Not many homeowners think of the gutters on their homes let alone gutter guards or gutter covers. And it is not common practice to build a new home with gutter guards or gutter covers. Gutters are designed to move water away from your home – primarily rainwater that falls on your roof. This rain rolls off your roof, into the gutter, down the waterspouts located on the sides of your home, then drains away from the structure.
Some homeowners forget, though, that open gutters (that is gutters without covers) can get filled up with leaves, sticks, and other debris, leaving the gutters much less functional. Clogged gutters can result in water backing-up so that it makes its way under the roof shingles, possibly resulting in indoor leaks. And cleaning out clogged gutters can actually be a dangerous task.
Gutter cleaning involves standing on a ladder, reaching in and pulling out debris on which you could cut your hands. Gutters sometimes have very sharp metal edges, posing a further hazard. It may also involve dragging a hose with you on a ladder so that you can wash out the interior of the gutter. As such, it is a good idea to explore the possibility of adding gutter guards or gutter covers.
Before you invest in gutter guards or gutter covers, it is a good idea to learn a little about what they are and how they work.
Gutter Guards and Gutter Covers
There are five types of gutter guards and two types of gutter covers:
- Foam gutter guards: made from plastic. You set the foam guard directly into the gutter. Extremely easy to install, however seedlings are known to set in the foam and the next thing you know you have trees growing out of your gutters. Due to a high level of inefficiency, foam gutter guards are not recommended.
- Nylon gutter guards: made from nylon. This type of guard works well in colder climates preventing snow build up.
- Mesh gutter guards: made from metal. Mesh gutter guards cover the gutter, but need to be attached to your roof shingles. Affordable and easy to install, mesh gutter guards can blow off your gutters in strong winds. There are also micromesh guards with very tiny holes and are highly effective. They are also preferred for those who collect and use rainwater.
- Bottlebrush gutter guards: made from a hard bristle material, like very strong pipe cleaners, these types of guards sit inside the gutter with the bristles up. They are quite easy to install and birds, insects, and rodents find it difficult to create a home in them. However, they get clogged easily requiring maintenance.
- Reverse curve gutter guard: moves water down the spouts. A better option than bottlebrush or foam guards, these guards can lift up your roof shingles, have a high cost for professional installation, and are not very effective. Bees and wasps also find reverse curve gutter guards the perfect place to nest.
The two types of gutter covers are: the traditional design and the contemporary design. According to Dave Catherman, owner of Gutterglove of Wisconsin, contemporary gutter cover designs are much more favorable than traditional designs that are still sold on the market.
The traditional gutter cover design is referred to as a “reverse curve” design. This design reduces, but does not completely prevent gutters from collecting debris.
In comparison, gutter covers with a contemporary design include a screen mesh that is part of the cover. This mesh prevents debris from depositing into the gutter itself.
Pros & Cons of Gutter Guards
Household-tips.com lists the pros and cons of gutter guards.
The pros of using gutter guards include:
- Preventing birds from building nests thereby blocking up the water flow.
- They can easily be installed with existing gutters.
- They allow for the water to flow easily.
The cons of using gutter guards include:
- Poorly designed gutter guards will not keep debris out.
- They do require a level of maintenance.
- Professional installation can be costly.
Most professionals prefer gutter covers since they almost completely stop debris and require very little maintenance.
What to look for in a Gutter Cover
Even contemporarily designed gutter covers are not all made the same. You will need to do some comparison-shopping. Pay particular attention to the materials used to make the gutter cover as well as the quality of the mesh and what is known as the “dot pattern.”
For example, the gutter cover should be manufactured with a strong frame made from a strong material, such as anodized aluminum. Mesh should be made from heavy-duty surgical steel. And, the dot pattern should be such that nothing should penetrate it except for water and dust.
Most importantly, your gutter cover system should be completely sealed. Being outside in all types of weather, the system needs to expand and contract as well as withstand wind, hail, and snow.
Is It Worth the Cost?
A good quality gutter cover system is going to cost you some money, so you will need to consider your situation. If your home is surrounded by a lot of trees that shed their leaves, then investing in a gutter cover system is probably a good idea. If leaves and other debris falling into your gutters is not that big a concern, then hiring a professional gutter cleaning company is worthwhile, especially if your home is multi-storied. Remember that every time you do work on a ladder, you are taking a risk. Professionals know how to minimize this risk while doing the job that you need to have done.
A good gutter guard or cover system will come with a warranty that should last at least a decade. Take this into consideration when deciding on whether or not to buy a system. Calculate the number of times that you will need to clean out gutters or have a professional clean the gutters versus installing a gutter system that will save you time, money, and protect your home.