gutter leaf guards

Do Gutter Leaf Guards Really Work?

Throughout Colorado and the rest of the US, homeowners are opting for the installation of gutter leaf guards—specially engineered roofing materials that are said to reduce the amount of natural debris that accumulates in the gutters and downspouts installed onto residential or commercial buildings. 

These types of protective roofing systems are nothing new. In fact, there have been more than 500 patents issued for gutter leaf guard-type products invented since the idea was brought to market in the late 1800’s. With all of the design changes and installation methods that have been experimented with in this time, it’s reasonable to ask the question, “Do gutter leaf guards really work?”, and, are they worth the investment? 

Since 1994, A-to-Z Roofing & Exteriors has been installing, repairing, and replacing rain management systems of all kinds, and we’ve seen more than our fair share of gutter leaf guard products. They’re not all created equal, and some of them do work better than others. 

To help both home and business owners alike make an informed decision about what gutter system to choose for their property, let’s explore the mechanics of gutter leaf guards, and let’s find out if they really are the ‘silver bullet’ for eliminating the problem of clogged gutters. 

Different Styles, Different Results

Before we dig into the various different styles of gutter leaf guard systems currently on the market, we should make something perfectly clear: no gutter leaf guard system—no matter how technologically advanced or modern—is going to put an end to routine gutter cleaning. As long as leaves, twigs, dirt, and other debris are part of our environment here in Colorado, there is going to be the need to seasonally monitor the build-up of such material in gutters and downspouts. 

That being said, there have been some impressive gutter leaf guard products that have made their way onto rooftops throughout the country. And, some of them actually do a commendable job of reducing the number of times gutters need to be cleaned throughout a given calendar year.

Here are a few of the most popular gutter leaf guard product styles we’ve seen. 

Reverse Curve Gutter Shields

Arguably the most popular style of gutter leaf guard is the reverse curve gutter shield, which is designed to allow water to enter gutters through a small slit, while leaves and other debris fall or float off the sides of the building.

There is only one significant problem that comes with this type of gutter system, particularly for Colorado home and business owners: ice damming. 

Ice damming happens when snow, hail, or other precipitation falls along the roof into the gutters and then freezes as it reaches the colder exterior zones of the roof. Because the slits along reverse curve gutter shields are so thin, they’re prone to becoming blocked with ice. The good news is that once the weather warms up, the gutters return to normal functioning without requiring a manual declogging. 

Mesh Gutter Covers

Mesh-style gutter covers are exactly what they sound like: sheets of wire meshing that are placed directly on top of the gutters. 

We like this type of gutter guard because it virtually eliminates larger pieces of debris from entering downspout junctions, where clogging is most probable. However, even mesh gutter covers require cleaning from time to time. 

‘Bottle Brush’ Gutter Guards

Also called ‘gutter brushes’, these long, cylindrical sections of nylon and wire are installed into the gutters from end to end, and they act as a kind of filter allowing water to drain through them while screening out leaves and other debris.

Gutter brushes do work fairly well, but, as with the other styles mentioned here, they don’t completely eliminate the need for gutter cleaning at least once every year or two. 

Foam Gutter Inserts

One of the less popular but still highly effective styles of gutter guards is the foam gutter insert, which is a wedge of foam that creates a permeable seal along the opening of the gutter.

GutterStuff, a leading company that manufactures foam gutter inserts, claims that these Class A fire-rated wedges completely eliminate the need for gutter cleaning. However, we respectfully disagree; even these devices don’t completely absolve home and business owners from their gutter cleaning obligations every few seasons. 

The Final Verdict on Gutter Leaf Guards

All in all, gutter leaf guards can be a great addition to some existing rain management systems. However, many of the claims made by the manufacturers of these products oversell their effectiveness, and their promises should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Want to learn more about the rain management system that is best for your home or business? Contact A-to-Z Roofing & Exteriors, today. 

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