Different Styles of Gutter Covers
Gutter covers help reduce maintenance from clogs caused by leaves, seeds, pine needles and other airborne debris. When gutters are clogged, rain water cannot efficiently flow from the roof to the downspouts and away from doorways, windows and the foundation. Gutter covers vary widely in terms of materials, installation techniques, cost and required maintenance. The level of investment can determine how effectively they perform.
No System is Perfect
Gutter covers of virtually every type help in some way to prevent debris from collecting and restricting the flow of rain water off the roof. Different screening or shielding methods are employed to deflect debris away from the gutters, and some gutter covers are specifically designed to conduct water to the downspouts at different flow rates. However, at some point maintenance--flushing, sweeping or power blowing--will be required.
Installing gutter covers can be a hazardous project that may be best left to professionals. Use extreme care whenever working on ladders. Some hose attachments can assist in flushing gutters from a lower height, but those implements cannot guarantee sight-unseen results.
Consult manufacturer's instructions when installing any gutter cover system. Some can be put in place by simply rolling cut sheets of wire or plastic mesh over the gutters and affixing them with a strong, waterproof adhesive. Other systems may require a snap-in technique under the roof edges. More elaborate gutter cover systems may require professional installation.
Assess the Need
At some homes, large leaves or large quantities of pine needles are the cause of clogged gutters. In these cases, gutter covers with wide-weave screens could be the best option because they deflect debris while still allowing water to flow into the gutters.
A low-maintenance and low-priced option consists of tucking synthetic sponge material or long-quill bristle brush material into the gutters. This is far from the most efficient method, but it does help deflect large debris and allows for water to flow at a moderate rate. Smaller particles will accumulate over time using these methods, however.
The All-in-One Approach
In cases where a home's gutters need replacement or new construction is under way, all-in-one systems--gutters and covers are constructed as one unit and professionally installed--may be the best option. This helps ensure optimum performance because the components were designed to work in unison to deflect debris and funnel rain water to the downspouts.
Don't Forget Downspouts
The channels through which rain water is intended to flow downward need protection from debris as much, if not more, than the gutters do. Flushing downspouts that have become clogged with debris can be a daunting task. Downspouts should be capped with wire strainers that prevent large particles from entering but do not restrict water flow.