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Everything You Need to Know About Gutter Guards

Everything You Need to Know About Gutter Guards

Your gutters are supposed to protect your roof and home from water damage. However, when they’re clogged, they tend to do just the opposite, causing additional stress to your roof, and increasing your home's exposure to water damage.

While you can always call a local roofing company to help you clean your gutters, what if I told you there was a way to stop debris from getting in your gutters in the first place? Luckily, there is! It’s called a gutter guard.

Since 1991, the team at On Tops Roofing has provided homeowners in Raleigh and the surrounding areas with high-quality roofing services. One of the most common questions we hear from homeowners regarding damage caused by clogged gutters is, “What’s the easiest way to prevent this from happening again?”

By the end of this article, you’ll know more about gutter guards and how they can protect your gutter system from forming a headache-inducing clog. If you’re ready, let’s dive in.

What Are Gutter Guards?

Your gutters are responsible for water management. During a storm, they effectively channel water off your roof, through the downspouts, and away from your home. Without a proper gutter system, leaves and other debris can trap stagnant rainwater on your roof, leaving it vulnerable to early decay, rust, and other damage.

However, when your gutters are clogged, the water coming off your roof has nowhere to go. This can cause a wide variety of costly problems. So, how can you stop this from happening?

The best way to prevent damage is to make sure your gutters are cleaned on a regular basis. If you can’t do that, then the second best way is to install a gutter guard.

Gutter guards are a type of gutter protection system. They’re placed over your gutters to catch falling leaves and debris that could get trapped and create a clog. Many homeowners use gutter guards as extra protection, alongside their maintenance routine, to prevent damage caused by a clogged gutter system.

What Are the Different Types of Gutter Guards?

The term “gutter guard” is used to describe any type of gutter covering. There are four different main types: plastic guards, gutter screens, gutter covers, and gutter helmets.

1. Plastic Gutter Guards

This is the least expensive type of gutter guard. They’re shaped like giant pipe cleaners and are designed to sit inside your gutters. They are equipped with tiny spikes that stab, impale, and trap leaves as they flow down the gutters, which prevents them from clogging. However, those leaves are trapped until you remove them, so you'd still need to get up there to clean them out every once in a while.

black spiky gutter guard sitting in gutter


2. Gutter Screens

Gutter screens feature a wired mesh design that fits over the top of your gutters. The mesh keeps debris out of your gutters while still allowing water to pass through like it normally would.

black mesh gutter screen preventing an orange leaf from falling into a gutter

Keep in mind that small pieces of debris can slip between the mesh and fall into your gutters. However, this shouldn’t be a problem for bigger things like falling leaves or pine needles.

Here at On Tops Roofing, we install a type of gutter screen called “Leaf Relief.” It is designed to keep natural debris, such as leaves and twigs, from blocking your gutters. Leaf Relief comes in a wide variety of styles all made from heavy duty aluminum or copper and fits most gutter systems.

3. Gutter Covers

This is the most popular type of gutter guard. They act like tiny roofs for your gutters, letting debris roll off their sides while water runs through their edges. Their design makes them one of the most effective types of gutter guards on the market.

Gutter covers come in a wide variety of styles, with some being more decorative and others designed to be completely unseen. They are crafted with either aluminum, steel, plastic, vinyl, or copper, so you’ll never have trouble finding one that matches the rest of your gutter system.

white gutter cover with brown leaves and water droplets falling down the side

Different gutter covers can also have different functions. High flow covers are designed to direct as much water through your gutters while still blocking the vast majority of debris. Perforated covers are easy to clean; they can just be removed and replaced if debris happens to make its way through the screen.

4. Gutter Helmets

There are two different types of gutter helmets to choose from: one that clips onto your existing gutter system, and another that already comes attached to your gutters as one solid piece. 

white gutter helmet preventing pine straw and debris from falling in gutters

Gutter helmets use static to direct water into your gutter system while directing debris off the sides and onto the ground. If debris manages to make its way past the gutter helmet and into your gutters, you’ll have to call the contractors that installed them because they’re difficult to remove.

How Are Gutter Guards Installed?

Gutter guard must be properly installed under your other roofing materials. For example, while gutter screens clamp onto the front of your gutters, they must go underneath the other roofing components and sit on the drip edge.

If you don’t have drip edge, gutter screens will be installed between your shingles and your starter shingles. If they aren’t installed properly, water can get underneath your roofing materials and cause them to rot.

On the other hand, gutter helmets need to be installed under the second shingle up from the gutter line. If they’re installed on top of your shingles, leaks are going to start showing up and you’ll have to replace the bottom part of your roof decking all-around your home.

What Happens to Your Gutter Guards During a Roof Replacement?

Gutter guards are a great investment for homeowners looking to prevent clogged gutters and extend the life of their roofs. But what happens to that investment when you get a new roof? Will you just lose your gutter guards?

Many homeowners are worried about losing their gutters–and subsequently, their gutter guards–during their upcoming roof replacement. If this sounds like you, read this article to learn more about what happens to your gutters when you get a new roof.

If you live in Raleigh and need help with your gutters, give us a call! We work with over 900 homeowners a year who, like you, are looking for a high-quality roofing experience. If you want a free roof inspection or to learn more about choosing your gutter guards, don’t hesitate to fill out the form below. We’d be happy to help.

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