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The Reality of Gutter Guard Products

They may be advertised as the answer to blocked gutters but the tough slap-in-the-face reality is that no gutter guard product is an ultimate solution and the pros and cons need careful weighing before deciding whether or not to install any. A lot of our customers ask us to remove their gutter guard product in frustration. Pros and cons of each below...

Gutter Mesh, Leaf Mesh

Gutter mesh can be fine where there are predominantly large leaves falling, but the two key issues are a large mesh size and a very sub-optimal fit into the guttering. Let's look at the pros and cons:

Gutter Mesh Pros
Cheap
Fairly quick to install though difficult to install well (see cons).
Does a reasonable job of protecting against large leaves
Gutter Mesh Cons
Although easy to install per se, the fit depends a lot on the actual guttering it's being installed into. A common issue is debris getting caught up against the sharp edge of the mesh resulting in buildup inside the guttering.
The large mesh can result in a lot of small debris getting into the guttering, including grass and plant seeds. Leaves and debris will often build up on the roof side of the guttering, creating a bridging effect where heavy rainfall results in overflowing.
Future gutter cleans will take more time and therefore be more expensive.

Cleaning gutters with mesh installed typically takes around two to three times as long since by the time a clean is requested, there is usually solid growth (moss, grass, plants) and a base of dirt or tile silt which is too much to just hose along.

For normal width guttering, it may be possible to remove the mesh at intervals and use a long brush to push debris to a collection point but narrow guttering, such techniques become impossible and it's quicker to just remove the mesh, clean the gutters and re-install it.

Gutter Mesh/Leaf Mesh Photos

Moss growth under leaf mesh Leaf mesh with heavy growth

Gutter Whiskers; Gutter Brush

A much promoted gutter guard product is the Whiskers or brush type. Again, it doesn't mean that you can forget about future gutter cleans - the reality is much more sobering.

Gutter Whiskers/Brush Pros
Easy to install in most guttering.
Does a reasonable job where debris is mainly medium to large leaves.
Gutter Whiskers/Brush Cons
Can be difficult to install where guttering is narrow.
Small debris will build up at the sides of the whiskers resulting in a bridging affect during heavy rain.
Dirt and tile silt will work its way into the bottom of the guttering, often resulting in moss growth.
Future gutter cleans will take more time. Even though gutter brush is typially quite easy to remove and install, pulling it out makes quite a mess as does cleaning with brisk shaking.

Gutter Whiskers/Gutter Brush Photos

Fine debris covering up gutter brush Debris covering gutter brush

External Gutter Protection

The best solution for preventing debris entering guttering is without a doubt a form of external gutter protection, but it has a dark side when it comes to cleaning it.

External Gutter Protection Pros
The best solution for preventing debris entering guttering.
Looks better than other types of gutter guard.
External Gutter Protection Cons
It's the most expensive option by far.
Dirt, tile silt, small particles and seeds will still get through the mesh, which in the perfect world would get washed away by rainwater to a downpipe. In the common situation of insufficient or incorrect gutter 'fall' (slope), seeds will germinate and tile silt will build up.
Provides good growing condition for grass, moss and plants.
Future gutter cleans can be extremely expensive if removal of much of the screen is required. Removing the screen, cleaning the guttering and then re-installing is a long and tedious process.

Reputable companies will acknowledge the downsides of external gutter protection and recommend a full flush of the guttering, usually annually, to prevent a full (expensive) clean as pictured below. Factor this is in as a part of your house maintenance, and external protection will remove the headache associated with heavy debris vegetation.

By using a vacuum for your scheduled washdowns, the accumulated debris will be sucked out instead of washed down into your drain.

External Gutter Protection Photos

Growth through external gutter protection Growth under external gutter protection

"Should I have some form of gutter guard installed?"

The bottom line is that there's no perfect gutter guard product. Gutter mesh, whiskers and external gutter protection all have their good and weak points. If you're wondering whether some form of gutter guard may be useful for your situation, give us a call: 0800-938-967. Gregg from Gutter Geeks


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By Gregg Cleland ©2014 Gutter Geeks Limited