It happens every year: autumn leaves, pinecones, twigs and organic matter accumulate over time, potentially leading to gutter system clogs and water damage.
What do homeowners do? They clean their gutters – which is a tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes dangerous task that nobody really likes. It’s a yearly frustration that affects more than just gutter systems on steep-slope roofing; commercial roofing, flat roofing and asphalt shingles are all susceptible to improper drainage and subsequent damage from gutter system clogs.
So when gutter guards came along promising to make all of that hardship disappear, you can imagine that people were pretty excited about it. They could finally be free from the stress and frustration of gutter clogs…or could they?
What Gutter Guards Are Supposed To Do
Like their name suggests, gutter guards are meant to protect your gutters from leaves, sticks, animal nests, and any other debris that can build up in your gutters over time.
They typically do this by using a perforated covering (a surface with small holes in it) that attaches to the top of the gutter system. The idea is that rainwater and snowmelt will pass through the holes in the guard, while solid materials will be blocked by the guard and washed over the side of your gutter system instead of building up inside of it.
What Gutter Guards Actually Do
You know that old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”? Well, gutter guards are no exception.
In our experience working on roofs here in Calgary, gutter guards don’t quite live up to their claims. In fact, they can sometimes end up costing homeowners more money and effort to maintain than simply having no gutter covering at all.
Problem #1: Gutter Guards Still Allow Debris Into Your Gutters
The good news: with a gutter guard, you won’t have to deal with frequent sticks or leaves in your gutter system.
The bad news: smaller debris will still get through, leading to debris build ups and blockages over time. So while you may not have to clean your gutters every year, you can’t count on them to be blockage or problem-free by simply installing a gutter guard.
The responsible thing to do is check your gutters regularly, and that means taking out a ladder and climbing up to perform a visual inspection – something that gutter guards were supposed to save you from doing.
Problem #2: Gutter Guards Aren’t Maintenance-Free
People equip their homes with gutter guards because they want a set-it-and-forget-it solution to gutter cleaning.
But even aside from debris buildup, gutter guards themselves need to be routinely cleaned, otherwise the small holes or filtering surface in them becomes clogged. And how does someone clean a gutter guard? By climbing up on a ladder and removing the guards so they can be cleaned…which is (again) what people were trying to avoid in the first place.
Problem #3: Gutter Guards Add Weight
Most gutter systems – especially older ones – weren’t designed to carry a significant amount of weight. We’ve seen a number of cases where the additional strain from a gutter guard damaged the supporting boards of a roof, and it’s not just us either – there have been more than a handful of reports of weight-related damage from gutter guards over the years.
While it’s true that newer gutter guard systems are lighter than they used to be, and the weight of the guards themselves will probably be less of a factor in the future, that doesn’t do much to resolve another weight-related problem, which is…
Problem #4: Gutter Guards and Winter Don’t Mix
As roofers in Calgary, we’re more than a little bit familiar with how roofs fare in cold weather. And gutter guards? Well, they don’t do so well when temperatures start to dip.
Gutter guards, by design, result in more water flowing on or over the edges of your gutter system. In winter, that tends to add weight both on the outside of your gutters as icicles, and on the inside of your gutters in the form of frozen debris.
Your gutters are supposed to carry water off of your roof, to the downspout and away from your home’s foundation. If your gutters have become detached because of heavy ice accumulations, they won’t be able to do their job.
The Roofers’ Verdict on GUtter Guards
Our view? You’re probably better off steering clear of gutter guards, especially if you live in a colder climate with regular precipitation and below-zero temperatures.
The reality is that, while gutter guards may benefit some people, they just aren’t the zero-effort roofing solution that a lot of people think they are. They still have to be inspected and maintained, and they’re still susceptible to debris buildup and blockages.
Unless you absolutely hate the idea of cleaning out your gutters regularly, your best bet in terms of cost and effort is to just clean them yourself or hire a contractor.
A Little Maintenance Makes a Big Difference
It’s wise to inspect and clean your gutters every fall (and spring!), and while it may be tempting to spray everything out with a hose, the mess of flying mud and dirty water spatters will be potentially redistributed all over your windows, siding and deck.
Instead, you should take the time to clear your gutters with the proper tools, only checking your gutter system’s drainage with your garden hose after everything has been cleaned out. And remember: be very careful dragging tools and hoses up your ladder.
Avoid early residential roof replacement by ensuring your annual maintenance is up to par. If you’re unable to complete the gutter cleaning process, don’t waste your money on expensive gutter guards and gutter helmets and the latest greatest promise to ensure you will never have to clean your gutters again.
Simply put, your gutters require TLC multiple times a year to function at their best, so – if you have to – hire a professional to help you keep your gutters clean and clear. The last thing you want to do is ignore your gutters and allow them to become clogged.
If You Suspect There’s Damage…
Whether you have gutter guards or an uncovered gutter system, clogged gutters and damage from blockages can wreak havoc on the lifespan of your roof.
If you’re inspecting your roof or gutter system and think you see signs of damage, we’d strongly recommend getting a professional inspection. A roofing company can assess your gutter situation and help you make any needed repairs.
Yes, nobody likes having to pay for repairs, but the alternative is so much worse. Untreated damage can lead to frustrating – and costly – issues like:
- Structural concerns
- Damage to the building foundation
- Basement flooding
- Erosion of driveway and landscaping
- Rotting fascia and soffit
Call Claw Roofing For Your Roof Replacement in Calgary!
Call us to book your visit your thorough roof inspection or gutter cleaning cost estimate. We will take photographs and create comprehensive report on the issues of your roof and its components. We can help you determine if roof repairs or roof replacement will best suit your needs and budget. We even offer great financing options for qualifying customers. We look forward to helping you enjoy a secure roof over your head.