Are gutter guards worth the cost?
Cleaning out gutters is a pain. If you live in a neighborhood surrounded by huge fir trees or towering oaks, a fair amount of debris could gather in your gutters over the course of a year. You may groan over having to prepare for a DIY gutter cleaning at least twice annually, but if you don’t, issues can arise. Clogs will form, downspouts will be overloaded, and rainwater will start to drip off the side of your roof, creating moisture problems on the fascia board, under the roof shingles, and near your foundation.
Being up on your roof to clean out your gutters is a nerve-wracking process. If you're picturing yourself slipping on a loose shingle, you may want to outsource the job – but hiring a roofing maintenance contractor to conquer your gutters may not agree with your wallet.
You may be wondering the average cost of gutter covers or gutter guards and whether or not they are a worthwhile investment. Below, we’ll dive into how much gutter guards cost and if the expense is worth it for your home.
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How much do gutter guards cost?
When it comes to gutter guards there are a few different options available. For premium, professionally installed micromesh gutter guards, expect to pay at least $10 per linear foot of gutter length. On an average home with 200 feet of gutters to cover, that amounts to about $2000. For a cheaper DIY option, you could go with a 75 pack of 3 foot hinged screens, which you could install on your gutters for about $250.
Source: Rooftop Services LLC
Do gutter leaf guards work? Are they a good idea?
If you foot the bill and have a professional install your leaf guards, you'd hope they would work well at preventing leaf and pine needle buildup. Gutter guards should reduce the amount of time you need to clean them out. If you find yourself cleaning out your gutters the same amount or more than usual, you should ask yourself – are gutter guards worth it?
Some gutter guard systems offered by Leaf Filter or Gutter Helmet claim they don’t allow any material to ever enter the gutter. They accomplish this by limiting the amount of water that can get into the gutter. If you limit the water that gets into the gutter during heavy rainfall, you're taking away the overall value of your gutters.
Even the most expensive gutter guards have holes in them. These holes create an opening for other materials aside from water and large debris to get in. When you enclose an area that normally sees wind and sunshine, you're creating the perfect environment for mold, moss, algae, and lichens to grow.
Even fancier options with a curved structure still have holes in which twigs can get lodged in and create backups.
Source: All American Gutter Protection
In 2018, a Washington Post journalist tested nearly every type of gutter guard system and discovered that almost all of them fail. The only one that worked was a micro stainless steel mesh design with a fine weave, as photographed above. However, the cost of micro-mesh gutter guards was exorbitant because professional installation needed to be done by an authorized dealer installer. The author found that hiring a handyman with their own worker’s comp coverage to clean your gutters twice a year over ten years would be more affordable!
If you live in an area that often sees snowy winters, metal mesh designs are not ideal. Snow can easily pile up on top of the gutters, water melts and refreezes more easily with enhanced surface tension, ice dams form, and you’ll get larger icicles than ever before. Harsh weather like this can create structural problems over time, and the repairs may be more costly. It's important to commit to proper roof maintenance no matter your gutter guard design.
Source: Valor Gutter Guards
Sure enough, Valor recognized this issue as well, and has provided an option to electrify your gutters with a heat cable! While we're fairly certain this product may work, it's a bit of a hassle for the average homeowner. Finding an authorized dealer and ponying up the installation expense may be too challenging to justify.
The fact of the matter is, you’re still going to need to clean your gutters once in a while – even with gutter guards installed. The chore of cleaning your gutters could be more complicated with gutter guards. You'll have to temporarily remove the guards, clean out the small debris from your gutters, and set them in place again. This multi-step process means you'll be spending more time on your roof. If you plan on hiring someone to do the job for you, be prepared for the extra expense.
While you may not need to clean out your gutters as often with gutter guards, cleaning your gutters will become a more time-intensive hassle. With upfront installation and difficult cleanings ahead of you, it may be more budget-friendly if you forgo installing gutter guards altogether.
The best gutter guard options
The best gutter guards have steel screens and hinge fasteners which make cleaning out your clogging gutters relatively easy - as long as you’re doing it from the roof. Steel screen gutter guards usually open and swing out away from your structure with the help of these hinges.
Swing-open, hinged DIY models are offered by gutter guard companies like Amerimax, eGutter, and Boegger Industech. Almost all gutter guards come with a lifetime warranty since the materials used are usually made from long-lasting metal.
Final thoughts on gutter guards
Someone really should be up on your roof at least once a year to inspect and clean it, especially if you live underneath or near a tree canopy. If someone is up there to do the job anyway, adding in gutter cleaning with a gutter brush or leaf blower is a pretty easy task.
We’ve read reports from consumers like Ray below who purchased gutter guards 5-10 years ago because it was a challenge to reach second-floor gutter lines for cleaning. During heavy rains, water now runs down the back and front of the gutters because they are clogged with lichens:
Source: Discussion post from Rooftop Services LLC
Instead of going with gutter guards, homeowners should perform basic roof maintenance instead. While establishing any routine can be a hassle, your effort will be worth it in the long run.
- Professionally installed micro-mesh gutter guards cost an average of $6-$10 per linear foot.
- The best guards have hinges which allow you to easily lift them for cleaning.
- Even premium gutter guards will not keep your gutters 100% clear, and they still need to be cleaned.
- Gutter guards make it more expensive and slower to clean your gutters.
Author: Dan Hahn | Solar Journalist
Dan is a solar journalist and content advisor with SolarReviews. He also works with solar installers and solar nonprofits to develop and execute strategic plans.