Do gutter guards work? The short answer is yes, gutter guards do work and are effective at keeping debris from the gutters. Some better than others. However, it is important to keep in mind that all the styles of gutter guards are slightly different and each have their own pro’s and con’s. Some gutter guards allow larger debris in, like twigs and acorns. Meanwhile most of the others only allow smaller particles through, like shingle grit. In this article we break down each style of gutter cover/gutter guard out there and tell you what they are good for, and what problems they cause.
Every style of Gutter Covers/Leaf Guards function differently. Some function and perform much better than others. Our goal here is to help you navigate through the different styles of Gutter Covers and ultimately assist your decision on which brands you should trust. We discuss all the main gutter cover styles on the market. We will discuss all the most common, the most reliable, and the most controversial style Gutter Covers individually and compare all their Pros versus Cons. If we do not discuss a particular style or product in this article, like PVC or snap on, then you can safely assume that the product is not worth mentioning and therefore not worth wasting your money.
There are many different terms that are used to describe Gutter Covers. Some common terms are Gutter Guards, Leaf Guards, Leaf Protection Systems, Gutter Helmets, Gutter Hoods, Leaf Filters, and many more. All of them describe covers that connect to the tops of your gutters, and are designed to keep the debris out of your gutters.
Please remember that no Gutter Covers or leaf protection systems of any sort or style are maintenance free. Anyone who tells you differently is misleading at best. We believe that gutter covers or leaf protection systems are only necessary in areas where there is a heavy tree coverage. Different style products have different levels of maintenance. Choosing the right leaf protection system can reduce your annual gutter cleanings dramatically. However, if you do not have a heavy tree coverage and your home does not require multiple gutter cleanings per year, then having gutter covers or leaf protection installed may not be worth the investment.
For some, it may be more cost effective to simply have professionals clean the accumulated debris from inside of your gutters when needed. On the other hand, everyone’s situation is different, and it may be worth it to you to have the peace of mind knowing that your gutters will not be clogged when the next rainstorm arises.
The one key point we try to drive across when you are thinking of getting gutter covers installed, is cost effectiveness. If you only need 1 gutter cleaning per year, or one every couple years, gutter covers might not be your cheapest option. Customers who’s homes require 2 or 3 cleanings per year are the ones who will benefit from having these installed.
For example, let’s say gutter cover installation for your home is going to cost you $1,500. Meanwhile you spend an average of $250 per year on gutter cleaning services. Therefore, it is going to take 6 years for you to break even on your investment. 6 years is a decent return on investment point. If your gutter covers will pay for themselves in 4 years or less, than it’s a no brainer that is your best option.
Another good example would be a home that is going to cost $3,000 for gutter covers, but they typically only spend $200 a year on gutter cleaning. Those covers are going to take 15 years to pay for themselves. Therefore, a bad investment for this home. It would be much cheaper to continue with the $200 per year in gutter cleaning services.
One thing you should also consider is if gutter covers will cause water to go straight over your gutter instead of into the gutter system. If you are already having problems with water shooting over your gutters in areas, gutter covers are not going to help the situation. In some cases, they may make it worse in high congestion areas like below roof valleys where sections of roof meet. Some of these covers cause more water to go over the gutter than others.
Reverse Curve gutter covers have many other common names, such as gutter helmet or gutter hood. They are basically a solid sheet of aluminum that is curved in such a way that the water follows the hood and drains into the gutter. A lot of gutter helmets tuck under the shingles of your home which makes them difficult to install, and that adds a lot more time to the job, which affects the price. Shingles can also bulge up around the home when these don’t fit exactly perfect.
There are many different brands that make gutter helmets or gutter hoods. They make lots of promises and guarantees so they can charge a premium price to install these gutters onto your home. As we mentioned before, there is no Gutter Cover or leaf protection system that will be maintenance free forever. These companies know that they will have to return to clean the clogs or accumulated debris from inside of their gutter system. That is one of the reasons why they are so expensive, they have to include the cost of a couple return visits in the price.
