You may assume that because I am the owner of a window cleaning company that provides gutter cleaning services, that I would  hope that people would not buy gutter covers for their gutters. The reality is that regardless of what type of gutter cover or helmet you buy you will need to have them cleaned periodically. Some covers will allow you to go longer without a gutter cleaning while others may actually make things  worse. In this article I would like to help our customers be more informed as to what type of gutter covers there are available and what are the disadvantages and advantages of each. And although some gutter covers will allow you to go longer without a gutter cleaning, gutter covers do add to the price of a gutter cleaning when you do have them.

Flexible Gutter Screens

Albany Gutter CleaningThese types of gutter covers are the most inexpensive types of gutter covers out there. They are also pretty easy to clean. They keep the major large leaves out of the gutters which will allow you to go longer without a gutter cleaning. An advantage to having these types of gutter covers is that they are so easy to clean out we do not charge extra for cleaning them. They do come at a disadvantage of not being able to handle snow and ice during the winter very well. Many times they will rip off or come loose and fall off the gutters completely. If this happens they are easy to reinstall. Although they are effective in keeping out large leaves they're not effective when it comes to keeping out the gravel that comes off of your roof or small pine needles  or seeds. We still recommend that gutters with flexible gutter screens are cleaned at least once a year in order to keep the small objects and debris from clogging the downspouts and causing water backups. And of course if you see any leaking or overflowing gutters it's a good idea to call us for gutter cleaning regardless of the time of year.



Vinyl Gutter Covers

Albany Gutter CleaningAlbany Gutter CleaningVinyl gutter covers cost an average of $1 per foot of installed gutter cover and provide a moderate level of protection against clogging. They snap in pretty easily into the gutter and then slide underneath your roof shingles. These covers are not very effective when it comes to installation on steep roofs. However they install pretty easily on roofs with a pitch lower than 45 degrees. They keep all the major leaves and twigs out of the gutters but do not do such a great job at keeping small objects like whirlybirds or pine needles. They also do not keep the roof gravel from entering the gutters. Although vinyl gutter covers come with a screen that cover the 1 centimeter square openings, this screen does tend to  come off within a year.

There is also a disadvantage when it comes to having these types of gutter covers.  These types of gutter covers slow down the flow of water in the gutters which does not allow for the small particles that do enter the covers to be washed away during a heavy rain. For this reason you may actually end up with a larger build up of dirt and debris inside the gutters than if you did not have any gutter covers at all. And eventually the seeds that fall into the gutters may end up growing plants inside your gutters. We've had many examples of gutter cleaning we have done where the gutters that have not been covered have little or moderate  amounts of debris while other gutters which happen to have covers of these kind end up filled with up to 4 inches of debris or even have plants growing out of them. It is for this reason that it is important to get your gutters cleaned regularly even if you have these types of gutters.

Gutter Helmets

Albany Gutter CleaningAlbany Gutter CleaningThere are several types of gutter helmets on the market with varying prices. Some gutter helmets can actually cost as much if not more than the actual gutters themselves. Although they can be quite effective, they are an option that you have to weigh with the costs of annual or  semiannual gutter cleaning. You would have to ask the manufacturer or installer what is the life expectancy of these gutter helmets. Overtime they will deteriorate and break down. Gutter helmets are not a “no maintenance” gutter solution as many manufacturers will suggest. Roof gravel will still make it inside the gutters and so will pine needles and even some small seeds. And surprisingly small birds could actually squeeze their way into gutter helmets and build nests. I would estimate we remove it average of 10 birds nests out of gutter helmets every year. It is still important to make sure that these  gutter helmets are flushed out periodically to ensure things do not grow inside of them.

Gutter helmets are designed so that the water from the roof will overflow the helmet using the same principle that causes coffee to slide down the side of a coffee mug when poured. Although these gutter helmets can be effective and do what they're supposed to do, over time the surface that the water is supposed to run into can become dirty with algae and other filth. This will diminish the effectiveness of the gutter helmets and may cause the gutter helmet to overflow and miss the opening into the gutter.  Periodically the leading edge of the gutter helmet should pressure washed in order to clean this growth and keep them working properly. Also the opening which allows the water to enter the gutter can become clogged with debris also causing it overflow. In this case you would have to have the gutters cleaned out in order to restore the gutter helmet’s effectiveness.

Bonus: “Gutter Sponge” (Do Not Recommend!)

Albany Gutter CleaningAlbany Gutter CleaningGutter sponges go by many different names and brands, but they are exactly what the name suggests. There a synthetic spongy material that is placed inside the gutters. The manufacturers claim that this sponge will filter out all the debris and allow the water in the gutters to flow out. They also claim that it is treated with a chemical which  does not allow the gutter sponge to grow any plants in them. In my experience and the experience of my crew, I would never recommend these types of gutter devices. Despite all the claims by the manufacturers, these gutter sponges should never be inside of a gutter. I can easily estimate that we have removed over a miles worth of this stuff from gutters all over the Capital Region. Every time they have plants and other growths in them. The sponge becomes almost like a plant growing bed inside your gutters.

Why Get Gutter Covers?

So I have spent this entire article explaining why it is that gutter covers are not maintenance-free. I explained about how even with gutter covers you will need to either clean them yourself or have a professional come out to clean the gutters periodically. If this is the case, why is it that I am not against most gutter covers? The reality is that in some cases gutter covers may be necessary. Although the gutter covers may not prevent your gutters from getting clogged, they may prevent gutter debris from flowing into your downspouts. many houses have downspouts that lead into basins with pumps  or have downspouts that lead to other drainage systems of some sort. In this case the cost of trying to clear out or fix these types of underground systems may be way more than the cost of getting gutter covers. And although you may have to end up getting them cleaned anyways, at least the debris will not clog the drainage systems.

The gutter covers mentioned are not all the options available, just the options that we run into the most while cleaning gutters.


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