Are Gutter Guards A Waste Of Money? We Ask The Pros

Are Gutter Guards A Waste Of Money? We Ask The Pros

Anthony Barnes

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Gutters are often neglected areas of a home or building.

They collect rainwater runoff from roofs and gutters, and they also catch debris such as leaves, twigs, and other yard waste.

If left untreated, these items can clog drains and cause flooding.

Gutters are usually installed at the top of downspouts, where water flows into them.

The water then runs through the downspout and out of the house. Gutters should be cleaned regularly to prevent clogs and overflows.

Gutter Guards are a type of gutter cover that prevents debris from entering the downspout.

They come in various styles and materials, and some even include features like screens to filter out large objects.

But are they worth it or are they a waste of money? We ask the pros and answer these questions in this article. 

Gutter Guards

The traditional gutter has functioned unguarded for many years, yet it always needed some heavy annual cleaning and upkeep.

Clogs occur a lot in the autumn as you often end up cleaning lots of organic matter that falls from the trees and builds up during the season.

The buildup can lead to water damage to the fascia boards and can even lead to flooding.

To solve this and stop any damage as a result of flooding, gutter guards were invented to keep the debris away from the gutter channel. 

But are they worth it?

With long-term costs, gutter guards might not be worth the price.

Despite how some do a good job at keeping debris away, other problems will always occur, such as poorly capturing roof runoff, rotting fascia boards, and more, and these end up costing thousands of dollars to repair. 

Sometimes gutter guards are not installed correctly or are poorly designed.

Sometimes it’s not the right guard for the type of gutter you have in your home and a lot of the time, homeowners neglect to maintain them.

We look at these problems in closer detail in this article to tell you why gutter guards might not be as good as you first may think.

Do They Work?

There are two types of gutter guards: metal and plastic. Metal is better than plastic because it works well when there’s a strong wind blowing.

Plastic doesn’t work very well when winds are high. If the wind is too strong, it could blow the gutter guard off.

Metal guards are made with aluminum or galvanized steel. These are the most popular and durable gutter guards on the market today.

Some models are designed to snap together so they’re easy to install. Others require screws or bolts to secure them.

Plastic guards are made from polyethylene and PVC. They’re less expensive than metal but don’t last nearly as long. They tend to break or crack over time.

Despite what material you use, however, there is always debate on whether they work as a whole and some claim they are better at cleaning gutters than others.

In general, yes, they do indeed work, as they physically block debris from falling into gutters and downspouts, but they themselves can get pretty messy, which means you’ll be up a ladder performing maintenance anyway.

The Price Of Gutter Guards

Some people say that gutter guards are a waste of money because they cost $200- $6000 per house. This is true in some cases.

However, we’ve seen some companies offer lifetime warranties on their products. 

If you want to save money by buying a gutter guard, make sure you get one that lasts longer than 10 years. It should also be able to withstand harsh weather conditions.

You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars every year on repairs and replacements.

If you buy a gutter guard that only lasts 2-3 years, then you’ll need to replace it every couple of seasons.

That means spending several hundred dollars each year just for maintenance.

The price will depend on material and installation. Most companies price per linear foot and use prices only for the installation.

It does not include changing gutters to suit the gutter guard you need.

According to research, most people will spend closer to an average cost of $1,377 – $2,722 for 150 linear feet of a gutter guard.

National brands will often range from $1,800 – $5,250 for the same amount, so you might want to stick with cheaper options such as Home Depot and other local retailers.

Gutter Cleaning Cost

If you have ever had to clean out your gutters, you know that it can be a hassle and cost a lot. Many things go into the process of cleaning gutters.

Each company has its way of doing it and some factors determine how much it will cost you.

The average cost for a professional gutter cleaning service is often around $100- $120, but can be as low as $70 or up to $225 depending on the size of your house.

Gutter Guards Vs Gutter Cleaning Costs

Based on the cost of installation for gutter guards, which is about $2,500 on average, it would take you around 10 years to make up the cost, based on a $120 gutter cleaning service if you had it done twice per year.

Since most gutter guards only last 10 to 20 years and will require maintenance of their own, then it might be easier and more efficient to simply pay for gutter cleaning services.

Different Types Of Gutter Guards

Different Types Of Gutter Guards

Different types of gutter guards will come with their own set of problems. The different types of gutter guards include:

Plastic Gutter Guards

Plastic gutter guards are the cheapest type of gutter guard available.

They are usually made from vinyl or other tough plastics. These materials are cheap and easy to install.

However, these gutter guards are prone to cracking and breaking down over time.

If you live in areas where freezing temperatures occur, then this could cause them to crack and break apart.

Moreover, tree limbs can damage the screens, and long-term exposure to the sun also weakens the plastic. They have a limited warranty and do not last. 

Aluminum Gutter Guards

Metal gutter guards are typically made from aluminum. They are durable and strong and won’t often rust. Metal gutter guards are less likely to break than plastic ones.

