Gutter Guards, Gutter Covers, And Gutter Screens-Do They Really Work?

Gutter guards are a common addition that many people have installed when they are having a new gutter system put in at their home. In theory gutter guards should help you to keep a good amount of debris that would normally end up in your gutters from getting stuck in there. Unfortunately in the real world not everything works out the way it was designed to, and that’s true with gutter guards. Believe it or not gutter guards will often actually make the situation worse. That means that not only will you have to pay to have someone clean your gutters out on a more frequent basis, you will also be exposing your gutters to additional strain which will shorten their life. Simply put gutter guards are not the answer you are looking for if your aim is to keep your gutters clean and in good repair, and avoid having to pay to have them cleaned too frequently.

Gutter Guards

While it may seem contradictory that a product designed to keep debris out of your gutters could actually make things worse, but in most cases that’s exactly what they do. The worst part is that most people having a new gutter protection system installed on their homes are likely talked into having gutters guards put in by the company they hire. For a company that specializes in gutter protection including gutter covers, gutters screens, leaf guard gutters, or some type of gutter mesh selling you these items will increase their bottom line. They will explain to you that gutter guards and other gutter protection devices will extend the life of your gutters, and they will also decrease the frequency that you have to have your gutters cleaned.

Unfortunately even the best gutter guards rarely if every live up to this lofty ideal. What you have to remember is that the company you hired wants you to buy gutter guards from them and to pay them for gutter guard installation. They aren’t there to help you no matter how friendly they may seem. They are there to turn a profit, and if you buy gutter guards from them then you are simply increasing their revenue with no benefit for yourself.

gutter screens

Why Do I Even Need Gutters In The First Place?

If you live in an area where there is heavy rain, or where there is heavy snow and ice during the cold winter months you need to have gutters installed on your home. If you don’then you are going to end up with some major damage down the road as the destructive force that is water slowly but surely damages your home. While the shingles and lining in your roof are designed to be able to withstand and repel water, the walls of your home and the point between your roof and walls is far less impermeable.

Without a working gutter system the water that comes off of your roof either from rain or melting snow and ice will run down the walls of your house and down your overhangs. While your home is likely designed to withstand some level of water, having excess water flowing over these types of areas will eventually lead to water damage.

Once the exterior of your home is breached by water it’s only a matter of time before your home starts to accumulate more and more damage. Water can rot the wood in your home’s frame, destroy your insulation, damage your electrical wiring, and worst of all it will likely cause black mold to start growing in your walls. All of these issues are serious problems, and like most serious problems they have expensive solutions. You can easily expect to spend thousands of dollars on mold remediation and other repairs. If you want to avoid this then you need to make sure that your home has gutters and that those gutters are in good repair.

How Do Rain Gutters In Good Condition Work?

When they are working correctly rain gutters help to divert water that is flowing off of our roof into a path where it won’t damage your home or your landscaping. You can think of rain gutters kind of like a miniature canal system on your roof. Instead of letting water go wherever it wants to flow, rain gutters give it a path where it can prove to be a positive force instead of a negative one. So instead of having the water flow down the walls and overhangs of your house, it is directed away through a gutter system. If you take the time to do it you can even have the company installing your gutters design them in a way that allows them to deliver water to parts of your yard that have plants growing in it. As long as your rain gutters are kept clean and in good condition they should last you for many years while protecting your home from the threat of water damage.

best gutter guards

What Are Gutter Guards?

The enemy of gutters everywhere are leaves, twigs, insects, and various other types of debris that can get into them and block the flow of water. When debris builds up in a gutter it causes a lot of issues including having water overflow from them, and also weighing them down and damaging them. Because of this a lot of people make the mistake of using gutter guards, gutter screens, gutter mesh, or some other type of barrier designed to keep out this destructive debris. There are several problems with taking this approach including the fact that gutter guards actually make the situation worse instead of making it better, which of course is what they are designed to do.

So how exactly can something designed to protect your home’s gutters actually make things worse?

