Do Gutter Sponges / Gutter Foam Work
Foam gutter guards or similar gutter sponges are basically the same. They are a porous plastic insert that is inserted into the gutter system. Like many gutter guards, they are essentially a filter. Water is intended to flow through while larger debris is prevented from entering the rain gutter.
The aim is to hire a gutter cleaning company less frequently and reduce gutter cleaning and maintenance for homeowners. The guards themselves often run around $2 per foot depending on the specific brand. Because they are somewhat easy to install many homeowners decide to install these themselves. However, these gutter guards do have a couple of issues to be aware of.
As a professional gutter cleaning service, we have seen it all. Rest assured, if they worked, we would be upselling them every chance we got. Here are some of the reasons our professional gutter cleaner service doesn't recommend gutter foam inserts.
They aren't zero-maintenance gutter guards.
Foam gutter guards do a good job of preventing large leafy debris from entering the gutter. Unfortunately, this debris collects on top of the foam eventually causing clogged gutters. The idea is that wind and rain will remove this collected leaf debris. However, experience shows debris clings to the foam.
The result is if the gutter becomes capped with debris and nothing is allowed in. The water at this point simply runs over the gutter and over the side of the house.
Foam gutter guards don't have a long life span.
Our experience with gutter foam gutter guards is they can't withstand the Arkansas heat and sun. They progressively break down and crumble into the gutter. They go from being a gutter filter to becoming a gutter blockage. This can occur within one or two years.
Gutter foam is very hard to clean.
Due to their spongy design, they tend to allow dirt and roof granules to flow in with the water. The problem is the debris that flows in often becomes stuck. It is very challenging to remove this debris efficiently without destroying the gutter insert.
Basically, it is not much more than a limited-use filter. Once it is clogged you may rinse some of the debris out of the filter. But you will never get it all out.
Gutter inserts can't handle heavy rain.
Like a sponge, these gutter inserts can only hold so much water. Water can only flow through these systems so fast. The result during heavy rains is more water rushes in than these systems can handle. The excess either flows over the front or pools back towards the roof and fascia.
Foam insert gutter guards lose their shape over time.
The debris that collects on gutter foam inserts over time weighs it down. Once this gutter debris is removed it is not uncommon to see the insert has been squished and deformed.
The cleaning process can also distort the shape of gutter inserts due to removing and reinstalling them. Every time you need to flush the gutters this removal and installation has to take place. The result is gaps begin to form allowing larger debris to enter the gutter channels. As the gutter foam collapses on itself it has a reduced ability to allow water to pass.
These gutter guards can be a fire hazard.
Anytime leaves and pine needles begin to collect in gutters it can become a fire hazard. The gutter debris that collects on these gutter inserts is no different. However, the material these inserts are made from is also flammable. So even after cleaning the debris out of the gutter, the risk remains.
Homeowners are often attracted to gutter foam inserts due to their low cost and the ability for DIY installation. But, these gutter guards can be disappointing because homeowners still have to clean their gutters twice a year.
They often need to inspect the gutters more often than that just to ensure leaves and pine needles haven't collected on top. What's worse is these foam inserts makes cleaning gutters and downspouts more challenging. As always, our gutter cleaner company is ready to help however we can.