Keeping Your Gutters Clean

With so many options to choose from, determine what products are best for your project.

Clogged gutters causes excess water and can ruin a home’s structure. Backed up gutters can cause major damage including cracked foundations, ice dams, mold, water damage and flooding. All can result in a hefty price tag to fix the problems.
The gutter system of a home allows water to flow down from the roof and away from the foundation for easy drainage. Water that cannot leave the gutter system gets clogged and can end up inside the ceilings and walls of your structure.

Clogged leaves, branches and other objects can also cause a weight problem. When you add rain water to these items, it can put excess weight on the gutters and their hanging brackets, which can result in gutters falling off breaking windows, lights, siding and HVAC units. Ice damming can also happen when the backed up water freezes and expands, pushing against the roof structure and causing even more damage or leaks. Gutter protection products help curb these problems.

There are three basic types of gutter protectors: hoods/covers/guard systems, filters/inserts and screens. Many gutter companies carry all three types. Some are add-on devices that fit over existing gutters and others are complete systems.

Covers/Hoods/Helmets
A gutter cover, gutter hood or gutter helmet can be an effective method for deflecting leaves, twigs and other debris that can choke downspouts. All systems do the job adequately, but you should research which brand is best for your particular project.

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Photo courtesy of Diamond Back Gutter Covers.

LeafGuard Brand Gutters is a one-piece gutter system, with a built-in hood that covers the gutter bottom and deflects leaves and other debris, according to Rich Small, with sales and marketing at Englert, Perth Amboy, N.J.

Its seamless design keeps debris from collecting in gutters, which prevents clogs from forming, keeps water flowing freely, stops leaks and the threat of water damage and makes climbing ladders to clean gutters unnecessary.

“LeafGuard Gutters eliminate the problems homeowners worry about, and that’s why we can say, with LeafGuard you can get it and forget it,” Small said.

Midwest Enterprises of Saint Clair, Mo., carries E-Z Gutter Guards and offers 20 different profiles and products. According to Jim Ealer, Jr., national sales manager, their painted aluminum covers provide great protection from the elements.
All of their covers are fastened with stainless steel screws or clips and are designed for medium to heavy-duty debris loads.

“For example, our E-Z Master Flow cover has our highest level of engineering to date,” Ealer said.

“It has perforations and an arched rear, so this recessed cover works with both types of hangers. The arched rear assists debris forward and water downward through the perforated holes.

“Like all gutter protection products, depending on your debris type and how much you get, it will require maintenance periodically, by brushing off the top of the panels.”

E-Z Master Flow comes in 4-foot lengths and 5-inch or 6-inch widths. It is available in white, mill finish and black colors.

Gutter Helmet offers its rain gutter system with a patented textured Permalife  surface, allowing rainwater to cling to the surface of the Gutter Helmet panel as it flows downward. “The nose of each of our gutter guard systems is curved and extends past the edge of the gutter to allow rainwater to flow naturally into the gutter system,” said Danielle Criswell, national marketing manager with Gutter Helmet.

Once the rainwater rounds the edge of the Gutter Helmet system it passes through a slit that is only 3/8 inch wide, which is designed to stop debris, leaves and other materials from getting into gutters and clogging the system. While water can pass through the opening at a steady rate, debris is stopped by the small slit, allowing only water to pass through the gutters.

“With the ability to handle over 22 inches of rain each hour without overflowing, Gutter Helmet is a great system for any home, in fact it’s America’s #1 Choice for Gutter Protection.” Criswell said.

Inserts
An insert or filter fits in the existing gutter. Filters come in different formats from foam to rounded bristles, but each is designed to be inserted into the gutter trough and repel leaves and debris while permitting rain to pass through.
There are many different types and brands of inserts to choose from. For most inserts, you just cut the foam or bend the brush and press it into the
gutter.

For example, Rain Flow Total Gutter Protection is a system that fills the entire gutter opening so that nothing but water can get in.

According to Brian Groth, with Rain Flow USA, when Rain Flow is installed, rainwater passes easily through the material and quickly flows to the downspouts. “Leaves, pine needles and other debris stay on top but don’t impede the flow of water. Because air flows both under and over the debris, it dries quickly and blows away on the next breezy day,” Groth said.

Installation is typically fast and easy.

“You don’t have to screw it into the roof; the entire job can be done with a pair of scissors and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in the gutter,” he said.

Rain Flow installs quickly in existing 5-inch and 6-inch K gutters without tools. No screws, brackets or caulk. Three feet lengths can be cut with a utility knife for miter joints and end caps.

Rain Flow is made from a patented material that is not affected by changing weather so it protects gutters from clogging year-round, Groth said.

“Also, you can’t see it from the ground level,” he said. “I don’t like products that go under the shingle or the roof; Rain Flow doesn’t require color matching to shingles, gutters or trim and doesn’t change the appearance of the home. Rain Flow works with any roof from flat to 16/12 pitch.”

