Climbing up a ladder and sticking your hand into gutters ever year to remove debris and leaves is probably one thing you wish you could avoid.
How often should you clean your gutters?
Most professional advice suggests that you do this task twice a year especially if your home is surrounded by a lot of trees.
This bi-annual ritual is not only annoying and time consuming, but potentially dangerous if the land around your home is uneven or your roofline varies in height.
And by all means, you never want to go up on the roof to do this task and risk falling and injuring yourself. Some opt to hire a contractor each year to flush the gutters clean but that can get expensive. Depending on your area of the country, you can expect to pay between $100 or more for a one-story home, and more for a multi-floor house. Paying that twice a year can add up.
However, clean and debris free gutters are important to avoid damage to a home. If rainwater is not allowed to drain from the roofline properly in the gutter tracks, natural dams can build up causinga back flow down the sides or under the roofline of the home. This can lead to costly repairs caused by water damage which includes bending the gutter, wood rot, foundation damage and mold.
So if you are not able to get up on a ladder or do not have the budget to pay for professional cleanings once or twice a year, what can you do?
Fortunately there are products on the market that are designed to alleviate this annoying DIY home repair. They range in design from full leaf guards and enclosed systems, to screens and filters at every price point. Some options cost as little $.30 per linear foot for a simple filter screen that can be snapped onto the gutter, while other options can cost as much as $30 per linear foot and must be professionally installed.
Once installed, many require no further maintenance.
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Types of Gutter Guards
Most gutter guard products can be categorized in the following groups and each have their pros and cons.
Some offer great protection under large leaves but not so great at deflecting pine needles. Others offer cost-effective protection against low-sloped roofs, but cannot handle a deluge. Finally, there are some that are poor choices if you live in climates with harsh winters as they are more prone to freezing and forming icicles.
Some are very good at what they do, but you will pay. As always in life, everything is a trade-off between cost and quality.
Solid Enclosed Gutter Guards
This type of guards offer enclosed systems that deflect leaves and pine straw but allow rain water runoff from the roof into narrow channels. There is virtually no way that anything other than water run-off can enter the gutters.
However, there are a couple of issues to be aware of before going down this major expense for your home.
While they are excellent at deflecting debris, they may not be a good option if you have a steep roofline that allows the rainwater to drain too fast. Some of these enclosed systems can become overwhelmed by the speed of the exiting water, allowing it to spill over the gutters edge. The last thing you want from your expensive new gutters is for them to have a deluge of rainwater coming down all around your home during heavy downpours.
Some of these enclosed systems are solid, while others are made of a fine mesh. Those allow for more water penetration, but during heavy downpours, they can have the same issue of water runoff as solid versions.
Before getting an estimate for your home, I would advise that you check around your neighborhood and see if anyone with a similar architecture has them installed and ask them how they performed. If that is not an option, check around online and read reviews of the products, keying in on common issues. Installing these types of enclosed systems are a major expense for most home owners, so do your homework first.
Just as the name implies, these types of guards are mesh filters that deflect debris. These filters vary in cost and quality. Some are simple plastic mesh that arc slightly inside the gutter below the roof shingles. Others are metal mesh with clips that attach to the side of the gutter and rest on top of the roof singles.
These gutter filters are the least expensive but at the same time, the least effective. However, if you are not under a lot of trees, they can be the best option, particularly the metal mesh options that arc slightly. I have used these around my home and they work very well. However, I do not have a lot of trees near my home, so I cannot say how they would perform under a lot of pine trees.
Perforated Aluminum and PVC Covers
Along the same design as enclosed systems, these types of covers are basically the same type of design however, they are perforated along the gutter runs allowing more water to enter.
The perforated nature solves one of the main issues of enclosed gutter systems in that they can handle more water run-off during heavy downpours and offer better performance from steep rooflines.
While they handle downpours better, they can allow more debris into the gutters due to the perforations. And this can become an issue since they may require cleaning occasionally, which is the problem you were trying to avoid. Worse, it can be a more cumbersome process since you might have to remove part of the perforated covers to clean the debris.Credit: mjpyro
These types of systems typically must be professionally installed and usually run between $20 - $30 per linear foot.
These types of products are relatively new and they come in several different designs. Some looks like sponges in the shape of a wedge, while others have wires and bristles.
The idea is to keep leaves and debris out of your gutters by filling, or blocking the area in the gutter from larger objects. Water will flow through these types of gutter guards.
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If you have cold feet about making a major upgrade to an enclosed system, my advice is to purchase some of the clip on metal mesh guards. They are sold in three foot sections and work great under most circumstances. I have not had to clean my gutters once in the sections I installed them, and even if I did, they simply flip upward on their gutter clips so you can access the inside of the gutter with your hand or a water hose.
Whatever option you choose for your situation, do your homework first before investing a lot of money. Every situation is different.
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