Do You Need a Gutter Guard?

Got a guest post for you dudes today — enjoy!

We hold this truth to be self-evident: Not all gutter guards are created equal.

Since they are a long term investment that can have a significant impact on the value of your home, extensive research is essential before you even think about pulling out your credit card and looking at your calendar to set an install date.

Budgeting and Internet-based research is often self-explanatory and in the eye of the beholder, so here are four important questions to answer before making an investment in gutter guards:

Are there any trees around?

Look to your left. Now look to your right. If you don’t see a matured, house-eclipsing tree within 50 yards (give or take), you don’t need gutter guards. This may sound like a strange lead-off to an article written by someone from a gutter guard manufacturer, but it’s the truth.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Even if you do have a landscape void of trees, micromesh gutter guards could still be used to filter out impurities such as roofing oils and shingle soot, cleaning out rain water so it’s garden-fresh right out of the barrel. If you live in a region featuring winter weather reports appending “pacalpse” or “mageddon” to the word “snow,” heated gutter guards can proactively eliminate dangerous icicle formations as well as the risk of an ice dam.

Otherwise, if none of the above 130-odd words applies to you or your home, thanks for reading and enjoy your day!

What kinds of trees grow in my region?

Pine Needle Guard

Pine Needle Guard

Fir trees cover your roof with needles, bark dust, pine cones, and seeds. Oaks drape your gutters in husks, pollen, acorns, catkins, and tassels. In contrast, palm trees amass a collection of fronds, flowers, and the occasional fruit, and pine trees produce the most annoying clogs of all: thousands, if not millions, of tiny, elongated needles. (The photo to the right/left is an example of a gutter guard ideal for combating those pesky, omnipresent pine needles.)

In all cases, you’ll want a gutter guard that pitches to your roof, allowing for the smoothest separation of debris and water possible and the strongest foundation for preventing accumulation of potentially heavy debris on top of the guard. But all gutter guards are not universally optimized to work best with every type of tree. For example, copper guards can kill fir tree spores and minimize moss/algae growth. Oak trees require a flexible guard that can handle a plethora of debris types. Matching the guard to a roof’s pitch is most essential in preventing build ups of pine needles.

It should be noted that most gutter guard companies have dealers in all regions of the U.S., familiar with the tree(s) most commonly clogging gutters in the area. But it’s still important to know which type of gutter guard best eliminates this problem before you make the investment.

Are there any warranties included, and if so, what kind?

Writer’s note: ALWAYS ask for the warranty in writing before agreeing to anything, and read it thoroughly.

GUARANTEES! They’re both comforting and ominous at the same time. Comforting because it means a company has confidence in its product. Ominous because it sounds like an infomercial that’s too good to be true (it usually is). However, there’s a way to test these ever-present claims to determine their legitimacy.

bad gutter guard

Bad Gutter Guard

Press the contractor for an explanation of the warranties in question. Ideally, they’ll offer a lifetime Manufacturer’s Warranty that kicks in should the system itself ever fail. Sometimes companies will mask this as a “Service Agreement,” which often means the contractor will clean the guard if it ever clogs. That alone is a red flag, as it basically admits a low level of confidence in their product. Other perks of a Manufacturer’s Warranty include transferability, should you ever sell your home, and a guarantee against animals taking residence in your gutters (birds, bees, etc.).

Does the contractor offer a Labor Guarantee? This protects you from any damages incurred through faulty installation. Asking about this is a must, as many dealers are more than happy to bury it under all the other discussion topics you’ll cover.

If you install a gutter guard system under shingles, does it void the roof shingle warranty?

This isn’t so much a question as a very, very common concern of homeowners and a myth perpetuated by gutter guard companies. Simply put, both warranties generally co-exist. But you should ask the contractor and then call the company that handles your roofing warranty for secondary confirmation. Typically, you’ll find that most gutter guards are installed without fastener shingle penetration, and underlayment intrusion, but it’s always best practice to trust, but verify.

If you’re curious, GAF Materials Corporation has a document that outlines their warranty policy in accordance with gutter guard installation. Additionally, the “Bad Gutter Guard” photo is an example of a gutter guard that would break a warranty, based on GAF’s criteria.

Writer bio: Karen Sager is the President of Mastershield, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of gutter guards and developer of gutter guard technology that has dealers around the country. She regularly updates the Mastershield blog with seasonal and standard gutter maintenance tips, as well as the general trends within the industry.


Do You Need a Gutter Guard? — 6 Comments

  1. Nice sense of humor for one of these “guest posts”! And a nice informative piece.

    When I had gutters on the old house, I looked in to putting gutter guards on. I had a freaking forest of trees in the back — ash, olive, fig, silk oak. When they said you have to slip the things under the asphalt shingles, I thought better of it.

    Finally just took the gutters off altogether. They were more trouble than they were worth.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Why I Don’t Need a GunMy Profile

  2. Depending on the height of the trees, even 50 feet may be too short a perimeter. At my parents house, they live on the edge of a forest. Nearest tree (not counting the 8′ Christmas tree my sister planted as a seedling when she was 5, and a holly by the driveway) is nearly 75 feet back. But those are old-growth suckers. I’m certain if that one fell over, the top would be in the street. I know there were always plenty of leaves to rake up in the front yard.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..New Online Coupons Strategy: Infographic by Rather Be ShoppingMy Profile

  3. We’re pretty lucky in terms of tree placement on our property. We have nothing at all close to the house. Hubby had to climb the roof to get the neighbors toy down for him and had a look around just recently- apparently they’re totally clear! My moms house needs guards for sure though, surrounded by old oak and maple trees.
    Catherine recently posted..Why I’m Paying Our 0% Interest Loan FirstMy Profile

  4. I’ve always wondered about the for/against gutter guards. Some people say they’re a waste of money while others swear by them. Clearly, you’ve outlined how it’s really a product of where you live, trees in the area, and the quality of the guard.

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