Are Gutter Guards Worth It

Gutter guards claim to slow down or stop debris from entering your rain gutters. Ideally this means less gutter cleaning would be required. But even the companies that install gutter guards recommend periodic gutter cleaning and the reason why is simple. Gutter guards don’t keep debris out of your gutters and they can cause larger backups of water in your gutters and on your roof than if they were not installed.

Are Gutter Guards Worth It?

Let’s look at some of the things that go into deciding if gutter guards are worth the investment:

Effectiveness: Gutter guards do keep large debris from entering the gutter itself, instead trapping it on the roof where it can gather. Where it gathers there is the potential for damage, mold, and the weigh of the debris (especially when it gets wet) can lead to the gutter or roof edge failing.

Price: Gutter guards can cost from $5 to $10 per foot installed depending on the type and complexity of the installation. Since the gutters still have to be cleaned at some point, the guards have to be removed and re-installed when this is done adding to the cleaning cost. Roof and gutter cleaning is still recommended twice a year. So any savings claimed by guards are eliminated.

Appeal: Having clean gutters and downspouts adds to the look and appeal of your home. If guards are installed it is thought that they make a smooth line along the roof edge that can be attractive. In most however, the guards and the debris they catch are overlooked just as much as they gutters were before and the pleasing look is eliminated if not made worse.

In This Article

  • Are Gutter Guards Worth It?
  • What Are The Different Types Of Gutter Guards?
  • Are Gutter Guards A Waste Of Money?
  • Does It Cost More For Gutter Cleaning If You Have Gutter Guards?
  • A Better Option Than Gutter Guards

Its is a simple fact that gutters and downspouts end up getting debris in them over time, and that debris needs to be cleaned out on a regular basis in order to avoid more serious problems down the line. So many people wonder if gutter covers are a solution to the problem since these types of products claim to be able to slow down or even stop debris from getting into your gutters. In an ideal world, this would mean less frequent gutter cleaning.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world, and no matter what claims they make to the contrary, gutter guards (screens – helmets – covers) are not worth the investment. In fact, they are a product you are going to spend money on that will actually end up costing you more money in regards to what you spend for your rain gutter cleaning and repairs. Not exactly a solid product to be investing in when you think of it that way.

What Are The Different Types Of Gutter Guards?

If you have rain gutters in your home then you have probably heard about a wide range of devices that claim to help keep those gutters clean. They have many names, gutter guards, gutter screens, gutter covers, and even a gutter helmet. No matter what name they go by these types of devices all work under the same general principle.

They use some type of physical barrier in order to try to keep debris from getting into your gutters. The point here is that if you have seen one type of gutter guard or cover, then you have probably seen them all. If a product claims to have some new type of system that works better than any others, it’s still just a variant on the same idea of having some type of physical barrier that tries, and fails, to block debris and keep it from getting into your rain gutters.

Gutter Guard

Are Gutter Guards A Waste Of Money?

The main reason that gutter Covers fail to work is that the sheer amount of debris that they are exposed to cannot possibly be filtered out effectively enough to make them worth having. Can properly installed gutter guards reduce the frequency that you have to have your gutters cleaned? In theory, they could, and sometimes they actually do. But the problem here is you never really know what is going on unless you get up there and take a look.

It’s much harder to inspect your gutter system to see if there are any problems when you have gutter guards that are covering them. So while they may seem to be working, you may actually have a buildup of debris in your gutters that you have no way of seeing. That build up can lead to some serious problems, and those types of problems can be quite expensive.

Going back to the primary problem with gutter guards, the fact that there is so much debris that they are exposed to makes failure an inevitability. While they may block out some of the larger things that can get into your gutters like leaves, they are far less effective against smaller debris such as dirt, insects, pine needles, and anything else of that nature. Over time these smaller types of debris will penetrate the gutter guards and will end up starting to block your gutters.

Before you know it you have a blockage, which can lead to expensive damage. The bottom line is that gutter guards or screens may slow down the rate that your rain gutters end up being blocked, but they can’t stop it from happening. So in the long run, it is our opinion that gutter guards are not worth the expense in fact, they cost you more.

Leaf Gutter Guards Can Cause Water To Bypass Your Gutters Entirely

Rain gutters are designed so that they can take the uncontrolled flow of water from a rainstorm and channel it in a way that protects your home and lawn from damage. During light rainfall, gutter guards don’t usually interfere with this process. However, during a heavy storm, the amount of water that is coming down often proves to be problematic in regards to gutter guards.

