While cost-effective and convenient to purchase and install, homeowner solutions are mass produced without any custom fitting to the structure of your home. Frequent scheduled maintenance and possible replacement is needed to ensure a system’s effective use.
Homeowner Installed Product Types
Metal Screen Gutter Guards:
Metal Screens can be found at any major home improvement store. They are typically made out of a steel or aluminum frame and are about 4 feet in length. They install on top of your existing gutters with no disturbance to your shingles or roofing material and are relatively easy to install.
A concern with Metal Screens are the various openings in the system. These types of guards will keep out the big culprits such as large leaves, pine cones, birds – but they will allow a lot of smaller items to enter and clog your gutters. Pine needles, seeds, bees, mold…anything that can fit inside an opening about as wide as a dime will make their way into your gutters.
Cleaning & Maintenance Concerns
When material gets into your gutters someone (you) will have to get it out. And, that starts with the process of removing the gutter guards. There’s lots of gutter clutter that will fit in dime-size holes. Unfortunately, your hands won’t. This is an “OK” solution for someone who doesn’t mind performing routine gutter maintenance. But, left unattended, it’s debatable whether this type of gutter guard is even better than no guard at all.
Brush Insert or Pipe Cleaner Gutter Guards:
This type of system is a tube with numerous spikes protruding in all directions — like a large pipe cleaner — that is placed into your gutters. The intent is for the spikes to repel debris away from your gutters. It’s a simple solution, but there are with some serious flaws and concerns.
It will not keep most debris out of your gutters. The spacing and gaps between the spikes allow leaves, needles, seed and other debris to settle and become lodged within the spikes. As the brush inserts collect leaves and other material, they create the ideal home for birds and other nesting animals. And, these types of inserts can be difficult to maintain — often requiring removal of the inserts in order to clean and dislodge debris.
Sponge/Foam Gutter Guards:
A homeowner installed solution, this is a foam or sponge material that is placed inside your gutters. Most Sponge systems use an open-cell, polyurethane insert – a foam material – that is placed into your gutters. The Sponge is placed into your gutters with the intent of allowing water to drip through while keeping debris out.
There are a few things to consider with these types of systems. Some of the Foam material is not flame retardant. If you live in an area that may be prone to fires or embers then adding a flammable Foam to your roof may not be advisable.
Growth, Mold & Rotting Concerns
It’s also common for the Sponge to trap leaves and seeds inside of it along with water. Seeds plus water…that’s the perfect combination to turn your gutters into a planter box. Furthermore, the leaves and seeds that do get held within, or on, the foam will rot and decompose. Now, you’re dealing with a compost pile in your gutter. Sponge/Foam systems are not a long term, maybe not even a short term, solution. Mold, rotting, weed and seedling growth are all potential problems with Sponge/Foam gutter guards.
Slit/Hole Gutter Guards:
This type of gutter protection is a three to four foot plastic panel that has a slit, or opening, near the front edge. The design intends for only water to enter the slit while other debris will be washed off the edge. Installation varies and includes snap-on and screw-on systems.
The concern with this type of system is the opening that runs along the entire front portion of the gutter guard. While many large items (pine cones, maple leaves, etc.) will not find their way into the opening, smaller items (pine needles, seeds, spinners, dirt, bees, and more) can get into your gutters.
And, as with the other homeowner installed systems, when it’s time to clean the gutters you’ll be faced with first having to remove the gutter guards.
Plastic Screen Gutter Guards:
Plastic screens are similar to Metal Screens, except a plastic frame is used. The installation is usually based on sliding or snapping into place, no screws needed. Plastic such as vinyl or uPVC are suitable for exterior home use. Plastic screens are available in either 3-4 ft. panels or rolled bundles of 6-20 feet.
Much like metal screening, Plastic screens have wide openings that will allow almost every type of debris to enter your gutters.