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Gutter Protection



Gutters are designed to do two things in the world; catch falling debris from the roof and funnel the water through the downspouts.  This is why they are made of aluminum or galvanized steel.  There are many gutter protection systems on the market.  The problem with them is that they do not address the problem.  The problem is the amount of falling debris on the roof that makes its way to the gutters.  The real solution is removing or thinning trees that are close to buildings and reducing the amount of debris that falls on the roof.


I’ve seen many different gutter protection systems over the years.  And removed most of them.  There are sponges, louvers, half - pipes, many different styles of mesh covers, and various redesigned gutters that have covers built into them.  Here’s the problem, if the protection is actually successful, then all of that debris that should have gone into the gutters, designed just for that, will now need to go somewhere else.


Generally, this is when you see debris piled on the edge of the roof or streaking down and staining the fronts of the gutters because the debris can no longer get into the gutters designed for it.  Even if there is no buildup of debris on top of the gutter protection, many mesh styles will still stain the fronts of the gutters.  This is due to dirty rainwater running off of the roof and trailing down over the mesh and down the fronts of the gutters.


We’ve all seen the commercials for the gutter system that claims that you will never have to clean the gutters again.  This is a blatant lie.  And these companies should be ashamed of themselves for charging people ten times what everyone else charges for new gutters on the claim that they will never need to clean their gutters again.  For one thing, no one has computer generated leaves that nicely flow down and over the gutters.  We have real trees with real leaves and needles.  The kind that find their way right into these gutters too.  If you really want proof, take a handful of your yard debris (needles, etc.) to the retailer that is selling these gutters with nice clean water running down their display and toss your debris into the mix. If this does not get you removed from their premises, ask them why their very expensive gutter system did not work.


Unfortunately, once customers have purchased this gutter system and it is backed up, they  are then stuck calling the company back that sold them this gutter system and waiting for them to come back by and clean them even though they were sold this system to avoid just this.   When they finally do show up to do this, they run water pressure through the gutters to flush the debris down the downspouts to clear the gutters because they can not get the debris out either.  This means that the protection did not work and now they have flushed the debris right down the downspouts.  If your downspouts go underground, this can be a big problem as they have forced the debris that clogged the downspout at the top down into the system to clog at the next spot which will now be underground.  There are several of these companies that have changed their products slightly and changed their names over the years due to class action lawsuits.  Be sure and research any of them before purchasing their products and their claims of never cleaning your gutters again as it is simply not true.  


Also, keep this in mind.  Whatever gutter protection has been installed will need to be removed so the gutters can be properly cleaned eventually because small debris will get through.   This, of course, can not be done with the expensive redesigned gutter systems as the gutter cover is actually part of the gutter.  If the gutter protection is reinstalled, this takes much more time and will add to the price.  I do offer gutter front scrubbing to remove or lighten the stains caused by the protection as well but this too will add to the price.  This is usually when a customer realizes that if the gutter protection had worked, they would not have needed to call me to clean their gutters.  


In the long run, it is simplest and most affordable to just have the gutters cleaned regularly and let them do the job they were designed to do.  I do recommend strainers to keep the debris from going down the downspouts and causing further problems underground.  Strainers are any device installed in the gutters at the top of the downspouts that keeps the debris from going down.  They can take many shapes but almost anything will work for this.  


The most effective product I’ve found for strainers so far is to take the sponges that are designed to fill the gutters (do not fill them), and cut the four foot strips down into one foot pieces.  The sponges are originally manufactured into a long triangle shape.  They are designed to slide in the gutters (clean first), and rest with a flat side facing up and giving it the appearance that the entire gutter is full of the sponges.  Ideally, the water runs freely underneath the sponges to the downspouts.  This system does help some situations, depending on adjacent trees, but to work effective, it must be installed fully.  The sponges need to completely fill the gutter from one end to the other to keep the debris out.  If there are gaps or missing sections, it is ineffective as the debris gets underneath the sponges with the water.


To use the cut-down one foot pieces as strainers.  Install them over the downspout holes in the gutters at the same spots as any other strainers.  Most strainers fit into the downspout hole itself to stay in place.  The sponges sit over the holes instead.  Take the sponges and turn them.  You want the long point facing upwards and the shorter flat side facing down.  If you look at the sponge from one end with it pointed up, you can see that it has a right angle (90 degrees) on one corner on the bottom and the other one is much sharper.  Install it into the gutter with the 90 degree angle tucked to the back inside corner of the gutter.  This will put the long point facing up right against the back of the gutter.  Tuck the long point under the posts and roof flashing (metal hanging from under the roof).  Squeeze the small flat side facing down and tuck it into the bottom.  It fits nice and snug, filling the bottom of the gutter with the small flat side of the sponge.  Once they are installed under the flashing and posts and tucked into the bottom, they are installed.  


One other negative aspect of installing the full sponge system is that the sponges will eventually need to be cleaned.  Even they can only stop so much debris before they stop letting the water through.  When this happens, you will be looking at a big messy job.  Pulling those wet sponges out of those gutters with the debris build-up on top of it is no clean job.  In my opinion, this messy job is much worse than regular gutter cleaning.  If they are never cleaned, the debris will eventually start to come over the fronts of the gutters with the dirty water.  This is when you see the really bad stained fronts on the gutters.





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