However, they are expensive and may not look as good. Moreover, cheap subpar aluminum wears away and breaks down fast.

It can also corrode and get damaged in hail storms and bad weather.

Micro-Mesh Gutter Guards

These are sometimes argued to be the best gutter guards because they are designed to work well with all types of gutters.

They are also very affordable and come in nylon or metal. Micro-mesh gutter guards are installed by snapping them onto the top of your existing gutter.

This allows water to flow through while keeping debris out.

Nylon micro-mesh guards use surface tension to keep water away from debris, however, this does not work as well in heavy rain.

They come in various sizes. Some are even designed to fit right under the roofline. They are perfect for homes with flat roofs.

However, they often clog quite easily and will often rust. Tree limbs can also tear them.

Gutter Guard Breakdown Cost

If you want to save money on gutter guards, then you should consider buying an inexpensive one.

You can find many at local hardware stores for a reasonable price but high-quality gutter guards might cost you more.

They are priced by the linear foot and professional installation will also add to the cost.  

Per linear foot, plastic gutter guards will be the cheapest, at around $0.40- $1.00 and this can go up to $4 for micro mesh and vinyl.

For most gutter guards you can cut costs by going DIY, but professional installation is needed for aluminum, steel screen, and micro-mesh. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Gutter Guards?

Pros

The pros of using gutter guards are that they protect your home from damage caused by falling leaves and other debris.

They also help prevent leaks and reduce the amount of rainwater that runs off into your yard.

They are easy to install and remove if necessary. They are also relatively maintenance-free and last long.

They are also great for sometimes reducing the amount of noise that comes from rain hitting your house.

You can get an easier water flow and fewer contaminants in the water if you have a rainwater collection. 

They come in a range of different choices of material and designs.

They can keep mice out and prevent insect infestation.

Cons

The cons of using gutter guards include their expense.

While they are cheaper than replacing your entire gutter system, installing them requires some skill and knowledge. In addition, it takes time to do so.

Some people say that they don’t work as well as they claim to.

They can make your gutter look unattractive, and you will still need to clean the gutter.

They cannot stop large objects such as branches and rocks from entering your house. They can also block sunlight which can lead to mold growth.

Gutter guards can also cause roof strain and can hide insects inside. 

They are worse during winter and in the face of ice dams.

Advantages Of Gutter Guards

Advantages Of Gutter Guards

Flexible Design Choices

You can choose between metal, plastic, and mesh gutter guards depending on what works best for you.

Metal and plastic gutter guards are usually made from galvanized aluminum/steel or PVC.

Mesh gutter guards are typically made from metal, polypropylene, or nylon.

Easy Installation And Removal

Most gutter guards are easy to install and sometimes take less than 30 minutes to put in place.

They can also be removed when you need to clean your gutters.

Reduces Rainfall

Rainwater runoff through your gutters can cause flooding problems and may even result in erosion and soil contamination.

By placing a gutter guard over your gutter, you can reduce the amount of rainfall that goes down your drainpipe. This helps to avoid potential flooding issues.

Protects Your Home From Damage

Leaves and other debris can fall into your gutter and cause serious damage to your property.

These items can become stuck in the gutter causing leakage and possible structural damage to your home. Gutter guards help to prevent these types of problems.

Prevents Leaks

Leaking gutters can cause serious damage to your home. If you notice any signs of leaking, you should contact a professional immediately.

Gutter guards help prevent leaks from occurring.

They Last A Long Time

If properly installed, gutter guards can last up to 10-25 years. Some manufacturers recommend that they be replaced every five years.

However, this is not always necessary. It depends on how often you use your gutter and whether or not you have a lot of leaves clogging your gutters.

Disadvantages Of Gutter Guards

They Can Restrict Water Inflow

Gutter guards can cause water flow restrictions into the channel when rain gets heavy. Some designs can be too restrictive and stop the entrance of water in heavy rain.

This slow drainage can mean you end up with rainwater flowing over the gutter and ending up where you don’t want the water to be.

They Do Not Stop All Debris

The main disadvantage of gutter guards is that they do not stop all debris from getting into your gutters.

Many times, tree roots get caught in the gutter and eventually break off. This causes holes in your gutter and allows more debris to enter.

They Are Expensive

Depending on the type of gutter guard you purchase, it could cost hundreds of dollars per year. This price can add up fast if you have many gutters.

They Can Look Ugly

While some people love the look of a gutter guard, others find them ugly. You will have to decide if you like the look of them or not before installing them.

They are visible from the ground so keep this in mind before installation.

You’ll Need A Professional To Clean Out The Guards

Professional gutter cleaning services might still be needed and they can be expensive.

They will ensure debris buildup is taken away and gutter guards are performing as they should.

If they are not checked, it could mean you have water cascading over the gutter in heavy rain rather than flowing through the gutter.

Why Are Gutter Guards So Bad?

Why Are Gutter Guards So Bad?

Gutter guards are bad for your house because they don’t eliminate cleaning.

