GUTTER Leaf Protection Systems
Remember that some systems work better or worse with different types of tree growth throughout the country. All deciduous trees produce organic litter in the form of buds, flowers, seeds, small bits of bark, twigs and leaves on a never-ending annual cycle until they die and then fall over. Evergreen trees are just as guilty as they shed needles and other bits of debris throughout the year. Homeowners across the country are willing to pay a premium in those markets where falling leaves and natural debris present the most problems. Figure out which system will work best with the tree coverage in your area.
There are three basic types of gutter protectors: filters, screens and covers. And many good leaf protection contractors carry all three types. Some are add-on devices that fit over existing gutters. Others are complete systems that require replacing existing gutters.
An insert or filter fits in the existing gutter. Filters come in different formats from foam to rounded bristles. But each is designed to be inserted into the gutter trough and repel leaves and debris while permitting rain to pass through.
Filters are easy to install. Most are made from a variety of plastic foam materials. Installation requires a caulk gun and a pair of shears to cut the filter material. With filters you have to cut the material to fit between gutter hangers and create gaps where debris can collect. The material is not visible from the street. Some are installed flat and some are installed with a dome to help leaves and debris slide off. Some are chemically treated to resist UV rays but like any porous plastic material will eventually become brittle.
Another type of filter is the twisted wire gutter brush that resembles a pipe cleaner and comes in 18, 36 and 48 inch lengths and is inserted into the gutter trough. Some manufacturers suggest the brushes be removed every three to five years for maintenance which involves giving them a tap and putting them back.
Another filter manufacturer offers an L-shaped design made from natural fibers coated with UV stable premium acrylic latex. The product can be installed without tools and requires a scissors to cut lengths and miters.
Some filters are treated with biocides to prevent fungus, mildew and mold that may biodegrade filter products.
One such filter is an open-cell, polyurethane insert, specially shaped and cut to fit snugly into the gutter. Water flows through the filter into the gutter valley and out the downspout. A biocide and fungicide also inhibit the breeding of mosquitoes in the filter material or gutter.
||The next leaf protection system is the gutter screen. This is the original gutter protection system, sold for decades but because of the large holes in their wire mesh screens they were never quite popular with homeowners. In the older versions the holes were large enough for pine needles and seeds to get through, forming a thick slurry mix that often clogged gutters and leaders.
Hinged Gutter Screens are an economical choice to help prevent
leaves from clogging your gutter system. They are designed to
clip to the top-front lip of your existing gutter and rest on
the roofing shingles. They are somewhat effective against leaves
however, they are no match for pine needles. Furthermore, you
will still need to clean-out you gutter system on occasion.
Flat Gutter Screens are about as effective as the Hinged Gutter Screens except they do not allow for easy access during clean-out. They are installed underneath the roofing shingles.
Manufacturers have made marked improvements in screen technology. For example, one powder-coated screen combines large and fine mesh metal screens together. The same screen also features a Z bend option that helps shed leaves because of its domed configuration.
Screens made from plastic and aluminum roll are predominantly made for the do it yourself market and the very low end gutter installer. These products are not very durable and will blow away or uproot.
Some screens simply slip into existing gutters, snap into place with spring tension or are otherwise attached or screwed to the gutters themselves. Prying up and breaking the seal of the first row of shingles is not required and screens generally come in three foot sections which can be easily cut in length and mitered for corners.
The third category is the gutter cover or hood. Gutter covers
or hoods are usually are quite effective at deflecting leaves,
acorns, pinecones and other debris that can choke downspouts.
Under certain conditions, small bits of organic matter such as
tree seedlings or short pine needles may bypass the cover, but
a good downpour will carry this debris away if the gutter is
All do the job; they just do it differently. One major difference is in how they
channel water into the gutter. Some systems have a rounded nose
that directs water into a narrow longitudinal gap. Others have
louvered slots or perforated openings. Some gutter covers simply
slide under the first or second course of shingles; others must
be glued or nailed to the roof. Some systems are retrofit products
designed to mount onto new or existing gutters. Others are complete
systems with gutter included and are designed to attach directly
to the fascia board.
The choice of a screen versus a hood can be dictated by the foliage and the climate. In areas with lots of pine needles it makes sense to use a hood. Some people believe the install time for a good screen and hoods is about the same.
The cost of this system is not cheap because it has to be installed
by a trained professional who will analyze your home and do the
necessary measurements to ensure that it fits exactly as needed.
The panels for some hoods are installed under or above the shingles.
The decision on whether it will be under or above is not made
until a contractor does an analysis of your home.