Going Solar: The Benefits and Challenges of Solar Panels

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Going Solar: The Benefits and Challenges of Solar Panels

Solar panels are an excellent investment.

With technology improving every single year, the level of power they can provide for your home is continually increasing and energy storage provides non-stop power come rain, shine or solar eclipse.

Solar panel maintenance is essential though and being aware of the potential issues of rooftop panelling will maintain efficiency and give your panels a longer lifespan, providing free power and better return on your investment.

Follow these five tips to make more of your solar:

1. Clean Surfaces Make More Power

Salt residue, leaf litter and day-to-day grime can build up quickly on your panel surfaces. Over time, the efficiency of your panels will decrease, making less power and reducing your return on investment. By keeping your panels clean, you will maximise their effectiveness and make your money back far sooner.

2. An Added Fire Hazard

As we have mentioned before, leaf build-up in gutters, valleys and elsewhere can create a potential fire hazard and increase your property’s damage risk in the event of a domestic or bushfire. Solar panels also create potential a collection point for loose, dry leaves and increased fire risk. By regularly cleaning around and beneath your panels, you will remove this hazard.

3. Vermin Love Solar Too

It’s warm, it’s cosy and it’s sheltered from the rain – what better place to roost, nest and raise your young than under a solar panel! Birds, mice, squirrels and other vermin view solar panels as prime real estate and this can be a disaster for homeowners in several ways.

Pigeon poo can become toxic over time and can damage your solar panels, surrounding roof, the paving below, and even your health. Nesting materials are not only messy, they will also add to that fire risk we mentioned. Lastly, there’s the noise factor. Between the squawking and squeaking, vermin can make for restless nights and frustrating days, so preventing the issue with wire mesh and other devices has numerous benefits.

4. Smaller Pest Issues

It’s not only larger vermin that can create dramas with your solar panels; smaller bugs and insects can also take up residence around your solar panelling. The issue with this is twofold: firstly, they can damage and decrease the lifespan and efficiency of your panels. Secondly, termites, cockroaches and other pests can migrate into your home, causing damage to timbers and property.

By using pest control products, you can eliminate or deter infestations and avoid these issues.

5. Gutter-Vac is Your One-Stop Solution

Cleaning your own solar panels is an option, but without an angled roofing ladder it can be both challenging and dangerous. Also, if there is a build-up of pigeon mess, protective equipment will be essential to keep you safe.

Without the correct tools, you can risk scratching or damaging your solar panels, reducing efficiency, voiding warranties and potentially breaking them completely.

Pest control products can also be damaging to your health so again, without the correct gear, this can be a risky job to tackle yourself.

Gutter-Vac franchisees are fully equipped to deal with all of these circumstances, removing the hassle and risk of tackling the job yourself.

Using specialised products, we remove and deter pests of all kinds with repellent solutions for insects and long-lasting coated stainless steel mesh to prevent vermin from nesting beneath or around your solar panels. We also use professional clips for vermin mesh, protecting your panels from damage without voiding warranty.

Professionally maintaining your solar panels is essential to help keep them efficient and protecting your return on investment for many years to come.

Contact Gutter-Vac today for a quote on your solar panel maintenance.

Commercial Site Maintenance with Gutter-Vac

With over 20 years’ experience in commercial property maintenance, we have the experience to ensure your property’s management for clean windows, gutters and surfaces with no fuss.

Here are five reasons to talk to Gutter-Vac about your property maintenance.

1. We Know Your Business

We have worked with schools, governments, retail and commercial businesses and more. Because of this, we appreciate the need to work to your schedules, opening hours and other requirements to minimise disruption. Our operators have been trained in workplace health and safety for educational facilities and work sites, undertaking jobs in school holidays, outside office hours or by isolating our work area for the safety of staff, students and the general public.

2. We Are Fully Equipped

Our operators have all the tools they need to provide the highest level of professional service. High windows and roofing are always within reach, power cleaning is all in a day’s work and safety always comes first, so whatever the job, you can be assured that our team will have the gear to make it happen.

3. Workplace Safety

Our providers have to undertake a training program to make sure all workplace safety practices are upheld. From working at height to protecting your property, safety within the work area is an integral part of our service. We also carry a minimum of $20,000,000 in public and product liability insurance, so in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you won’t be picking up the bill.

4. We provide Clean Cleaning

Our products are non-toxic and environmentally responsible. This helps to protect your local area, your staff and customers and the planet, giving you peace of mind that, whether it is during our service or in the following days, you won’t need to vacate the area or concern yourself with the possibility of nasty chemicals floating around.

