Advice on Gutters and Gutter Guards

Gutters….gutters…gutters… After researching my own issues, I want to share some advice on gutters and gutter guards. I hate talking about them because they are such a thing! However, they’re a necessary thing, that, when installed and maintained correctly, will save your house from serious water and foundation issues.

Recently, we bought a house in the heart of Atlanta with beautiful new gutters. We love the home, neighborhood, and mature trees surrounding our tiny lot. Because we moved in December, we didn’t realize the extent of debris that would soon be falling from our trees. That said, it is now summer and we are constantly battling these gutters! So, I’ve done some exploring on how to solve my problem.

This post was originally published on June 11, 2019, and has been revised and updated.

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Wood log house with roof drainage gutter system.

Gutters have a vital role in your home’s exterior

Professionally installed gutters can be beautiful and create a crisp edge along your roofline. Gutters may be even adorned with gorgeous gutter heads and give your home personality. At brick&batten, we spend all sorts of time helping clients select the gutters that will best suit the home’s style. However, the main purpose of a gutter is to guide rain and storm water off the roof and away from your home’s foundation. Your structure is unstable if water erodes the soil next to the house. That’s the bottom line!

So, YES, you need gutters! They are a necessary evil. My neighbor’s home doesn’t have gutters, and the foundation is falling apart. She constantly has water in her crawl space because the water isn’t redirected away from the house. Looking at her siding, it’s amazing the house is still standing… and who knows about the critters she may have living in the walls from all the holes due to rain damage!

Damaged foundation

Gutters viewed from below, looking up downspout

Gutter vocabulary

Because of my gutter issues, I’ve learned a ton about gutter parts and the language used when describing my problem. The basics: Gutters are the long horizontal pieces of pipe along your roof line. A downspout is the vertical piece that runs down the side of your house. The bottom of the downspout is an L shaped piece called an elbow. An elbow shoots the water away. I see a ton of gutters that end at a downspout… that’s pointless and creates a pool right next to your home’s foundation. I see others that have the elbow pointing away, but it’s not long enough to really send the water in a different direction. In this case, your gutter needs a tube connected to make it longer, redirecting the water.

gutter guard

Using gutter guards

After doing my own research to help my gutter issues, I’ve discovered the possibility of using gutter guards. Gutter guards could possibly keep my husband off the roof every month and gives me peace of mind that our 1920’s bungalow is not deteriorating at the foundation. I’ve read all the gutter guard reviews. Heard all the horror stories. Discussed with neighbors how theirs don’t work. Listened to my husband moan about the cost. But I still want them. Why? Because if gutter guards are made and installed correctly, from a reputable dealer, they DO WORK! Are they maintenance free? No, but they do offer protection for your gutters and help with clogging.

Useless gutter guards

The importance of proper gutter guard installation

So what is wrong with gutter guards? Nothing — so long as they are installed correctly. (See above for what NOT to do.)

Recently I read a blog post about a woman who installed $3000 Rhino gutter guards. Rhino is a good brand with decent reviews. So why was she still having problems? The answer was simple: The gutter guards were installed backwards, and a 5” size was used on a 6” gutter. YIKES! She was hacked by good gutters gone bad! Unfortunately, when this woman went back to the company that installed her gutters, she realized they were out of business and she had no recourse.

Get a free estimate for gutter guards or a gutter cleaning service from LeafFilter, one of the biggest gutter guard and gutter cleaning companies in the United States with over 850,000 satisfied customers.

Black gutter guards properly installed

Choosing a company to install gutter guards

I’m going to ask a lot of questions before choosing a company to install my gutter guards. First, I’m going to ask how long they have been in business. I want client recommendations. I’m also going to ask the percentage of their clients who have issues or need a second and third visit. Finally, I’m curious to know if the installers have gutter guards on their own homes. If so, what is their experience. If not, why not? Also, I’ll read as many reviews as I can find online.

The roof of an open veranda made of wood trim with plastic pipes for rain gutters, an element of architecture

What I’ve learned…

  • Gutters, downspouts, and elbows are pivotal in maintaining the integrity of your home’s exterior.
  • The best gutter guards are made from ultra-fine micro mesh. It’s a stainless steel mesh that’s the best material to handle environmental wear and tear.
  • The holes in the gutter guard should be tiny, like pantyhose! The ultra-fine micro mesh mentioned above provides this effect. If the holes are too big, debris gets inside, and it’s hard to get out because of the guard.
  • Gutter guards have to be installed correctly. Even the best gutter guard won’t work if it’s not installed properly. This means it should be angled at the same slope as your roof and shingles.
  • A flat guard is no good because debris sits on top. A guard that tilts toward the house or is cupped is worse than not having one!
  • Even gutter guards need to be cleaned occasionally so that debris doesn’t sit on top of the mesh and clog it. It’s no fun, but this means you still need to maintain the gutter guard.

In conclusion, gutters are a necessary thing, that, when installed and maintained correctly, will save your house from serious water and foundation issues. Though expensive, appropriately sized and installed gutter guards will help with this maintenance, keeping your gutters free of debris.

Partner with our expert exterior design team to help you visualize your home with all of the updates you need AND want. Gutters and downspouts, new front yard hardscaping, a new metal roof… whatever you’re looking for in killer curb appeal, we’re here to kickstart your project. All we need from you is a photo (or blueprint!) of your exterior. We’ll give you a rendering of your property’s potential as well as a clickable resource list you can use in bringing the design to life. Get started today.