Archive for August, 2010

Consumer Reports Reviews Gutter Guards: LeafFilter & GutterGlove are Top Picks

August 4th, 2010 10 comments

After years of requests and complaints from Consumer Reports magazine readers, subscribers will be pleased to see that this non-profit product rating organization has finally tested and reported on nearly 20 professional-grade and do-it-yourself gutter guards. Check out the following video to learn more:

It’s no surprise to us that the micro-mesh gutter guard systems from LeafFilter and GutterGlove were top picks. We have found these systems to be superior to solid surface gutter guards both in their ability to handle water and keep leaves and debris out of gutters. (See our July 2009 review)

What we found shocking was that Consumer Reports recommended inexpensive Amerimax gutter screens available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and other home improvement stores as a viable alternative. In fairness to Consumer Reports, it appears from the video above that its test environment wasn’t overly rigorous, which may explain the products’ favorable results. I believe most homeowners who are in the market would agree that the flimsy plastic and metal screens available for under a buck-a-foot are, at best, a Band-Aid approach to solving gutter clogging problems. Any meaningful amount of leaves and debris accumulating on top of these screens and within the gutters will render them useless or more trouble than they’re worth within a relatively short span of time.

Only in America would somebody be able to pass off what amounts to a triangular sponge and oversized pipe-cleaners as gutter protection systems. It surprises me everytime I run into homeowners who believe these products are possible good solutions. It was obvious to Consumer Reports that the foam and pipe cleaner-like inserts are not worth the money or the hassle, so maybe this “official voice” of consumer products reviews will serve as a warning to homeowners across the land to stop buying this stuff!

We receive a lot of inquiries asking about the cost to have professional-grade gutter guards installed on homes. According to Consumer Reports, the average home has 160 feet of gutter and the cost for a professionally installed system ranges between $3,000 and $5,000. In rough dollars, that puts the installed cost at $19-$31 per foot. For that you will receive a lifetime no-clog guarantee and product warranty in addition to having your gutters cleaned and adjusted before the products are installed. In our experience, those costs are on the high side; however, we have also heard of instances where gutter guard dealers attempt to charge as much as $40 per foot! It would be interesting to see if Consumer Reports negotiated the prices they paid or if they simply agreed to the retail prices suggested by the dealers. Generally you should be able to get the top-rated products $15-$20 per foot installed. Prices are going to vary based on the size of your home, how many levels it has, and the level of competition in your market.

To see the results, go to

Consumer Reports Tests Gutters Guards in September 2010 Issue

August 4th, 2010 No comments

Editor note: The following is a copy of Consumer Reports press release announcing its first-ever testing of gutter guard systems. We removed the section summarizing leaf blowers from the press release.

Consumer Reports Finds Lower Prices and Comparable Performance on Leaf Blowers and Gutter Guards in Time for Fall Spruce Ups

Strong Selection for Shoppers Ranging From DIY Gutter Systems and Top Electric Leaf Blowers

YONKERS, N.Y., Aug. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The latest issue of Consumer Reports rates the best leaf blowers and gutter guards to ensure that yards and rain gutters are tidy for the Fall season. More than 2,600 pounds of leaves were blown away by testers to reveal a $60 Toro electric leaf blower that performed comparably to the more powerful and costly gas blowers. Gutter guards were exposed to 480 days of outdoor elements and the Amerimax gutter guards were a top pick for do-it-yourselfers. At .30 cents per foot they beat out many professional installed systems and could save homeowners cash.

“Consumers will find lots of confusing promises out there for leaf blowers and gutter guards,” said Bob Markovich, senior home editor for Consumer Reports. “We found several top-value blowers for both small and larger properties. And we found some big differences in gutter guards when it came to keeping out leaves—and keeping water where it belongs.”

The full report, which features the full ratings on gutter guards and leaf blowers, appears in the September issue of Consumer Reports and online at

Gutter Guards: DIY Systems Beat the Pros

Consumer Reports ran 16 months of outdoor testing to find the best systems to keep gutters leaf free and found that a low-priced screen may be all it takes. Tests included professionally installed and do-it-yourself products sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other major retailers to see how well they kept out maple leaves, pine needles, and other gutter-cloggers.

Consumer Reports testers saw some big differences among types of systems. Most professionally installed systems often use a surface-tension design, where water is supposed to cling to the surface and flow into the gutters while leaves pass over and fall to the ground. Though all were impressive at shedding debris, even the top-scoring LeafFilter screen was only middling at containing a severe downpour.

If homeowners want convenience it will cost them. At $20 to $30 per foot, the professionally installed systems tested would cost $3,000 to $5,000 for roughly 160 feet needed on an average-sized home. But homeowners will pay less than $100 if they install the CR Best Buy Amerimax 85198 or 854054 themselves. They’ll still save a bundled if they add in the roughly $100 to $500 a contractor will change to put in a do-it-yourself system.

Most do-it-yourself gutters guards were easy to install although it’s likely to require climbing on a ladder—a dangerous activity. For inserts, simply cut the foam or bend the brush and press it into the gutter. But none of the inserts were good at keeping out debris. The Raingo RW115 let water pour out over the sides of the gutter.

How to Choose

Inspect the rest of the gutters. Have a pro check for clogs, corrosion, broken fasteners, proper pitch, and gaps between connections and between gutters and fascia boards. The LeafGuard and K-Guard are all-in-one systems that include the gutters and guards, an option if existing gutters are worn.

Pick the right screen. Fine-mesh screens like the top-scoring LeafFilter and Gutterglove Pro outperformed screens with larger holes. But the Gutterglove was relatively pricey and hard to install and isn’t meant for flat or gambrel roofs.

Check the fine print. Be sure that any system won’t void a roof or gutter warranty. Also check suggested maintenance. LeafFilter may need brushing in high-pollen areas and Amerimax must be checked for debris; both of those steps mean climbing a ladder or calling a pro.

Play it safe. Ladder injuries are linked to approximately 200 to 300 deaths and an estimated 200,000 emergency-room visits each year. Use a sturdy Type 1A extension ladder made of fiberglass if working near electrical lines. Always face the ladder when climbing and descending and never go beyond the highest recommended step or reach more than 1 foot to either side of the ladder.

Consumers Union 2010.
SOURCE Consumer Reports