Do Leaf Guards and Gutter Guards Work As Promised?

All Gutter Guards and Leaf Guards utilize gravity. The more advanced ones use surface adhesion.

Essentially there are six different types of gutter protector devices:

1. Screening systems made of wire, metal, or plastic; they work simply with gravity. Debris falls on them. Their small openings are supposed to keep the debris out of the gutter. However, the debris dries, becomes brittle, and is knocked into fine pieces by rain fall. Gravity then takes over and the fine debris works it way into the gutter. They require routine maintenance to remove them, clean the gutters, and replace them. It’s common to notice plants growing from them.

2. Brushes, Membranes, and filters, installed in or on existing gutters. They too try to pass themselves off as gutter protectors, but are basically screening devices working with gravity alone. As debris falls upon them it accumulates and becomes like a paper mache (a barrier to passing water). Basically they are no more effective than screens but because some of them get glued into the gutter, it becomes impossible to clean them.

3. Solid top with rounded front nose–fin type. These gutter covers work by the principle of gravity and surface adhesion. Rain water adheres to the rounded front nose as gravity carries it downward into the gutter. Unfortunately a significant amount of debris also adheres to the surface and enters the gutter. This device–because there is only a single fin–does not discriminate the size of the debris. This means full sized leaves can enter the gutter along with the rain water. To understand how surface adhesion works, fill a cup with water and slowly pour the water—you’ll notice much of it trickling down the side of the cup.

4. Flat solid top with rounded front nose and a trough–fin type with trough. This type works much like the fin type just discussed. The only difference is that there’s a trough with sieve openings to keep the debris from entering the gutter directly. Yet it doesn’t take a graduate from MIT to see that the debris will still either clog the sieve openings and render that part of the gutter guard ineffective causing overflow or break down and enter the gutter clogging it causing the gutter to overflow.

5. Flipping type gutters and rain dispersal systems. The flip clean system simply works with gravity. The gutter accumulates debris and the homeowner unlocks a mechanism that allows the gutter which is on a hinge to flip and dump the contents onto the ground. In theory it works, but can you imagine standing under the gutter as you flip it with all the dirty leaves and putrid water dropping downward toward you?

The rain dispersal system operates via the rain water having sufficient kinetic energy to be dispersed when it hits the dispersal unit which has to be located at the right position to work. However, in slow rain-fall conditions, there is insufficient kinetic energy to disperse the rain water causing soil erosion around the roof line.

6. Flat solid top with rounded front nose and a louvered vertical surface such as the Waterloov® Gutter Protection System. Waterloov works on the principle of surface adhesion and gravity much the same as the fin type systems. The big difference is that instead of having one longitudinal fin collect the water, Waterloov has two rows of interspersed louvers collecting the water. The amount of debris that can enter the gutter is greatly reduced keeping gutters in the heaviest of debris conditions clean and free flowing after twenty years.

Because the collectors of Waterloov are located on the front vertical surface as opposed to sieves in a trough as in the fourth type of gutter guard, any debris that accumulates on the Waterloov collectors is visible from the ground and can easily be removed by the homeowner from the ground using a telescopic pole and brush. Waterloov calls it “suit and tie maintenance” as it’s not a dirty job. Only a small percentage of homeowners need to ever do this and it’s usually done in the amount of time that it takes to walk the length of the gutter. Waterloov is the one effective gutter protector that makes any gutter self cleaning.


Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E. President and CEO of R.K. Industries manufacturer of the Waterloov® Gutter Protection System.