The Truth About Gutter Protectors And Leaf Guards

All leaf guards and gutter guards are not created equal. A gutter cover or gutter protector has to do three basic tasks:
1. Catch all the water.
2. Keep leaves and debris out of the gutter.
3. Be able to be maintained easily by the homeowner.

In mild-to-heavy debris conditions all gutter covers except one fail to do all three tasks effectively.

The principal of surface adhesion is what makes all gutter solid top gutter protectors work. There all have a solid top and a curved front surface that leads the water downward and into the gutter.

Before investing in gutter guards it makes sense to do some research. After all a product that really does its job can cost thousands of dollars. However when it comes to gutter guards, more money doesn’t necessarily mean a better performing product. Remember that salesmen are good at telling you what they think you want to hear.

Yet choosing the wrong product can be a night mare; you could end up with birds and animals living in your gutters and if they clog, you’ll have no way of getting into your gutters to clean them; or worse yet your roof could start leaking. And worse yet overflowing gutters could leak into your basement providing a fertile environment for toxic mold.

Basically there are six different types of gutter protection devices:
1. Screens-the basic ones are flat and made of plastic, metal or wire with square openings, round holes, and louvered openings. More sophisticated screens have steps, rounded tops, or troughs. Debris lays on the top of the screen, dries, and is then pummeled by rain through the openings to clog the gutter inside; or the debris clogs the screening device keeping water from getting into the gutter. Basically they work if the homeowner is willing to go up the ladder to clean them and replace the ones blown out by storms or hijacked by squirrels.

2. Membranes, filters, and brushes installed in or on existing gutters. One of them has a solid top with a filter strip in it. It requires replacement every few years (sometimes the squirrels help with the job). Others are basically brushes or meshes installed in the gutter. Essentially they clog like screens. One manufacturer advertises that the benefit is that the brush can be removed and cleaned. Can you imagine removing a brush full of mucky debris and shaking it out? You’ll need to wear a rain coat and then power wash your home.

3. Flat solid top with rounded front nose–fin type. It’s one longitudinal fin along the entire length of the gutter-more about them later.

4. Flat solid top with rounded front nose and a trough–fin type with trough.

5. Rain dispersal and flipping type of gutters. Leaves lay on top of the rain dispersal system and it also fails to disperse slow rain fall. The flipping gutter seems a good idea until you realize that gutter may be full of putrid debris and water being flipped on top of you and that the gutters warp rendering the locking mechanism ineffective and what about downspouts—they still clog?

6. Flat solid top with rounded front nose and a double row louvered front vertical surface such as the Waterloov Gutter Protection System.

Which gutter covers may not collect all the water—the first task? Answer: Those that have a series of bends on the nose of the gutter guard or have a very tight radius. The larger the radius and the smoother the radius, the more water that the gutter cover will collect, otherwise the water just flies off onto the ground in heavy rainfall conditions.

More importantly, if your roof has a valley there is little likely hood that rain water can be collected unless you use gutter screens (the first type) or the sixth type of gutter guard–more later.

The next job a gutter cover has to do is keep the gutters clean. Most any leaf guard will keep gutters clean in a light debris environment. However, in mild-to-heavy debris conditions—especially in the spring time–debris will adhere to the rounded front surface of the third type (fin) and fourth type (fin with trough) of gutter guards and go into the gutter and or the trough.

The last concern is about the ease of maintenance of the gutter leaf guard. Truth is that most manufacturers will either tell you out right that no maintenance will ever be required or they will infer that none will be required. But think about this a moment. If you need to clean your gutters several times during the fall, would you honestly believe that you’ll never have to do anything to maintain your gutter guards? Asking a homeowner to believe that there is no maintenance required is like asking him to believe in Santa Claus.

The reality is that all six types of gutter protectors will clog in mild-to-heavy debris conditions. The important question is, “Where”?

The third and fourth types of products require the gutter to be cleaned inside. Another downfall of one of them is that it’s held in place with clips that work loose causing the cover to collapse into the gutter. Because patents have expired, you’ll also notice that many of third type are very similar in design and appearance. One of them actually has sieve type openings on the top of it. But isn’t that a screen and won’t it clog just like screens? Of course it will.

To maintain all the system so far mentioned means that someone has to climb a ladder and clean the gutter and or the gutter cover. Also some fin types are nailed into the roofing which means that nails need to be removed from the roofing to remove the product which could contribute to roofing leaks.

All products thus far mentioned have to be maintained by having someone climb a ladder and clean the gutter or the openings in the gutter cover. With some of the fin type products, nails need to be removed from the roofing to remove the product which could contribute to roofing leaks.

Yet there is one gutter protector that does live up to all its promises–the Waterloov® Gutter Protection System, manufactured by R. K. Industries of Neptune NJ., which uses two rows of interspersed louvers in the front vertical surface to collect rain water and limit the size of the debris that can enter the gutter. R. K. Industries also is the only company that manufactures the patented ValleyFall™ product for collecting water in valley configurations.

Fortunately the Waterloov® Gutter Protector (with a twenty year track record since 1989) in heavy debris conditions has been found that gutters never clog inside; and when the front vertical louvers clog, the debris can be easily brushed away with a telescopic pole and brush by the home owner. They call this “Suit and Tie” maintenance because the homeowner can literally wear a suit and tie while doing it as it’s not a dirty job. In fact 85% of homeowners never need to perform any maintenance and of the other 15% many only need to brush their systems every year or two.

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