Little Upgrades Make A BIG Difference.
My friend Kim just bought her first dishwasher. She moved here with her husband from Pittsburgh and, having rented most of their lives, they never had one. That is until buying their first home in Pottsville.
Doing dishes by hand for the two of them wasn’t too much trouble…but now that they have a new baby? She tells me, “The dishwasher has gone from ‘nice to have’ to “MY FAVORITE thing in the house’!”
She hadn’t thought such a small change would make such a big difference! It has me thinking- there are so many small home upgrades that can really be a lifesaver as a homeowner.
First Time Homeowner Surprises
If you’re a first time homeowner like Kim, you’re discovering all sorts of surprises in your new role. Hopefully they’re good ones: like how much easier your kitchen cleanup is with a working dishwasher.
But some of those surprises can catch you off guard.
For one? Cleaning your gutters.
Anyone with a multi-story home will tell you how harrowing it is to be up on a 20’ ladder with a hose trying to unclog a year’s worth of pine needles from your gutters. It’s enough to get you asking “did I really sign up for this?!”
Fortunately, there’s an easy upgrade that you’re going to love almost as much as that new dishwasher. Especially if:
- Your home’s roof is near trees
- You don’t like ladders or heights
- Or you just don’t have the time to clean your gutters twice a year
Let me introduce you to your new favorite upgrade: Gutter Guards.
Home Maintenance Made Easy
Our article on five landscaping mistakes covers the importance of regular gutter maintenance in depth- but here’s a quick refresh:
Gutters need to be cleaned out twice a year. Otherwise they can become clogged and clogged gutters don’t do their job keeping water away from your home’s exterior or foundation. Having a working gutter system is essential to protecting your home’s investment.
While there’s no way to control leaves and debris from falling, gutter guards keep them from collecting in your gutters.
So what is a gutter guard?
It’s a protective barrier designed to block leaves and debris from your gutters while still letting water drain through.
Because the guard only allows water into your gutters it cuts down on clogs and regular cleaning.
Although you’ll still need to check your gutters if you have guards, the guards reduce the frequency of cleaning substantially.
By how much?
Well, instead of twice a year, homeowners with gutter guards only need to clean their gutters every 2 to 3 years!
Gutter Guards: How To Protect Your Home From Squirrels
Another great thing about gutter guards?
They work as extra protection against rodents and insects.
The longer water sits in your gutters, the more attractive it becomes to bugs. A clogged gutter is the perfect place for mosquitoes to multiply- and that’s not something you want happening in your backyard!
The good news? Gutter guards increase water flow through filtration, creating an environment unsuitable for insect breeding.
The guards also protect against birds and mice. These critters love to live in the roof of your home, squeezing behind the fascia boards to make a home in your attic. When you install gutter guards, they work as a physical barrier against this while protecting your fascia from rodent damage.
The soffit and fascia of your house are one of the strongest defenses against rodents. Want to learn more about how they work to protect your home? You can read about it here!
As far as gutter guards go, the three most popular guards are:
- Surface tension guards
- Gutter sponges
- Micro mesh
What’s the best choice for your home? Let’s take a look.
The Best Large Debris Protection: Surface Tension Guards
Surface tension gutters guards (or “reverse curve” as they’re sometimes called) filter water out through a small slit in the guard.
The water moves along the gutter guard, draining out through the narrow opening. The opening isn’t large enough for most debris. Instead, the water pressure forces the rain off the roof and through the drainage system.
Here’s a breakdown of how that works:
This system works very well if you have problems with large debris- like maple trees or oak trees. It’s also designed with durability against ice and heavy winds. Small debris can still filter through the gutter but is washed through the downspout.
The biggest set back to this guard? It’s not budget friendly and can only be installed on some roofs.
The guard is installed at an angle similar to the slope of your roof. It’s designed to slip under your roof and screw into the gutters.
We only recommended this type of gutter guard on asphalt shingle roofs. It can damage the structure of other roofing types, but a skilled contractor will be able to tell you if a reverse curve gutter guard is a good fit for your home.
These guards are also one of the most expensive guards available. They’re not sold at most hardware stores and will need to be ordered through a contractor from the manufacturer.
But there’s no doubt surface tension guards are the best option if your roof is a good fit for installation.
The DIY Pick: Gutter Sponges
Gutter sponges are exactly what the name implies. They’re large pieces of sponge designed to fit in and conform to your gutters.
The idea is that the water will absorb into the sponge, while debris builds up on top. Over time, the weight of the debris and the pressure in the gutters forces the water to squeeze out and drain.
The biggest pro of gutter sponges? They’re budget friendly and a DIY installation. You can pick up this style of guard at most home improvement stores.
It’s a quick fit but not a good long term solution. The sponge needs to be replaced every two years. The short lifespan makes them cost effective in the short term, but a pricey option long term.
Other problems with sponge guards are:
- They don’t filter out small debris
- Tend to mold and mildew (yuck!)
- Can collect oils and tars as they runoff your roof- creating a fire hazard
In my opinion? This style of gutter guards does more harm than good. In our decades of replacing and repairing roofs in Schuylkill County, we’ve come across a few installations of these DIY gutter guards where they hadn’t been replaced often enough and cost the client in repairs that were completely avoidable.
Is there a happy middle ground between high-end reverse curve guards and these disaster-prone gutter sponges?
Absolutely! Here’s our top pick- micro mesh gutter guards.
Why We LOVE Micro Mesh Gutter Guards for our Pennsylvania Homeowners
This style of gutter guard is made up of two metal strips, used to attach the guard to your gutters or fascia. The mesh attaches between the strips, and sits over your gutters. The mesh can be made out of metal or plastic, but the best choice is stainless steel.
With the finest holes for water, micro mesh offers the best protection from debris. Some models of micro mesh are designed to stop pollen from entering into your gutters.
Micro mesh also offers protection from rodents. The guard is attaches in part to your fascia, and offers an extra layer of protection to the fascia and roof of your home.
Plus- Stainless steel micro mesh can last up to 25 years!
The extra protection isn’t the only upside to micro mesh. This guard is also:
- The easiest to clean
- Available for installation on most roof types
- Protects against dangerous ice dams
The biggest downside to micro mesh? The installation process.
Micro mesh is installed differently on every home.
For some, the fascia boards are the best point for installation. On others, the guard is installed under the first row of shingles.
An experienced contractor can assess the best way to install the guards…but don’t try to DIY this installation. With the right contractor by your side, micro mesh is the best protection for your gutters.
Ready for a Small Upgrade with a BIG Impact?
When choosing a gutter guard, the most important step of all is working with a trusted contractor. A bad installation can set you back thousands in unnecessary home repairs down the road.
At Martin- we not only install gutter guards, we understand the dynamics of your roofing systems as a whole. That means when you work with our crew for roof and gutter installation, we can spot potential challenges and give you more options tailored to your home’s build.
Tired of hauling out that 20’ ladder and hauling a garden hose up on your roof every spring and fall? Let us help you make an upgrade that will save you hours in home maintenance. Give us a call at 570-345-0406 to talk more about the right guards and installation for you!
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