Since gutter covers and gutter guards are designed to keep debris out using a physical barrier, that barrier also inevitably deflects away some water. When there is a lot of water coming down then what is normally a minimal amount of deflected water can suddenly become a problematic amount of water flowing in an uncontrolled manner. Essentially gutter covers can prevent your gutters from doing what they are meant to do in the first place.

Gutter Helmets Add More Weight And Strain To Your Gutter System

Your rain gutter and downspout system are designed to be as lightweight as possible so that they put as little strain as possible on your the fascia, which is the board on your home that they are attached to. When you add any additional weight, such as in the form of gutter guards, you are adding to the strain on the fascia, which is never a good thing. Additional weight will put more strain on the fascia, which can affect the mounting for your entire rain gutter system. If this fails, then you are going to be looking at some expensive repairs.

Now you may be thinking that the weight of gutter helmets really isn’t that great, so it shouldn’t put that much additional strain on the fascia. There are two problems with this train of thought. First, any additional weight that you add, and with it, additional strain, is going to have an effect over time. It may not be apparent right away, but over the course of many years, even a small amount of additional weight can produce quite a bit of cumulative damage.

The second problem with thinking that gutter covers won’t add that much weight to your gutter system is that it’s not the gutter covers themselves that are the primary problem. The primary problem is the buildup of debris that they may be hiding. If you have debris in your gutters then this is, even more, weight and strain on the fascia. During winter months this can be even more problematic since that unseen debris can block the flow of water, and in doing so can allow ice to build up.

Since this ice may be concealed under the gutter helmets you may not even be aware that there is a problem brewing. Not only can this lead to expensive repairs, it creates a dangerous situation since a failing gutter filled with ice can lead to significant injuries.

Gutter Helmet

One of the most aggravating things about gutter guards is not only that they aren’t effective at all, it’s also that they can be quite expensive. Think about it, would you ever pay a lot of money for any other type of product knowing that the product you are paying for doesn’t work. Not only do gutter guards not work, they almost invariably make things worse.

They cause strain on your gutter and downspout system that ends up causing damage, which leads to costly repairs. So when you pay to have gutter guards put in you are paying money to a company so that they can cause you to end up paying more money for maintenance and repair than you would normally have to pay. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?

So, getting back to the actual cost, in general terms you are probably looking at paying around $7.50 to $10 per linear foot of gutter guard installed. That may not seem like a lot, but considering the average home has over 200 feet of rain gutters you could be looking at a bill of around $1,500 to $2,000.

That’s not a small amount of money. It looks even worse when you take into account the fact that you are paying for a product that will make things worse for you. The bottom line here is that if you pay all of this money to have gutter screens installed, then you are literally throwing your money away.

Gutter Screens Give You A False Sense Of Security Which Often Leads To Gutter Damage

One of the major pitfalls of having gutter screens or gutter guards installed is that they often give you a false sense of security. Many people think that having these types of devices installed means that their gutters are now impervious to being penetrated by debris. That leads to neglect, which always leads to problems.

Gutter guards may slow the amount of debris that actually makes it into your gutter and downspout system. They may, but they don’t necessarily even do this. The point here is that even if the amount of debris that penetrates the gutter screens is lower than what would normally get into your gutters, that reduced level of debris is still going to cause problems.

Since many people think that gutter screens protect their gutters from debris, they live in a state of blissful ignorance little realizing that there is a problem brewing. Then before you know it that problem rears its ugly head. This can take the form of a gutter failing, or collapse. These are not only problems because of the damage they cause to your home, they are also hazards.

If someone is on your property and your rain gutter fails and lands on them, chances are pretty good you are going to be found liable in a lawsuit. This is especially true if it can be shown that you let your rain gutters fall into a state of disrepair, which often happens when they are ignored by homeowners due to the presence of gutter guards and the false sense of security they provide.

While the prospect of a catastrophic failure of your gutter and downspout system is bad, it’s actually a better scenario than having unseen damage for a long period of time. If your gutter system ends up damaged it can and will allow rainwater to get into places in your home that are not meant to have any moisture in them. This can lead to structural damage and the growth of toxic black mold.

The worst part of this type of scenario is that the gutter screens you installed may help to prevent you from noticing that there is a problem in the first place. So once again gutter screens prove that they are not only ineffective, they can end up costing you a lot of money in repair work.

