Posted by: Jeffrey Fick | March 4, 2011

Gutter Cleaning or Gutter Guards?

Many homeowners are looking for a miracle product that will free them from ever having to clean their gutters again.  Some companies are actually claiming they have this miracle product! There are some good gutter cover designs; however, every gutter guard system we have tested (and we have tested a lot of them!) has pluses and minuses.

You may have seen a demonstration at a local home show or in the mall. They look great… the water rolls around the edge of the gutter cover and into the gutter; but do they work in the real world?  To some degree yes, but none of them are perfect and none of them will prevent you from ever having to clean your gutters again!

There are over 70 gutter protection products in the U.S. and over 150 companies selling these systems. Every company says that they are the best and that you will never have to clean your gutters again…. if a representative from any gutter guard company in the world makes such a claim, RUN FAST!  There is no such thing as a maintenance free gutter guard!!!!

 The most popular gutter guard systems today are:

  • Open Cell Polyurethane Insert – this is specially shaped and cut to fit snugly into your gutter. Most manufacturers warranty the product to last 25 years.
  • Micro Mesh Gutter Guards – this design combines an aluminum body and structural membrane with an integral medical grade stainless steel mesh to filter out debris.
  • Metal Gutter Cover – this design relies on the principle that water clings to the surface on which it travels. The idea is that the ‘surface tension’ causes the water to cling to the gutter cover’s rounded ‘nose’. The water follows the curve of the nose and is deposited in the gutter below. The leaves and debris, on the other hand, are not supposed to follow the curve. They should remain on the flat surface and blow harmlessly to the ground once they dry out.

Most of the products do a good job of preventing full sized leaves from entering your gutters. That is a simple task. However, many of the gutter cover products fail to stop tiny tree flower buds, seed pods and evergreen needles from entering or clogging the gutters.  And none of them are maintenance free… every gutter guard system will require cleaning regardles of their claims!!!

Gutter Cleaning may be a cheaper and better solution…

Gutter guards are not cheap! Depending on the type of gutter guard they run anywhere from $8 to $20 per lineal foot installed. An average house may have 100 feet of gutter; some houses have even more. Most homes’ gutter systems can be cleaned by a professional in an hour or so… you can do the math!

Gutter cleaning, as you well know, is not just a Fall activity. Many trees in the Baltimore area shed debris throughout the seasons.  Over time, clogged gutters can do serious damage to a home.  Usually, fascia, eaves, and foundation areas suffer first.  Paint peels and insects invade.  In some cases, rainwater can enter an exterior wall through eaves.  Prolonged exposure to a clogged gutter system will also render rafter end and roof sheathing vulnerable to rot.  Repairs become expensive.  It is not uncommon for some homes to need cleaning four times a year. Safety First:  Gutter cleaning is a very dangerous job.  Hire a professional.

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