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Is there such thing as a maintenance-free gutter guard?

February 11th, 2009 No comments

The short answer is maybe, but not likely. The reality is that most gutter guard systems will require maintenance at some point, and certain systems will require more maintenance than others. 

Take a look around your yard. How many trees do you have? What types of trees are they? What kinds of leaves and seeds do they drop in the spring, summer and fall? How close do the trees sit to your home? Once you answer these questions, then you can begin to figure out how often a gutter guard system will need maintenance and how you’ll get this accomplished. 

If you have trees surrounding your home, odds are that you’ll have to maintain your gutters and gutter guards more frequently. In addition to addressing how the trees affect your gutters, this is also a good time consider pruning tree branches away from your gutters and roof. By letting tree limbs dangle over your roof, you’ll be more likely to sustain roof damage from storms and your shingles may age prematurely from algae and moss build-up that results from too much moisture and shade. If you have fewer trees, or they don’t obstruct the gutters, then it may be less of an issue. The amount of air flow around your gutters can also play a role. If you have consistent winds, these can help remove debris that falls onto your roof and gutter guards. If there is little breeze, then it’s more likely you’ll have to occasionally sweep the gutter guard and roof surfaces.

The key is to find a gutter guard system that will cause you the least amount of ongoing maintenance. If you have pine or fir trees that drop needles, Oak, Maple, Ash and Locust trees that produce seeds and small leaves, then you’ll want to consider investing in a micro screen system.

Most gutter guard manufacturers offer warranties for their products against clogging. Clogging is generally defined as debris getting into your gutters, preventing water from flowing into the downspouts. Gutter guard dealers worth their salt will back-up the manufacturer warranties and be willing to visit your house to clean the gutter guards and gutters for you when they clog. The micro-screen gutter guards have the advantage of not allowing debris to enter the gutters, so you’re less likely to need to have these cleaned after they have been installed. However, warranties do not address build up on the top-side of the gutters, and this is something that you may want to discuss with the dealer before they install them. As a practical matter, some debris will stick to the gutter guard surface — especially when wet. In most cases, when debris dries, the wind will carry it away. Exceptions may be in valleys where large amounts of debris can collect. Depending on your tolerance and the height of the gutters off the ground, you may be able to sweep this debris off with a broom attached to a telescoping handle. You can also spray the gutter guard surface with a hose or leaf blower to remove loose debris and residue. The higher your gutters, the more likely that the wind will self-clean the surface for you. If your home is tucked away under a bunch of trees and you have a limited amount of wind at the surface level, then you may want to contract with your installer or a handyman to inspect and clean the gutter guard and roof surfaces as needed.

What may be maintenance-free for your neighbor may not apply to you, so be sure to find out how your installer handles these situations to ensure that you know what you’re getting into before you sign the contract to have your gutter guards installed.