How to Prevent Clogged Gutters

Gutter Shields Can Mitigate the Clogging of Gutters

By Mark J. Donovan

The installation of gutters around your home’s roof edge can be extremely helpful in protecting your home from water problems, particularly if it has a basement. Gutters also help to protect your home from erosion around its foundation by directing rainwater from the roof to safe run-off locations. Gutters, however, can also be a major pain in the neck if not regularly maintained. They are perfect traps for fallen leaves, pine needles and small tree branches. As a result, they can often clog up if the home is located near trees. Also clogged cutters can cause the fascia boards that they are attached to, to rot and decay.

Even worse, gutters can also freeze up during the winter months, particularly if there is clogging debris in them, and can literally rip off the side of the house causing damage to the roof edge and fascia boards.

To prevent these types of situations, regular gutter cleaning and maintenance is required. For most homes gutters should be cleaned twice a year. However, if the home is located near trees then every couple of months they should probably be cleaned.

One alternative solution from having to regularly clean gutters is to install gutter shields, or gutter caps, over the gutters. Gutter shields prevent leaf and branch debris from falling into the gutters, while still allowing the shedding roof rainwater to flow into them.

Gutter shield technology is based upon two natural properties of water; water tension and capillary action. So as water runs down the roof and over the surface of the gutter shield, the water tension and capillary action cause the water to adhere to the gutter shield and slide along its surface and around its leading edge bend, where it then drops into the gutter.

Leaf debris, however, lacks these two critical properties and thus literally slides over and off the surface of the gutter shields and onto the ground below. Heated wires can also be installed in the gutters to eliminate the threat of ice dams.

In terms of installation, gutter shields need to be installed by a professional as they are cut to size at the jobsite. However, installation is reasonably priced and they are well worth the money. This said, contrary to gutter shield manufacturers claims, they are not perfect. Pine needles in particular have the tendency to flow with the roof rain water over the shields and into the gutters. As a result, the gutters will still need to be occasionally cleaned out to prevent clogs, which is more difficult to do with the gutter caps installed over them. Overall, however, gutter shields are fairly effective and will mitigate the need for you having to climb a ladder and unclog gutters as frequently.

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