Q&A / 

Gutter Guard Truth

gutter guard cross section

Here's a quick cross section showing how the gutter guard - in green - is in the same plane as the roofing material. The drawing is not to scale. I used to make drawings like this sitting at customers' kitchen tables. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Important Author’s Note Update: Since this column was written, I've discovered a gutter guard that actually WORKS! It worked so well in my testing that I installed it on my own home.

It's a stainless-steel micro mesh gutter guard that doesn't allow ANY organic debris into a gutter, but allows water to flow into the gutter even in torrential downpours.

gutter guard mastershield

This is the best gutter guard I've ever tested. A stainless steel micro mesh prevents any debris from getting into the gutter. You're looking at the front door on my NH home.  CLICK HERE or the photo below to purchase DIY stainless-steel gutter guards that will save you thousands of dollars. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

! IMPORTANT - Read Author's Notes at the End of This Column # # # Watch Videos Below !

Dealer-Installed Gutter Guards are Outrageous

Not too long ago, I was talking with a salesman who worked for a gutter guard company on the Eastern seaboard. He was astonished that people actually paid the prices he quoted them.

When he told me he was routinely getting $20 per linear foot for installed gutter guards, I almost fell out of my chair. It's imperative that you sit down and do some calculations before you decide to sign a contract for gutter guards. Some people have paid as much as $30 a linear foot.

DO NOT PAY THESE INSANE PRICES. Purchase gutter guards from Amazon.com and have a local handyman install them. CLICK HERE to order.

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:

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

DEAR TIM: Every fall, I get deluged with both leaves in my gutters and advertisements from companies selling gutter guard products that promise me I will never have to clean my gutters again.

The few estimates I have requested have taken my breath away because of the high price. First, do these products fulfill their claims?

If not, why? Is one better than the other? What is the most cost-effective way to keep my gutters free of leaves and debris? Stephanie W., Cranberry, PA

DEAR STEPHANIE: I'm not surprised at all by your comments, but wonder why you only mentioned half of your problem.

Spring Is The Biggest Gutter Problem

If you have deciduous trees, that drop leaves onto your home, then you undoubtedly suffer in the spring as well as the fall.

All deciduous trees produce organic litter in the form of buds, flowers, seeds, small bits of bark, twigs and leaves on a never-ending annual cycle until they die and then fall over. Evergreen trees are just as guilty as they shed needles and other bits of debris throughout the year.

This simple gutter guard is working well now, but wait until spring. Those knock-out holes you see will be clogged with twigs, flowers, bark, seeds, flower buds, etc.

Stratospheric Prices

The prices you speak of for these gutter guard systems not only take my breath away, but they knock me back on my heels. I'm convinced the pricing is based solely upon emotion.

The companies that sell these products play upon the frustration the average homeowner experiences when faced with the periodic cleaning one has to do several times a year to keep gutters clean.

It's not uncommon for a homeowner to get a price of $2,000 to $3,000 to install gutter guards on the average home. The pricing varies from region to region, and the type of system being installed.

There are do-it-yourself products you can get that will cost less than $200 for the average house so you can see there is a vast array of choices.

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:

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

Related Links

Gutter Guards and Icicles

Payback Period for Guards - How Fast?

Actual Cost of the Guards

To put the final retail price in perspective as to how high it is, you just need to look at the manufacturing cost. Doing some research I've come to the conclusion that the price ranges from ten or twenty cents per linear foot up to two dollars for the most complex micro-mesh guard. These are 2017 prices, so adjust for inflation.

Invest Your Money? Maybe!

But for the moment, let's consider the system installed by a professional roofing company. For sake of discussion, I'd like to assume an installed price of $2,500.00.

I'd also like to assume that you could invest this same money in a conservative stock that might go up in value just 7 percent per year. If you let the stock just grow in price, at the end of ten years its value would be nearly double having risen in value to $4,917.82. This means you still have your original money plus a gain of $2,417.82.

Annual Cost to Clean Gutters

If you paid a roofing company or handyman just $125 per visit to clean your existing gutters three times per year, you would have paid out $3,750.00 over the same time period. Granted, you need to factor in inflation as the price of the labor will undoubtedly rise.

But you don't need a PhD in Mathematics to see that at the end of ten years you'll have clean gutters and over $1,100 still in your account, if you simply pay a roofer to periodically clean your gutters.

Maybe it's a better idea to not put on gutter guards, especially if you plan to move within five years.

