Maintaining a functional gutter system is crucial to the protection of your home’s foundation—gutter guards are designed to make maintenance easier. However, choosing the best gutter guard can be difficult and can cause headaches for Georgia homeowners. There are so many options on the market, and while they all serve the same purpose, they don’t all consistently work as they should. In fact, many cause the exact problems they claim to eliminate.
Do gutter guards actually work and are they worth it? How long do gutter guards last? Do gutter guards need to be cleaned? We’ll take a look at these questions and more, covering the most common hesitations homeowners face when trying to choose the best gutter protection system for their home.
To begin, let’s discuss what gutter guards are. Understanding their purpose and their importance will help you know what to look for when choosing a gutter cover that is best suited for your property and the local environment.
What Are Gutter Guards?
A gutter guard is a piece of material that attaches to the top of your gutter system and prevents unwanted debris—such as leaves, pine needles, and roof grit—from clogging and damaging your gutters. Put simply, gutter guards ensure your gutter system functions optimally with as little maintenance as possible.
Why Preventing Clogged Gutters is Important
Clogged gutters can cause damage to both the gutter system and the home. When gutters are clogged or damaged, they can’t perform their primary purpose—collect roof water and channel it away from the foundation.
With leaves, pine cones, pine needles, and other debris taking up space in your gutter, it has a lower capacity to handle roof water. Without the capability to collect roof water, this water ends up running down the side of your home and falling to the ground surrounding your foundation. This water can pool up and can result in serious water intrusion or structural damage.
What Kind of Damage Can Clogged Gutters Cause?
The number one cause of foundation damage is improperly-channeled roof water—or overall poor water management. When gutters fail to collect roof water and direct it away from your home, this water can oversaturate the soil surrounding your foundation. Oversaturated soil places thousands of pounds of pressure on your foundation walls, eventually causing them to bow, crack, and leak. For more information on how water can impact your foundation, visit our page on the importance of water management.
The overflow from clogged gutters can spill out onto the home’s exterior walls and fascia boards. This continuous cascade of water can cause wood to rot and water to saturate interior walls, leading to mold growth and deterioration. As your fascia boards deteriorate, the risk that your attic leaks and insulation becomes damaged increases.
Clogs increase the weight of your gutters significantly. If your gutter’s bracket system is not strong enough to support the added weight, they can pull away from the roof fascia. This damages your gutters and creates a gap for water to run down the siding of your home. Additionally, clogs can cause water to become stagnant in the gutter system, leading to rust.
Rust and waterproofing or structural failure aren’t the only outcome of standing water accumulating at the base of your gutter system. The excess moisture provides an excellent environment for bugs and critters and can lead to mosquito, termite, rodent, and stinging insect infestations.
What Can Clog Gutters?
Gutters have been around for thousands of years and have protected many homes from severe water damage. Today, gutters can collect large amounts of rainwater. Unfortunately, without a gutter guard, they also can collect everything else. In Georgia, gutters are prone to becoming clogged with the following materials:
- Pine cones and pine needles
- Oak tassels
- Broken shingles
- Roof grit
- Bird nests
- Muck and mud
- Twigs and small branches
- Small critters
- Other debris
- Seeds and saplings (decaying leaves make for excellent fertilizer)
- Hives from stinging insects
- Animal feces
Georgia’s Unique Environmental Concerns
No matter where you live, your home is subject to the local weather and environmental concerns of your area. In some states, light, steady rains are common. Because this kind of weather is less likely to flood gutters, you’ll typically find smaller gutter sizes in these regions. However, this is not the case in Georgia.
In Georgia, you can bank on three things when it comes to the weather: 1) temperatures and climates can change on a dime, 2) summer is going to be hot and humid, and 3) you can count on receiving more than a handful of heavy storms, hard rains, or long, steady rains throughout the course of the year. Here are two of Georgia's unique environmental concerns:
- Intense Rainfall: In Georgia, we face intense thunderstorms, where large amounts of water can barrage our homes in a short period of time. Because of this, it’s crucial that rainwater exits gutters quickly and adequately to prevent overflow. To ensure water exits your gutter system fast enough, it’s especially important that Georgia homeowners’ gutters remain clog-free.
- Pine Needles: Another concern we have in Georgia is pine straw and pine needles. These tiny particles are small enough to clog mesh and screen gutter guards (think of coffee grounds in a mesh coffee filter). Thus, you will have to clean gutters with mesh and screen gutter guards more frequently and thoroughly.
What Are the Best Gutter Guards?
When it comes to selecting the best gutter guards, you want to find a system that not only prevents your gutters from clogging, but that never clogs itself. It’s also important that your system works in your climate. Heavily forested areas or areas where smaller debris are common may need a different solution than areas that are mostly desert or plains.
The Different Kinds of Gutter Guards
Gutter guards come in a variety of different materials and styles and can also be referred to as gutter covers, filters, screens, shields, and gutter protection. Although all gutter guards have the same goal—to prevent clogs and eliminate the need for routine maintenance—they don’t all achieve it.
Let’s look at the different kinds of gutter guards and how they work:
Gutter screens are perforated metal guards that fit under roof shingles and sit on top of gutters. These types of gutter guards are very likely to overflow. First, the small holes are big enough to let through debris such as needles and seeds, which eventually accumulate in the gutter trough. Additionally, debris can clog the holes of the screen, and leaves can get stuck on top of the screen. The combination of these three situations will force water to fall over the sides of the gutter as it cannot drain properly into the trough.
