What Are Gutter Guards?

Gutter Guards are attachments that connect to existing gutters and are designed to prevent debris from entering the gutter trough, ensuring that water can flow freely through the system without obstruction. By acting as a barrier between debris and the gutter channel, Gutter Guards can help mitigate the risk of clogs and the associated water-related problems that can wreak havoc on a home’s structural integrity.

The Gutter Guard attaches to the top of the gutter and acts as a filter, allowing water to pass through while blocking larger debris. This keeps the gutter channels clear and potentially reduces the need for frequent cleaning.

Types of Gutter Guards

Perforated Screen or Mesh Gutter Guards

Mesh Gutter Guard and clogged mesh Gutter Guard

Screen or mesh Gutter Guards are among the most popular options due to their simplicity and effectiveness. These guards consist of a fine mesh or screen that covers the top of the gutter channel. The mesh allows water to flow through while preventing leaves, twigs, and larger debris from entering the gutter.

Screen Gutter Guards are generally easy to install and offer a cost-effective solution to prevent clogs. Mesh Gutter Guards stop smaller debris from entering the gutter; however they can be clogged up due to the fine nature of the mesh (see photo above right), especially with cedar roofs that can produce a sludge-like run off that doesn’t pass through easily. Once the mesh is clogged with dirt and organic debris, the water may spill over the gutter system.

Reverse Curve Gutter Guards

Reverse curve Gutter Guard

Reverse curve Gutter Guards (also referred to as Leaf Guard or Gutter Helmet) utilise a curved design that directs rainwater into the gutter while deterring debris from entering. This design relies on the principle of surface tension to guide water along the curve and into the gutter channel. While effective in preventing larger debris from clogging the gutter, these guards may require periodic maintenance to ensure that smaller particles do not accumulate on the surface.

Foam Gutter Guards

Foam Gutter Guard

Foam Gutter Guards are made from porous foam material that fits directly into the gutter channel. Water can pass through the foam, while leaves and debris remain on top. Foam guards are relatively easy to install and can be a good option for DIY enthusiasts. However, they may need more frequent cleaning than other types of guards, as the foam can become saturated and less effective over time.

Gutter Shield

Gutter Shield

This option is a great alternative to the more typical Gutter Guards we have already mentioned. The Gutter Shield is a perforated metal shield that fits over the gutter down pipe inlet and prevents that area from clogging. This is great for homeowners with lots of debris accumulating throughout the year, requiring them to clear gutters frequently. Homeowners can install these at a fraction of the cost of traditional guards and they can greatly prolong the time in between cleanings.

Considerations When Choosing Gutter Guards

It’s important to take several factors into consideration when selecting the right kind of Gutter Guard for your home. There is variation in design, material, effectiveness, and cost, so understanding these considerations will help you make an informed decision:

Gutter Material Compatibility:
Different Gutter Guards are designed to work with specific gutter materials, such as aluminum, vinyl, steel, or copper. Before purchasing, ensure that they are compatible with your existing gutter system. The guards should be able to attach securely to your gutters without causing any damage or interference.

Climate Considerations:
The climate in your area plays a significant role in the performance of Gutter Guards. In regions with heavy rainfall like Vancouver, it’s essential to choose Gutter Guards that can handle large volumes of water without overflowing. If you live in an area prone to snow and ice, select a product that can prevent the formation of ice dams, which can lead to gutter damage and leaks.

Maintenance Requirements:
While Gutter Guards significantly reduce the need for manual cleaning, it’s important to note that no Gutter Guard system is entirely maintenance-free. Some guards may require occasional cleaning, especially in environments with a high amount of small debris that could accumulate on the surface. Consider your willingness and ability to perform maintenance or budget for a professional gutter cleaning service. Specialized gutter cleaning equipment such as a vacuum system or blower may be needed to keep the gutter clear of debris, even with the Gutter Guard installed.

Installation Method:
Gutter Guard installation methods vary based on the type of guard you choose. Some guards are designed for DIY installation and come with simple instructions (eg. Gutter Shield), while others may require more complex installation and are better suited for professional installation (eg. Leaf Guard). Evaluate your comfort level with DIY projects and the time you’re willing to invest in installation.

Effectiveness Against Debris:
Different Gutter Guards excel at preventing specific types of debris from entering the gutter system. Consider the types of trees around your property and the kind of debris that tends to accumulate in your gutters. For instance, if you have pine trees that shed needles, mesh Gutter Guards might be more effective at preventing clogs. However, keep in mind that very small debris or sludge can accumulate and clog guards with fine holes (like mesh).

Cost Considerations:
Costs can vary widely depending on the type, material, brand, and size of your home. While the upfront cost may seem significant, it’s important to factor in the potential long-term savings in terms of reduced maintenance and prevention of water damage.

Are Gutter Guards Right for My Home?

So, is it worthwhile to install Gutter Guards on your home? To help answer that question, we asked Denis from Gutter-Vac Home Services who has been operating his Vancouver-based gutter cleaning company since 2010. “Even with Gutter Guards installed, regular cleaning and maintenance is important”, says Denis. “Eventually someone will have to remove the screen and clean under the Gutter Guard”.

Denis noted that it can sometimes require extra work to clean gutters with the guards installed as access to the gutter can be more difficult. “You may have to pay extra to have the Gutter Guards removed and then reinstalled after cleaning, so sometimes it makes sense to just do a yearly cleaning instead (without a guard).”

“Ultimately, it’s going to depend on many individual factors, so consulting with a gutter specialist before making a decision is important,” says Denis. “However, if I had to choose a single solution that would be helpful for homes requiring extra protection, I would recommend the Gutter Shield due to its simplicity and lower upfront costs”. “Homeowners can install the Gutter Shield themselves, or we are happy to do it as part of our gutter cleaning service”.

Regardless of whether Gutter Guards are used, Denis recommended regular cleaning using specialized equipment such as vacuums to ensure gutters remain functional and efficient.

For more information about Gutter Guards and how Gutter-Vac approaches the cleaning process, take a look at this video created by Denis to help inform homeowners of potential issues and solutions.