It’s time to come to terms with it; gutter cleaning is an inevitable part of home ownership. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, regularly removing dirt and debris from your gutters is a must.
Surely in 2018, we have the technology to eliminate gutter cleaning for good, right? Well, not exactly. Though they’re marketed as such, gutter guards may not be the miracle solution you’re looking for. Here’s why.
Types of Gutter Guards (Pros and Cons)
Typically made from metal, a traditional gutter guard is perforated with small holes meant to keep out large debris like leaves, sticks, rocks, and shingles. They are secured with screws. While they lessen the likelihood of leaf blockage, these guards are still penetrable by pine needles and dirt, which quickly turns into clods beneath the surface.
Because they don’t completely eliminate the need for cleaning, gutter guards have to be unscrewed and reattached each time. This adds an extra step in the cleaning process and for a professional gutter service, added fees. While most are made from rust-resistant stainless steel, they will rust over time. At $5-$15 per 6 ft piece, initial purchase and subsequent replacements can add up.
The biggest threat to gutter guards is ice. Ice dams are a reality of all gutter systems and often have to be manually removed or broken to keep water flowing away from your home. Ice attached above and below gutter guards, adding excess weight and threatening the integrity of the gutter itself. To break ice dams, it’s likely the guards will need to be removed.
If you live where heavy rain, coniferous trees, and brutal winter weather are a common occurrence, you may want to rethink a metal gutter guard.
A more affordable alternative to gutter guards, plastic gutter screens present many of the same problems as their metal counterparts. In addition to the lower price tag, plastic guards are easier to remove and replace. In some cases, however, high winds can pick up the lightweight screens and whisk them away.
Gutter screens aren’t a permanent replacement for gutter cleaning but they are an inexpensive way (about $2 per 20 feet) to keep most leaves away. How these screens hold up during hail and heavy snow is dependent on the material. Do your research and read reviews before you choose a screen.
Gutter Helmets are a fairly new guard in the game. Gutter Helmet is actually a brand name with professional installation service. The marketing claims you’ll “never clean your gutters again.” That may be an exaggeration. Consumer reviews of the Gutter Helmet claim that, in fact, their gutters still experience clogs from dirt and ice, primarily.
Gutter Helmet also offers a heated element to combat ice dams. But with added wiring, energy, and service the cost of owning a Helmet Heat system may outweigh the convenience. Though each home’s gutter system is different, estimated costs are $15-$30 per foot. That’s upwards of 30 times the cost of installation of a traditional gutter guard. Not to mention the professional service needed for cleaning and repair.
While their triple lifetime warranty is impressive, consumer reviews suggest the company’s customer service and timeliness leave much to be desired. With an astronomical price tag and reoccurring issues, it may not be in your best interest to have Gutter Helmet installed.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few of the gutter guards available to homeowners. Re-guard-less *wink* of which solution you are considering, the fact remains: you can’t completely eliminate gutter cleaning. In our opinion, it’s in your best interest to forgo installing a gutter guard and instead, regularly inspect, clean, and repair your gutters for best performance.