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How to remove debris from a roof

Is there a buildup of leaves, sticks, and maybe even trash on your roof? More than just unsightly, this roof debris can lead to costly damage if left alone.

At Paradigm Roofing, we know the importance of regular roof debris removal, and we have the knowledge and tools to perform the process safely and effectively. However, if you want to tackle the job yourself, we’ll give you the tips you need to make sure that you don’t damage your roof or hurt yourself during the process. Here are the reasons that it’s important to remove debris from your roof, as well as the steps for doing it yourself:

The Dangers of Leaving Debris on Your Roof

While it’s not necessary to maintain a completely debris-free roof, it certainly is important to examine the structure periodically and clear away significant buildup. If you allow debris to accumulate with no intervention, here’s what can happen:

  • Gutter leaks. Your gutters can fill with organic debris, which will block water from flowing through freely. As water accumulates, it can spill over the edges of the gutters, leaking onto your home’s siding and degrading it slowly.

  • Poor energy efficiency. Your energy bills may increase as your roof slowly becomes less energy efficient. When you leave excess debris on the structure, that debris can cause your roof to absorb additional heat, which drives up your annual cooling costs. A clean roof, however, is designed to reflect the sun’s rays, which prevents excess solar heat from entering your home and helps keep energy bills as low as possible.

  • Roof deterioration. Depending on the type of organic matter your roof accumulates, that debris can slowly cause roof deterioration. Algae growth—which appears as black stains on your roof—can cause shingle damage as bacteria feed on the limestone and asphalt within your shingles. Lichen can penetrate your shingles’ oil base, and moss and leaves can hold damaging moisture against the structure, which can result in roof rot and water leaks.

Bottom line? If you don’t clean your roof when you notice debris buildup, you’re asking for trouble. Whether you prefer the DIY route or professional debris removal, maintaining a clean roof will help you avoid premature deterioration of your roof.


If you’re opting for the do-it-yourself roof debris removal route, here’s how to do the job safely and effectively:

1. Select a Clear Day

Never clean your roof on a day when you suspect that it may rain. A wet roof can lead to a serious accident if you must walk on it, and dry debris is easier to clear than wet debris. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a clear, cool, slightly overcast day to prevent heat exhaustion while cleaning.

2. Take Proper Safety Precautions

Safety is always the first priority when working on a roof. Make sure that you’re wearing slip-resistant footwear to reduce your risk of falling off the roof or the ladder. You’ll also want someone to hold the ladder for you so that it stays steady.

You want to avoid stepping on the roof if possible. With your untrained eye, you may not notice that a shingle is loose before stepping on it, thus leading to a serious injury. Furthermore, without proper training, you could end up damaging your shingles or denting your roof by walking on it.

If you can’t avoid stepping on your roof, just be incredibly careful. Take careful steps, watching out for loose shingles, rotting shingles, wet spots, or moss which could cause you to slip off the roof or twist your ankle.

3. Use a Leaf Blower

If you have a leaf blower (or if you can rent one), you’ll speed up your debris-removal process considerably. A leaf blower is typically the best tool for the job because you can quickly and easily remove leaves, sticks, and other objects from almost anywhere on the surface of the roof—even if you cannot safely reach a particular zone.

Simply aim the blower at existing debris and direct the flow of air so that it pushes buildup off the roof and onto the ground. Try your best to avoid aiming the air stream directly up the slope of your roof because this can damage or loosen the shingles. If you have a chimney, skylight, or any other roof protrusion, try to avoid aiming the blower at those structures as well.

4. Examine the Roof for Stains or Growths

After you’ve removed all the loose debris from your roof, it’s time to tackle any tough spots. Take a look around the structure and if you notice areas of black staining, moss growth, algae development, or lichen growth, you’ll need to conduct a more intense cleaning process. Ideally, you should hire a professional to perform this job, but if you’re ready to tackle the work yourself, here’s how to remove more stubborn growths:

  • Algae growths. Use a spray bottle to apply a 50-50 solution of water and laundry detergent. Allow the solution to sit on the roof for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse it away with a stream of low-pressure water.

  • Black stains. Apply a 4-to-1 water-bleach solution with a bit of added detergent to roof stains. Allow the solution to sit on the stains for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse it away with a stream of water from your garden hose. If you have persistent stains, consider having a roofing company install strips of copper or zinc, which are toxic to the bacteria that form black roof stains. You may also want to consider having algae-resistant, copper-infused shingles installed when you have your next roof replacement.

  • Moss growth. To remove moss, use the same cleaning procedure as the one to remove black stains.

5. Clean the Gutters

Using a leaf blower to remove debris from your roof will no doubt push objects into your gutters, so the final step in the debris-removal process is gutter cleaning. To clear buildup from within the gutters, grab a bucket and a pair of thick, protective gloves. Use a ladder to access each gutter, and little by little, grab handfuls of debris and toss it into your bucket. When you’ve removed all leaves, sticks, and other organic matter, thoroughly rinse each gutter with a low-pressure stream of water.

Need Roof Repair? Contact Paradigm Roofing Today

If you’re in the market for roof repair, maintenance, or replacement, our team at Paradigm Roofing has you (and your roof) covered. For over 30 years, we’ve been serving McKinney, Dallas, and Fort Worth homeowners, and we’d love to make you our next fully satisfied client. We specialize in high-quality roof repair and installation, siding installation, ventilation installation, and insulation updates, and as a member of the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas, we hold our crew to the highest industry standards. Whether you’re looking to repair your existing structure or you’re in the middle of new home construction, we’re the team to call when you want reliable, honest contractors who get the job done right — the first time.

To learn more about how we can help you maintain or update your home, give our team a call at 972-542-7774 or leave us a message on our contact page. We’re available 24/7 for service requests, so feel free to reach out anytime!