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Photo courtesy of LeafBlox.

Another option is SnoBlox-Snojax’s LeafBlox, which can bend to accommodate any gutter shape or corner.  LeafBlox’s stiff bristles fill the gutter keeping debris out while allowing water to easily flow through, said LeafBlox national sales manager, Howie Scarboro, Lemoyne, Pa. Most leaves and large items will pass right over the LeafBlox. Most small debris caught near the top of the brush will blow away or decompose through natural weather cycles. Gutters will continue to flow, preventing damage and keeping you off the roof.

Additionally, when used in conjunction with SnoBlox-Snojax snow guards, the LeafBlox will act as an iceguard to reduce winter gutter congestion, ice damming and icicles, Scarboro said. Its black UV-treated polypropylene bristles absorb heat on sunny days, which in turn accelerates the snow and ice melting process along the gutter to minimize buildup.

Another insert option is GutterBrush, where no tools are needed and nothing is attached to the gutters or slid under shingles.

GutterBrush is a cylinder shaped brush that fills gutters blocking leaves and debris while allowing water to flow through. It prevents clogged gutters, reduces gutter cleaning and eliminates potential expensive property damage associated with gutter problems.

“You just slide 3 feet sections of GutterBrush end to end into the gutter channel,” said Randy Schreiber, with GutterBrush LLC, Middletown, R.I. “Plus, it’s affordable. At $150 to $300 to protect a typical home, GutterBrush costs thousands less than many gutter covers and other screened systems. Also, if you aren’t happy with the performance of GutterBrush, we will refund your
purchase.”

Screens
Depending on where the structure is located and what kind of trees surround it, a low-priced screen may be all it takes to keep out leaves and other debris.
Diamond Back Gutter Covers offers two designs; their standard cover and their Z bend cover.

“The difference in our products is that they don’t go under the shingles and there is absolutely no roof penetration—so it doesn’t matter what type of roof you have,” said Diamond Back owner Dan Feldhaus, who has been in the gutter business for 27 years. “Our products cover just the top of the gutter and they allow a lot more water into the gutter compared to other products. Also, our patented Z bend fits one-half round gutters; we have a full line of gutter covers for commercial guttering as well.”

Diamond Back Gutter Covers also have different micro mesh screen sizes to match the product to the problem.

“For example, if you get a lot of pine needles, we have a mesh screen designed just for that,” Feldhaus said.

“Additionally, it is important that you have a coated surface on the screen. When it comes to micro mesh, you have to pay attention. If you have a stainless steel screen over an aluminum base, stainless steel will eat the aluminum. Our product line has a powder-coated base so it’s insulated.” Feldhaus said.

Diamond Back Gutter Cover’s are easy to install, can be used with any type of roof and require no fasteners.

Midwest Enterprise’s E-Z Gutter Guards, also offers their E-Z Micro Mesh aluminum screen.

“These are excellent for locations where salt spray and other extreme environments cause other products to corrode and its powder-coated aluminum can handle a heavy debris load and keeps out even the smallest debris,” Ealer said.

Additionally, Englert’s MicroGuard gutter screen features the latest in micro-filtration technology providing superior leaf protection.

“Its angled micro-perforations effectively block large debris from sticking to the screen while efficiently clearing water into the gutter,” Small said.

The new filter features a raised, stepped groove to prevent water from splashing back underneath roof shingles. It’s easy to install, and the new MicroGuard does not penetrate shingles and won’t violate roofing material warranties. MicroGuard is available in three different configurations to meet different roofing conditions.

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Photo courtesy of Englert, Inc.

Traditional MicroGuard is attached to the front of the gutter while the back sits on the back bracket, facing down. Reverse Bend MicroGuard is attached to the front of the gutter but its back faces up and fits to the drip edge, preventing water from coming off the roof and going behind the gutter. MicroGuard Flat is attached to the front of the gutter but its back is made flat to fit under the first row of shingles on a roof where the shingles have been cut too short.

Do Your Research
No matter what type of gutter protection you decide is best for your home or building, it is important that you look into the different products offered and make an educated decision.

“Look at the kind of debris that you get. After almost 30 years in the gutter guard design and manufacturing business, it has shown us there are a lot of things to consider, between leaf and debris load, in rain, snow and ice loads, as well as subtle variations in gutter designs,” said Ealer with Midwest Enterprise’s E-Z Gutter Guards.

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Photo courtesy of Gutter Helmet.

“If there was only one type of gutter, and every application had real similar trees, leaves and pollen, then we’d only need one kind of gutter guard, but that’s not the case.”

Criswell, with Gutter Helmet, also stresses that you use an experienced professional and trained craftsman with a reputable product.

“We really take it seriously,” Criswell said. Some of our customers are older and they aren’t able to go out and clean their gutters anymore. When your new Gutter Helmet system is installed, our technicians will clean out your existing gutters for you. Our technicians are very respectful of our customers and mindful of your home—and clean up the mess before they leave.”

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