Gutter Guards

Vinyl gutter guards

Gutter Guards

Gutter guards can be an important addition to your home, saving  time and money spent on gutter cleaning, while protecting and extending the life of your gutters.  Without gutter guards installed,  leaves collect in your gutters blocking the proper flow of water and defeating the purpose of the gutters.  Wet leaves and standing water add a tremendous amount of weight to the gutters which may stress the gutter hangers to the breaking point.  If water trapped in the gutters freezes it can expand, damaging  the gutters and causing leaks.  These leaks often result in decaying fascia board and soffit.  Well designed and properly installed gutter guards can be an effective solution to these problems.

A common misconception is that rain washes your  gutters full of leaves, and it is true that some leaves are carried  into the gutters during heavy rains.  The reality is that most leaves find their way into the gutters when it is not raining.  As leaves fall on the roof, wind and gravity conspire to move them ever lower until they reach the edge of the roof and  slip into the unprotected gutter.  By the time it rains the gutters are already mostly full of leaves.  When rain water rushes into the gutter it soaks the leaves compacting them and pushing them into the downspouts until they are clogged.  To maintain the proper flow of water it is often necessary to clean out unprotected gutters three or more times each year.

Properly functioning gutter guards divert leaves off the gutter on dry days and when it rains the majority of debris is diverted off the gutters while most of the rain is carried into the gutters.   The small amount of debris that winds up in the gutter is insufficient to cause blockage and is easily flushed out as the gutter drains.

Most gutter guards slip under the shingles and fit over the top of the gutters.  In theory they  allow water to flow into the gutters while  diverting the leaves past the gutters and onto the ground below.  In practical application though many brands are somewhat lacking.

Types of Gutter Guards

Although there are dozens of different styles and manufacturers of gutter guards they can all be placed into a few categories.

  • Slotted, punched hole and screen systems all employ a similar strategy of attempting to mesh style gutter guardsfilter leaves and twigs that wash off the roof.  This design has a flaw in that the perforations in the surface catch and trap leaves.   Not only do the trapped leaves look unsightly but they may actually hold moisture against the roof resulting in decay of the roof sheeting or fascia boards  Many of these types of gutter guards are also very flimsy and easily crushed or blown out of place.  Stay away from this style to avoid disappointment later on.
  • In gutter systems are among some of the poorest designed gutter guard products and Foam fill gutter guardshould more aptly be called leaf traps or dirt traps.  They are generally of two styles, the first consisting of some type of foam or mat that fits down into the gutter.  The idea being that if the gutter is full of foam there is no room for leaves.  The second style is the bottle brush which as the name bottle brush gutter guardsuggests looks like an over sized bottle brush laying in the gutter.  Both types trap leaves, twigs, dirt and the small stones that wash off the roof.  It is not uncommon for seeds to germinate and start to grow among the fibers of this type product.  These styles may also trap and hold moisture against the roof or fascia.  In my experience these types of  gutter guards create more problems than they solve.
  • Micro mesh covers  are highly rated as being one of the most efficient gutter guard micro mesh gutter guardsproducts on the market.  With  solid construction and a thoughtful design, this style gutters guard is what you might expect if you invest a lot of money in research and development.  Newly installed this system works extremely well. Over time however, the extremely fine screen mesh becomes clogged with debris and mildew rendering it much less effective. This system will provide good service when new but requires frequent cleaning as it ages and is also venerable to screen puncture.  The main drawbacks to this system are the necessity for frequent cleaning and the exorbitant cost.
  • Reverse curve gutter guards have been around for a long time and all work on the same principal.  The adhesive properties of water, sometimes referred to as water tension, causes rain water to follow the curved outer lip of the cover back into the gutter while leaves and other debris are directed over the edge of the gutter and onto the ground. Reverse curve systems, produced in both
    Gutter helmet

    The Gutter helmet works well
    but it’s bulky & unsightly

    aluminum and vinyl, use this simple and efficient design that works well as long as a means of properly securing the individual pieces to the gutter is provided.  Clips, brackets and straps are some of the methods used for securing the aluminum products.  Some of the aluminum gutter guards, such as the “gutter helmet”, work well but are extremely bulky and unsightly. Vinyl gutter guards employ a continuous locking lip that is durable yet easy to remove and replace if needed.


I have installed, repaired, replaced or removed most types of gutter guards over the years leaving me with some good insight and strong views on the pros and cons of each style.  While no gutter guard preforms perfectly in all applications, reverse curve systems offer the best compromise between cost and efficiency, with the vinyl style being my preference.  Reasonable materials and labor costs, an efficient design and a low profile that blends in with the gutter make vinyl gutter guards a good choice.

Vinyl gutter guards

vinyl gutter guards provide an
affordable and efficient design


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Wood’s Home Maintenance Service installs and repairs gutters and gutter guards. Contact us today for a free estimate.


About Tony Wood

Tony is a life time resident of North Carolina with over 40 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 33 years he has owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service, providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina. ______________ ______________________________________________________ The information contained in this Blog is opinion derived, from hands on experience of over 40 years in the construction industry and by extensive research by the author. All postulations are referenced to the geographic location in which this experience was gained.
This entry was posted in Exterior Maintenance, musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Gutter Guards

  1. Jim Myhre says:

    I’m concerned with the durability factor on these “PVC Gutter-guards” since I live in the state of Minnesota where winters get plenty cold.
    The PVC thickness appears to be roughly 1/8″; therefore, is there a good chance for this product to crack in the cold, windy weather?

    • Tony Wood says:

      I only have experience with them in the triangle area of NC, where they have proven to be durable and perform very well. Once they are in place they are very secure on the gutter. I don’t think the wind will affect them at all and while PVC does get brittle in cold weather it only tends to break if subjected to sudden impact or excessive bending, neither of which should occur on your gutters. If you are concerned about the suitability of vinyl gutter guards for your area, you might install a few pieces for a test run before doing the entire house. Good Luck!

  2. Al Rivers says:

    I live in rural south Georgia, can I buy the gutter guards from you and install myself ? If so send pricing.

  3. Ivy Baker says:

    This is some really good information about gutter covers. I liked the reverse curve systems and agree that the gutter helmet is a bit too unsightly for my taste.

  4. This is some really good information about gutter guards. It is good to know that there are a few different types of gutter guards. It seems like it would be smart to think about getting reverse curved cards. That does seem like it would help prevent leaves from getting stuck.

  5. Emily Bennette says:

    I just moved into a house that has a lot of maple trees near the house. I have been considering getting a gutter guard. Thanks for pointing out that there are a few different types. Personally, I would like to get a mesh or solid plat over the covers.

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