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Gutter Protection vs. Gutter Cleaning – Cost Analysis

Gutter Guard

Gutter cleaning is needed here. This gutter guard has been undergoing testing for ten months. Do you see the problem? Spring debris, like these maple-tree helicopter seed pods, can overwhelm gutter guards, clog them and render them useless. Gutter guards MUST BE INSTALLED in the same plane as the slope of the roof so the debris doesn't collect as you see in this photo. Look at the illustration below. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

"The salesmen often employ high-pressure sales tactics using all sorts of "this-deep-discount-is-ONLY-available-today" offers. BEWARE these Jedi mind tricks and all the scare tactics about how your home's foundation will be ruined."

Originally Published: October 1999 - Revised August 2018

Important Author’s Note 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 micro-mesh guards began early Spring of 2008. The results of the test are in! After 10-years of testing various types, a winner has been declared! Click for the gutter guard I installed on my house - Gutter Guard Test Results.

Gutter Cleaning or Gutter Guards? Which is a Better Choice?

Related Links

Gutter Covers 101

Ice Problems with Gutter Covers

Gutter Covers

Do Gutter Guards Work?

gutter guards pine needles

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

How Often Do You Need to Clean Gutters?

At a bare minimum, you need to clean gutters twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall.

Have you priced the cost of gutter covers on your house? They're very expensive, especially if you pay to have them installed. It's not uncommon to see prices about $20, or more, per linear foot. That can add up to thousands of dollars FAST.

Is it Cheaper to Just Clean Gutters?

As crazy as this sounds, it may be cheaper in the long run to just pay someone to clean out your gutters each year.

Let's say you get an estimate for $1,500 (75 feet at +/- $20 per foot) to have the gutter guards installed. Based upon my experimentation we already know that we will have to clean out the gutters at least twice every year. This is important for the sake of our calculations.

FREE Gutter-Cleaning Bids

CLICK HERE to get a FREE ESTIMATE from local companies to CLEAN your GUTTERS.

What Does Gutter Cleaning Cost?

I would think that - on average - a roofer could clean 200 feet in about an hour or so. My guess is that you could get this done for $125 or less. There's a very good chance a handyman can clean do gutter cleaning on ranch-style homes for this price.

Odds are you will have this done two times a year. This means that the annual cost to clean gutters without gutter guards is $200 plus or minus.

Let's see what happens if you don't buy gutter guards.

Should I Invest My Money Instead?

You may think the stock market is risky, but it's not if you invest in a somewhat conservative group of stocks. You should be able to average about five or seven percent per year.

Some years the market goes way up as it did just after the 2016 Presidential election. If you were invested before November 1, 2016, you saw at least a 50 percent rise in your investment by the time 2018 rolled around. That means you'd have $2,250 in money instead of your original $1,500.

Realize if you invest aggressively, it could be far more, but I don't recommend that.

For sake of our discussion, we'll forget about taxes and inflation.

You can see that you can afford to pay to have your gutters cleaned by others and still have your original money in your possession AND it's growing each year!

Free & Fast Bids

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

What is the Best Gutter Guard?

The best gutter guard is one made with stainless steel micro mesh. That's what I have on my own home.

Here's a photo of my own gutter guard:

micromesh gutter guard

This is the best gutter guard I've ever tested. This is my own home in central New Hampshire. A stainless steel micro mesh prevents any debris from getting into the gutter. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter ALL RIGHTS RESERVED COPYING PROHIBITED

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 HERE or THE IMAGE to see how low-cost they can be.

How Expensive are Micro Mesh Gutter Guards?

Dealer-installed micro mesh gutter guards are very expensive. It's not uncommon to get prices of $25 per linear foot.

The salesmen often employ high-pressure sales tactics using all sorts of "this-deep-discount-is-ONLY-available-today" offers. BEWARE these Jedi mind tricks and all the scare tactics about how your home's foundation will be ruined.

A simple ranch house with 140 feet of total gutter could cost you $3,500.00!!!

Are Some Gutter Guards Bad?

Yes, some gutter guards don't work well at all. They clog up with debris or allow small debris to enter your gutters creating layers of muck that is nearly impossible to remove.

It's important to realize if you get the WRONG ones, you'll have to pay a company to clean them out each year or every other year.

Now you're really in trouble if this happens.

Does Gutter Cleaning Make More Sense?

Gutter cleaning may make better sense but there are many factors to consider.

How long do you plan to live in your home? How brave are you when investing the money you'll not be giving the gutter guard company?

If you don't buy gutter covers and have a roofer come to clean your gutters twice a year, the worst that will happen is that at the end of five years you will still have spent $1,000.00. But, you've been making money with your invested $1,500.00.

How much? I can't tell you because I can't foresee the future, but all past history shows you'll MAKE MONEY each year in the long term by investing in the stock market.

How Can I get Free Bids?

I think you should get gutter cleaning AND GUTTER GUARD estimates. CLICK the following two links. The first one is for FREE gutter-cleaning bids. The second one allows you to calculate the cost of the gutter guards. The third link allows you to get an estimate from a local contractor who will install the gutter guards you purchased online:

CLICK HERE to get a FREE ESTIMATE from local companies to CLEAN your GUTTERS.

CLICK HERE to get the pricing for the micro mesh gutter guards from Amazon.

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

Run the numbers and see if it doesn't make better sense to hold onto your money.

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6 Responses to Gutter Protection vs. Gutter Cleaning – Cost Analysis

  1. We had lousy gutter guards installed many years ago. Had them taken off after a couple of years and now just have a guy come 3-4 times a year to clean them at $60 a pop. Plus, he inspects the roof each time to look for any issues, and can do things like replace light bulbs at the high roof edges when he does the cleaning. Much happier now.

  2. I often see it suggested that gutters should be cleaned twice a year. I do not know under what circumstances this is ideal. In the spring, summer, and fall with tulip poplars and sweet gum trees close to the house, I could have my gutters cleaned once a month on my two story house and it still wouldn't be enough.

  3. The problem is actually knowing/noticing that your gutters need cleaning. Wind and weather can exacerbate the amount of leaves and gunk and shingle grit in your gutters. You may have a lot or very little and unless you get on a ladder you won't be able to know for sure. Having it done twice a year might be over kill or not enough. I an happier using my gutter brush and handy gutter sprayer on my hose to blow off the SS mesh screen.

  4. My problem is I have a metal roof which has a lip extending down 2 inches on the fascia. My problem is not leaves, but ice - it tears off the gutters even though they're set well below the plane of the roof. If I had a way of attaching a gutter guard the ice would slide right off. Right now I have no gutters; I took them last fall but the ice tore up the supports, which were still in.

  5. Yes, gutter guards are NOT the cure all. I am a handyman service and do not charge $20 a linear foot. That is ridiculously high. $5-6 a linear foot, tops. Unless material prices increase. This is in the Midwest for reference.

  6. Saying that the point of a gutter guard is to never have to maintain them is silly. I have oak and poplar trees. I have to clean my gutters once a month from September to January. Some of us would love the idea of having to deal with our gutters once every year or two.

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