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To understand how to deal with the recurring problem of algae and moss growth on rooftops, it is important to learn what they are and how they grow and spread. Although some similarities exist, algae and moss are very different and require slightly different procedures to prevent or to remove.

Often mistaken as mold or mildew, the black discoloration and streaks visible on many roofs across the United States and Canada are actually algae. The algae can form where moisture tends to dwell on roof surfaces. Coastal or humid climates create the most conducive conditions for algae growth. The most common type, gloeocapsa magma or blue green algae, protects itself from damaging ultraviolet rays by producing a dark pigmented sheath. The algae discoloration typically begins as small spots then quickly transforms into streaks on the roof plane. By the time the algae is visible, it likely has been present for several months or longer.

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