The success of the Softwash solution has been attributed not only to its lasting results and high level of efficiency as a washing agent, but also to the safety of the method to the environment. We chose to embrace the technique in line with our responsibility as a modern business: ‘to keep the environment safe’ as well as being in harmony with our pledge for customer satisfaction.
These solutions are usually highly potent in their undiluted form, but because they are diluted before application and usage, the chemicals are watered down beyond their potentially harmful ratios, and such that their destruction effects are solely at targets while leaving the surrounding virtually unaffected. The chemicals in the solution also are rapidly degraded after application and cleaning off offending organisms, eventually stabilising in pH to become harmless to pets and wildlife.
Our application process works on the same ‘overall-safety’ principle with calculated dilution ratios and low-pressure delivery to ensure localised application to the affected area while, on the plus side, massively reducing water use.
What is Biofilm?
A Biofilm is a film of microorganisms, comprising one or combinations of algae, mould, fungi, mildew, yeasts, and protozoa, growing on building surfaces and multiplying photosynthetically.
Because they flourish favourably on porous surfaces with some degree of dampness and sustaining minerals present, building exteriors and wall finishes tend to be vulnerable to biofilm colonisation.
On the outside, they taint the appearance of the surfaces they infect, reducing their water repelling ability, and soon, through relentless metabolic activities and insidious growth, they begin to work their way inward to degrade the structural integrity of the parts affected.
Green Algae (Cyanobacteria)
Algae and cyanobacteria are types of Phototropic microorganism, so named for their use of sunlight as an energy source. They form a dense mucous-like membrane as they multiply, eventually assuming a furry fibrous texture that covers surface areas completely. Even high quality masonry paints with anti-fungal properties can be colonised when environmental conditions prevail.
Phototropic microorganisms can be some of the most unsightly surface colonisers, expressing themselves in a gaudy bright green that is bound to clash with any building design or colour scheme. Their fine, fibrous quality clings fast to porous surfaces, making it very difficult to completely eradicate by means of power washing.
Red algae, or trentepohlia, can be some of the toughest to remove. If left untreated it forms a robust layer of biofilm against which power washing is futile.
One DIY solution is to attack it with bleach, but whatever positive results this may appear to achieve, they are only temporary; the ominous red stain reappears after a relatively short period of time. Furthermore, this method is almost guaranteed to damage or stain the surface due to the highly corrosive nature of the bleach. Pets, children, the environment and the Applicator are also put at risk for the same reason.
The red algae itself is adaptable and undiscriminating, being known to affect pebble dash, render, brick, paint, wood, stone and other surfaces. The species favours temperate climates with plenty of rain and high humidity, earning it a notorious reputation in areas like the west of Ireland where it has affected thousands of buildings along the coast. As air purity improves due to environmental reforms, the algae is now moving inland towards many landlocked counties.
Unsightly black staining is usually caused by chemoorganotrophic fungi. These fungi favour stone surfaces and can be found mainly on roofs, pebble dash, pavements and render walls. Like all fungi, they grow through the downward extension of root-like hyphae that form sub-surface networks called mycelium. This process can undermine the surfaces physical composition. The consequent decay can cause longterm damage to buildings. By releasing dark pigment (melanin) the fungi deteriorates the surfaces appearance.
Fungi are fast-growing organisms that spread by the release of spores into the atmosphere, making power washing a particularly misguided solution to the problem; in fact, it often helps them to spread!
Mosses are types non-vascular plant in the botanical classification Bryophyta. Being thirsty photosynthetic organisms that love moisture and need sunlight, mosses are commonly found on roofs.
Once establishing a colony on any rooftop, moss can wreak havoc in a number of ways. If it’s left to multiply, sufficient volume of moss can push and dislodge roof tiles as it expands and grows. Weather can cause it to break off and roll into gutters and block them. It also absorbs rain water and atmospheric moisture, becoming heavy and putting downward pressure on its host structure. Moss can also serve as a vehicle for capillary action, carrying water up and under fixings and tiles and accelerating water erosion.
As well as all this structural damage, moss is also extremely ugly. Over time it can thicken to such a degree that it can even change a buildings shape!
There are over 14,000 know species of moss, but a few most common to the British Isles are:
Lichen is a composite entity comprised of two or more symbiotically related organisms, one of them invariably a fungus, the other often an algae. Lichens are identifiable by their flakey grey/green/yellow colour and the lesion-like splotches into which they form.
The fungus creates a crust , or thallus, that houses the alga, which in turn feeds itself and the fungus through photosynthesis. The fungal member of the partnership cannot survive without the alga. Algae can damage the substrate with the release of acids.