A Comparison: Micro Screen vs. Solid Surface Gutter Guards – Part Two

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  • Arthur Veale

    I read both parts of your blog on gutter screens and fully understand the rainfall and debris debate. Has anything been tested for snow loads, ice dams, etc that happen in the great northwest?

    I usually have large ice dams form on my roof on the north facing side of the house. Will either micro screens or solid surface stand up to this abuse?

    I am planning on gutters this year and do not have any yet or any preconceptions.

    Thank you for your time.

    Arthur

  • Arthur:

    Thanks for reading and for your questions. At this point, we haven’t conducted tests for snow loads, ice dams, etc.

    There is a good article written by a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, that details the causes of and possible remedies for ice dams. Interestingly, he says gutters are NOT the cause of ice dams, but thawing and freezing water in gutters can cause other problems. Here’s a link to the article: http://bct.nrc.umass.edu/index.php/publications/by-title/preventing-ice-dams/.

    Most professional-grade gutter guards are going to standup to the weight of snow and ice. By and large, the products are sturdy when installed correctly. If you opt for a do-it-yourself gutter guard, it’ll be easy to tell what’s going to standup to a lot of weight and what won’t. You should be able to get gutter guard samples before you buy — either online or from a sales rep — to determine which is the sturdiest. It may also be worth asking for references of other homeowners in your area who have had the guards installed on their home for a couple of years.

    Manufacturers are not going to warranty their products against ice dams. It’s too big of a liability issue, although I have seen inferences that certain products my lessen the impact of ice dams.

    The difference between micro screen/micro mesh and solid surface gutter guards is how water enters the gutters. In the case of micro screen gutter guards, water enters the gutters through thousands of tiny holes on the top-side of gutter guards, whereas water flows through open channels at the front edge of solid gutter covers. When snow falls on solid gutter covers, whatever doesn’t melt and stream into the gutter will settle on top of the gutters. It’s common to see icicles form along the front edge of the gutters since water thaws and freezes on the top side of the gutters rather than within. In my opinion, the primary benefit of the solid gutter covers, in this instance, is that the bulk of the snow is kept out of your gutters and will likely thaw and slide off the top of the covers more quickly than ice will thaw inside gutters.

    Assuming the small openings in the screens don’t freeze quickly, water will enter into the gutters from the top and drain. You’ll likely see less build-up above the screen than on the solid gutter guards because water can freely enter the gutters.

    Ultimately, I’m not sure you’re going to see a benefit of one type vs. another, assuming your gutters are equally clean. Water will be handled differently, but it’s still present in some capacity — either inside or on top of your gutters.

    In your case, I’d get the gutter guard that is most suitable for the types of trees that are in your yard. If you have pine and fir trees, you’ll definitely want a micro screen gutter guard because it will keep ALL debris out of your gutters. If debris enters your gutters, they will clog sooner or later and any water that backs-up in the winter will freeze and create an additional weight burden on your gutters. Be sure to ask the manufacturers what their experiences have been with snow and ice build-up and if their products are warranted against damage that may result from those conditions.

    I hope this helps.

    Take care,

    Johnathan

  • Bob

    I would like to see the cost comparison and what particular brands of microscreen you tested. They must have had a suggested retail list price. I have White Pine trees, ash, white oak and a sugar maple on various corners of my house which provide a nasty variety of small stuff which plugs a solid aluminum type leaf guard, and goes through the expanded aluminum mesh of other types. I’ve also tried the flat diamond plastic covers with poor results. I had a sample of Amerimax PVC gutter cover that seemed to work pretty well and was easy to remove for cleaning. Where can I buy a good quality micro-mesh for self installation?

  • Johnathan

    Bob:

    We tested LeafFilter, Leaf Solution, DiamondBack, and Gutter Glove micro screen gutter guards. You can read more about the micro mesh gutter guards in Part One of our comparison within this blog or by selecting the following link: http://guttertalkblog.com/?p=67.

    The micro mesh gutter guards we tested are available through a dealer-installation network, so I’d recommend that you visit the manufacturers Web sites at the links above to see if they have dealers in your area who may be willing to sell them directly to you. LeafFilter is available for purchase for the do-it-yourself market at GutterGuardsDirect.com. Retail prices are typically based on an installed price; however, if you were to purchase the gutter guards without installation, you’d likely be looking at $7-$10 per foot. While this is more than the price you’d pay for gutter guards sold at Home Depot or Lowe’s, it’s about one-half what you’d pay to have the dealers install them for you, so it represents a significant savings for the very best products on the market. For the price difference, you’ll receive professional-grade systems that are much more durable and of higher quality; they WILL keep leaves, pine needles and debris out of your gutters, it should keep you off the ladder for years to come, and the systems also include long-term product and performance warranties that store brands don’t offer.

