What makes it stand out from any other mesh gutter guard? – Part Two
Continuing from our previous article about mesh gutter guard, we want to take our time to demonstrate our exhaustive efforts to find the best product. To do this without exhausting the reader is a challenge and so we broke it down into four parts.
In this part, we will be discussing the first of the four parts – materials. Exposing how our experience through observing and installing gutter jobs has taught us the same thing that is pointed out in education material, we feel, will make the information more practical. The attempt is to illustrate the very same thing the education resources teach.
Looking at the material contained in the construction of the guard, we notice that aluminum shows up in guard manufacturers’ choices. This is necessary to keep costs down. A guard constructed of all stainless steel would be costly for no reason. The guard would outlive the gutters. Although aluminum is weaker, using the right thickness and aluminum type will overcome the structural weakness.
Care has to be taken when combining two opposing alloys to properly protect the joining areas to prevent galvanic corrosion. Some manufacturer’s defend their choice in using this material by showcasing an area that is a strength of the guard to distract the viewer from this potential area of concern. We realize this is a clever strategy. Demonstrating the ability to overcome the biggest challenge the material will face can dissolve some of the fears about the product in other areas. What has become apparent to us is the importance of considering all areas of concern.
Evidence of material cohabitation corrosion we have observed with other gutter material is true of gutter guard material. Consideration of the point of contact between the two opposing alloys is one such area. Let’s use an example from everyday life.
Why do car manufacturer’s suggest regular flushes of fluids from your car? They suggest it because the fluids are there to protect the car’s engine from corrosion elements. Other than heat, your car battles corrosion from opposing materials working together. The fluids flowing through the engine have properties to protect the engine components from forming a corrosion bridge or electrolyte bridge. Eventually these properties break down and allow corrosive properties to be passed on. Changing fluids regularly will replenish the protecting properties.
We have seen this very thing happen in gutter jobs. Let’s consider the evidence of what happens when we install copper gutters into an aluminum downspout. What we learned in research is copper and aluminum are far apart on the corrosion chart. The copper corrodes the aluminum rather quickly. The water creates an electrolyte bridge between the two alloys causing the least noble aluminum to deteriorate. A product should have the same parent alloy material used throughout its construction or be protected by an insulator; both of which guard against corrosion. In the car engine example, the fluid acts as an insulator. In our copper gutter jobs, we also have to use an insulator so the downspout won’t corrode.
Most mesh guards use a stainless steel mesh because of the fine weave needed to create the mesh. When the parent metal is stainless steel, the surrounding metal should match it to prevent what is called an electrolyte bridge. This bridge happens when rainwater runs over the guard connecting one alloy to the other alloy. If the surrounding structure is another alloy, then a coating or insulator must be applied to less noble metal. See this excerpt from aluminum design.net.
In large constructions, where insulation is difficult, an alternative solution is to prevent an electrolytic bridge forming between the metals. Painting is one way of doing this. Here, it is often best to coat the cathode surface (i.e. the most noble metal). – Aluminum Design.net
The insulator for stainless steel is the chromium contained within the material. The insulator is built into the stainless steel meaning that it will continue to stay protected even when scratched. This insulation is necessary to avoid galvanic corrosion. Leaf Solution coats the aluminum in a “polyester” coating protecting it from corrosion. With both protections in place, it allows the guard to outlive the gutter it will be installed on.
Although gutters are constructed of aluminum, the paint works as an insulator. Whenever we install guards, we are installing them onto painted gutters preventing this bridge from forming. When installing on copper gutters we use an insulating gasket to prevent this bridge.
It may seem as though we are painting a picture of great catastrophe in the corrosion possibility window of aluminum and stainless steel. These two alloys are the best in preventing corrosion. When combined, they present a condition above recommended levels for corrosion potential. That is why it is important that the guard manufacturer uses a protective coating on the more noble alloy. It is also why your installer needs to know proper installing methods when installing any mesh guard on a copper or galvanized gutter. Brothers Gutters properly trains all our installers to do this.
If you want to know more about Leaf Solution, be sure to subscribe to the blog and continue following along. Our next segments will cover even more! If you are considering gutter guards on your gutter, don’t risk your investment. Call us at 845-233-6111 or visit brothersgutters.com and request a quote.