It’s one of the homeowner’s most dreaded and sometimes neglected annual chore– cleaning the leaves and muck out of the gutters. We’re all pretty much aware of the benefits of gutters– it has been said that clogged gutters can cause twice as much damage as no gutters at all. Clogged gutters can also lead to rotting fascia, and the rainwater will begin to erode away at your foundation. Still, it’s a time-consuming job and can be dangerous, and it leads many homeowners to consider installing leaf guards or screens on their gutters. As a home inspector in northwest Indiana, I’ve inspected a lot of gutter systems. Take a look at some of the pros and cons:
Gutter guards fall into two categories: gutter covers and gutter screens. Screens are usually made of wire mesh, nylon or foam, and are simpler and cheaper to install, but usually don’t last as long. Gutter covers sit on top of your gutters, so appearance is something else to consider. Also, they limit the waterflow into your gutters because… well… they cover the gutters. They can be made out of a variety of materials, including copper, aluminum, plastic, wire mesh, nylon and foam. Copper is generally more expensive and will turn green over time. Aluminum is still more expensive than plastic, but will generally last longer and is lightweight. Plastic is one of the cheapest materials, but may crack in extreme cold. Professionally installed, gutter guards can run anywhere between $20-$30 per foot. Another option is to purchase the system yourself and have a qualified contractor install it. If you choose to have them installed professionally, ask if annual maintenance checks are included in the price of purchase and installation.
Some points to remember if your’re cotemplating gutter guards:
- If your roof has a very steep pitch to it, the water may shoot over your gutter cover.
- Depending on the cover type, you may not be able to hang Christmas lights.
- If you decide to have them professionally installed, see if annual maintenance checks are included in the fee.
If you’re considering installing a gutter guard or screen, check out GutterGuard Reviews and Product Comparisons HERE. They offer a wealth of information and a comprehensive review of a variety of gutter guard systems, including plastic screens, wire mesh screens, reverse curve waterfall system, metal reverse curve, micro-mesh, slit/hole covers and more! The side-by-side comparisons of a variety of different brands in each category is extremely helpful in determining whichi product to purchase, as well as an average price per foot for you to consider
Gutter guards are not the end of you worries, though. Don’t let them give you a false sense of security, and never check your gutters or roof as a result– the gutter guards still need to be maintained to ensure that they are functioning properly. Make sure that whichever type of guard you decide on can be easily removed and replaced for cleaning. The guards can’t keep everything out of your gutters– asphalt granules from your shingles are one thing that will eventually find its way down into the gutter. If you are using a gutter screen, you may need to brush the leaves off the top of it to allow the water to reach your gutters.
Whether you decide to install leaf guards or not, here’s some tips to remember when cleaning your gutters:
- Be sure to use heavy gloves to protect your hands from any sharp metal edges.
- Even if your gutters are clean, make sure to check your downspouts by flushing water down the gutters.
- If a downspout is clogged, use a plumber’s auger (snake) to remove it from the bottom.