Are Gutter Guards A Waste Of Money? We Ask The Pros

For the longest time, the traditional gutter functioned unguarded. However, there was a problem with an unguarded gutter. It got clogged. Clogged gutters cause buildup. The buildup causes flooding, and the flooding wrecks the foundations. Innovators came up with a simple solution to keep the debris causing the buildup – gutter guards. 

After reviewing the long-term costs you might save, it’s safe to say gutter guards are a waste of money. Yes, they keep out the debris that might have you spend hours cleaning out the gutter on the roof. Although it also saves you money that you might spend on repairing damaged gutters. However, they’re a costly addition to something that was already working properly. 

Here’s a deep dive on why you think twice before installing gutter guards. 

Why Are Gutter Guards Bad?

Gutter guards, in principle, have the simplest of premises. Install them and deal with less debris and less clean-up frequency. Except, under that veneer, there are limitations. Yes, they’re made of lightweight material and come in a variety of designs. However, they carry some long-term effects that you will have to address. That’ll cost you. 

Additional Weight

The most common materials for gutter guards are aluminum, plastic, and metal mesh. These materials have their problems that we’ll address later. While they may be lightweight, they add weight to the gutter guards underlying support, the fascia. 

Clean the gutter, and there won’t be any weight. Under normal circumstances, it would be an easy problem to solve. The problem is that the buildup is gradual and unnoticed. The small amount of debris that gets through the gutter guard accumulates until the support structure can’t hold it eventually. 

The damage and follow-up repair costs will not be worth the gutter helmet’s price tag. 

The Materials

As stated, there are three common materials for gutters. Each of them has its problems. 

Plastic: Plastic might be suitable for many things, but an outdoor protective cover is not one. Long-term exposure to the sun weakens plastic. The damage is even worse during winter. Extreme cold conditions crack some plastics. 

Aluminum: Ideally, this is perfect for any exterior addition to a house. It’s light, lasts longer, and is usually relatively affordable. However, cheap subpar aluminum degrades fast. It corrodes easily. It needs high-quality paint to be effective, especially long term. 

Metal mesh: In principle, it’s sturdy, offers some visibility into the gutter, and you can get metal nylon mesh or metal mesh itself. However, it clogs easily, and it is susceptible to rust and corrosion and constant replacement. It’s a good thing metal mesh gutters are inexpensive. 

The Setup Cost

When you’re calculating the cost of gutter guards, consider two options. Are you enlisting the services of a professional, or are you going the DIY way? 

MaterialCost of material per linear footCost of material for 200 linear feetInstallation feeTotal cost
Plastic gutter guard$0.40-$1.00$80-$200DIY$80-$200
Aluminum$0.50-$1.50$100-$300$2.50-$3.75$600-$1,050
Steel screen$1.50-$3.50$300-$700$2.50-$3.75$800-$1,450
Micromesh$2.00-$4.00$400-$800$2.50-$3.75$900-$1,550
Vinyl Screen$0.40-$4 per foot.$80-$800DIY$80-$800
Foam inserts $2$400DIY$400
Brushes$3$600DIY$600

What Are The Pros and Cons of Gutter Guards?

There are many valid reasons gutter guards are not worth the money you spend. People that have gutter guards enjoy some benefits of gutter guards. However, that doesn’t mean they lack redeeming qualities. 

If you decide to invest in gutter guards for your home, here are some pros and cons. 

AdvantagesDisadvantages
You have an array of choices in material and designsThey’re pricey
They last longYou still have to clean the gutter
You keep most debris outYou might not notice long term build-up, especially from moss and algae
Cut down your maintenance frequency and timeThey might worsen ice dams
Prevent mice and insect infestationThey are worse during winter
If you have a rainwater collection tank, you get fewer contaminants in the waterRoof strain
Easier water flowSometimes, they hide insects inside.

What Are The Advantages Of Gutter Guards?

There are various advantages of gutter guards on your gutters. Here are some of them.

Flexibility In Choices

You have so many brands with different designs that claim to work better than the competitor. For you, this should be a win. You can check for the best one in your budget bracket and install it.

They Last Long

Since they are built for exterior use, most gutter guards are built to last. It is common to see a lifespan between 10 years and 25 years for well-maintained and high-quality gutter guards. 

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You’ll Clean Less

Autumn and fall seasons are challenging if you live in an area rich in trees. Your gutter, if left unguarded, would collect plenty of leaves. You would have to clean out the gutters a lot more. 

The more you climb up the roof to clean the gutter, the more you expose yourself to the likelihood of injury. With a gutter guard, the bigger leaf chunks that would settle in the gutter settle on the roof and the gutter’s surface and get blown away by wind or rain. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of Gutter Guards?

Here are the common disadvantages of gutter guards.

They Void Roof Warranty

One of the gutter guard designs, the K-style gutter guard, goes under the roof shingle, lifting it slightly. This displacement immediately voids any warranty you had with the roofing. 

You Have To Pay A Professional To Clean Out The Gutter Guard.

Once you install a gutter guard, DIY clean-up becomes more challenging for you. You have to call in a professional gutter cleaning service to make sure all the buildup is removed. In a foliage-rich area, this could be a four times a year thing. 

Water Overflow

The primary purpose of a gutter guard is to keep much of the debris out of the gutter systems and redirect water. However, rainwater will run off and miss the gutter down to the ground if there’s a heavy downpour. 

When the water isn’t redirected via the gutter, the rainwater floods the surrounding area and possibly seeps into the foundation and the basement. 

Do Gutter Guards Cause Problems?

Commonly, gutter guards cause two major problems, especially during winter. If rainwater doesn’t flow into the gutter, it does underneath the roof. This water goes into the house, clings on the roof, and it creates an ice dam. 

The next big problem is the buildup of weight. When ice freezes in the gutter, the gutter gets weighed down when algae and moss grow for an unchecked period. An overwhelmed gutter becomes hazardous if it falls. 

Conclusion

You value your home, and you are willing to put in measures that make your work easier. Ultimately, you decide whether a gutter guard is worth the expense and the effort to install in your home. 

You can always seek the opinion of a home inspector to know if it will be the best course of action. 

Sources:

Gutter Guard Installation Costs (2021

WHY YOU NEED TO SKIP (OR DITCH) THOSE GUTTER GUARDS

Best Gutter Guards for 2021

Do Gutter Guards Really Work?

Are Gutter Guards Worth It

7 Benefits of Gutter Guards Only the Pros Know About/

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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