Do Gutter Guards live up to the hype?

After the recent torrential downpours prompted quite a few calls, as people noticed water pouring over the top and sides of their gutters, I had my hands full (literally) as I was again, up on my ladder scooping out debris from clogged gutters.

Cape Cod gutter cleaningWhat struck me that day was that one of the houses had these after-market gutter screens installed over the top of the gutters. The home-owner, a seasonal resident of Cape Cod, was persuaded by a salesman to have these expensive screens put in on the promise of “no more clogged gutters, ever!”

Unfortunately, for her, these “systems” could not miraculously end the need for gutter cleaning any more than the so-called “self-cleaning” windows eliminate the need for window cleaning.

But, I could definitely see why she had wanted to give it a try. After all, people want to spend time vacationing at their summer homes, not scheduling appointment to have them maintained.

The best of these gutter guard systems work pretty well for a couple of years. They filter out all of the big leaves. However, even the best ones let in small debris that after awhile really adds up.

The one in question, I discovered after I unscrewed a section of the gutter guard, was filled a quarter the way up with black sludge.  Now, if it had no gutter guard it would be completely full. But even a quarter the way full will completely block the water flow if it is all slimy and mucky.

The thing is, even the small particles that get in start to decompose and get nasty really quickly. Especially in the dark shady environment that the gutter guard creates – it’s like a swamp thing laboratory.

Not only do pollen, flower buds, and other small plant material get into the gutters, but also shingle grit which is composed of the granules from composite roofs that wash away in the rain. Single grit will prevent water from flowing through the gutter. And it doesn’t take a lot either.

If you want to clean your gutters right, you sometimes have to do more than just scoop the stuff out. If it is just dried leaves in there, then a good scooping will do. But if your gutters have accumulated shingle grit and/or some really sludgey stuff, they need a good spraying out, which is what I did that day.