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Damn Ice Dams: Gutter Guard Snow and Ice Tests Continue

February 10th, 2011 8 comments
Gutter Rx perforated gutter guard

GutterRx sheds ice & snow

The most expansive winter storm on record has passed, electrical power has been restored, kids are back in school, and the trees and limbs that snapped like toothpicks under the weight of enveloping ice and snow are being cut up and hauled away to become next year’s firewood.

Even though most of us are tired of the snow and ice and yearn for warmer weather, it is clear that homeowners from Massachusetts to Texas are looking for a solution to ice dams. To learn about the causes of and remedies for ice dams, read our informative February 2010 blog article, “Let it Snow, Ice and Rain.

leaf relief gutter guard

Leaf Relief has most snow & ice accumulation

If you have been following our gutter guard testing and review videos on YouTube, you have seen that we are currently reviewing several gutter guards to understand how they perform in snow and ice during the winter months. For this installment, we shot photos of the gutter guards instead of video. To recap, we are testing micro mesh gutter screens by Leaf Solution, Leaf Filter, and Diamond Back; perforated metal screens from Leaf Relief and Gutter Rx; a plastic perforated screen from Amerimax, and a handful of expanded metal and aluminum screens. We also added open cell foam gutter inserts from GutterFill and Leaf Defier to the gutter guard review.

On a testing note, we shuffled the gutter guards around in an attempt to provide more accurate test results. Leaf Solution had greater exposure to the elements than LeafFilter, which was protected by a dormer that sits a few feet up the roof, so we moved Leaf Filter to a similar position as Leaf Solution on the opposite side of the dormer. We added foam gutter filters from GutterFill and Leaf Defier in LeafFilter’s former position.

Leaf Solution micro mesh screen

Little ice remains on Leaf Solution gutter guard

We also moved GutterRx to an outside position at the opposite end of the gutter from Leaf Solution, and we changed its orientation by sliding it under the first course of shingles. By installing Gutter Rx at an angle, it will be in contrast to Leaf Relief, which has to be installed flat in the gutter.

Since we last reported in January, this region has received more ice than snow, which, when combined with high winds, did a number on trees and power lines. While power was out for several days and uprooted trees dotted the landscape, the overall impact of ice on the gutter guards was negligible.

Here are our findings, one week after the onset of the ice and snow storm:

Leaf Solution High Flow micro mesh gutter guard

Leaf Solution High Flow free of ice and snow

• Virtually all the snow and ice had melted off of the Leaf Solution micro mesh gutter guard. There was a very small amount of ice remaining in one area on the gutter guard surface, but the majority of the surface had no snow or ice on it. Since the gutter guard was installed under the shingles, the slope is significant enough that snow and ice melted more quickly because it had more exposure to the sun than gutter guards that were positioned flat or nearly flat in the gutter.

Leaf Solution High Flow micro mesh gutter guard was ice and snow free. Also installed under the shingles, and incorporating a larger weave screen than the standard Leaf Solution, melting snow and ice had no trouble passing through the screen into the gutter.

GutterFill gutter filter

GutterFill gutter filter with snow & ice sitting on top surface

• New additions to the test, GutterFill and Leaf Defier had a 3/8″ to one-half inch layer of ice sitting on top of the gutter filters. The ice spanned the length of the gutter filters, and covered the majority of the top surface area.

LeafFilter had a 3/4″ to one-inch layer of snow and ice that covered the entire length and width of the gutter screen surface. Since LeafFilter sits within the gutter rather than under the shingles, its slope is not as steep as Leaf Solution, so the snow and ice accumulated and was slower to melt off the screen.

Leaf Relief is still recovering from the last round of snow, as additional snow and ice collected on the surface area–encroaching on the asphalt shingles. Since Leaf Relief was installed flat in the gutter, it has accumulated the most snow and ice, which is melting more slowly than the other gutter guards.

Leaf Filter micro mesh gutter screen

LeafFilter screen hidden under ice and snow

• The black diamond pattern expanded metal gutter screen was free of snow and ice after one week. What had melted off the surface had either washed through or refroze inside the gutters. Its black paint scheme and porous surface helps snow and ice melt more quickly from the surface.

Amerimax 86270 is holding its own. The plastic screen hasn’t collapsed under the weight of ice and snow, and most of the ice had melted off of its white, reflective surface.

• The snow and ice on the Diamondback micro mesh screen had mostly melted. You can see in the picture that there is some remaining slushy ice resting between the roof shingles and the gutter guard. You can also see the water pattern on the screen that shows it is mostly wet. At the time we took the photos, it was snowing, so the snow had melted on the screen surface and filled the small openings.

Expanded metal gutter guard

Expanded metal gutter guard is ice free

LeaFree was clear of any snow and ice at this point in the test and was operating normally.

GutterRx was also free of snow and ice in our latest test. In the previous test, when Gutter Rx was installed flat in the gutters, it had accumulated a fair bit of snow and ice on its surface. Since moving and reinstalling it at the same pitch as the roof, this gutter guard shed all of the ice and snow off of its surface.

Conclusion
Top performers in this snow and ice test were Leaf Solution High Flow, the black expanded metal screen, LeaFree and GutterRx gutter guards because they were completely free of ice and snow one week after the storm. All the other gutter guards had a nominal to significant amount of snow and ice remaining on the top surfaces. The bottom performers, with the most snow and ice remaining on the gutter guard surfaces, were Leaf Relief and LeafFilter. These two products reside within in the gutter opening rather than under the shingles. LeafFilter has a gentle built-in slope and Leaf Relief is completely flat, resulting in the most snow and ice accumulation.

