Category Archives: roof cleaning

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.

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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

2019 is here, and so are a lot of newbie start-ups. So just be careful who you choose.

So again, it has been a bit since I posted my last blog.  We have been very blessed to have the great clients we have had for 2 decades as well as all the new clients just from 2018. We now have over 4800 clients who use us and refuse to use anyone else because they have been burned by pretty much every other cleaning company. What I do not understand is, how some of them are still in business and then I came to the conclusion that those burn and turn cleaning companies spend as much in advertising as John Morgan does. And 20 years as a business owner I have learned one simple fact. Those who advertise the most have the least amount of repeat business and do mediocre work with the only goal of sell it, clean it, collect payment and ignore the concerns or complaints, I know almost all of them but I will not be the one to call them out. So they have to keep on putting out ads to keep business rolling in. We have not advertised in nearly 8 years. Not 1 dime spent on it. We get so many referrals from so many people, businesses, several roofing companies, even a few other cleaning companies like ours refer us to do jobs that are beyond their capability or they do not do roofs. We are “THE” company that does not leave you hanging, we are always transparent, we never lie or deceive to get a sale ever… nor will we ever. If a consumer does not like our price or chooses another company then that is their right. Never have I called and pushed one person in 20 years, no reason to. I cannot stand a pushy salesperson and don’t care much for solicitors. So I treat everyone the way I prefer to be treated. A lot of times, they call us next go round anyways because the last company left a disaster or broke all the promises they made to get the job in the first place. It is so common, especially in an unregulated easy to start but hard to stay in “business” business like roof cleaning and pressure washing to get a so called “professional” who has been doing it for a few months or even weeks at your home for you to only find out that they have absolutely no clue what they are doing. I see them every day come and go. They get in and poof they are gone with a trail of destruction left in their path, ruining for the ones who have been here and that really know what they are doing. Most common cause, it is always the price. Not everyone goes with the lowest, those people understand fully: you get what you pay for!

Do not get me wrong, the goal in any business is to make it profitable and make a living with it. However, I was taught by father a General Contractor and Co-Founder of CMS (Computerized Monitoring Systems) a sub station for monitoring security systems in Longwood, longtime family friend Glenn Brazier (former CEO and founder of C&A systems) an alarm company and my Uncle Rick who is the Founder and CEO of St.Worth Container Corporation in Ontario California of over 37 years. This is what they told me and what I base my business ethic off of. If you are in business to just make money you have already set your self up for failure and most likely a lot of headache and legal troubles. Look at some of the biggest schemes in our modern day. Enron, Samuel Israel, Marc Dreier, Kenneth Lay, Scott Rothstein, Tom Petters, Bernie Ebbers and most infamous Madoff. Those may be huge examples but when you run a business and greed becomes your creed then it is over before it began and maybe they have remorse but I doubt it. There are so many small businesses who deceive the consumers by telling them one thing and delivering another, getting the payment… then… getting the call to come fix the issues but no response. A lot of them are just a few hundred dollars and people will dismiss it and move on, but on jobs that involve a lot more capital. Well that is where all the stress and legal stuff starts that could have been avoided by due diligence and reading the fine print.

In the roof and exterior cleaning industry there has been in the last I would safely say 10 years, tons of misleading and deceiving information and products. The most pushed is how bleach based cleaning is not good and does not work as well as it kills all your plants and destroys roofs and other surfaces, yet since it’s discovery in 1774 and its recognition as an element in 1808 and in 1910 it became a commercially and widely used biodegradable cleaning product. To this day it is still used to clean, disinfect and sanitize all over the world. Can it kill plants? Yes, if it is applied or used by someone with little to no experience. You will know who those are, the tell tale signs are usually ones that first pull out rolls of plastic and tarps to cover plants even with a ground guy. The problem with plastic covering all your landscape is the minute it is put on the clock starts ticking on the heat and suffocation of those plants and worse it gives the guys who are cleaning a false sense of security so they put down less water and they do not rinse the roofs off thoroughly or even rinse them at all. In 1998 I stopped covering plants and what do ya know!! No more damages, I am not saying I have not had a few over the years but I can say plastic would have not prevented it from happening. French drained gutters that lead to nowhere anyone knows, plants that are near death before we got there and one time we were in the middle of a cleaning job and the areas water pressure shut off due to a busted water main. There are thousands of scenarios and I know them all by instinct from the decades of experience and the thousands of roofs I have cleaned, I have done it all, seen it all and there is nothing out there that I cannot do. I do not even know a roof cleaner out there that can even compare to what I know and do. I have been told by so many that I am the best they have ever seen, I have had articles written on me and have been awarded from corporations, municipalities, cities and other sources for the work I have preformed for them over the years without the slightest issue.

So, back to the promise breakers and cleaning fakers. There are so many WOM products out there. WOM is short for waste of money, stuff you hear on the radio ads, or in infomercials or on some new cleaning company that is “ECO FRIENDLY” when in reality they are eco friendly because all they use is either cold or hot water which factually cleans nothing. I mean do you clean a car without soap? Laundry with just water? Dishes with no detergent? Oh boy! Shower with no soap? C’mon, if you by into the guys who only use hot water then you might as well give the money away and have them do nothing at all because in a few weeks or at best months it will all be worse than it was before. Then there are the Roof A Cide or Roof B Clean jokers out there spraying what they call safe but realistically a toxic, carcinogenic, no smell poison called copper sulfate. Look it up. It bioaccumulates and causes cancer in people and lab rats. To top it off, it does not kill the mildew so it has to be blasted off with high pressure to get a clean result. So your roof is now pitted and destroyed and you have a toxic chemical that is in your yard indefinitely. I tried it before, I have tried every single new product that has come out and none of them worked to safely, without using damaging amounts of pressure to get results that were not even acceptable to even the shadiest contractor. If there was a new product out there that worked as good as sodium hypochlorite then I would use it, but why change to something when what we have been using works perfectly and when used by the right contractor you will not get damaged plants or paint or any kind of mess left behind.

When you are looking to hire a company to clean your property, use a company that has a true good reputation and if someone refers us to you or refers any company to you then use them and STOP SHOPPING AROUND for the best price. You will save yourself A LOT of headache and trouble by not trying to save a few bucks. Look up the business on Sunbiz.org to see just how old the company is, and if you cannot find them there then avoid using them. They are not even legally allowed to work as a business.

If you are into using someone that knows exactly what they are doing, someone who is transparent with everything, someone who actually will take care of you in the event that a mistake is made and quickly call Tropical Roof and Exterior Cleaning Systems. 407-951-3634 or visit us at http://www.tropicalroofandexterior.com

I know it may have been a bit of a rant, but I am tired of hearing about so many home and business owners getting burned by what it seems to be like every single other company out there. Start taking pride in your work and step up your work ethic guys, I can’t clean every single house out there.

Thanks for reading my ranty post!

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Paver Driveways and Paver Pool Decks: Before you sign the contract, consider this.

Over the past decade paver driveways and paver pool decks have become pretty popular. Especially on custom homes and many new subdivisions, making them standard for driveways opposed to concrete. A lot of homeowners see other homes with them, they look fancy and are relatively affordable and decide to get them to replace concrete.

They are great looking and make an average looking home stand out, or a standard pool area look like a vacation oasis. They have many different colors, patterns and designs and are a good substitute for concrete. But! They are very high maintenance. Unlike a concrete driveway that has 2 or 3 joints on average, pavers have hundreds if not thousands of joints depending on the size of the driveway. Those joints create a hot bed for weeds and for heavy mold to build up in a rope like fashion, as we like to refer to the mold as rope.

Concrete driveways and paver driveways will at one point need to be cleaned. The price difference for a standard concrete vs a paver driveway can vary from a 25% to a 50% difference in cost. The pavers are always going to cost more to clean them because they are more time consuming, depending on the extent of weeds in between the pavers and how much mold rope is in the joints. A standard surface cleaner running off of a 6000 psi machine cannot even get all the weeds out and hand picking them is the only option after the wash is completed. Chemically cleaning them, aka softwashing will get the pavers clean just as good but you will still have to do some hand picking as well. The softwash will kill all the mold, mildew and algae, it will also soften up certain weeds and dissolve them for an easy rinse and will last 10 times longer than pressure washing. Using a pressure washer with a wand and a turbo nozzle, fan tip or orbital on pavers will also clean them, but it will blow all the joint sand out creating deeper crevices for pollen, dirt and other debris to settle in the cracks creating the perfect growing grounds for weeds and mold, not to mention that high pressure also pits and fades the pavers as well as the cleaning will only last a few months at best as water is usually the only thing used. Without a cleaning solution containing bleach and algaecide applied afterwards the mold spore is still there, it will in a short time grow back thicker and darker and after repeated cleanings using high pressure techniques it will literally destroy the top layer of pavers to the point that there is nothing that can be done to restore them except for a complete demo and installation of new pavers.

Weather, UV rays and heavy rain by itself will cause erosion, factor in mildew breaking down the material they are made of and you will more than likely regret getting them a year or two later. See, paver stones look good when they are brand new, shiny and solid. They almost look indestructible. Pavers are actually made out of concrete that has a pigment color added during the production of them, some are of very high quality while majority are not.

There are products and techniques out there that will preserve them and there are companies who specialize in paver restoration, sanding and sealing. But just like the roof cleaning and pressure washing industry, paver sealing is unregulated and anyone with a pump sprayer and a can of Thompsons water sealer can seal pavers, but only a handful can and will do it the correct way. There are a lot of clowns, jacks of all trades, handymen out there that will give you a great price and do the job, the first few months, weeks or even days after they may look perfect. Then the white spots show up, the sealer fades or starts peeling or chipping off and the guy who promised you the same results as the guy with the higher price and knowhow is no longer in business or they just ignore your concerns and calls. I see it all the time and hear about it from my customers who decided the guy I referred was too high in price and went with the lowest bid only to have to now pay to have the guy I referred originally to strip, resand and reseal the pavers all over again to get the results they were looking for saving absolutely no money.

Another problem with paver driveways, walkways and pool decks. They are not all built or installed correctly. The coping always shifts due to foot or vehicle traffic, water erosion, poor installation. Dips and low spots start showing up in areas all over, causing standing water to collect and trip hazards. It is caused by poor grading. The ones who are actually installing the pavers are 9 out of 10 just employees getting 10 to 15 per hour by bosses or owners pushing them to be fast so they can move on to the next job and they can care less about the long term quality of the install, that the owner expects them to do so when looking for a company who installs pavers make sure you do your research first.

So what is there to consider before getting pretty pavers: First, the cost of having them cleaned annually because of how porous they are they will get moldy once a year, especially if they are not properly sealed. Second, having them sanded and sealed every 2 years, no matter how good of a job or the quality of the products used they will always need to be stripped, new joint sand put in and new sealer applied. Third, repairs are inevitable with pavers, they separate, get low spots, break, get up rooted by tree roots and many other issues will arise. Fourth, all the weeds and mold in the joints will always be a player when you have pavers.

Simply put, if you want to spend lets say on an average sized pool deck or 4 car driveway 300.00 per year cleaning them if done properly, 2500.00 every 2 years to have them refinished if done properly, 500.00 in repairs done every 5 years if done properly you are looking at spending roughly 1650.00 average per year just to have a paver driveway after the cost of installation. If you have the desire and you do not mind spending money on a parking pad, pavers are the right thing for you. They are beautiful and nice to have, but just like anything nice and to keep it nice is going to mean paying to maintain them.

