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What are those black streaks on my roof?

What are the Black Streaks on My Roof?

Black streaks on your roof indicate the presence of algae known as Gloeocapsa magma. While it can be displeasing to look at, Gloeocapsa magma can impact your roof far beyond its aesthetics. Here’s why:

  • It feeds on the limestone filler in your asphalt shingles.
  • The algae create an ideal environment for lichens and moss.
  • It’s known to survive and thrive in harsh climates.

In short, the algae must be treated properly and in a timely fashion in order to prevent irreversible damage to a roof. If you’re noticing black streaks on your roof, read more below to understand the full extent of the problem and how to get rid of it.

Where Black Streaks Come From

Gloeocapsa magma has always been prominent in the southern regions of North America. It’s now moved into northern parts of the United States and Canada because of its ability to survive in a variety of climates and its tendency to travel.

Once you notice one roof in your neighborhood is contaminated with the algae, it’s safe to assume that your roof will be affected soon. When the algae become airborne, they travel from roof to roof. You’ll typically see Gloeocapsa magma forming on areas of your roof that don’t receive direct sunlight.

Why You’re Seeing Black Spots or Streaks

Once the algae have infested your roof, you’ll see black spots begin to form. This is the first sign that you need to schedule a treatment for your roof. As the algae feed on your limestone and grow in numbers, they’ll begin to spread and become more visible.

The algae are green in color. So, when you look at your roof and see the black streaks, you aren’t seeing the algae but their protective shield. These shields serve as their protection from UV radiation.

Gloeocapsa magma is invisible to the naked eye and has a mass equivalent to a hydrogen atom. This means that once you can see the black streaks, you aren’t seeing one or two of these organisms, but millions.

How Gloeocapsa Magma Destroys Your Roof

Gloeocapsa magma feeds on the limestone filling between your asphalt shingles. This weakens the structure of your roof and can result in permanent damage if left untreated.

As the algae spread, water becomes trapped on your roof and creates a humid environment. The humidity provides the perfect breeding ground for other contaminants such as moss and lichens.

When moss and lichens grow on your roof, their roots will burrow between your shingles and weaken the overall structure. The roots absorb water and debris, delaying your roof from drying efficiently.

Any type of algae growth will shorten the lifespan of your roof. If you don’t take immediate action to treat your roof, it can result in a premature roof replacement and lead to further issues such as:

  •  Health problems
  • Inefficient heating and cooling
  • Rise in utility bills
  • Reduced curb appeal

The Perfect Roof Treatment Process

Gloeocapsa magma will not go away on its own. As with any infestation, it’s better to act sooner rather than later.

When you schedule your roof treatment, your technician will arrive and assess the problem areas. If a section of your roof isn’t contaminated, the infield service expert can refrain from treating these areas. Keep in mind, the detergents will kill the contaminants but do not permanently prevent them.

Using our proprietary cleansers and a low-pressure wash, we can treat your roof and remove the Gloeocapsa magma. Once the cleanser is applied, the Gloeocapsa magma can be washed away and the black streaks will disappear. Any moss and lichens on your roof will turn white and fall off over the course of a few weeks.

Roofs are delicate and should only be cleaned by experts. Attempting to remove contaminants with too much pressure or the wrong cleanser can cause irreversible damage. Plus, climbing up a ladder with heavy equipment adds risk. Professionally maintaining and treating your roof will elongate its lifespan and save you the cost of replacement or major repairs.

Contact us today for a free exterior inspection.

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Terra Solutions | Soft washing vs. power washing

Soft Washing vs. Power Washing

Have you noticed that dirt and grime on your roof, siding, or deck? Over time, dirt and other damaging elements such as algae, mildew, and mold, can build up around your house, leaving it in need of a good clean. If you are new to pressure cleaning, you’re probably not sure which method is best – soft washing vs power washing. Not to worry, this article will outline each method so you can have a much clearer picture before you proceed.

Soft Washing vs Power Washing: What’s the difference?

Understanding the difference between soft washing and power washing can help you decide which is best. The clue in defining each method lies in their names – ‘soft’ and ‘power’. The main difference between the two is that soft washing uses low pressure and power washing uses high pressure to remove the dirt and stains when cleaning surfaces.

Is Power Washing the Same as Pressure Washing?

Power washing should not be confused with pressure washing.  They are similar but very different in that power washing uses a heating element to raise the water temperature to the correct temperature for the application.  We all know how much better hot water is when it comes to cleaning.  Pressure washing does not have this feature, cold water alone is used during the cleaning process.

Soft Washing and Power Washing Cleaning Methods

Both soft washing and power washing methods use pressurized water in combination with cleaning detergents. However, as previously stated, what differentiates each cleaning method is that power washing uses higher pressure compared to soft washing. This means that power washing is ideal for harder surfaces – which includes sidewalks, driveways, paved patios, and many types of stone – while softer surfaces like vinyl siding, roofs, wooden fences, decks and even brick siding are more suited for soft washing.

Is One Better Than the Other?

