my reputation on the line and if I send a googan then it can come back to me. If I refer someone, they are all you need. No shopping around taking that gamble, we know where that leads to…. It is just plain common sense, if someone who you know well highly recommends someone, it is probably wise to just stop there and use that someone and not worry so much about cost. Because for every 100 shady contractors there is 1 good one.

So right now I am going to give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….. about roof cleaning.
I make it look easy, almost too easy but that easiness comes from my experience. It is like muscle memory and habitual repetitiveness. Like a pro golfers swing, I can clean a roof faster and better than others. If it takes my closest competitor 5 hours to clean a 10k sqft barrel tile roof, it will take me 2 hours to spray and rinse the same roof. My job will have no plant damages and no spots missed, no issues down the road unlike the other guy who has all the landscape smothered cooking in plastic, applying a cheap lower grade brand of bleach that has to be applied several times to get the results he was looking for because of his lack of experience he sadly does not know the difference between high quality and low quality bleach (YES THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT BRANDS AND RAW PERCENTAGES) and not long after he leaves and gets paid the damage starts showing up like an unwanted guest. I use 12.5% Allied Universal Brand which is the cleanest and best quality you can get, it costs more per gallon but at the end of the year it costs 55% less than if I would have wasted money on the cheaper .65 cent per gallon garbage from Odyssey or Brenntag that is only 8.5% to 10.5% max and leaves a nasty residue and has a way higher sodium content and less active cleaning ingredients.


The metal roof you see in the picture above took 4 hours to clean. The roof is 14,000 square feet mostly non walkable and it was moldy. The photo below took 1 hour to clean, most guys would consider it borderline non walkable. To me it is easy to walk and I will walk it, you may think it took longer but if you look at the shadow on the roof you can see where it was when we started at 8:00 a.m. and finished at 9:00 a.m. the right side of the home faces east and was cleaned in March of 2016. Now there are some factors that help with the time it takes to clean certain roofs. These factors are mainly; the type of roof, outside temperature, wind conditions, how dirty the roof is, gutters or no gutters, the homes water pressure, the walkability of the roof and the amount of landscape that needs to be taken care of.

Types of roofs that clean the fastest: Concrete Tile (Flat and Barrel) Standard 3 Tab, Standard Architectural and Painted Metal.

Types of roofs that are time consuming and use more product: Clay/Terracotta, Slate, any painted or coated tile roof, bare metal, Decra (metal that looks like tile), membrane and asbestos roofs.

The color of the roof also plays a role in how fast or slow it cleans. For instance red, light and dark brown, brown, orange, calico, dark and light green, dark grey or black all clean up with usually 1 light even application. The lighter colors usually clean up slower especially white shingle or light grey which will need 1 light application and then a quick walk and touch up application before rinsing.

The porosity of the tiles will also play a role in time consumption. Some tile roofs are smoother and some are rough, now if the roof it too smooth like a terracotta roof or a painted roof which has no porosity the solution does not have a place to set and dwell and just rolls off and dries unless it is overcast or you apply a light spray and then hit the area 4 to 5 times more lightly until the mold has been killed and is no longer black. These roofs are also very slippery due to the lack of porosity when they are wet with mildew present, once the mildew and the film from the dead mildew has been rinsed off it is usually safe to walk wet or dry.

Concrete tile and shingle roofs are porous and that helps with the dwell time to let the solution do its job. Here is an up close slideshow of mildew on a white shingle roof and concrete tile roof before and after the treatment and rinse.

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No type of pressure was used just a spray on and rinse off with a water hose softwash process. You can see there is no damage or granule loss and there is zero evidence of any leftover mildew so the process lasts for years unlike damaging pressure washing and these photos are why all roofing manufacturers only recommend using bleach based cleaning products to clean and then rinse using a garden hose not a pressure washer and our process does not void your warranty, it actually prolongs the lifespan of the roof as well.

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You may have also had your roof cleaned before by a company using the same process, the run off you may have noticed was very heavy. That is a clear sign of an inexperienced roof cleaner up on your roof. We call it the “flood technique” however when I spray a roof, my mix is so precise and I only use high quality products. I call my technique “The No Drip” as you can see below there are no heavy runs from the light even application I have perfected over the years. And it cleans in one application almost every time.



Is it the chemical or human error that damaged the landscape?

