Solved! Are Gutter Guards Worth The Money?

A clogged gutter system can cause problems for a homeowner, from water damage to pest infestations and more, but cleaning out gutters isn’t always easy. But are gutter guards worth it, and can they save your home?
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Are Gutter Guards Worth It
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Q: I recently purchased a two-story home and have noticed that after any bad weather—even light rainfall—my gutters don’t drain properly. My neighbor suggested gutter guards, but they’re pricey. Are gutter guards worth it?

A: The answer to, “Are gutter guards worth it?” is yes. Gutter guards provide a long-term solution to reduce the frequency with which homeowners need to clean out their gutters. However, the type of gutter guard required depends on the homeowner’s location, aesthetic, ease of installation, and budget.

For warmer climates, homeowners will want to purchase guards with material that is not prone to warping. Those in cooler climates will want to look for guards that prevent ice dams. Homeowners who live in areas with a high level of annual rainfall will want to choose a stronger, more reliable option than someone who lives in a climate with light rainfall.

Gutter guards help improve water flow in gutters and prevent a variety of issues.

Are Gutter Guards Worth It
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Gutter guards greatly reduce the frequency of gutter cleanings by improving rainwater flow. They can help prevent water damage and unsightly streaks on molding, flooding in basements or foundations, soil erosion in landscaping, and the occurrence of mold—including dangerous black mold.

Homeowners can ensure gutter guards’ longevity by checking for damage after storms and confirming they’re clear of any obstructions that will promote damage. Extensive water damage will cost a homeowner far more than the price of gutter guards.

Gutter guards can also help to prolong the life of one’s gutters, roofing, and siding by preventing rust and erosion.

Gutter guards can prevent pest infestations.

A lot of unwanted pests, including mosquitos, spiders, and ants, tend to congregate in dirty and wet areas. However, gutter guards can stop pests, including larger ones like mice, rats, birds, squirrels, and bats, from entering the home through the roof or gutter system by providing a less habitable environment that is difficult for them to access.

Ice dams and freezing can happen when gutters are clogged in the winter.

In low temperatures, rain gutters without guards are more prone to ice dams—snow water that has melted off the roof and refreezes and unfreezes repeatedly while sitting stagnant in the gutter system. When left unaddressed, ice dams can lead to a blockage in the gutters and cause a lot of damage.

Gutter guards are an effective preventative measure that may reduce the frequency and severity of ice dams. However, those in areas that experience snowy weather may want to avoid reverse curve guards, which can worsen the problem by trapping snow and ice inside the gutter instead of facilitating water flow.

Dry debris in gutters can cause brush fires. 

Depending on the home’s location, gutter guards can be essential in protecting a home against brush fires. Dry debris is extremely flammable and essentially acts as timber on top of the home. Without gutter guards preventing dry brush build-up, one spark from a wildfire or backyard fire pit that lands on a home could fuel a fire that causes severe, costly damage.

Wet, clogged gutters can foster water damage and mold growth.

When plant matter such as leaves, twigs, dirt, and other bits of debris block water runoff in the gutter, damage to roofing materials can occur, along with damage to the foundation and surrounding landscape. This can lead to homeowners experiencing potentially lasting damage including mold growth, leaks, and more. Oftentimes homeowners won’t notice the damage until it has progressed significantly, as it impacts the roof and attic before making its way into the main part of the home.

Are Gutter Guards Worth It
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There are different types of gutter guards to best suit a homeowner’s needs and preferences.

Many types of gutter guards are available, including:

  • Screens. Screen gutter guards are an affordable and customizable option that blocks larger debris and pests. They are easy to install and can be cut to any size.
  • Micro-Mesh. These durable filters block buildup of debris using a porous polyurethane material, which is designed to prevent mildew, fungus, and mold growth. It’s easy to install and remove, making those infrequent gutter cleaning days easier.
  • Brush. As one of the most inexpensive and easy options to install, brush guards feature stiff wire bristles that run across the entire gutter to block debris from entering.
  • Foam Filters. Foam filters have a triangular design that sits inside the gutter and blocks larger debris while promoting water drainage and the flow of smaller debris.
  • Reverse Curve. A more expensive option, reverse curve gutter guards work with gravity to guide rainwater into the gutter while sending debris directly off the house and onto the ground below. They are great for wooded areas, though they require expert installation.

Homeowners will also want to consider which type of gutter guard will work best with the types of gutters installed on their home. Vinyl gutter guards are often the lowest-cost option, but they have a shorter lifespan than more expensive materials like aluminum and stainless steel. A professional can help the homeowner choose the best type of gutter guard for their home and their budget.

Gutter guards cost on average around $1,300, but they’re a worthwhile investment for many homeowners. 

The cost of gutter guards ranges depending on the style, material, and amount needed to sufficiently protect a home, though the long-term benefits outweigh the initial purchase price. Installing any form of gutter guard can increase the resale value of a home, as it helps to maintain the integrity of the gutter guard system.

Homeowners can save far more money in the long term. That’s because homeowners who don’t have guards installed need to empty their gutters roughly twice a year, and professional gutter cleaning costs an average of $159 per visit. However, the best gutter guards reduce the required visits to about once every 2 years. Gutter guards can also save homeowners money on expensive projects such as foundation repair or ice dam removal by improving the flow of water so it doesn’t affect the home as easily.

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Homeowners looking to invest in a gutter guard system can consider the following commonly asked questions.

Q. Do gutter guards work during heavy storms?

A gutter guard’s efficiency will depend on how quickly rainwater filters through. With some guards, water cannot filter through quickly enough, causing water to bypass gutters altogether.

Q. Do gutter guards save money?

Yes, gutter guards can save a homeowner money because the gutters require less frequent maintenance and can prevent damage to a home. However, homeowners will still need to pay up front to have gutter guards installed, so it’s important that they weigh the initial cost against the potential long-term savings.

Q. Can gutter guards cause leaks?

If a homeowner does not maintain their gutter guards by cleaning them out when necessary—or they are improperly installed—they can be rendered ineffective and cause leaks. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to maintain their gutters by having them inspected and cleaned on a regular basis.

Q. How long do gutter guards last?

Gutter guards generally last from 2 to 10 years depending on the climate and type of guard used. Aluminum guards last the longest, with a 10- to 20-year lifespan, but they cost more up front than a less durable material such as vinyl gutter guards.

Q. Should I remove gutter guards in the winter?

No, most gutter guards can withstand the harsh weather conditions of winter; however, homeowners will want to look out for ice dams during the season to ensure the system is protected and working properly. Left untreated, ice dams can cause expensive damage to a home.