Almost All Gutter Products #FAIL

The real truth is that all of the gutter guard products I have tested for years at my own home fail in one way or the other. As soon as new designs become available, the manufacturers tend to discover me and ask me to test the new products.

All gutter guards do stop large leaves from entering gutters, but most of the designs allow small organic debris to enter the gutter system or this debris clogs the gutter guards causing water to cascade off the roof!

Gutter Guard Videos

Watch all these gutter guard videos of mine. You'll see WHY most fail and you'll see the one I put on my own home!

Layer Of Muck And Goo

If this organic debris that does enter the gutter is not cleaned out on a regular basis, you end up with a layer of goo and muck in your gutters.

If you must install gutter guards, then absolutely make sure you buy ones that allow you to easily see through them to the bottom of the entire gutter.

Avoid Solid-Topped Guards

Avoid gutter guards that have solid tops and small slits near the front edge. Look for gutter guards that have a larger mesh-type open structure that resembles a fishnet or even a chainlink fence. These systems allow you to aim a garden hose nozzle through the guard so that water can easily flush away the organic goo that will collect in the gutter. Remember, you'll have to clean your gutters or the gutter guards themselves UNLESS YOU GET A GUTTER GUARD THAT STOPS ALL DEBRIS BUT ALLOWS WATER INTO THE GUTTER.

I've tested no less than twenty different gutter guard products over the past eight years. Each year, I get to look at ones that offer new hope or more of the same.

Some of the gutter guards get horribly fouled with the spring-time debris that falls from the trees onto my roof. My pin oak trees create flower blossoms that resemble miniature lace. This mass of organic debris has terrorized each and every gutter guard. When my maple tree is not hit with a spring frost that kills the flower buds, the gutter guards are clogged within days with hundreds of thousands of maple seed helicopters.

Half Truths By Salespeople

Beware of salesmen who tell you all of the organic debris is washed away by rain or blown away by the wind. It's not true if the organic debris can get trapped in the openings of the gutter guard.

Home & Garden Show Test

You can test it yourself the next time you visit a home and garden show that has a small gutter guard setup with water cascading down a little roof, across the guard and into a gutter. Tear off a small piece of paper about the size of a postage stamp or your thumbnail and drop it onto the running water. I guarantee that it will be carried into the gutter or it will clog the guard. It will not fall onto the floor of the convention center.

In need of gutters? Pick out the right ones with my Gutter & Downspout Installation / Repair Checklist. I offer a 100% Money Back Guarantee.

Author's Notes - 

As you might imagine, columns written as the one above have the potential to ignite a firestorm of controversy. Manufacturers of gutter guard products that do fail and the distributors who sell them are immediately cast in a deep shadow of doubt.

But imagine how I felt when I received the following email from Ms. Ann Pattison on November 7, 2004 the day the above column ran in The Toledo Blade:

"Hello Tim,

My name is Ann Pattison, I am the proud owner of A -1 Gutter Cleaning based in Toledo, Ohio. I am writing to you regarding your article in The Toledo Blade that appeared on November 7, 2004, about gutter guards. I absolutely agree with your article.

For years I have been telling customers the same things you mentioned in your article. It is the truth. I have been in business for 15 years and have been cleaning gutters for 20. I will install a screening if a customer really wants some type of cover. However, I also still go out yearly to maintain this screening. Each year I have to clean off the screen I installed and then I must flush out the gutters.

I also take a lot of screening off because it was never maintained properly. If you install a cover, you cannot find a clog unless you take everything off. This is very time consuming. There is lots of labor involved. Gutter guards that allow you to see the bottom of the gutters do work best just as you say. But if you use a cheap roll out screening, it will be pushed right into the gutter as soon as leaves fall on it. So you must check out the material you are having installed. That also makes a big difference.

I just wanted to write you and thank you for your article. You are absolutely right on everything you said especially on the pricing. It is ridiculous. I do install a good screening cover that is a very thick gauge and works very well with proper maintenance for less than $3.00 a foot. If I can be of any service to you, please let me know. You can reach me at 419-865-1941 or 888-888-0842.

Ms. Ann M. Pattison A-1 GUTTER CLEANING"

Several days later, I received a letter from a homeowner who lives in Bensalem, PA with comments of his own. Thanks Louis! You really proved my point.

November 11, 2004

"Dear Mr. Carter:

Thank you - Thank you - Thank you. Your article on Guarded Gutters hit the nail on the head. Every time I see a full page ad in The Courier-Times or other papers or on TV I get so angry. The guys who installed my gutters were called "Gutter Solutions." They came out once to clean the gutters, then when they clogged up again I called them back. They said the guy who signed my contract no longer worked there. I was out of luck.

