Do Maintenance Free Gutter Guards Exist?

Foam gutter guards with plant life growing out of them

We get this question a lot. When you search for different gutter guard options online, you’ll probably see advertisements that say things like, “Maintenance Free!” or “Never Clean Your Gutters Again!” But–truth be told–is there such thing as maintenance free gutter guards?

The short answer is no. They’re isn’t.

Is It a Marketing Scam?

Are gutter guards maintenance free? Photo shows micromesh guards with some debris sitting on top

This naturally begs the question: Why do so many gutter guard companies claim this?

Here is our theory: they aren’t actually lying. Rather, they are using wording to make the guards sound maintenance free. The truth is in the syntax.

One gutter guard we found online said, “you will probably forget about [the guards] because they are so maintenance free!”

Notice that they said, “so maintenance free,” but not 100% maintenance free.

In another instance, we saw a company write, “permanently eliminates the need for gutter cleaning.”

But what about gutter guard cleaning? 

Despite these confusing claims, these gutter companies are technically not lying. Correctly installed, quality gutter guards drastically reduce maintenance and keep your gutters from clogging. Nonetheless, the gutter guards themselves may still need some maintenance. 

How Much Maintenance Do Gutter Guards Need?

Gloves sitting on a roofline by clogged gutters

Typically, the nicer your gutter guard, the less maintenance it requires.

For example, inexpensive DIY gutters need frequent cleanings. These include bottle brush, foam, and plastic or vinyl guards.

In contrast, well-designed perforated and micro-mesh gutter guards require very minimal maintenance. Many come with a no-clog guarantee, meaning the gutters themselves are guaranteed not to clog. However, debris can sometimes build up on top of the gutter guards. Water should still flow through and into the gutters without any issues. However, for aesthetics and to increase the lifespan of your gutter guards, it is best to clean off your gutter guards when debris builds up.

If Maintenance Free Gutter Guards Don’t Exist, Why Buy Gutter Guards at All?

Vinyl gutter guards

Excellent question, and we totally get it. Why buy something to reduce maintenance…that requires maintenance? Gutter guards are not for everyone, but if you have a lot of tree coverage, don’t like cleaning your gutters, or always forget to hire a gutter cleaner, they could be a good option for you.

Think of gutter guards like a tablecloth, or even a shower curtain liner. A tablecloth will protect your table, and a shower curtain liner will protect your shower curtain. However, you still need to clean the tablecloth and the liner. Are they still worth it? Most people would say so. Are tablecloths for everyone? No, and that’s okay (Psst, by tablecloths we actually mean gutter guards). 

The Benefits of Gutter Guards

For one, quality gutter guards–even when dirty–still allow for proper water flow in your gutter system. That means that water can still flow through and out of your gutters as intended even when the guards are dirty. 

Secondly, quality guards reinforce and protect your gutter system, making it last longer. 

Thirdly, sturdy gutter guards will keep critters from crawling through your gutters and nesting in them (causing damage to your gutters and roof). 

Lastly, gutter guards need significantly less maintenance than gutters alone. Depending on your tree coverage, you may only need to clean them once a year. Furthermore, many gutter guards are designed with special features to promote airflow–creating an environment for the wind to naturally clear debris from your gutter guards.

How Do I Clean My Gutter Guards?

Gutter guards with debris on top

With good gutter guards, maintenance is incredibly easy. For quality perforated and micro-mesh guards, you can simply blow the debris off the gutters using a leaf blower. That’s much easier than manually pulling wet debris out of every section of your gutters. 

With inexpensive, DIY guards, maintenance is a little more complicated. With bottle brush and foam guards, you need to regularly remove them and shake out all the debris from the guards. Next, check your gutters to see if any debris is stuck in them, and remove it with your hand or wash it away with a hose. After a while, these guards can get debris permanently stuck in them. Sometimes plants or moss may start to grow out of them. When this occurs, you’ll want to replace them with new gutter guards. Otherwise, they will start to damage and break down your gutter system.

For vinyl gutter guards, since they are not always secured to your gutter system, you’ll want to avoid using a leaf blower. Instead, we recommend wearing protective gloves to sweep material off the top of the guards. If you have plastic mesh gutter guards, you may also need to pick out some debris pieces. 

This is also a good time to inspect your vinyl guards. In many instances, these guards can bend, fall into the gutters, or become brittle and break. Do a visual inspection to see if you need to replace any sections of the guards. If any of the gutter guard segments have slipped and fallen into the guards, you may need to clean inside the gutters for those sections.

To conclude: 

No, gutter guards are not maintenance free. 

Yes, if you install the right gutter guards, they help protect your home and simplify your home maintenance needs. 

Questions? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in a gutter guard cleaning or gutter guard estimate? Click here to schedule a free estimate!