It's no secret that we've entered our rainy season. All that water rolling down our shingles only highlights our neglected gutters and mossy roofs. Gutters serve an essential function for your home. A healthy roof without substantial granule loss will shed water very quickly. That water will run down into the gutters, be directed to the downspouts, and safely discharged away from the home's foundation.
When gutters collect material, or the downspout is blocked, the water does not have a clear path to its designated location. So the water will begin pooling and pouring over the gutters themselves. This creates a substantial amount of weight that gutters are not designed to hold. Over time, the gutters will pull away from the fascia boards causing expensive repairs. Additionally, the water pouring over the gutter line can affect the home's foundation and how the house eventually settles. This is why it is imperative to have your gutters serviced regularly. Inventors and homeowners have been searching for ways to reduce the maintenance cost of the gutters by adding various guard designs. I'd like to give you a cleaning professional's review of each guard system before you make a purchasing decision for your home.
Mesh & Micro-Mesh Guards
The most common type of guards we come into contact with are mesh and micro mesh guards. These are woven metal patterns designed to keep large particles out while not obstructing water flow into the gutters. These guards are designed to be easy to install and cheap to purchase. They do work for the most part to allow water flow to its designated location, but they do very little about the debris that gets piled on top of them. Over time, there will be a significant build-up of granules, pine needles, leaves, and other organics collected on top of the guard itself. Because the water can escape through the mesh, the water cannot rinse off the guard itself. This will cause the homeowner to regularly maintain the gutter guard by clearing off the top of the guard. If left unserviced, the added weight can again cause the gutter to pull away from the fascia board itself.
Foam Insert Gutter Guards
Another pretty standard solution that we have run into is the foam insert gutter guard. The idea behind this is that a triangular foam insert is put into the gutter in a way that will block any kind of debris but allow water to pass through the porous foam. Like the mesh guards, debris will pile on the foam and effectively make an excellent habitat for thriving growth. Kind of like a potted plant effect. Tree seeds will be able to burry into the foam and take root. In our experience, we have seen some of the most significant growth we've encountered with foam insert gutter guards installed.
Reverse Curve Gutter Guards
Reverse curve gutter guards seem to be the most effective in keeping sizeable organic material out of the gutters and allowing water to easily pass into the gutter itself. The smooth top finish also will collect debris, but because it is not porous, water can pass over it and wash the residue off. This is probably the most expensive solution as it usually requires a complete gutter replacement. The downside with the reverse curve guards is that lightweight or small particles can be carried into the gutter with rainwater. Over time those organics can accumulate, and cleaning can be a nightmare as there's no easy way to access the inside of the gutter without disassembly.
My primary purpose is to outline that there is not a single method to ensure a maintenance-free gutter solution. One of the best solutions that we have come into contact with is that companies will install reverse curve gutter guards and provide a lifetime guarantee for any kind of clogs. This is probably one of the most expensive solutions you can invest in but will guarantee a mostly maintenance-free solution.
Alternatively, we recommend ditching the gutter guards and budgeting for yearly professional cleaning. Here in the northwest, we recommend our customers have their gutters cleaned at the beginning of the rainy season and at the end of winter. This will ensure the rain that begins in early October has a clear path away from the home and that any obstructions are cleared for the remaining of the year after all the leaves have fallen by February or March.
Having your gutters regularly serviced also offers other advantages. A qualified professional will be able to assess the condition of your roof and be able to identify any other potential structural damages that need to be addressed. Think of your gutter cleaning as a yearly physical for some of the most important structures on your house.
Whichever solution you choose to invest in, understand that maintaining your gutters is an important home maintenance project that needs to be kept up. Doing so will minimize structural damage and keep your home in Tip-Top shape for years to come.
Did you have gutter guards installed on your home? If so, why did you choose the ones you installed? What has been your experience with gutter guards? Please, feel free to comment below.