How To Clean Your Shed S Gutters And Roof For Bushfire Season

Posted by The Kings of Steel | Blog | November 28, 2017
How to Clean Your Shed’s Gutters and Roof for Bushfire Season

Prevention is the key when it comes to protecting your property from bushfire, so if your shed is located in a bushfire prone area, you need to prepare it well in advance of bushfire season in the same way you would your home and other outbuildings.

And as one of the top preparation jobs is clearing and cleaning your roof, gutters and downpipes, this guide looks at the best way to get the job done efficiently, cost-effectively, and safely.  

Why clean your gutters?

Gutters fill up with leaves and this is not only a problem from a bushfire perspective, but something that can cause water damage as well. Gutters and downpipes are designed to drain water off the roof, down to the ground and away from the building, keeping ceilings, walls and foundations dry.

If the gutters fill with leaves, water can pool on the roof, eventually finding its way under eaves and into ceiling and roof cavities. It can also cascade down to the ground and pool around the walls, something which if not rectified can cause gradual erosion and undermining of the building’s foundations.

So keeping your gutters free of debris makes good sense and from the point of view of a bushfire, it’s absolutely imperative. Embers from a fire can travel long distances on the wind created by the fire front and if they land in gutters choked with leaves they will feed the fire and it will only be seconds before the whole roof is alight.

When to clean your gutters?

As a general rule of thumb, your shed’s gutters should be cleaned at least once a year, whether you live in a bushfire zone or not. The best time to do it is during autumn or late winter, after any nearby deciduous trees have finished dropping their leaves.

However, pine and eucalyptus trees can shed their leaves at any time of year, so if you have gum trees or conifers around your shed, you may need to clean your gutters more often and particularly in the lead up to bushfire season, which is prior to the hot, dry summer months.

How to clean your gutters?

Here are the basic steps involved in cleaning your roof, gutters and downpipes, along with some safety tips to keep in mind.

Ladder safety

  • Check your ladder prior to use, planting it firmly on a level surface and locking it in place to ensure it will not move. Always climb with at least one hand holding the ladder and lean in so your legs are providing additional support.
  • To avoid having to traipse up and down the ladder numerous times, it is a good idea to take all your cleaning supplies up in one hit. Brooms, hoses and pressure washers can be carried up and placed on the roof ready for use, while scrubbing brushes, gloves, scrapers and other cleaning paraphernalia can be placed in a bucket and hoisted up on a length of rope.

Working by hand

  • If cleaning the gutters by hand, wear thick work gloves to avoid cutting yourself on exposed tin or being stung or bitten by any creepy crawlies lurking in the leaf debris.
  • Clean one section at a time, starting at the opposite end of the roof and gradually working your way back towards the ladder, throwing debris down onto the ground to be raked up later. As you clear one section, hose it down to remove the small pieces you’ve missed (unless you have a shut-off nozzle on your hose, you will need to have someone on the ground to turn the tap on and off for you).

Tools and cleaning products  

  • If you have a power washer, this will get the job done much quicker, but be careful not to set the pressure too high or you may remove paint from the roof or weaken any gutters that are old or insecurely fastened.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaning solutions if your roof is a brand such as Colorbond or Zincalume, as this may damage the finish. To remove any stains, use a sponge or soft cloth and some water mixed with soap or washing up liquid, remembering to hose off the area after cleaning.
  • If when rinsing with a hose, your downpipe appears clogged, you may be able to clear the blockage with your high pressure washer or if that’s not an option, you may have to remove a section of the downpipe and clear the blockage by hand.
  • To prevent such blockages when cleaning with a power washer, try to push the debris over the edges of the gutter and onto the ground below, rather than forcing too much into the downpipe at once.

Other precautions you can take

One way to dramatically reduce the amount of leaves and debris in your gutters is to install gutter guards. These are basically caps that sit over your gutters to minimise debris build up. They have slits in them which allow rainwater to pass through, but prevent leaves, nuts, twigs, and other debris from entering your gutters. You will still have to clean your roof and gutters prior to bushfire season, but the job will be a lot easier with gutter guards installed.

Other precautions you can take to reduce the risk of fire include:

  • Removing overhanging branches and trimming trees or shrubs close to your shed.
  • Patching and repairing any gaps or cracks in your shed where flying embers could lodge.
  • Keeping your lawn well mowed around your shed and removing any objects from your yard which could fuel a fire.
  • Blocking your downpipes and filling your (recently cleaned) gutters with water at the approach of a bushfire.

Hopefully, your shed will never have to face a bushfire, but if it does, you can at least take comfort from the knowledge that you’ve done everything you can to protect it, including the first line of defence; cleaning your roof, gutters and downpipes.

Contact Titan Lite today to discuss your shed gutters and downpipes and make sure you get all the right products and advice that you need before bushfire season.