Spring is coming – prepare your home for wildfire now in South Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities

When spring and summer approaches, wildfire threatens too. You can stay one step ahead of the curve by planning projects that will harden your home against embers and increase the chance of survival during wildfire.

Hardening houses prepares your home for the devastating embers by treating the most vulnerable components and retrofitting them with refractory building materials.

How you prioritize home hardening projects may depend on your time and personal budget. Even if you can’t do everything, everything you do to harden your home can increase the chances.

Yearly maintenance
Planning for routine maintenance is a good place to start.
– Remove flammable objects such as firewood from below, on or near your deck
– Remove dirt (pine needles, leaves, or twigs) from your 5-foot non-flammable zone.
– Remove dirt (pine needles, leaves, or twigs) from the roof, gutters, chimneys, and skylights.
– Move flammable items (newspapers, photos, cardboard boxes) from vents in attics and crawl spaces.

Do-It-Yourself projects
– Replace the 1/4-inch mesh screen with a 1/8-inch screen for non-flammable metal grilles on all ventilation slots.
– Replace flammable landscapes like manzanita or wood and rubber mulches with fireproof landscapes like herbaceous plants or rocks or gravel.
– Install a non-flammable and corrosion-resistant metal drip lip to protect the flammable components (ie jacket and panel) on the roof edge.
– Use a non-flammable gutter cover to minimize the build-up of dirt in the gutter.
– Some gutter covers create a build-up of dirt on the roof behind the gutter and continue to require routine maintenance.

Wildfire Home Retrofits
If you have the time and budget, consider planning projects that will prepare the exterior of your home for wildfire. Keep in mind that some of these projects may require the help of a construction professional.

Roof cover
Replace a wood shake or shingle roof with a Class A roof.

Class A roofing materials include asphalt fiberglass shingles, clay and cement tiles (both flat and barrel-shaped), and some metal roofing materials.

Examine open eaves areas for gaps where embers can collect or leak into the attic. All vents should be shielded and all other gaps filled with permanent sealant.

Include the area under the eaves to create an exposed eaves.

Exterior cladding
– Use non-flammable siding (such as stucco, steel, and fiber cement), especially if neighboring homes are within 30 feet of the home.
– In smaller areas that are vulnerable, e.g. For example, in a roof-to-wall area, replace the siding with a non-flammable product.

– When replacing windows, choose multi-pane options with tempered glass.
– If there are neighbors or outbuildings within 30 feet of the house, consider installing installable non-flammable shutters for added protection.

Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide
If you’re fully retrofitting your home, planning larger projects, or want to dig deeper into home hardening techniques, check out the Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide.

The guide provides detailed recommendations for retrofitting homes to withstand forest fires. Each section provides an explanation of how each home component is susceptible to forest fires and what can be done to improve that component.

Download a free Home Retrofit Guide – https://www.tahoelivingwithfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/LWF_RetrofitGuide_Accessible_for_Web.pdf

For more information on preparing for wildfire, contact the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities at https://www.tahoelivingwithfire.com/.

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