Pros and Cons of Gutter Leaf Covers

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Gutter leaf guards are a popular addition to many homes, as they help solve the problem of leaves and other debris clogging your gutters. But, like with any product, you should consider the pros and cons of gutter leaf covers before deciding.

Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of leaf guards.

Pros of Gutter Leaf Covers

  1. Reduced Maintenance: One of the most significant advantages of gutter leaf covers is that they reduce the maintenance required by your gutters. You won’t have to climb the ladder as often and remove leaves and debris from your gutters by hand. Instead, the covers will work for you, keeping your gutters clear and functioning.
  2. Improved Drainage: When your gutters are clogged with leaves and other debris, they can no longer direct water away from your home. This can lead to water damage and other issues. Gutter leaf covers solve this problem by preventing leaves and other debris from getting into your gutters in the first place. As a result, your gutters will be able to do their job more effectively, and you will be less likely to experience problems related to water damage.
  3. Extends Gutter Service Life: By keeping leaves and other debris out of your gutters, gutter leaf covers can help extend the life of your gutters. When gutters are clogged, they can become damaged, leading to leaks and other issues. With gutter leaf covers in place, your gutters will be protected and less likely to suffer damage.
  4. Will Fit Most Gutters: They can be installed onto existing gutters. There is a solution for any size gutter.
  5. Can Prevent Nesting: Gutter guards can help prevent Sparrows and other birds and rodents from building nests in your gutters. Without access, there’s less opportunity for the gutter to become clogged.

Cons of Gutter Leaf Covers

  1. Roof Eave Damage: I often see water damage while inspecting clogged gutter guards. If small pieces of leaf debris and pine needles cover the guard, water can bleed under the shingle overhang and soak the back side of the fascia and soffit.
  2. Cost: One of the biggest challenges of gutter leaf covers is their cost. They are more expensive and may require professional installation, which can add to the cost. Depending on the height of the building, and the gutter design, look to spend anywhere from $8 or $9 a foot to as much as $30 a foot and even more if you add labor (average) of $3 a foot.
  3. Not Perfect: As with almost anything, there is no perfect solution, and gutter guards are not 100% maintenance-free. They are prone to collecting some debris and will need occasional maintenance. During my inspection, I often left the guard to find pine needles, seeds, and other small debris slipping through the screen and collecting in the gutter. Debris in the gutter can cause pooling water and, over time, rust and deterioration.
  4. Beware Ice: If you live in a cold climate, you know leaf guards help create ice damns. In the south, we get the occasional cold snap and ice storm. Leaf guards may exaggerate roof ice build-up, but not to the extent it does in colder zones. Again – if money is no object, heated gutter guards can be installed, which help prevent icicles, snow, and ice from forming on the gutter.
  5. Ladder Dent Damage: Gutter guards can dent and lose some effectiveness, so avoid placing a ladder against your gutters during cleaning or when putting up seasonal lights & decorations. It’s best to use a ladder attachment called a standoff to help prevent denting the gutter and the leaf guard.
  6. Beware Flat Roofs: Because leaf guards cap the gutter, flat roof installations can be quickly covered with leaf debris as the capped gutter becomes an extension of the roof’s surface.

Gutter leaf covers are an excellent solution for many homeowners. They offer benefits like reduced maintenance, improved drainage, and increased longevity. However, they’re expensive, may be easily damaged, and are not a 100% full-proof method to prevent “all” gutter maintenance.

Need a specific area inspection? I perform complete home inspections and, if needed, specific areas like roof and gutter inspections.

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