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what is roof algae

Gloeo… Huh?

Have you ever wondered what those black streaks are covering your roof? Those unsightly black streaks are caused by algae. More specifically, gloeocapsa magma or blue green algae. The black streaks are actually a dark pigmented sheath the algae produces to protect itself from damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun.

The algae forms where moisture tends to dwell on roof surfaces. Our humid climate here in Coastal Virginia,  creates the conditions most conducive for algae growth.

The algae discoloration typically begins as small spots at the lowest point of the roofline lear gutters and then quickly transforms into streaks on the entire roof plane. By the time the algae is visible, it’s likely been present for several months or even longer.

Other more severe organic material that are found on neglected roofs are moss and lichen. To understand how to deal with this recurring problem on rooftops, it’s important to understand how it grows and spreads. Although some similarities exist, algae and moss are very different and require slightly different procedures to prevent or to remove.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) says that algae spores are carried by the wind or by animals and can quickly spread from one rooftop to another. That is why it is common to see algae growth on rooftops throughout an affected neighborhood. The same is true for apartment or condominium complexes, townhouses or row houses. Although there is no scientific evidence that algae is damaging to asphalt shingles, it certainly affects the aesthetics of a roof.

Having said that, on highly reflective or “cool” roofs, algae will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the long-term effectiveness of these roof systems. That’s why its important to address an algae problem as soon as possible.

Since moss is a non-vascular plant that obtains water through its leaves, moss must have a moist environment to survive. In Coastal Virginia, moss tends to grow on north facing roof planes. This is because it receives less direct sunlight and stays damp longer than south facing planes. Another factor are any overhanging tree branches. Trees provide additional shade and drop debris on the roof that further holds in moisture and acts as a food source for moss. Pine needles are the most troublesome in sticking to roof surfaces and holding moisture.

Moss spores may also be carried by wind or animals and can easily spread throughout neighborhoods. Unlike algae, moss can be detrimental to asphalt shingle performance. Moss can cause the leading edges of the shingles to lift or curl, which increases the risk of shingle blow-off during wind events. In severe cases, moss build-up can cause lateral water movement resulting in moisture damage to the roof deck or may even cause leaks.

To solve any algae, moss or lichen problem you may have, Call Neptune Clean. We are experts in the safest, most effect removal of these microbial invaders.

Call Neptune Clean Today! 757-384-0411