I paid a lot for these gutters - so called Clog Free. What a joke! Sure, big leaves don't get in, but the other stuff which is even worse than leaves really clogs things up. My gutters overflow during a heavy rain like Niagara Falls.

If a gutter company says they will come out and clean your gutters for free if they clog. . . Get it in writing!!! Their bill even said: Guaranteed not to clog. It's a bunch of baloney.

Years ago I had seamless gutters installed. They added 3 foot screen covers, and they put them on upside down. Yes, Mr. Carter. Upside down. It took lots of phone calls to get them to come back out and fix things.

Thanks for listening to me Mr. Carter.

Yours truly,

Louis Cesarone, Jr. (Senior Citizen)"


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.


Amiee Staggs

Bloomington, IN

This email just arrived today, 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


20 Responses to Gutter Guard Truth

  1. I don't trust people who push someone else's products and gets a commission for it.

    You're an honest guy if you leave this post and not delete it.

    ANSWER FROM TIM CARTER: Tom, what if the person who's promoting the product has tested 95% of all similar products on the market, finds all the flaws in them, discovers the BEST product and then installs it on his own home? Are you then saying that the honest person who did this is not deserving a small amount of compensation for all this work? What's the incentive for me to do all the research if I'm not going to get paid? You don't work for FREE at your job, do you? Why would you expect me to work for you for free?

  2. I am a widow of 3 1/2 years. I was married to a wonderful man for 32 + years, and have been "stubbornly surviving" on my own since. I have not made the best financial decisions since my husband's passing. I paid off the mortgage and car with the insurance benefits my spouse left me, but failed to make needed repairs to our house. I gave away every dime of the remainder, mostly to my sister's family, to have repairs and new windows installed in her home, plus $12 K for their driveway. I was approached at Walmart in March by a Gutter Guard salesperson. I knew the gutter on the front of our house was rusted and cracked, and I consented to an appraisal. An installation manager came out two days later, pressing me for 1 1/2 hour to buy new gutters. He showed me a gutter system, which snaps onto an installed base. He quoted me $1800 for the front gutter, $1800 for the back gutter, and said this would include replacing 20 ft of rotted wood, if necessary. Quickly I realized... I'm way out of my league, and told him, "There is no way I can do this", and "This is twice the price I imagined", and "I cannot make ANY decision without sleeping on it". Nearly 2 hours passed, and I said, "I will only be able to get the front gutter replaced, but I can't even do that right now". The man called his boss, and then said they could swing $1100 for the cheaper gutter, their "Ultimate Gutter Guard System", which included 2 down spouts. Finally, I agreed to buy the gutter. I told the man I had $1100 "space" on my credit card, and let him take down my credit card number, which was to be run the day the new gutter was installed. I signed a contract. Now, I am panicky because my credit card total jumped (all utilities, insurance, property taxes, etc. are paid with this credit card) and I don't have the means to get the gutter installed right now. If the gutter is NOT installed, am I bound to this contract? Can I be sued for payment?

  3. One point that can involve even greater expenses are indirect factors. Unfortunately some gutter guards do not work as advertised, which can lead to accumulation of debris and water overflow. This can then lead to rotting fascia and sometimes even soffits, which can then escalate to rotting/molding insulation materials.

    Another common issue that's rarely thought about is problems with the roofing material created by the installation of gutter covers. One question a homeowner should ask is, "Will the roofing material be affected in ANY way? (ie, will nails or other items to secure the covers be driven into the shingles or roof?) This is important because this MAY cause roof damage AND it may void the warranty of the roofing material for the homeowner.

    As an example, here's the warranty for roofing shingles from Owens Corning. Standard Roofing Warranty Check out page 3, the paragraph titled,
    "What Is Not Covered,". Point #9 states, "Damage to the shingles caused by alterations made after completion of application, including structural changes, equipment installation, power washing,
    painting or the application of cleaning solutions, coatings, or other modifications."

    So if nails are used to secure the covers to the gutters, and then there's a subsequent roof leak - now what? Now you could be talking about costs that are far greater than the homeowner envisioned.

    It's usually a good idea to have the homeowner check with their contractor or call the manufacturer of the roofing material and check their warranty.

  4. As with any product, always read the warranty.
    The Master Shield warranty is useless.
    It doesn't warranty the mesh from clogging, deteriorating or falling off.
    The clause about homeowners insurance is meaningless. No homeowners policy covers damage caused by failure to maintain the structure properly.

