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, 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.  Moving 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!  Because of this, I’ve done some exploring on how to solve my problem.

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 adored with gorgeous gutter heads and give your home personality. At brick&batten we spend a lot of time helping clients select gutters to 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 living in the walls from all the holes due to rain damage!

Now that we’ve established your need for gutters, we need to discuss “gutter language.”  

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 defer the water a different direction.  In this case, your gutter needs a tube connected to make it longer, redirecting the water. 

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 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.

What’s wrong with gutter guards?  Nothing!

Recently I read a blog about a woman who installed $3000, Rhino gutter guards.  Rhino is a good brand with decent reviews.  So why is 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!  When this woman went back to the company that installed her gutters, she realized they were out of business and she had no recourse.  

I’m going to ask a lot of questions before choosing a company to install my gutter guards.

When I go to purchase and install gutter guards, I’m going to ask how long they have been in business. I want client recommendations.  And, I’ll read reviews on the Better Business Bureau.  I’m also going to ask the percentage of  people 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 and if so, what is their experience.  If not, why not?

What I’ve learned…

  • The best gutter guards are made from ultra fine micro mesh.  It’s a stainless steel mesh that handles environmental wear and tear like a pro.  

  • 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 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!
  • The holes in the gutter guard should be tiny, like panty hose!  The ultra fine micro mesh provides this.  If the holes are too big, debris gets inside and it’s hard to get out because of the guard.  
  • Even gutter guards need to be cleaned occasionally so debris doesn’t sit on top of the mesh and clog it.  This means you still need to maintain the gutter guard.  Ugh!

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. 

See Ask the Builder Gutter Guard test here to find what he discovered.