This Grilling Season Pay Attention to Your Gutters

Temperatures are warming up. You plan to make the most of those sunny days by gathering with friends and family in your backyard – toss the ball around, watch the little ones splash each other in the kiddies’ pool, and toast marshmallows over the fire pit. And what’s a summer long weekend without firing up the gas grill? Before you get set to barbecue burgers in your backyard, this grilling season pay attention to your gutters.

Your gutters can be a fire hazard.

Most homeowners are aware that clogged gutters can cause problems for a home’s exterior. But did you know that your gutters can be a fire hazard too? Dry debris such as small twigs, leaves, seed pods, pine cones, and pine needles inside a gutter system can becomes kindling with just one spark.

Sparks are sturdier than they look. They are easily transported on the wind or through the air, travelling a good distance before being extinguished. Embers can be carried by the wind up to two kilometres and still be able to ignite a source of fuel. Sparks or embers come from a number of places including:

  • Barbecue grill
  • Fire pit
  • Fireworks
  • Unattended cigarette
  • Active forest fires
  • Nearby lightning strike

Place the grill a safe distance away.

Position the grill in an uncovered area. Avoid putting a barbecue directly beneath the eaves or any other type of overhang. Especially if your home exterior has vinyl gutters, be aware that this gutter material, while it doesn’t catch fire easily, it can retain heat for long periods of time, and melt or become misshapen.

Place the grill on a patio or deck a minimum of 10 feet away from the siding. If the grilling area is not on a deck or patio, ensure that the barbecue is at least 10 feet away from the exterior wall of a porch, garage or shed.

Keep the grill clean and well-maintained.

The first time you use the barbecue after the last time in the previous season, inspect it for any damage. Replace any broken or missing parts. Tighten any loose hardware. Thoroughly clean the gas grill or the charcoal grill using the appropriate tools, cleaning solutions, and cleaning techniques for the type of barbecue you own. Clean the grill after each use to avoid grease buildup and flareups the next time the grill is fired up.

Keep the gutters clean and well-maintained.

To function optimally throughout the year, a standard gutter system surrounded by a few trees should be cleaned a minimum of twice a year. If you have a lot of trees on your property or have a few trees that are a mix of coniferous and deciduous, schedule a gutter cleaning for three times a year or with each seasonal change if required.

Keep the gutters well-maintained. Have a professional gutter contractor inspect your gutter system once every two to five years. While homeowner inspections in between regular gutter cleanings help you to keep on top of anything that needs immediate repair, a qualified gutter technician or contractor will be able to spot issues that are not readily apparent to you.

In addition to preventing water damage (siding and structural damage) and soil erosion (potential foundation issues), reduce the risk of a fire starting in your gutters by cleaning them in the late spring and inspecting them periodically throughout the summer for any accumulation of debris.