As for the same sized driveway made of concrete or pool deck with texture and cool deck coating. Annual cost to clean, around 150.00 to 175.00, no high pressure required just a treat and rinse, no sanding or sealing required and sealing is not recommended for concrete surfaces as it will in time make the surface look blotchy and it will be slippery if it is wet. Repairs are usually only if tree roots bust through or push up on the slab. And if you ask me, I think concrete looks ways better as long as it is kept clean and pool decks look better with a textured cool deck. No weeds, no mold rope very low maintenance, no brainer if you want to save money or are on a budget.

Two great alternatives I have seen over the years and I always recommend to my clients over concrete pavers is one, stamped concrete. It has the classy pattern look, you can tough coat them any color and there are no joints for weeds and mold to grow, plus they are very low maintenance. The other is real travertine, get the kind that is smooth and not rough or very pitted. Make sure they underlay it and grade it properly if not doing veneer over an existing slab or deck.

I clean around 100 or more paver driveways and pool decks a year alone, majority of my clients always say they regret getting pavers and a few have even had the pavers taken out and went back to traditional cool deck pool decks or concrete driveways. They all pretty much said that they were tired of dealing with them. Hence the nickname for pavers “stones of regret”.

Hope this helps you if you are planning of getting pavers, not all companies who install them do shoddy work and pavers can and will add curb appeal and value to your home as long as they are kept maintained and installed properly.

Thanks for reading!

 

Skylight cleaning, why some roof cleaning companies do not clean them?

I notice a lot of things, I am very observant when looking around while working whether I am driving or up on a roof. I have noticed several times that the roof next door was cleaned, no big deal. Except the skylights are still black and moldy. You have to be kidding right? No I am not kidding. That is just a lazy slacker move from some hack.

If I am on a roof and the skylights are up there, which they will be if the home has them then it is part of the roof cleaning, just like the fascia or drip edge. They are part of the roof system and should be cleaned along with the roofing material.

When hiring a roof cleaning contractor and you have skylights, ask them if they clean them, or just have them clean them. It adds no extra time to the job and makes for a beautiful finish. The reason I think some guys do not clean them, is that they don’t rinse the roof off. If you spray chemical on the glass and leave it, it leaves a white salty sparkly haze. The over spray gets on the skylights and the mildew hides it from the inside so you the homeowner are none the wiser. If they had to rinse the skylights then that means they would have to do the whole section of roof that the skylight is on. What happens if they rinse just a section? It will leave a clearly visible area that does not have chemical residue and will look different from the rest of the field until it rains and these guys want to get the check and head out after going over the roof with the homeowner post inspection.

So just food for thought, if you have them. Make them clean them while they are up there and remember, always rinse the roof or it is not a roof cleaning it is then just a chemical application.

One thing I want to add to this blog, I am going to post 2 photos below. These are the biggest DO NOT LET ANYONE DO to your roof scenes. Surface cleaners are for driveways and sidewalks not roofs and high pressure wand fan tips are for…. well nothing. They are obsolete with the technology and products we have available today. Softwashing roofs is the only way and the right way. One guy has a rain suit on, no boots and slowly removing half the granules and ended the life of that shingle roof. The other is wearing shorts, tennis shoes and taking off the top layer of color and coating and pitting the tile roof for an even faster and more dense mildew regrowth and causing water intrusion. If you see this, DO NOT HIRE or you will be paying for costly repairs or a new roof.

Thanks for reading!

 

check out my website at roof cleaning, roof cleaning orlando, florida roof cleaning, orlando pressure washing, orlando pressure cleaning http://www.tropicalroofandexterior.com for more information

 

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Why is covering landscape with plastic more damaging than not covering?

I was thinking the other day I forgot a very important topic, it has actually been lingering in my head for the past 5 or 6 years to write this. Well, tonight I will give you a clear and thorough explaination why covering landscape with plastic causes more damage than you may think.

