Chapter 9 – To Gutter Guard Or Not To Gutter Guard

Tír na nÓg sits on a wooded lot next to a lot of other wooded lots.  In the summer, all those wooded lots provide oodles of shade which keeps TNN nice and cool.  In the Fall, all the shade (produced by countless leaves) changes into brilliant colors begging to be captured in some kind of art work. Eventually the brilliant colors fade, and the leaves fall off the trees and down to the ground creating the raking of the leaves chore.  It also creates the cleaning out the gutters chore.  I’ve lived in condo land all of my adult life.  I’ve never cleaned out a gutter.  However I know that if the gutters aren’t emptied, ugly roof damage occurs. 

I’ve been warned that cleaning gutters is dangerous business.  I need to be careful up on that ladder.  I shouldn’t take any chances.  I could fall.  I could die.  I could be permanently injured.  I get it.  I still need to clean out the gutters. 

After some consideration, because I really don’t like the idea of constantly cleaning out the gutters, I’ve decided to install gutter guards.  More admonitions.  Gutter guards really don’t work.  Make sure you get the curved ones.  It’s a scam.  Maybe so, but somehow or another, hauling out an extension ladder to dig debris out of the gutters on a bi-weekly basis has absolutely no appeal either.  So I am going to try the gutter guards.

One thing to understand here.  TNN is really small.  Maybe…maybe there are 36 linear feet to deal with.  No corners.  No mitered corners.  I needed to figure out the options.  A trip to the hardware store was in order.

Turns out there are many DIY options.  Most of the options slide under the shingles and clip on the edge of the gutters.  They have various features. Some are screens with big holes.  Some have mesh under the screens with big holes. Some curve a bit.  One version totally envelops the gutter with vinyl, and then rain slides in some slits by way of a bull nose construction.  Pretty slick. 

I settled on two different style of guards….largely because I have two different kinds of gutters.  The first gutter guard is fairly standard.  It comes in three foot lengths. Slides underneath the shingles and snaps on the gutter rim.  Below the standard screen is a finer mesh that makes it difficult for any debris to actually get into the gutter.  It slants forward a bit, so that the leaves should slide right off in a good breeze.  Great news…it’s about $2 a section.  So for about $10 I was able to take care of the first half of the gutter guard chore.

The second part wasn’t so easy.  The gutters for the screened in porch are not the standard type.  I didn’t even know that there were gutters at first because these gutters are really disguised well.  At first I thought I was looking at a flat roof without gutters.  Then I saw the downspout.  These gutters are only about three inches wide, and four inches deep.  They appear to be part of the soffit, and if you don’t get up on a ladder to really look, you would miss these completely.   Standard gutter guards won’t work. 

I looked at all sorts of options.  The two biggest problems were the flat roof and the narrow opening for the gutter.  Standard gutter width is around five inches.  These puppies are maybe three to four inches wide.  Because the screened porch has a flat roof, there is no way you can slide these guards under the shingles.  There are no shingles, and no gutter edge to snap on to.  Enter the “Gutter Worm”.  Really – it’s called a gutter worm.  The gutter worm is a great big bottle brush.  You can smoosh it into any gutter out there.  You can bend it so that it can be shortened or fit around gutter corners.  The engineering idea behind it is that debris will be trapped on the top part of the brush, dry up and blow away.  Larger debris like acorns and helicopters will be trapped by the brushes and will need cleaning periodically. The rain water will simply filter down to the gutter.  I’m concerned about the cleaning out “periodically” statement.  I’m surrounded by oak trees that produce thousands of acorns.  Although this gutter worm thing will most likely work on the leaves, I’m afraid I’m going to be on a ladder regularly to shake out the acorns, helicopters and what-not that are trapped on the brush bristles.  I do have confidence that the leaves will dry up and blow away rather than drop down and rot in the gutters.  We’ll see.

About my ladder.  I have a “Little Giant” knock-off.  It’s pretty amazing.  I can turn it into step ladders, an extension ladder, a ladder that works on stairs, and two supports that can act as trestles for a really big plank to stand on.  (I’m afraid of the trestle thing.)  It is versatile. When I dragged it out of the car, the winterizing guy was impressed. I opened it up, turned it into an extension ladder, propped it up against the TNN’s side, confidently climbed that puppy, and started scooping out gutter leaves. I’m thinking about adding another one to the “list” because dragging it back and forth from home is a pain. Maybe I can find a reasonable facsimile at an estate sale.  I’m going to have to put on my research hat and see what’s out there.

For now, I am content with the idea that the gutters are a non-issue for the winter season.  Keeping my fingers crossed, as always, I hope to stay off of extension ladders and roofs until the spring.  More projects loom as winterization continues, but I am confident that these too will be vanquished.





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