Damn Ice Dams: Gutter Guard Snow and Ice Tests Continue

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.

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  • Unsatisfied Customer

    I purchased and had professionally installed a LeafFilter system on my gutters. Worst decision I ever made. They do not work at all, water constantly rolls over them causing a mess on the house and debris does not blow off as advertised. Also, there is not a money back guarantee – read the fine print. DO NOT buy this product, it’s garbage!

  • Can you expand on why they are not working the way you expected? Why and where is water overflowing? What type of roof do you have (metal, shingle, etc.)? Have you tried to remedy any issues with the installer, and what was their response?

  • Aaron

    Hi,

    Do you have any long-term experience with Leaf Relief beyond these snow trials? We are currently looking for gutter covers and quotes for them to be installed on our current gutters (with some minor repair work on one small part) come in way below the prices of other products where they want to replace all of our gutters and install a whole new system. How do they compare to the microscreen kind? I contacted the Gutterglove folks in our area but was turned off after they were very rude, in one case, and have heard bad things about the other licensed dealer (granted this was second hand).

    Also, do you have any experience with Thompson Creek gutters? They’re a local MD company but install in the DC region (we’re in MD). They are a complete (i.e., include new gutters, downspouts, etc) tension system but have small holes just where the water runs off the shingles onto the top of the hood to supposedly slow the water down so that more of it will catch on the end and be fed into the gutter. One of our issues is that part of our roof is at a 48 or so degree angle and thus the water that runs down it can go quickly and we’re worried some of it might not catch and flow off. This won’t be a big deal in most places, but part of it would be right over our front stoop and we don’t want to soak people (or the stoop and have leaks into the foundation) more than the rain already coming down.

    Any help would be very much appreciated! There are too many products out there and every company claims theirs is the best thing since sliced bread.

  • We have had experience with Leaf Relief. It’s part of a family of perforated metal gutter guards that is manufactured from roll-formed aluminum. Holes are punched into the surface to allow water to flow through to the gutters. There are several similar products on the market, including GutterRx.

    The biggest knock against these systems is that they are designed to be installed flat on top of your gutters. This creates a shelf onto which leaves and debris can accumulate. According to Leaf Relief’s literature, during dry conditions, 6 MPH winds will blow off leaves and debris and 23 MPH winds will do it during rainy conditions.

    Leaf Relief and GutterRx offer warranties against clogging. Leaf Relief offers a 10-year money back, no clog warranty. In the first 5 years, you will get 100% of your money back, and the next five years is prorated. In the case of GutterRx, the manufacturer will pay to have someone clean your gutters at anytime during the 20 year warranty period. The nice thing about these warranties is that it is between the homeowner and the manufacturer (if you receive and hold onto your warranty cards), so if the company who installed them is out of business, you have recourse with the manufacturer.

    Leaf Relief and perforated gutter guards are best suited for situations in which you do not have trees overhanging or too close to your home. Additionally, if you have pine needles that accumulate in your gutters, I would recommend that you steer clear of the perforated metal screens simply because the holes are large enough to allow the needles to pass through into the gutters.

    Leaf Relief is very popular with gutter installers and roofers who are not necessarily up to speed regarding the latest gutter guard offerings on the market. They like Leaf Relief because it is inexpensive and easy to install, and it is a step up from the products you’ll find at your local home improvement store. However, it is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution.

    While the perforated gutter protection systems may work well in certain situations, they do not compare to micro mesh gutter guards in terms of shedding debris and handling large volumes of water. Micro mesh systems were designed to overcome many of the shortcomings of both perforated and hooded style gutter guards.

    You will pay more for micro mesh gutter guards than for perforated gutter guards, but micro mesh screens should be priced in line with most name brand hooded/reverse curve gutter guard systems that you will find from LeafGuard, GutterHelmet, and similar manufacturers. In addition to checking out Gutterglove, other top manufacturers of micro mesh gutter guards are MasterShield, Leaf Solution, Rhino, and LeafFilter. Like all hooded systems work using the physics principle known as Surface Tension, all micro mesh screens are based on the physics principle, Capillary Action. The primary differences are the designs, costs, and installation processes, so it’s worth checking them out to see which might be best suited for you.

    And, you’re right, while they all claim to be the best, it really comes down to the manufacturers’ warranties and the dealers who are responsible for installing and maintaining the systems. Ask to see the warranties before you buy so you can educate yourself on the fine print before signing a contract to purchase.

  • Aaron

    Thanks for such a thoughtful and detailed response; it’s very helpful. Do you happen to have any experience with Thompson Creek gutters?

  • Aaron:

    I don’t have any experience with Thompson Creek Gutters, although a quick Google search shows that they are a reseller for Gutter Shutter, which looks like the product you described. You can learn more about the product at http://www.GutterShutter.com, and research it online to see what homeowners have to say about it.

    Johnathan

  • One of the pictures shows a black diamond shaped “Expanded metal gutter guard is ice free”. Who makes this generic material? Where would I buy some? How was it fastened to the gutters? Thank you.

  • Russell:

    I’m not sure who makes this particular brand of expanded metal guard. You could likely find something similar at a building supply wholesaler such as ABC Supply, Lansing, Senox, etc.

    If you are looking at it because it performed reasonably well in the snow and ice tests, it’s not a great solution for leaves and debris, as the debris may penetrate the system and eventually clog your gutter. Here are photos of what the product and gutters looked like prior to removing it from a home: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.115374828533316.16486.115364118534387