What Are the Benefits of Gutter Guards?

Text: Benefits of Gutter | Background Image; Small Plants in Rain Pipe

For homeowners, deciding whether to install gutter guards means weighing long-term benefits against upfront costs. While some people will debate if gutter guards are worth installing, homeowners looking for gutter protection and less home maintenance will probably find the benefits outweigh the cost.

In this article:

What is a Gutter Guard?

Gutters Gaurd
Photo By: Kim Siever / Flickr / Public Domain

Leaf guards, gutter covers, gutter helmets, gutter guards. They’re known by many names but they have the same goal: To reduce the need for frequent gutter cleanings and keep unwanted leaves, twigs, pine needles, and acorns from clogging your gutters. Once gutters become blocked, it doesn’t take long for drains and downspouts to become clogged, too.

The most common types of gutter guards are either installed over, or inserted directly into, your gutters and come in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, aluminum, PVC, and wire.

Types of Gutter Guards

Gutter Guard
Photo By: Wiki Media / CC BY 2.0

While each kind of gutter guard has the same goal, not all covers are created equal. Let’s take a look at the different types of gutter guards for your home.

  • Screen gutter guards have large holes that keep out leaves and other large debris. Gutter screens are an affordable DIY option but must be slid under the bottom row of roof shingles. 
  • Mesh gutter guards have small holes that filter water while blocking debris. Typically made of metal or PVC, they are installed like screen gutter guards, attached to the fascia, or snapped onto the top of the gutter.
  • Micro-mesh gutter guards are similar to mesh gutter guards but with much smaller holes. Micro-mesh guards are perfect for homes with heavy tree coverage and require professional installation.
  • Surface tension gutter guards act as a covering to block debris from your gutter system. Also known as reverse-curve gutter guards, water flows over the top of the guard and around a downward curve before dropping into the gutter beneath.
  • Foam gutter guards are an easy-to-install DIY option for homeowners who do not want to spend a lot of money on gutter guards. The downside? Debris easily builds up on top of foam gutter guards.
  • Brush gutter guards look like pipe cleaners that sit inside your gutter system. Brush gutter guards are another cheap DIY option, but tend to be high maintenance because small debris can easily get stuck in the bristles.
  • PVC gutter guards are popular among homeowners because they resemble professionally installed gutter guards but are much more affordable. PVC covers snap onto your gutter system, which tends to perform better than foam and brush guards that are placed inside the gutter.
  • Perforated gutter guards are long sheets of metal with holes that allow water to flow through. Typically made of aluminum, perforated gutter guards block medium to large debris to prevent clogged gutters.

Benefits of Gutter Guards

Regardless of the style you choose, the benefits of installing gutter guards are extensive. By installing guards, homeowners significantly reduce the amount of gutter maintenance needed on their homes.

They Protect Your Home

Plain and simple, clogged gutters are a problem for homes. Overflowing gutters caused by heavy rains can mean serious damage to the integrity of your home. 

Mold and Mildew Development

Mold and mildew are not good for your house or your health. Clogged gutters push water underneath the sides of your home or onto the roof where housing materials are susceptible to rot. Mold and mildew can easily form within your home, which is dangerous for residents with respiratory conditions.

Foundation Damage

Clogged gutters and downspouts contribute massively to foundation damage. When water pours out of gutters, it pools around your foundation causing erosion and foundation cracks.

Roof Damage

Trapped water can get under the roof coating, damaging your roof’s surface and rotting the wooden fascia boards your gutters are mounted to. Damage to your roof can also lead to water leaks on the inside of your home.

Basement Flooding

Have you walked around your home and noticed small trenches on the ground under your roofline? This occurs when rainwater continuously hits the turf underneath clogged gutters. If your basement walls have cracks, water from these trenches can seep into the basement and cause flooding.

They Prevent Infestations

Stagnant water and clogged gutters are attractive breeding grounds for vermin and insects, such as birds, mosquitoes, snakes, mice, squirrels, and spiders. Gutter guards not only reduce the amount of stagnant water and blockage in your gutters but also become a physical barrier between animals and the roofline of your home.

They Reduce the Need for Gutter Cleaning

Gutter cleaning is a miserable and dangerous job, especially if you have a two-story home or steep roof. Without gutter guards, you’ll likely have to call a pro to perform periodic cleanings. 

Depending on the type of gutter guard you install, you can significantly reduce the frequency at which your gutters need to be cleaned. Even though debris can still build up on gutter covers, it can typically be removed easily with a broom or leaf blower.

They Prevent Premature Rust and Corrosion

Moisture-laden debris that rests in your gutters for an extended period of time can cause gutter systems to prematurely rust and corrode. Gutter guards are designed to prevent leaves, pine needles, and other organic debris from accumulating in gutters, which will help prevent corrosion and rust from forming.

They Reduce the Likelihood of Fire

For homeowners in regions prone to bushfires, gutter guards can help with fire protection. Gutter guards act as a physical barrier between flying embers and any dry debris that may be built up in your gutters.

They Help Alleviate Ice Dams

During the winter, stagnant water can be a big problem for homeowners. When the water freezes, it causes destructive ice dams to form. Ice dams can lead to water damage to your roof and shorten the lifespan of your roof and gutters. While gutter guards do not directly prevent ice dams, they do stop debris blockage, which may make ice buildup less severe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gutter Guards

How Long do Gutter Guards Last?

Gutter guards typically last up to 20 years, depending on the type you choose to install. For example, aluminum and steel guards last longer than plastic or foam but tend to be more expensive. Other factors affecting gutter guard durability include:

  • Rainfall
  • Temperature
  • Tree debris
  • Moss build-up
  • Quality
  • Maintenance

Can a Homeowner Install Gutter Guards Without Professional Help?

While the idea of saving money might appeal to you, undertaking this task on your own could cost you more in the long run. Inexperienced homeowners can: 

  • Cause roof damage, which may void the roof warranty and cause leaks
  • Become overwhelmed with the size of the job
  • Incorrectly install gutter guards
  • Damage existing gutters

Do Gutter Guards Cause Ice Dams?

A common misconception about gutter guards is that they cause ice dams. Other factors, such as poor insulation and ventilation in your home’s roof are the leading causes. However, improperly maintained gutters with gutter guards can contribute to ice dams. Remember: Gutter guards should be checked for debris every couple of years to ensure effectiveness.

Final Word on Gutter Guards

Gutter guards can be a solid investment that save time and cost on gutter maintenance, but they can also be tricky to install. If you’re interested in installing gutter guards, reach out to one of our home improvement specialists for a consultation. 

Main Image: Thomas & Dianne Jones / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Whitney Lehnecker

Whitney Lehnecker

A native of Ohio, Whitney Lehnecker is a career journalist and newspaper designer. She now lives in Central Florida with her husband and two pups, Goose and Bindi.