Introduction: Bushfire Preparation - Simple Gutter Filler

Picture of Bushfire Preparation - Simple Gutter Filler

Weather you are intending to Go Early or Stay and Defend, surviving a bushfire is more likely when residents have prepared themselves and their property. This instructable is a how-to-build for a simple piece of equipment that can help in the event of a bushfire, during Ember Attack, before, during and after the fire front has passed.

One of the methods of actively defending a building is to fill gutters with water. There is no guarantee that embers will not enter a structure under the roof edge, however not filling gutters with water means that ember entry is much more likely.

Placing bungs in the down pipes, then filling the gutters with water means that there is much higher likelihood that any embers that fall into the gutters are going to be extinguished, as opposed to being swirled around by the wind and blown under the roofing material into the ceiling space.

The stress involved in executing your Bushfire Survival Plan in the face of an approaching fire means that being up a ladder is not a place most people would want to be. Having a Gutter Filler means that, once down pipes are blocked, there should no longer be a requirement to be on a ladder to fill the gutters. There will be no holding the hose in place to ensure the gutters fill. This removes a safety hazard but also frees you up to take care of the next step in your Bushfire Survival Plan

Cost for this project was approx $32.

Effort was about 15 minutes construction time.

The following instructable contains:

  • List of components;
  • Toolless assemble, and;
  • How to use the Gutter Filler.

Step 1: List of Components

Picture of List of Components

These components were all purchased from my local hardware store. Exact sizes and material are not important. So you might want to use materials already owned, different materials or different sizes.

Components:

  • 90cm length x 15mm diameter (internal diameter), pre-threaded Polyethylene Pipe
  • 1 x 15mm polyethylene threaded nipple
  • 2 x 15mm polyethylene 90degree threaded elbow
  • 1 x 15mm brass threaded ball valve
  • 1 x 15mm-20mm threaded nipple
  • 1 x 20mm-12mm garden hose adapter

Tools are Optional, so only if you have them:

  • Shifter

Step 2: Construction

Picture of Construction

Construction is relatively simple. No tools are required. Some builders might consider the use of a shifter for tightening some of the joints. Some builders might also consider the use of thread tape in the joints. However since this devise will be rarely used and it is not expected to be holding mains pressure for extended periods the extra care is entirely optional.

All the pieces are assembled as shown in the images attached. The fittings are hand tightened.

  • Perhaps start by attaching one of the 90deg elbows to one end of the riser.
  • Then insert the 15mm-15mm nipple into the first elbow.
  • Attach the second elbow on to the protruding end of the nipple, so that the elbows make a hook shape on the end of the riser. This is the business end of the unit and is intended to hook over the edge of the gutter to be left dandling.
  • At the other end of the riser, attach the ball valve.
  • Then attach the 15mm-20mm nipple.
  • Finally attach the 20mm-12mm garden hose adapter.
  • Give everything a final tighten by hand to ensure it is a robust construction.
  • Now you are ready to fill you gutters.

Step 3: Operation

Picture of Operation

This activity is one of the things that is well worth practising before a fire event, so that any issues or short comings can be identified and incorporated into your Bushfire Survival Plan.

  1. Insert bungs into the tops of the down pipes. This may be tennis balls, or wads of rags, or some of the special purpose gutter bungs that are available from various fire equipment retailers. There are even special purpose downpipe valves available, which would completely negate the need for climbing a ladder to fill the gutters.
  2. Attach a garden hose to the end of the Gutter Filler.
  3. Ensuring that the Gutter Filler valve is off, turn on the hose at the tap end.
  4. You might want to test the Gutter Filler valve at this stage, which is fine. Just be aware that the outlet is pointing straight back at the operator and you are likely to get wet if you don't exercise some care.
  5. Hang the Gutter Filler over the edge of a gutter, while standing on the ground.
  6. Turn on the valve.
  7. After a while check to see how much of a leak there might be at the down pipes. You might need to change the way you block the down pipes if there is to much leakage.

I would suggest a complete test would include timing how long the gutters take to fill so that you can work out what other activities can be completed at the same time, when activating your Bushfire Survival Plan for real.

Good luck

Above all stay safe.

Refer to you local fire agency for the latest information.

Comments

hitachi8 (author)2014-09-26

dont know much about forest fire, but buying 6-12 grass splinclers and watering your house from the top to bottom is the best solution in my opignon.

FieldingBlue (author)hitachi82014-09-26

Hiho,

sprinklers are definitely a good addition when protecting a structure. There are all sorts of things that can be done to help improve the chances of a house surviving.

Ember proofing is one of the big ones for improving survivability. Reducing fuel around the buildings, cutting the grass, putting in vertical and horizontal breaks in the fuel that is around, sprinklers on the roof and fascias, independent water source with a diesel powered fire pump, hose reels, layflat hoses with fog nozzles and a dozen other things can be done outside. Smoke detectors, closing internal doors, blocking air gaps with damp towels, having a super soaker and wet mops for putting out embers that get in. There are uncounted other actions inside can help.

Specifically it has been found that sprinklers that produce a fine mist, as opposed to large droplets, are not much use in the face of a fire. On a calm day they soak everything nicely. On the day of a significant wild fire the wind will be strong and variable. Anything but the largest drops of water get blown away and leave the structure exposed.

The other factor for sprinklers is the water source. Water pressure from mains supply always drops and even stops during these events. So independent water with an independent pump are required. Electric pumps don't work when the power drops off, which nearly always happens too. Then there is the consideration of how long do they need to be running. Is there enough water reserves to keep the sprinklers running for just the period where the fire front passes over, or for the period of ember attack or for a whole day. And the big one is, will someone always be present to turn them on, or can they be remotely activated?

Bush fires are a completely variable event. The outcome of any given event cannot be predicted in advance, at least at a personal level. Some of the extreme events that have been occurring, all over the world, are showing us that there are behaviours at the edges of our experience which we have not seen before. These have resulted in some really surprising fire behaviour, making them even more unpredictable.

It cannot be guaranteed that any given dwelling will survive a bushfire. It might be said that doing nothing to prepare will almost guarantee that dwelling will not survive.

Preparation in depth is important, so that any single failure on the day will not guarantee loss of the property or your life.

Have a look at this video (I had nothing to do with it) if you are interested in the most extreme behaviour that has been seen in Australia.

Please stay safe.

Regards

Michael

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a computer systems engineer living on an acre in the Adelaide hills of South Australia.
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