Get your mind
in the gutter
BY ERIK J. MARTIN
CLIMBING UP your ladder to clean out the
gutters every spring and fall is not only a
messy and tedious hassle, it’s also dangerous. But skipping this chore can result in
blocked gutters and downspouts, causing
water, ice and snow to back up and leading
to costly roof, siding, window and foundation damage. Thankfully, there’s a solution
that can simplify matters and help safeguard your home from these threats: a gutter guard system.
William Seavey, a Costco member in
Cambria, California, waters his foliage
with filtered rainwater collected from his
home’s downspouts. Seavey has purchased
three different gutter guard systems over
the past several years. He’s learned that
you get what you pay for.
“My only regret is not buying an up-scale system the first time, which has
proved to be the most durable and efficient,” he says.
While there are different types of gut-
ter guards, they’re all designed to do the
same thing: keep leaves, pine needles,
twigs, seeds, dirt, tar and grit out of the gut-
ter while collecting and properly draining
rainwater. Materials and designs have
improved over the years, but the basic tech-
nology—a nose-forward, slanted design
that channels water through tiny holes,
slits or barriers and into the gutter—has
remained relatively unchanged since gut-
ter guards were introduced decades ago.
The three main product categories are:
Solid aluminum or plastic covers,
typically affixed from the edge of the roof-
line to the outer edge of the gutter.
Fine-mesh aluminum, plastic or
stainless steel screens that strain out
debris from the water.
Brush or foam inserts that are cus-tom-cut or bent to fit into your gutter, that
block out debris.
Not quite foolproof
Although gutter guards are intended to
keep you off the ladder and better protect
your home from Mother Nature, it’s important to have realistic expectations about
what these products can and cannot do.
“Contrary to popular belief, there is no
such thing as a maintenance-free or
self-cleaning gutter guard,” says Robert
Lenney, founder of Rocklin, California–
based Gutterglove, a Costco supplier. “All
gutter guards will still require cleaning at
Lenney adds that the most important
criterion to consider is a design that keeps
all debris out of the gutter and is easy to
maintain. Additionally, you should select a
gutter guard product that doesn’t require
installing all-new gutters and is easy to
temporarily remove if you ever need to
repair your gutters.
Be aware, too, that performance will
depend not only on the quality of the material and the installation but also on the
slope of the roof and the climate you live
in. Gutter guards that are more routinely
exposed to heavy and frequent debris,
strong storms, heavy snowfall and powerful winds may require repair or replacement earlier than anticipated.
“Keep an eye on how your gutters perform when it’s raining,” says Kevin Leahy,
president of The SpoutOff Rain Gutter
Company in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “A tree
branch, squirrel or heavy debris can dent
or damage a lower-quality gutter guard and
let debris in, causing the gutter to clog.”
The right person for the job
Many systems can be installed by
handy homeowners, but experts strongly
recommend opting for professional installation, especially with solid-cover products, to ensure better performance and
reduce the risk of personal injury.
Additionally, Leahy says a professional
installer usually provides a long-term warranty and may even offer to come out to
your property to clean out your gutters for
no charge if they get clogged. C
Erik J. Martin is a Chicago–based writer.
A gutter guard system can simplify main-
tenance and prevent property damage
Costco members will ;nd a selection of
gutter guards and ladders on Costco.com.