Cleaning a Building after Ashfall


BE SAFE DURING BUILDING CLEAN UP!

  • Prioritize areas to be cleaned.
  • Use a 'top down' and 'up-wind' method to prevent recontamination of cleaned areas.
  • Coordinate clean-up efforts with your neighbors and community to prevent the need for more than one ash-removal project, especially from public streets.
  • Know what plan your community has developed for disposing ash that you collect.
  • For safety and prevention of unnecessary damage to roof material and surfaces, use protective measures during cleanup. Use extreme caution when working on a roof.
    • Use planking, mats, plywood sheets, and pliable footwear to prevent slippage and damage from impact and abrasion.
    • When using shovels, rakes, or other tools, be careful of the underlying roof surface; the full force of water from fire hoses can easily break lap shingles or tear lap roofing material.
    • Note that roof tops may be slippery or at the limit of their load capacity! Be extremely careful when working on a roof, even on roofs with low to moderate pitch, and especially when covered with slippery material.
  • Removal of ash:
    • Remove ash before the first rain if possible.
    • Use dry methods where possible, but it can help to first dampen the ash with a light spray of water
      • do not use large amounts of water because the ash may form a glue-like "cake" material, which is difficult to remove and adds considerable weight to the roof
    • Use shovels to remove bulk of ash, then brooms.
      • Small vacuum equipment is usually not very practical for removing ash from roofs because of the abrasiveness of ash and the enormous volumes of ash that typically needs to be removed.
    • When beginning clean up of a new surface, start with a small test area, as sweeping some ash types may cause damage to roof surfaces. Innovation may be required
    • On flat roofs, hand sweep the ash into rows and transport it by wheelbarrow to the edge of the roof; use planking, mats, plywood sheets, and pliable footwear to prevent damage from impact and abrasion; hoppers with a funnel pipe suspended above a loading truck may be helpful; to remove the final residue or thin layer of ash, an air compressor may be useful but only if the pressure can be regulated.
    • On steep roofs, place dams in the troughs to prevent ash from reaching the drains and downspouts, then hose down the ash and clear it from the eave troughs and gutters. This operation must be performed with care to avoid deforming the gutters and tearing them loose.
    • Do not flush ash into drains and downspouts, because ash may clog them. Ash flushed into dry wells can seal them, rendering them inoperable.
    • Clean gutters after adjoining roof surfaces have been cleaned, with a gutter scoop or small trowel
    • Take action to prevent ash from entering the building during ash removal (for example, plastic coverings over windows and doors).
    • Remove all traces of ash near intakes of ventilation systems.
    • Cover and seal intakes of ventilation systems around the building.
    • Use extreme caution with high-pressure water hoses and brooms, which can easily damage roofing and building cladding materials.
  • Ash shoveled or pushed off a roof may accumulate at the sides of a building and exert pressure against the walls; it may be necessary to remove this material at the same time the roof is cleared of ash in order to reduce or eliminate the pressure.
  • Prevent ash from entering the waste-water delivery system (or sewers) by:
    • disconnecting drains and downspouts from roofs
    • not placing ash where it can be swept by water into the waste-water system UNLESS told to do so by your community and neighborhood cleanup plan
  • Store removed ash in bags to reduce remobilisation, or as guided by local authorities.


See Also:
Buildings > Roof Loading
Clean up & Disposal > Ash Removal > Buildings & Households