Gutter brushes are an inexpensive option for gutter protection, though they don’t work as well as other options. This gutter guard resembles a bottle brush with heavy-duty bristles, placed directly in the trough, meant to prevent debris from accumulating in the gutter. In reality, debris often gets stuck on top of the bristles or get caught between them, meaning gutter cleaning will still be necessary.
Foam gutter guards are another less expensive gutter guard and are installed similarly to the gutter brush. Inserted directly into the gutter, the porous polyurethane foam allows water to flow through the gutter but captures debris on top. Foam gutter guards are problematic in several ways:
- They deteriorate over time. ‘
- They allow roof grit to pass through and accumulate in the bottom of the trough.
- They still require gutter cleaning as debris accumulates on top of the foam.
- They slow drainage of water is not suitable for Georgia climate—it is important for water to exit gutters as quickly as possible to accommodate for heavier rains.
Mesh gutter covers are similar to screens, but with smaller holes. While mesh gutter covers don’t allow debris to enter the gutter trough, they don’t allow the gutter to capture water well either. During more torrential rains, water will simply wash over the gutters.
In all-in-one systems, the gutter guard comes attached to the gutter. All-in-one systems are more convenient for homeowners, as you don’t have to spend time looking for a gutter protection system separate from your new gutters. However, because the gutter guard and gutter trough are molded together, the bracket system that attaches the gutters to the roof fascia can’t support the added weight. This makes your gutters more likely to pull away from the house, sag, and not last as long over time.
At AquaGuard, we utilize the GutterShutter™ System. Designed with the physical principles of water tension in mind, a liquid adhesion process allows the gutter to capture roof water, properly manage it, and drain it away from your home. It’s a seamless system, completely covered and sealed with no vertical openings, no filters, and no screens, preventing the need for gutter cleaning. The GutterShutter™ system comes in two parts—the gutter and gutter protection—allowing for a superior bracket system installation. This bracket system ensures your gutters never sag or pull away from the home for the lifetime of the gutters.
Are Gutter Guards Worth It?
With the right system, gutter guards can help you save loads of time and money over the years, eliminating the need for gutter cleaning and the hassle that comes along with it.
How Much Does it Cost to Clean Your Gutters?
The average cost to have your gutters cleaned will amount to about $200-300 per cleaning, and it’s recommended that you clean your gutters at least twice per year. Because gutters without gutter guards have a shorter lifespan, you’ll be investing thousands of dollars into a system you’ll have to replace.
Can I Clean My Gutters Myself?
Many homeowners opt for DIY gutter cleaning to cut down on cost. However, we strongly advise homeowners to hire a professional to clean their gutter systems. Doing it yourself—especially if you have a two-story home—is extremely dangerous.
If you’re hiring someone else to do it, a good number of companies or individual contractors won’t be insured. That could have serious ramifications, as homeowner’s insurance won’t cover injuries of an unlicensed contractor. If someone unlicensed were to clean your gutters and fall off the ladder, you would be liable.
The best way to save money on gutter cleaning is to install a reliable gutter protection system that won’t clog and comes with a no-clog warranty.
GutterShutter™ and Gutter Guards Q&A
Whether or not your gutter guards will need cleaning depends on the kind of gutter protection system you purchase. Because of the way the GutterShutter™ system channels roof water, it does not require cleaning. But, if you ever do run into a problem with your gutter guards, AquaGuard will clean your gutters for free for the lifetime of the system.
Gutter Guards can last anywhere from mere months to throughout the lifetime of your gutter system. For example, foam gutters are likely to deteriorate over time. Screen gutters might technically last longer, but they aren’t effective. GutterShutter™ will last for the lifetime of your gutter system.
It depends. As we have discussed, certain gutter guards only work in specific climates, some that require cleaning, and some that don’t work at all. At AquaGuard™, we can guarantee that our GutterShutter™ gutter guard remains clog-free over the lifetime of the system and never sags or pulls away from the house.
The cost of gutter guard installation will depend on the product you choose to go with and the number of feet you will need to cover. At AquaGuard, our GutterShutter™ system is an all-in-one gutter solution, meaning that the gutter guard comes with the installation of your gutters.
Especially with Georgia’s local weather and environment, we recommend that all the homeowners in our community invest in gutter guards. Our GutterShutter™ gutter protection system will not only take away the cost and time of gutter cleaning, but it will also ensure that your foundation and home is protected from water damage for years to come.
With the installation of a quality system, your gutter guards should only take your problems away. There are, however, some products that can cause more headaches than others. Foam gutter covers, for example, can become damp and infested with mold and mildew, and even present a perfect environment for the growth of new seedlings. The best way to avoid problems caused by your gutter guards is to make sure you’re investing in a warrantied system that actually prevents clogging.
Yes—the GutterShutter™ system is guaranteed to be clog-free over the lifetime of the system. And, if you ever run into any problems, we’ll come out and clean them for free.
At AquaGuard, we hold ourselves to high standards in everything we do, whether that be our products, service, or installation. When you invest in GutterShutter™, we guarantee that the system will never pull away from your house thanks to our patented GutterStud™ application.
Not only that, but we also have the following warranties available:
- Lifetime no-clog
- Lifetime materials
- 20-year paint
AquaGuard’s patented GutterShutter™ All-in-One covered gutter guard system is made from 100% aluminum, meaning it won’t rust. GutterShutter™ is also lightweight and, coupled GutterStud—its superior bracked system—is guaranteed to never pull away your home. No other bracket system on the market comes close to the GutterStud bracket system.