Gutters are an important part of your home’s infrastructure – they’re the keystone to the survival of your home. They protect your home’s foundation by channeling water away from its base. They also prevent erosion. So not having gutters is not an option, but neither is having clogged ones. But cleaning gutters can be an annoying and dangerous task.
A lot of homeowners opt for gutter guards. Gutter guards are designed to keep debris and animals out of your gutters, while keeping the water flowing away from the house. We could spend several paragraphs debating which guard is best, but shouldn’t the real question be “Should I even get gutter guards?”
First let’s talk about the pros:
- They can be fitted to any existing gutter. Installation is often quick and can be placed or attached to your existing gutters.
- They really do prevent birds and rodents from nesting. A common problem with gutters is that they are a natural habitat for pests.
- You won’t need to clean your gutters as often. Guards will keep your gutters clean for longer.
- By preventing clogs stagnant water is eliminated. Mosquitos and other annoying bugs love stagnant water for breeding.
- Guards can prolong the life of your gutters by preventing premature rusting. Nothing destroys metal more than water soaked debris.
Now let’s look at the cons:
- Installation can be extremely expensive. Depending on the size of your home this can be a rather large investment.
- Exaggerated ice issues are common and different guards will react poorly to ice causing damage. Ice can form on certain guards, which can result in expensive repairs or even replacement.
- There is no perfect guard. Your gutters will still need to be cleaned.
- Guards that are made of metal can be dented, which can lessen the effectiveness. The metal used isn’t always thick and any dent can cause them to be useless.
- A steep roof might cause heavy run-off to overshoot the gutter. A guard combined with a steep roof creates a ramp. The water will hit the guard with so much speed it will hop over the gutter.
- Uncleaned gutter guards can turn into a mini tree farm because of trapped seeds. Certain types of tree seeds (and other plants) can grow quickly.
The pros and cons are debatable and certain cons can be solved with the more expensive guards. For instance, a problem with ice can be solved by heated guards. If your goal is to have your gutters cleaned less often, then guards will probably be a good choice for you. But the main con can’t be avoided. Gutters with guards still must be cleaned. Even if they don’t have to be cleaned as often the need will still be there. Don’t be sold on the thought that they are maintenance free. Some debris will collect on the top of the gutter guards themselves. While it might be easier and quicker to clean off the top of the guard, a thorough cleaning should be done by removing the guard. It should be noted that if you pay to get your gutters cleaned, the company will charge more to remove the guards.
If you have a house with gutters that are two or three stories tall, you should consider hiring a gutter cleaning service for once or twice a year cleaning even if you have gutter guards. It’s too dangerous to clean gutters that high off the ground.
Weigh your options and don’t forget to ask questions when considering gutter guards. They may be a great fit for your home, or they may just be a pain!