Do you need to clean gutters with gutter guards?
Many homeowners are attracted to gutter guards in hopes that they will eliminate a tedious home gutter maintenance task. Cleaning gutters and downspouts can be time-consuming, depending on the number of trees nearby and when they were last cleaned. Combine the large investment of time with the danger associated with working so high up, and it is no wonder homeowners research these products.
An investment in gutter guards can take several years just to pay for itself before any real savings can be gained. That's assuming the gutter guards are maintenance-free as they are often advertised.
Are gutter guards maintenance-free?
While I wish they were, unfortunately, they are not. Before we even offered gutter cleaning services I was interested in an option that would reduce or prevent my own personal issues with leaves and debris clogging my rain gutters. What I found was cheaper options were ineffective. The more expensive options still required more maintenance than I wanted to perform after such a large investment.
Unfortunately, gutter guards aren't maintenance-free. There are different types of gutter guards like foam, gutter helmets, and micro mesh, but each has its own problems.
No filtering system is perfect. One of two things will happen with any filtering system. If they prevent all debris from entering the gutters then the gutter screens themselves will become clogged.
Depending on the type of guard that is used, it can be a slow difficult task to unclog the guards. Care must be taken not to enlarge the holes or slits in the gutter guard. Each time this happens more debris is able to bypass the guard and enter the gutters.
This process often involves uninstalling and reinstalling the gutter guards. While some guards claim to be self-rinsing they often will still need maintenance twice a year.
Once these leaf filtering systems clog, debris tends to collect on top of the gutters. The added weight can damage the gutters. The leaf debris can also redirect water back towards shingles and fascia boards causing damage and rot. The less expensive gutter guards often collapse into the gutter from the weight of the debris that collects on them.
Gutter helmets correct a few of these issues but you end up trading one set of problems for another. Gutter covers make great shelters for animals. Squirrels and birds love to try and make homes in them. Insects such as wasps will suspend their nest inside the gutter helmets.
Gutter helmets keep big debris out of gutters, but they let small debris in with the water. While this will reduce how often gutters need to be cleaned, it is not maintenance-free.
Cleaning gutters with gutter helmets is significantly more challenging and expensive. Often the helmet must be removed and then reinstalled in order to clean the gutter system.
People often stop working when they find stinging insects like wasps. They have to wait for a pest control expert to remove the insects. Any savings these guards would provide is often spent on the additional costs to clean these challenging gutter guards.
Gutter helmets often tend to struggle with periods of heavy rain as well. Often the rain will simply bypass the guttering defeating the purpose of the gutters completely.
Are gutter guards a good investment?
From my personal experience, no, they are not. If they worked as advertised I'd have them on my own house. Even if they reduced the need for gutter cleaning to once every two or three years I might consider it.
However because cause they still require frequent cleaning they fail to generate any real savings. Especially once you consider they raise the cost and time involved every time they do need to be cleaned.
Gutter cleaners often refuse to clean them. Therefore, you have to depend on the installer to maintain them. This is because they are difficult to remove and install. After repeated installation, gutter guards can become brittle or develop small problems that make them less effective.
When it's time to flush the gutters, Advance Lawn Care can help you keep up with this dangerous home maintenance project.