Gutter Covers Help Prevent Fire Damage

Gutter guards and gutter covers properly designed can keep your home from catching fire. Embers from a sweeping forest fire can be blown right into your gutter and light accumulated tree debris which can destroy your home.

Some areas of the country require that gutter guards be used to prevent embers from nearby forest fires starting a fire in the gutter. But, not all gutter guards can do this. They have to be of the right materials and design in order to be effective.

Materials of construction should not be vinyl which can easily melt and might burn. The right materials of construction are steel, aluminum, or stainless steel. The only gutter covers made of steel and stainless steel are screening devices which because of their design are not a candidate for preventing fires from starting–more later. The construction material that is resistant to fire is aluminum.

Next it’s important to look at the design. Any product that has its openings for capturing water in a flat horizontal surface are automatically insufficient for preventing fires from starting. Why? The answer is that with basic screens debris accumulates on top of the screen, dries, and is easily lit afire.

Newer screens are micro mesh with stainless steel. They likewise accumulate debris and moss on top which dries and can easily be lit.

Other products are gutter inserts which for two reasons likewise are not candidates to prevent fires. First, debris accumulates on top of them and secondly they are made of plastic which can easily melt and light any accumulated debris.

The best design is a product with a flat smooth top that is sloped away from the roof. Make sure it has no ridges which could trap debris. A flat sloped surface makes it easy for tree debris to roll away or be blown away from the roof and gutter onto the ground.

There are several gutter guards that meet this criteria. Cost wise they are all within a few dollars per foot of each other–none are cheap.

Rather than choose any solid top system that is sloped away from the roof, it makes sense to also choose one that will keep debris from clogging the gutter and also one that can be easily maintained from the ground without having to call the installing company.

There are three basic designs to consider:
1. Single longitudinal fin.
2. Single longitudinal fin with a trough.
3. Vertically louvered systems with one or more rows of louvers.

It’s important to note that in heavy debris conditions both the single longitudinal fin and the longitudinal fin with trough can pass sufficient debris to clog the gutter inside requiring servicing by the installing company.

The vertically louvered system however are far better at eliminating this problem. There are two designs of vertically louvered systems–a single row and a double row system. The double row louvered system is the best performing system of the two as there are no openings that can allow any debris to wash into the gutter. The two rows of louvers are located in the front most vertical section of the leaf guard.

The other thing to consider is that in heavy debris conditions, the openings allowing the water to pass into the gutter from all gutter covers and gutter protectors will clog.

With the either of the longitudinal fin types, cleaning the openings is very difficult and requires servicing from the installing company.

However with the double row louvered system, the openings can be easily cleaned from the ground by the homeowner using a telescopic pole and brush that is long enough to reach the third floor of some homes. The manufacturer of this product calls it “suit and tie” maintenance as it’s not a dirty job but could literally be done dressed in a suit and tie.

The double row louvered system is the best choice to keep forest fires from starting in your gutters, keep your gutters from ever clogging and be easily serviced from the ground without depending on the installing company to do the servicing. To find out more about the double row louvered system please visit

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E. President and CEO of R.K. Industries manufacturer of the Waterloov® Gutter Protection System. To learn more please go to