Gutter guards are a popular tool to collect leaves and prevent rain from spilling over the sides of your roof haphazardly, but are they really worth your time, effort, and money? It’s an unfortunate fact that gutters and downspouts are constantly collecting debris that needs to be cleaned out. Many gutter guards claim to slow down the accumulations of this debris and some even claim to stop the debris from collecting altogether. If their claims are correct, that would mean infrequent to nonexistent cleaning and one less thing you have to worry about around your home.
However, these claims are never substantiated, and gutter guards are simply not worth the investment. Not only are they not worth your money, but it’s also likely that you’ll spend far more money once you’ve installed the product because of costly cleaning and repairs. This article will detail what gutter guards are and why you should never invest in them, despite the temptation.
Types of Gutter Guards
You may have heard about a wide range of tools that can help to keep your gutters clean and save you time. These tools have many names: gutter guards, gutter screens, gutter covers, and gutter helmets. Despite the variety in names, these products are virtually identical and operate under the same guiding principle. They’re going to use some sort of physical barrier to keep debris from gathering in your gutters and cluttering up the system.
In short, if you’ve seen one type of gutter guard you’ve seen them all and they’re all equally worthless. Some gutter guards will advertise their differences from other products and try to entice you into thinking some new technology has been developed to finally make these types of products viable, but this is simple snake oil. All of these are variants on the same design of a physical barrier which will ultimately fail at stopping clogging agents from entering your gutter.
Why Are Gutter Guards a Waste of Money?
There is one primary and simple reason all gutter guards will ultimately fail and need to be replaced or repaired: the sheer amount of debris they’ll be exposed to throughout the day, or on an exceptionally damaging day, is too much to properly filter and discard consistently. Properly installed gutter guards will reduce the frequency of cleaning for a month or so, but they will ultimately fail given a few extra weeks of tough weather or other conditions.
In addition, while you could wait a few more days or weeks to clean out your gutters, you’ll never be certain of the gutter guards’ effectiveness unless you actually climb up to your gutters and look for yourself; this added anxiety totally defeats the purpose of installing gutter guards in the first place. It’s also much more difficult to survey your gutter system and check for damage and debris while the gutter guards are installed, so while they may appear to be working, a large buildup could be on the other side of the guard that you’d never seen unless you were closely inspecting your gutters. These buildups could lead to serious problems that could cost you an additional sum on top of the gutter guards you’ve already purchased.
Gutter Guards Can Lead to Water Bypass
Rain gutters are designed to take an uncontrollable and unstable flow of water from storms and channel it in a specific way which protects your home and lawn from flooding damage. When a light rainfall occurs, your gutter guards probably won’t interfere with this process. However, if the storm turns heavy or other conditions become unstable, the increase in rainfall usually proves to be too much for many different types and brands of gutter guards.
This problem occurs because the same physical barrier which keeps debris out of your gutter also deflects an unhealthy amount of water from the gutter as well. What is a fine minimal during light rainstorms can quickly become an unmanageable and dangerous amount of water during torrential downpours or harder rainfall; all in all, gutter guards will stop your gutters from performing the one task they were designed for, to begin with, and could endanger your house and yard because of the large amount of rainwater being deflected away from the roof.
Gutter Guards Add Weight and Strain Your Gutter System
Gutter systems are designed to be extremely lightweight because they need to put as little strain as possible on the fascia, which is the board on your home that your gutters are attached to. Adding any weight, like gutter guards, can add strain to the fascia and cause structural damage in the future. Though the fascia is quite sturdy and able to withstand additional weight in the short term, the added weight from your gutter guards will eventually show in the forms of cracking or something worse. When you strain your fascia, the mounting of your entire rain gutter system will be affected, and if it fails, then you’re going to need to pay exuberant home repair prices to fix the damage.
Many people disregard the threat to their fascia’s structural integrity because gutter guards simply don’t weigh that much. This is faulty reasoning, however, for two reasons. For one, the weight is present forever and will have an effect somewhere down the road, even if it’s not immediately present or obvious. Secondly, the weight doesn’t just come from the extra few pounds of the gutter guards; as discussed, gutter guards often hide excess debris. This debris will quickly weigh down your fascia and cause instant, lasting damage if you don’t catch it in time. The winter months can be even more stressful for your structure, as any water blocked will inevitably lead to ice buildup insufficiently cold weather.
Gutter Guards Can Make the Cleaning Process More Expensive
Professionals charge you for the amount of work they do; this is just a guideline for a business that is almost always followed no matter the field your hiring from, and it’s no different for those who will clean your gutters and make any potential repairs. Cleaning gutters that have gutter guards are not just going to be slightly more expensive – the difference between cleaning gutters with gutter guards and without can be up to five times more expensive. That’s a staggering number that can add up to lots of wasted money incredibly quickly. This amount will actually be even more expensive than normal because installing gutter guards means you’ll have to get your gutters checked and cleaned on a more frequent basis to ensure no buildup is occurring.
All of these expenses will arise when you install a product that is supposed to be saving you money! But why does it cost more to have gutters with guards cleaned? Put simply, to effectively clean your gutter downspout system, the cleaner will have to remove the guards in order to do their job. And after they’re removed, they’ll have to be put back on. This adds up to more labor for the cleaner, which translates to a higher cost for you. Cleaning won’t be the only service that becomes more expensive once you put guards up – repairing gutters with guards will also be significantly pricier. Just like cleaning, your gutter guards will have to be removed and then put back on before the repairs and inspection can be done. This is another case of more labor equating to more money charged.
There you have it. The ultimate guide to why you should never install gutter guards. Despite their popularity and perceived value, gutter guards will increase your anxiety and ultimately make a larger dent in your wallet than if you’d never bought them, to begin with. Regular gutters are perfectly capable of keeping out debris and working properly without unnecessary guards to clutter up their function.