Gutters direct water away from the foundation of a home to reduce the risk of damage to the building. When debris collects in gutters, water won’t flow freely. It builds up and runs over the top of the gutter or through any holes in the seams. This leaves the home at risk.
For this reason, many property owners invest in gutter guards. They believe the guards will eliminate the need for gutter cleaning completely. However, gutter cleaning remains necessary to prevent damage. What does a person need to know about gutter guards before making this investment?
What Are Gutter Guards?
Gutter guards sit on top of gutters to keep debris out and prevent clogs. While these products reduce the amount of debris making its way into the gutters, they cannot stop all leaves, dirt, and other items from getting into the system. When this debris builds up, problems develop.
Rainwater will no longer flow through the gutters and downspouts. It builds up in the gutter, and the gutter overflows. The water may also make its way under the roof eaves and into the foundation of the home. The gutters no longer divert it away from the home because the debris present in the gutters prevents this from happening.
When water pools around the foundation, it may move into the basement through cracks in the foundation. Homeowners might find it leaks through concrete, masonry, and joints, or it could cause soil erosion. This weakens the structure and puts the occupants at risk. Joists, basement columns, and other wooden structural components remain susceptible to weakness and rot when exposed to moisture caused by clogged gutters. Mold growth becomes a concern and can lead to health problems or structural damage.
Drawbacks of Gutter Guards
Gutter or leaf guards claim they prevent blocked and clogged gutters. Homeowners invest in these devices so they no longer need to climb a ladder or get on the roof to clean debris from the gutter system. However, no product of this type can keep all debris out of the gutters. Leaves, pine needles, and other items make their way past these guards. Once they accumulate, the gutter clogs. Water then builds up in the system.
The property owner rarely realizes there is a problem until water flows over the edges of the gutters, which happens during a heavy downpour. If they aren’t home when the downpour occurs, they may wonder why water is pooling around the foundation. They rarely look to the gutters as the source of the problem because they believe the gutter guards protect them against clogs.
In addition, the gutter guards often detract from the curb appeal of the property. While the leaves and other debris may not make their way into the gutters, they rest on the top of the guard. This makes the property look run down and neglected. Owners must monitor the gutter guards to ensure debris isn’t accumulating and leading to this problem.
Improper installation of the gutter guards could affect the roof warranty. When the installer attaches the guards using nails or other hardware, the manufacturer may void the roof warranty, leaving the property owner responsible for any damages and repairs.
Do Gutter Guards Benefit All Properties?
Homeowners must consider the roof’s pitch when deciding whether gutter guards are appropriate for their needs. Steeply pitched roofs rarely need gutter guards. The sharp angle of the roof allows water to splash off naturally. Properties with a low-pitched roof, between 0 and 1.5 inches per foot, may also find gutter guards do more harm than good. Debris may accumulate in the gutter and lead to water buildup. This leads to problems similar to those seen in buildings with no gutter guards.
How Often Should the Gutters Be Cleaned?
Experts recommend having the gutters maintained a minimum of twice a year. Properties with many pine trees that shed large amounts of needles may need the gutters cleaned more often. The gutter guards don’t eliminate the need for this service. At most, they reduce the number of times the gutters need cleaning each year. Ignoring this task could lead to damage to the roof and property. Avoid this by having this service completed regularly.
When Should the Gutters Be Cleaned?
Property owners should put gutter cleaning on the schedule in the spring and the fall. Winter storms often deposit debris in the gutters or on the roof, when the debris then makes its way into the gutters. Plan for another gutter service in the fall, as any leaves and debris from summer storms must be removed before winter weather arrives. Properties with heavy foliage should have this task carried out once every season to reduce the risk of buildup in the gutters and damage to buildings.
However, it never hurts to check the gutters following a storm. In addition, any time water pools under the gutters, they need to be checked. This water suggests the gutters have one or more blockages.
Are Gutter Guards a Do-It-Yourself Project?
A person might head to the local home improvement store and purchase gutter guards. They assume the installation of these guards is a simple job. However, experts recommend leaving this task to professionals to protect any warranty on the roof.
When choosing a professional to handle this task, learn if they use manufactured guards or create ones specifically for the property. The second option helps to reduce the number of gutter cleanings required each year. With custom gutter guards, property owners find annual or biannual cleanings keep the gutters debris-free and protect the building.
No product can keep all debris out of gutters. However, gutter guards reduce the buildup of debris. Invest in gutter guards and work with professionals to have them installed. When the time comes to clean the gutters, don’t put the task off. Doing so puts the home at risk, something no property owner wants. Learn more today about gutter guards along with their benefits and drawbacks so you can protect your property investment and keep the occupants of the building safe.