If you know me, you know I clean A LOT of roofs, around 600 residential roofs a year on average myself with my full time helper. Every single day I pull my rig out, there are at least 2 or 3 or more roofs scheduled. Big, small, pitchy, flat, covered in piles of leaves, some are mild, some are not even moldy at all and some…. well some are so black that we try and guess the original color before I spray it. Roof cleaning is second nature to me, there is not a roof I cannot clean, I actually have roof cleaning contractors contact me from all over the globe for advise. They see me on forums, and hear about my simplistic system and technique. 10k sqft barrel tile roof, 2 hours max. Others 2 days!! I have it down to an absolute science without a doubt.

Well, back to the topic. Of those 600 roofs per year, I have maybe 1 or 2 plant issues and these issues are almost every single time unavoidable no matter what. Like for instance, French drained gutter systems on a 8 to 10 thousand sqft tile roof that all collect in 1 area at the roots of a hedgeline or in the middle of the yard of St. Augustine grass during a dry period without adequet rain. There is the home with horrible water pressure and weak neglected landscape, the shrubs that were already dead before we got there (I take photos of all of it for my records before I even mix my tanks) or one of my favorites – THE ROOF NEXT DOOR GETS CLEANED AND THOSE GUYS KILLED BOTH HOMES PLANTS. Yes, it has happened and I was able to prove and explain and win my side of the issue. Well, to say that I have not used 1 inch of plastic to cover plants since 2001 after using plastic for 3 years before with nearly zero plant damages that is the honest truth. I use plastic for a few reasons, mostly to protect coi ponds or stained wood and that is pretty much it.

Why do I not use plastic then? Prior to 2001 when safe non pressure roof cleaning was becoming the new thing and pressure washing roofs was proven to be highly damaging to all roof types. The chemical was known to burn or even kill plants and grass, so the best solution at the time was simple, buy rolls of plastic and cover everything up that should solve it, right? Well, not exactly. I was still getting plant damages, actually more plant damages than before. So, we tried using fertilizers, plant enhancers, miracle grow yada yada yada….. Still same issues, I was about to jump ship and do something else for a living, I hate complaints and confrontation. I really hated paying for and replacing all those plants and areas of grass too.

Revelation!! or my oh my gosh moment.. Sometime in 2001 right after 9/11 I was cleaning a tile roof in the Longwood Markham Woods area close to home. It was around December and the air temp was in the 60’s sunny and a light breeze. As I was finishing up, my helper and I were doing our usual rinsing off the plastic and pulling it off the landscape. One row of azeleas was the moment, as I pulled off the plastic I felt this burst of humid heat hit me in the face like opening an oven. Remember it is 60 out and for Florida, that is a cool crisp day, but under that plastic is had to be 120 to 140 degrees maybe. Then I thought, you know, I am going to come back later and look at these plants. Two days go by and I go back to that house and drive by, the whole shrub line was smoked, not a single green leaf. All the leaves were brown from top to bottom front to back. That is when it hit me, covering the landscape with plastic is the culprit. I knew in my heart it was. So the following week after that I decided to not cover anymore, I put down more water and rinsed 6 feet up the roof on roofs without gutters and plants in the direct drip line. Just like that, no more plant damages or atleast 90% of the time no damages. The company I worked for insisted I still need to cover plants, I of course didn’t listen. But! I had successfully become the only tech out of them all with no plant damage and 3 consecutive employee of the years were mine before I went off and took the jump to start my own business.

I always get asked if I cover plants, I just simply say no and I explain why. After I clean their roof and they see no damages to anything the words spreads fast and I get whole neighborhoods on lockdown.

