gutter guards

Gutter guards come in a variety of designs, and some are better suited for blocking some types of debris than others. (Photo by Frank Espich/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 climb a ladder and a scoop leaves out as few times as possible each year. 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 gutter guards work.

How do gutter guards work?
Gutter guards and covers form a filter over your gutters, catching debris – or redirecting it over the gutter – to prevent to clogs. At the same time, they allow water to continue running off your roof and into the gutter. Although gutters guards are often advertised as a cure-all solution, it’s important to understand that:

1. They don’t all work the same
2. You’ll still probably need to clean your gutters, though not as often.

What types of gutter guards are there?
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 unique conditions of 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.

So how much do gutter guards cost?
It depends on two factors: 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 between $7.50 and $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 gutter guard systems.

Is it worth it?
As mentioned at the beginning, this is a subjective question that each homeowner will view differently. For example, some may understandably be turned off by the initial cost. Others may see it as investment that will pay itself back by eliminating the need for professional cleaning.
In addition to cost, it’s also worth considering 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, animal feces and other goop out of them.

But no matter 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 spend cleaning 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.

By Cynthia Wilson, Angie’s List (TNS). Cynthia Wilson is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.