Updated: June 8, 2015
Gutter Guard Reviews:Living in rainy Portland, Oregon I understand that gutters have a hard time keeping up with the massive downpours we often get. This winter has been really wet so far and my gutters have clogged multiple times. The low gutters are relatively easy to get to and clean out, but the second story rain gutters are nearly impossible, even with my 24 foot ladder. Plus, who wants to get up that high on a ladder when it's raining and risk their life. I do have some screens that I place near the downspout, but that doesn't keep the clogs from forming. Unfortunately we also have lots of trees in the Pacific Northwest and things like leaves and pine needles often overwhelm gutter systems during the fall and winter months. As I get older I think that a rain gutter guard system is probably what will need to be installed on my high gutters to save me from going up so high on the extension ladder. This article is about my search for gutter guards and which ones rate the highest.
Choosing the Best Gutter Guard - The big name home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot offer both DIY homeowner installed gutter systems and those that require a professional installation team. Which is best for your needs? It's hard to justify the pro-installed gutter guards since they could easily set you back $4000 or more for installation. The long term return on your investment for something that expensive may come back to you when you sell your house and the new owner appreciates that feature. The main types of gutter guards include surface tension, screen, foam inserts, and brush inserts. The surface tension design is most associated with the professional systems for keeping your gutters clog free and allowing the rain water to get where it needs to go. They do work fairly well (per reviews) but the cost could be a deterrent. The homeowner installed screens and foam inserts are much cheaper and several products show good results. Ideally you want to be able to cover the opening to your gutters and downspouts with some kind of screen or mesh that will keep out large leaves, sticks, pine cones, pine needles and any other debris that could lead to a clog. I know that I often find a silt like dirt substance at the bottom of my gutters, so I know that the wind can cause all types of things to get into gutters plus leaves start to decay when left in gutters and it turns into a debris that when wet resembles "muck". One option is to get gutter guards on high up gutters that are not reachable (in a safe way) and deal with lower gutters that are easier to clean. In any event, staying off of ladders that put you 20+ feet into the air is a good idea. Gutter Guard Reviews - I did my research by going into the local home improvement stores to ask salespeople what they thought. I also looked online and checked out websites like Askthebuilder.com and Gutters-more.com. All list pros and cons to the various systems and try to point you toward the most reliable one. Consumer Reports also did an excellent article on gutter guards (September 2010) in which they tested and compared systems from LeafFilter, Gutter Topper, LeafGuard, K-Guard, Gutter Helmet, Gutter Glove Pro, Amerimax, Raindrop, and several more. They rated them based on buildup, heavy flow, severe flow, and ease of installation. Plus price per square foot was listed to give you an idea of which brands or products cost more. The fine mesh screens performed better than the surface tension products.