Gutter Covers vs Cleaning The Gutters

Next time you see an ad promoting gutter covers to eliminate gutter cleaning, think twice. In fact don’t think; do some serious research the cost of having leaf guards installed on your home can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Truth is that with the poor performance of most of the gutter guards on the market, it might be a wiser choice to keep cleaning them yourself or hire someone a few times each year at $75 to $100 for each cleaning. Truth is that if you can find a reputable insured company that will service you it’s probably the best way to go. However, finding someone dependable and responsible may be a big challenge; and having contractors or you to clean your gutters may not be the way to go. Why? Answer: There are several reasons:

1. Claire hired a company clean her gutters. The advertised price was $75 but it ended up costing her $350. It seems that the company replaced drop tubes, end caps, elbows and ended up charging her an arm and a leg for things she probably didn’t need.

2. Not all contractors do a good job. Three days after Rosemary paid $75 to get her gutters cleaned, it rained and they overflowed. Did enough leaves fall to clog the downspout, or did the contractor do a poor job? Answer: No way to tell.

3. Joe hired an uninsured contractor to clean his gutters. The fellow had an accident and sued Joe; and Joe went through a nightmare with his insurance company and the fellow’s doctors. Big problem!

4. Jim never depended on anyone else; he always cleaned his gutters until his ladder slipped and he ended up falling through his living room bay window. He was hospitalized with a broken pelvis.

It certainly looks like the smart thing to do is install gutter protection. But don’t rush into it, buyer beware, because choosing the wrong product can lead to another nightmare. A hasty or uninformed decision can result in flooded basements, mold, mildew, soil erosion, and worse yet the inability to clean the gutters but instead be totally dependent on the installing company.

It’s helpful to do some research. Essentially there are six different types of gutter protection devices:

1. Screening devices generally made of wire, metal, or plastic, they work simply with gravity and require routine maintenance. They do not keep homeowners off ladders.

2. Filters, brushes, and membranes that are installed on or in existing gutters. The companies selling them try to pass themselves off as gutter protectors, but they are basically screening devices working with gravity alone and are no more effective than screens.

3. Solid top with rounded front nose—the fin type. Their advertising graphics lead you to assume that all debris is simply jettisoned off onto the ground. However in medium-to-high debris areas enough debris sticks to the surface along with the rain water to clog the gutters.

4. Solid top with rounded front nose and a trough—the fin type with a trough. Since type #3 fails, the inventors of these products added a trough under the fin. Yet it doesn’t take an MIT graduate to see that debris that goes into the trough (basically a screening device) will either clog the openings in the trough or break down and pass into the gutter and clog it.

5. Rain dispersal and flipping type of gutters. The rain dispersal system requires ripping off your gutters and installing fins for dispersing the water. The flip type also requires removal of regular gutters and replacement with gutters with a hinge that allows the gutter to be flipped. Both look like a practical approach until you see them in action. Debris lays on top the dispersal unit and it doesn’t work in slow rainfall. The flip clean gutter requires a rain coat for when the gutter is full of putrid debris and does nothing for downspouts that have clogged.

6. Flat solid top with rounded front nose louvers in the vertical surface–Waterloov. Whereas with the fin type of gutter cover that will pass full sized leaves, the louvers limit the size of the debris that the gutter guard allows into the gutter. It is actually the only gutter protector that limits both the size and amount of debris that can pass into the gutter.

After twenty years it is the one system that has proven that gutters can stay free flowing in heavy debris conditions. No other gutter protector or gutter guard product can boast that feat. The only downside is that in heavy debris conditions debris can accumulate on the lovers and block them off meaning that some kind of maintenance is required.

And this is true for all gutter guards or protectors, whereas most other products require someone to go up a ladder and clean the gutter or the cover, Waterloov can easily maintained from the ground using a telescopic pole and brush. Since the blockage is visible, there’s no guessing where to brush. No rain coats are required to do this simple task as it can actually be done dressed in a suit and tie.

After all, telling someone, who has to clean his gutters several times during the fall, that no maintenance will be required is like asking them to believe in Santa Claus.

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