Foam gutter guards, aka gutter sponges or gutter foam, are a type of gutter guard that sits inside the gutter to keep it free from leaves, sticks, and debris. They’re designed to work in a unique manner, which has also made some homeowners question their efficiency.
Let’s see if they’re all that they’re cracked up to be by assessing the pros and cons of foam gutter guards.
- What are Foam Gutter Guards?
- Pros of Foam Gutter Guards
- Cons of Foam Gutter Guards
- FAQ About Foam Gutter Guards
- When to Hire a Gutter Guard Pro
What are Foam Gutter Guards?
Foam gutter guards are open-cell foam inserts that fit inside your gutter. They’re typically made of porous UV-stabilized polyether, polyester, or polyurethane foam.
Their porous design allows rainwater to flow smoothly through the gutter while the foam traps twigs, leaves, and other debris. This keeps the gutters free of clogs.
Foam gutter guards effectively protect your home and roof from water damage and reduce the need for gutter cleaning and maintenance. The sponge-like foam blocks the gutter and leaves no space for twigs, seeds, leaves, and other unwanted junk to build up and choke it. The foam wedges are triangular, typically measuring 8-feet long and 5-inches wide.
The foam collects debris while all the water freely passes into the gutters below. Foam gutter guards are super easy to install and remove from the gutters and are also quite inexpensive.
Pros of Foam Gutter Guards
Foam gutter guards pros include:
Easy to Install
Foam gutter guards are perhaps the fastest and easiest to install out of all the different types of gutter guards. They’re also compatible with all gutter types because you can easily cut to size or shape them as needed.
You also need no tools or fasteners to install gutter guards made of foam. All you might have to do is cut or trim the foam to get the perfect fit or adjust the length slightly. There’s no need for professional installation – making them ideal for DIY-ers and home improvement enthusiasts.
Reduce Gutter Cleaning Frequency
Foam gutter guards conform to the shape and fit snugly in your gutters while they allow water to flow smoothly through them. The upper surface catches all the fallen leaves, seeds, twigs, and debris, even the smallest kind of debris such as pine needles. By doing so, they significantly cut down the need to clean gutters.
One of the biggest pros of having foam gutter guards is that they’re quite inexpensive. This is because the manufacturing costs for foam materials are relatively cheap. Gutter sponges cost as little as $2 per foot and are readily available at any hardware store.
You’ll also save considerably on labor costs as you don’t need a specialist to jam the foam into your existing gutters. So, you don’t have to worry about the hefty costs of gutter protection if you’re opting for foam gutter guards.
Simple Maintenance and Cleaning
Since foam gutter guards are easy to remove, regular cleaning and maintenance become less of a dreaded job. You probably won’t need a professional’s help.
Moreover, these gutter foams have raised ridges that actually blow off lots of debris before you have to clean it. The foam rises higher than the gutter edge, and when the winds are strong enough, they can simply blow some of the junk off it.
Cons of Foam Gutter Guards
A few downsides of installing foam gutter guards include:
Change Shape Over Time
Foam gutter guards are flexible and easy to remove for regular cleanups, but this flexibility might affect their efficiency.
Here’s why: When you remove the foam guards for cleaning, they lose some of their shape every time. Misshapen foam guards don’t fit snugly against the gutter edges and leave spaces for debris and organic waste to settle in. This could result in pollen buildup, weed growth, and mold.
Not Great for All Weather
You will have to remove foam gutter guards if you reside in an area that experiences freezing temperatures. If you don’t, the foam will simply freeze in your gutters and block them. And when the temperature rises in spring, you could find weeds or moss growing in the gutter guards as the temperature rises.
In case of heavy rain, the sponges soak up water, which may then overflow on the roof or sides of your home.
Let Small Debris Pass
Foam gutter guards are porous so that rainwater flows easily through the gutter and downspouts. But this porosity can allow small leaves and debris to lodge in the holes of the foam, obstructing the flow of water.
And over time, the foam fills with a gradual buildup of debris and clogs the gutters altogether. Restricted water flow also means the gutter and the gutter guard system stay moist enough, long enough, to attract insects and mold.
Require Regular Cleaning
Gutter sponges or foam gutter guard systems are not maintenance-free. They require regular cleaning, which may become a hassle. You’ll have to remove them and manually clean the debris out every time.
Foam gutter guards are lightweight and super easy to work with, but they last only two or three years. Even the high-quality material will last for a maximum of five years if properly cared for. Some foam gutter guards aren’t UV-coated, which means an even shorter lifespan.
Simply put, foam gutter guards are not a permanent solution for gutter protection.
FAQ About Foam Gutter Guards
Remove the gutter guards from your gutters and pull large debris from them, if there is any. Then, simply rinse them until you see all the junk clear out of the pores. Dry and wipe them down with algaecide or any other sanitizing solution before putting them back up.
Generally, gutter sponges last 1-3 years before you need to get new gutter guards. They might last longer in areas with warmer climates and places that experience large debris.
If the foam gutter guard is not UV-resistant and your area gets lots of direct sunlight, then there’s a good chance they might become brittle over time. They will become dry and start breaking up if not replaced timely.
When to Hire a Gutter Guard Pro
Foam gutter guards are great at reducing your gutter cleaning, but they might not be worth it for your house. This is why we went over all the good and bad of getting foam gutter guards to help you make an informed decision.
But if you feel like you need a one-on-one consultation before you decide, you can always reach out to a gutter pro near you.
Main Photo Credit: Tom McNiff / LawnStarter