Starting a business can be a lot to bear and in the beginning it involves years of dedication, sacrifice, hard times, hard work, stress and the list goes on. Only those who can handle it, have good work ethic and attitude and those who are driven will succeed, those who thought they would get rich quick or think it happens over night or the ones who count the chicks before they hatch will almost most definitely fail or give up.

It took me roughly 6 years of working by myself from 5 a.m. to way past dark without a break except the drive between stops 7 days a week, driving over 150 plus miles one way to do a single cleaning job in Ft. Pierce, working myself to absolute exhaustion, soaking wet or freezing cold or in heat that can kill most people, bitten by every kind of bee, wasp, spider, ant that is found in Florida, living from week to week and sometimes having no money except the money to cover the costs of owning a business and personal bills but not enough for a good meal or even a beer, but never once did I even consider throwing in the towel. I had worked too hard for too long and I saw the results and each year that passed my client list grew, it went from my very 1st job the Fanskas in Titusville at 1 to now over 5000 in a 13 year span. Needless to say I am very good at what I do and there are only less than a handful in Florida who I can say come close. Remember, I did not start Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems by buying equipment, asking questions and learning along the way. I actually worked for at the time, the largest, original and most well known, non pressure roof and exterior cleaning companies in the United States. I started there when I was only 17 years old, no I did not drop out I graduated early and was bound for a career as a Navy Corpsman and then in the medical field as a civilian. That was my families dream for me, not mine. I cannot stand being indoors and worse I cannot stand hospitals or office environments. I do love fishing however and competing in both Bass and Saltwater tournaments and my goal was and still is becoming a national touring bass pro, the local thing I have achieved. It has been a dream of mine since I was 3 and my dad was my inspiration who ignited that passion in me.

I am married now for 14 years and have two children and now that they are both at the age to where they are independent enough to where I can afford to leave out of state for a few weeks at a time I will be back at it for the 2020 season and on.

Before TileAfter TileTropical New Rig Beforetropical new rig after

Lets get back to the topic. I started in this industry with no experience like everyone in this industry has. Working for that company that once was 30 trucks strong and growing fast and opening locations left and right until the holes in that ship started becoming more and more evident gave me a doctorate in the industry. I learned a lot, perfected my own techniques, became more confident walking on roofs no matter the pitch or size, clay, asbestos, slate, concrete tile or shingle. It became and still is second nature, the 3 years I worked there I went from assistant tech to spray tech to lead tech to senior tech in less than 12 months. I was awarded tech of the year 3 years consecutively until my departure when that company was whittled down to 4 trucks and 1 location and a very bad reputation, mainly for massacring almost every landscape on almost every job. I say almost because my crew was the only crew that had minimal to no plant damage, zero complaints and no touch ups. I did have a few when I first led a crew and I learned very fast to take my time and take pride in my work. When I started, all the techs there were good workers and in the end it was almost a labor pool. I remember picking up guys at the “Right Hand Man” staffing just so I had a ground guy. It was really sad to see what once was to what is and the man who created it watched it slowly fall apart. BTW on a good note: that guy is still a good and close friend of mine who is still in the industry he just thought outside the box and is now a builder and supplier for the guys who are in the service industry.

