Seattle Home Inspector's Blog

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Do you have leaves in your gutters or money in your gutters?

It is always interesting to watch the power of advertising in action.

Today I want to talk about the advertizing used to support the various guard-guard systems that are available on the market.  Of course if you look at the promotional advertising from all of these companies they will each tell you exactly why they are the best.

In the field, as a Seattle Home Inspector, I get to see the “truth” of these various claims.

On a recent inspection, one of the gutter-guard systems that advertises heavily around here (and that spends a lot of advertizing dollars ripping one of the other more famous gutter-guards) was clearly not functioning as advertised.

I think the idea of gutter-guard systems is a good one, as many people injure themselves in the terminal job of keeping gutters clean.  When I am inspecting homes I try to see which ones are functioning as advertized.  During times of heavy rains is the best time to see how well they are functioning.  As you can see in the following picture, this micro-filter type guard is completely clogged with algae and actually holding water to the point it is running over the edge.  Impact marks all around the home were consistent with this lack of proper function for some time.

Some gutter-guards work better than others

As you can see in the following video---water is freely running over the edge all along the edge of the gutter.

Another type of gutter-guard are ones that rely on a rolled edge at the front of the gutter.  The concept of the design of these gutters is that water follows the rolled edge by "surface tension" and drips off into the gutter while the leafs and light-weight debris fall by gravity past the face of the gutter.  Of course the screen-filter type cover company's advertizing states that this does not work.  Of the dozens of these roll-type gutters I have inspected, I have yet to see one that was clogged.  Now perhaps I have just been lucky---but I doubt it.

All the ones that attempt to filter the water across the top surface appear less functional over time than the roll type.

Gutter Helmet and Leaf-Guard are two of the most common roll-type guards I see in this area and I have yet to see one that was not functioning as advertised---but I am still looking.  I am not sure who made this gutter but it is a fairly typical front edge roll-type gutter.

Roll edge gutter

I think the lesson here is to not always believe what you hear and make sure you verify what you hear.   Otherwise it might be your money that is going down the gutter.

 

Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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Comment balloon 26 commentsCharles Buell • November 26 2012 07:37AM

Comments

it's good to know that Gutter-Helmet and Leaf-Guard actually do work.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 6 years ago

Before I do anything with my gutter, expect a phone call Mr. Buell.

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) over 6 years ago

Excellent information I will forward it if that is ok? thank you!!!

Posted by Dave Sullivan, Michigan Realtor with an investor viewpoint (Real Estate One) over 6 years ago

Charles, 

As a property manager, I love homes that already have gutter guards.   It's just a whole lot easier to manage.  Will keep this info in mind as we go forward and make sure the ones we do have are working right.

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 6 years ago

Alan, that is my exerience---always clean as a whistle inside

Jason, you know I always accept calls from you :)

Dave, sure

Michelle, I think the other types may work to some degree---they just need cleaning---which is kind of what they are trying to get away with.  However I will grant that the whole cleaning process will be way easier than a fully open gutter.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

The best gutter guard I've seen and used is the mess cover on top of the actual gutter.  Those seem to do a very good job of keeping leaves out while letter water pass.

Posted by Bryan Robertson over 6 years ago

Bryan, I assume you mean "mesh" and not "mess."  I can see that in parts of the country where the State Plant is not Moss/Algae, but around here all of the mesh or milter type covers need routine cleaning to keep the small holes from clogging and rendering them useless.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Charles -- I wonder if any of the homeowners who have the mesh type guard complain to the company when their mesh is clogged?  Or do they just ignore it, which seems to have been the case in the video example you gave?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 6 years ago

Steven, I think people believe the advertizing that tells them they don't have to clean their gutters anymore and then figure the water running past must be normal or at least they don't have to clean their gutters :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

So good to know!  I have the Leaf Guard system on one of my rentals and it seems to be working fine.  Had it for over 8 years.  I contemplate spending the money on gutter guard systems.  I just wait for the leaves to drop, then take 30 minutes to go around and clean them.  A chore, yes.  But that's why I have a son!  LOL

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago

Carla, ahhh yes---one of the many great ways to get even with teenagers :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Hello Charles:

 

This may be one of the best helpful hints post I have read on AR.  Who would know better than a home inspector who sees lots of homes, in a place where it rains a lot?

Posted by Brian Rugg, Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est (Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-966-3200) over 6 years ago

I am going to look into the gutter guard, every year ours gutters need to be cleaned, not only leaves, but it seems that there are sort of other things that accumulate in gutters.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 6 years ago

I have this one on my house and it functions as advertised!  Wider gutter, bigger downspout too.

http://guttermanservices.com/index.php?module=contents_normal&parent_id=48

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

That K-Guard gutter I have on my house is under a brown birch tree and it has small leaves.  The gutter did not clog a bit and we had 10" of rain during Hurricane Sandy!  I don't know if they have distributorships in the northwest, but if they do not you have an opportunity there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Rugg Realty, thanks, yes we are an area that has some of the most difficult vegetation as well as rain to hit roofs

Lorraine and/or Loretta, the ones with the roll edge seem to be very effective from my small sample

Jay, thanks for making the link hot.  I would worry about our very short pine needles being a problem with the back roll that this one has---but what do I know---would love to get to check them out.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Thank you so much, Charles, for this timely information! We just got our gutters cleaned and are contemplating gutter guards but felt overwhelmed at the types and claims and needed someone like you to clear it up. 

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 6 years ago

I don't know!  But I know that the way water goes in causes a swirling of the water, and that, coupled with the wide downspouts, might wash everything down well.

Contact Chris and ask!  His name is Chris Pauly.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

I know that we get calls to clear out gutters every year from those with and without gutter systems. Most seem to not work very well. I guess maybe those that do work, aren't calling me.  :)

Great post today Charles.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 6 years ago

Charlie, First off, what is a gutter ; ) Okay just joking. I was cleaning my gutters this weekend so I thought about guards because mine were very full of debris.  Obviously that is not the one to use.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Wayne amd Jean, I think the biggest hurdle is the expense---of couse one even minor fall while cleaning them more than offsets the extra cost.

Tom, I suspect you have never had to clean one with a rolled edge

Don, yes, I would stay away from any of the various ones that look like the one in the picture above :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

I might have to do this to my house.  Unfortunately, it appears my neighbor's trees have gotten tall enough to be causing me a problem.

Posted by Nancy Frimann, California Real Estate Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty/Signature Homes & Estates) over 6 years ago

Nancy, the more trees there are the more necessary they are

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Thank you for sharing this, now  we keep our gutter gurds  clean. and absolutely the lesson that you said was correct and may the readers will be open minded about this. 

Posted by sean ahner over 6 years ago

I removed the big box store screen type guards that were on my gutters when I bought the house. They are completely useless. They clog faster than an open gutter. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

Sean, hopefully so

Jim, yes---I think they do---smaller holes on a flat surface?  It isn't even logical when you think about it.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

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