If you’re a homeowner, you likely have rain gutters installed on your home. These rain gutters need regular cleaning in order to function properly. Depending on your home and the area it’s located, this could be necessary between two to four times a year. This is because leaves, twigs, and other debris can get caught in the gutters, causing a clog. Clogged gutters can overflow, resulting in water collecting around your home, which can quickly lead to costly water damage.
The trouble is, cleaning rain gutters is a job that few people enjoy. In fact, most find it troublesome at best, and dangerous at worst. There are products, however, that some claim can help. These products are called gutter guards.
Gutter guards are filters that sit over your gutters. They’re usually made out of metal or plastic. They let the water in, but keep out the debris. Gutter guards are available in a variety of different styles.
Internal gutter guards are installed inside the gutters themselves. Examples include bottle brush, foam, and nylon gutter guards. They are effective in keeping out a lot of larger debris, but grit, seeds and other small items can get still get inside. As a result, these guards typically need to be replaced every 2-4 years, as they can’t be cleaned. They’re easy to install, however.
A reverse-curved gutter system acts like a kind of ‘helmet’ to your gutters. They are based on the idea that the water is guided into the gutter by the surface tension. Debris is supposed to fall off the curve when the water reaches the gutter. The trouble is that sometimes small debris still goes into the gutter, clogging both the opening and the gutter.
Also, if the rainfall is particularly heavy in your area, the water can overshoot instead of going into the gutter. These gutters are usually made of aluminum. They need to be screwed into the roof decking, so you may want to check and make sure your roof warranty would not be affected by installing them.
Mesh gutter covers are the most popular. They are made in a variety of materials and gauges. Of course, better materials will make the covers cost more. Generally speaking, thicker materials are stronger and more durable, however they are also heavier. It’s important to make sure that your gutters are capable of supporting the weight of the covers. For example, if your gutters are made out of .027 aluminum, you should use protection that’s 0.19 or thinner. Plastic covers are lighter, however they can bend in the summer heat. For this reason, metal covers are recommended.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to remember that while gutter guards can be helpful, they are not a complete substitute for general gutter cleaning and maintenance. They help keep debris out of your gutter system, but they aren’t foolproof solutions. They often still let small amounts of debris in, and they can break and stop functioning over time.
The guards themselves can also clog to the point that no water can get into the gutter system. Therefore, gutter guards may need cleaning and inspecting just as often as the actual gutters. Gutter guards also usually need to be replaced every few years, which is far more often than gutters need replacing.
For these reasons, you may find that gutter guards are not the solution you had originally hoped for, and you may be disappointed by their performance.