No. There is no method that’s better than the other. The best method would depend on your specific requirements. Some people may think that power washing is less desirable since it can cause some damage. This, however, is not entirely true. There are some instances where power washing is more favorable; the key is to know how and when to use it so that there is no damage done. Yes, power washing can chip pieces of paint or wood off more delicate surfaces, but not all surfaces are equally delicate. Power washing for cleaning larger areas like a long driveway is completely acceptable and even preferable over soft washing.

So basically, different surfaces and stains will require different cleaning methods. All you have to do is make sure you pick the right cleaning method for the surface you want to clean, not just because you want to ensure your surface gets cleaned thoroughly, but also because you want to avoid any damage to the surface.

Soft vs Power Washing Techniques

How Soft Washing Works

Where power washing favors pressure, soft washing favors solutions to do all the work in the cleaning process. The only pressure needed is the pressure that applies the solution onto the surface. Ultimately, the proper solution is most important, as well as the ‘dwell time’. Dwell time simply refers to the amount of time a cleaning solution is required to sit on a surface to break down the grime, stains, and other buildups effectively. Once the needed dwell time has passed, the surface is then rinsed off using low pressure and the results are a smooth, clean surface that leaves your home looking brand new.

How Power Washing Works?

Power washing, on the other hand, uses a combination of pressurized water and heat to clean surfaces. The high pressure and heated water are what make power washing very good at removing stubborn dirt, chewing gum, and oil from sidewalks, driveways, and garage floors. This isn’t only because of the water pressure that literally hammers down onto the dirt, but because the super-heated water provides a more effective, thorough, and deeper clean.

What Is Meant by High and Low Pressure?

What exactly does high and low pressure mean in terms of pressure cleaning? Well, numerically speaking, the rate at which water is released by a pressure cleaning machine is measured by what is known as pounds per square inch (PSI). In the case of power washing, a machine releases water at a PSI of around 4000, while soft washing releases around 500 PSI or less. The higher the PSI used for pressure cleaning, the higher the water pressure will be.

Soft Washing A House

What’s great about soft washing is that it allows you to clean a surface without leaving behind damage to the area. This is what makes soft washing suitable for any surface around your house or property. Use it to clean your roof, deck, or fence without destroying any paint or materials.

While power washing can be great for driveways and other hard surfaces, soft washing is generally preferable for more delicate surfaces, like house sidings, roofs and wooden decks and patios.


Soft Washing vs Power Washing Equipment

Before you can even think about what equipment to use, you first need to figure out what type of surface you want to clean.  Different surfaces have different requirements for cleaning, which includes different solutions, chemicals, pressures, machine nozzle sizes, and cleaning techniques.

What Equipment You’ll Need?

There’s a variety of different equipment available for soft and power washing.  For soft washing, one thing to look out for is to make sure that the spray gun has a low-pressure nozzle. For power washing, since it uses a lot of power while cleaning, it’s no surprise then that the machine needed is one that is powerful enough to handle the job.  So, if you’re thinking of tackling the job yourself, speak to a professional so that they can guide you in choosing the right one as these machines run into the thousands of dollars.

Alternatively, you can hire a professional company to do the cleaning for you. The professionals at Terra Solutions have years of experience cleaning various surfaces. Both Soft Washing and Power Washing can be especially dangerous if done by an inexperienced homeowner and getting up on a roof to soft wash it yourself isn’t advised.  Our team at Terra Solutions is always here to help you.

Different Cleaning Solutions for Soft and Power Washing

Choose the Right Solution for the Right Surface

Soft wash treatments tend to last longer than power wash treatments because the solutions used in soft washing will offer a deeper clean, going beyond the surface into the structure and cleaning from inside out. It literally gives a deeper clean. There are a variety of different solutions you can use for a soft wash treatment. Essentially, it comes down to knowing which solutions to use for different types of stains or dirt and how long they can dwell before they need to be washed off. Also, because every surface is different, you need to understand which solution can be used on the surface you want to treat.  Remember, when it comes to detergents, you must make sure that you use the right one.

Don’t Forget to Care for the Environment

A key factor to keep in mind is the chemicals you use when soft washing. Some chemicals can be very strong, which is why you should always opt to use biodegradable chemicals that won’t be harmful to the environment.  At Terra Solutions, we use only biodegradable solutions.

If you plan to do the cleaning yourself, be sure to cover all your plants in plastic wrap before you start cleaning. A lot of chemicals marketed for both pressure washing and soft washing can be quite harmful to plants.


Which Pressure Cleaning Method Is Best?


Both cleaning methods have advantages and disadvantages. What you have to do is choose the one that suits the surface you want to be cleaned. Some surfaces can take more pressure while others are too delicate and need a gentler approach.

Still Not Sure?

The safest bet is to talk with a professional who will explain which method will work best to give you the desired results.  Even if you think you can do it yourself, it’s always safer to call the experts before you accidentally damage the surface you are trying to clean or worse, injure yourself. These machines can be dangerous in the hands of an untrained user. Because of this, it’s better to get someone who’s skilled and who will get your home cleaned the first time round without any hassle!  Contact us today for a free exterior inspection.






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