Gutter Guards Snow and Ice Video Review

January 25th, 2011 No comments

We have a pretty good sense about how gutter guards perform during the spring, summer and fall, but how do they stand up in the winter when temperatures drop below freezing and it’s snowing outside? Do gutter guards produce icicles? Will gutter guards collapse under the weight of snow and ice? Are exposed gutters less susceptible to the build-up of snow and ice than gutters that have gutter guards installed?

I spent time recently looking into these issues and recorded my experiences in a series of YouTube videos.

We tested micro mesh gutter guards from Leaf Solution, LeafFilter and Diamondback; a solid/reverse curve gutter guard from LeaFree; Amerimax’s popular plastic diamond pattern screen (model #86270); two perforated aluminum gutter screens from Leaf Relief and GutterRx, and a generic expanded metal screen. We also kept a portion of the gutter exposed to the elements to see how it would compare to the tested gutter guards.

Watch the videos in sequence to see how the gutter guards perform!

Testing Gutter Guards in Snow and Ice Introduction

Installing Gutter Guards for Snow and Ice Test

Gutter Guards Tested with Snow and Ice Loads

Gutter Guard Snow and Ice Test Results

We will keep the gutter guards installed for the winter, and will post updates and new videos when conditions change.

Will Perforated Gutter Guard Screens Keep Debris Out of Your Gutters?

November 30th, 2010 1 comment

I recently received an inquiry from a homeowner in California with the following questions:

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.

Q. Do I need to be concerned about debri[s] getting through the holes?

A. Absolutely. The measure of a gutter guard’s effectiveness will be the warranty provided by the manufacturer. Some products offer warranties on the material only and nothing on performance, while others offer it on performance and material. I would select a gutter guard from a manufacturer that includes a performance warranty. That pretty much rules out products from Home Depot and Lowe’s, and will require you to seek products from building supply distributors such as ABC, Lansing, Norandex, etc. If a product has a performance warranty, then that means the product has either been tested to show that it won’t clog or the manufacturer is so confindent in their product that its failure rate will be extremely low. Performance warranties are either going to mean that the gutters will be professionally cleaned at the manufacturer’s expense if they clog or they will offer a money-back guarantee.

Q. Will organic matter get through the perforated holes and turn into muck and and evenatully clog my drain several years from now?

Manufacturers of perforated metal gutter guards and gutter screens believe that the amount of debris that enters the gutter will not cause the gutters to clog. Most clogs are caused by leaves and debris blocking the mouth of the downspout, so while these products will allow some debris to enter, the right product will probably keep enough debris out that it won’t clog. There are plenty of screens that will clog, so this is by no means a blanket statement to say that none of these products will clog. If this is a concern, make sure to select a product with a performance guarantee.

Q. 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?

A. It really depends on the severity of the problem. First off, make sure that your gutters have been thoroughly cleaned and hosed out before installing a gutter protection system. All too often, we see gutters that were not properly cleaned, and the organic matter that was left behind caused a problem down the road. If your gutters clog after installing the new gutter guards, then you know the guards aren’t working, and you’ll need to invest in a better brand.

If you are okay with occasionally cleaning your gutters by installing a screen that will allow debris penetration, then I would recommend using a hose with a high-pressure nozzle and spraying out the gutters. Start at the high end of the gutter — away from the downspout — and push the debris towards the downspout. Most debris will wash through down the downspout, but if anything gets lodged at the downspout mouth, remove the section(s) near the downspout and clean that area by hand. Then stick the hose into the downspout and push any remaining debris through the downspout. If the downspout goes into an underground drainage system, you’ll want to intercept the debris before it goes underground either by catching it while it’s still in the gutter or by removing a section of the downspout at ground level.

Q. Can wood shakes be damaged by inserting the gutter guard under the shake?

It depends on the age and condition of the shingles, how tightly they fit against the roof sheathing, and where they are nailed in relation to the roof edge. The best way to find out is to try to insert the gutter guards in a couple of places to see how they fit. I would pick a spot that has the biggest drop from the roof line to the edge of the gutter. Generally, this is the area closest to the downspout. While asphalt shingles are pliable, any sigificant upward pressure on shakes could cause them to break or wear prematurely. Alternatively, there are gutter guards that are installed within the gutter only and do not slide under the shingles. Two popular brands are Gutter RX by GP Industries and Leaf Relief by Alcoa Aluminum.

Both GutterRX and Leaf Relief are designed to sit within the gutter opening, which means that they don’t slide under the shingles; however, Gutter RX can also be installed at an angle in many applications, so this offers a distinct advantage over Leaf Relief, which has to be installed flat in the gutter in order to work. One caveat to this is that if roof shingles — primarily asphalt shingles — curl into the gutter, it will be difficult to install Gutter RX at an angle due to the downward pressure from the shingles.

I’m a fan of GutterRX. It’s affordable — we sell it — and it is easy to install. It includes a 20-year no clog warranty in which the manufacturer will pay to have your gutters cleaned if they clog. Leaf Relief comes in 10-foot lengths, so it can be difficult to work with. It has a 10-year money back warranty that is prorated in years 6-10.