by Chuck Johnson
Gutter Protection, What is it?
Photo By Kate Mereand via Wikimedia Commons
As autumn begins the season for gutter maintenance and protection goes in to fast motion. Some homeowners want their gutters cleaned every month, others want to wait until the last leaf has fallen. While any frequency of maintaining your gutters is better than not maintaining your gutters at all, there are now products that claim to eliminate this chore. As there are hundreds of products and names for the various types of gutter protection in the market, most review sites focus on the design or material they are made of to compare the products and usually focus on 4 to 6 designs; screens, filters, helmet type, brushes and foam are common descriptions of products. I believe that most of these can be combined in to two types but will add a third louvered for our descriptions and opinion. The most important feature to look for in a product is design, will the design function in such a way that allows the rain water in to the gutter while keeping the gutters and the gutter protection from getting clogged. The material the gutter protection is made of will determine how durable a product is; remember durable material will not make a poor design work. So many products made from the same material, i.e.; aluminum will not function the same way.
Screens/Filters/Foam and Mesh
This category includes brushes, foam, mesh, screens and filters. While they may not look similar and are designed from different materials such as plastic, aluminum, stainless steel and nylon, they have the same flaw. The common principle in all these designs is that they claim to keep debris out of the gutter by various method of having holes small enough that debris will not pass through. The flaw in this category is that the holes in the gutter protection will get clogged which will prevent water from getting in to the gutter and cause the same problems as clogged gutter. There is no way to tell how long it will take for the holes to get filled, but the smaller the hole (foam, filters and mesh) usually the quicker it will clog, as some small debris that would normally wash down the downspout such as pollen dust or shingle granular can and will get caught in the filters, foams and mesh. As the holes get bigger (screens and brush) they allow the small debris through until the bigger debris, leaves and leaf particles clog the holes. Some of these products claim to be made from space age technologies that allow them to not get clogged, it is my belief that if air will clog your air filter in your car or home, and clean water will clog a water filter in your refrigerator, eventually all filters will clog.
So instead of a clogged gutter you have a clogged screen, filter or foam gutter system. This category may reduce the frequency of maintenance in the beginning but should be considered a temporary solution.
This category may additionally be called; horizontal opening, nose forward, covers or helmet like. The design of the products in this category is very similar as many of them are spin offs from products no longer protected by U.S. patents. Although they look similar, they are made from different materials, usually aluminum, plastic or vinyl. There are some design variations, i.e.; seamless covers, double reverse curves and a combination screen and reverse curve. The design principle for this category is that (liquid) water will adhere to a solid surface and solid debris will not. So as the rain water comes off your roof it will adhere to the gutter cover with a reverse curve at the front of the gutter and drop into the gutter following the reverse curve. The physics of this design is accurate for the rain water. Unfortunately, it is inaccurate for the debris floating in the water.
While dry debris does not have the surface adhesion properties as rain water, the debris floating in the rain often will not separate at the point of the reverse curve, and will float with the water into the gutter. As this debris flows toward the downspout you have the beginning of a clogged gutter. Once again there is no way to determine how long it will take for a clog to occur, but when the clog occurs there often is no easy way to clean the system short of removal.
This category starts with a design principle of surface adhesion similar to the reverse curve, but replaces the horizontal opening with staggered louvered openings that have a similar volume opening allowing the rain water to flow to the gutter and keeping floating debris large enough to clog your downspout out. This design is made from copper or 25 colors of aluminum to match your roof or existing gutters to insure its durability.
While some products claim they are maintenance free, there is no such product out there in gutter protection or anything else. This design will handle all the rain, and in the event that pollen or leaves were to block a louver you can safely and easily brush the debris away. If your objectives in gutter protection are to keep your gutters clog free and to safely maintain your gutters from the ground, GutterGard is the product that will permanently solve your gutter maintenance needs.
For a fast free estimate contact us or call 1-800-GUTTER-1.
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