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Do Gutter Guards Work? Types, Uses & FAQs

gutter with guard full of dry leaves

If you’ve ever owned a home, you know the hassle that can come with cleaning the gutters once or twice a year. Everything from dead insects and birds’ nests to fallen leaves and twigs can fall into the gutters, cause clogs, and eventually flood around your home. But are gutter guards the answer? When it comes to performance, are they worth it?

Yes, gutter guards do work fairly well as an effective system to prevent gutter clogging and potential home flooding. Not only can they save you hundreds of dollars per year and gutter cleaning, but they can also give you peace of mind when your home is hit with periods of heavy or a long rain or heavy winds. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of gutter guards.

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How Do Gutter Guards Work?

Gutter guards work by essentially blocking the inside of your gutters from debris and other objects. They come in many different types. They can go inside of the gutters, on top of them, or on the edge of your roof so that debris essentially slides off of the roof and directly onto the ground.

The effectiveness of the gutter guard will depend on the type you choose, the design of your gutters and roof, and how they are installed. In some cases, you can install gutter guards yourself, which is perfect if you’re looking to save money on labor costs.

But some gutter guards, specifically those that are fastened to the lower edge of the roof, may need to be installed by roofing experts. However, it’s important to note that gutter guards may not be a completely foolproof solution to protect your gutters from debris, especially if they don’t cover the gutters completely.

Plastic guard over gutter on a roof with a leaf stuck on the outside
Image Credit: Suzanne Tucker, Shutterstock

What Are the Best Gutter Guards for Heavy Rain?

One of the main reasons why most homeowners have gutter guards is to offer protection during heavy rain. However, some guards work better than others when it comes to preventing waterlogging. Below are a few features to consider when looking for gutter guards that work best in these conditions.

Aluminum Frames

Guards with aluminum frames typically weigh less, which in turn places less strain on the roof during periods of heavy rain or snow. This is beneficial for homes with older roofs or eaves.

Raised Mesh Screen Designs

Mesh screens are ideal for periods of heavy rain, as they allow large volumes of water to easily flow through the guards while filtering debris that can cause blockages.

Reinforced Fasteners

Some gutter guards require fasteners to secure them to the top of the gutter or bottom of the roof eaves. These fasteners hold the guards in place to fascia boards (the long board behind the gutters) instead of snapping them in position. This can become an issue during extended periods of heavy rain or windy conditions. If you live in an area prone to these conditions, you may want to consider guards with this added hardware.

Consult a gutter installation expert

Find a gutter specialist in your area, and get free, no-commitment estimates for your project.

Should I Install My Own Gutter Guards?

While many types of gutter guards can be self-installed, some may require the assistance of experts. These are usually guards that are retrofitted to the gutters or designed to fit on top of a specific type of gutter. But if you’re familiar with tackling home projects and aren’t afraid of heights, you can definitely find gutters that you can install yourself.

Common options include those made of mesh screens or bristles. These guards are fairly easy to install and most simply sit right inside of the gutters. Other types of guards, such as reverse curve or surface tension guards, are placed on top of the gutters and generally take more time and effort to install. As a result, they may pose challenges for a DIY novice–especially if you aren’t familiar with fitting gutter components.

gutter installation
Image Credit: ronstik, Shutterstock

house divider Factors To Consider Before Installing Gutter Guards

Before deciding to install gutter guards on your home, it’s helpful to consider certain factors that can affect the type of guard that will work for your home, as well as their overall cost and effectiveness. Here are a few things to think about before purchasing gutter guards.

Size Of The Gutters

It’s important to measure your gutters before purchasing any guards. Gutter guards are usually sold by the linear foot, and most are about 5 inches wide. However, some gutter guards come in widths of 4 or 6 inches. Remember, if the guard doesn’t fit properly, it’ll be way less effective.

Your Budget

Are you looking for the least expensive way to install gutter guards for your home? If so, you may want to go with foam, PVC, or aluminum mesh screen guards. They are typically the least expensive, and they can be easily self-installed.

It helps to develop a budget for the entire project after you decide which type of guard system you use. Also, roofing companies will typically charge by the linear foot to install the gutter guards, so the longer the gutters, the higher the cost will be.

Local Climate Conditions

Another thing to consider are the local weather conditions in the area. For example, if you live in an area with lots of tall trees and wildlife, you may want to choose a guard system that works effectively to keep out leaves, twigs, and birds’ nests.

Or, if your home is prone to lots of heavy rain or winds, guards with the mesh screens or fasteners may be best to prevent water logging and displacement. Areas prone to heavy snow and ice may fare better with guards made of hardy materials such as stainless steel and PVC.

Roof Design

The design of your roof will also play a role in how much roofers charge to install your gutter guards. Usually, chapel-style roofs or other roof types that are more difficult to access, will incur higher cost overall.

Gutter protector wideshot
Image Credit: William Hager, Shutterstock

house divider How To Prepare For Gutter Guards Installation

You can purchase gutter guards from local hardware stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depots, or you can buy directly from a manufacturer. If you’re installing mesh screens, bristles, or PVC guards, the process is pretty straightforward. Here is an overview of steps to prepare your gutters for the guards.

1. Clear Out Gutters Completely

Prior to installing the guards, it’s essential to first clear out the gutters. This means that you’ll have to grab a ladder and physically remove any debris from the gutters beforehand. And of course, if you don’t want to do this yourself, you can always pay a gutter and roofing specialist to do this for you.

The average cost for a gutter cleaning is around $100 to $300 an hour, depending on the length of the gutters and their accessibility. Many experts also recommend using your water hose to pour water down the gutters to remove small traces of dirt and debris. Doing so will also test the current functionality of the gutters to ensure that they aren’t damaged–something that can cause issues with guard installation.

2. Take Proper Measurements

After cleaning the gutters, you’ll need to measure them. First, measure the width of the gutters by placing measuring tape sideways across the top portion of the gutter. The width should measure anywhere from 4 to 6 inches. Next, use your measuring tape to measure the entire length of your gutters.

It’s best to start on one side of your home and work your way to the other side from top to bottom. Be sure to have your cell phone or a pen and paper to write down the measurements. Note that accurately measuring the gutters is absolutely crucial to getting the proper guardfitting.

3. Determine The Proper Tools For The Installation

After you’ve prepared the gutters and purchased a new guard, you’ll need to gather any tools needed for the installation process. You’ll need a ladder that’s stable and durable, and you’ll need to clear out any obstructions on the side of your home that may block the path of the ladder. Also, be sure to have other tools such as a screw gun, screwdriver, tape measure, and electric saw or shears to make any last-minute adjustments. Then, all that’s left to do is install the guards.

man installing roof gutter
Image Credit: Jasmine Sahin, Shutterstock

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Gutter guards can, in fact, be an effective way to prevent your gutters from becoming clogged. If your area experiences frequent rains or if you have issues with wildlife clogging the gutters, guards may be a great option to consider. Before installing gutter guards, it’s helpful to take a look at the various kinds to determine which one will work best for your home.

Featured Image Credit: 123switch, Pixabay


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