If you didn’t know: gutters are a nuisance to clean and maintain. As a homeowner, there’s no real way to keep this never-ending project off your plate. Gutters are absolutely essential to protecting your home’s foundation and structural integrity, serving to guide damaging waters and debris away from your home’s vulnerable entry points. Over time, exposed gutters accumulate grime, dirt, and other natural debris, interfering with their ability to effectively protect your home. Some homeowners elect to hire contractors to clean their gutters or regularly clean them themselves, but others opt for an alternative and more sustainable approach: gutter guards.
How Gutter Guards Help Gutters
Gutter guards are an aptly named invention. They do exactly what their name leads you to think they will: they guard your gutters!
No matter what kind of gutter guard you have or are thinking of investing in, you will likely notice all gutter guards have a series of holes throughout their face to function in a screen-like capacity.. In other words, they’re what’s known as ‘semi-permeable’. This means that they let some things through and not others. The screens of gutter guards have holes that are so small that nothing except water can get through and fall onto the gutter below.
The solid cover versions operate using the same principle, but in a pretty different way: instead of having lots of little holes for water, they contain one hole at the front. Both general gutter-guarding methods are used in order to keep your gutters clean and free-flowing.
The Purpose of Gutters
The main purpose of a rain gutter is to act as a funneling system. When it rains, water slides down your roof (if it’s slanted) or falls directly into the gutter (if your roof’s flat) and is carried away, drained safely and kept away from the vulnerable areas of your home.
This is because when too much water falls too close to the outside of your home, it can erode the soil around this area. Over time, this can potentially lead to foundation damage. It can also ruin your basement if you have one.
Furthermore, if you have any imperfections in the sealed parts of your doors and windows, a gutter can prevent rainwater from leaking into your home. The gutter collects the water, stops it from splashing or building up around the vulnerable areas, and flushes it away far away to prevent any water damage.
It’s clear that gutters are important, and that our homes would be a lot more vulnerable to water damage without them.
Where’d Gutter Guards Come From?
Where would we be without our gutters? They’re both incredibly important and difficult to maintain. If you have the kind of roof that you can safely stand up on and have a hose long enough to take the ladder with you, it’s possible to clean them yourself. However, moving a ladder a few paces and cleaning small areas at a time with a bucket of water is incredibly time-consuming.
Good thing we have gutter guards! But where did gutter guards come from? Gutter guards have a fascinating history. It would be reasonable to assume that they are a modern invention, but did you know that people have used gutter-guarding methods since the early 1900s? The first version was the screen gutter guard (the one that has lots of tiny holes for only water to get through). The solid versions came later: in the middle of the 1900s. In other words, screened gutter guards are over a century old, and solid ones are over fifty years old.
Types of Gutter Guards
There are two general types of gutter guard, based on their general operating principle. However, these are further divided into more types. Here are some types of gutter guards for you to consider:
The great thing about this type of gutter guard is that the rolls come in a size that almost perfectly matches anyone’s gutter. All you have to do is slide it in underneath the roof edge and it tucks in elegantly, allowing for a nice tight fit. This is also the cheapest type of gutter guard. You can even undercut on cost by using a roll of material which is a bit like the weed-preventing covering you use for landscape gardening. These screen gutter guards are usually made of soft, flexible plastic.
One of the downsides of mesh screens like this is that sometimes debris such as pine needles get stuck in it. When the weather is warm and sunny, the debris can become brittle. If left unattended, it is possible that water will inevitably degrade the debris on the screen, potentially allowing it to fall into the gutter. Still, even this basic version of a gutter guard, even when debris builds up, definitely reduces the frequency of those pesky gutter maintenance jobs.
Surface tension gutter guards are a much more sophisticated version of a gutter guard than a screen. It has a rounded nib which causes water to cling to it. It then directs the flow of the water into the gutter while also using its raised surface to send leaves, twigs, and debris over the edge. This guard has to be installed at an angle that matches the slope of the roof or it won’t work effectively.
There are other types of gutter guards, but screens and surface tension are the two most popular types.
Why You Shouldn’t Repair Your Own Gutters
First and foremost, gutter repair isn’t a recommended do it yourself project because there are a variety of mistakes you can make while repairing your own gutters. Common gutter repair mistakes include installing gutters with the wrong pitch, using the wrong type of gutter, inaccurate placement or hanger spacings, and using too many seams.
DIY is great, but some home maintenance projects are quite simply better left to the professionals. Gutter repair is a job that involves a high degree of skill and technique; it’s not something you get right the first time. Having your gutters installed correctly can save you a lot of money; much more than the little bit you hope to save by attempting to install, repair, or replace them yourself.
In order to protect your home from the consequences of poorly installed gutters, it is recommended that you hire a gutter installation and replacement specialist who will ensure your water flushing system is efficient and highly effective.