The Pros and Cons of Gutter Guards

gutter guards on a plain surface

Gutter cleaning is no fun. It’s messy, dirty, and even dangerous as it involves climbing a ladder. Luckily, there’s a way to avoid this dreary task. Many homeowners turn to gutter guards to significantly reduce or even eliminate the need to clean their gutters. But are they worth it? Let’s delve into all the pros and cons of gutter guards to help you decide.

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What Is a Gutter Guard?

For your gutters to function at their best, they require regular cleaning, maintenance, and care. But you might not have the time, inclination, or desire to take up such tasks. That’s where gutter guards come in.

A gutter guard – also named gutter cover, gutter helmet, and gutter screen – covers the top of your gutters and allows water to glide through while trapping twigs, leaves, and debris. Without it, your gutters can get clogged, leading to water damage, mold, foundation damage, basement flooding, and soil erosion around your home. 

Gutter guards come in various styles, sizes, and materials, allowing you plenty of options to choose from.

Types of Gutter Guards

  • Micro-mesh gutter guards: These are metal sheets with tiny holes that attach to your roof’s shingles and cover the gutters.
  • Reverse curve gutter guards: This variety directs the water downward while pushing the leaves to the ground.
  • Bottle brush gutter guards: These gutter guards are made of bristles that stand up straight on the inside of the gutters. The debris gets caught on top while the water can easily flow through.
  • Screen gutter guards: Screen gutter guards are the most common type because they are easy to install, budget-friendly, and adaptable to any roof.
  • Foam gutter guards: This type of gutter guard is actually made of plastic. It fits on the inside of your gutters and keeps out debris.

Gutter Guard Materials

Steel gutter guard installed on roof of house with leaves over it.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
  • Stainless steel: This material is used to make reverse-curve, micro-mesh, and screen gutter guards. It is one of the most durable options, but it’s also expensive. Stainless steel holds its own against corrosion, rust, and extreme temperatures.
  • Copper: Copper makes highly durable, rust- and corrosion-resistant micro-mesh and screen gutter guards. However, they are generally more expensive and harder to find than other varieties.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum is an affordable material that makes lightweight screen and micro-mesh gutter guards. Though aluminum isn’t as sturdy as stainless steel or copper, durability isn’t of particular concern if your home doesn’t have overhanging branches that could pierce or dent your gutter guards.
  • Plastic: Plastic is used to make gutter guard frames. Some brush gutter guards are made of aluminum or stainless steel, with their bristles manufactured from polypropylene.
  • Foam: Foam gutter guards are made strictly from foam. The foam block allows water to flow through while trapping debris. Though foam is budget-friendly and durable, it is sensitive to mold.

Are Gutter Guards Worth the Money?

There’s no denying that gutter guards make life easier when it comes to home maintenance. They catch all types of unwanted materials that could creep into your gutters, preventing damage, pest infestations, and other issues. While they may not be completely debris-proof, they do their job of protecting your gutter system.

But even the sturdiest, most durable gutter guards don’t completely eliminate the need to clean your gutters. Rather, they reduce the number of times you’ll need to check for buildup or pay someone to do it for you.

In short, gutter guards are certainly worth adding to your gutter system. But they’re not perfect, so should you invest in such a product? Let’s find out why or why not.

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Pros of Gutter Guards

There are many reasons to invest in gutter guards to protect your gutter system.

Saves Time and Money on Maintenance

Without gutter guards, you’ll eventually need to either clean your gutters yourself or pay someone to do it for you. This costs time and money you could be spending doing something else. 

Gutter guards don’t allow leaves and debris to enter your gutters. While they’re not completely foolproof, they’re significantly easier to clean than gutters. By investing in a good gutter protection system, you’ll reduce the frequency of gutter cleanings by a large percentage.

Fewer Pest Infestations

In addition to maintaining gutters clean, gutter guards stop mice, spiders, mosquitoes, bats, squirrels, and other insects from breeding in your gutter system. 

Gutter guards help make your home less attractive to wildlife and vermin by minimizing the amount of standing water in your gutters. Plus, they act as a barrier to birds, rodents, and possums which would otherwise find their way behind your fascia boards and into the roof area of your home.

