July 22, 2020 4 min read

Gutter Guards can be largely ineffective without maintenance, as well as extremely expensive.   Most people don't want to spend a lot of money and then become disappointed that it does not work the way you wanted it to.   Below are some general rules to follow and examples of common gutter guard solutions offered by contractors along with potential concerns.


  1. Any thin channel of water (ie: your gutter) with tree leaves or debris dropped on it regularly will require maintenance in order to keep working.  People should have at least an understanding and a plan for how to maintain any gutter system or gutter guard.
  2. Many Gutter Guards make it very difficult to clean the gutter.  It can be painstaking, difficult and expensive to take them apart for cleaning and the result can be that you are left with old screw holes in the gutter or roof.  In many cases, you must hire someone with skills, tools or even the franchise license, in order to dismantle and maintain. It is much easier and far less expensive to find someone to clean your gutters when there is no need to remove screws and dismantle a complicated sheet metal system and assure that it all goes back together properly. The basic labor force for a simple gutter cleaning is about 3 or 4 times larger and more available than the skilled contractors needed to dismantle fasteners and reinstall.  The more skill required, the higher the hourly rate.
  3. Water brings dirt therefore any holes or apertures that the water flows through will receive a buildup of dirt, sediment, moss algae or any other items that the water carries thereby decreasing the water flow.
  4. The main problem with typical gutter guards is that the water ends up missing the gutter altogether after they get dirty.
  5. Gutter guards do clog.  When sideways, leaves and tree droppings are very thin and can find their way into most gutter guard products.
  6. Most gutters are built as external features and are meant to be “flashed” as an external feature to keep water out of the building.  Using any gutter guard which connects the gutter to the fascia or roof, can cause leaks and problems. As soon as you connect the front of the gutter to the roof or fascia, you create a shelf and change the roof burden and roof flashing requirement.  This can cause more harm than good.
  7. When a gutter screen or a cover is covered with wet leaves it becomes somewhat of a horizontal shelf that can direct water and wind up and over the facia or blown back under the shingles.  This same problem is magnified and more problematic in cold climates causing ice backups and ice jams.
  8. Animals and bees love the cover that many typical gutter covers provide.
  9. A clogged gutter is not worth complications that could cause a roof/soffit leak.
  10. Clogged gutters are not such an important problem that they warrant any additional risk of leaks; never connect the gutters to the roof in any manner, it’s not worth it.

Dirty / Clogged Helmet / Gutter Cover

Dirty Clogged Gutter Cover Pine needle clogged gutter gurd

Helmets and Covers - They are notorious for causing fast water to bypass the gutter entirely in a heavy rain; even when new.   When the nose gets dirty within a year, the water releases from the nose even easier. The water has a difficult time hugging the metal when it gets dirty.  Some contractors explain that they have to go back and wash the gutter guard every year to make sure the water hugs and makes its way into the gutter, rather than past the gutter.  The water brings small leaves, dirt and debris into the slot and gutter, so although they say “never clean your gutters again”, actual homeowner experience is that they do clog and are expensive to dismantle for clearing.  These devices can also experience serious problems from wind driven rain and ice build up.

Dirty / Clogged Gutter Screens

Clogged Gutter ScreenMaple Seed Clogged Gutter Screen

Screens:   If they have apertures that are large enough to accept water well, then the water will bring debris into the gutter and the gutter will eventually clog, requiring the screen to be dismantled for gutter cleaning and also picking the debris out of the screen itself.  If the openings in the screen are so small that they do not allow any debris into the gutter, ie: micro screens then the gutter may never need cleaning but the screen itself will require cleaning to prevent water from skipping past the gutter. Tiny screen openings will clog as water travels through with dirt, dust and pollen.  The main problem is when it needs cleaning, the water will not go into the gutter. Also, creating a flat shelf connection from the gutter to the fascia or roof gives water a much greater chance of backing up and leaking due to wind or ice.

GutterBrush fills the gutter with no tools or attachments. Easy installation and maintenance.

GutterBrush Gutter Guard InstalledGutterBrush Side View

GutterBrush is a system that is easy to install and maintain with no tools and no fasteners.   It does not connect the gutter to the roof or fascia. Most Gutter guard contractors charge between $15.00 - $35.00 per foot to install covers and screens.   Most contractors charge between $4.50 - $7.00 per foot to install GutterBrush . Homeowners can self install GutterBrush with no tools or fasteners for $3.50 - $4.00 per foot because anyone who can clean gutters can install GutterBrush.

Alex O'Hanley
Alex O'Hanley

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