Leaf Guards are one of the more expensive style of gutter cover. The cost can be anywhere between $15 and $30 per linear foot installed. So about 1.5 to 3 times more expensive than the style we suggest. ($9-$10) Considering that the average family home has about 200 feet of gutter, homeowners should expect to pay about $3,000 and $6,000 for professional gutter guard installation. Leaf Guards or Reverse Curve Gutter Guards have a wide price range due to the large number of corporations that offer their own patented brands.
The main upside to this style Gutter Cover product is that they do dramatically reduce your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. You can expect to go many years without having your gutters cleaned with this style leaf protection. However, this comes at a cost. These gutter covers also cause the water to flow right over the gutter and cause waterfalls around your home. The purpose of gutters is to prevent water from cascading over and washing away your foundatoin, so if this is happening you are basically spending a whole bunch of money for nothing. Basically, they make entire gutter system worthless if the water isn’t going into the gutter system.
During heavy rains you can expect some water to cascade over Leaf Guard hoods much like a waterfall effect. This can cause pooling and flooding around the foundation of your home in extreme cases. These gutter covers do not work well with metal or slate roofs because these style roofs shed the rainwater much faster than traditional asphalt shingles. The same can be expected with houses with steep shingle roofs. Leaf Guards also require splash guards or water diverters be installed in the corners below roofing valleys to prevent this splash over effect from occurring. Many people find theses splash guards to be an eye sore or aesthetically unpleasing. Leaf Guards are also visible from the ground which does not compliment the aesthetics of the gutter system.
The waterfall or splash over effect is a major downfall in this gutter guard style’s performance. This effect causes water to bypass gutter and instead fall onto the ground. During freezing temperatures the splash over creates ice sickles and ice dams to build up along the gutters. This ice buildup can be extremely heavy and damaging to the integrity of the gutters themselves. This also creates a dangerous situation where ice falls from the gutters and causes injury to persons walking around the home. Overtime the heavy ice can cause your gutters to become loose and eventually fall completely off the house. When this common occurrence happens it often damages the wood trim and siding in the process.
Leaf Guards are by far the most expensive style gutter covers on the market. They do a good job of preventing debris from accumulating inside of the gutter troughs but unfortunately, they keep a lot of water out of the gutters as well. We do not find them to be worth the high costs mainly because they are counterproductive to the purpose of the gutter system. Remember that the entire purpose of having gutters on your home is to collect the water that sheds off your roofing surfaces and to redirect that water away from your home’s foundation.
Perforated Aluminum Gutter Guards or Gutter Covers are highly recommended by My Gutter Pro. These are the Leaf Protection product that we offer to our customers because they are moderately priced, and they work extremely well with all roof types. Many brands also offer 10 to 25 Year manufacturer no-clog and no overflow warranties. They perform very well with heavy rainstorms because the perforated hoods allow high volumes of water to enter the gutter trough quickly. This style Gutter Cover is also very smooth which allows leaves and other debris that fall from the trees and land on top of the Gutter Covers, to blow off the hoods with a light breeze.
Perforated Aluminum Gutter Guards and covers cost between $7.50 and $10 per lineal foot installed. Assuming the average home has about 200 feet of gutter, homeowners should expect to pay about $1,500 and $2,000 for professional Perforated Aluminum Gutter Guard installation.
Yes, they work very well. This style Gutter Guard is very durable and holds up exceptionally well against snow and ice accumulation. They will not cave in and allow the snow to fill up the gutter trough. This is very important because the weight of ice and snow puts a lot of wear and tear on gutter systems. Extreme weights can cause gutters to loosen up over time and even cause gutters to completely fall off. These durable Gutter Covers hold back the snow which allows most of the extreme weights to stay on top of the roofing surface. Roofing surfaces are generally structured to hold extreme amounts of snow and ice whereas rain gutters are not.
