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

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 ConsumerReports.org.

  1. cloudsandskye
    August 16th, 2010 at 20:01 | #1

    I agree that most of the Amerimax products tested by Consumer Reports are not worth bothering with, but I think one of their products, the 85246 (http://www.amerimax.com/pdfs/guttershingle.pdf), looks like it has some merit. It’s metal, low priced and looks like it would keep out anything except shingle granules. I don’t agree with Consumer Reports evaluation of the GutterStuff (http://www.gutterstuff.com) foam insert. I live in Minnesota, had it installed seven years ago, and don’t experience any significant buildup. There are times of the year when there is a temporary buildup of leaves or seeds, but ultimately they dry up and blow away. There’s always a sprinkling of debris on it, but that seems to have no affect on its ability to move water from the roof to the gutter. I have the original version of the product and have to admit it hasn’t weathered well. It seems to have shrunk a bit, possibly from the sunlight, and as a result gaps have developed, so I may replace it next year. I don’t know if I’ll go with a foam insert again, or not, but the latest version of these products are supposedly much more resistant to sunlight than when they first came on the market several years ago. I don’t regret having GutterStuff installed because it was low priced (the whole house was done for about $950) and I haven’t experienced any clogs in seven years. Not everyone can afford $4,000 for the best gutter covers, so sometimes cheap and simple has to be good enough. Prior to the GutterStuff I had the Crane Plastics’ Waterfall product. It was worthless, with all manner of tree seeds getting through the slots in the product to clog the gutter. I ended up removing most of it and giving it away for free.

  2. Bert in Maryland
    September 17th, 2010 at 13:09 | #2

    Any experience/opinion regarding the Alcoa product called Leaf relief?

    It is a perforated aluminum sheet that comes in 10″ sections, it sits about 1/4″ into the gutter, screwed every 16″ to the front of the gutter with a 3/4″ flexible plasticwing in the back that sits up agains the facia board and below the shingles. The perforated holes are approximately 1/8″ in diameter spaced 1/2″ apart.

    I would expect it to pass some of the shingle grains through it and may not absorb as much water as the micromesh, but appears to be a simpler, less expensive solution at about half the cost of the micromesh. Seems like it would cast off/blow off large tree debris and the springtime oak droppings fairly well.

  3. September 17th, 2010 at 14:58 | #3

    We have experience using Alcoa’s Leaf Relief. We have installed it on a few occasions and removed it on a few others. The primary issue with the product is that it sits flat in your gutters. In other words, it has no slope, and, as I have said before, gutter guards need to have a forward slope in order to help shed the debris. If you install it, it will likely keep most of the debris out of your gutters, but, depending on the concentration of trees around your house, leaves will likely accumulate on top of the guard, so you may have to clean the surface every once in a while.

    There are a few other products that are similar and a little easier to handle. There is a new product out by GP Industries called GutterRX that is available in two colors and ships in 6′ lengths. We’re actually selling it to clients who are looking for a less expensive alternative to micro mesh screens and/or don’t need that level of protection. There’s not a lot of data available about its performance, but it has a perforated surface that is wavy rather than flat. The concept is that by having a series of humps, it will create an air pocket below accumulating debris and once it dries, the wind is more likely to blow it off the top surface. According to the manufacturer, it can also be installed at a slight angle without affecting its water handling capabilities. If installed by a contractor, the manufacturer offers a 20-year no-clog guarantee in which they will pay to have your gutters cleaned if they clog, so it’s a way to have your house protected for a fraction of the cost of micro screen systems.

    A caveat with the perforated metal products such as GutterRX and Leaf Relief is that they will not perform well with pine needles and small debris. If that is an issue around your home, you may be better served by upgrading to a micro mesh screen product.

  4. David Ramirez
    November 20th, 2010 at 17:43 | #4

    I’m considering installing a Perforated Metal Gutter Guard on my home gutters. I have a wood shake roof and trees with leaves but no pine needles.
    1) Do I need to be concerned about debri getting through the holes?
    2) Will organic matter get through the perforated holes and turn into muck and and evenatully clog my drain several years from now?
    3) If muck does develop inside the gutter, do I need to remove? What is the best way to remove the muck inside gutter guards that have been screwed on?
    4) Can wood shakes be damaged by inserting the gutter guard under the shake?

