Should You Install a Gutter Guard?

Gutter Mesh: Yes or No? Let’s hear what the Guttered Uncluttered experts have to say about installing gutter guards on your roof gutters and downpipes.

We get asked sometimes: “Should I get a gutter guard installed over my gutters?”

Generally our answer is: ‘DEFINITELY NOT’.

Why? Well, here are some solid reasons…

If gutter guard (mesh or wire strainers over the top of your gutters and downpipes) were truly effective, the Gutters Uncluttered team would have quit gutter cleaning and gone into the mesh business years ago.

But…we haven’t, and there’s a reason for that…. THEY DO NOT ELIMINATE GUTTER MAINTENANCE !!

The best way to think about gutter guards is that they are effectively a filter in your rainwater or stormwater system, and like all filters, they need continual maintenance to work properly. Filters need to be cleaned, or changed periodically to prevent them from becoming filthy and blocked.

The more leaves, dust and other debris that falls on your roof and comes into contact with your roof filter, the more maintenance it will require to function as initially intended.

Mesh over gutters may reduce the frequency of gutter maintenance required, however both in the short term, and in the long term, installing mesh over gutters costs homeowners a fortune.

Not only that, cleaning around gutter guard makes our job vastly more difficult, and more dangerous than it needs to be, adding time and risk to all roof and gutter maintenance work.

Gutter guard, or gutter mesh, comes in many different styles, varying greatly in quality of materials, aperture of holes, and installation method.

Invariably it is a product that is ruthlessly marketed to home-owners as something that prevents them having to clean their gutters, but unfortunately when you dig a little deeper, this ‘no cleaning needed’ sales pitch is far from the truth.

Oftentimes gutter mesh salespeople will admit that you will need to ‘rinse’ gutters ‘through the mesh’ to avoid too much fine silt building up below. So, in essence, they are pulling your leg from the get-go, as ‘rinsing’ is still required — and rinsing is cleaning anyway, right?

Then, if questioned further, some gutter mesh salespeople will try to sell you some extension pole attachment for your garden hose as the ultimate solution for maintaining your gutter guard. So now, instead of having the gutters cleaned once or twice a year, you’ve now got to go around the house squirting water around above your head where you can’t see, or, for it be effective at all, you’ve got to risk yourself on a ladder anyway, then permanently damage the gutter guard by cutting holes in the mesh, just so you can poke the hose in and wash the sludge in the gutters down the downpipes.

Now, what’s going to happen with the moss growth where the mesh attaches to the roof? Or, the

corrosion of the roofing iron that is covered by the mesh? Or, the lichen growth that begins on your roof because it is attracted to the mesh?

Pretty quickly these ‘no cleaning needed’ issues can add up to gutter guards becoming WAY more trouble than they were ever worth.

Different gutter mesh products have different sized holes that will let a little, or a lot of debris

particles through with the rainwater. If the holes are too small, debris will build up on top of the gutter mesh, it will block up and restrict the flow of water through it. If there are significant amounts of debris falling on the roof, very soon there will be a build-up above the gutter mesh, and the water will sheet straight over the mesh and onto the ground. Or, if the roof is flat, the water will pool on the roof itself, dam up, and eventually flow back inside the ceiling cavity and into the house.

Alternatively, if the holes in the mesh are bigger, many particles will pass through the gutter guard, and once again if there is significant debris falling on the roof, there will quickly develop a build-up of sludge in the gutters below the mesh. This sludge provides the perfect medium for small plants and grass to sprout and grow, which soon fill the gutters and create blockages that prevent rainwater escaping down the downpipes.

Also, what is almost never considered when thinking about installing gutter mesh, is that not all debris that finds its way into gutters falls from above, some of it actually GROWS FROM WITHIN the gutter… like moss, which, if given the right conditions, will sprout and expand to fill gutters from the inside, which is especially common if mesh is installed as the mesh shelters the inside of the gutter from wind and heavy water flow, creating a perfect little protected greenhouse area for moss and seedlings to flourish and fill the gutters below.

So, don’t be fooled by gutter guard sales pitches, (all brands have the exact same issues), as regular maintenance is ALWAYS required after gutter mesh is installed. If the gutters and the mesh are not professionally washed annually with high pressure water, it’s just a matter of time (usually 2 – 5 years), before the gutter mesh will all have to be unscrewed and lifted up to be cleaned underneath. Then they will need to be discarded, which is generally 3-4 times the cost of a regular gutter cleaning service.

Sometimes, if the guards are still in good condition, they can be re-installed after removal and cleaning, however most homeowners choose to have the mesh removed completely.

Therefore, be clever. Before you have gutter guards installed on your roof gutters and downpipes, get a professional gutter cleaner’s opinion, and weigh up the cost benefit of gutter mesh maintenance, vs a regular professional gutter cleaning.

In our experience, unless your gutters need cleaning more than 3 times per year, you will be far better off without the gutter mesh. If your gutters currently need cleaning 4 or more times per year, then maybe think about gutter guard installation, but remember, the cost of the mesh installation will not be the end of your gutter maintenance costs, your gutters and mesh will still need to be properly cleaned annually with a high pressure cleaner to prevent the gutter guard from becoming an unsightly and costly mistake.

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