Gut­ter Guards: Are they worth the cost,

Are they worth the cost?

The Progress-Index Weekend - - LIFESTYLES - By Laura Firszt Laura Firszt writes for net­worx.com.

One of the least pop­u­lar home­owner “honey-do” tasks — right up there with toi­let scrub­bing or cat lit­ter emp­ty­ing — is (yuck!) gut­ter clean­ing. You could in­stall gut­ter guards as a way to sim­plify this an­noy­ing chore, but are they re­ally worth the cost? Let’s take a look at what gut­ter guards are, ex­actly, and what they can do for your home.

First, what’s a gut­ter for? And why does it need clean­ing?

A gut­ter is a trough made of metal or vinyl that edges the bot­tom of your roof. Of­ten called “rain gut­ters,” th­ese de­vices col­lect rain and melted snow run­ning off your roof and chan­nel them safely away from your home’s foun­da­tion, via a type of tube known as a “down­spout.” Un­for­tu­nately, rain gut­ters also tend to col­lect what we sci­en­tif­i­cally re­fer to as “gunk.” Here are some un­wanted items that of­ten end up in gut­ters: fallen leaves tree branches and twigs pine nee­dles seeds (which, left alone, may even­tu­ally sprout into baby plants right there in the gut­ter) moss dust and dirt pollen nests – home to birds, wasps or small ro­dents an­i­mal drop­pings ten­nis balls and other toys

With­out reg­u­lar gut­ter clean­ing, all th­ese things can block your gut­ters and even­tu­ally pre­vent wa­ter from drain­ing off through the down­spout sys­tem as in­tended. In­stead, it will end up soak­ing into your fas­cia boards, walls, and/or foun­da­tion, where it may do thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of dam­age and even threaten the struc­tural in­tegrity of your home.

In win­ter, wa­ter backup will freeze, re­sult­ing in ice dams which can tear off the gut­ter in­stal­la­tion, down­spout, fas­cia, etc. What are gut­ter guards?

De­signed to min­i­mize gut­ter clean­ing, gut­ter guards are cov­ers which keep out de­bris and al­low rain­wa­ter and snowmelt to flow freely through your gut­ters. They can be in­cluded in the gut­ter in­stal­la­tion or retro­fit­ted at a later date.

There are five ba­sic types of gut­ter guards:

• Screen gut­ter guards are the com­mon­est and cheap­est type, which are un­com­pli­cated to in­stall as a DIY project. Just cut PVC or alu­minum screen­ing to the di­men­sions you need and drop or slide it into place. How­ever, stan­dard screen gut­ter guards don’t fil­ter out small­ish items like pine nee­dles.

• Foam gut­ter guards are ex­tremely por­ous foam strips that are in­serted in the gut­ter. Wa­ter passes read­ily through the foam, but solids are trapped on top. Th­ese are su­per sim­ple for the home handyper­son to put in place.

• Brush gut­ter guards work sim­i­larly to foam. Place them in­side the gut­ter and they’ll al­low wa­ter to pass through, yet trap any solid par­ti­cles in their bris­tles. This is an­other ex­cel­lent do-it-your­self choice.

• Mi­cromesh gut­ter guards have tiny holes, ca­pa­ble of fil­ter­ing out al­most every size of de­bris. They should be in­stalled by an ex­pe­ri­enced roof­ing pro, ei­ther mounted un­der your roof shin­gles or at­tached to your fas­cia and to your gut­ter. For dura­bil­ity, choose sur­gi­cal stain­less steel mesh.

• Sur­face ten­sion gut­ter guards are curved cov­ers that guide wa­ter into the rain gut­ters, while solids slide harm­lessly off the guards and onto the ground. Once again, find a pro­fes­sional roofer to in­stall th­ese.

Do gut­ter guards elim­i­nate gut­ter clean­ing com­pletely?

The good news is that gut­ter guards can cut down sig­nif­i­cantly on gut­ter clean­ing work … and the clogs that re­sult when clean­ing is ne­glected. The bad news is that they are un­likely to elim­i­nate this job com­pletely from your home main­te­nance check­list.

You will have to bud­get a cer­tain amount of time to re­move rub­bish from the gut­ter guards them­selves. This is a lot less trou­ble than old-school gut­ter clean­ing, though, and only needs to be done every cou­ple of years ... as op­posed to at least twice an­nu­ally with­out gut­ter guards.

The av­er­age cost to in­stall 200 run­ning feet of mid-range gut­ter guards is $1,500-2,000. (Cheap gut­ter guards tend to be poor qual­ity, which may need fre­quent re­pair or re­place­ment.) Do the math and de­cide whether you feel the added con­ve­nience is worth it to you per­son­ally.

Brush

Foam

Sur­face ten­sion

Mi­cromesh

Screen

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