Best Gutter Guards to Protect Your Gutters

Being proactive in maintaining your roof can mean avoiding costly repairs or the need to replace it down the road. The most essential roof maintenance task, cleaning your gutters, should be done at least every fall. Keeping your gutters clean can prevent gutter freezing and ice dams by allowing for proper drainage. In addition to extending the life of your roof, regular gutter cleaning can prevent siding and fascia board rot, wet basement, foundation repairs, landscape erosion, interior water leaks, mold, and pest problems.

Cleaning gutters can be a messy chore. Homeowners who’d rather not do it themselves can hire a professional or install gutter protection. But if you're looking for ways to protect your gutters in preparation for winter, these tips will help you find the best gutter guard for your home.

How Can I Protect My Gutters?

Leaves are the most common problem for gutters. Although there are many types of gutter guards, the best type of leaf gutter guard is the screen type. Screen gutter guards are easy to install, widely available, and relatively inexpensive. In addition to leaves, gutter screens will keep out twigs and other large debris that can clog your gutters and impede their ability to redirect water away from your roof, siding, and foundation.

The Best Gutter Guards

There are multiple types of gutter guards that vary by installation method, price, and materials. Here at Ring's End, our 3 best gutter guards can be installed for a modest price, without hiring a professional.

1. Mesh Gutter Guard

The Frost King Plastic Mesh Gutter Guard is made of durable, flexible plastic mesh that can be easily unrolled and cut to length with a pair of scissors. This plastic gutter guard installs quickly on any gutter. Cut 4 – 5 foot strips, making notches over the gutter hangers, arch the mesh over the top lip of the gutter, cut and bend in the end.

2. Steel Gutter Guard

Heavier than aluminum gutter guards, the Amerimax Premium Hinged Gutter Guard is made of durable, long-lasting galvanized steel and has a convex hinged design, which helps prevent debris accumulation. The hinged gutter guard comes in 3-foot sections that clip to the front lip of the gutter and rest on top of the shingle. This product installs quickly and easily with the push of a finger. The 3-foot sections fit most standard K-Style gutters. The average home requires about 70 guards.

3. Vinyl Gutter Screen

The Frost King Snap-In Vinyl Gutter Screen is a gutter cover made from durable and sustainable quality vinyl. It is available in white or brown and has a smooth profile. The 3-foot-long strips slip under the shingles and snap into the outer lip of the gutter. No tools are needed for installation. This lock-in gutter guard can be cut to fit using household scissors.

Gutter Protection Tips

Even if you install gutter guards, there are other preventative steps you should take to protect your gutter system from damage caused by winter weather. Inspecting and removing debris, checking the slope of your gutters, checking your downspouts, and trimming trees will all help your gutter system function properly.

Inspect and Remove Debris

Micro-mesh gutter guards stop leaves, pine needles, and small debris from clogging your gutters. Unless your gutter guards are the fine mesh type made of stainless steel micro-mesh, the openings will be large enough to let in small debris. Inspect your gutter guards regularly and wash out any material that may have accumulated with a garden hose. Be sure to insert the hose into the downspout as well as the gutter trough.

Check the Slope

The slope, or pitch of your gutters may change over time as the fasteners loosen. This can lead to standing water that can spill onto the siding. The simplest way to check your gutter’s pitch is to pour water into the trough and watch how it moves. If it pools, you should adjust the slope. Undo the fasteners, realign and reattach the gutters, and test the slope again by checking the water flow through the trough.

Check Your Downspouts

Each downspout should end in an elbow joint that directs water away from your home’s foundation. Amerimax Home Products makes several accessories for aluminum gutter systems. The Amerimax Type "A" Downspout Elbow will direct water from front to back. It is available in 3" white or 3" brown. An Amerimax Type “B” Downspout Elbow will direct water from side to side. It is available in 3" white or 3" brown. If there are signs of soil erosion near your home’s foundation, place a splash block such as Amerimax Plastic Splash Block, available in green or brown, beneath each downspout to absorb and direct the flow of water. Alternatively, you can fit each downspout with flexible extensions such as Amerimax Flex-A-Spout, available in green or white, or the RainDrain Automatic Recoiling Downspout, available in 4-foot or 8-foot lengths, that can guide the water much farther away from your foundation. Additionally, leaf guards such as the Amerimax Universal Aluminum Wire Strainer will prevent leaf build-up from clogging your downspouts. It fits most downspouts, both square and round, and installs easily.

Trim Your Trees

Trimming back the tree branches near your roof will reduce debris from falling into your gutters. It also ensures your roof and gutters are not damaged by falling branches weighed down by ice and snow.

Regular maintenance and the right products will protect your gutters and your property from costly home improvement repairs. These tips are suggested for the average DIY’er. If you live in an area with extreme winter weather and your roof is prone to ice dams, installing heat tape or electric heating cables may be necessary. Consult a roofing professional so that you don't risk voiding your roof warranty.