If you are considering a gutter guard, comparison between the various brands will show you a wide variety of designs, features and warranties. Know what to shop for and what questions to ask a potential retailer.
Drainage is Key
Gutters are designed to capture water from the roof and channel the water drainage down to the ground. As water runs down the roof, the water accumulates in the gutter at the edge of the roof. The water is then carried out of the gutter and off the house using a system of downspouts around the house to allow the water to flow down to the ground.
A gutter clogged with leaves and other debris may not drain correctly into the downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause a water back-up in the gutters, causing the water to overflow the top edge of the gutter. Clogged or overflowing gutters are often the source of water damage in roofs, eaves and walls.
Style Helps the Function
Gutter guards are basically designed to keep the debris out of the gutter. To accomplish this, the gutter guard is usually one these basic designs:
- Filler - A block of porous material is placed in the gutter. This block minimizes the room left in the gutter for leaves and other debris, so the leaves don't stay in the gutter. The water flows through the block, allowing the gutter to drain into the gutter system's downspouts.
- Screen - A plastic or metal screen or mesh is placed on the top of the gutter. This provides a barrier into the gutter through which only small particles of debris can pass.
- Filter - A filter is placed on the top of the gutter that allows water to enter the gutter, but filters out leaves and debris. A filter is often topped with a screen.
- Cap - The gutter is topped with a solid cap which basically seals off the open gutter.
Gutter Guard Comparison Chart
|Retailer||Placement||Design|| Wind &
|Mastershield||On gutter||Filter||Yes||No|| Lifetime + |
|Flo Free||In gutter||Insert||Yes||Yes||Lifetime|
|Leaf Filter||On gutter|| Micro mesh
|Leaf Defier XL||On gutter||Insert||Yes||Yes||25 years|
|Gutter Guardall||On gutter||Mesh||Yes||Yes||5 years|
There are many styles and retailers available for gutter guards. If you are shopping for gutter guards, be sure to do some comparison of the available features and options. Not all gutter guards are the same. Where you live, what you are trying to keep out of your gutter and your type of roof can all make a big difference in the type of gutter guard that will work best for your home.
There are many manufacturers of gutter guards. The chart shows some of the larger manufacturers as well as a variety of the various features to look for when comparison shopping.
Most gutter guards install on existing gutters. You do not have to buy new gutters to have a gutter guard installed. There are several installation styles:
- Clip on
- Lay on top of the gutter
- Slip under the first row of shingles
Avoid a gutter guard which is fastened directly to the roof since this type of installation may void the roof's warranty.
All gutter guards are designed to keep debris out of the gutter. Compare the various designs to ensure that your specific needs are met. Some styles work best for certain roof styles. Other styles, such as ultra-fine micromesh screens, are specifically designed to guard against very small pieces of debris such as sand.
Look for a gutter guard that does not have any openings, seams or cracks. These could allow debris to enter the gutter and potentially stop the water flow.
Snow and wind can play havoc on a gutter guard that is not designed to be securely fastened to the gutter. Melting snow can also increase the water flow requirements of your gutter, which could make a insert-style design impractical.
Most gutter guards are not designed for the do-it-yourselfer. The manufacturer want to send a trained installer to ensure that that they are correctly installed so that they will function correctly.
The installer can make sure that the gutter guard is placed correctly for best results. They can also spot any special problems which could require a custom installation. For example, some designs of gutter guards might require the gutters to be lowered so that the water runs freely over the gutter guard.
Compare the warranties while you are making your selection. Not all warranties are the same. The optimal warranty will have a:
- Guarantee against clogging
- Written action plan of what the manufacturer will do if your gutter clogs. Be sure it includes a guarantee of the maximum amount of time it will take for the repair person to arrive.
- Refund of your deductible if you need to file an insurance claim due to damage caused by the clogged gutter
- Warranty on the finish and construction of the gutter guard
- Dealer or service company in your area that can quickly complete any repairs or adjustments required under the warranty
Not the Perfect Answer
Gutter guards don't make a gutter maintenance-free. They still have to be inspected periodically to make sure that they are still functioning correctly. It is also important to make sure that all debris has been washed out of the gutter by the natural water flow. If not, the remaining debris must be removed to avoid future clogs. Small clogs or standing water can also become a breeding area for bugs.