One downfall to Perforated Aluminum Gutter Guards is that they need to have a splash guard installed at the bottom of long or steep roofing valleys in order to prevent a splash over effect from occurring during heavy rains. These splash guards sometimes allow debris to accumulate behind them over time and will require the debris to be removed from areas where the debris have accumulated on top of the hoods. Because the water enters the gutter trough through the perforated holes in this gutter cover type, it is critical that debris not be allowed to accumulate on top of the roofing surfaces or on top of the gutter hoods. We always recommend to our customers to have the debris blown off your roof every few years and to have the tops of the perforated hood swept clean in order to maintain their optimal performance.
This style Gutter Cover is very reliable because it blocks most small debris from entering the gutter trough, yet it still allows high volumes of water to enter the gutter during heavy rainfalls. Perforated Aluminum Gutter Covers will dramatically reduce your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. Once this product is installed you almost never need to have the inside of the gutters cleaned because they will not allow debris to enter and accumulate inside of the gutter trough. As previously mentioned, it is important that you do not allow debris to accumulate on top of the roofing surface or the gutter hoods over time as it will eventually restrict the water flow. One last attribute to this product is that they are not visible from the ground and do not create an eyesore.
Gutter Filter Foam inserts are compatible with all roof types and can take on high volumes of rain quickly. When the Gutter Filter Foam Inserts are first installed, they are not visible from the ground. Unfortunately, we highly recommend against this style Leaf Protection. This is a very controversial product for many reasons as we will continue to discuss.
Gutter Filter Foam Inserts on average cost between $7.50 and $10 per lineal foot installed. Assuming the average home has about 200 feet of gutter, homeowners can expect to pay about $1,500 and $2,000 for professional Gutter Filter Foam Insert installation.
Gutter Filter Foam is very ineffective. It may be an inexpensive investment upfront, but this product does not stand up to the test of time. In fact, for some people the product only lasts a few short years before it begins to shrink and crumble. It is designed to let water pass through the sponge-like material and allow the water to flow down to the downspouts while blocking leaves and other debris from entering the gutter system. Unfortunately, it has a rugged surface which catches lots of leaves and other debris causing them to accumulate on top of the foam surface. This build up slows down the water flow and eventually causes those debris to decompose and damn up the surface of the foam.
As time passes the debris that accumulate and decompose on top of the foam surface will fill the foam filter with a compost style soil. It is very difficult to remove and clean the soil filled filters therefore the dirt becomes trapped. Eventually you will have vegetation begin to grow from inside of your own gutter system. Their root systems will grow throughout the soil filled filter and the small plants will quickly grow taller due to the constant source of rainwater flowing through the gutters.
Gutter Foam Filters are not easy to remove once installed. Sunlight and other natural elements cause the foam to become hard and brittle. The foam filters are a petroleum-based product and will also allow other petroleum-based products such as roofing oils from asphalt shingles to cling to this product. Once the foam filters trap the oil, dirt, and soil they will need to be removed and thoroughly cleaned. This is a very daunting task which is why it is expensive to pay a professional gutter cleaning service to perform this duty. Ultimately this product does not reduce your regular gutter cleaning maintenance and instead makes the process harder than ever.
Gutter Screens come in a wide variety of styles, materials, and colors. They come in vinyl plastic with a small selection of colors such as white, black, and brown. Some manufacturers may offer additional colors, but these probably need to be ordered online. There are also higher quality metal versions of Gutter Screens available on the market with many different design variations. Metal Gutter Screens come in Aluminum and galvanized steel. They also make them coated in black rubber which allows them to be more durable and longer lasting.
The average cost to have Gutter Screens installed is $4 to $7 per linear foot installed. Plastic Gutter Screens are a relatively inexpensive leaf protection product to add to your existing gutter system. Metal gutter screens cost more then vinyl plastic gutter screens because the material costs are greater, and they take longer to install. Metal Gutter Screens will last much longer then vinyl plastic gutter screens.