The most important lesson and thing I learned there was not what or how to do the work, all that depends on the individuals will to learn and succeed. I learned A LOT of what not to do and who to avoid. I am certain that is why I have not grown Tropical to anymore than 1 truck, it is hard to find good workers. I can and have the call and sales volume and capacity to run 3 or 4 trucks full time from September to Mid June before the Summer doldrums hit and majority of the population is more concerned about having summer fun, taking family vacations and spending time with the kids rather than worry about what the roof or pool deck looks like. Every single summer since I remember has been slow, that is when the cheapskates and low ballers become customer and service provider. The guys who are not the type to lowball bids become lowballers themselves for a little bit to keep income flowing. I KNOW……. I DID IT TOO!!! You have to do what it takes to survive and grow and the same goes for your business. I have not lowballed a job since 2009 or 2010, I don’t have to. My work is so impeccable and perfect every single time, most who get my info from a friend, neighbor, associate, other cleaning company or just see my work hire me regardless of the cost. No, I do not overprice anything ever, I factor in and price everything accordingly. Most of my clients are mine because they are or should I say were gun shy of even the thought of getting their roof cleaned because the last 3 or 4 who did it killed plants and damaged something never to be heard from again after the check has cleared. I admit I have had on very very very rare occasions had damages like a broken water spigot, sprinkler head, accent night lighting, roof tiles, spotting on clothes and furniture etc. The difference they see between me and the other companies is either I have it fixed properly before they even notice or within 1 day depending on what it is. Plants too, I have had 11 plant damages since Jade became Tropical in 2006. Over 9,000 roof cleanings alone not counting all the exteriors, screen enclosure and pool decks, driveway and sidewalks and every other project we have done to 11 plant damage claims. All 11 claims were corrected within 48 hours of the call from the customer, and I don’t pussyfoot around and toss a 2 gallon plant where a 15 gallon plant was and tell you to wait for it to grow. I find the twin or the closest one to it and I plant it properly. I have spent according to quickbooks $1,101.67 since 2006 on plants. The one that added to it that made the number was a topiary right at the corner of the house where the seam had a slow drip that we missed or started leaking after we left. Yep, a 500.00 plant on a 700.00 job. Yep, I found the match that was shaped just like it and I got a discount on it too. 8 Foot tall spiral topiary. It was not my fault but it was my responsibility. The gutter had a bunch of crud sealing the seam where the leak was, our solution slowly broke down that crud and the residual found its way through, dripped and toasted it. Topiaries and Italian Cypress are a roof cleaners worst enemy if they are not experienced or know what to look out for. Covering any plants with tarps, plastic or sheets is absolutely prohibited and forbidden by me and is not recommended what so ever. Remember the things I learned about what not to do? Yeah, that was one of them. I stopped using plastic at that company (they did not know for a while) and that is part of why I never had plant damages. Water is all you need, oh and a good ground guy with a good attitude and work ethic to use it. No fertilizer or neutralizer or any of the hocus pocus crap others may feed you to add to the bill or the sale. So yeah my secret is out of the bag!! But!! Anyone can spray water, very very few can do it the right way, there is just a certain way to do it and no other way and my guys have it down.

So where the question at the header states ” Is it the chemical or human error that damaged the landscape?”

It is always the human error.

I get asked daily from potential clients – ” Can or will your solutions kill my plants and grass?” I always reply with; my solution is the same as all those who clean roofs properly but MY solution isn’t going to hurt anything. They ask why? I tell them we know exactly what we are doing. I say the chemical can in the wrong hands. So it is always human error due to lack of either experience or just plain lack of work ethic.

What to expect from the lowest price from a collection of bids for the most part? Poor quality for sure, some or all plants burned and if they didn’t burn up the yard they burned up the life and warranty on the roof, no response from them when you repeatedly call them with concerns or questions about the damage. Those guys are just cowards and bad for the industry.

I have said it for years and it is actually an old cliché ” YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR” especially in all service trades. You have a cheap plumber, expect leaks and issues. Cheap electrician, expect a fire. Cheap tree guys, expect damages to your property. Cheap used car, it is gonna have issues. Cheap meal, McDs not Seasons 52 and expect a tummy ache or high cholesterol. Cheap car wash, spots missed. Cheap roof cleaners, horrible results and an endless nightmare. It never works to save money by being a cheapskate when it comes to specialty services like some I mentioned above, you’ll spend way more in the end on top of the stress and aggravation. Just pay the median cost after you confirm the one you want to hire is good at what they do (NOT BY GOOGLE REVIEWS) because 95% of the reviews on newbies are fake reviews. But by referrals or references that you get or by credible review sites online. I have had my listing on Google since 2006 and I have had 31 reviews all 5 star and all authentic. I lost 21 of them because Google decided to delete my listing page from not maintaining it for 10 years because I really did not need to update it. I do not advertise I do not need to.

Don’t get burned …….. they are out there and they are good talkers but bad walkers. Remember in every market 90% of them are crooks or pop tarts. I say pop tarts or pop starts because they get in and get out quick. They didn’t factor in all the other things that are involved in roof cleaning, poor guys thought it was a spray, collect money and go. There are 100 more steps than that, and too many different scenarios for every job that the 5% like me only know.

Thanks for reading, and remember… it’s never the chemicals fault.

AND DO NOT EVER LET THIS (see below) HAPPEN TO YOUR PLANTS OR TO YOUR ROOF! The yellow buffer looking thing you see is for non painted flat surfaces like driveway and sidewalks, not roofs. The plastic over the plants is now an oven cooking the plants while the roof is being cleaned, you cannot water, keep cool and hydrate plants that are suffocating under a tarp or plastic sheets.

