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Does Your Roof Have a Gloeocapsa Magma Problem?

September 13, 2016
Does Your Roof Have a Gloeocapsa Magma Problem?

As a homeowner in the southeast U.S., there is a chance that your roof has a gloeocapsa magma problem.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I have no idea what gloeocapsa magma is but it doesn’t sound good”, then you are on the right track.

Gloeocapsa magma is a species of cyanobacteria, which is a photosynthesizing bacteria that produces a water-generating oxygen gas.  Unfortunately for you, it also produces a black streak or stain on roofs throughout the southeast.

While this bacteria has been around for a long time (pre-dating plants on earth, in fact), it has become much more of a problem in recent years due to several factors:

  • Rising temperatures and humidity have made conditions more favorable for the bacteria, especially in the southeast and midwest parts of the country.
  • Modern roofs are much more likely to use fiberglass shingles, which use limestone as a filler.  These shingles hold moisture and organic material longer than the paper/ceramic shingles more common in the 1980s.

The bacteria is harmful to roofs for several reasons.  It breaks down roof shingles by feeding off the limestone granules embedded in the shingles, which decreases the ability of the roof to deflect UV rays.  This raises the temperature of the roof and the home, and shortens the life of the roof.

Practical consequences of gloeocapsa magma on a roof for a homeowner include:

  • Lower property resale values
  • Increased utility costs as the black-stained roof draws in more heat
  • Possibility of insurance companies cancelling a homeowner’s insurance policy
  • Needing to replace your roof sooner than normal

gloeocapsa magma problemIf you currently have a problem with gloeocapsa magma on your roof, you might be thinking “I’ll just let the rain wash it off.”  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.  Once the bacteria is on a roof, the colony will continue to grow year after year.  As it spreads, gravity pulls it downward, which is what creates the black streak or smear on the roof.

Luckily, there is an easy way to get rid of the bacteria, and it’s something that Odds & Ends Home Improvement can help you with.  The recommended method for removing gloeocapsa magma is a low-pressure wash of a roof with sodium hypochorite and copper sulfate, which unlike high-pressure washing will avoid damaging the roof.

We recommend that after an initial cleaning of a roof to remove bacteria, homeowners get an annual wash-off to prevent the bacteria from returning.

Give us a call if you need help removing those ugly black streaks from your roof!