Do Gutter Guards Actually Work?

Many homeowners consider getting gutter guards, attachments to gutters that prevent leaves and debris from clogging gutters.

There are many varieties of gutter protection systems on the market, with many of them claiming that homeowners will have no maintenance or cleaning issues with their gutters again. Are these claims true?

As gutter cleaners, we have cleaned hundreds of homes and seen many types of gutter protection systems. There are simple screens which snap to the gutters, available in metal or plastic, and commonly sold at Lowe’s and Home Depot. There are protection systems made from metal that fit over the gutters and have a narrow slit for the water to enter. Other protection devices include ones made out of composite material that fit into the gutters, and systems made from aluminum with a fine mesh screen.

Unfortunately in my experience most of these systems do not work as advertised, with only two gutter protection systems that are effective.

The gutter screens do tend to keep out most of the larger leaves, as most protection systems do, but allow smaller seedlings, leaves, twigs, and dirt to enter into the gutter. With the screens in place it can be difficult to clean the gutter as the small debris gets stuck in the mesh of the screen, but some systems flip over allowing the gutters to be cleaned more easily.

The gutter covers with the narrow slit do a better job of keeping debris out of the gutters, however I have seen situations where these systems are clogged with dirt and debris. The design of these systems makes it almost impossible to clean without physically removing sections of the covers. If they do become clogged then you will have a difficult time cleaning them. The major problem with “gutter covers” is they have a very small area for the water to enter, in large downpours most of the water will run over the gutter and will spill onto the ground next to your home, defeating the purpose of having gutters in the first place. These systems are also usually expensive.

Now to the to systems that actually work. Rainflow makes a gutter protection system made from composite material, it is porous allowing water to flow but fine so small debris will not become trapped in it. This system comes in three foot sections that fit and fill the top part of the gutter, and allow all the water to run through into the gutter.

Another product I have seen on the home I have cleaned is called Gutter Glove. Gutter Glove is made from aluminum and has a fine mesh screen. This screen allows the water to flow freely through, and prevents leaves and small debris from clogging the gutter. I inspected a section of 40 foot high gutters under large trees with Gutter Glove installed, and the gutters were completely clean.

Unfortunately both these systems are expensive, from $10-$25 a foot installed. If you are considering installing a gutter protection system, I would recommend either the Rainflow, or better yet the Gutter Glove system. There may be other systems that work, however those are the only two I have seen in person that actually work. The large opening gutter screens that snap to the gutters and the gutter cover design are not recommended. A

less expensive alternative to gutter protection is to have your gutters professionally cleaned once or twice a year. Simply cleaning your gutters is usually more effective than most of the gutter systems, as the gutters are cleaned and flushed to ensure proper operation and flow.

Installing high end gutter protection for 200′ of gutter would cost around $4000. Hiring a gutter cleaning company to clean 200′ of your gutter would cost between $150-$200 each cleaning.

So for the same price of one of the more expensive gutter protection systems, you could have your gutters cleaned for the next 20 years!

In summary, gutter protection systems are best used when you have very high and inaccessible gutters that would be difficult and costly to clean by hand. It is less expensive and more effective to have your accessible gutters cleaned annually or bi-annually.

By Jason Murphy
HydroClean Pressure Washing