The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, known as Black Summer, was a period of unusually intense bushfires in many parts of Australia. Throughout the summer, hundreds of fires burnt, mainly in the southeast of the country. The major fires peaked during December–January. As of 9 March 2020, the fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres), destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people. These fires resulted in thousands of people in fire-affected communities across Australia fleeing their homes to safety. The Australian Navy was also mobilised to assist in the evacuation of Mallacoota residents who were forced to shelter from the fires on the beach.
Gutters and Fire
Gutters are hardly the first thought when it comes to fire prevention. Unfortunately, lots of debris can build up over time if gutters are not cleaned regularly. All homes have fire prevention systems such as smoke detectors as their first line of defence. However, when debris in gutters are ignited, they can render all the installed fire prevention equipment useless in a flash. Even after clearing away all the vegetation close to a house, there still may be a fire waiting to happen from just one burning ember. The debris in gutters essentially can serve as kindling for a fire. Dry weather leads to dried leaves, twigs and other debris which then only require a small spark to ignite.
A spark may come from a fire pit, grill, ash from a cigarette, fireworks, or a random bolt of lightning. All these can create a spark that ignites the debris. Gutters can be a true fire hazard, and their overall condition and cleanliness can also play a role in exterior home condition related to water damage and erosion.
Homeowners in areas prone to bush fires should have a fire prevention checklist, but people forget to include cleaning gutters. Dry leafy material build-up on your roof is a serious fire hazard which if left unattended can have catastrophic consequences. Gutters are not a feature that you can simply install and forget about.
Emergency services highly recommend that property owners should maintain their gutters. Specifically, minimising the risk of the spread of fire by keeping them free from debris through regular cleaning
What can you do to protect your home?
One way to reduce the risk of bush fires or wildfires igniting debris in gutters, is to engage an experienced contractor with the right equipment who specialises in gutter cleaning to regularly clean out all debris from the gutters. Using a blower or a pressure washer are other methods for cleaning gutters. However, these methods only move the debris from one place to another and create more mess and more work. Instead, vacuuming the material removes it completely, and protects the yard below.
Gutters are designed to direct water away from the inside of the house. The design of gutters means that they can trap leaves, twigs and other materials, eventually building up to a point where they can block water-flow. During the dry season, the trapped debris (often not visible from below) are highly flammable.
Cleaning gutters is not a one-time experience. Instead, homeowners need to make plans to have their property maintained regularly. If there are no trees hanging over a roof, the gutters only need to be cleaned once per year. However, if a property has trees that hang over the roof, it may need a scheduled service several times per year. Scheduled cleaning can help minimise any risks associated with clogged and dirty gutters.
Damage to a property caused by blocked gutters is often not covered by insurance. Proper maintenance is essential to ensure your insurance is not voided. Failing to keep your gutters clear may result in your insurance company not paying out your claim.
The services of a professional gutter cleaning expert not only helps homes look great and stay free from leaks but also keeps them safer from bush fires.
Contact our team today to discuss equipment that will save Australian homes this bush fire season!