Does Having Gutter Guards Make Gutter Cleaning More Expensive?

When you hire someone to do any kind of job the amount of money that they charge is going to be directly related to the amount of work that they are going to do. So it should make sense that gutter cleaning cost is going to be higher when you have leaf guards. How much higher? Believe it or not, it can cost up to five times as much to have your gutters cleaned if you have gutter guards or leaf guards installed.

Five times as much can add up very quickly. Especially since even with gutter guards you really should have your gutters inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. So in essence when you install leaf gutter guards you are installing an ineffective product that will cost you more money to have something as simple as gutter cleaning done. That’s not exactly the kind of product people should be jumping at the chance to buy, but for some reason they are.

So why exactly does it cost so much more to have your gutters cleaned if you have gutter guards installed? It’s simple, to effectively clean your gutter and downspout system those leaf guards are going to have to be removed. When you are dealing with hundreds of feet of gutter guards that is a lot of work. Not only do they have to be removed, once the job is done they have to go back on.

That’s more labor, which is, of course, going to end up costing you more money. You can’t expect a company to charge the same amount of money for doing more work, so if you make the mistake of having gutter guards installed you shouldn’t be surprised when your gutter cleaning bill comes back a lot higher than you expected.

Not only will gutter cleaning be more expensive when you have gutter guards installed, gutter repairs are going to be as well. You are dealing with the same basic principle, in order to repair a damaged gutter, the gutter guards are going to have to be removed and then put back on.

In the event that you have a gutter system failure that is not expected, you are going to end up having to pay to have the rest of your gutter guards removed and put back on so that the gutter repair company has the opportunity to inspect everything else to ensure that there isn’t any more damage that they aren’t aware of.

Gutter Covers

Gutter Guards Are Prone To Be Damaged

Another major and common complaint that people have when they install gutter guards is that gutter guards and other similar types of devices are prone to be damaged. If they become damaged then suddenly a device that wasn’t 100% effective in the first place is now even less effective. The main problem here is that it doesn’t even take anything out of the ordinary in order to cause significant damage to your gutter guards.

Putting up Christmas lights and lean a ladder on them? Well, then there’s a good chance you will dent or distort them. Climbing up to inspect your gutters and act like a responsible homeowner? Well, once again the simple act of leaning a ladder on your gutter guards can damage them. So not only are gutter guards ineffective, they are easily damaged. That means more money out of your pocket to repair something that you really shouldn’t have in your home in the first place.

A Better Option Than Gutter Guards

So what exactly is the bottom line when it comes to gutter guards, gutter screens, and other similar types of devices? The bottom line is that you should avoid them at all costs. In fact, if you buy a home that has gutter guards installed on it then it’s a good idea to pay a company to remove them. Gutter guards are not effective and don’t do the job that they were designed to do. On top of that, they can lead to damage to gutter and downspout systems, and can also lead to significant damage to a home. They can also create blockages that can lead to a dangerous failure of your gutter system that can lead to injuries.

Not only are gutter guards ineffective, they are also a terrible investment because they are going to cost you money. You can be looking at a bill of thousands of dollars to have them installed. That’s thousands of dollars for a product that isn’t going to even do its job. On top of that a simple gutter cleaning job, which is generally quite inexpensive, can easily jump five-fold in price if you have gutter guards in place. Assuming you only have your gutters cleaned once a year even, over many years that five-fold increase in price can result in a very large sum of money.

Honestly, the best option you have for dealing with gutter guards is not to deal with them at all. The idea behind gutter screens is to reduce the number of gutter cleaning jobs that have to be performed in your home. This will theoretically save you money. The problem with this approach is that it won’t save you money. Gutter guards will end up costing you more money to have that not had them.

A gutter cleaning job done by a professional gutter cleaning company is not that expensive in the first place. When you compare this cost to the cost of having gutter guards installed, it should become clear quickly that gutter guards are not worth it. They are expensive, ineffective, easily damaged, and don’t even do what they are supposed to do. That really is a clear example of a product that is for lack of a better word junk.

The best option you have in order to keep your rain gutters in good working order is to simply be a responsible homeowner and have them cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. The cost is fairly minimal, plus regular cleaning by a professional company can help you to spot potential problems before they become major issues. Simply put your money is put to much better use when you use it to hire a professional gutter cleaning and repair company in order to keep your rain gutters in proper working order.

Recently Updated for 2019 —