  5. Hello,

    I was impressed by your review of gutter guards. I have so much debree around my house, I must get guards. Living close to St. Louis, we have incredibly heavy rainfall, sometimes within a few minutes. I was wondering if you could name a guard, or type of guard, that would address my needs. I realize I still have to clean the gutters, but at least keep it down to 2xs a year. Thank You, Elisabeth

  6. I just had a guy come out and give me an estimate for my gutters for a covering to keep out leaves. He measured my house and the height from the ground. He wanted to come inside and I asked that he just give me the estimate rather than come in . I have dogs and they go crazy when a stranger comes in. He said he had to give a presentation that took 15 minutes, but I said I am just interested in the cost. Well, that didn't set well with him. He finally said $5000.00! I was totally surprised. I just have one long gutter on the back of my house and 2 on the front. The house is 80 feet long. Is this usual for this type of work??.
    I felt this was way too high for the amount of work to be done. I have to pay someone to clean these out, sometimes several times a year. I am looking for a solution without an outrageous price.

  7. I havent had any issues with my gutter guards installed by http://guttermanservices.com/gutters/ I think some people are sold the product inaccurately. We still have our gutters serviced and maintained, gutter guards definetly dont solve all gutter clogging and cleaning problems but it does help. We live in a wooded area and the gutter guard benefits have been for us.

  8. I'm interested in having gutterguards installed. The reason is, I'm afraid go heights so I'm wondering if I get them installed, will i ever have to clean out my gutters? The salesman says not with Rhino Gutter Guard which he says is the best. Is this true?

    • You will have to clean out gutters if you install ANY OTHER PRODUCT than the ones I installed on my home. Any product that uses a reverse curve or some filter media other than micro-mesh WILL EVENTUALLY CLOG and need to be serviced.

      GO BACK UP ABOVE and click the links next to the BIG RED STOP SIGNS to get a free quote for the gutter guard on my home.

  9. What do you think about Valor gutter guards and what have you found is the best guard for pine needles and it's pollen?

    • Donna,

      I think my column above and the videos are clear. The ONLY gutter guards that keep gutters CLEAN are ones with micro mesh. Period. Please watch the videos above one more time.

  10. Uh, Valor Does make a micro mesh, I have it on my home. It sounds like you are just pitching your own product and acting like a content site, when in reality you are in Sales. Thanks anyway :/

    • Did you even read the column above? I clearly state that there are other micro-mesh products on the market. It's unreasonable for you to expect any website to constantly update content with the latest products and getting rid of the ones that are no longer available.

      As for me being in "sales", my 51,000 newsletter subscribers constantly beg me to tell them what I use on my own home. Why?

      Because they trust me to only use the best products on my home.

      Publishing those facts is beneficial to the masses.

      But I understand your frustration because of the state of the #FAKENEWS mainstream media today. You can easily become jaded and think no one is telling you the truth.

      I'm completely transparent and share the fact that I get a small commission if you buy the product I use on my own home. It's no different if you click an ad on my website for a product at Amazon.com. If you buy that product, Amazon pays me a commission.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Many videos that compare gutter guards will compare the old one with the new latest and greatest one. Micromesh will develop a crud layer which will encourage growth that will block the small openings. It is a fact that over a period of time (which will vary) those micromeshes will become solid surfaces, and be impossible to clean in place. If you claim any different, you are just lying to your readers.

  12. Terry,

    I just don't know what to say. That's a very bold statement for you to brand me a liar. I've had micromesh gutter guards on my gutters now for over 15 years and have never experienced the crud layer you speak of.

    You need to offer up the proof. You need to show us great photos, videos, and it would help if you pointed us to a few URLS where other homeowners make the same allegation as you do.

    I've offered up all my proof, it's your turn.

  13. Thank you Tim. This was helpful to me, even 15 years after you wrote it. I contacted somebody to clean out my gutters and he offered to install englert microguard. He said over the years he kept getting service calls for other gutter guard products, but not this one. This is the only product he still installs. It looks like this is a micromesh, as you recommended.

  14. Love your advice and expertise.
    But please don't let your politics corrupt your great columns. You referred to the state of the #FAKENEWS mainstream media today. As us independent voters know, the only fake news is Fox Fantasy News.

    • Jack,

      Thanks for your input. Can you offer up proof of your statement? Can you give three simple examples of where Fox News has published fake news? And then answer these questions: Why do you believe WHAT you believe? How do you know what you're being told by your news sources is accurate? Once again, be specific.

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