Gutter guards are often sold with promises of eliminating gutter cleaning. Claims of “Clog free! Maintenance free! Guaranteed for life!” may sound hard to pass up, but do they live up to the hype? In our 30+ years of experience at Aerotech, we’ve seen how well gutter guards do and don’t work – and while they’re appropriate in some applications, they’re not always the best choice for every home.
What Are Gutter Guards?
Gutter guards are meant to reduce the debris collected in your home’s gutter system, with various designs and styles intended to allow water to pass while blocking leaves, sticks, and other large debris. There are numerous different designs to choose from, including:
- Reverse curve gutter guards, or surface tension
- Mesh gutter guards
- Brush gutter guards
- Screen gutter guards
- Micro-mesh gutter guards
- Foam gutter guards
Gutter Guards vs. Gutter Cleaning
These gutter guards can minimize cleaning, but they don’t eliminate it. They each function differently, having been designed for different purposes. For example, the reverse curve, mesh, and foam gutter guards use small openings or porous materials to direct water into the gutter while blocking debris. Brush designs utilize bristles to hold debris up and out of the way. A screen gutter guard uses metal or wire in a grid pattern that keeps debris out while allowing water to flow. Micro mesh gutter guards function similarly to screens but can filter out much smaller debris.
When installed correctly and strategically, these gutter guards can reduce the amount of cleaning necessary – but the cons must be considered to ensure it doesn’t create more costly issues than it solves.
Pros and Cons of Gutter Guards
While gutter guards block different debris as intended, they aren’t a perfect solution. They still require maintenance, just less of it and a different kind. Keep the following in mind when considering whether gutter guards are suitable for your property.
- Gutter guards block larger debris that would instantly clog your gutter and downspout – similar to how shower drain protectors prevent major obstructions from entering the drain.
- Gutter guards reduce the number of gutter cleanings needed. You still need to remove debris that accumulates on the gutter guard at least once or twice yearly.
- Most gutter guards keep larger pests from making nests in gutters, such as squirrels and birds.
- Professional gutter guards are not always cheap to install, and DIY screens aren’t recommended because they easily bend and fail compared to professional-grade gutter guards.
- Debris easily sticks to the top of the gutter guards, encouraging water to run over the side of the gutter, and damaging the landscaping and foundation below.
- The gutter guards still allow debris to collect up the roofline and valleys, allowing wet debris to rot on your roof, possibly damaging it.
- The increased weight of gutter guards with debris buildup can cause the gutters to sag, necessitating costly repairs.
Are Gutter Guards Right for Your Home?
Despite these disadvantages, gutter guards can still be helpful depending on the home, such as those built in the woods or with numerous overhanging trees. See our recommendations below – and which brands to stay away from – when looking for the proper gutter guards for your home.
Purchasing Gutter Guards? Here are Our Recommendations
If you feel that installing gutter guards is suitable for your home, the next step is to ensure you choose a manufacturer that will withstand the demands of your gutter system. Below are some of the most well-known brand names in gutter guards, which ones we recommend, and why some aren’t as great as they advertise.
Not Recommended: Gutter Helmet
You may have heard of Gutter Helmet when searching for gutter guards, but there are several different reasons why these don’t work as well as other systems. Because of the way Gutter Helmet is installed between the first and second course of shingles, it causes a spot on the roof to level off, meaning there is now an area where water can collect and sit on the roof as opposed to draining off as it should. Of course, any standing water is detrimental to the roofing materials, and over time, this standing water will soak through the shingles and rot the roof deck. So, while it’s being sold to prevent water damage around the foundation of your home, it ends up causing damage that can affect your home from the top down.
Along with the roofing issues, some other customers have had problems with their Gutter Helmet, from an extensive formation of icicles and dangerous icy conditions surrounding the home to residue buildup along the gutters and water run-off. Check out the videos below to see what real Gutter Helmet customers are experiencing with these systems:
Not Recommended: LeafGuard
Another well-known name in gutter guards is the LeafGuard. Unfortunately, the name recognition may be the only positive for going with this manufacturer. According to their Better Business Bureau® Profile (BBB), LeafGuard Holdings, Inc. has had a total of 317 complaints against them within the last three years, 232 of which were directly related to the product or service itself. Many of these complaints include issues with water not draining into the gutters, water backing up into the roofing, excessive ice formation around the gutter system during winter, water in basements, and more.
More customers have vented their frustrations with LeafGuard via reviews on Trust Pilot, stating the warranty covers very little of the necessary maintenance, leaves and debris were still making their way into the gutters, expensive pricing (roughly $50 per foot), and pushy sales tactics.
We Recommend: LeafRelief and EZ-LOCK Gutter Screens
At Aerotech, we recommend and install the Leaf Relief gutter guards. They perform exceptionally well in heavy rainstorms, even when covered with debris. Along with our Leaf Relief systems, we also install EZ-LOCK gutter screens, powder-coated steel screens that are inexpensive to install at only about $3 per foot – much better than the $50 per foot of LeafGuard! Here’s how the LeafRelief and EZ-LOCK screens compare to the other brands:
- Neither the LeafRelief nor EZ-LOCK screens will hurt the roof shingles as Gutter Helmet does
- Much less expensive than other brands available
- Easily handles significant rainfall while others allow water to overflow
- When installed with new gutters, LeafRelief forms a continuous support system along the entire length of the gutters rather than traditional gutter hangers installed every two feet
- LeafRelief is stronger than conventional gutters – once installed, they can easily hold the weight of a person hanging onto them without extra support
- EZ-LOCK Gutter Screens are made with a tighter weave to prevent finer debris from entering the gutters
To see how the LeafRelief system works, check out this video:
For more information on the EZ-LOCK Gutter Screens, click here.
We also recommend getting a 2-year cleaning program with Leaf Relief installations to remove buildup and ensure they function correctly.
Whether You Need Gutter Guards or Gutter Cleaning, Call a Professional
Before spending top dollar on a gutter guard that may not work as expected, it’s best to get a professional opinion. Aerotech can help you better answer, are gutter guards worth it? Let us help you determine if your home would benefit from Leaf Relief gutter guards or if you’d fare better with our routine gutter cleaning services.
For the fastest and most effective gutter cleaning and gutter guard installation services, you can count on us to keep your roof functioning at its best. We are fully insured and trusted gutter installation professionals. To learn if gutter guards are proper for you, contact Aerotech today.