Are Your Gutters a Fire Hazard?

October 28, 2014

An unexpected source of dry fuel.

Rain gutters doesn’t seem like something that would catch fire. After all, it’s made of plastic or metal and designed to collect water. The problem is that many open gutters hold pine needles, leaves, and other tree remnants. During droughts, such materials can become very dry; a single spark could ignite this debris and set the entire trough ablaze.

How It Starts

Did you know your gutters might hold a fire hazard?

It’s possible that a small fire in a nearby building or vehicle could produce sparks that reach your home. However, wildfires have a greater potential to put gutters at risk. Strong winds can carry embers more than 5,000 feet and deposit them at random. Despite the moist climate of the Pacific Northwest, wildfires have become a serious problem in Oregon and Washington.

Over 750,000 people reside in Oregon’s wildfire-prone areas. A recent blaze near the Columbia River Gorge spread across the state border, according to Oregon Live. Three houses in Washington suffered damage as gusty winds scattered embers throughout the area and carried smoke over an interstate highway. Such fires have also been known to occur in major cities like Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA.

What Can Happen

When the debris in a gutter ignites, it could result in serious structural damage. The fire could easily spread to your home’s roof or siding, and it could also set adjacent trees and bushes ablaze, especially if the trough falls down. Unlike metal units, plastic gutters can melt or burn under these conditions. This increases the risk that your home or nearby vegetation will catch fire.

Safety Measures

You can take a number of steps to prevent your gutters from becoming a fire hazard in dry weather. One way to minimize the danger is to replace plastic or vinyl parts with metal components. Regardless of the trough material, keep in mind that regular maintenance is crucial. Portland Fire & Rescue urges residents to remove all flammable debris that accumulates on roofs and gutters.

If collecting rotten leaves isn’t your idea of fun, think about purchasing a low-maintenance aluminum or steel gutter system. Interstate Roofing offers professional rain gutter installation in Washington and Oregon. We have provided local homeowners with top-notch products for over 25 years. Our covered troughs feature built-in screens that keep debris out. For more information on our products and services, visit us online or contact us today.