Are gutter guards worth the cost?

Gutter guards come in a variety of designs, and some are better suited for blocking some types of debris than others.
Gutter guards come in a variety of designs, and some are better suited for blocking some types of debris than others. Angie’s List

Is it worth spending money to install gutter guards if you still have to clean them sometimes? For many homeowners, the answer is yes, especially for those who want to avoid climbing a ladder and scooping out leaves as much as possible.

However, “worth it” is a subjective term, and in the case of gutter guards, it means picking the right type for your roof. That starts with understanding how they work.

Gutter guards and covers form a filter over your gutters, catching debris or redirecting it over the gutter to prevent clogs. At the same time, they allow water to continue running off your roof and into the gutter.

Although gutter guards are often advertised as a cure-all solution, it’s important to understand that they don’t all work the same, and you’ll still probably need to clean your gutters, though not as often.

There are many types of gutter guards — screens, inserts, reverse curves — and all perform differently. For example, some may block large debris, such as broad leaves and long pine needles, while allowing seedpods and other small bits to enter the gutter.

Therefore, you need to know the conditions surrounding your roof when shopping for gutter guards. Start with identifying the types of trees growing around your home, and what debris they drop throughout the year.

How much gutter guards cost depends on the length of your gutters and the type of guards you need. And, of course, if you want professional installation or if you feel comfortable installing the guards yourself.

Gutter guards and covers typically cost $7.50 to $10 per lineal foot installed. Given that the average home has about 200 feet of gutter, many homeowners can expect to pay about $1,500 to $2,000 for professionally installed gutter guards. The price goes up from there for more complex systems.

Some homeowners may understandably be turned off by the initial cost. Others may see it as an investment that will pay itself back by eliminating the need for professional cleaning.

It’s also worth considering your time. If you’re used to cleaning your own gutters, guards can greatly cut down on how often you’ll need to scoop leaves, seeds and other goop out of them.

But whether you clean your own gutters or hire a professional, they’ll still need occasional attention. Experts recommend gutter cleaning at least once every two years, even with gutter guards and hoods installed. Still, that’s far better than the two or more times a year many homeowners clean uncovered gutters.

One more thing to consider: Since a gutter cleaning will require removing the guards, you’ll probably want ones that pop in and out easily.

Overall, the process of finding the perfect gutter guards will require spending a bit of time researching and making a substantial upfront investment. However, you may find that faster and less frequent gutter cleanings justify the cost.