You probably didn’t even give your gutters a second thought until they started leaking. Or, maybe you noticed them sagging in one corner because of the piles of leaves and other gunk.
Clogged gutters are a common problem among homeowners. The good news is that it’s actually quite easy to prevent.
Check out our tried-and-true tips on how to keep leaves out of gutters.
Gutters are a relatively simple idea. First, they collect rainwater to protect your home from water damage. Then, that water flows from the gutters to the downspouts and into the drainage area in your yard.
However, if the gutters are clogged for some reason, there’s no way they’ll be able to do their job. If left unchecked, this puts the integrity of your entire home at risk.
So, to avoid having to deal with issues like rot, mold, and deterioration, try the preventative measures we’ve listed below. They may take a few hours out of your day every month or so, but they’ll definitely save you the hassle of dealing with more serious problems down the line.
Now, it’s time to look at some ideas on how to keep leaves out of the gutter for good.
Luckily, the market is flooded with various shapes and styles of gutter screens, also known as gutter guards. They can certainly make the whole cleaning process much more manageable.
Plus, they come in a variety of long-lasting materials to choose from, from vinyl and PVC to stainless steel and copper.
Their biggest advantage is that they’re compatible with almost every type of roofing material available. Plus, they’re designed to simply snap onto the sides of the gutters, making them foolproof and user-friendly.
Keep in mind, however, that they’re perforated at the top to allow rainwater to flow into the gutters and downspouts. So, while these holes are small enough to keep out leaves, pine needles and seeds can still find their way inside.
If you’re looking for something with smaller holes to catch those pesky small-sized needles and seeds we mentioned above, then a fine mesh gutter guard is your best bet.
They consist of tiny-sized holes about the size of a sewing needle, if not smaller. So, you know there’s no way any of those small pieces of debris can find their way inside.
Another benefit is that they’re easy to clean and maintain. You can wipe the surface with a soft brush or blast away the debris with some warm air from a leaf blower.
To secure them in place, all you have to do is slide them under the shingles. Then, fasten the other end to the fascia underneath the gutter.
Their one drawback is that large debris can sometimes block the openings, making it a bit messy, especially when it rains.
As you probably gathered from the name, these gutter guards have no opening on the top. What they do have is a vertical slit that runs across the length of the gutter. This slit can be either to the back of the cover or below the front lip of the gutter.
These covers are also slightly sloped outward. This way, rainwater can flow into the gutter, but large debris gets swept over the edge and onto the ground.
Foam gutter guards are basically sponges made of foam or polyurethane. They allow water to filter through while keeping out leaves and large debris.
They can be found at almost any home improvement store. Simply buy the length you need, then trim to fit. You can even have them turn corners and around hangers.
These foam inserts are tucked away inside the gutter, so they’re hidden from view.
It’s worth noting that their one drawback is that they need to be periodically removed and dried out. Otherwise, they’ll end up collecting too much water and won’t be efficient at trapping leaves.
Some homeowners have even had their foam inserts become trapped inside the gutters because of the excessive amount of water they’d absorbed.
A new innovation in the world of gutter maintenance is brush gutter guards. These are essentially half-round pipe cleaners with brush-like nylon bristles designed to fit the entire width of your gutters.
Their main job is to allow water to enter and flow freely through the gutter and into the downspout. At the same time, the bristles are placed face-up to catch leaves and various fallen debris, both large and small.
The good thing about brush covers is that they’re fairly easy to clean. All you have to do is every month or so, remove them and give them a nice shake to free all the accumulated dirt and debris.
Yet, the downside is that they’re not made to sustain extreme cold weather conditions. As a result, they may get bogged down by the weight of the snow and, in some cases, can even promote the growth of icicles, which can be a serious safety hazard.
Leaf catchers are a bit different than gutter guards or caps. The first difference is that these add-ons are installed on the downspout, not the gutters themselves.
They’re placed a couple of feet above ground level. However, some homeowners prefer to place them near the ground, flush with the drainage area for easier access.
Another difference is that they’re shaped like a basket rather than an elongated cover. Their main job is catching leaves and debris before they get into the drain.
The best type is a built-in basket made of waterproof, weather-resistant stainless steel. They work better than removable baskets, which can potentially end up scratching or denting the inside layer of your downspouts.
Simply scoop out the fallen debris with your hands or a trowel.
Gutter systems play a significant role in transporting rainwater from the roof of your home to a secure drainage area. Unfortunately, when this transport system is blocked due to lack of upkeep or repair, it won’t work properly, thus wreaking havoc on the outside of your home.
You can always enlist the help of a professional gutter cleaning team to do the job for you.
However, if you have a tight budget or prefer tackling chores like this on your own, here are a few ways to clean the gutters to ensure they do their job and keep rainwater away from your home.
The first thing you have to do to reduce the amount of leaves and debris you have to clean up is to trim your trees. This isn’t just the branches that form a canopy over the gutters, but any substantial-sized branches that may be lurking nearby as well.
They may not be directly over the roof, but any slight wind can send leaves blowing in its direction, causing them to cling to the gutters.
Removing the leaves and debris clogging up the gutters isn’t pretty. That’s why experts recommend you wear safety goggles and protective gloves.
Then, with a bucket in one hand, start scooping up the debris hand. You can also use a garden trowel or gutter scoop if you prefer.
Finally, give the gutters a good rinse with a garden hose when you’re done.
If you’re not into picking up the leaves by hand or using gardening tools, like the trowel, to get the job done, then it’s time to look for a faster alternative.
One example is to attach a gutter cleaning wand to your garden hose. Next, turn it on, and let the water do the work for you.
Aim the hose at a slight angle, so the leaves flow toward the downspout. Then, position the wand directly over the downspout to ensure none of the leaves get stuck inside on their way down to the drainage area.
If you don’t want to use the hose to push the leaves out, then why not use a leaf blower? It’s quick, efficient, and you won’t have to bother with any puddles left behind by the hose.
The gutter system on your roof may seem like it’s not doing much, but it’s your home’s first line of defense against leaks and other types of water damage. Whatever the weather is like where you live, knowing how to keep leaves out of the gutter and downspout means you’re better equipped to protect your home inside and out.