BELOW IS A BIG NO NO!! This is the way you cook plants.

sg101209_sheeting

Now, why does plastic kill plants? Simple, it cooks them and it gives the cleaning techs a false sense of security. The reason it cooks or suffocates them is because it only takes 10 to 15 minutes in the Florida sun even if it is 50 degrees outside to make the temperature under the plastic to double or even triple. Plants have to breathe too, just imagine if you were wrapped in plastic but you still could breathe and it was sunny and 50 degrees outside. You know you will start sweating within a minute or two and after 10 you will probably be close to passing out if you have not already and someone is doing chest compressions on you. Plants, they are living organisms too. Greenhouse effect on them is no good.

Over the years I have found out these tips and tricks that work. First, don’t spray hot mixes you don’t need to no matter how black the roof is. Some roof cleaning guys think that it works faster, it doesn’t. The hotter the mix the faster it dries up and cannot dwell long enough to effectively kill the mildew and it takes more to dilute. The lighter but not too light works better, too light you will be there all day cleaning 1 roof chasing brown spots and cussing like a sailor. The more water in the mix, the better the spread and it will not dry up as quickly. Stay away from surfactants as well, it sticks to the plants (as in the name surfactant) and does nothing to help clean the roof what so ever, have not used it in ages. Just algaecide and fungicide bleach and water. I use normally a stern 50/50 mix give or take, it almost always cleans up in one coat. Another tip, do not flood the roof or spray heavy, just a nice light even coat. The less chemical you put down, the easier it is to dilute it to absolute nothing. Stay away from air compressed setups and roller pumps. I prefer shurflo 12 volt pumps, 20 years and millions of square foot of roof can’t be wrong, and they are highly reliable and efficient, easy to swap and last about 24 months as long as you flush them out everyday.

Second tip, THINK!! If you just sprayed a 2500 sqft shingle roof with 25 gallons of 50% mix while your ground guy is down there rinsing drip and overspray, then you rinse the roof off until everything coming off of it goes from brown to crystal clear then you are 100% good. If you just finished rinsing and you see any yellow or brownish color coming off onto to drip edge, you did not rinse good enough. Note: most plants can withstand the chemical on the for over 30 minutes if the mix isn’t a hot one except for certain plants like azeleas, hibiscus, bougainvillea, impatiens, flowers like impatiens and most of all the one and only topiaries which I assume cannot withstand any kind of cleaner for more than a few seconds, so I keep my ground guy focused on them if they are present.

Third, make sure you have a ground guy that his or her only task while you are spraying is keeping everything rinsed off til the drip stops. AND PLEASE do not use those lame multi setting water wands that give you 8 options, they do not put out adequate water pressure. Use only brass y-valves and make it rain on the plants, get in the spray zone and soak them. If the roof is guttered then their job is a lot easier, they are just getting light overspray, that is if the spray tech knows how to edge in a roof without a banana whama 6 foot wand with a bend on the end LOL. I use a 12″ wand always have and always will, most versitile and you get better coverage with a wide fan tip opposed to a narrow fan or even worse a flood technique stream tip.

Fourth, rinse off the roof when you are done. Don’t depend on the rain unless the rain is pouring down and you are phsically there watching it.  The thing to remember is that you have to keep in mind how much chemical you used and to put down enough water to ensure that what you sprayed is diluted down to the consistancy of water. For example if you take 1 gallon of 50% and you put down 25 gallons of water then the mix is so diluted it is impossible to kill any plants.

Guttered roofs, always bag the downspouts if they are not French drained, most French drains go down deep enough that it will not effect any landscape whatsoever.

I hope this information helps you understand more why you should not and whoever you hire to clean your roof should not use plastic or tarps to cover plants. Remember this, Rookies and Newbies as well as big companies use plastic, so that is if there is plant damage they will just tell you that it is not their responsibility since they did infact cover them. I have a plant guarantee that in the event there is damage, I will personally pay or come out and replace them no questions asked. I have done that 4 or 5 times since I have been in business out of the thousands of roofs I have cleaned.

check out my website at roof cleaning, roof cleaning orlando, florida roof cleaning, orlando pressure washing, orlando pressure cleaning http://www.tropicalroofandexterior.com for more information.
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