What’s Growing on Your Commercial Roof?

June 28, 2021

If you’ve got a vegetative roof, you know exactly what’s growing up there; you planted it. But if your roof wasn’t designed for living things, you’ve got a growing problem (see what we did there?).

We’ll identify the most common things that might be flourishing on your roof and some strategies to deal with (or hopefully, prevent) them.

Mold, Mildew, Moss, and Algae

When leaves, dirt, and other environmental debris collect on the roof, along with the presence of ponding water, you’ve got the ideal environment for biological growth. While some roof coatings and membranes contain biocides to prevent the growth of mold, mildew, moss, and algae, excess moisture on the roof can increase the likelihood of their growth, especially in areas of the roof where sunlight is scarce. Not only can this cause wear and tear to the roof, but it can also create a safety hazard for rooftop workers (algae is slippery).

Roof Damage From Vegetation

A collection of leaves and dirt quickly becomes rooftop compost when wet, providing the perfect conditions for wind-borne seeds to sprout. Plants, shrubs, and trees growing on the roof are dangerous. Their roots destroy roof membrane and insulation (leading to leaks), clog drainage paths, and invite pests to nest.

Signs of Birds, Bugs, and Rodents on the Roof

Grain and food processing residues on the roof attract insects, rodents, and birds. Their nests inhibit drainage, acidic droppings corrode roofing materials and reduce the efficiency of solar panels, and gnawing and pecking creates punctures that cause leaks.

Rooftop Microbes and Bacteria

The presence of these pests also means you may also have fleas, parasites, and disease transmission.

Tracking micro-organisms into a facility that requires cleanliness (e.g. healthcare, laboratory, etc.) can have serious impacts on businesses and human health. If diseases are transmitted into the facility through roof leaks or carried in from rooftop workers, contamination in food production facilities can mean a million-dollar recall.

What Can You Do About It?

Remediation and prevention are possible. We’ve got three strategies to help.

Strategy 1: Trim trees. Pruning trees around the building perimeter provides numerous benefits. It reduces the amount of leaves, pine needles, pollen, and sticks that find their way onto the roof. It can also ensure that more sunlight hits the roof to dry up last night’s rain and prevent animals from easy access to the roof via overhanging branches.

Strategy 2: Have the roof inspected and cleaned regularly. Schedule routine general preventive maintenance. The roofing crew will clear the roof of dirt, vegetation, and debris. This eliminates conditions that could otherwise be ideal for the growth of unwanted vegetation and clogged drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts. An inspection will evaluate the roof’s condition and check for any deficiencies caused by pests, so they can be remedied.

Strategy 3: Call in professional pest control. Contract with a pest remediation service at the first sign of an infestation or avian population. Rodent tracks/paths, nests, gnawed materials, and droppings are a sure sign it’s time to call in the pros.

Contact D. C. Taylor Co. today at 319.731.4118 to schedule a roofing service.


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