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Installing Gutter Covers - How to Prevent Buildup of Leaves and Debris


Gutter covers reduce the amount of leaves and debris that collect in your gutters. They don’t always eliminate the need to clean your gutters, contrary to what some people think, but they do reduce the frequency of cleanings, making your life easier.

Gutter covers are a good idea if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t get around to cleaning gutters as often as you should. They’re also smart if you’re uncomfortable on a ladder or have a tall roof that makes gutters difficult to access. For each professional cleaning you prevent, that’s another $100-$350 in your pocket.

Types of Gutter Covers

Gutter covers, also called gutter guards, come in many different varieties. Some perform better than others, so it’s important to understand what’s available.

There are professionally-installed gutter guard systems that range in price from about $20-$30 per square foot, or $3,000-$5,000 for the 160 feet needed to cover an average home, according to Consumer Reports. These varieties, which Consumer Reports tested, were found to be very effective in blocking debris, although they didn’t always prevent water from collecting in a pool around the foundation. Typically, the price of professional guards includes free service calls if your gutters do clog.

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Gutter covers purchased at home improvement stores, also tested by Consumer Reports, were found not to be very effective in keeping out debris or preventing rainwater from pooling. However, they are much cheaper, running about $100 if you do the installation yourself and $500 or so if they are professionally installed. (Installation prices vary, of course, depending on the size of your home and your location.)

More specifically, gutter guards are sold in a variety of designs and materials. Some are designed more with blocking debris in mind, while others are intended to direct rainwater away from the house. Few are highly effective at both. Gutter guards can be made of mesh, foam, bristles or nylon. Talk to experts about the pros and cons of each before selecting any product. Opinions vary, so you should seek several.

How Often Should I Clean Gutters with Covers?

Without gutter covers, most experts recommend cleaning your gutters between two and four times per year. When gutters get clogged and overflow, water can pool around the house and damage your foundation, causing a serious problem. The frequency of recommend cleanings should be determined by the number and type of trees on your property. With a yard full of pine trees, for example, four times is a good idea.

If you do have gutter covers, most experts say you can cut those cleanings in half. However, it’s not a bad idea to continue inspecting your covers as often as you would have cleaned them to make sure the covers are working properly. An inspection is fairly quick and easy, and we all know it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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