Gutter Screen time proven leaf protection

I like gutter screens.

I think that they are the least expensive, most effective form of  leaf protection. Not only that, but there very easy to install. Typically they come in 3 foot sections that you tuck under your starter course of shingles, then hook on the front lip of your gutter. A zip screw through the top edge of either end and your done.

Besides being inexpensive and effective, another one of the benefits that gutter screens have over other forms of leaf protection is that most styles are easily removable. This allows access to the inside of the gutter so you can re-seal any leaky end caps or miters and tighten or add fasteners as needed. Also, they leave the entire top of the gutter open to accept water. This is important for your gutter to do its job properly.

Some reasons not to use a gutter screen.

If you have pine needles or maples trees with “whilrybird” leaves, you might want to consider another option. Both have a tendency to stick straight up out of the screen. Some types of cottonwood can be a problem as well. Their leaves will eventually all dry up and blow away, or wash out through the gutter, but can be unsightly.

What type of screen is best?

You should always use a screen made from the same material as your gutters. Dissimilar metals will react to each other, causing a premature failure.

Always use the heaviest gauge screen you can find, especially if there will be snow and ice on top of it.

Some screens are made with a fine mesh on top. This may solve the pine needle and whirlybird issue, but they tend to freeze over rather easily and can be a problem in colder climates.

Plastic or vinyl screens are OK, but tend to fail in extreme temperature fluctuations, stain easily and don’t have the longevity of metal screens.

Gutter filters and foam products

It seems that today everyone is trying to “build a better mouse trap” when it comes to rain gutter leaf protection. Gutter filters, gutter foam products, the gutter brush, etc. are all hot topics as America’s Baby Boomers reach retirement age and are looking for ways to reduce the amount of maintenance they are required to do on their homes.

So, do they work?

Sure, they all work to some degree. Let’s take a closer look at some of the different styles and the good / bad features of each:

Gutter Filters

There are several gutter filters on the market today. Most work great for a while.

Products that are made from natural fibers are prone to many problems due to UV rays. They have a protective coating, but can’t hold up. They are prone to shrinkage, breaking down and are usually very thick, which can inhibit the water from traveling horizontally in the gutter.

Other rain gutter filter products are made from nylon or plastic. These are generally much thinner than natural fiber filters and can hold up to the elements a little better. But they can be difficult to install, sometimes requiring the installer to silicone them in place.

Foam gutter filters

I’ve tested two types of foam filters. UV rays were a problem here also. Both were disintegrating after only one season. They take up a lot of room in the gutter, slowing the flow of water.

Foam filters are the easiest product to install. They are dark, so they will attract heat, and you can’t see them from the ground, but they are the first one torn out of the gutters.

Most of all, use common sense when choosing a leaf protection product. Think about your home and the type of debris that you deal with. Check a product out and make sure your not throwing your money away.

Gutter Hoods just arent for me

Over the past eight or so years, gutter hoods or surface tension leaf protection products have made a huge comeback. These aren’t new products. The first patent for this type of leaf protection came out in the early 1900’s. They just got a new sales force behind them.

My experience is that they just plain old don’t work. I’m not picking on any one style of hood, and I have personally talked to people who love them. But the bottom line for me is that they plain old don’t work. In a heavy rain, the water jumps right over the top, small leaves and debris can follow the curve of the hood just as well as water can, the inside miters are awful and they create a huge ledge for debris to sit on.

Some hood products are actually caulked down under the second course of shingles! Ive been told that this won’t void your roof warranty, but you won’t be doing it to my roof.

Small birds and especially bees love to build nests in them.

Most of all, there expensive!

In 2009, the average installed price in my area is $14 to $18 dollars a foot!

So, if your house has 300 lineal feet of gutters at, lets say, $15 a foot, that’s $4500 just for the leaf protection. How long could you get your gutters professionally cleaned for $4500? Many years!

Not only could you have them cleaned, but with the top of the gutter open, you can re-seal and maintain the rain gutters so they are at the peak of performance when you need them.

The choice is yours.

Residential Rain Gutter Downspouts

Rain Gutter downspouts are a critical part of your homes rainwater protection system. Downspouts that are clogged or improperly installed negate any benefits that your rain gutter system is designed to offer.

The two main styles of residential rain gutter downspouts are square (rectangular) and round. Square spouts are usually installed with a k-style or flat bottom gutter and round downspout with half round gutter.

As far as sizing goes, the industry standard used to be a 2″ x 3″ for square downspouts and 3″ for round downspouts. But today a typical installation would use a 3″ x 4″ sq pipe or 4″ round. There are many benefits to a larger downspout. They let through twice the water, twice the debris and are much tougher to clog.

Gutter downspouts are manufactured in plain (smooth) and corrugated (with ridges.) If you live in an area where you get freezing in the winter its important to use a corrugated downspout to allow for the expansion and contraction of snow and ice.

If you live in an area with allot of snow and ice, heat tape (low voltage wire you can run through your gutter system to keep it free of ice) might be needed to help keep your downspouts from bursting at the seams.

Gutter cleaning tips, hints, and tricks

Cleaning your gutters is a necessary part of regular home maintenance. The only thing worse than not having rain gutters is having a rain gutter system that doesn’t function properly.  There are some things you can do to make the chore of gutter cleaning easier though.

Be prepared!

Make sure you have every thing you need to clean your gutters before you start! A ladder, hose, garbage bags, screw gun, screws,  extra gutter sealant, and a gutter scoop are all good things to have at the ready when you begin your gutter cleaning project.

Inspect your gutters!

When your cleaning your gutters it’s a perfect time to check for leaky mitres, loose straps, and downspout components that need your attention. the old saying “a stitch in time saves nine” really does apply here, the small amount of extra effort you spend could save you time and money if you end up with water in your basement.

Safety First!

It never pays to take chances when cleaning gutters. For most of us climbing ladders or working at the edge of a roof aren’t a part of our every day jobs. losing your balance and falling from a roof or ladder happens in an instant. There are no second chances. Sometimes its worth while to pay a professional to clean your gutters, its more than likely less than what a broken bone could cost you.

K style Rain Gutters

K style  gutters, also called ogee rain gutters are probably the most commonly installed rain gutters.   K style gutters are ideal for applications where a flat fascia has been installed but can also be applied with a hanging style gutter strap to accommodate a canted (slanted) fascia or a fascia with a crown molding installed.

K style gutters typically range in size from 4″ to 8″. (To determine a gutters size take a measurement of the opening across the top.) The most common size for a residential K style gutter is 5″ although 6″ K style gutter is becoming more and more popular as today’s modern roof lines require gutter that will handle a higher capacity of water.

As far as materials go, the most popular are. .032 aluminum is the most widely used for its lightweight, many colors, and ease of manufacture. Pre-finished galvanized steel is known for its strength and copper for its beauty and longevity.