White houses are meant to look pure and pristine, but moss, algae, and mildew on your siding can make them look dingy and sick instead. If you're tired of plant matter accumulating on the outside of your home, here are a few tips for permanently getting rid of it.
Removing The Algae And Moss
Before you get started, cover up any nearby desirable plants with a light tarp or some plastic grocery bags. You don't want any of the cleaning agents to get on good plants, since even a little exposure might kill them.
Next, go to work scraping off the bulk of the moss and other wall-clinging plants. Be sure to use a dull tool, like a butter knife or a ruler, so you don't leave any permanent scratches on the siding. As the plant matter comes away, collect it in a garbage bag for disposal later. If you leave it at the base of the wall, it may quickly grow back.
Once the majority of the plant matter is gone from the siding, it's time to get out the oxygen bleach. Follow the instructions on your container for diluting the bleach in water, then spray it liberally over the remaining moss. Avoid chlorine bleach at all costs, as it may damage wood or vinyl planks. After the wall is sprayed down, let it soak for a minute or two, then scrub off the soaked plant matter with a soft bristle brush.
If you own a power washer, you may be able to use it to quickly clean off the wall after the bleach is applied. Caution is paramount, however, since powerful water jets may damage the softer inner parts of your siding. Always stand back as far as possible, and refrain from using the washer's highest settings.
Temporarily Preventing New Growth
Moss, algae, and mildew all need two things to thrive on your siding: moisture and nutrients. Direct sun exposure will usually evaporate any moisture over the course of the day, but you'll have to make sure plants and garden tools are out of the way first. Anything that is allowed to lean against your home's walls will contribute greatly to fungus and plant growth. Tree branches that come close to your house or rub against it should be cut back, and shrubs planted too near the wall may need to be moved.
Applying anti-fungal and anti-algae sprays can stop plants from growing as well. You should be able to find these products in your local gardening center or home improvement store. Depending on the spray, you'll have to reapply it every few months, but applications are more frequent in humid or tropical areas. Keeping your walls temporarily clear of growth can open the way for more permanent solutions.
Permanent Protection Options
If you want a long-tern fix for your algae problem, you first need to find the cause. Poorly maintained gutters are the most common cause, since they can overflow due to clogs or leak due to damage. Homes with no gutter setup are more at risk for mildew and algae as well, so you should consider having a rainwater disposal system installed if you currently lack one.
Another common cause for plant matter on the siding is a buildup of moisture near appliance vents. Check the hose vents while your washing machine or boiler is running. If the air feels moist or if you notice an algae bloom, sealing the vent up properly could kill off the plants.
Permanent sealers can help reduce the risk of algae accumulation, especially those with herbicides and mildewcides in them. You'll need to have the siding totally clean and dry before applying the sealer, but it should last years once it's put on. Infrequent cleanings may still be necessary, especially in humid climates.
Whether you're happy to do regular siding maintenance, or you want to say goodbye to algae for good, hopefully these tips can get you well on your way to having a beautiful white home again. A good idea might be to replace the siding and then immidiately apply a sealer.
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