5. Professional, Every Step of the Way

We have been providing our service for over two decades, so we know what it means to have a provider you can depend on. We can meet with you to create a customised maintenance schedule, giving you repeat service without the need to remember or book. If you have multiple properties, we can also centralise your service, allowing you to have a single account to cover numerous buildings and regions from the one place. Further to this, we can even consolidate your accounts, so no matter how many jobs you need, you’ll only ever receive the one bill.

So, whatever your business, Gutter-Vac will give you the professional service you require, at the right time and with every consideration already confirmed.

Contact your local Gutter-Vac operator today to discuss your commercial needs.

5 safety reasons to get your gutters professionally cleaned

Clean gutters are safe gutters, but this is true in more ways than you might think.

Here are our top five reasons why having your gutters professionally Gutter-Vac cleaned can improve the safety of your home, and reduce risk to you and your family:

  1. PROPER EQUIPMENT.
    Without the proper equipment – including roof ladders, cherry pickers and our famous Gutter-Vac – cleaning gutters can be risky and even damage your roof. Ladders that are too short, unsteady or incorrectly used can make you job hard, but can also make your gutter cleaning result in a painful fall and a trip to the emergency room.

    Even with tough gardening gloves, jagged gutter edges or foreign objects, including sharp sticks, metal or glass, can lead to cuts and injuries if cleaning your gutters by hand.
  2. PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY.
    As above, if you don’t have the right gear, you’ll take unnecessary risks. Leaning a ladder against your guttering is not only unsafe, it can also lead to gutter damage, denting or even causing them to be torn from your property. Depending on your roof, without a proper roof ladder, clambering around up top can cause damage to tiling, panelling or roof sheeting. You might even put a foot wrong, leading to a hole in your roof, or a big drop for you.
  3. KEEPING YOU SAFE.
    As mentioned above, lack of proper equipment can lead to personal injury, but the positioning of your gutters can also be dangerous. Over-reaching not only puts you off-balance, it can also put a lot of strain on your body. This can simply result in a few aches the next day, but in some circumstances, it might even cause muscle or joint damage.
  4. FIRE RISK.
    We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again! Full gutters are fire hazards. It’s obvious that dry leaves catch fire very easily, but if you leave them for a long time and they mulch and then dry out, this dense compost can also lead to slow-burn danger. The embers can stay alight inside the mulch, so even though it may be damp on the outside and no flames will be visible, these embers may reignite hours after you think the danger has passed.
  5. BEYOND YOUR GUTTERS.
    These are all dangers associated with the gutters themselves, but over-spill from full gutters can also be hazardous. If not managed, it can cause a build-up of mould or algae, leading to slippery pavers and other ground surfaces. Even after you’ve fixed your gutters, without thoroughly scrubbing the ground below, this dangerous, slippery surface will remain. It may dry out and seem fine, but the next time it rains you’ll have an ice rink to deal with again. Even without the mould, glazed tiles can be slippery in the wet, and excess water can cause your lawn to turn into a muddy mess, again leading to possible slide-outs.

Some things just aren’t worth the risk! An appointment with Gutter-Vac not only saves you time, it also protects you and your home from injury and damage.

5 Ways Clean Gutters Improve Your Property’s Longevity

A service from Gutter-Vac will obviously clean your gutters, improve drainage and enhance the look of your property. But did you know it can also help you to protect your home and save money? Here are five ways clogged gutters can lead to property damage, even personal injury, and the benefits you gain from clean gutters:

  1. We have spoken before about the fire risk caused by dry leaves collecting in your gutters and roof valleys. These act as the perfect tinder for wildfires, increasing the chance of the fire taking hold in your roof timbers.
  2. The weight of the leaves, especially if left to soak and mulch over time, will add increased stress on your gutter fastenings, potentially leading to their damage or even collapse in the next heavy downpour. Even if they remain in place, the build-up can cause them to warp, affecting their function.
  3. If your roof trusses extend beyond your walls, such as with overhanging eaves, or if you have timber fascia close to your gutters, this damp mulch will also lead to rotting roof timbers and panels. Once this takes hold, no amount of gutter cleaning will prevent it taking hold and seeping deeper into your timbers, which will eventually need completely replacing – a very costly process.
  4. Obviously, if a gutter is full, or even half-full, of organic scrap, there is nowhere for the water to go. Run-off can be really inconvenient, especially around doorways or covered outdoor areas, such as roofed patios, and can also create a slipping hazard.

