We all know the story. It’s fall, and you are tired of cleaning up everything before winter.  But one more chore, those gutters taunting you with leaves and twigs sticking out all over. Your neighbor tells you to install gutter guards to help you with your problem. But what are they? Can they really help?

Gutter guards are any kind of protection that basically shields your existing gutters from debris, all while allowing water to flow into the bottom trough. With this, the chances of having the disgusting task of clearing out all that gunk in your gutters decreases. Or does it?  Depending on the kind of guard installed, cleaning time can be reduced from a couple of times a month to only a few times a year.

There are a lot of gutter guards being sold right now. However, not all of them are made the same way. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on buying one for your home.

Kinds of Gutter Guards 

Currently there are three major types of gutter guards: filters, screens and covers. Each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. For easy reference, we’ve made a short list of the pros and cons of owning each kind.

Filters

What are Gutter Guards? Filter Gutter Guard Add-On

Gutter filters are made from very cheap materials, so they break apart easily.

Filters are made from fine mesh. The tiny holes in the mesh are thought to stop any kind of debris, as long as it’s bigger than the holes.

These gutter guards are mostly constructed from the material that we use to screen our windows. And they’re usually wrapped on open gutters, screwed into the fascia or clipped under the shingles.

     PROS      CONS
  • cheap
  • easy to install
  • can be used even with old gutters and shingles
  • cleans up easily if maintained regularly
  • deteriorates quickly
  • gets clogged with pollen
  • needs maintenance or cleaning
  • unflattering with limited color choices
  • the mesh can collect leaves and twigs on top

Screens

What are Gutter Guards? Screen Gutter Guard Add-On

Among all the gutter guards, screens are the most difficult to maintain.

Screens are very common gutter guards. They come in 3 to 6 foot sections with perforated openings or louvered slots. Their holes aren’t as small as what we typically see in leaf filters, but they can still stop leaves and other debris. But some are prone to certain types of seeds such as maple whirly birds (aka helicopters) which float down and stand at attention on top of the cover. For installation they can be hinged, mitered at the corners, installed underneath roof shingles, or simply slipped in and snapped into place.

     PROS      CONS
  • cheap
  • simple to install
  • available in just about any hardware store or home building supply
  • can be used with old gutters or shingles
  • flimsy
  • openings are large enough to let seeds and pine needles pass through
  • clogs rapidly and easily
  • can easily detach itself
  • deteriorates; receives sun damage easily
  • needs frequent maintenance
  • difficult to clean

Covers

What are Gutter Guards? Plastic Cover Gutter Guard Add-On

Plastic gutter guards don’t last long, so they need to be inspected a few times a year.

Covers are usually made from plastic materials. They’re hooked into the gutter, nailed or glued onto the roof, or slid under the first or second layer of shingles. And while filters and screens rely on straining the debris out using little holes, covers depend on surface tension to guide the water down and to let the unwanted things fall off the edge.

     PROS      CONS
  • lasts longer than screens and filters
  • has a wide range of color choices
  • doesn’t need a lot of maintenance
  • flimsy
  • expensive
  • difficult to install
  • very visible from the ground
  • deteriorates from the sun; its color fades, and it weakens
  • detaches itself easily

Why Most Gutter Guards are Inefficient

Now that you know what you’re up against, is it worth the money and time?

Generally, almost all gutter guards are add-ons. Since they need to be combined with pre-existing gutters, they’re just one part of a two-piece system that’s prone to needing adjustments. This causes serious weak points like seams, minute cracks and mismatched measurements. Pair these with the add-on’s already questionable durability, and they all contribute to damaging a house’s overall integrity.

So if you’re looking for something more hard-wearing than gutter guard add-ons, a one-piece system is what you should install because it simply doesn’t have these aforementioned drawbacks.

The Best Gutter Guard System in America

The unique LeafGuard system is seamless to length and doesn’t interfere with shingles.

LeafGuard is the only one-piece seamless system available in the market today. With this brand, the gutter guard is already part of the gutter, eliminating seams, flimsiness, possibilities of clogging and any other weak point that can lead to much bigger problems in the near and distant future.  It’s also backed by multiple warranties to give you peace of mind.

For more details on the major problems in using gutter guards, check out another post here.