There are many factors to consider when purchasing gutter protection. A good choice can lead to years of (generally) maintenance free protection. A poor choice can be costly and no one likes to feel like they made a bad choice with their purchase. Budgets are tight, gutter cleaning is frustrating and dirty work, so who wants to deal with anything other than the best choice for their purchase?
There’s a saying that goes something like “the pain of a bad purchase will felt long after the sweetness of a low price.” So true. So, how much can this mistake cost?
The DIY Product
The most common place to find gutter protection is at a big box store or warehouse club. These DIY (Do-it-Yourself) products are typically what we’d call the lowest common denominator in gutter protection. These stores want something that they can purchase at a low cost, allowing them to mark the product up so that the majority of the profit goes into their own coffers. They are also the last place to expect to find the latest technology, in fact, they likely sell some of the oldest designs. Cheap products don’t offer quality or long lasting protection, but that’s okay to these stores. They’re hoping for a product that won’t deliver much, so they can count on you for repeat business.
Products sold this way will let in debris and generally have little structure, meaning they can blow off or collapse under the weight of pine needles or wet, spongy debris easily. They are easily chewed through by squirrels and other animals to get at pools of water that will inevitably collect in a gutter.
Here’s where we suggest you take a step back and think about it. If debris can get into a gutter with gutter protection, what makes it different from the unprotected gutter that you’ve right now? Your mistake will start out costing you whatever you spend for the product you’ve purchased.
Sadly, if you try this route, the chances of adding to this cost goes up greatly. People often assume they’ve fully protected their home or at least they have to check their gutters less frequently. The costly mistake comes when (1) you create a shelf on top of your gutters that collects debris, then acts like a sponge and pulls water into and under your roof shingles or (2) the system overflows and starts to cause water damage. What can water left uncheck cost? By the time you discover it, it could have already caused hundreds even tens of thousands of dollars in damages, a very costly mistake.
The Dealer Installed Product
Would it surprise you to learn that the same issues that plague a DIY product affect most of dealer installed gutter protection systems? The same two things typically happen to these products, too. One common design pulls in debris and causes it to sits hidden in the gutter trough. Remember, their marketing message (if they even have one) is you’ll never have to clean your gutter again, not that your gutter will never get anything in it. Remember what we said about the DIY products letting in debris being no better than an open gutter? Same thing applies here, except now you’ve likely spend thousands of dollars for the same priviledge.
Other common designs create a shelf at the top of your gutter. You’ll hear us say this a lot–flat is bad! Suddenly, you gutter goes from a few inches deep, to less than an inch deep. Debris builds up on systems like this and when wet, will touch your fascia, and roof shingles. Just like sticking a paper towel partially in a glass of water, water will wick from the debris up into your roof shingles, keeping them and the edge of your roof wet long after a rain. This creates a perfect place for paint to start to peel, wood to rot and shingles to fail.
How costly can all of this be? Combine the price of the system with the damage and you can quickly top $10,000.
Water may be our life source, but it is nothing but trouble to a home. We’d call the fire department if we ever saw smoke or a plumber in if we ever discovered a leak, yet amazingly, we don’t put much thought into a gutter that’s not doing its job every time it rains, even if we think we’ve taken care of it with gutter protection.