Never Clean Your Gutters Again!

Can’t you hear the advertisement ringing in your ears or dancing before your eyes? Gutters are a pain in the neck and I have seen people remove them rather than keeping them functional- This is a bad idea.

Gutters are probably the best defense against water entering your crawlspace. They are more effective than French drains by far unless of course the are clogged and then they become an enemy of the house. Clogged gutters will overflow and not only fail to protect your crawl space they will rot out your soffit and fascia boards too. Gutters are expensive and most of them are clogged-hence all let’s look at the cool devices to keep leaves out of your gutters.

The latest gutter protector that I am seeing promoted is an exceptionally fine screen that will “keep everything out of your gutters except the water”. Last week we inspected a home with one of these rather expensive systems and found that not only did it keep the leaves out but it was totally clogged with tiny debris ranging from the granules of your shingles to just plain dirt. The gutter wasn’t clogged but the gutter protector was completely clogged causing the water to run right over it and out…down to your foundation and crawlspace.

Another popular, and also expensive, the solution is the metal gutter guard that covers almost all of the gutter but then curl at the edge so that the water enters at the outside edge and into the gutter. These are pretty good during gentle or moderate rains but useless during a heavy gully washer. This type of gutter guard relies on surface tension. We have all tried pouring water out of a glass into some other container only to find that some of the water wrapped around the edge of the glass and ran down the side. This is a weird thing as the surface of the water will form a sort of membrane that not only will allow water bugs to walk around on the water without getting wet but it also will wrap around the edges of objects such as the curved edge of the gutter guard. The tension will keep the water in contact with the metal and then at a certain point the tension will break and the water will fall into the gutter. But when there is heavy rain then the flow will be too much for the surface tension to function and the rain will shoot right over the top of the gutter and hit the ground and work its way into the crawlspace.

The best leaf guard that I have found is the old arched leaf screens that clip onto the outside of the gutter. The holes in these leaf screens are large enough so that the tiny debris does not clog them up and the arch shape gives them strength in the event leaves or pine straw piles up against them. I have used these for years. And when they are clean and functional they do a great job…however, even with these, it is necessary to climb (or in my case get someone else to climb the roof) and sweep them off at least once a year-maybe twice. By the way, these are quite inexpensive.

So far as I know there are no gutter systems that are entirely maintenance-free, but once again if you are elderly, a single woman or generally fearful then watch out for the hard sell from some of these gutter guard companies. They will frighten you into buying by bringing up bogeymen such as mold or damage to foundations etc.… I have seen some companies offer lifetime warranties where they promise to come out and clean the gutters if they ever clog. It has been my experience that they might come out a couple of times until they just don’t show up or the company goes out of business. If you are getting the hard sell feel free to call me at 478-738-0893 before you bite the hook!

Ned Dominick has been inspecting homes in Macon, Warner Robins and all of Middle Ga since 1978. He and his qualified inspectors have examined over 28,000 local homes. For more go to his website at


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