Getting Ready for the Fall: Different Types of Gutter Guards and Their Pros and Cons

Properly Functioning Gutters – The River System For Your Roof

The roof of your home represents a large area that collects rain. Anything that falls on it needs to be collected and carried away. Gutters and downspouts are the transport system. When they are functioning correctly, Water that falls on the roof, flows through the gutters off the roof and into the ground. However, debris in gutters can clog that flow and cause gutters to stop working and since the inside of your gutters are not easily seen, those  obstructions can often go unnoticed. It’s therefore very important to develop a strategy to keep them functional and unobstructed.

Gutter Maintenance and Care

At the simplest level, keeping a maintenance calendar for you your home will ensure that you take care of low interval care like gutter cleaning and inspection at least once a year. With all of the smartphone apps and utilities available, setting up a calendar is not a huge chore. Also since the most critical time of year to check your gutters is after the autumn leaves have all fallen, you may be able to do it while decorating your home for Halloween or Christmas. Regardless of how you remind yourself, you will need to get a ladder out and carefully inspect your gutters and downspouts. First and foremost, be safe! Clean debris and look for signs of leaks. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water and tighten any gutter hangers or downspout brackets that are loose. Finally, replace any worn or damaged components.

Do Gutter Guards Help?

While annual inspection and maintenance of gutters is an important part of your home care routine, you can make the chore easier by installing a gutter guard system. These products help keep debris out of your gutters and mean less work for you and fewer worries that something will go wrong. By ensuring that water flows freely from the roof, they prevent damage from backed up water and ice dams when snow starts to accumulate. There are several approaches to gutter guards. They all have pros and cons and will require some planning against each particular situation. Some homes see more leaf debris than others so you need to determine the scope of your particular challenge. Common gutter guard systems include:

  • Reverse Curve Guards – These are typically made from metal or vinyl and sit over the gutter opening. They essentially form a cover that allows water to slip around the guard but prevents large debris from coming to rest in the gutter.  The major drawback with these is they do not handle heavy rain very well. High volumes of water will simply overshoot the gutter and fall to the ground below.

  • Slit Gutter Covers – These are a variant of the reverse-curve and usually include one or two recessed slots that increase the amount of rainwater that can flow into the gutter. These systems also struggle to manage heavy downpours like the simple recurve system.

  • Sponge Guards – This approach places a sponge that is shaped to conform to th inside of your gutter. Water flows through and since the mass of the sponge fills the gutter space, large debris cannot accumulate. The real downside is that small debris particularly seeds can can get caught in the sponge and sprout.

  • Metal Screens – These curved screens come in short sections and fasten onto the outer lip of the gutter.  They are inexpensive and easy to install but are susceptible to clogging because the opening size in the mesh catches small debris.

  • Micro Mesh Gutter Guards – Micro mesh guards consist of a support frame and a filtering mesh material which ranges from fine to micro mesh. The advantage of micro mesh technology is that they provide the best flow through characteristics and do not clog with small debris. While their performance is superior the only real drawback is that the systems are more complicated to install.

Remember all homes will face different challenges based on the type and slope of the roof as well as the environment around the home. Some homes will never see a leaf in their gutter. Others will face an onslaught of debris as a constant challenge. Once you have a good understanding of your particular situation and the products available to help, you can make the right choice for your home.

Jeremiah Flowers