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leaf or gutter guards prevent rain gutter and downspouts from clogging

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Fall season, brings to mind cool sunny days, piles of leaves and the hope of one last harvest from the garden. Fall is also the time we should be on a ladder cleaning our raingutters. No matter the season, wind, rain and snow cause leaves to fall on the roof and then wash into the rain gutter. How often do you want to be on the ladder swiping out the mess of rotted leaves?  Besides allowing water to overflow in a heavy rain, there are many home defects that can be caused by blocked gutters, including flooded basements and cracked foundations.

Scott Wuebber owner of Dovetail Raingutter located in Bozeman, Montana says, Keeping your rain gutters free of leaves is essential. You can hire us to clean and inspect the gutter system once or twice a year or we can install a leaf guard on the gutter. The return on your investment of gutter guards varies. We suggest obtaining a quote for the leaf guards and then compare the annual cost of cleaning to the cost of the quote. Often, your costs can be recovered in a short time.

There are several different types of gutter leaf guards on the market, they each have their own way of preventing leaves, pine needles, and other debris from clogging up your gutters.

The first leaf guard we will discuss are the ones made from metal, wire, or plastic. They use a diamond mesh that allows the rain water to enter but keeps the leaves and other debris out. This is the least expensive leaf guard but often blows off the gutter and allows a lot of debris to still enter the gutter. You will have to occasionally remove this style of leaf guard to clean the gutter. Cost to install is low.

leaf guard for rain gutter diamond mesh

Another type of leaf guard is a fin type that has a rounded nose, it uses a combination of surface adhesion and gravity in order to work. When the rain water comes down it sticks to the front of the nose of the cover and flows down into the gutter. The problem with these is that they are easily clogged which can defeat the purpose of having them installed in the first place. The roof shingle must be lifted which can damage the shingle and allow water to find its way under the shingles causing a drip behind the gutter, and they are very visible from the ground, the installed cost is high.

Next, there are foam leaf guards, they work by filling the gutter with a foam insert that is water permeable. The foam is able to keep out the leaves, seeds, and other debris while allowing the water to flow into the gutters. Be sure that the ones you purchase are treated with insect repellent and are mold resistant. It is also a good idea to have it treated with a fire retardant.

These may not be the best choice in freezing climates. We often find this type of leaf guard has failed and have become clogged with dirt, mold and rotting leaves causing overflowing rain gutters. Removal and disposal is then required to get the rain gutter flowing again.

Scott Wuebber at Dovetail Raingutter suggests you take a look at Plygem's Leaf Relief gutter guards. "We've been installing Leaf Relief here in Southwest Montana for close to 20 years and have had no complaints, unlike the gutter guards that have a micro screen covering that seem to cause icing problems. Leaf Relief functions well in our snow and ice filled winters." These are one of our most popular brands, they have a 10-year limited warranty, which states that leaf Relief will keep gutters from overflowing due to clogging. Leaf relief attaches to the gutter and does not require lifting or nailing through the roof shingles. Leaf Relief can be installed in new rain gutters and many existing gutters (dependent on original installation and the style of the drip edge) Cost to install is moderate.


So, are leaf guards worthwhile? When properly selected and installed, gutter guards will keep the leaves out of the rain gutter. Here at Dovetail, we think if the roof is low and you own a ladder that will safely reach the roof edge & you're comfortable climbing a ladder, cleaning and inspecting the gutter yourself can be a good homeowner project. Otherwise, installing a quality leaf guard in ln your rain gutter is a wise choice and they will keep you off the ladder! They can be a bargain when you consider the cost of any emergency room visits necessitated when adding your own personal spin on the season known as “Fall.”

Please contact us for a free estimate 406-585-2979


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