Are Gutter Guards Worth it?
Gutter guards seem to be all the rage these days. But do they really work? Today we will try to help you decide if gutter guards are worth it for your home.
What Do They Do?
Gutters themselves are designed to draw water away from the home. They do this by collecting rain water flowing off of the roof and funneling it into a downspout. This keeps water away from the home and helps with things like flooding. The issue is leaves, pine needles, and other debris get trapped in them as well. Traditionally homeowners just had to get up on a ladder and clean out all the gunk themselves.
This is where gutter guards come in. They are supposed to help prevent waste from getting into the gutters themselves and clogging them up. Clogged gutters trap water which is bad news for your roof and home. Standing water encourages rot and can lead to not only your roof rotting but it can cause water to leak inside of the home as well. The added weight can also cause strain to your gutters causing them to deteriorate prematurely.
Assuming you don’t have a gutter guard system there are several ways of cleaning traditional stand alone gutters. They are:
There are special attachments for your garden hose that are designed to help clean gutters. It is basically a rigid tube with a curved end to get into the gutters themselves. A disadvantage to this method is you can’t really see what you are doing so it can take longer to clean them. But a big advantage is you may not have to get up on a ladder which is by far the most dangerous part of gutter cleaning.
This is similar to the method above, just a little less wet. A wet/dry vacuum can also do the job assuming it also has an appropriate attachment. Which would also be a rigid tube with a curved end.
Most leaf blowers come with an attachment to get a really powerful air stream. Using this attachment you can go from one end to the other to blow out debris. Just make sure you clog your downspouts with a rag first. We want to keep anything from blowing into them since they are much harder to clean. The disadvantage here is having to get up on your ladder and roof with a heavy leaf blower.
If you’ve got some really bad clogs, a pressure washer may be the way to go. The downside to this method is it does get very messy so you will probably need to clean your roof and exterior walls too. An advantage to this method is it can also help clear downspouts.
Sometimes by hand is best. You’ll need a ladder, bucket, work gloves, and either a gutter scoop or a garden trowel. Be sure to rinse your gutters out with a garden hose after you are done.
If all of those cleaning methods seem gross or time consuming, gutter guards might sound pretty good right now. But be leery of any guard claiming to be “maintenance free.” There is no such thing. Gutter guards may drastically reduce the amount of maintenance you need but they are not “maintenance free.” Things will still get stuck up there that need to be cleared off but you shouldn’t need to clean them as often as you would stand alone gutters.
What Are The Real Benefits?
While they don’t totally eliminate clogs they certainly can reduce them. And stated above they do so with less work on the part of the homeowner. This maintenance may only be taking a broom and running it across your gutters. As opposed to getting in there and having to scoop everything out.
As cute as they are mice, squirrels, snakes, etc. can wreak havoc on gutters. At best they run around on them putting added strain and weight on the gutters. At worst they can get stuck in there and pass away. Which is sad and gross to clean up and definitely clogs up flowing water.
When leaves lay in gutters they gather moisture from rain and just being outside. This wet material laying there can cause metals to rust prematurely.
Types of Systems
Now there are several different types of systems that all have their uses and drawbacks they are:
These are fairly common since they can be installed professionally or by you. These screen gutter guards have large holes that can keep big things out. The issue is the holes are often big enough that some debris still gets through. And sometimes stuff gets stuck in those larger holes so you have to clean them about as often as you would straight up gutters. But they are cost effective and fairly good at preventing clogs in the gutters themselves.
These are by far the cheapest option. They are foam pieces that you simply place into your gutters. Foam is lightweight so it’s intended to be less strain on the gutters themselves. The issue is debris just sits on top of them so they need slightly more cleaning than other opinions. Also you have to fully remove and then replace the system anytime you want to clean your gutters. So it is a much messier process than other options.
Brush style guards look a lot like a brush hence the name. The logic here is that they will catch any debris and allow only water to flow in. They are inexpensive and can be a DIY installation. The issue is they have a habit of trapping things causing them to clog up more often. Since these “brushes” need to be fully removed to clean, that can be a hassle.
Reverse Curve/Surface Tension
Think of these like a roof for your gutters. They are solid and divert water into your gutters while everything else is designed to slide down along them. These are one of the most expensive options because they need to be professionally installed since they require roof shingles to be lifted up. This process can cause damage to your roof. They can also be seen from the ground when many other options won’t show. And despite the high price tag clogs may still occur.
Mesh is very similar to screen guards but the holes are smaller so it blocks more debris. They also require less cleaning. Many homeowners with these simply sweep them with a broom every so often. The drawbacks are they should be professionally installed and do carry a higher price tag.
Micro-Mesh is like mesh but the holes are even smaller. And smaller holes let even less through. The drawbacks are the same as mesh but with a higher price tag.
Hope we helped clear up some facts and misconceptions about gutter guards. Every option has pros and cons. If you have any questions give us a call today at (636) 699-0449 or request your free inspection today. You can also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’re in the St. Charles County area and looking for an experienced roofing and siding contractor, we are bringing forth over 20 years of experience in the roofing industry. That’s something you can trust and especially if we’re in your neck of the woods.