Reduces Risk of Gutter Freezing and Ice Dams

Another way gutter guards help is by preventing ice dams and gutter freezing. Water that gets trapped in your gutters over winter can freeze and lead to ice dams. An ice dam is a block of ice that forms on the edge of a roof and prevents rainwater or melting snow from flowing off the roof. While gutter guards don’t directly prevent ice dams, they ensure you have clean, unclogged gutters so water can easily flow through.

Excellent Fire Protection

Gutter guards provide fire protection, a benefit you should consider if you live in an area prone to wildfires. When a fire breaks out, embers can travel a long distance. If they come into contact with dry debris, twigs, and leaves accumulated in your gutters, they can quickly ignite your home. Certain gutter guards act as a physical barrier between embers and gutter debris.

Reduces Corrosion and Rust

Your gutters can corrode and rust if they’re constantly filled with moist leaves and debris. To prevent that, gutter guards don’t allow pine needles, twigs, and debris to accumulate in your gutters. 

Better Water Flow

To protect your home from moisture, water should easily flow through your gutters and downspouts. Gutter guards boost water flow by keeping your gutters free of debris. They also fill rainwater tanks more quickly and keep the water clean.

plastic guard over new dark plastic gutter
Photo Credit: inga / Canva Pro / License

Cons of Gutter Guards

Gutter guards can certainly make your life easier, but they’re not without drawbacks. Here is what you should know before buying gutter guards.

Not Completely Foolproof

Even with gutter guards on your gutters, your gutters can still become clogged. This is because gutter guards mainly prevent large debris from infiltrating your gutters. Over time, you’ll require professional cleaning services to remove smaller debris and maintain the effectiveness of your gutters.

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Requires Maintenance

Gutter guards require occasional cleaning, which may be a time-consuming and difficult process. On average, cleaning or checking your gutter guards should be done once or twice a year (more if you live in a storm-prone area). This is not an easy task, especially if you have a two-story home. If you have health problems or trouble climbing a ladder, consider contacting a professional for the services you require.

Easily Dented

Gutter guards can be dented or damaged by a number of things, including:

  • Ladders that are placed against the guards
  • Large hail ice chunks as a result of storms
  • Falling tree limbs
  • Someone that inadvertently causes damage while performing another job

Before making a decision about repair or replacement, you’ll need to assess the damage.

If your gutter guard can still be repaired, make sure the repair material matches the original as closely as possible. When removing a particular section, try not to disturb any roof shingles if your guards extend below them. Cut the new material according to your needs and follow up by forming it and splicing it in as needed.

If your gutter guards are beyond repair, purchase new ones at any home improvement supply store in your area, making sure your selection matches your needs.

Can Cause Gutter Sagging

If you don’t regularly clean your gutter guards, the buildup weight can cause sagging in your gutters, water overflow, and even foundation damage.

Visually Unappealing

Gutter guards aren’t the most visually attractive element of a home. If curb appeal is important to you, gutter guards may take away from that.

Can Void Your Roof Warranty

Some gutter guards may need to be slid under your roof shingles, which may compromise the integrity of your roof and void your roof warranty.

FAQ About Gutter Guards

Do gutter guards still work in heavy rain?

Gutter guards can handle heavy rain, as long as you choose the right ones. If you live in an area prone to heavy rainfall, consider investing in a gutter guard system that is made from sustainable, recyclable materials and has a competitive price point.

How often should I clean my gutters if I have gutter guards?

Regardless of what type of gutter guards you have, you should clean your gutters twice a year.

When is the best time of year to install gutter guards?

When it comes to gutter protection, it’s never too late to install gutter guards, though August or September are considered the best months for installation. Why? Because you’ll be prepared for a heavier volume of debris and leaves that might enter your gutters in early fall.

Call a Professional

While gutter guard installations can be a DIY job, it’s best to leave the work to a qualified installer if you have a complex roof or you’re uncomfortable climbing a ladder.

At MyGutterGnome, we can connect you with a top-rated pro to handle your project from start to finish. They can help you pick the right gutter guards for your home, complete the professional installation, and provide maintenance information.

You’ve got gutter and gutter guard questions. We’ve got answers.

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Main Image Credit: Stilfehler / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Andie Ioo

In my free time, I enjoy traveling with my husband, sports, trying out new recipes, reading, and watching reruns of '90s TV shows. As a way to relax and decompress, I enjoy landscaping around my little yard and DIY home projects.