Are gutter guards worth the money?
Updated: Aug 1
After completing the task of gutter cleaning, individuals often find themselves pondering the effectiveness of gutter guards. Gutter guards, also known as gutter covers or gutter screens, are devices designed to prevent debris such as leaves, twigs, and other foreign objects from clogging up the gutters. These guards are typically made of various materials such as mesh, foam, or solid covers, and are installed over the gutters to act as a barrier.
The primary purpose of gutter guards is to minimize the need for frequent gutter cleanings by reducing the amount of debris that enters the gutters. By preventing leaves and other debris from accumulating in the gutters, gutter guards aim to maintain a smooth flow of rainwater, preventing potential issues such as overflowing gutters, water damage to the roof, and foundation problems. However do they accomplish their primary purpose?
The effectiveness of gutter guards can vary depending on several factors. The type and quality of the gutter guard, the local climate and weather conditions, the surrounding vegetation, and the installation method all play a role in determining their efficiency.
Types of gutter guards.
Brush gutter guards
The idea behind brush gutter guards is a giant round brush fills the gutter. Its intended to prevent debris from entering the gutter while still allowing water to flow into the gutter system.
The brush bristles tend to act like fingers that grab and hold onto larger debris. Smaller debris often bypasses the brush and gets caught between the brush and the gutters clogging the system.
The manufacturers often mention they are only intended to reduce gutter cleaning, not completely replace gutter cleaning. The result is usually a clogged mess that is harder to clean.
Foam gutter guards
The biggest issue with these guards is they trap dirt, water, and seeds. They become the perfect planter for natural vegetation to grow and thrive. All the trapped dirt stops water flow and ensures the weeds are well watered to grow vigorously.
Screen gutter guards.
Screen gutter guards are often made of thin plastic or metal. They often lack sufficient strength to remain self supporting as they age. Eventually they end up folding up into the gutter system. Even when new they often feature large openings which allow dirt, debris, and seeds into the gutters.
Micro mesh gutter guards
Like screen gutter guards many micro mesh guards are flimsy and lack support. Once any debris accumulates they often collapse into the gutters. Micro mesh gutter guards are susceptible to corrosion damaging the guard and staining everything around it. These systems often involve installation processes that can disturb shingles and void roof warranties.
Gutter helmet installation often can void roof warranties like micro mesh gutter guards. Due to their design gutter helmets often have issues with water flowing over them and missing the gutters during periods of heavy rain. This excess water completely by passes the gutters and leaves you with issues like damaged foundations which the gutters are intended to prevent.
They are very difficult clean or inspect. Often they will require removal of the existing functional gutters to change to a different gutter system designed for the specific gutter helmet.
Common gutter guard problems:
All gutter guards still need to be cleaned.
Regardless of what the advertiser promises, all gutter guards need to be cleaned. When they do, it often involved removing the gutter guard system to gain access to clean the gutters.
Screen gutter guards commonly clog with pine needles and other debris that must be brushed out. Care must be taken to avoid enlarging the slits or holes. Doing so will allow debris to by pass the gutter guard.
Gutter guards grow moss, lichen, and algae.
All types of gutter guards close the gutter system to some extent. Even mesh systems can reduce gutter ventilation and air flow.
The result is an increase of moisture enclosed in the gutter system which grows moss, lichen, and algae. This will create a breeding ground for these spores to travel through out the home. These spores can begin to grow on the roof causing damage. May people report health issues related to these spores.
As moss, lichen, and algae grows and spreads it makes a home look dirty. This increases the need for roof washing, gutter washing, and house washing services. It can also shorten the life span of any surface it grows onto.
Some gutter guards can void roofing shingle warranty.
Some gutter guards can void the warranty on shingles. This is because it must be installed below the last run of shingles. On older roofs shingles can become stiff or brittle. This process can cause serious damage to the roof.
Oils from asphalt shingles attract and hold debris.
Over time an asphalt shingle breaks down and releases oils into the gutter system. A open gutter system can handle these oils. Slit or mesh systems however will slowly build up a oily film that begin to grab and hold on to debris. This rapidly clogs the gutter systems.
Some gutter guard manufacturers have developed coatings to reduce this issue. However most coatings have a limited life when exposed to the intense heat and sun light in arkansas summers.
Gutter guards often trap debris at the edge of the shingles.
This build up of debris holds moisture at the edge of the roof. This can shorten the life of shingles, damage the roof decking, and rot the fascia. These are the exact issues gutters are installed to prevent in the first place.
In heavy rains water tends to flow off the side of the house instead of entering the gutter.
In areas with heavy rainfall or frequent storms, gutter guards may face challenges in handling large volumes of water. Gutter helmets for example are prone to water flowing over them and bypassing the gutters all together. While this problem is more common with solid gutter guards, all gutter guards struggle with heavy rain.
Gutter helmets also frequently make large heavy icicles in areas prone to freezing rain like hot springs arkansas. The combined weight of the extra ice and the solid gutter guards can be damaging to the gutters and the fascia board they attach too.
Gutter guards make great homes for pests.
Gutter helmets also make great homes for pests. Bees and wasp nest within them and reproduce quickly. Birds will also nest in them and are difficult to remove without disassembling the gutter guard system.
Proper installation initially and after each cleaning is important.
Proper installation is crucial for the optimal performance of gutter guards. If not installed correctly, gutter guards may not fit securely or may create gaps that allow debris to enter the gutters. Regular inspections and maintenance are also necessary to ensure that the gutter guards are functioning as intended.
Each time the gutter guards are removed for yearly gutter cleaning, the odds of them becoming damaged increases. Fasteners often get lost.
With age gutter guard materials become brittle and break during repeated installations. Slits and holes designed to block debris get enlarged during cleaning allowing debris into the gutters. They are rarely easy to install, which is a problem considering how often they need to be cleaned.
Do gutter guards work?
Basically, not as they are advertised by gutter guard companies. Home owners often purchase gutter guards because they hope to save money on gutter cleanings. The idea is that they will never require gutter cleaning or at worst cleaning the gutters every few years.
However the gutter guards them selves need cleaning at least once a year. Because they enclose the system they greatly increase the labor cost of cleaning the existing gutters. They also tend to hide problems that would otherwise be seen before serious damage is done.
How much do gutter guards cost?
The cost of gutter guards can be a large investment. On the low side they can run around $1,000. On the higher side they can cost up to $5,000.
The price of gutter guards varies greatly depending on which product you chose. Many gutter guards require professional installation further increasing the price.
The cost of cleaning them is an additional expense. Its not uncommon for home owners to pay an additional cost for removal and disposal of a failed or under performing gutter guard.
What is the best way to keep gutters clean?
The best solution to clean gutters is a local gutter cleaner. They can personally inspect and flush the gutters ensuring they are working properly. Gutters needs regular hands on cleaning, and gutter guards often conceal serious issues.
Let Advance Lawn Care make gutter cleaning easy for you. Our trained professionals use advanced tools that allow us to safely clean most gutters from the ground. Pole mounted cameras are used to take photos to show you the work we perform so you know its done right.
We safely clean gutters in Hotsprings Arkansas, Hotsprings national park, Red Oak Arkansas, Lake Hamilton, Arkansas, Royal, Arkansas, Pearcy Arkansas, Piney Arkansas, and Royal Arkansas.