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how to clean EPDM rubber roof

How to Clean EPDM Rubber Roof

It’s not without good reason that EPDM rubber is a popular choice for commercial and residential roofs across the world. It is durable and long-lasting, and to make matters even better, EPDM roofing is relatively cheap. EPDM rubber is commonly used for roofing but also in vehicles or garden products.

You’ll also be happy to know that when the time comes to replace the old rubber roof, 100% of the synthetic rubber can be later reused. However, that’s not all – if you would like to collect rainwater, then you could hardly find a better option for roofing than EPDM rubber. That’s because even after a long time, the material will not release any pollutants into the water, making it possible to use it, e.g., to water the plants in the garden.

However, even though an EPDM rubber roof will last you from 20 to 50 years, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require any maintenance. Admittedly, you won’t have to spend as much time cleaning it as with some of the other roof types, but you might have some questions about the process. That’s why we have prepared this guide – in a second, you’ll learn how to take care of your EPDM rubber roofing, how to get rid of algae and grass from your roof, but also how to clean up after water-based EPDM adhesive

The Properties of EPDM Rubber Roofing

Before we proceed to steps that you should undertake to keep your EPDM rubber roofing clean, let’s first consider the additional reasons why people choose this type of roofing:

  • It’s fire-resistant, which is why EPDM rubber is recommended for houses in regions where fires are commonplace. It will not stop the fire, but it can slow down its progress significantly.
  • Compared to other roof materials, EPDM  is relatively resistant to impact. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it will not puncture in any case, but it’s more durable than most of the alternatives.
  • It is energy-efficient. What does it mean? In short, during warmer months, the heat will be kept out, whereas during cold weather, the heat will stay in. The cost of an EPDM rubber roof is rather low, but apart from that, you won’t have to spend as much on heating.

Unfortunately, even if the installation of the rubber roof is conducted by a professional, you might still, after several years, experience some leaks. That’s because the seams are glued together, and with time the glue will dry up, which might lead to issues, and you’ll have to re-seam the roof. Apart from that, with time, the EPDM rubber roofing will start to shrink, which might also lead to leaks due to punctures.

Are there any other disadvantages? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but most people will agree that rubber roofing isn’t particularly pretty, and your guests aren’t likely to be stunned by its beauty. That’s why EPDM roofing is usually used on higher buildings. Additionally, you can consider using acrylic coatings that would certainly add some attractiveness to the roof.

How to Clean EPDM Rubber?

If you have some free time and haven’t inspected your roof in several months, you should begin by checking its condition. To do that, you’ll have to actually climb on the roof – you won’t be able to spot any issue from the ground, as would be the case with other types of roofs. We recommend doing that on a day without rain or wind, as the process could prove to be risky.

Get Rid of Grass and Algae From Your EPDM Rubber Roof

Once you are on your roof, check for any issues that might need to be resolved. You could find grass, which might surprise you, but if there’s enough dirt in there, then your roof might present itself as a perfect place for growing weeds. Even if you don’t find there any grass, you could find blue, green, or black algae, and although it wouldn’t pose any threat to your roof or house, you’ll probably want to get rid of it as it simply doesn’t look nice.

You could buy a professional liquid solution to get rid of algae or moss from your rubber roofing, but you don’t need it – you’ll accomplish the same task by mixing water and washing-up liquid. First, use plain water to wet down the algae or moss on your roof, and then pour or spray a mix of water and washing-up liquid. Then, after half an hour, use a brush to scrub the algae or moss from your roof, and then wash it once again down with water.

Check for Tears and Signs of Shrinkage

Apart from unwelcome intrusions from Mother Nature, you might also spot other issues on your EPDM roofing, such as marks or holes. It could be a result of sharp objects, though they could also be caused by shrinkage, which is bound to be a problem if you’ve had your rubber roof for many years. Depending on the type of issue, you might need to use a sealant or cover the hole with a patch of rubber roofing. If you spot any of such problems, you should act in a timely manner, as part of the roof could start leaking, and with time, the problem will grow even bigger. The good news is that if you need to conduct some repairs and are curious as to how to clean up water-based EPDM adhesive, water and soap will do just fine.

Remember to inspect the guttering system and pipes besides checking the roof itself. Likewise, if they are damaged, clogged, or you spot any other issues, make sure to deal with them as quickly as possible, though be careful when climbing down the ladder as not to risk falling off and injuring yourself. Still, if the water won’t fall off the roof, you might be in for a huge problem, so don’t hesitate with replacing the damaged parts – if you aren’t sure how to do that, then there’s no shame in calling professionals to do that for you.

Get Rid of Leaves and Branches From Your EPDM Rubber Roof

You will most likely find some leaves, sticks, or plain dirt on your EPDM roof. Getting rid of them is easy – first, you’ll need a broom, though a leaf blower might also come in handy. While cleaning your roof with a broom, use gentle side-to-side motions to not damage the roof surface. It’s best to start from the center and then swipe the dirt, leaves, and all the elements that shouldn’t be there to the sides.

How to Wash Your EPDM Roof?

Once you have cleared out all the dirt from the rubber roof, it’s time to wash it. You could use a rubber roof cleaner, but you will also see good results using just water and soap. However, what’s really important is that you don’t use any petroleum-based products. Petroleum solvents will damage the EPDM. As such, you should stay away from any products containing petroleum, as after using them you’ll see the rubber swell. Truthfully, you should be all fine even just using the garden hose, without any soap.

That’s not all – we also advise against using any hard brushes as they could damage your roof’s surface. You would end up with a clean roof, but the rubber might puncture in some places, and that’s not something that you’d want.

Check for Damage

Once you have swept all the dirt, leaves, and branches from your rubber roof and washed it afterwards, make sure to check whether you haven’t inadvertently done harm to it. You don’t need to worry that stepping on it will do any damage, but a brush with a stiff bristle or petroleum distillates could. Apart from checking for holes, inspect whether the seams are glued together.

Whether you have discovered that your EPDM is punctured or seems to be in perfect condition, you should also remember to check your attic. Sure, your roof might look just fine, but it’s best to ensure there aren’t any issues that might not be initially apparent.

How Often Should I Clean My Rubber Roof?

The frequency of the roof inspections should depend on your house’s location, but ideally, you would check its condition once every 3 months. You should absolutely do so during Autumn, as the falling leaves might become a problem. Additionally, you should conduct another inspection once the Spring comes, as the snow might have caused some damage, especially to the seams.

However, depending on the climate, you might want to check your roof more frequently as you could have more serious algae problems (especially if it’s hot and humid where you live). On the other hand, in regions where it rains a lot, you should check whether the seams are still glued together, and if not, then act quickly, or the roof might start to leak.

Last but not least, if there are trees next to your house, small branches could fall on your rubber roof and puncture it upon an impact, in which case you would want to know about this fact rather quickly if you want to save your property from further damage.

Conclusion

EPDM rubber is an excellent roofing material, as it is durable, long-lasting, and also quite cheap. It might not be the most aesthetically pleasing choice, but given its many benefits, it is no surprise that it’s quite popular for both residential and commercial purposes. However, even though it can last you for a long time, you need to take good care of it, or the rubber will puncture, and you’ll have to deal with the leaks.

That’s why you should inspect the condition of your roof several times a year to get rid of the dirt, branches, but also algae or grass. If you ignore this problem, your EPDM will need to be repaired more frequently, or if the issue gets even more serious, you’ll have to replace it entirely. However, regular cleaning of your roof is not particularly difficult, and in most cases, all that you’ll need is a brush, water, and soap. If you have any additional questions we haven’t answered in this article, please contact us anytime.