The most common example of this happening is the creation of an ice damn. An ice damn is what happens when ice forms on top of a gutter protection system like gutter guards and then causes the barrier to collapse. Many people fail to understand just how heavy ice is, and believe it or not a cubic foot of ice weighs about 60 lbs. So when the ice collapses the gutter guard it blocks the flow of water off of your roof. When the flow of water is blocked and the water remains trapped on the roof there are a wide range of potential problems you will likely encounter. If the water remains in liquid form you have to contend with mold and water damage. If the water instead freezes then you suddenly have a lot of heavy ice on your roof that can cause a lot of damage.

While it may not seem like a likely scenario many people have had to contend with the type of damage that an ice damn causes and it’s never a cheap fix. In most cases you will have to hire a contractor to repair the damage and replace any of the damaged wood that was broken by the weight of the ice damn. On top of that you may have to call another company to come out and remove any moisture that has gotten into your home to prevent mold. If there has already been moisture in your home from the damage caused by the ice damn, and that moisture has been there for more than 2 days, then you are going to have to call a mold remediation company as well.

The point here is that even the best gutter guards can potentially end up costing you a lot of money. While they may help to keep some debris from getting into your gutters and blocking them, the truth is that they are far from perfect and even when they are working well they don’t prevent everything from getting into your gutters. The bottom line is that even when you have gutter guards you are still going to have to have your gutters cleaned out and inspected on a regular basis. In fact you will probably have to have them cleaned and inspected just as frequently as you would if you had no gutter guards at all.

So why do people have gutter guards installed when they aren’t that effective and they add to the cost of your new gutter protection system? There are several reasons that people do this, one of the primary ones is that gutter guards are recommended by the company you have hired to install your gutters. It’s only natural to trust a company putting in your gutter guards, this is after all what they do for a living so they must know what they are talking about. Except in this case they really don’t and chances are pretty good that they are simply trying to make more money off of you. The other reason that people opt to have gutter guards installed is that this is what most other people do. When you look around your neighborhood and see all the other houses with gutter guards, you probably think you should do the same. But once again this is a mistake, and just because your neighbors are doing it doesn’t mean you should as well.

How Do The Different Types Of Gutter Guards Work?

If you are curious about what types of gutter guards and other gutter protection systems are available, then the following should be interesting to you. Please keep in mind that while some of these gutter guards might help to prevent your gutters from getting blocked, using them is still a bad idea due to the potential damage that they may end up causing.

1. Mesh Gutter Guards

Mesh gutter guards are thin sheets of metal, usually aluminum, that are placed over the top of your gutters and connected to your roof. Small holes are machined into these thin sheets of metal before they are installed to allow water to flow through them while blocking most debris. Unfortunately over time the small holes designed to allow water through can become clogged causing water to flow in an uncontrolled manner. The other issue with this type of gutter guard is that the same holes that are there to allow water to pass through them do pass through small amounts of debris as well. Over time this will build up, and then you will have a clogged gutter even though you had a gutter protection system in place.

2. Bottle Brush Gutter Guards

Bottle brush gutter guards are gutter guards that consist of a brush like structure aiming upward which are then slipped into the gutter guard. The idea behind this type of gutter guard is that the bristles will capture and block and debris that lands on them while allowing water to flow past them. This type of gutter guard can work quite effectively, but much like the other types of gutter guards out there you will run into problems given enough time. The debris that is blocked by the bristles will accumulate and eventually become significant enough to block your gutters, which means you will have to have them cleaned.

3. Reverse Curve Gutter Guards

Reverse curve gutter guards use a thin sheet of material, generally aluminum, that is curved in a way to prevent debris from getting through while allowing water to pass along. Unfortunately like other gutter protection systems this type of gutter guard is also prone to having debris build up on it, which as you know can cause a lot of different problems you will have to deal with.

4. Nylon Gutter Guards

Nylon gutter guards are a type of gutter guard that is made from nylon which prevents ice from building up on them. This is a great feature because it can help to prevent an ice damn, which is one of the more expensive problems you will encounter if you have a gutter system that fails. Unfortunately even this type of gutter guard is not perfect because the debris that it deflects often ends up wedged into the edge of your roof next to the gutter guard. This debris can build up over time and cause water to flow in places you don’t want it to, and the debris build up on your roof can also cause an ice damn.

