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Are Gutter Guards Worth It?

Today, we answer the age old question: are gutter guards worth it?  The concept of gutter guards has been around since 1891, but over the years many different variations of guards have become available. Gutter guards were designed to take the headache out of gutter maintenance, namely by keeping leaves and debris out of your gutters. But do they really work?

Types of Gutter Guards

The most common gutter accessories are gutter guards and gutter helmets. Both gutter guards and helmets are designed to help reduce how much you have to clean your gutters. Although they both promise similar benefits, the design and look is a bit different with each.

Close up image of debris in gutter system with title that reads: The difference between gutter guards and helmets

Benefits of Gutter Guards

Gutter guards are probably the most commonly used attachment for keeping gutters clear.  Gutter guards are often made of mesh or a perforated sheet of metal and are designed to sit inside the top of your gutter so you can’t actually see them from the ground.  Therefore, they won’t change the aesthetic of your home, which is a great bonus.  The idea is pretty simple; the gutter guard mesh will stop any leaves or debris from entering into the gutter system and prevent them from clogging up. The mesh design will also allow water to pass through unobstructed.

Benefits of Gutter Helmets

Gutter helmets attach to the top of your gutters and sit slightly raised which makes them visible from the ground.  Since they change the look of your gutters, we recommend painting them to match your gutter color for a more seamless look. Unlike gutter guards, gutter helmets are not perforated, so they don’t have any holes or mesh that allow water to pass through. Instead, they rely on a small gap on the side of the gutter (between the helmet and the top of your gutter) that allows water to enter the gutters, but stops any leaves and debris from getting into the gutter system.

Do Gutter Guards Actually Work?

There are absolutely pros and cons to installing gutter guards or gutter helmets on your home. Like many items or features related to home improvement, it really depends on your individual house and the surrounding foliage. The biggest problem with the gutter guard mesh system is that it doesn’t actually stop the clogging within your gutters. All it’s really doing is changing where the clogging happens.  Rather than leaves getting into the gutter, they’ll sit on top which usually leads to drainage issues.  This isn’t a huge deal but it’s important to understand that gutter guards are not the maintenance free system they promise to be.  You will still need to go up and clean off the top of the gutter guards a couple times a year or hire someone to do this for you.

A hand cleaning out gutters by grabbing a bunch of leaves with gloves on

Gutter Guards and Ice Damming 

If you live in a colder climate where it snows regularly there’s an even bigger issue that should caution you against gutter guards and gutter helmets: ice damming.  Ice damming is a build up of ice on the eaves of a home. As snow melts it will trickle down and reach the eaves where it will freeze again.  This can form a shelf of ice which can actually be very damaging to your home if not addressed appropriately.  

Ice damming can happen whether you have gutter guards or not. However, because gutter helmets and gutter guards create a sort of “ceiling” for your gutters you are much more likely to experience this issue when they are present. Ice damming can cause water damage to your siding and even appear as a roof leak, which will cause interior damage. If you happen to live in a colder climate like Colorado, have a north facing home, or your house is heavily shaded by trees, then gutter guards and helmets would not be recommended.

Should I Get Gutter Guards or Gutter Helmets?

So, are gutter guards worth it? As a Colorado company, we typically advise our clients against making the investment into gutter guards or helmets.  In our experience, the benefits of these gutter accessories just don’t outweigh the potential damage and issues they can cause.  If you do decide to move forward with gutter guards be sure to use a company you trust and consider placing the guards strategically on your home to avoid any potential mishaps.