50 years ago, none of the complicated gutter clog protection systems even existed, other than custom installed open screens. In the 80's Gutter Helmet came into the market with a product that, at that time, was considered ingenious; with a gutter protection design that was patent-able. People bought into the high tech concept that the water would hug the metal through "surface tension" or "hydro-static forces". Prior to this marketing effort, it had never really dawned on people that they had options to improve gutter performance, and eliminate gutter maintenance, however this over-promising effort claiming "never clean your gutters again", discovered that homeowners and building owners were " ripe for the picking ". People were willing to spend big dollars with the hope of eliminating gutter maintenance.
Back then, Gutter Helmet learned that a business model was very viable. With contractors specializing in their product and effective sales and marketing, they learned that they were able to sell their "helmet or topper" at a price which was more than double the actual labor plus material costs. They learned that they could viably sell their gutter protection device at a price that was more than twice the actual installation costs, and an entire industry was born; more than 50% of the building owner's purchase price went towards sales, marketing and profit. This business model flourished and an entire profitable industry was born creating expectations, whether right or wrong, that people will never have to clean their gutters again. From then on, many complicated products have entered the market in a grab for that "pot of gold". Whether or not the product actually performed as promised became secondary to the fact that the business model could self perpetuate and forward lots of money to the executive offices. That lure of gutter guard profits caused many new and complicated products to enter the market. The sales and marketing core of these companies perpetuated a general theme of over promising results, which has caused a bit "black eye" to the gutter guard industry.
In general, I would make these points about the Industry as a whole.
- Most gutter guard systems are very expensive, if you remove the over-promise, the customer has a much lower chance of buying at that expensive price.
- There is no magic product, in the debris field, every product will require maintenance.
Gutter guard products are a series of trade-offs, if a product has a beneficial feature, there is usually a negative offsetting trade-off. (example, if it keeps small debris out it will keep water out)
Gutter Guard consideration is completely different in cold winter climates as metal linear gutter products cause "first to freeze" and exacerbate ice problems
- Installing gutter guards that intersect with the roof is risky and can cause painful expensive roof problems that are not worth the potential reward. These gutter guards break the rules of proper roof flashing (shelf creation)
- Steep roofs and heavy rain or fast water must be considered, fast water over-shoot of the gutter is the most common disappointing problem, especially when the expensive device gets dirty.
- Linear products restrict the water that enters the gutter; the linear nature directs the water past the edge of the gutter. (overflow or overshoot)
- Many devices are difficult or impossible to maintain requiring skill , tools and fasteners to disassemble to clear clogs.
Eventually, as the market matured, the actual results came to bear for each product; both positive and negative. Every one of these products has some benefits in certain situations. Without maintenance, they all will fail at some point. The many different products that entered the market can be categorized as follows.
- Gutter Screens, Open Screens
- Gutter Covers, Helmet and Topper or Cover Style
- Gutter Screens, Closed Screens or gutter micro-mesh
- Brush Inserts
The features, benefits, and pitfalls of all of these products can be explained; too much to go over within this time slot; or you can read or watch videos to learn about each of them at www.gutterbrush.com
Today, the gutter guard business model is alive and well with millions of dollars going to sales and marketing. Salesmen with old style tactics continue to receive incentives for over promising results. The biggest difference today is that we can see timely written reviews and read about the strong disappointment people often feel about their purchases. The biggest trends seem to be as follows.
- No gutter guard manufacturer can stop debris from laying on and being visible on the device much or all of the year.
- Debris and wet leaves stick to smooth metal devices too.
- People get very disappointed when newly purchased gutter guards cause the water to overshoot.
- Disappointment increases proportionately to the thousands of dollars spent. The more they spend on leaf guards, the higher the disappointment when gutters fail to perform.
Conclusion: People love their trees and do not want to cut them down. Either cut down all of the trees , or plan for maintenance. Read reviews and pay attention. There is no magical maintenance free leaf guard product. People like less expensive products that anyone can maintain to keep them flowing properly.