Your gutters serve an important function. They protect your home from water damage caused by an overflow of rain. When gutters get clogged by debris, they can no longer move the water away from your house safely. What’s worse, the weight of the debris in the gutter may cause them to sag and detach from your roof. This could lead to more serious problems, including mold growth, rot, and structural damage.
If you are unable or unwilling to routinely clean out your gutters to prevent these problems, installing gutter guards is a great idea. However, there are many different types on the market, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of gutter guards before making this important investment.
Why Do I Need a Gutter Guard?
Gutter guards are one of the best-selling products in the home improvement industry for many reasons, including:
- Safety: Cleaning out your gutters can be dangerous. Injuries and fatalities can occur when cleaning gutters, whether from falling from a ladder or getting shocked by electrical wiring. Cleaning out your gutters can cause damage to your home as well, including to the walls, roof, fascia boards, and even the gutters themselves. By cleaning your gutters, you risk injuring yourself and your property. When you install gutter guards, you eliminate both of these risks.
- Environmental issues: The many types of debris that accumulate in your gutters, including twigs, leaves, and other detritus, provide an ideal environment for spores, molds, and pests. These can damage the health of your home’s occupants or evoke allergic responses. They can also cause rot and compromise the structural integrity of your home.
- Damage prevention: Clogged gutters and ice dams cause overflows that can be extremely destructive to your property. The additional weight of the water can damage the gutters. Water flowing under the eaves or penetrating the roof due to overflows can hurt the home’s foundation, erode nearby soil, and destroy roof timbers and walls. Gutter guards prevent these problems and strengthen your gutters, better enabling them to withstand the harshest elements.
- Financial benefits: By installing gutter guards, you get back the money and time you would have spent on cleaning your gutters. It’s an investment that pays for itself in terms of avoiding cleaning costs and preventing damage to your house.
- Improved home value: Gutter guards may become a standard fixture on American homes, making it more difficult to sell your home if it doesn’t have them. But don’t wait until your home goes on the market — install them now and enjoy the benefits as long as you live in your home.
After learning about all these advantages, you may wonder, do gutter guards actually work? Yes, they do, though their effectiveness depends on what type you purchase and how you deploy them.
If you try to install gutter guards yourself, they may not work as well as those installed by a professional who has experience and knows how to do the complex fitting. You may also find certain kinds of gutter guards work better with your particular home’s style. Talk to neighbors who have gutter guards to get their feedback on the best system for your area.
Types of Gutter Clogs
Gutter clogs can damage your home by causing serious consequences, such as:
- Leaky roof: A roof that won’t stop leaking is one of the telltale signs of a clogged gutter. If gutters are unable to serve their purpose, water will accumulate on top of your roof until the roof becomes saturated. When this happens, you’ll notice water dripping from the ceiling, and the problem will only worsen until you remove the standing water on your roof and clear your gutters.
- Mold: If you have standing water on your roof, mold will eventually start to form. This becomes a serious problem if the mold multiplies on the inside of your roof, in your attic, and on your interior walls. Not only can removing mold cost thousands of dollars, but it can also damage your health if you’re exposed to it. Mold exacerbates allergies and causes skin irritation.
- Water damage: Sitting water can also cause structural damage by wearing away at your home’s wood. The wood will become soggy and rot. If you leave the water long enough, the structure of your home may start to deteriorate, which, as you can imagine, will require extensive, expensive repairs.
- Foundation damage: If you cannot direct water collected in your gutters away from your home, it will damage your foundation. As you know, the foundation is your home’s most important fixture and, if compromised, it puts your home in danger. Repairing your foundation will cost thousands of dollars.
- Landscaping damage: Clogged gutters can also ruin all the hard work you put into your flower beds, shrubs, and grass. Clogged gutters will cause water to overflow and spill out, washing away your landscaping in the process. It may also leave puddles on your lawn, requiring you to replant grass that is too damaged to grow.
- Shortened lifespan of your roof: If all goes well, roofs should last between 15 and 30 years. Roof replacements can be costly, so you’ll want to maximize the lifespan of the one you have. If your roof sustains damage every time it rains, its days could be numbered. Gutter guards help homeowners get the most out of their roofs and avoid expensive repairs in the meantime.
Different Types of Gutter Guards
There are many types of gutter clogs, so you need to find guards available on the market that will address your problem. Here are the most common kinds.
Brush gutter guards consist of bristles and resemble large pipe cleaners that fit inside the gutters. The bristles are oriented in the upright position, preventing leaves, twigs, and other types of debris from entering while allowing rainwater to pass through. The main advantage of brush gutter guards is that they’re fairly easy to install. However, there are also several disadvantages:
- They don’t block every debris type: Smaller types of debris, such as pine needles and maple spinners, will get stuck in the bristles.
- Clogging is common:These gutter guards clog easily.
- Cleaning can be a hassle: When removing smaller debris, you will have to take out the brush gutter guards completely.
Because brush gutter guards are susceptible to clogging and must be cleaned out periodically, this largely defeats the purpose of installing gutter guards in the first place.
2. Perforated/Slit System
Perforated metal gutter guards fit under shingles and cover the gutters. They keep out leaves but not pods, seeds, or needles. Because small debris can become easily stuck in the perforations and cover up the trough created by the gutter guards, it becomes increasingly likely that water will overflow because it can’t pass through to the gutter underneath.
