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Everything You Need to Know About Gutter GuardsJune 17th, 2015
Do you often forget about the existence of your gutter system? Have you experienced guttering problems due to not cleaning it often enough? Gutter clogs, overflowing water, insect infestation? If any of those sound familiar, it is time to knowledge yourself more about the topic of gutter guards.
A gutter guard can be anything performing the function of filtering debris, leaves and other semi-large objects from entering your gutters. It is placed above/into your gutters and it shouldn’t be visible from the ground. By definition the guard would only let rainwater pass and hold onto anything else that might clog and damage your gutters. Thus the name – gutter guards.
But does this mean you will never have to clean, replace, or paint your gutters again? Sadly, no. Gutter cleaning is like death and taxes. But guards help prevent your gutters from serious clogs and will allow you to call the gutter cleaners less often.
Gutter Guard Installation
Installing gutter guards is no rocket science. It isn’t exactly child play either, but if you have the right tools and know what you’re doing, it won’t be a problem. It depends, of course, on the type of gutter guard you will be installing. Most are held by special clips only. Others – with a sealant. Some actually require professional handling. But overall, it is no more than a few hours of work. Needless to say, if you desire help installing your new gutter guards you can always give us a call. Having the know-how and the right tools really eases the job.
Are Gutter Guards worth it?
Gutter guards aren’t a huge investment. Depending on the type, their price will vary. A quick Amazon search shows an average price of around £4-7 for a meter. Some guards will last for years, making them good for their money. Others will get damaged within a few months. The question you should ask yourself here is “Will they actually save me money?”. And the answer is not so one-sided. Because even with installed guards, your gutters will still need cleaning every year or so. It will be less frequent though. Applying simple math here, if you gave £50 for installing new gutter guards, you will be in the plus around the second time you skip booking gutter cleaning.
“Gutter cleaning is like death and taxes.”
What Types of Gutter Guards are there?
Gutter guards are widely known to London households. There are many manufacturers who build various types of gutter guards, specific to certain structures and circumstances. But generally speaking, there are five distinct types of gutter guards in the market. For obvious reasons, we won’t compare the different manufacturers, but we will try to ease your choice of gutter guard type.
There won’t be a definite answer about which type is best. It depends on the specific location you live, your budget, and your preferences. But hopefully, when you fully understand the differences, you will make a more educated choice.
Gutter Guards Comparison
Most simple in its structure, the gutter mesh is a metal sheet filled with holes that you attach to your gutters and roof shingles via special gutter clips. It acts as a fence for your gutters. Just like border patrols, it doesn’t let debris and leaves to pass while rainwater is left to flow freely.
This type of gutter guard is really easy to install. You just lay it between your shingles and outer gutter side and grab it with the purposed clips (in case the seller gave you the said clips). It is also pretty cheap.
But as it happens often in life, its strengths are also its weaknesses. Being cheap and easy to install makes it particularly prone to damages. Sometimes heavy debris might pile up and cause the whole mesh to collapse in the gutter, creating a clog of epic proportions. Even wind can take it off. And while it is good with medium to large objects, the gutter mesh is no match for those little pine needles.
Reverse curve guards are just what the name implies. They are positioned at the end of your roof, some inches above your gutters without actually touching them. That leaves a small gap between the two. Water, taking advantage of the power of surface tension, flows inside the gutters, while every solid object just falls down from the edge. Or at least is supposed to.
Those kind of gutter guards are really effective. Their concept simply never allows debris to get from your roof to your gutters. They are also quite durable, which makes them a nice long term solution. But of course, nothing is perfect in this world.
Firstly, they are hard to install and really, really hard to de-install. You might not consider that as a problem, but your gutters will need cleaning sooner or later. And reverse curve gutter guards make this task almost impossible.
Another problem might be the slope of your roof. The bigger the slope is, the faster the rainwater will fall down. If it exceeds a certain speed*, surface tension will no longer apply and water will fall freely around your house, forming a nice moat at your property.
*Don’t ask us how much exactly. We work as gutter cleaners, not as scientist in CERN
Hedgehog or bottle brush gutter guards are plastic bristles that serve as a filter to your guttering. There are several factors that make hedgehog guards particularly handy. First, they are really cheap. As said, they represent a plastic rope with attached plastic bristles to it. Secondly, they are extremely easy to install. You just lay them along your gutters and all you have to do is secure them with a coated wire. Simple as that.
And if you think that cheap and easy means problems, you are actually not entirely right. They are quite effective against leaves and larger objects and they will never fail structurally like mesh gutters.
The only problem is … it’s lack of efficiency regarding very small objects. Pine needles and small twigs have no problem finding their way through the bristles. And since the bottle brush guard is actually laying inside the gutters, it takes a smaller amount of debris to clog the system. But that does not make hedgehog gutters a bad choice. It simply requires more often interventions and maintenance.
Foam gutter guards are a synthetic foam that is placed inside the gutters with the idea to prevent everything besides water to enter them. They literally make your gutter system one long sponge. And frankly, they are very good at stopping twigs, leaves and even small pine needles.
The bad part is, they just don’t work. While they stop any hard objects of blocking the gutters, they get filled with moss and mould and they themselves clog your system. After the short period, they are useful, they start blocking the rainwater itself, thus pushing it beyond the edge of the gutters and onto the ground.
Some manufacturers even stopped promoting foam gutters as “clog-free” and are adding a new paragraph in the description saying they “might need maintenance each six months”. This just makes them obsolete since you can go for such a period without even using gutter guards.
Nylon gutter guards are very similar to foam ones. The key difference is they don’t fill up the gutters, but just form an outer protective layer. Beneath it is free space for water to run freely.
They are not difficult to install. A caulking gun and a sealant is all that’s needed. The nylon guard is very discrete and won’t be visible from the ground.
And now, for the bad part. Unlike the foam gutter guard, the nylon one doesn’t get clogged and blocked so easily because it is thinner. But precisely that makes it especially prone to damages. And although every manufacturer would boast of using only high-quality materials, nylon can only withstand so much water. Sooner or later it will shrink.
There are a few more gutter protecting accessories that can be counted as guards. One such are the downpipe filter guards. They are round sheets of metal that are placed on top of your downpipes. Needless to say, they do nothing for your horizontal guttering.
A different unorthodox tool you might use is the bird defenders. They are spikes you mount to your gutter system. Their only purpose is to not let pigeons, seagulls or another feathery vermin land on your gutters and damage them.
What are the guards’ worst enemies?
As pointed out, all guards are quite effective against leaves and medium debris. What they are not good against are smaller objects. Pine needles are to gutter guards, as kryptonite is to Superman. They are just too small and always find a way inside. Seeds, given their size, are also a notable adversary. But what tops the charts of “Gutter Guards Most Unwanted” is roofing sand. Known also as “roofing aggregate”, this component of your roof decays after time and starts filling your gutters.
But no matter how much we compare them, calculate them, and learn about their weak spots, in the end only one question remains important.
Do gutter guards work?
Yes. And no. Gutter guards certainly work, just not exactly like you wish them to. They stop the large objects from entering, but you will still need to clean your gutters from time to time. Why would you need guards in that case? Well, they do ease the flow of junk in your pipes and can prevent some serious clogs. Are gutter guards worth the money? It’s something for you to decide.