IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since this column was written, I've discovered at least two other gutter guards that sport the micro-mesh filtration screen.
Testing of these micromesh guards began early Spring of 2008. The results of the test are in!
After 10-years of testing, a winner has been declared!
DEAR TIM: I've read your past columns about gutter guards. You seem to have tested many but are still not satisfied.
I have the same problems you have with year-round debris from my trees, and spring is indeed the worst time. What's the best gutter cover? The mesh-type gutter guard seems like it has the most promise.
Do you agree? Jackie B., Royal Oak, MI
DEAR JACKIE: Millions of homeowners suffer like you and me.
Free & Fast Bids
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:
Cleaning Gutters Dangerous
Gutter cleaning is a maintenance issue that is both a hassle and can be dangerous. In fact, I know of a person who died falling from a ladder while performing gutter cleaning.
In fact, before I installed gutter guards I almost fell from my own roof twice as I was rushing to unclog gutters during a heavy rainstorm as my gutter guards did their best impersonation of Niagara Falls.
Why tempt Mother Nature's law of gravity when some product can be installed that would eliminate the need to get up and clean gutters?
Years Of Testing = Clogs & Goo
As you pointed out, for years I've been testing many different gutter guards. Some have done well, others not so well and quite a few have failed miserably.
The common problem is the gutter guard products get choked by small debris like tree blossoms, seed pods, pine needles, twigs and pieces of bark. If the gutter covers don't get clogged, then certain designs allow much of this debris to get carried into the gutter where it turns into layer after layer of organic muck.
Gutter Guard Design Video
Watch this video showing different gutter guard designs that CLOG.
Battle The Inventors & Sellers
Over the years, I've waged email, phone and traditional mail battles with inventors of gutter protection products. They bristle at my facts about how many of the manufacturers of gutter guards make "No Maintenance" claims.
In other words, many people who sell these products tell homeowners that once installed, the homeowner will never have to clean the gutters, get up on their roofs, etc. That claim is 100 percent false in my opinion.
My nearly ten years of testing gutter guards have produced copious amounts of data to support my claim. I often get letters and emails from gutter cleaning companies that further substantiate my claims.
The bottom line is that no matter what gutter guard you install, you'll have to maintain it. The hardest part of the job is cleaning the organic muck out of the gutter.
This means you either have to completely stop the small organic debris from getting into the gutter or you must install a gutter protection product that allows you easy access to the inside of the gutter.
My First Love
For years, I was a fan of an inexpensive plastic gutter guard that had small diamond knockout holes in it. This design was not bad, but it did allow some debris to enter the gutter.
One other issue was the fact that it allowed maple-tree seed pods to get stuck in the holes. The seed would drop through the guard, but the wing stuck straight up in the air. It was a nightmare cleaning thousands of these out of the gutter guard.
Water Cleans Goo
But the holes did allow me to spray water into the gutter to get rid of the muck. Keep in mind though, this had to be done standing on the roof or from a ladder. There are tools that spray water into gutters from the ground, but you do so blind not knowing if the gutter is really clean.
Then I tested the large plastic-mesh gutter guards. These were easy to remove, but they required too much work to remove, flush the gutter and then reinstall. Once again, I was on the roof or a ladder doing this maintenance.
Here's a video of this removable plastic gutter guard that CLOGS.
Strange Beefy Design
I had just about given up hope when last year a company contacted me saying they had the solution. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard that line, I could take my family out to a very nice dinner.
Once I was sent a sample, their product was a unique gutter guard I had ever seen. It is made from one-eighth-thick extruded aluminum that has a stainless-steel micro-mesh screen on top of it. The gutter guard is practically indestructible. This is the Gutter Glove product.
No Debris Gets In
What I like most about this newer gutter guard is that absolutely no organic debris can get into the gutter as the micro mesh has openings that are smaller than the tip of a needle. Even though the openings are so small, the mesh easily permits large amounts of water to flow through it into the gutter.
The manufacturer, Gutter Glove, had one of their professional dealers install this gutter guard product on one side of my garage just after all the leaves had fallen last autumn. Before he arrived, I got up on my roof and washed out the gutter of all debris with a garden hose.
This garage is under a huge maple tree that drops organic debris onto the roof every month no matter what the weather is.
After nine months, the gutter was still perfectly clean. The gutter guard did a fantastic job.
But, There's Always A But
The best part is the manufacturer actually tells the truth. He told me I'd have to periodically clean dried organic debris from the top of the gutter guard.
The reason for this is because his gutter guard laid somewhat flat across the gutter creating a platform for debris to collect and rest on.
A scrub brush on the end of an extendable fiberglass or aluminum pole allows you to do this from the ground without having to get on a ladder.
This new gutter guard is usually installed by a professional dealer. The guard slides up under the first row of shingles and the front edge is screwed to the front lip of the gutter. It's just about invisible from the ground.
Photos Tell the Tale
I took monthly photographs of the organic debris that started to pile up on the gutter cover. In many areas, the debris got worse and worse.
But every now and then a strong wind would blow a small amount of it off the gutter cover. My best estimate is that 80 percent of the debris that dropped onto the roof and gutter guard since it was installed is still there.
But even with this debris on the cover, rainwater flows under it, through the mesh and into the gutter. For testing purposes, I did not brush off the debris from the ground, although I could have at any time.
Months after writing and publishing this column I heard from another company that makes a micro-mesh gutter guard. In fact, this company - Mastershield - was the inventor of the technology.
It turns out that the company that sent me the beefy gutter guard and sent one of their pro dealers to my house to put the guard on my garage USED TO BE a Mastershield dealer. The story is once he saw how well the micro mesh worked, he wanted to create his own knockoff product so he could become rich.
The Mastershield people came and installed their product on the other side of my garage roof so we could test the two products side-by-side.
IMPORTANT AUTHOR'S NOTE: April 2018 - Both of these companies sell through a dealer network. I've received numerous complaints from homeowners like you about high-pressure sales tactics, out-of-this-world estimates in the thousands of dollars, and very unprofessional salespeople coming to homes.
Because of this, I can no longer afford to tarnish my good name and reputation telling you which guard I used. I don't want you to have a bad encounter or pay more than you have to.
I'm currently investigating other brands of stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards that you can install yourself or pay a local handyman to do for you saving you a vast amount of money.
Here's a video showing the two systems: