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Pros and Cons of Gutter Guards: Are They Worth It?

When it comes time to make an investment in your home, one of the best approaches is to weigh the pros and cons.  So, what are the benefits and disadvantages of leaf gutter guards?

First, there’s the obvious.  When leaves, twigs, and other debris fill up your gutters, water collects on the roof and leaks down continuously.  Leaf gutter guards prevent leaves, twigs and other debris from entering your rain gutters, helping to keep them clear and the runoff flowing freely.  When you spring for a gutter guard installation, you’ll be saving yourself the hassle of getting up on a ladder and dredging out the gutters a few times a year.  Or, at the very least, you’ll be simplifying the task.  But does that equal up to the cost of installation?  Let’s have a look.

First of all, it’s important to understand that not all gutter guards are created equal.  There are two main types of leaf gutter guards: gutter screens and gutter covers.  Gutter covers tend to be more effective, but they also limit the water flow to your system since they cover the rain gutters.  Gutter screens, on the other hand, allow water to enter the full width of your rain gutter.  They are often easier to install, but they can be fragile and may require regular maintenance, especially if they are made of substandard materials.  Gutter covers can be made of foam, nylon, vinyl, wire mesh, plastic, aluminum, or copper.  Gutter screens are most often made from foam, nylon, or wire mesh.

Most experts agree that gutter guards are a definite plus.  The thing is, they still require some maintenance, and they must be installed correctly to heave any benefit.  Also, the style of leaf gutter guard makes a difference.  Many designs are good for leaves, but fail to prevent evergreen needles, seed pods, and tree flower buds from entering your system.  Regardless of the design, leaves will still collect on top of the gutter guards.  It’s also important to know that some designs can be even more challenging to clean than unguarded gutters.

Another thing to consider is the price of a gutter guard installation when compared to that of professional gutter cleaning.  If you find that you can have your gutters cleaned a few times a year professionally for less than it takes for an installation, then that may be the better route for you.  Plus, if you have a home that’s two or three stories tall, it’s important to hire a professional for cleaning or installation rather than trying the task yourself.  From that height, the risks of a fall rise dramatically.

Gutter guard installation pros:

  • Leaf gutter guards can be added easily to your existing gutters.
  • They will extend the life of your gutters, reducing rot and rust from collected debris.
  • Heated gutter guards help to prevent snow buildup, ice dams, and icicles.
  • Leaf gutter guards can improve the efficiency of rainwater harvesting systems and help to filter out contaminants.
  • Gutter guards help to prevent the buildup of stagnant water, which would otherwise be a breeding ground for pests or backup and overflow into your home.
  • They help to keep rodents and birds from nesting in your gutters.
  • With effective water runoff, you are less at risk of roof leakage, cracks in the foundation, or other structural damage.
  • Last but not least, with a proper installation, you’ll spend much less time cleaning your gutters.

So, those are the benefits of gutter guard installation, but, for a balanced handling, lets look at some of the disadvantages.

Gutter guard installation cons:

  • One of the biggest cons is the expense.  You may have to pay anywhere from $700 to a few thousand dollars.
  • Maintenance needs are not completely eliminated.  Even after installing gutter guards, you’ll still have to make sure that they are in good repair and that leaves don’t collect on top of them to block the system.
  • It’s possible for tree seeds to pass through the slots and sprout.  Once they do, they can grow very quickly and create significant blockages.  Plus, they’re much more challenging to clean out of a guarded system once they have sprouted.
  • Roofs with an extremely steep pitch can create heavy runoff, so the water can tend to overshoot the gutters and make them redundant.
  • This is a big one. Gutter guards add weight.  So, if you want to prevent sagging and potential damage to the gutter system, you’ll want to install additional supports along the length of the gutters.
  • If you lean weight against them, you’ll damage the guards and reduce their effectiveness.  This most often happens when ladders are leaned against them.
  • Some designs increase the risk of ice damage, such as the buildup of ice dams, icicles, or snow.
  • Another important consideration: some designs are pretty much ineffective.  It’s best to go with a tried and true company that has an excellent design, performs skilled installation, and uses high quality materials.  Plus, you’ll want a warranty to make sure that repairs won’t cost you extra.

When deciding whether or not a gutter guard installation is right for you, you’ll want to consider the surroundings.  Do you have trees overhanging your roof?  Are you in an area with heavy rain?  Snow and ice during the winter?  If you’d like a free consultation and estimate, feel free to contact us.  We are dedicated to providing you real answers and guiding you to the best solution for your roof.

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