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Are Gutter Guards a Gimmick?
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My gutters look fuzzy from the ground

About three weeks after I moved into my house, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of water running across my bedroom floor.

(A little background: First-time homeowner, new to the Northeast, too busy to think about the relationship between the six large maple trees surrounding my new house and the gutters 19 feet up in the air, and unfamiliar with the torrential downpours of the region)

You’re probably way ahead of me. Water is running across the floor because it’s flowing in over the window sill because it’s pouring down the side of the house because the gutter is over flowing because the down spout is clogged with pretty fall foliage--Duh.

So began the first of many trips up my shiny new thirty-two foot extension ladder. These trips aren’t all bad. There is a view of the neighbourhood and I have time to reflect on how much my wife cares for my safety and how angry she would be if I screwed up at this moment and left her to raise the twins by herself (not to mention having to clean the gutters).

To the point.  Practically every homeowner has seen the guy set up at the local home show.  The guy with the roof gutter mock-up and the little pump that sends a gentle stream of water down the shingles. His niftily designed gutter system sends the leaves off the roof to float to the ground.  If you haven’t seen this, check out some fancy gutter guards. But really, talk about taking out a second mortgage.

Do gutter guards that work really have to be that expensive?

To find this out, I called the editorial advisor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, Mike Guertin who I know through my job

“People should realize two things,” Mike says, “during heavy rains, more water will cascade off the roof with a leaf guard/screen on.  It's a tradeoff.  The other thing is, you still have to check and perhaps clean the gutters.” Mike says he cleans his gutters with a hose every other year.

Mike says, in general, he likes gutter guards, although he doesn’t like slotted gutter coverings like Gutter Helmet and Gutter Topper. Mike has used gutter guards on his homes, and doesn’t think you have to buy the cadillac version to save yourself the weekend trips up the ladder to clean your gutters.

To me this meant, buy the cheapest gutter guards possible and see if they work. 

After eight months of fall and winter weather the only time I climbed the ladder was to take a picture to write this blog.  The verdict is that this product is ugly as sin. And while it did work, it probably would have worked better if I had sprung for the gutter guard clips that hold the gutter guard in place (I can be very cheap if pressed). 

The choices of gutter guards are seemingly endless but Tim Carter (the Ask-the-Builder guy) does a pretty good job in this gutter guard video of explaining the good the bad and the ugly. Although Tim mentions one product that works perfectly, I'm dubious that any product will be perfect where gutters are concerned.


gutter guards?

Just an FYI...gutter helmet is a solid product...not slotted as mentioned in the article.  You are comparing apples and oranges in terms of gutter protection solutions.