Rainwater runoff into gutters causes ice dams during winters. Ice dams can cost you thousands of dollars to repair.

Gutter guards are made of lightweight material and carry long-term effects and damage that will often cost thousands of dollars to repair.

When installing you need to keep in mind that you need to:

  • Keep larger debris from building up on top of the gutter screen to stop anything from collapsing or tearing.
  • Keep tree limbs trimmed and away from the roof.
  • Have your guards inspected and evaluated for damage after bad weather? This should be done annually.
  • Some manufacturers provide a lifetime warranty, yet these are limited and do not cover factors like age and neglect so check the warranty first.

Problems Caused By Gutter Guards

Most of the problems that guttering guards cause are the result of neglect.

Gutter guard marketers sell homeowners on peace of mind, but they aren’t always being completely honest. You still end up with lots of cleaning to do.

Gutter guards also contribute to the formation of ice dams in winter and can be a nesting spot for birds and bees.

Gutter Guards Are Not Maintenance Free

Gutter guards are marketed as a way to prevent clogged gutters. However, some debris may slip through the gutter guard and cause clogs.

Regular cleaning is required to remove the debris that slips through the gutter guard.

Removing the gutter guard to clean the gutters costs more than normal gutter cleaning.

Gutter guards are great at keeping leaves and debris away from gutters but they can also cause debris to pile up on roofs.

This leads to roof leaks. Roofs need to be cleaned every year.

As your roof needs to be checked and cleaned every year, gutter cleaning adds a little cost.

Establishing a full cleaning schedule for your gutters twice a year is said to be the best practice. And you will eventually find it more efficient and less expensive.

They Can Cause Ice Dams In Winter

Rainwater flows over the roof and then under the roof material if it doesn’t go into the gutter.

If it then goes into the house, it clings to the roof and can create an ice dam in cold weather.

Ice can also form on top of the gutter guard and weigh it down. A heavy gutter trough pulls away from the fascia and affects the gutter slope.

Water trapped inside the gutter trough weighs the gutter down.

Birds And Bees Nest

Wasps, bees, and birds love to nest under gutters’ guards. If you’ve got a curved gutter system or one with a flat bottom, you’ll be giving them a cozy place to call home!

Do They Work In Heavy Downpours?

Do They Work In Heavy Downpours?

Rain gutters are designed to direct water away from the house. But can gutter guards protect homes from extensive water damage caused by heavy rain?

Gutter guards are designed to prevent leaves and debris from entering the guttering system. Gutter guards allow the water to pass through and direct it away from the house.

However, heavy rain can overwhelm the gutter guard, causing an overflow, especially on a large surface area or a steep roof.

Gutter guards are considered an important part of your home improvement project but you should be aware of any potential problems before installing them, and heavy rain is a common problem.

Overflowing gutters can damage your roof or even lead to leaks.

Do Gutters Overflow In Heavy Rain?

Gutters do not normally overflow in heavy rain and if they do, you often have a problem in the system, such as a blockage.

Gutters are supposed to control water runoff from the roof and move the water away from the house.

They can handle the runoff from the roof in normal weather conditions.

However, they can be overwhelmed and will struggle to handle a large volume of water during heavy rain. Gutter guards can make this worse.

If your gutter is overflowing you need to look further at the cause. An untreated overflowing gutter can lead to water damage on your roof, home foundation, and more.

The cost of repair is much cheaper than repairing water damage.

Problems need to be fixed as soon as possible because water damage can lead to serious issues such as mold growth, rotting wood, and structural damage.

Bear in mind, however, water damage can be caused by several things including leaks in roofs, broken pipes, or even heavy rainstorms. 

Are They A Waste Of Money (The Final Say)

Gutter guards are not necessary for all homes and you need to evaluate your circumstances to work out if they would be worth it.

Roof surface area should be considered when choosing gutter guards. Larger surface areas would direct a large volume of water and so would not be suitable.

Gutter guards are more expensive than gutter cleaning in some cases. They are expensive to install and can detract from the home’s look.

Guttering is easier to maintain than gutter guards. What’s more, gutters need to be cleaned of debris that makes it past the gutter guards.

Gutter guards are designed in a way that attracts animals nesting in gutters.

This could mean an increase in wasps, bees, and birds, and could cause a blockage. Gutter guards do not protect gutters from blockages caused by animals.

Gutter guards are also not effective at preventing small debris from falling into gutters.

If the debris on your roof is from smaller trees, such as pine needles, it may not keep the gutter completely free of this.

Final Thoughts

So are gutter guards worth the cost? Generally speaking, no. In most cases, they are not needed and can be detrimental.

It depends on the size of your roof and how much water you get in your area. 

You can still end up with blockages and the problems that could arise are often not worth the cost. It is often a better bet to go for a professional gutter cleaning service.

This is a lot safer, more efficient, cost-effective, and dependable.

It can be used in replacement for gutter guards when maintaining your gutter system and keeping it in working order.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age