    More than the hassle of a small waterfall cascading over your front porch, this run-off can damage lawns, turn your backyard into a muddy mangrove and cause water to pool and flood. Again this can become a treacherous hazard and lead to a pesky mosquito infestation! Run-off can also discolour, even erode pavers, tiling or bitumen over time. And, without the rainwater being properly diverted away from your property, it can even begin to damage your walls, leading to damp and mould within the walls and inside your home.
  5. Properly-functioning gutters also have the benefit of taking the water where you want it to go. You can divert it to ornamental ponds, waterways or even top up your swimming pool, if properly treated and filtered. This takes it away from your property, lessening the chance of it causing damage.

    If you’re an avid gardener, you can even collect the water in a barrel to use on your lawn or beds in drier times, saving a significant amount on your monthly water bills.

Keeping your gutters clean is about much more than keeping your house looking good. It is an investment in protecting your home for years to come. So call Gutter-Vac today for a quote and invest in the longevity of your home.

Can Hail Damage Your Roof?

Given the current temperature and weather conditions in Queensland at the moment, there is a high chance we could face more hailstorms.

We all rush around, moving cars under cover and closing windows at the onset of a storm. Yet, thinking of the roof is often forgotten.

Did you catch the footage of hail damaging a tiled roof in the Springfield area recently? In a couple of mere minutes, mango-sized hail smashed through tiles, then gyprock, destroying a lounge room.

Hail can dent metal roofs, (like how your car takes a battering in a storm), and can crack and smash tiled roofs. This can be catastrophic if water leaks occur from the cracks.

Dents in metal roofs caused by hail may not seem like a big problem. However, they can cause structural weak points. Water can pool in the dents and cause corrosion.

Cracks can occur in tiled roofs, which can be tricky to detect. The problem may go unnoticed for some time, perhaps not until the water starts dripping into your ceiling cavity! It is best to get a professional roofer on the job after a significant hailstorm.

Generally speaking, larger hailstones cause the most damage, but don’t underestimate the small stuff! Even small, pebble sized hail stones can damage your roof. Likewise, small leaves and twigs blown about by a storm can easily block downpipes. We often hear of cases where blocked gutters and downpipes have then caused an overflow in the ceiling, and led to internal water damage! This is obviously not a good situation, as repairs can add up, with costly re-plastering and re-painting.  Best to abide by the old saying, ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’.

Following a storm, it is good idea to walk around the property. Inspect for any damages that may have occurred and get onto them straight away, to prevent any associated leakage problems.

The age and condition of the roof also affects the likelihood of it being damaged by hail. A roof that has been neglected in terms of maintenance, will undoubtedly be weaker in a hailstorm.  This can be easily countered by regular cleans and inspections.

The intensity and direction of the wind during the storm will also impact the scale of hail damage. High winds will heighten the angle of impact, causing more damage to the roof and gutters.

Different roofing materials can influence the extent of the damage too. Steel gutters are the most sturdy during a hailstorm, but still not impervious. If your gutters are made from aluminum or copper, they can be dented by hail. If you have a gutter guard or screen, it is best to have it inspected for tears/holes following a storm. Likewise, if your home has skylights – assess the dome, diffuser, shaft, and flashing for any cracks, damage, or leaking.

On tiled roofs – a telltale sign that water is going where it shouldn’t be, is the presence of algae and moss. This may indicate cracks in the tiles. If you suspect your gutters or roof has been damaged by hail, it is best to get it assessed by a professional.

It is also a good idea to download the free SES Assistance app, if you haven’t already, to gain piece of mind ahead of more unpredictable weather forecast for this coming summer.

Most importantly, stay safe and enjoy the holiday season! We look forward to working with you to achieve your property maintenance goals in the New Year.

Look out, snakes and pests are about!

So you’ve just had a pestie over to your home in time for the notorious summer pest season in Queensland. Well done! But what about your gutters? Are you aware pests love neglected gutters, and snakes love the smorgasbord of mice and rats they can provide? Unkempt gutters can undo all the good work of a pest professional!

This year’s warmer weather has resulted in an earlier snake season in Queensland. Typically peak snake season runs from October to November. Snakes are drawn to gutters in suburban homes looking for food. They can then enter the roof space and will need to be removed by a professional, (if you wish to have them removed). This may incur a fee. It is illegal to have them removed by any other means than a registered snake catcher.

A registered snake catcher may be able to perform roof and ceiling inspections also. Have you heard in noises in your roof lately? It could be carpet pythons slithering in your roof space. Carpet pythons are non venomous but their 80 backward facing teeth can inflict a painful bite. Not too mention, it can be tricky to tell the species apart, unless you have a trained eye. Did you know most snake bites occur from people who are trying to kill or capture a snake? The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection says that snakes generally opt to retreat when people come across them, but they can become defensive if they feel threatened. They are usually more scared of you, but it is definitely a job for a registered snake catcher if you wish to relocate them.  

