The annual ritual of balancing on a ladder whilst scraping nasty sludge out of the gutters is more than enough incentive to look into gutter guards. Preventing leaves and debris from building up in the gutters keeps the water flowing smoothly from the roof, through the gutters, and to the downspouts. Selecting the best gutter guards for a house varies, depending on the homeowner's budget, do-it-yourself abilities, and preferred gutter guard type.
The purpose of gutter guards
Gutter guards cover the top of the gutter and prevent leaves, pine needles, and other debris from accumulating, reducing the need for annual cleanings. If the gutters have no guards, it becomes necessary for homeowners to climb a ladder to clean them; otherwise, water could overflow and puddle next to the foundation or back up under the shingles and leak into the house.
Gutter mesh covers
Gutter mesh covers, or screens, vary from simple vinyl mesh to stainless steel micromesh that allow only water to pass through the 50 micron holes. Both types of screens prevent leaves and debris from accumulating, but the micromesh screens' microscopic holes prevent even grains of sand from entering the gutter.
Basic gutter mesh
Choose a basic gutter mesh if budget is the main concern. There are several styles, ranging from rolls of plastic, aluminium, or steel mesh to flat panels designed to snap onto the outer edge of the gutter. The roof side of the gutter mesh generally tucks under the shingles, allowing the water to flow from the roof into the gutter while blocking large leaves and debris. Basic mesh styles are less effective against pine needles and small debris because of the larger holes.
Select a micromesh gutter screen if deciduous and evergreen trees surround the house. Aluminium and stainless steel micromesh gutter systems efficiently block leaves, pine needles, seedpods, and nearly all other debris from entering the gutter. The micromesh could clog with organic matter if moss or mould covers the roof, or with tar residue if installed next to asphalt shingles.
Gutter inserts vary from foam pads to long bottle brush-like inserts. No special tools are needed for installation; the homeowner simply places the insert into the gutter.
Choose foam inserts if ease of installation is the primary concern. Foam inserts fill the gutter with porous polyether foam, preventing the entry of all types of leaves and debris. The foam easily cuts to size with scissors and tucks under the gutter support brackets. If the gutter lacks support brackets, a bead of caulk along the roof side holds the foam in place. Heavy downpours may overflow the gutter if the water cannot flow through the foam fast enough to keep up with the storm.
Select brush inserts if large-leaved trees surround the home or if ease of installation is a factor. No glue is necessary for the bottle brush-type inserts; the bristles hold them securely inside the gutter. Brush inserts prevent large leaves from accumulating inside the gutter, but they may still require removal at intervals to clear pine needles, twigs, and debris from the bristles.
Choose solid top gutter guards for the aesthetic value and efficient design. Solid top gutter guards cover the gutters with holes, perforations, or a long slender opening on the outer edge to allow water to pour into the gutter. The surface tension of the water flowing over the curved surface of the cover carries the water down and around into the gutter, while leaves slip over the top and onto the ground. However, during heavy rains, the water might lose the surface tension and flow over the gutter's edge.
Help for snow and ice
Add a heat cable manufactured for use on roofs and inside gutters to prevent ice dams and snow buildup on top of gutter guards. Run the heat cables down the downspouts to keep them ice-free.
How to buy gutter guards on eBay
The search for gutter guards begins with the search bar found on any eBay page. Typing in a few keywords, such as "microscreen gutter guard", "gutter inserts", or "gutter heat cable", and clicking on the search button reveals a plethora of gutter guard listings. After reviewing the photographs and descriptions, finalise your purchase. Once installed, the extra protection that gutter guards provide by preventing the gutters from filling up with debris and overflowing, sets your mind at ease when the winter rains arrive.