One of the questions we often get asked is why a homeowner shouldn’t choose a gutter filter in the form of a foam insert to protect their gutters from trapping leaves and debris. Aren’t they sufficient to do the trick?
In most cases, the frank answer to this question is “No.” Here are 5 reasons why foam gutter inserts are a poor choice, some of which may surprise you.
Most Foam Filter Gutter Guards Aren’t Worth It
1. They Don’t Last: It gives us a good chuckle when we see a gutter filter with a 3, 5, or 15 year warranty, or something like that. The fact is, polyether or polyurethane foam is just foam. Okay, sure, some are better than others. But even the best gutter filter foam inserts rarely last more than a year or two before their top surface is complete trash. So, if you think about that for a second, over the course of 15 years, a homeowner will actually spend more on a gutter filter than a micro mesh gutter guard. Ouch! (Note: gutter filter warranties are very prorated. So even if the warranty says a certain amount of years, if you read closely, you’ll see that such is not the case.)
2. They Hold and Trap Debris: Gutter filters sit inside the gutter, often creating a shelf about a half inch into the gutter itself. Light fall debris may initially blow off, but acorns, twigs and branches won’t. Anything wet won’t either. Shingle grit will work its way into all the nooks and crannies (so lovely in an English muffin, so dangerous in a gutter filter!) and create fewer ways for water to travel through the product. Add in the small debris from budding spring trees in combination with April showers, and you’ve got a packed layer of gunk that nothing can get through. We’ve seen some pretty amazing gutter overflows, all of which were in households using a gutter filter.
3. Roof Oil Clings to Them: This may come as a real surprise to you. Because foam gutter filters are made from a petroleum-based product (you can tell from the poly-whatever in their name), other petroleum-based stuff will naturally be attracted to them. And since roofs leach oils and tar, you wind up creating the perfect bar scene for roof oils to “hook up” with the foam. Gutter filters have no way of self-cleaning from oily residues and, over time, they build up on and through all of the cellular walls of the foam until they become a solid surface. A solid surface that’s turned your gutter into something only 1/2 inch deep and not connected to a downspout to give the water somewhere to go. This is why it’s so important to make sure you choose a gutter guard with self-cleaning features; they’ve got to be able to deal with this problem.
4. UV Stabilized? Germicides?: Does it really matter? Not really when you’ve got to deal with the roof oil issue. That being said, while the product may be treated, it won’t stop moss, mold and the like forming on the stuff that’s stuck on top of the gutter filter.
5. You’re Not Saving Any Money: As we mentioned in our first point, even though a micro mesh gutter guard costs a good bit more than a gutter filter, it will usually last the lifetime of the gutter (and likely extend the gutter’s useful life), with just some minor maintenance over the years. When you compare that to replacing a gutter filter every year, it’s easy to see why there’s a growing trend for homeowners to purchase a true gutter protection system at some point.
Our suggestion is for you to do your own research before considering a gutter filter. Check out if oil-based substances are really attracted to other oil-based substances. We think that when you’ve done your research, you’ll see that there’s a lot more value in choosing a self-cleaning micro mesh gutter guard. Have you already been down the foam gutter filter road? Tell us about your experiences — we’d love to hear from you!
Question? Comments? As always, your thoughts are welcome below!