After being in the gutter business for over 15 years, we have seen a lot of gutter guards. Our crews have been out in the field and came across every different type of guard there is on the market. Every week companies are sending us samples of their guards trying to earn our business. Almost 25% of our business today is installing gutter guards.
When we started out, we did not even offer a gutter guard because we thought, like many people, that they didn’t work and didn’t want to waste our time. So how did we go from not offering any kind of gutter protection to installing it for 25% of our clients? There was a lot of trial and error, hands-on field experience and testing that went on before we found the best gutter guards that we believe in and wanted to be able to offer to our customers.
Our first experiences with gutter guards started with installing Lowes or Home Depot gutter guards that customers had purchased themselves. These were usually a plastic type guard that would snap into the gutter. Unfortunately with these guards, the plastic often becomes brittle from UV rays and winter cold over time and they begin to fail. The hot and cold causes them to warp, leading to the guard popping out of the gutter. Theses guards don’t typically last long.
We considered offering the reverse curve gutter guards, like Gutter Helmet, to customers but, we were never happy with the design of this product. The guard is obtrusive and stands out on a home and the front of the curve quickly becomes dirty and stained. Debris clings to the dirt on the curve of the guard and eventually gets pulled into the gutter. We found that we spent more time uninstalling this type of guard for customers because it had failed.
When we seriously started looking into options for a gutter guard we could offer our customers, we started testing different kinds of guards. The owners would install the guards on their homes as a way to test in real weather conditions what worked best. We tested the simple metal guards with holes in them. ( I am part of the office personnel but when the samples arrive, even I can tell these guards won’t work well and will clog easily ) We found that water would pour over the top of them in a heavy rain, or that the holes became clogged with sticks and other debris. Even though his type of guard is fairly inexpensive, customers were unhappy with the performance when it became clogged and felt it was not worth the money.
We also tested the sponge type guard that installs into the gutter collecting leaves on top while the water passes through the sponge. We found that those still needed to be cleaned, and that it was a mess to clean. We had to remove them wipe the leaves off a soggy mess, then stuff them back in all while trying not to break them.
When Leaf Solution first came out in 2002 we were impressed with the design of the product. We liked the medical grade stainless steel mesh and felt that it would be effective in blocking debris. We loved the fact that it was installed on an angle so that it would be self shedding and require less maintenance for the homeowner. We were also impressed with the sturdy construction. (techie people can click here for more details) However we were concerned that customers would not be interested in it because of the higher cost. We soon realized the best way to see if it really worked was to try it. So we decided to make Ryan our guinea pig and we installed it on his house in 2007. Ryan is still happy with his Leaf Solution today, and is even happier that his wife no longer makes him go out in the rain to clean his gutters when they are clogged!
Shortly after that, Rhino Guard came to the market with the same stainless steel micro mesh guard but, it is installed flat on the top of the gutter. Rhino guard is an effective leaf guard at a lower price point and is great for installing on roofs with a lower pitch and on half round gutter systems as well.
There are many different guards on the market today. You will want to research your choices carefully before making a decision. Also, make sure your expectations of a gutter guards are clearly addressed. It is a leaf guard system that is designed to keep leaves out of your gutters. It will not eliminate icicles or prevent ice dams. There might be leaking or dripping in the winter if you are putting a metal guard over your gutters and it freezes. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a completely maintenance-free gutter system yet. We are still hoping to find one to offer our customers!
Stay tuned for more information about what to expect from a gutter guard during different weather conditions.