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Gutter Guards – A quick review

Gutter Guards – Our reviews and ratings

Before I begin writing this article I will make the disclaimer that we do not sell or install gutter guards of any sort.  The opinions in this review are based on our experience with cleaning gutters on an everyday basis.  Roof Refresh is a gutter cleaning contractor serving the Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Wake Forest NC areas.

Let’s get right to the point.  This article will be about gutter guards, pricing and our opinion about each of the types available to consumers.

Two things anyone needs to understand about any of the gutter guard systems that are currently on the market, is that they are expensive and absolutely none of them are maintenance free.  There are some systems that work better than others, and for longer periods of time, but at some point, they will ALL need cleaning or maintenance.

We have found the prices in our market to be in the wide range of $7.00 to $25.00 dollar per foot of installed gutter guard.   There are not many companies that install guards below the $7.00 mark, but we have seen a few companies that are very proud of their product and their average price per foot is a ways above the $25.00 mark.

The biggest adversaries of gutter guards in our area of North Carolina are pine needles, the pollen sacs or “worms” that come off the pine trees and the clumpy tendrils that come off the oaks.  Carolinians have all seen this mess around the May-June time frame when pollen season is in high gear.  Cars and homes are covered with yellow pollen and roofs, driveways and decks are littered with these needles and pollen sacs.

Tendrils that fall off the oaks
“Pine Worms”
Covered by pine needles

The pictures above represent the biggest challenges for gutter guard systems and from what we have seen; none of the guard makers have found a way to defeat them.   These pesky droppings stick to roofs and gutter guards like glue, creating a huge mess that will eventually have to be dealt with.

Gutter guards fall into 4 different categories.  Our opinion and a few pictures and links to the more popular sites are listed below.

 

Solid gutter guards.

These are probably the most popular commercial gutter guards on the market.  Their sales pitch is that water will flow into the gutter utilizing the principle of ‘surface adhesion”, while pushing leaves and debris over the edge.

 

Pros-

  • They work well with light rain and roofs with moderate pitches.

 

Cons-

  • On roofs with more ample pitches, heavy rains cause the water to flow down the roof at a higher rate of speed.  This causes the water to flow over and not into the guards, thus defeating the purpose of installing them.
  • They are not maintenance free.  Smaller debris such as those listed above will eventually accumulate in the opening and at the base of the gutter guard where it meets the roof, necessitating a cleaning.  Some of the smaller debris will actually dry in place right on the lip of these guards and cause the water to drip or flow over the guards.
  • The higher end gutter guards in this category have a high price point.  There are cheaper versions available in the box stores that you can install yourself.

 

The best type of guard in this category would be http://www.gutterhelmet.com/

It is the one and only gutter guard we recommend to customers whose heart is set on having guards installed.  They are reputable, have a lifetime warranty and the companies who install them will come out to clean them out should they get clogged.

Slotted gutter guards

  

 

Slotted or louvered guards come in a wide variety of styles.  They are a mix of solid guard with little slots cut into them to funnel the water.  Some have a single row of slots, while others have two or three rows.  These types of guards are available at your local home improvement store, or, you can more than likely find a local company who installs them.

 

Pros –

  • They work well until the first season of leaves drop.   (Is that a pro?)

 

Cons –

  • Notorious for getting clogged after a short period of time.
  • Whether it is fall or the end of pollen season, once the leaves and other debris come down, they will fill in these small slots and the only way to fix that is to clean them out.  Otherwise the water runs right on over the gutter guards.
  • The guards fall off easily.  They are plastic, which means that they will degrade over a period of time i.e. shrink, bow, and begin to fall off.  We have some customers who keep them in a nice pile for us to reinstall when we come to clean the gutters and blow off the roofs and valleys of their home.

See pictures of some slotted guards that are clogged.

 

 

Sponge Guards

                                           

Our opinion is that these are the worst gutter guards on the market.  The spongy guards are at the top of our list as a “do not buy” product.   There are no pros to these products, but plenty of cons.

 

They are installed very easily and are supposed to let water run through them while leaves and other debris fall off, or are blown off with wind.  They do not work.

 

Cons –

  • The three types of tree droppings I listed above, absolutely love these sponge guards.  As they fall, they will stick to and pile up on these gutter guards, almost like Velcro.  They will then begin to decompose as the year(s) wear on and turn to dirt.  As this dirt and other small debris filters down into the sponge it gets caught and creates a dam or sorts.  Soon enough you will have nothing more than a layer of debris and dirt on top of the sponge.  Water rolls right over it and off the gutter.
  • The picture below is of a two year old sponge guard installation.   You can almost see the sponge through the layer of debris.  The company who installed it was going out of business and the manufacturer had no one close to honor the warranty.  We ended up pulling them out and putting them in the trash.

 

Wire-Mesh gutter covers

 

 

 

The mesh or wire guards can be bought at most home improvement stores and they are relatively inexpensive.  This is another set of guards where we feel there are no “pros” and all “cons”.  I guess for arguments sake, they are good for the “do it yourself” homeowner.  The flip side of the argument would be that if you are able to get up there to install them, you might as well just clean the gutters while you are up there.  You are going to need to come back up anyway, to clean this type of accumulated debris:

 

 

 

In the end, it boils down to simple math.   Assume the average price for having the guards installed is $1700.00. (I am sure that is a little low)  Let’s also assume an average gutter cleaning price of $85.00.

 

If you divide $1700.00 by $85.00 it equals 20.  That’s 20 gutter cleanings!  If you have it done twice a year, you’re looking at 10 years of gutter cleanings for the price of a gutter guard installation!

 

Roof Refresh is a roof cleaning contractor serving Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Apex and Garner NC.  We also provide pressure washing and gutter cleaning services.  Please call 919-291-2717 or visit our website at http://www.roofrefresh.com

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