Gutter Screens are compatible with all roof types and can handle high volumes of water during heavy rainstorms. They do a pretty good job of preventing downspout clogs in between your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. However, unfortunately they will not reduce your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. Gutter screens will prevent large leaves from entering the gutter trough but will still allow smaller debris to enter. This accumulation inside of the gutters will need to be cleaned out regularly. Gutter Screens are rugged which causes debris to catch and accumulate on top of the screens. Helicopter seeds and pine needles commonly get stuck in Gutter Screens and will also accumulate inside of the gutter trough.
Durability is a huge downfall to this style leaf protection. You should not expect Gutter Screens to last a very long time. Vinyl plastic Gutter Screens will warp and twist over time due to temperature changes and other natural elements such as the sun. They will also become brittle and sometimes crack when removing them to clean the debris from inside of the gutters. Snow and ice accumulations will often cause the vinyl plastic screens to sag and cave in because vinyl plastic Gutter Screens are not very strong.
Metal Gutter Screens are much more durable and last longer then the vinyl plastic Gutter Screens. They are screwed into place and hold up against snow and ice accumulations much better than the vinyl plastic screens. They do cost a little bit more then the vinyl plastic screens but unfortunately, much like the vinyl plastic Gutter Screens, they also become warped and twisted over time due to removing/reinstalling them every time the gutters need to be cleaned.
Due to the relatively lower cost, Gutter Screens are very common. We recommend gutter screens for individuals who wish to prevent downspout clogs in between their regularly scheduled gutter cleaning maintenance. We must reiterate that Gutter Screens do not keep your gutters clean or reduce your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. This style leaf protection will still allow enough debris inside of your gutters to accumulate and clog your gutter systems.
Leaf Filters and Micro Mesh Gutter Screens come in different varieties. These varieties have completely different levels of quality. The lower quality Micro Mesh Gutter Screens come in a soft vinyl plastic with a light mesh cloth glued to the top side. This glue quickly deteriorates and the cloth begins to separate from the plastic. The higher quality Leaf Filters have a harder plastic with a metal mesh screen insert. The lower quality micro mesh Gutter Screens can be found at most local hardware stores. The higher quality Leaf Filters must be purchased through an authorized dealer. Leaf Filter products are generally owned and patented by large corporations.
Leaf Filters gutter guards cost $17 to $43 per foot on average for materials and installation. Leaf Filter gutter protection for a home with 150 to 200 linear feet of gutters costs $2,650 to $6,300 for professional installation.
Micro Mesh Gutter Screens are a relatively inexpensive leaf protection product to add to your existing gutter system. The average cost to have Gutter Screens installed is $5 to $6 per linear foot installed.
Micro Mesh Gutter Screens are compatible with all roof types and can handle high volumes of water during heavy rainstorms. They do a pretty good job of preventing downspout clogs in between your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. Unfortunately, they will not reduce your regular gutter cleaning maintenance. Micro mesh Gutter Screens do not have a long lifespan because the mesh cloth quickly becomes detached from the plastic. These plastic screens also become warped and twisted over time which makes them difficult to reinstall after cleaning the gutters.
Leaf filter gutter screens let only tiniest particles into the gutters through holes as small as 50 microns diameter. This design prevents small shingle particles from entering gutters. After some time, they do create a sludge that must be manually removed. Pollen, dirt, roofing oils, and shingle grit can clog the micro mesh screens which causes water to be restricted from entering the gutter trough fast enough during heavy rains. This can cause water to spill over the edges of the gutter, run down the siding and windows of the house. Water can then accumulate and pool around the foundation of the home if this problem persists. The micro mesh on the leaf filters must be cleaned off so that water can seep through the screen without restriction.
Micro-mesh gutter screens let only small particles into the gutters through holes as small as 50 microns diameter. This design prevents even tiny shingle particles from entering gutters. Over time this will create a sludge on top of the leaf filters that must be manually removed. This must be done periodically or water will inevitably skate across the screens and not enter the gutters. As mentioned before, there is no Gutter Cover or leaf protection system that will be maintenance free forever. Corporations make big promises or guarantees and they charge a premium price to install these products. Unfortunately they know that eventually you will experience these problems.
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