Gutters are those necessary channels attached to the edges of your roof for funneling water away from your home and its foundation. Maintaining those gutters can be laborious, time-consuming and even dangerous. Given the number of trees in Minnesota, it is also necessary to have gutters on your home. Gutters do a great job keeping your home safe from damage, however they can be a huge chore to clean throughout the year. You might be wondering if leaf guards would save you the aggravation of having to climb ladders several times a year to clean leaves, seeds and other debris out of the gutters. So, the question is do leaf guards work?
There are a number of products on the market that reportedly help keep gutters uncluttered and flowing freely. Among them are gutter guards, foam inserts and gutter screens. While they can do a reasonable job of reducing the amount of maintenance homeowners must do, none of them are maintenance free.
The S-curved gutter guard is a nylon or aluminum cover that snaps on to a gutter. It has a small slit to let water into the gutter. They are effective at keeping larger leaves and branches out of the gutters. The slit, however, can become clogged over time with things like pine needles and seedlings. Then other debris will collect around the clog and cause other water drainage and run off problems. They also do not prevent small seedlings and shingle granules from getting into the gutter where sludge can form. It’s a good idea to do a routine maintenance check on your gutters, even with this gutter guard.
Foam inserts are placed snugly into the gutter in sections, occupying the majority of the space there. In theory, it allows water in but keeps debris out. The trouble is large leaves, twigs and other debris will rest on top of the foam and divert water away from the gutters. This can force the water over the edge where polling or flooding can occur. Also, over time the foam can get covered with decaying organic matter, which will force you back up on the ladder.
Gutter screens are more affordable and come in grid-like patterns of holes or diamonds. They snap onto the gutter and they keep large leaves out of the gutters. Unfortunately, smaller debris can easily get through the holes. Gutter screens may reduce the number of times per year you need to maintenance the gutters. There are more expensive gutter screens on the market with smaller mesh holes. They too have their drawbacks. They have been known for keeping all debris out of the gutters, but things can build up, like snow, and will sit on top of the screens. Which can divert water into unwanted areas.
Overall, leaf guards do work at reducing the amount of maintenance a homeowner must do on the gutters. However, you must keep in mind that none of them are maintenance free.