  5. Roger Brendemuehl
    January 27th, 2011 at 17:15 | #5

    We had gutter glove installed last fall on our gutters. Now we have terrible ice dams even
    though we use a roof rake to clean the snow off. We never had ice dams before. It is impossible to get all the snow off the gutter glove and what is left freezes, especially in Wisconsin. Now, I hear there is a gutter glove that is heated to melt the snow but no mention was made at the time we purchased gutter glove. I would say do not buy this if
    you don’t want ice dams.

  6. February 8th, 2011 at 10:49 | #6

    Roger,
    I understand your concern. I would like to point out, however, that the purpose of Gutter Protection in general is to keep debris from collecting in your Gutter System. Gutterglove has proven to be one of the most effective products on the market today. Please note, however, that Gutter Protection has never been promoted as a protection against ice and snow and it’s important to note they are not the cause of ice dams.
    Ice Dams are a way of life for many in areas that get heavy amounts of snow and ice, and they form for a variety of reasons. They could be caused by poor insulation, poor ventilation, or from other reasons such as energy loss from sky lights, bathroom fans, vaulted ceilings, melting from the sun, etc. The snow will melt on the roof and flow to the outer edge of the overhang where it is cold, then simply refreezes. This can be somewhat controlled by using a snow rake, but not always.
    Gutterglove IceBreaker was designed to help eliminate the ice build-up in gutters and on the very edge of your roofline and has proven to be effective against ice dams in certain situations. If you have a small overhang and the ice dams typically forms in the gutter, then Gutterglove IceBreaker can be the solution for you. In other cases, especially in valleys and large overhangs, you may need to look at other alternative products in addition to Gutterglove IceBreaker.
    In your particular case you have a low pitched roof with large overhangs. You also have valleys, one over your entrance way and one in the back of your home that have historically caused you ice dam problems in the past. With all due respect, we discussed this when we met. If you will recall, your gutters had to be reinforced with internal hangers as the spike and ferrules holding your gutters system to the fascia , were all loose due to heavy ice build-up in your gutters. Unfortunately, at the time, you were only interested in the getting Gutter Protection against leaves and debris.
    As we discussed over phone, we thank you for your input and we look forward to our meeting to review other possible solutions to your ice dam problems.
    @Roger Brendemuehl

  7. April 2nd, 2011 at 12:28 | #7

    we purchased gutter glove covers, they do keep out alot of junk. BUT alot of water pours over the top of the gutters with alot of rain !!!!!!! we were told after a few weeks the oil would be gone from the mesh cover and then the dripping would stop. well 3 months later and still waiting for gutter to stop dripping.

  8. Chris
    June 28th, 2011 at 11:26 | #8

    I purchased Gutter Gloves and after having them on my gutters for 3 months I can honestly say that they are a waste of money. They give you a brush on an extension pole to clean the mesh, unfortunately if you don’t want the rain to go over the top of your gutters and onto your house you have to brush off the gutter gloves every time it rains. I’d rather clean out my gutters 3 or 4 times a year. They do keep debris out of your gutters, but unfortunately it seems like they keep alot of the rain out of your gutter also. Do not waste your money, especially if you have any trees around your property. Well I just got up on a ladder to clean off the mesh again. Debris not only collects on the mesh, but now it is dried up and you have to climb a ladder and clean off the mesh. Again a waste of money……

  9. Alan
    April 10th, 2014 at 09:52 | #9

    Hey Gutter Guy,
    What are your thoughts on the nylon mesh products like DCI’s Flo-Free? Convex surface, although not continuous coverage from front to back, cost approx. $3/ft. (not installed). Still require cleaning, any risk of organic matter growth on the mesh or in the gutter?

  10. April 16th, 2014 at 09:42 | #10

    Personally, I would steer clear of foam-mesh inserts. We know a lot of homeowners who have purchased and ultimately removed them. They sit mostly flat in the gutter, so it creates a shelf on which leaves and debris can sit, they are very similar to pond and pool filters, which are designed to trap debris and organic matter, and, for that reason, you have to clean it, as needed, in order for the warranty to be valid. For less than 3 bucks a foot you can do better and for less than $5/ft, you can get a top-end microscreen system that is easy to install and will get you out of the gutter cleaning business once and for all. If you’re interested in our aluminum and stainless steel micromesh system, send me an email to info@gutterguardsdirect.com.

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