Gutters may appear unassuming in plain sight, but they do more for a house than one may think. No matter how much it rains, gutters will safely divert the runoff away and down to the house’s base or the sewers. On the contrary, rainwater can cause your roof to rot, deteriorate, or grow molds without a gutter system to protect your home.
Several homes have installed gutters. However, gutters have one major flaw: nearly all designs feature an open top. There’s more than just rainwater flooding in—leaves, dirt, loose brochures, etc. Anything solid poses a risk to a gutter’s ability to lead runoff to the ground. Hence, the need to clean gutters regularly.
Fortunately, a simple solution exists: take a slab of metal, drill plenty of holes along it, and fit it on top of the gutter. That’s how gutter covers came to be. While there aren’t any laws requiring gutter covers for homes, these reasons may be more than enough to get one.
In 2018, a joint study by the USDA Forest Service and the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that more people had built their homes close to forests. Over two decades, the study tracked the growth of such households and found that their total land area is larger than all of Washington State.
While that study focused on the risk of wildfires, living next to a bunch of trees poses another risk. With enough wind, even a light breeze, dozens of leaves can fill an open gutter quickly. You don’t have to live next to a forest, as enough trees in the suburbs can yield the same effect.
Imagine climbing to the roof often to remove the leaves and other plant debris in the gutter. If there’s a good reason to answer yes to the question: “Should I install gutter guards,” this is it. The holes in a gutter cover can prevent larger debris like leaves from fouling up the gutter.
What do mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and hornets have in common besides being insects? They prefer building their nests in damp environments. As for mosquitoes, they can nest in stagnant water. The ground after a downpour is one, but they’ll feel safer if it’s high up. No other place in a house meets those requirements better than a gutter.
Aside from insects, snakes, opossums, and mice also reside in gutters because they provide a suitable shelter. They can use debris in the gutter to build their nests and multiply quickly. Imagine one of them popping out while cleaning the gutter.
Stings and bites are a given when these creatures set up shop in the gutter unchecked, especially in the summer. Worse, some carry diseases like dengue, malaria, and yellow fever. An enclosed gutter helps deter pests and critters and keeps the runoff flowing to prevent some insects from laying their eggs.
Whether to install gutter screens or maintain the whole system, there will always be a ladder involved. Open gutters require frequent clearing to keep them clear and prevent the debris from blocking the downspout. Such a chore entails standing on a ladder several feet off the ground.
Clearing the gutter should be no problem if you’re healthy. However, if you suffer from back pain, body pain, or shortness of breath, among others, doing this chore may be too dangerous. Falling from several feet up is a great way to lose all mobility, but at the same time, the gutter filled with debris can’t wait.
Gutter covers can be helpful in this situation. They won’t eliminate the need to clean the gutter, as smaller debris can still get through, but they can reduce how often you have to go up. If you leave cleaning to a professional service, gutter covers also help save money.
Search “gutter guard ice dam” online, and you won’t find a shortage of articles debating whether or not gutter covers causes ice dams to form. They aren’t usually a problem for homes in warmer climates, but those further north deal with them every winter. It’s time to set the record straight.
According to experts, ice dams will form whether or not the gutter comes with a gutter cover. The problem isn’t the cover itself but the uneven temperatures across the roof’s surface, possibly pointing to leaky insulation. The only instance gutter covers can promote ice dam buildup is a poor design, a sign of a lack of know-how to install a gutter system.
The reasons above are enough to help you decide whether you’ll install gutter covers for your home. Remember that gutter covers are as essential as the gutters themselves. They keep the gutter clear of debris that can hamper its function and make the home safe.