Foam gutter guards consist of foam pieces that fit into your gutters and prevent debris from accumulating. The main advantages of this gutter guard type are its affordable cost and easy installation. It comes with a number of cons, however, including:
- Creating an environment for growth: Seedlings and trees may take root in the foam and grow, which can damage the gutters.
- Clogs occurring on top of the foam: Although foam gutter guards are effective at preventing clogs inside the gutters, they can cause clogs to form on top of them.
- Cleaning can be a hassle: When cleaning your gutters, you must first remove these gutter guards and then reinstall them afterward, which requires more work than not having any gutter protection at all.
- Becoming a fire hazard: Foam catches fire easily.
While foam gutter guards are cheap, their cost is not worth the extra time and effort required for the upkeep.
4. Reverse Curve
Reverse curve gutter guards, also known as surface tension gutter guards, move rainwater down. They cause debris to fall to the ground instead of collecting in the gutters. Professionals generally install these gutter guards, and many come with a kind of warranty, which gives homeowners peace of mind. This product is not without its disadvantages, such as:
- It may affect your roof warranty: This type of gutter guard often lifts up the shingles on your roof, which may void your roof’s warranty.
- It could decrease your home’s curb appeal: Reverse curve guards are noticeable from the ground.
- Installation can be pricey: Certain companies require you to purchase new gutters to go with the new guards.
- They often don’t work as well as promised: Clogs sometimes form if debris accumulates in the opening. You might have to deal with wasps or bees if they make it through the opening and build their nests in the gutters.
Homeowners should avoid this type of gutter guard, as it is only a short-term solution.
5. Aluminum Screens
Aluminum screen gutter guards feature large holes or openings that fit on top of your gutters, and you have the choice to install them yourself or have them installed professionally. Homeowners often choose these screens because they’re easy to install and relatively affordable. However, they are also associated with the following cons:
- They may let in smaller debris: The screen’s large openings allow many kinds of debris to get in, including all but the largest pieces, such as leaves and pine cones.
- They can blow off the gutters: This is possible in windy conditions and during storms.
- They’re susceptible to clogging: These gutter guards will clog unless you routinely take them out and clean them. You must do this at least one time per year.
While this may be a solid choice if you need an affordable option that you can install by yourself, keep in mind that you will have to clean them to prevent clogging.
Why Shur Flo Guards Are the Best Alternative to Aluminum Screens
Shur Flo gutter guards have a patented “perf-flow” design. They install on top of your gutters without penetrating or lifting your shingles, making them a great choice if you have a roof warranty. They also slot right into the tops of your gutters, meaning that they have low profiles, so your neighbors and guests will hardly notice.
Shur Flo gutter guards consist of metal panels fitted to your gutters with holes distributed evenly throughout them. These holes allow rain to pass through while keeping debris out. Additional advantages include:
- Protection of your roof and gutters: When your gutters get clogged, the resulting overflow can damage your roof and landscaping. Shur Flo gutter guards prevent the buildup from happening.
- 20-year warranty: U.S. Aluminum, Inc., the company that manufactures Shur Flo, offers a 20-year warranty with their product.
- Advanced engineering: Only Shur Flo gutter guards have perf-flow engineering, meaning that they work even when covered with debris.
With only a slightly higher investment than aluminum screens, Shur Flo protects your gutters from record rain levels. If you’re looking for a guard with maximum performance, consider Shur Flo gutter guards.
Micromesh gutter guards, which are generally made of stainless steel, feature small holes that are almost invisible to the naked eye. They are highly effective at allowing water to pass through while keeping out debris. Although more costly than DIY solutions, we believe the higher cost is worth it. Micromesh is:
- Highly rated: Consumer Reports named Micromesh the best type of gutter guard.
- Permanent: Micromesh offers a permanent solution to gutter clogging and generally comes with a warranty.
- Professionally installed: You’ll relax knowing your gutters were installed correctly.
If you’re looking for a maintenance-free solution for your gutters, we recommend micromesh gutters. However, not all micromesh guards are created equal. Make sure to find a product such as top-of-the-line MasterShield Gutter Guards, which:
- Have an aluminum frame, not a plastic one.
- Won’t interfere with your shingles or roof.
- Come in various screen sizes and offer protection for all different types of clogs.
Should I Hire a Professional Gutter Guard Installer?
If you’re debating between installing your guards yourself or hiring a professional, we encourage you to choose the latter. Here’s why:
- Tools and equipment: A professional will be equipped with all the right tools required to install your gutter guards. These tools, along with their expertise and training, ensure the installation is performed quickly and efficiently.
- Guaranteed work: Most professionally installed gutter guards come with lifetime guarantees. Since gutters are prone to rust, cracking, and clogging, having a guaranteed gutter guard installed is the best choice if you want a maintenance-free solution. A professional can install your guards without affecting your other warranties, such as your roof.
Contact a Gutter Professional to Find the Best Solution for Your Pennsylvania Home
All Season Gutters is a local, family-owned business that’s been in operation since 2005. We understand your desire to keep your home safe and will do all we can to help you find the best gutter guard system for your home. To make this process less stressful, we provide free, no-pressure estimates.