While snakes may be busy preying on rats and mice in your roof, these rodents can also cause separate problems. Rats can carry diseases and parasites. They are also renowned for gnawing roofing materials and wiring. This may result in a potential fire hazard.

Other handy hints to prevent pests in your home include:

Seal any holes and gaps in your house, apart from weep holes!

It is important to ensure weep holes are kept clear. These are tiny holes in the external wall. Their purpose is to prevent moisture buildup in the wall cavity. Yet, weep holes are often overlooked, and covered by gardens etc. If they are blocked, this can greatly increase your risk of termites, which is a homeowner’s worst nightmare!

Regularly clean your gutters. Pests love moisture and debris in untidy gutters.

Dispose of rubbish and keep your outdoor areas tidy.

Remove any potential food sources.

Position trees away from your home or keep them well trimmed.

If you have a chicken coop, ensure it is kept clean. It is not so much the chickens that the snakes are after; rather the mice a dirty coop can attract.

Regular pest inspections are recommended.

So what are some signs of pests to look out for?

  • Droppings and smear marks.
  • Evidence of nests.
  • Shedded or moulted skin is a sure sign of snakes.
  • Teeth marks.
  • Blisters in wood flooring can indicate termites.
  • Mud tubes can also indicate termites.
  • Strange noises.

Having your home treated for pests is not the finish line you may think it is. One of pests favourite restaurants may be in your roof! If you don’t want snakes around, cleaning out your roof space will give snakes less incentive to hang about. And rodents will be less drawn to your roof if your gutters are clean and free from organic matter. Stay on top of the situation by preventing pests from getting inside in the first place! Once they get in, they can prove to be very difficult and costly to get out.

Don’t be flippant when it comes to fire.

Did you know excess dry leaves in your gutters can be compared to stacking tins of petrol on your roof in a bushfire?

If your home is not prepared, it can also pose an increased risk to your neighbour’s property.

We are still in the midst of the fire season in Queensland, it is important to stay vigilant about your bush fire preparation plan.

Who is most at risk in Brisbane and surrounds?

If your home is near an area of vegetation, or ‘green belt’ as the firefighters call it, you could be more at risk.

Areas such as this include The Gap, Mt Nebo, Mt Glorious, as well as locations further north of Brisbane. Vicinities surrounded by shrubbery and vegetation can prove to be very challenging landscapes for firefighters for a number of reasons. 

Accessibility can be an obstacle in rural localities. Firefighters generally use their smaller 4WD vehicles to access rural areas. Unsealed roads will not accommodate the big tankers. Unsealed roads quickly turn to mud when they come into contact with water, and the big vehicles will become bogged.

Accessing a reliable water supply can also be difficult. Many homes in rural areas use off-grid water. This can prove to be a challenge as if the firefighters have to use the smaller vehicles; they can only hold a certain amount of water.

Bushfires are notoriously unpredictable, so the best way to prepare is to plan ahead, implementing as many preventative strategies as possible.

What should people do around their home to prepare?

The following points below are recommended by fire authorities:

  • Ensure there is easy entry and room for firefighting vehicles to access your property.
  • Make sure paths to your property are clear from combustible matter such as dead branches, dry leaves etc.
  • Invest in a hose that reaches all the way around the house.
  • Make sure your gutters are clean and free from debris that will act as fuel for flames in the event of a bushfire.
  • Trim overhanging trees.
  • Regularly mow your grass.
  • Make sure your house number can be easily seen by emergency services.
  • Consider planting fire resistant trees around your home. Certain trees are more prone to igniting than others and it is possible for embers or sparks from trees to travel large distances. Cyprus, pines, and eucalyptus for example contain flammable oils in their leaves that readily burn. While there are no ‘fire proof’ trees, you can look for species that contain moisture in their leaves. Avoid trees with stringy, rough bark that easily comes loose.
  • Use non-flammable mulches around the house such as gravel, pebbles and shells. Avoid using combustible woodchip mulches where possible near your house.
  • Review and practice your Bushfire Survival Plan regularly.

For further information on how to plan, the Queensland Government Rural Fire Service website is a valuable resource.

The good news is you can take steps to prepare for a bushfire and make your house less vulnerable to an ember attack.

What if there is a fire that ignites in your gutters?

Firstly, it is advisable to contact emergency services. Firies say if you are both PRACTISED and PREPARED, then you can get a hose onto it yourself from the ground.  You need to wear long-sleeve clothing and protective gear. If you are not prepared and have not practiced a plan, fire authorities say to LEAVE. One of the best preventions is a clean gutter as if an ember was to land there, it may just self-extinguish – alleviating all worry.