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No, you're not removing algae and mold!

Ryan Cash

UAMCC Associate Member
What is the black staining growing on the roof? Is there Mold growing on the side of this home? What is this green algae?

This write up is potentially going to be very niche and maybe a little technical. Let's discuss terminology.

When talking about staining on siding to a customer, do you refer to it as Mold? Mildew? Algae? Organic Staining? And is it important to distinguish between them all?

One of the most important things you can learn is to stop using the word, “Mold”.

Even restoration companies that deal with mold mitigation refrain from using this word unless the stain has actually been tested. It is very presumptuous to identify something in the field without a degree in microbiology or specific training and certifications in mold identification.

Because of this, most remediation contractors will instead substitute “mold” with SPG, or Suspected Microbial Growth.

This may seem like a very small distinction, but the same thought should apply to exterior cleaning.

First, it’s important to make a distinction between bacteria, algae, and mold.

It’s fairly common knowledge that the black staining on roofs is most likely a type of Cyanobacteria called, “Gloeocapsa Magma”. This bacteria feeds on the calcium carbonate in the roof shingles and has a black, UV protective coating that allows it to stand up to the sunlight.

Algae on the other hand is not a type of bacteria. Rather than feeding on other things, like the roof shingles, algae has chlorophyll which allows it to make it’s own food from sunlight (photosynthesis).

Finally, Molds are technically a type of Fungi that have a completely different cellular makeup. It doesn’t rely on photosynthesis for growth so it actually appears most in dark, damp areas with stale air.

With all that said, unless that specific stain has been tested in a lab and positively identified, it’s actually more accurate to be more vague.

Rather than saying, “the black staining on your roof is Gleocapsa Magma” it’s actually more precise to say, “the black staining on your roof is consistent with staining caused by Gleocapsa Magma.”

This may seem like a VERY small difference, but the fact is, without testing, you technically don’t know.

Being an expert in the field doesn’t mean just knowing what products and processes to use; it also means using the most precise language possible.


Additionally; One other thing that’s important to keep in mind when talking to customers is how you describe your process.

Do you ever find yourself saying,
Our process will kill the organic staining on your home”? or
We will remove the algae from your siding”?

These are actually is a very dangerous phrase to use and can potentially get you in trouble with the EPA

EPA has very strict guidelines about what kind of claims you are making.

Using Sodium Hypochlorite as an algaecide/fungicide/pesticide to “kill” mold or algae is actually prohibited unless the SH you are buying has labeling that specifically states that it will do that. There are actually sodium hypochlorite manufacturers who have gone through the EPA certification process so that they can make those claims, but more than likely you are not using those specific products, even if the formula is exactly the same.

The EPA defines a pesticide as, “Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.”

So it really all boils down to what type of claims you are making in your advertising and sales.

Legally, you can remove stains but you cannot advertise you are using a mildewcide or algaecide or that you are killing or even REMOVING mold or algae unless you are actually using a product that the EPA has verified.

Instead, here are a few phrases you should substitute to keep yourself out of trouble:

“it is known that SH is effective against mold and algae as it’s a strong oxidizer”
“We use Sodium Hypochlorite to remove stains associated with mold and algae”

Don’t’ say it will remove mold and mildew. Say it will remove stains associated with…
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