Did you swear that last autumn would be the final time you pulled that rickety old ladder out of the shed to scoop and sweep leaves and debris out of your gutters? If so, now is the time to make some decisions on a new solution to prevent water overflow and get rid of all that maintenance hassle.
Back in the day, there were few options in the gutter market. In order to make sure the water from rain, snow, and ice came off your roof, you had to have an open gutter system to allow precipitation to travel through the connecting downspouts and out away from the foundation of your home. Open gutters, however, allowed not only water but leaves, whirlybird seeds and sticks to also deposit into the gutter, clogging them up and eventually causing overflow unless they were cleaned.
In the autumn, I get hundreds of calls from homeowners for gutter cleaning, many of whom don’t want to do it themselves because of the hassle, danger, and dirty work on the ladder. Luckily, over the past few years, gutter manufacturers have smartened up, creating shields to install over your current gutters, as well as closed gutter systems that can replace your current setup.
Gutter guards come in a variety of materials and sizes, but they are all designed to maximize water flow through while keeping leaves and twigs away from the water channel. The least expensive option is steel mesh screens which slide in and sit above the gutter lip itself. That arch design helps to ensure that debris can’t get stuck in the back of the gutter and they generally come with a five-year warranty against rusting or corrosion.
A step up from mesh screens is a heavy duty aluminum option which can be fitted from the front and back, avoiding the need to remove roof shingles for installation. These products come with a ripple design to prevent leaves from drying on the surface and they are generally backed by a 20-year warranty so you don’t have to worry about replacing them every few seasons. I like these because the design strengthens the gutter which comes in very handy during major snowstorms when many homes in the area suffer from heavy and dangerous ice dams.
Finally, we have the Rolls Royce of gutters, otherwise known as Leaf Relief. These heavy aluminum gutter shields can drain nearly 30 inches of rainfall in one hour, which is 15 inches more than the highest rainfall ever recorded (for inquiring minds, that’s 12 inches in one hour in Holt, Missouri). For homeowners who want no maintenance, this is the gutter product for you. The 25-year no clog, no overflow warranty gives it the same lifespan as a new roof and the inset design makes it invisible from the road. Best of all, dry debris blows away with just a six mile per hour breeze.
No matter what type of gutter guard you choose, you want to make sure it’s the best product for your home. While any gutter guard will reduce debris getting into your gutter, the right guard will depend on the trees in the area, how much rainfall you get, the position of your home, and the size and age of your current gutters. Once those factors are taken into consideration and the appropriate product is chosen, you can say goodbye to messy cleaning and sit back to enjoy the beautiful falling leaves this autumn.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, get in touch with us here. Advice is for guidance only.