Keeping Gutters Debris Free
February 16, 2012
Chances are, if trees are near by, leaves and pine needles are an ongoing concern with the potential of clogging your gutters. As an alternative, you may want to consider options that are available to control the quantity of leaves and debris entering your gutter or downspout system and reduce the amount of maintenance required.
Gutters and downspouts perform a function of funneling water down and away from your foundation or basement walls if directed from the bottom of the downspout onto gravel or a low area (swale). A gutter system is a main line of defense in protecting a house from the harsh elements of rain, snow and ice. They should be kept free of leaves and other debris to ensure they are doing the job they are meant to, otherwise resulting in potential water damage. To ensure proper operation, inspect and clean gutters and downspouts at least twice a year. Safety Note: When using ladders always ensure that you use “ladder stand offs” for safe usage. Otherwise, over time neglect leads to water and ice build up inside the gutters resulting in gutter leaks at the joints from expansion and contraction in addition to excess weight that may dislodge or bend the gutters.
Several manufacturers have developed leaf-control systems that filter leaves and debris from entering your downspout however, with all the different products available, choosing the system that is effective can be confusing. There are a few options to consider for gutter maintenance and installations that we have found to be successful.
For an Existing Gutter System:
Fast flow "V" shaped funnels
are installed to open the gutter/eavestrough leading to the down pipe two to four times bigger than the normal 2 inch or 2x3 inch size on standard gutters at the top of the down pipe. This allows for a higher flow rate which is a good thing as the faster the water drains, the more debris it can carry through the downpipes.
: They are installed about three feet above the ground, catches the last small debris pieces, and allows the water to run through into the drain. The guard is easily cleaned by simply sliding out the basket and removing the small pieces of debris. As it is only three feet above ground level, people of all ages and abilities can easily clean it out without the need to use a ladder.
that attach to the top of the gutter sit flush with the roof to deflect debris that would normally be blown into the gutters. Two types of grates are used, namely vinyl and aluminum. The aluminum grate will cover an existing or a new gutter, and can be made to fit any type of gutter, including hidden gutters.
Screened Gutter Guards,
which are less expensive and available at home centers, don’t work as well. They’ll keep out most leaves, but you can expect smaller debris, such as dirt and pine needles, to get through. Screens and attachment also make gutter cleaning more difficult, because they have to be removed to get at the debris
The Gutter Basket®
is a perforated metal hood that fits over down drop locations keeping out debris, such as leaves, branches and pine needles. As a result, rainwater can flow through the downspouts even when gutters are filled with leaves. The gutter basket is also available for flat roof applications
: repairs gutter leaks. A Do-It-Yourself Self-Adhesive Repair for Metal or Vinyl Gutters. Super Reinforced Aluminum Surface That Lasts For Years. Each Kit Contains Four 3" X 6" White Aluminum Patches.
Keep in mind that even protected gutters need to be cleaned and inspected. Be sure you’re clear about the ease of removing the leaf-catching devices (some are screwed in place or tucked under shingles). And consider the cost. Some of the gutter attachments are more expensive than the gutters themselves.
New Gutter Installation
If you are in the market for new gutters, one great way to ease maintenance is to install a LeafGuard gutter system,
which acts almost like a colander, keeping the debris out while letting the rain go into the gutters. Many manufacturers offer similar covered gutter systems but not all perform effectively. The best way to select a system is to choose an established brand. A LeafGuard system is guaranteed not to clog with leaves, pine needles, or other organic debris. These systems are more expensive, made of much heavier aluminum and not available for self installation. They are professionally installed, which explains part of the higher cost but they are a permanent solution that saves homeowners from paying to have their gutters professionally cleaned.
Overall, gutter installations are an investment that is best left to the professionals for several reasons. Seamless metal gutters have certain advantages that you can’t get with the standard 10-ft. sectional gutters; if you want gutters other than “building center” white or brown you have to go with seamless continuous gutter sections. The gutters as long as 45 ft. sections are formed and installed on site so there are no seams except at corners and downspouts, less chance of leaks. Aluminum and steel seamless gutters are normally thicker and more durable than the off-the-shelf gutters. Most seamless gutter companies also use extremely strong mounting brackets. This can be crucial for withstanding ice dams and supporting ladders. Well worth paying to have it done right from the start. If you can’t keep up with your gutter-cleaning chores, these systems may save your house from serious water damage.