The World Health Organization reports that in the US, 300 people die and 164,000 injuries are treated in the emergency room from ladder falls each year.
If you have a gutter around your roof, it is likely that throughout the year, and especially before and during the rainy season, you normally have to remove leaves, dead creatures, and other debris from the gutter.
And to remove the debris, you normally have to use a ladder, thus exposing yourself to the risk of a fall. But does it have to be that way? What if there’s a way in which you can avert the risk?
Well, if you install a gutter guard, you’d be able to tremendously reduce the amount of grit making its way to the gutter, thereby reducing the need to clean it.
Without a gutter guard, you’d have to clean the gutter countless times each year, but with a gutter guard, you can reduce the number of times to just two.
In this post, we’re going to look at the step by step process of installing a gutter guard and the benefits. We’ll also delve into the mistakes you need to avoid during the installation.
Step 1: Choose the Right Guards
There are several types of gutter guards to choose from, but the main ones are:
- 1Brush filters
- 2Mesh or perforated units
- 3Surface tension units
Depending on the amount of cash you’re willing to invest, you might want to buy one type or the other as discussed below.
The price of these ones is in the middle range. While they’re not as costly as the surface tension units, mesh screens are costlier than the gutter filters.
For the budget-minded buyer who still wants to buy some mesh units, the plastic units would be a great choice; a foot goes for as little fifty 50 cents.
But the problem with the plastic units is that they don’t hold up well and they’re not as effective as the metal units when it comes to keeping the debris out.
If it’s quality over price for you, try a metal mesh system. The one from Gutterglove is made of stainless steel and aluminum, and it’s very effective for filtering out the debris, and it’s also durable. It can cost you more than 2 Grand to install it, but we believe it’s worth the money.
These brush systems that keep the debris out while allowing the water in. Gutter Brush is a model with a shape like a cylinder; it fits in the gutter.
The beauty of getting brush systems is that they’re very easy to install. So, if you’re a DIYer who wants to keep things simple, this is the type to install.
They are also inexpensive, going for as little as 3 bucks per foot.
If you want something of better quality than the ordinary brush filters, you can try the Gutter Filler. According to the manufacturer, the product can handle rain up to ten times better than the ordinary models. Gutter Filler has been shown to be more durable, but it costs a little more than the regular models.
The curved shape of these guards makes the debris flow over the edge of the roof while allowing the water to flow into the gutter.
There are many brands making this sort of guard, but we think you’ll want to try the Gutter Helmet. Its surface is textured, and that helps the rainwater hold onto it, thus increasing the water harvesting efficiency.
Step 2: Cleaning and testing
Of course, before installing the guards, the gutter will need to be cleaned.
Use a scrubber, towels, and whatever else it takes to get rid of the leaves, the soil, and the rest of the debris.
The first step will be to sweep out the loose grit. After that, use a brush to loosen the stuck grit before washing up with water, detergent, and a brush.
You also need to be sure that the gutters are working properly, so you might want to test them with water. If there are any leaks, be sure to seal them up.
Step 3: Measure the gutter and get the supplies
It’d be very frustrating to order gutter guards then find they can’t fit your gutters. So, get a tape measure and take the length and width of your gutters. Measure twice just to be sure.
You might end up having to make adjustments, so get some cutting supplies. Depending on the type and material of the guards, you might need metal snips or a saw.
If you intend to buy a simple design that can be snapped onto the gutter, you won’t really need any tools (apart from the cutting implements).
But if you get a more advanced model that has to be fastened into the roof, then you’ll certainly need your toolbox. Often, a power drill and screws are needed.
Step 4: Installing the guards
This is the fun part. Depending on the type of gutter guards you’re installing, you might need tools like a drill or screwdriver and screws. If you live in an area whose weather is not favorable, say strong winds or heavy rainfall, it’s wise to screw the guards onto the gutter.
So, get a ladder and place it such that it lies steadily against the roof. If your roof’s slope is steep, it’s safe to install the guards while standing on the ladder, but if it’s not steep, then you can do it from the roof.
For DIYers, it’s better to install a snap-in type like the flexible ones from Amerimax.
One way of doing the installation is to lift the shingles and shove one edge of the guards underneath the shingles before pushing the opposite edge downward, so it snaps in.
Alternatively, you can place one edge against the outer edge of the gutter then push the edge against the gutter’s inner edge downwards, so it snaps in. Use the method that works best for you.
For most people, snapping in the guards is enough, but remember, if the weather in your area is not very favorable, use a drill and screws to fasten the outer edge of guards onto the gutter. The inner edge is held by the shingles, so it’s not really necessary to screw it down.
