Q&A / 

Gutter Guards – Do They Really Work?

micromesh-gutter-guard

This is the best gutter guard I've ever tested. A stainless-steel micro mesh prevents any pine needles from getting into the gutter. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Original Publication Date: April 1999

The Pros and Cons of Gutter Guards - Be Careful Out There!

Dealer-installed gutter guards come with a high price, a very high price. DIY solutions may have you in the emergency room if you fall from the roof or cut your hand doing the job. The best alternative may be to purchase the gutter guards online and have a professional handyman do the simple install. See below for an affordable alternative to gutter guards like the ones I put on my home.

Important Author’s Note Update: Since this column was written, I've discovered at least two other gutter guards that sport the micromesh filtration screen. Testing of these micromesh guards began early Spring of 2008. The results of the test are in! After ten years of testing various types, a winner has been declared! Click for the gutter guard I installed on my house - Gutter Guard Test Results.


DEAR TIM: I'm sick and tired of cleaning leaves and debris from my gutters. I've seen numerous new devices that allow water to enter the gutter but deflect leaves and twigs.

I intend to install some before the fall season. Do these products work? Can they be installed by an average homeowner? Which ones are better - aluminum or vinyl? Beth, Morgantown, WV


DEAR BETH: The new gutter covers have caught the attention of many people including salespeople, homeowners and myself. Many homeowners like you are looking for a miracle product that will free them from ever having to clean their gutters again.

Certain salespeople are claiming they have this miracle product. There are some great gutter cover designs, however, everyone I have tested has allowed some smaller debris to enter my gutters.

Spring Is When Gutter Guards #FAIL

Gutter cleaning, as you well know, is not just a fall activity. Gutters can become clogged in the spring as deciduous trees litter roofs with seed pods, flower petals, buds and small leaves felled by spring storms. It's not uncommon for me to clean my gutters at least four times a year.

All gutter guards I tested had no problem keeping large leaves from getting into the gutters.

It's important to realize MOST of the gutter guards I tested FAILED in the spring because the small holes, slits, openings, etc. became choked and clogged with small debris.

Free & Fast Bids

CLICK HERE for FREE & FAST BIDS from local companies that can install micromesh gutter guards.

Consider purchasing a micromesh product from Amazon.com and having your local handyman install them for you. CLICK the photo below for just one of the micromesh products I discovered on Amazon:

Micromesh Gutter Guard

There are many micromesh gutter guard products. You can save LOTS of money putting them on yourself. CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see how low-cost they can be.

Related Links

Gutter Covers 101

Ice Problems with Gutter Covers

Gutter Covers

Do Gutter Guards Work?

Cleaning Gutter Guards is Dangerous - Falls Happen All the Time

Cleaning gutters can be hazardous to your health. Ladders can slip when people reach too far sideways to grab leaves from a gutter. If you clean gutters while standing on a roof, you can lose your balance and fall.

Gutter guards can go a long way in preventing many autumn accidents.

Home and Garden Show Gutter Guard Test

Three years ago, I saw a demonstration of one of gutter covers at a local home show. I couldn't believe how the water rolled around the edge of the gutter cover into the gutter. I decided to test it on the spot.

While the salesperson was busy with someone else, I made some simulated leaves with pieces of paper. The gutter cover deflected the large "leaves". However, my small "leaves" were sucked into the gutter.

Real Gutter Guard Testing on My Roof

I decided to test a number of gutter covers to see how they would perform in a standard Mid-western setting. Some of the products had rows of round holes. Some had diamond shape knock-outs. Two samples had slits that ran parallel to the front edge of the gutter. The slits allow water to flow into the gutter.

When the last leaf had dropped from the trees last fall, I checked the gutter covers. All of them had performed very well. No leaves were in the gutters and leaves were not stuck in the holes or slits.

However, this spring was a different story. My silver maple and pin oak trees showered my roof with buds and debris. All of the products I tested allowed the tree flower buds to enter the gutters.

CLICK HERE for FREE & FAST BIDS from local companies that can install micromesh gutter guards.

My First Early Gutter Guard Test Conclusion

After seeing what happened I came to the conclusion most gutter guards were a WASTE OF MONEY. You'd still have to get up on your roof to clean the gutter guards. Why not just take the money you'd pay for the gutter guards and use it to pay a handyman to clean the gutters twice a year?

Author's Notes:

The notes below show you the poor designs that clogged with tree debris. Some of these inferior products are still sold! BEWARE of them. You'll be wasting your money.

Instead, install a micromesh gutter guard like you see far above in this column.

May, 1999

twigs on gutter

There are many, many gutter guard products out there. Some designs have been around for many years. I was not able to test every single gutter guard for this column.

However, it appears that every single design that I tested failed in the springtime. This spring, we had a normal amount of debris fall from our trees. This photo (right) shows the diamond-shaped guard clogged with debris. It remained clogged even after repeated windy days. I was able to brush the debris off the top and spray with a hose through the diamond knockouts to flush the gutter.

leaves on gutter

This photo (left) shows the gutter cover that has the slit in it. The slit also became clogged with all sorts of debris. It was a real pain in the you-know-what to take the time to clean the small debris from this slit. I urge you to keep in mind that the installation of any gutter guard product will not eliminate entirely the task of cleaning your gutters. These products will simply reduce the amount of times you have to do it.

October, 2002:

This photo (right) clearly supports what I have said for years. I decided to remove the white gutter covers on my garage that you see in the photo up above in the body of the column. It was one of the gutter guards I originally liked when I wrote the above column. These gutter covers had been in place approximately five years. I knew what I was going to see in the gutters but was surprised to say the least. Yuck!

inside gutter view

As you can see, a one-half inch thick layer of muck goo covered the entire bottom of the gutter. I pulled away some of it so you could see the bottom of the gutter. The muck was a mixture of decayed organic matter and granules from the shingles. Print this photo out and show it to the gutter guard salesperson that tries to convince you your gutters will "never have to be cleaned again." I can't wait to hear from you how they explain this photo away! T.C.


Tim,

I've read your article about gutter covers and agree completely. Yesterday, I spent 2 hours cleaning out this foul muck in the bottom of my gutters that had clogged them up. I ripped off my gutter covers and threw them in the trash.

While looking for solutions to my being lazy and not wanting to clean out my gutters EVER again, I came across _ _ _ _ _ .  (Named Removed by Tim Carter to Protect the Guilty) Have you tried these? Do they work or am I just hoping that I never have to be covered with muck and mosquito bites again anytime soon.

Thanks!

Amiee Staggs

Bloomington, IN


This email just arrived August 29, 2005.

Loved your discussion of gutter guards. I bought into the "never clean" line and purchased a system that had a solid cover over the gutter. Clogged up within 6 months! The company did come out and clean them, but after we had a major overflow and basement flooding. The company knows its product is not clog free -- they even had the gall to give me a special hose adapter so I could flush out their "clog free" gutters.

Eileen G.

Upstate NY

Final Conclusion

Consider purchasing a micromesh product from Amazon.com and having your local handyman install them for you. CLICK the photo below for just one of the micromesh products I discovered on Amazon:

Micromesh Gutter Guard

There are many micromesh gutter guard products. You can save LOTS of money putting them on yourself. CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see how low-cost they can be.

SPONSORS / 

19 Responses to Gutter Guards – Do They Really Work?

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.