Leaves, acorns, pine needles and more can fill gutters quickly in the fall and lead to major issues later. Getting up on a ladder and scooping out debris from gutters is not an easy task. It is quite the hassle, in fact, so much so that many homeowners have opted for a gutter guard system.

There are hundreds of gutter guard systems on the market. Some you can install yourself. Others require the skills of a professional to install. Cost is based on a number of factors, including materials.

Gutter guard systems come in a variety of materials. Some of the most common include copper, aluminum, plastic, mesh and foam. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Copper is expensive and difficult to install, but it will not rust. It must be sealed periodically to prevent it from turning green.

Aluminum costs less than copper and is durable, but it can be difficult to install. Plastic is also durable, easier to install and will not rust. It can crack, however, especially in cold temperatures. Mesh and foam work best as filters in gutter systems. They are inexpensive, easy to install and allow for better water flow all around, but they tend to get clogged quickly.

Most gutter guard systems come in two designs: screens or covers. Screens act as filters, allowing for more water to run through gutters while keeping out large debris. They are usually made from aluminum, foam or nylon or metal mesh. Perched inside of gutters, screens are hidden from view.

They are the least expensive of the two designs and the easiest to install. They are not nearly as durable as covers, however. Covers are usually made from metal or plastic and sit on top of gutters within view. Larger than screens, they can be difficult to install. Covers keep debris out of gutters but do not allow as much water to pass through as screens do.

As with any home improvement, you should do your homework when selecting a gutter guard system. Find out what is available in your area and what will work best for your budget and know-how.

If you decide to go with a professional, review the options carefully and find out if annual inspections are included in the packages presented. If not, be prepared to do the inspections yourself. If you decide to install a system yourself, take the necessary precautions. Get a buddy to help you and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

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