I’ve heard the question a thousand times and I’ve heard a thousand different answers…… Do gutter guards really work? Ok, maybe I haven’t heard a thousand different answers but everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. Let me put my two cents in right away. Gutter guards and gutter covers really do work……. but (there’s always a but) they don’t all work same. Some work better than others. If you think you’re going to install gutter guards and never have to worry about your gutters again you might be surprised when your gutters become clogged. You will definitely reduce the number of times you need to clean your gutters but you won’t eliminate maintenance all together. No matter how good the gutter guards are debris will still find it’s way into your gutters and over time will build up and cause blockage. Your home’s surroundings have a lot to do with how well your gutter guards will work. For example, pine needles are very hard to keep out of gutters. They can work their way through the holes in a mesh cover or flow with the water around curved guards to end up collecting in your gutters.
There are different types of gutter guards and gutter covers on the market and the costs can vary significantly for the different systems available. The different types of gutter guards are as follows:
Mesh or Screen
Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type.
Reverse Curve Gutter Guards are designed to direct water into a channel by the use of a rounded edge on the gutter guard. The idea is for the water to flow around the curve and into the gutter while debris falls off of the curved edge to the ground. These gutter guards can be made of metal or plastic. Some are one piece systems while others fit on top of your existing gutter.
Pros: Used by many of the bigger name gutter guard installation companies and generally requires installation by a professional. They tend to work well with large debris and during gentle to moderate rainfalls.
Cons: Smaller debris can flow with the water around the curve and into your gutters eventually causing clogs. Also, during heavy rainfalls they may not capture all the water flowing from the roof allowing water to runoff the edge and cause flooding in your yard. The more your roof slopes the less water will be captured in your gutters. This type of system has an opening between the curve and the gutter for water to flow through but it can also allow wasps and other insects a way into your gutters where they can build nests and cause clogs.
Mesh or Screen Gutter Guards are made of nylon or metal and designed to allow water to flow through holes in the gutter guard while keeping debris out. Nylon screens tend to have larger holes which will allow more debris to flow into the gutter. They also lack the strength of a metal micro mesh system and can collapse when something heavy falls on them. Metal micro mesh systems are very effective at stopping large and small debris from entering the gutter. They have very tiny holes that stop almost any type of debris including sand and grit from your roof. They also help to prevent ice and snow buildup in the winter months. These systems can be professionally installed or you can install yourself with limited difficulty. Mesh systems are moderately priced and work better than other systems on the market.
Pros: Nylon screen and can be purchased at any hardware store and are very inexpensive. Metal micro mesh gutter guards are less expensive than solid reverse curve systems and work just as well or better. There are no open areas between the gutter guard and the gutter so wasps and other insects cannot get into the gutter to build nests. These gutter guards are easy to install and you don’t have to replace your entire gutter because they fit on top of your existing gutters. They can’t be seen from the ground once they are installed. Micro mesh systems keep out large and small debris because of the size of the holes. They capture most or all of the water running off your roof.
Cons: The larger the holes the more debris will get through the screen and allow clogs to buildup in the gutters. Micro mesh tends to block most debris from entering into the gutter but debris can build up on top of the gutter guard and block water from flowing into the gutter. Most mesh systems require you to attach the gutter guard to the gutter with screws. This will make cleaning the gutter more difficult and expensive if the gutter becomes clogged.
Bottle Brush Gutter Guards are made from polypropylene bristles that fit into your gutter to block leaves and debris from entering the gutter while allowing water to flow through the bristles and into the gutter. These are the least expensive type of gutter guard and prove to be pretty effective. These gutter guards are easily installed. You simply place the pieces into the gutter cutting the last one to the length you need. The only tool needed for installation is a wire cutter strong enough to cut the metal piece the bristles are attached to and this is only needed for the last piece if it is too long to fit into the gutter. However, you will have to climb a ladder to insert the brush in the gutter.
Pros: Inexpensive and you can easily install yourself. No screws or fasteners required which could compromise the roof. The bristles will allow water to flow through while keeping leaves and other debris out of your gutter. These systems are lightweight so they won’t add unnecessary weight to your gutters which could cause your gutters to sag and eventually pull away from the house. Since the bottle brush fills the gutter insects and small animals can’t build nests in the gutter.
Cons: Debris can get caught in the bristles and eventually build up. This can interrupt the flow of water into the gutter causing water to overflow and collect in your yard. Bristles may be visible from the ground.
Foam Gutter Guards are similar to the bottle brush type because they are inserted into the gutter to stop debris from entering while allowing water to flow through the foam and into the gutter. The difference between foam and bottle brush is the foam is solid so leaves and debris won’t get stuck in the gutter guard itself. Foam is also very easy to install. It comes in pieces which you simply put into the gutter. This is an inexpensive way to keep debris out of your gutters.
Pros: Inexpensive and easy to install. No screws or fasteners required for installation. Foam keeps debris from collecting in your gutter.
Cons: Debris can lay on the surface of the foam gutter guard which can slow down the flow of water into the gutter causing water to overflow from the gutter and collect in your yard. Foam can also break down over time which may require you to replace it every few years.
As you can see gutter guards come in many different varieties and styles. Some are very expensive and some are relatively inexpensive. Some require profession installation and some can easily be installed on your own. Some last for years and some may need replaced after a few years. As I said at the top of this article gutter guards do work. Some just work better than others. No matter which type you choose just remember you will never be completely free from maintenance and cleaning. You need to pay attention to your gutters and remove clogs and debris any time you see that water isn’t flowing freely through your gutters.
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