To Gutter Guard Or Not to Gutter Guard

Everyone has heard stories about gutter guards that don’t work. I’ve been installing gutters for 14 years. I can remember the time when there weren’t 50 choices for styles of gutter guards. Back then there was a cheap screen-flimsy aluminum, Gutter Helmet-the original cover, and the do it yourself plastic screens from Do It Yourself Centers. And that is where many of these negative stories about gutter guards come from. They are from people who installed or know someone who installed the cheap do it yourself plastic screens. Those screens are money wasted for most people. They don’t attach securely to the gutter, sometimes blowing off or shifting and allowing debris in.

For gutter guards to be effective, they need to slide under the shingles and securely attach to the gutter with screws. I’ve installed Gutterglove, LeafSolution, Guttershingle, GutterGuardian, Leafree, and other name brands. For any of them to work, those 2 principles need to hold true-under the shingles and screwed into place.

There are many different situations and different scenarios: Different kinds of leaves and debris from trees Different pitches to the roof Different roof heights(distance from the ground) And of course, different people-age, health, income, etc.

So different guards will do different things for different people. But most people will find it much easier to have gutter guards than to not have them. Even an inexpensive screen will make life a lot easier if it is installed properly. With an economy screen some debris still gets through the openings. But it is maybe 3% of what would have gotten into the gutter before. So gutter cleaning is drastically reduced.

Many people wonder though-Won’t it be more difficult to clean out my gutters if there is a gutter cover or screen on them? Not usually, as the small amount of debris that does get in tends to wash to the downspout opening and collect there. So, rather than have to clean the entire gutter just that one spot needs cleaned. This involves removing a couple of screws and a 4 foot section of gutter guard, scooping out a handful of debris and then reinstalling the gutter guard. This step can often be avoided by simply installing larger size (3×4 inch) downspouts. The larger downspouts don’t usually add much to the cost of the gutters and downspouts.

Cleaning is drastically reduced in occurrence. Without gutter guards, gutters may need to be cleaned several times a year. Many people have them cleaned spring and fall, or just in the fall. A few days after cleaning they can get clogged and stay that way for months. It only takes a few leaves to clog a downspout.

With the gutters guards on the higher end, most or all of the debris is kept out of the gutter. There is still some maintenance. Don’t let a pushy gutter salesman tell you otherwise. You may need to spray with a hose from the ground or use a reverse brush(also standing on terra firma) to clean on occasion. But the maintenance is cut in 1/10 or 1/20th. It is drastically reduced.

Gutter guards make life a lot easier for most homeowners. They are not always zero maintenance(although in many cases they are) but they will drastically reduce the amount of maintenance.