Gutter guards are usually sold in pieces so rather than having a long piece you’ll likely have many pieces that are to be connected to make a continuous guard.
It’s important not to leave gaps as they might become entry points for dirt, so let the pieces overlap each other by about a half inch.
Safety precautions to exercise:
The most crucial safety precautions regard how you use the ladder.
- We recommend using a ladder that has non-slip feet to avoid accidents. It your ladder doesn’t have non-slip feet, then you got to anchor the lower side of the rails to increase the ladder’s stability.
- You shouldn’t rest the ladder’s upper side on the gutters as the weight will destroy them. The best way is to rest use hooks attached to the roof so that the rails are not pressing against the gutters.
- You might want to have a person have a person on the ground to help secure the ladder. A bonus is that they’ll hand you the guards, so you don’t have to keep climbing down to get them.
Mistakes to avoid while installing gutter guards:
- Failing to measure the gutters – you may end up getting a size (especially the width) that is either too big or too small.
- Not cleaning the gutters first – the water running down to your storage systems will be dirty, and you could also end up with clogged channels, leading to further complications and costs as you’d probably have to pay a roofing professional to unclog the system.
- Placing the ladder against the gutters – this leads to gutter damage.
- Attaching the guards incorrectly – consider reading the instructions on installation that come with your specific guards. Fitting them loosely will cause them to get knocked off by the rain, the snow, or the wind.
Advantages of Gutter Guards
If you live in an area that is near trees and where there are many birds, you probably already know how arduous and messy it can be to clean gutters.
If you’re wondering if the cost and task of installing gutter covers are worth it, the following splendid benefits of gutter covers might convince you.
- Reduced maintenance – the covers will block the leaves and other debris from getting into the gutters, thereby reducing the cleaning task tremendously.
- Prevent infestation – an open gutter can easily become a home and playground for insects and rodents. These unwanted visitors make your water unsafe and imagine what happens when they die and remain there. Can you think of the sort of water you collect? We know you get the picture.
- Less ice clogging – when snow collected in the gutters, it clogs the system and reduces the efficiency with which the water is collected. Although gutter guards don’t entirely stop the buildup of ice, they reduce it greatly.
- Decreased corrosion – mushy leaves in the gutters will cause your gutter system to rust. Furthermore, they will encourage the growth of mold and algae, consequently leading to the deterioration of the gutter system. Gutter guards are your reliable protection against all that, hence enabling your gutters to last longer.
- Prevention of fires – in the event that there’s a fire outside of your home, leaves collected in the gutter only make the situation worse.
- Better waterflow – by preventing clogging, gutter guards make it possible for the water to flow freely through the gutters. They make water harvesting a lot more efficient.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do gutter covers really work?
Yes, they do. The purpose of gutter guards is to prevent debris from making its way into the gutters. The little holes on there allow the water through while preventing the leaves and little animals from getting in. However, for gutter covers to work, they need to be installed properly.
What are the different types of gutter covers?
The most common types the mesh screens and the perforated covers. There are also brush gutter guards which look like little bristles woven in together and foam gutters guards composed of porous polyurethane.
Do I really need gutter covers?
That depends on where you live. If you live near trees or you’re concerned about a rodent or insect problem, installing gutter guards is necessary. It will prevent the leaves and the little creatures from getting into the gutters. Gutter covers are also useful for reducing ice buildup during winter.
Gutter covers prevent clogging of the gutters, and they can greatly improve the waterflow.
Can gutter guards raise the value of my home?
Although gutter covers may not directly increase the monetary value of your home, they increase its desirability. A potential buyer will love the fact that the gutter maintenance task will be easy.
Is it difficult to install gutter guards?
That depends on the kind of guards you look to install. Snap-in gutter guards are very easy to install and typically don’t need any tools, but if you’re going to install a surface tension unit that has to be screwed down, then that might end up being one hell of a task.
We recommend snap-ins for DIYers. The surface tension units can be left to the professionals.
Do gutters with guards need to be maintained?
Yes but the maintenance is not as daunting as the maintenance of the uncovered gutters.
While the uncovered gutters have to be ridded of debris many times in the year and unclogged (often by a professional) a few times, covered gutters only require you to sweep out the debris that hasn’t been blown away. A covered gutter can be maintained once or twice in the year and it usually doesn’t need a professional.
Installing gutter guards, as you might have realized by now, is a worthwhile step. You protect your gutters from infestation, corrosion, and clogging. If you plan to install the guards yourself, consider going for a snap-in type that is easy to attach and remember to exercise the safety precautions we’ve talked about.
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