Install Gutter Guards but Clean the Gutters Too

Your gutters protect your home’s exterior from water damage, the basement from flooding, and the foundation from cracking or shifting. While screens, covers, or other gutter protection devices, might reduce the frequency of gutter cleaning during the year, cleaning the gutters is better than relying on just gutter guards alone.

Different Types of Gutter Guards

Gutter guards, known by a number of different names including leaf screens, gutter covers, helmets, and leaf protectors, prevent debris from entering the gutter system and forming clogs in the gutter sections and the downspouts. Gutter protection systems are either installed over the existing gutters or as a completely new installation. The different types of gutter guards include:

  • Screens – mesh (very small openings) or wire (slightly larger openings) screens
  • Reverse curve – covers direct water into the gutter trough
  • Bottlebrush – long wire bristles or brushes designed to snag debris
  • Foam – pieces of foam block debris but let water flow through

If you have several different species of trees growing on your property, one type of gutter guard protection might not be adequate. For example, reverse curve gutter guards might successfully block large leaves and fruit tree blossoms but not be able to keep out pine needles, seeds, and granules of dirt. The bottom line is no one type of gutter protection can stop every kind of debris from getting into the gutters.

Gutter Guards still need Home Maintenance

While sturdy, well-made screens, filters, or gutter guard systems can reduce the amount of debris that lands in the gutters and the frequency of gutter cleanings, gutters with gutter guards still need home maintenance, at the very least once a year, particularly if you have a lot of trees growing around the house.

Regardless of the type of gutter guard system, it can take longer to access the gutter channel, clean out the debris, and then replace each section of leaf protection. Leaf protection systems that involve gutter covers generally require more time and effort to clean than other types of gutter protection.

Might put Strain on the Fascia

Some types of gutter protection can add additional weight to your roof. Gutter systems made from materials such as aluminum and vinyl are lightweight. But when the gutters aren’t cleaned regularly and there’s too much debris in the gutter channels it can put more strain on the fascia, leading to sagging gutters, damaged shingles, and rotted soffit and fascia, and sometimes even roof failure. Gutter cleaning at least once a year can relieve extra pressure the combined weight of debris-filled gutters and a gutter protection system might have on fascia and your roofing system overall.

Prevents Moss Growth

As mentioned above, gutter guards aren’t a perfect solution to preventing debris from infiltrating the gutters. Even a small amount of silt, dirt, and decomposing leaves and twigs can be the ideal place for moss spores to find a home. Left unchecked, moss starting out life in the gutters could quickly spread throughout the gutter system and up on to your roof.

Moss is harmful to the roofing system because it can add a significant amount of weight to both the gutters and the roof, as well as cause moisture-related issues such as leaks and wood rot. Cleaning the gutters and the gutter guards regularly will help prevent harmful moss growth.

Cleaning the Gutters is Proactive

Whether you DIY gutter cleaning or hire a gutter technician to clean them for you, someone is on a ladder removing debris from the gutter system. While scooping and scraping, you will notice raised nail heads, worn seams, loose brackets, or rust making an appearance on your aluminum gutters. Cleaning the gutters, especially a gutter system with leaf protection, is proactive, allowing you to spot potential problems before they become costly solutions.

Even quality, professionally installed gutter guards can only prevent clogs and blockages to a degree. A gutter guard protection system can certainly make home maintenance more manageable. However, it’s not a foolproof solution: the best protection for your home against all kinds of debris from large leaves to small seeds is cleaning the gutters regularly and inspecting the gutters for any buildup or damage that might need immediate attention.