Cedar Shake and Copper Gutters

Any suggestions on a cedar shake roof with copper gutters? I know I am going to need to test but trying to figure out if sodium hydroxide will discolor the gutters. I use Renew all from Southside frequently on wood. Really trying to stay with a softwash on this, not a fan of walking on wet shakes. Thanks!

Sodium percarbonate

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You’ll definitely have to be careful with the copper gutters. I use sodium hydroxide to remove aluminum that’s smeared around the crank on engines that have thrown rods. It doesn’t take long for all of the aluminum to dissolve which leaves you with a perfectly clean crankshaft. Sodium Hydroxide can do the same thing to copper. Not saying it’s going to just from running over the edge of the gutter. You’d have to fill up a container and soak it but it can etch the copper. I’m not so sure how much it would discolor it but rather make it look new again. If they’re okay with a new copper look do a couple tests and go with it. Otherwise, do as Kentucky said and use sodium percarbonate.

I softwashed a cedar shake house and when it was done it was clean but all the dead wood fibers were still there, It didn’t look very good. Unfortunately this house was about 30 feet tall and there was really no way for me to get all the way to the top easily with limited access around it to do a strong enough pressure rinse to blast off the decayed wood fibers. It was the first and only house like that I have ever done and this was over a year ago when I was first getting serious about this. Moving forward I would’ve asked them to get scaffolding if they wanted to have it look perfect. How do you deal with those leftover fibers? A painting company came in after me and they actually had to pressure wash everything to remove them before they could put the stain on. I cleaned a whole lot of other stuff at that house too so it wasn’t like it was a waste of money on the client but I don’t want to do a house like that again unless there’s good access and I can do a pressure rinse after. I also didn’t know how to use oxalic acid at the time and I wonder if that would’ve worked?

I have tried sodium percarbonate on a couple wood cleanings but never had very good results. Maybe I didn’t let it dwell long enough. I would really like to find a way to avoid walking that roof to get it done.

Look up Bruce Sullivan cedar roofs. Needs no pressure, about a garden hose pressure. 3 part system and it works. I wouldn’t ever use sh on cedar roof if it was me.

Was it on wood or asphalt? I wouldn’t use it on asphalt, doesn’t work well and takes way to long.

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I contacted Bruce before about getting some training but he said I was in an area where he does some work now and then so didn’t want to help, which I can understand. I think there is some sh in his mix because of the how well it kills the stuff and brightens.

I believe he uses a citrus base cleaner if I remember right.

By applying sh to cedar roof you destroy precious wood fibers in the shakes. That roof should last 60-80 years with maintenance. Removing the fibers with harsh chems and high pressure shortens the life and can cause splitting in the wood by drying it out. It’s a specialty type field for sure.

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I was not considering using bleach, my whole point was to ask about sodium hydroxide affecting the copper gutters.

Gabe Bevan
Peaks & Streaks Roof & Exterior Cleaning, LLC

Is that applicable to the cedar siding?

Yes, here is a link. I use sodium percarbonate on cedar myself. You can use whatever you like at the end of the day and possibly get results to some degree but is it best for the customer and his product your cleaning. Our job as professionals is assuring good results while maintaining the integrity of what surfaces your cleaning. I explain everything I can to the customer and reasons why I charge what I charge and use the products I do, very transparent. I’ve seen a lot of damage from contractors using SH on everything they clean.