Importance of keeping your gutters cleaned regularly.

You are at home or at your business, you hear the rumbling of thunder off in the distance and the sky starts to darken as the clouds start rolling in. The rain starts, it gets heavier and heavier. You look outside just to see a torrent of water cascading off your roofs edge. You think to yourself I have gutters and I may have had them cleaned before….. you think a bit and realize it has been a year maybe 2 years?? or more.

The importance of keeping your gutters clean and free of any debris is not just important, it is almost critical. When your gutters get overwhelmed with water from a clogged downspout or they are packed to the max with leaves or pine needles or other debris. Just the weight alone is enough to separate the gutters from your fascia. I see it all the time, not only do I see separation I also see where they are unbalanced from all the weight accumulating to one section and sometimes it is opposite of where the downspouts are located. When that occurs and water runs over the edge it starts to cause staining and oxidation (the grey streaks you see that scrubbing does not remove) from the constant runoff water that is mixed with the acidity of the leaves, the metal from the aluminum gutters and foreign materials i.e. pieces of mortar or tiles if you have a tile roof or granules and roofing nails if you have a shingle roof.

It is important to also keep debris from accumulating on the roofs tiles or shingles and critical to keep valleys free of heavy debris build up. Debris in valleys causes water to pool up and go over the flashing during heavy rains and cause water damage to the decking especially on roofs built prior to the new standards set after the trifecta of Hurricanes in 2004. A lot of homeowners with tile roofs that have leaks are usually caused by blocked up valleys or piles of leaves in dead valleys that they cannot see from the ground and prevents proper channeling of rainwater.

These are some of the things that I notice when doing a full service gutter cleaning. Leaves that have sat in the gutter for so long that there are sediment layers. The top layer is dry leaves and twigs, under that there are damp leaves, under that there are leaves that are starting to decay, under that there are leaves that have decayed and finally the bottom layer is just straight mud and water. That is from just 1 year of leaves in gutters that are underneath heavy trees, especially oaks. What happens to the gutters? The acid from the leaves will cause the aluminum to start pitting and after time leaking. A gutter run or span by itself will cost a bit but not much to replace. Now a gutter that needs to be replaced that is in between a screen enclosure and a roof becomes a construction project and will cost thousands to rebuild. You cannot patch gutters for a permanent fix, it is just a band aid and will leak again before you know it.

Another cause of shortening the lifespan of your gutters is roofing granules from a few ways. Your house may not have a tree for miles nearby, but you notice pin holes on the bottom of your gutters. You can see light through them! You are baffled… That is caused from excess granules in the gutters sloshing around during wind and rains and acts almost like sandpaper or a slow speed sandblast. Over time the holes will appear. When a new shingle roof is built and you have gutters, the roofing contractor will usually have his/her guys blow out the granules inside the gutters after the build is complete. After that you are on your own, new shingles will still have loose granules for a few rains until the loose granules have all pretty much come down. So after a month or so it is a good idea to get up there and either rinse or blow out what is there or call a reputable company to do so. Another way granules build up heavily, is from a shingle roof that has unfortunately been pressure washed and the same heavy accumulation I notice a lot is from roofs that have met their lifespans or have been severely weathered by storms or hail. I have seen on a few occasions gutters with granules that are 2 to 6 inches deep!

Clogged downspouts are another problem I see more than usual. Maybe all but 1 are flowing good but all it takes is 1 that is backed up and a torrent of rain to cause damage. Downspouts almost always have 90 degree turns going towards the vertical walls against the house and are strapped to the walls and another 90 that connects to a run that goes down into either a French drain or another 90 that directs water away from the house. Some installers will use self tapping screws and others rivets. Rivets in my opinion are a better option as they do not stick out inside the pipes too far to where they catch sticks or twigs with a few leaves on them that cause the beginning of the pile up. Some may pile up at the top, some midway and some at the bottom turns. When this happens the water will build up and weigh down the verticals and stress the fasteners that in turn will loosen the system away from the house and after time the damage is done and you will need to replace or repair.

Here is a run down on my process on gutter cleaning. All of our gutter cleanings are full service clean out, inspect and clean up and bag all debris.