    As you have found out with store brand gutter guards, they generally don’t work — especially the diamond pattern screens, which are the most common and most prone to failure. The guards are flimsy and the holes are so big that it’ll be just a matter of months before you’ll need to remove them to clean out your gutters. Amerimax’s PVC gutter guard that you mentioned is a vinyl version of a solid reverse curve gutter cover (formerly called Cinch), and it does a pretty good job. However, the opening into the gutter is relatively small, and is subject to clogging with small debris (see photo on blog), so you’ll have to clean debris out of the openings whenever they clog to ensure that water will continue to flow into the gutters. If you are leaning this direction, you may want to buy a handful of sections for your most trouble-prone areas and see how they perform before installing them on your entire house.

    Read our reviews of micro mesh gutter guards to select the product that will best suit your application or give us a call toll-free at 1.800.750.2131 x110 if you have anymore questions.

  • Brian Miller

    Any screen clogging from the sediment coming off the asphalt shingles? Or does that pass through?

  • Thanks for your question, Brian. See our answer to your question in the blog post, “What’s the Scoop on Shingle Sediment?

  • I have large deciduous trees with large and small leaves around my house. How much can wet leaves be expected to adhere to LeafFilter’s screen?

  • Deciduous trees such as Oaks and Maples drop leaves in the fall and Oak tassels and Maple seeds (helicopters) in the spring. As you know, this can really gum up your gutters if they don’t have protection, and the leaves and seed pods will lodge in cheap plastic and expanded metal gutter screens nearly instantly. The good news is the the leaves and debris from any tree will not negatively affect the performance of LeafFilter!

    LeafFilter is no more prone to debris sitting on top of it than any solid gutter cover. While LeafFilter sits on hidden hangers within the gutter, the product has a natural slope built into the design, and the installer or you can adjust the angle of the hidden hangers to provide an even greater slope. The slope of LeafFilter will closely mimic the roof angle if you elect to install it that way.

    The more subtle your roof slope, the more likely leaves and debris will collect on the roof surface and gutter guards. The good thing about the micro mesh screen is that it breathes. By that, I mean that air will circulate on top of and below any debris that collects on the gutter guards since the screen is porous and air can get underneath the debris to create an upward lift. This will actually dry the debris faster than a solid gutter cover, and it’s more likely anything that temporarily sticks to the surface will blow- or be pushed-off during a subsequent rain shower. There’s a chance that you’ll have to sweep some of the debris off the gutter guard surface on occasion, but it depends on other factors such as how much wind you get around your house. The windier it is and the steeper your roof pitch, the less likely you will have to intervene. If you do have to sweep off the surface, the stainless steel micro mesh screen is extremely durable and will stand up to a leaf blower or broom bristles.

    I hope this helps. If you are looking to install the LeafFilter yourself, visit GutterGuardsDirect.com where you can purchase LeafFilter directly online or, if you are looking for a dealer in your market, go to http://www.LeafFilter.com and select the “Where to Buy” link for a dealer near you.

  • Lynn

    I am looking a gutter guard for my concrete roof. After reading your blog, I am interested in LeafFilter. However, LeafFilter does not have dealer in northern California, and I and my husband have no experience installing gutter guard.
    Could I use LeafFilter for a concrete roof? Do I need to get a professional to install LeafFilter? Thank you!
    Lynn

  • A concrete roof, eh?

    Go to the following link, http://gutterguardsdirect.com/contact_us/contact_us.php, to complete a form so I can get in touch with you. Once I get this info, I’ll follow-up with a couple of questions to determine if it’ll work, then I can mail a sample with instructions on how to install. It it works, we can help locate an installer in your area or can sell directly to you.

    Thanks for your question!

    Johnathan

  • Matt

    I just stumbled to this blog and since i was researching Gutter Guards as well. i have look at a lot of companies and other brands as well. I found a company called Gutter Guard-All. Their website is http://www.GutterGuard-All.com It turned out he was local to me and had been in the gutter business for more than 30 and he decided to make his own gutter guard. We installed his gutter guard on my dads house and i will install on my house soon. The guard is $2.00 a foot. so you can easily estimate that cost. He says he has been selling his guard locally for 20 years and just recently started nationally. The same houses he installed 20 years ago still have the original guards on. Its worth checking out.