The Difference between Leaf Screens and Leaf Catchers

Leaf protection offers homeowners another level of reassurance that the gutters will continue to work no matter what the weather throws at them. Choosing the right kind of leaf protection system can be a little intimidating. It can also be a bit confusing when terms are used interchangeably but might not mean what the consumer thinks they mean. A case in point is “leaf screen” and “leaf catcher.” While they sound like they are both designed to do the same thing, there is a distinct difference between the leaf screen and leaf catchers.

Leaf Screens

Leaf screens are designed to be installed on gutters. The holes in the screens allow rain and runoff to enter the gutters but prevent twigs, leaves, and other types of organic debris from landing in the gutter channel.

Depending on the type of leaf screen, it is attached to the front and back of the top of the gutter; installed underneath the first row of roof shingles; or is placed on top of the gutter channel.

Installing some type of leaf screen system can be an effective way to reduce how much time you’ll spend maintaining your gutters. However, in order for the system to be effective, before purchasing one, ensure it will meet the needs of you and your home.

Tips for Buying Leaf Screens

Factors to consider before buying a leaf screen protection system are:

  • the number of trees near the gutters
  • the type of trees growing on your property
  • where your residence is located (in a gated community next to woods; near an industrial park)
  • the pitch or slope of your roof

Leaf screens that can be secured in some way are more practical and functional than screens placed over the gutter opening.

Make sure the leaf screens are compatible with the roof and the gutter system.

Leaf Catchers

Leaf catchers trap the debris exiting the gutters before the runoff enters an underground drainage area. They are typically installed on downspouts, either up to two feet above the ground or at ground level, flush with the drain. They are intended for underground drains (buried downspouts) and you won’t need a leaf catcher if you aren’t using an underground storm system of some kind. A leaf catcher can prevent costly repairs by keeping larger pieces of debris from building up and becoming problematic.

Tips for Buying Leaf Catchers

Select a leaf catcher constructed of quality metal.

Choose a built-in basket over one that can be removed. It sounds like a removable basket would be more convenient when having to clean it out. But removing it and then putting it back makes your downpipes susceptible to scratches and dents. It’s easier to just scoop out the debris with your hands – debris sitting in a leaf catcher is generally not as wet or gunky as the debris found in the gutters.

If the downpipe has to be replaced in order to have the leaf catcher installed, ensure that the new downspout is compatible with your existing gutter system.