First, I will look to see if there is minor or major debris on the roof itself which can add to the total cost depending on the severity of the debris. If it is minimal and only takes 20 minutes or less to blow down there is no added cost. If it is heavy and will add more time to the initial job then I will charge accordingly. I will blow everything down to the edge and then start on the side of the house where the wind is blowing into or if there is no or very light winds I will just start in the back on one side and work my way around. I use a handheld blower instead of a backpack blower. I use an Echo PB250 now and have always used Echo blowers for their reliability and easy maintenance for over 20 years. Backpack blowers are unsafe and can cause you to lose your balance on pitchy roofs and are not a good idea to wear when climbing a ladder especially a 32 or 40 foot. Most cases I just hold the blower in one hand and walk up, if I am using my 32 or 40 I will bring up my 100′ long paracord with a d-ring tied to both ends and either connect it to my blower and climb up or drop one end down and have one of my guys clip it on for me and will pull it up and lower it the same way for refueling or when I am done.

If there is a gutter between a roof and pool enclosure I always start there and have my guys on the ground with water hoses (to quickly rinse off any muddy spray from heavily packed gutters before it dries), blowers, wide rakes and 3 mil Heavy Duty 50 gallon bags so when I proceed after that area is finished they can start to tidy up the mess and rinse off the outside of the gutters. I will work my around and as I get to each downspout I will point the blower into it and have one of my guys on the ground let me know if the air is flowing good or not if I cannot see the end of the downspout. If there is a blockage I will make note and take care of it after I have finished the whole gutter system and any others that are blocked.

Blocked downspouts can be caused by several ways. The most common is just a few inches of debris in one of the turns either at the top or bottom. Depending on how packed will determine if I have to remove the turns or entire downspout from the gutter or just a simple few taps to dislodge whatever is blocking the way. After I have cleared all the downspouts and debris has been picked up I will go around with a water hose that has a brass Y-valve with a sweeper nozzle aka a stream tip and I will flush out and rinse any mud or crud that the blower did not get and check the flow pattern and direction to make sure the water flows to and not away from the downspouts as well as look for any dips or low areas where water pools up. I will let the homeowner know if there are any issues that need to be addressed and I will offer to adjust and fix any for an additional fee if it is a major fix and will take time to correct it. If it is minimal and only a slight quick adjustment I usually do it for free.

We do 2 things with the debris we can take it with us and dispose it at no cost (if it is 1 or 2 bags) or we can in most cases put it on the curb for the yard waste to collect. Especially when there are several bags filled to the top that weigh up to and over 100 pounds. On one home we literally had 89 (50 Gallon 3 mil bags) filled to the tops.

Now you may ask: How often should I have my gutters cleaned?

It depends on the surroundings, if your home is tucked underneath trees like pine, oak, camphor, maple or any other tree that sheds a lot then I recommend every 3 to 4 months. If you have neighbors with those same trees I would say 1 to 2 times a year. When you get a chance to, during a heavy rain try and look at the flow of the downspouts and check for any spilling over on the main horizontal runs and address them pretty quickly.

What else could happen with gutters that are not flowing as they should? Well, you can get wet rot to the fascia, water backing up over the flashing into the house or porch, you can also create a perfect place for subterranean termites to get moisture for their mud tubes they build while they snack on wood that is behind the stucco, also a gutter that is clogged can cause rain water to pour over the ends or corners and cause erosion in the direct spot where the water lands.

What is the cost? The cost varies from several factors like: Type of roof, height, amount of debris, is there plants and trees growing in the gutters, the length span of the system, space between the roof and gutter (accessibility) (YES I have seen gutters with less than an inch of space with a splash guard) very very time consuming any blockage that needs extraction and other factors. The cost starts at our minimum fee of 250.00 and goes up. Some may charge less, I have seen the work they do too and it shows with the price because I am there after the next rainstorm finishing and fixing their work.

We only do work one way. High quality, correctly and we do not mislead or lie to make more money. Some are in business to make more money. I started my business also to earn a good living but what sparked me into it was seeing all the horror stories and  absolutely terrible contractors of all trades ripping off homeowners and other entities. I took care of homeowners when I worked for someone else before I started Tropical Roof and Exterior and I took my work ethic away from that sinking ship and built my own ship that is water tight and the wind in our sails is strong.


Thanks for reading,  Jeffrey H Worth President of Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems and USCG Licensed Nautical Captain and owner of 1197FISHINGADVENTURES