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ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR
AMERICAN CEMWOOD ROOFING
BEST ROOFING PRACTICES
BUILT UP ROOFS
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CERTIFICATIONS for ROOFING CONTRACTORS
CHIMNEY FLASHING Mistakes & Leaks
COLD WEATHER ROOF TROUBLE
DECKS, ROOFTOP CONSTRUCTION
EPDM, RUBBER, PVC ROOFING
EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FLASHING on BUILDINGS
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
Green House or Solarium Roof Leaks
HEAT TAPES & CABLES on Roofs for Ice Dams
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
MASONITE WOODRUF FIBERBOARD ROOFING
NOISE CONTROL for ROOFS
PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES
PVC, EPDM, RUBBER ROOFING
ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF DORMER TYPES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF INSPECTION SAFETY & LIMITS
ROOF JOB PROBLEMS, RESOLVING
ROOF LEAK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
ROOF NOISE TRANSMISSION
ROOF REPLACEMENT SNAFUs
ROOFING FELT UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS
ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types
ROOFING TILE SHAPES & PROFILES
ROOFING UNDERLAYMENT BEST PRACTICES
SADDLE CONSTRUCTION at CHIMNEYS
SNOW GUARDS & SNOW BRAKES
STANDARDS for ROOFING
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
TEST LABS - ROOF SHINGLE
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS on ROOFS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALK-ON ROOF SURFACES
WARRANTIES for ROOF SHINGLES
WORKMANSHIP & ROOF DAMAGE
This article explains methods used to test for and confirm black roof stains due to algae or "black fungal growth" on roof shingles. We provide a list of type of stains and colors that appear on roof shingles and on other roofing materials.
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See EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES for more on extractive bleeding; some roofing consultants, including Mr. Norman (above) assert that all of the black stains on asphalt shingle roofs are due to algae growth. To test black roof debris for a determination of whether the black stains are due to soot, algae, fungus, or asphalt bleed-through our forensic lab will accept tape samples for processing at no fee between April 2009 and June 2009.
Use the tape sampling procedure and mailing instructions found at TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS to send us samples for testing. (No more than two samples per roof, please.) Include a note referring to this article or just a printout of the first page of this web article along with your sample so that we won't be looking for a payment. Be sure to press your tape firmly into the black stain material.
Testing Black Roof Stain Material in the Forensic Lab
In our forensic laboratory (not on a roof itself) we prepare a microscope slide of black roof debris particles for direct examination at low and high magnification. Algae is identifiable by physical characteristics.
If the black material does not appear to be an organic structure we use a solvent on the microscope slide. Xylene or Hexane will cause asphalt products to bleed and stream on a microscope slide.
Our photos above show black stains on a roof and an initial lab photo of the black roof debris at 400x. Sample material from the stained area on this roof was prepared on a microscope slice and mounted in lactic acid. Lactic acid does not dissolve asphalt but that will hydrate and expand algae and mold spores. The debris in our photo (above left) looks like brownish black something that is not organic. But take a look at the photographs just below.
Here is what that same sample looks like under the microscope at 1000x, oil immersion, after allowing five minutes for hydration (expansion of the cells of material.) We see a dark algae on the left and green algae on the right, both found in the same sample material. The black stains on the roof above are definitely algae, not bituminous material.
Testing Black Roof Stains On the Roof
Mr. Norman proposes a simple test of applying a light spray of a diluted mixture of trisodium phosphate [use a TSP substitute, not TSP which is an environmental contaminant] and chlorine (with water) in the proper proportion will determine weather or not this is algae quite readily. If it is asphalt pigment, it will not lighten.
If the residue is bitumen, a petroleum product would be necessary to remove it, but cleaning the roof with any solvent would of course be unwise as you will also damage the shingles as well as risk a fire, explosion, and environmental contamination.
To remove and prevent black algae stains on roofs, see BLACK STAIN REMOVAL & PREVENTION.
Also see Black or Green Algae and STAIN DIAGNOSIS on STONE for more photos of black algae stains on roofs and on other building surfaces. And see ALGAE, FUNGUS, LICHENS, MOSS on SHINGLES and see STAINS on ROOF SHINGLES. To remove and prevent black algae stains on roofs, see BLACK STAIN REMOVAL & PREVENTION.
This website tells readers how to identify & explain the most-common asphalt roof shingle failures and how to obtain asphalt roofing shingle failure claims assistance. These defects occur on organic-mat or fiberglass-mat asphalt roof shingles. Readers are also invited contribute roof failure information to the web author for research purposes. web author for research purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to test to determine the cause of staining on roof surfaces or shingles
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