Gutter Guards: General Information
To guard, or not to guard, that is the question. The answer depends on what you are looking for. If you want your gutter and drainage tile system well protected from clogs and back-ups that can lead to expensive house repairs, gutter guards are the solution for you. If, however, you’re looking for a way to prevent any kind of future gutter maintenance whatsoever, your only real option is to move to the desert because no such solution exists! Even the best guards need to be kept free of debris that can gather on the tops of the guards and prevent water from entering the gutter system. Of course, the extent of required maintenance will be far less than that which is required for systems without guards and will vary depending on the type of guard, the amount of trees around your house, and the pitch of your roof.
Choosing the Right Guard
So you want the protection and peace of mind that gutter guards can provide? Well get ready to be overwhelmed! There are literally hundreds of different kinds of guards that vary greatly in price; from your plastic and flimsy metal do-it-yourself (and soon after undo-it-yourself) brands found at your local home maintenance store, to the top of the line gutter topper/helmet products that provide a veritable fortress over your gutters (and cost almost as much as a fortress!). No need to panic though, choosing the right guard is easy when you know what to look for.
All effective guards will achieve the following two objectives:
1. Prevent debris from entering the gutters and downspouts. Easy right? Not exactly. Believe it or not, many guards fail miserably here. Most keep large leaves and debris out well enough, but over time shingle debris, dirt, seedlings, and other small invaders (including nasty wasps) make their way into the gutters and clog the system. Many a spry sapling has been plucked from the fertile soil that gathers beneath gutter guards that fail at this objective. Chief offenders here are the cheaper end guards made of plastic, mesh, and thin metal (found at retail stores), gutter brushes, gutter sponges, gutter foam, and any other “innovative” products that sit inside the gutter.
2. Preserve the function of the gutters. Gutters perform the very important function of managing the water around your house, and believe it or not, can only fulfill this purpose when water is allowed into them. So if you purchase a guard that covers 90% of the gutter opening (or open area yield), the only thing that’ll be flowing away from your house is dollars. Cover more than half the available open area yield of the gutter, and you may have your own personal Niagara Falls during heavy rains. Typically, guards that fail in this objective are the most expensive on the market and utilize “surface tension” to roll water into the gutters (Gutter Helmet, Gutter Topper, Free Flow, etc.).
Of course, a third consideration would be the quality of the guard. A cheaper grade guard, especially those made of plastic or flimsy metals, may do well at the above objectives in the beginning, but over time the guard will break down, erode, and warp which will lead to product failure.
A couple more things to keep in mind…
Generally speaking, stay away from guards that install under the shingles. In addition to the risk of shingle damage during installation and uninstallation, these guards can push up the first layer of shingles over time as they warp and shift. This is not only unsightly, but it makes the roof susceptible to ice damming and pooling water.
You also want to avoid guards that raise the profile of the gutter by adding height because they can also lead to ice damming in the winter and debris may congregate behind them in the fall. Both situations can lead to roof damage.
Here at The Gutter Boys we only install quality guards that have a proven record of balancing the twin objectives of prevention and preservation. Obviously if you’re going to have guards installed, we want to be the guys to do it, but if you decide to go elsewhere PLEASE CHOOSE CAREFULLY, because as the largest gutter cleaning company in Northeast Ohio, we may just be the one cleaning beneath your faulty gutter guards in the future!