Pros & cons of gutter guards

Written by stan mack
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Pros & cons of gutter guards
(Akeg, Eric Kilby, www.flickr.com)

Clogged gutters can cause many problems, so every year they have to be cleaned. Of course, the problem is that the cleaning usually requires a tall ladder and a good sense of balance. To avoid an unfortunate accident followed by a trip to the emergency room, some people turn to the help of gutter guards. There are many different types of gutter guards, each with its own set of pros and cons. Some models can be expensive, so consider your gutter situation carefully before making the investment.

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The Facts

Gutter guards are designed to keep leaves and debris from collecting in your roof's gutters. There are many types of gutter guards, but the basic idea behind all of them is to block leaves and debris while allowing rainwater to flow unimpeded. If rainwater is not able to flow freely, it could pool, possibly causing damage to your gutters and even the roof itself. So it is important to be wary of any gutter guard that may eventually become clogged.

Gutter Screens

Gutter screens are gutter guards that use a mesh cover to keep leaves from entering the water channel. Gutter screens come in a variety of models with holes of different sizes to accommodate the particular foliage of your region. For instance, if you have fir trees, you may want a screen that will stop pine needles. Con: Gutter screens can become blocked as leaves layer themselves on top of the screen. Pro: Cleaning them is fairly easy because the leaves can be simply brushed or hosed off.

Bottle-Brush Gutter Guards

Bottle-brush gutter guards are simple, cylindrical brushes that lie in your gutter and keep leaves from entering the water channel. Leaves and debris will occasionally need to be cleaned off the bristles. To do this, you will have to remove that particular section of brush and shake the leaves off. Pro: They are very inexpensive. Con: The brushes will require occasional cleaning, somewhat defeating the purpose of having gutter guards in the first place.

Reverse-Curve Gutter Guards

Reverse-curve models have a slit that allows water to pass through as it comes off the roof. Because the guards have to be aligned with the pitch of the roof to ensure that water enters the slit properly, this type of gutter guard should be installed by professionals. Pro: Properly installed, these guards require the least cleanup. Cons: They can be expensive. Also, in the event they do get clogged, removing the cover to clean them can be a hassle.

Foam Gutter Guards

Foam gutter guards consist of a porous foam insert that allows water to pass through. Because mould and fungus could be a problem, the foam is chemically treated to prevent their growth. Pros: Because the gutter is completely full, there is no chance of leaves clogging the channel. Also, they are fairly easy to self-install. Con: They are more expensive than brush-types.

Cold Weather Issues

One of the major benefits of gutter guards is the prevention of clogged gutters. This is especially important in regions that experience periodic freezing. If there is water trapped in the gutter, it will expand as it freezes, possibly severely damaging your gutter system. Although gutter guards cannot prevent snow or ice build-up on your roof, minimising clogged gutters will increase the lifetime of your current gutter system by ensuring the free flow of water.

Pros & cons of gutter guards
Frozen gutter

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