The first line of defense against debris in the gutters are the gutter screens I install.
"They wont keep everything out of my gutters; like pine needles". This is a true statement and I don't try to debate this detail. If a gutter screen can keep out that sort of small debris, it will also become clogged and not allow rain water to flow through it a short period of time. I wish there were a perfect solution, but I have yet to see it at any cost.
This is why it is so important to have larger downspout outlets and pitch the gutter towards the downspout. People always ask if they need a larger gutter and I remind them that gutters are only there to catch the water, not hold it. Heavy downpours can overwhelm a gutter system that just meets the minimum requirements.
Have your gutters installed with the largest drop outs available and larger downspouts. Getting the water out of the gutter is the most important thing.
How effective are just screens alone?
Our customers report that with just the gutter screens alone they find the need to clear out their gutters 1/4th as often. The main benefit is how these screens will keep out the large debris that clog up the gutters quickly: large leaves, pine cones, branches, and toys. A screen with a smaller weave like window screen is too fine of a weave and will cause the rain water to cascade over the screen and out past over the edge of the gutter.
The steel gutter screens that I use are a strong product that has a black powder coated finish over the expanded metal. Steel screens do not have to hold water like a gutter does, so rust is much less an issue. This is the best products I have found at a reasonable cost.
They are made with a thicker heavy duty metal that will not cave into the gutter or get bent out of shape so easily.
They are heavier, so they are much less likely to blow off in high wind situations.
More Trouble Free:
They are angled, so leaves and other debris will blow off the roof more readily, instead of piling up over the gutter to decompose and turn to mud; not letting rain water pass through the gutter screens. Which is the problem with most other leaf screens or similar products.
These gutter screens allow for easy visual inspection to see if there is a blockage, and allow for gutter cleaning without removing the leaf screens. You can simply hose them out right through the screens, flushing the debris down your downspouts, where it simply dumps on the ground. It can then easily be scooped up from there and disposed. With this method of cleaning the smallest debris and even roof sand can be cleaned out of your gutters without getting trapped in your underground storm drain pipes.
With these leaf screens there's over ten times more area for the rain water to find it's way into the gutter than any of the solid hood type covers sold. They have over 2X open area than plastic screens, so they are less likely to get so clogged. All the other types of hooded gutter product companies may guaranty that their gutter will not clog, but they will not guaranty their gutters will continue to accept water. There in lies their clever deceptive loop hole).
These screens will still keep out a good 90% of leafy debris, branches, and pine cones that will jam up your gutters quickly. We do not try to claim they will keep out all debris, hence the importance of the large outlets.
These gutter screens cost far less than any of the gutter type hood systems you can get or most other screen products sold. The cost is only $1.75 per foot if you can install them yourself, 2.50 per foot installed on houses with a new gutter replacement, or $3 over your existing gutters without gutter cleaning. There are dozens of different alternative add-on hoods that even if they worked as they claim (which they don't), all of those sort of add-on leaf protection hoods have a wholesale cost that is more expensive than our retail cost of our aluminum gutters, and they are much more difficult to install. Why would you pay over twice the price for those sort of hood than the cost of a whole new gutter system, even if they did work as they claim?
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