The Pros And Cons Of Gutter Guard Systems

Most New Zealanders have to keep up a constant battle against clogged gutters. If you live near trees that lose their leaves, the end of autumn is an especially perilous time. And if you live near pines and other evergreens, which are constantly shedding their needles, you have to stay vigilant all year round.

It’s understandable, then, that many homeowners are very keen to find a system that lets water in but keeps debris out.

Gutters guards are an attempt to do exactly that. They’re not equally useful in all cases, but certain types of property can benefit from gutter guard systems. Let’s have a look at the different types, and their pros and cons:

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Types of gutter guards

Bottle brush gutter guards

Gutter brushes fill the space inside the gutter, and prevent larger leaves from accumulating while giving unimpeded access to rainwater.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to install yourself.

Cons: Smaller debris tends to gather in the bristles, and is difficult to remove; you need to wait for it to decompose.

Foam gutter guards

A gutter is an empty cavity waiting to be filled by something. Foam gutter guards take up the whole space, allowing water to soak through the foam but preventing leaves from getting in.

Pros: Very DIY-friendly, inexpensive.

Cons: Can encourage mould buildup, and still requires almost as much cleaning and maintenance as if you had no gutter guards at all.

Mesh gutter guards

Often made of aluminium or PVC, mesh gutter guards are placed over the gutter. Water can penetrate the small holes in the mesh, but leaves and other debris cannot.

Pros: Inexpensive, widely available, and DIY-friendly.

Cons: Although leaves can’t get through the mesh, there’s very little stopping them from simply gathering on top of the screen and clogging your gutters that way. Smaller debris such as seeds can still get through the mesh holes.

Reverse-curve gutter guards

This type of guard uses the concept of surface tension to keep debris away from your gutters. Water will stick to the guard’s surface and follow it (even when upside-down) into the gutter, whereas leaves will simply fall to the ground.

Pros: Sealed. Nifty. With occasional maintenance, it’s usually a reliable option.

Cons: Very difficult to install yourself and hard to find on the market. Not always effective, as water sometimes falls to the ground and debris sometimes clogs the opening.

Micro-mesh

Along with reverse-curve guards, micro-mesh is one of the most effective ways to prevent clogging. The holes in the mesh are so small that almost nothing solid can get inside.

Pros: Doesn’t let anything solid through. Usually highly effective.

Cons: Impedes water access to gutters. In heavy rainfall or storms, this can become a problem. Also needs to be installed by a professional.

Should I get a gutter guard?

Great question – and it’s a tough one to answer. We hold back from sweeping generalisations, as gutter guards can work in certain cases yet are ineffective in others.

What’s important to get across is that gutter guards don’t mean you can neglect your gutters. No matter which type you choose, some debris will still accumulate and you’ll still need to clean them occasionally. But it’s usually much easier to clean a clogged gutter guard than it is to clean a clogged gutter. Gutter guards are also essential if you want to collect and reuse rainwater.

The cost of more fancy (and effective) gutter guards can be the same as a couple of years of regular professional gutter cleaning. So it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether you’d like to make a long-term investment, or rely on periodic gutter cleaning instead.

Our gutter specialists offer a free assessment and quote anywhere in the Auckland region, and we’re always happy to advise you about whether a gutter guard could be right for your property. Contact us today to find out more!

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