5. Foam Gutter Guards

The final option you have when looking at gutter guards are foam gutter guards. This is a porous foam material that actually fits inside your gutters to block debris from getting into them. This type of gutter protection system can be quite effective for some time, but eventually debris will build up on top of them necessitating having them cleaned.

The one thing that the preceding 5 types of gutter guards have in common is that while they all work well in theory, they are all still subject to failing. What makes this even more concerning is that if they do fail then the amount of damage they cause can be truly staggering. Because of the potential for disaster that could accompany a damaged or collapsed gutter protection system it is vital that they be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. The problem with this being that entire reason you had gutter guards installed in the first place is to reduce the amount of time or money you spent either cleaning your own gutters or paying a company to do it for you.

How Much Do Gutter Guards Cost To Have Installed?

What makes gutter guards an even more irritating problem is the fact that in addition to be ineffective they also add to the cost of installation when you are having a new gutter system put on your home. Can you imagine spending a lot more money having a project done to your home than you have to? Can you imagine spending that extra money only to later find out that the money was essentially a waste? Not only will gutter guards not help you with the problem of having your gutters end up blocked with debris, they can make things worse.

So how much can you expect having gutter guards installed end up costing you. On average a decent quality gutter guard is going to cost between $7 and $10 per foot installed. This may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the average home needs approximately 200 feet of gutters you will be looking at up to $2,000 dollars more for the project. That’s a pretty big number to pay for something that won’t end up helping you in the first place.

What Are The Major Expenses Involved When You Have Gutter Guards On Your Home?

For most people the biggest expense involving gutter guards and other gutter protection systems is obviously going to be the up front cost of having them put in. Gutter guard installation can be expensive, but it’s hardly the only expense you can look forward to when you decide to have gutter guards added to your gutters. What a lot of people fail to realize is that in the event that you end up with an ice damn, or other type of damage caused by a collapsed gutter guard, you are going to be looking at a pretty big repair bill.

Having boards, insulation, drywall, and parts of your roof replaced when there is a collapse can easily escalate into the range of several thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of money to pay out, but if your home suffers this type of damage due to a collapsed gutter guard then you won’t really have any choice other that to pay for it to be fixed.

Another nightmare scenario for a homeowner is what is called a gutter tree. A gutter tree is a tree that grows after it’s seed has been trapped in a gutter guard. With plenty of water, plus rich fertilizer in the form of decaying plant matter, a tree can actually sprout and thrive for some time in a gutter before it’s weight causes your gutters to collapse. Much like the type of damage caused by an ice damn, fixing a collapsed gutter and potentially collapsed part of your roof can get very expensive very quickly.

On top of being more expensive up front and potentially causing much more expensive repairs down the road, you are also going to be paying more out of pocket every time you hire a company to clean out and inspect your gutters. Do you think that the company you hire to clean out your gutters will be happy to remove them, inspect and clean your gutters, then put them back on or free? Of course they won’t, they are going to charge you to do this. So that’s another expense you can look forward to. Since even the best gutter guards won’t stop all debris from getting into your gutters you also can’t count on being able to have your gutters cleaned less frequently when you have a gutter protection system in place.

Gutter Guards In Theory Should Make Things Better, But In Reality They Make Things


Nobody likes to have to spend a day cleaning out the gutters on their home. It’s hard work, it’s time consuming work, and it’s also work that could cause you injury should you have a mishap since you will be working on a ladder. This is precisely why there are companies in existence that specialize in cleaning, inspecting, and repairing or installing gutters. It’s hard work so people don’t like to do it, which means they will be paying someone else to do it for them.

Since nobody likes to spend money that they don’t have to gutter guards seem like a logical choice as a means to spend less time or money keeping your gutters clean and in good working order. Unfortunately even the best gutter guards are going to require regular maintenance and cleaning if you want to avoid having them fail and cause even more damage to your home. The bottom line here is that gutter guards are not worth the money to have them installed. They are not completely effective, need to be cleaned and inspected about as frequently as gutters that have no guards, and if they fail they can cause a huge amount of expensive damage. In other words gutter guards may be designed to make your life easier but in fact they do the opposite.