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Gutter Covers: Are They Right for Your Roof Type?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Roofing – one of the top 10 calls we get here at The Money Pit and Jesse from Connecticut is no different. How can we help?

    JESSE: Well, we have a question about trying to put covers over our gutters.

    TOM: OK.

    JESSE: Or some type of a covering so that we don’t get – we’re senior citizens getting up there and we try to maintain our home and don’t like him getting on the ladder. We have an older home. It was built in 1907. And it’s what you call a gambrel roof with a slant and then it comes straight down.

    TOM: Sure.

    JESSE: And I’m kind of afraid that if we put those new kind of gutters that the water will just come streaming down that straightaway …

    TOM: And bounce off?

    JESSE: Right. Absolutely.

    TOM: Yeah. OK.

    JESSE: And we tried to put little screens on there. Well, the birds got in underneath it and thought it was wonderful. (chuckling) And then the squirrels lifted over the screen and thought that was a wonderful spot to build a nest in. So he was up on the ladder more that year than anything.

    LESLIE: Well, and with the screens it sort of, you know, macerates the leaves and, you now, causes even more of a buildup in the gutter. So they’re not always the best choice for those covers.

    JESSE: No.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Well, let’s look at the overview of options.

    First of all, you talked about screens and as Leslie said, not always a great idea because the stuff gets in there. You talked about the different types of gutter covers. Well, most of those gutter covers work on the principle of surface tension, where the water sort of hugs the top of the cover and then sort of falls in slots, of course falls around an edge, goes into the gutter. And they work great with your average roof. The time that they don’t work great is when you have a lot of force behind the water. So, with the type of roof that you have, which has a little bit of shape on top and then a very vertical surface – almost a 45-degree surface for that second bend in the roof – I know exactly what you’re talking about – I don’t think that those types of gutter covers are going to work for you. Because I think the water is going to hit them and it is going to bounce off and I don’t think you’re going to be happy.

    Basically, those are the two options that you have to consider in terms of gutter covers. Another option though, which would create a gutter that would not clog nearly as much, would be simply to increase the size of the gutters. Most homes have four-inch K-style gutters on them, which is the standard. What you might want to do is convert that to a six-inch gutter or, if you don’t want to convert the gutter to a deeper gutter, what you could do is you could pull out the four-inch pipes and replace them with six-inch pipes. Basically, that’s going to be a much wider hole for the water and the debris to fall down. And those – the gutters that have those very wide downspouts, they tend to clog a lot less than the ones that just have the standard downspouts. Because by the time you poke the hole through the top of the gutter, Leslie, you end up with just a tiny little – maybe a two-inch by two-inch hole. And that’s why they clog so frequently. But if you have a much wider hole at the bottom of that gutter into a …

    LESLIE: You’re going to get things moving through much more efficiently.

    TOM: Exactly. Exactly. So, in this particular situation, that’s something that you might want to consider doing. But I do agree with you that if you go through the expense of the gutter cover type …

    JESSE: Right.

    TOM: … then it could potentially be an issue because the water is going to have so much force because of the vertical roof that’s sort of dropping into it.

    JESSE: That’s what I wondered about. And rather than go into it and they sometimes like to tell you that it’ll work great and then get it up there and not do so well, I …

    TOM: Well, we appreciate you calling us, Jesse, because …

    JESSE: I thank you so much.

    TOM: … that’s the kind of advice that we can give you. We’re not here to sell you gutter covers but if, like I say, for many people they work great. I’ve used them on my house. I’ve put them, actually, on my dad’s house for the same reason. But that was like a 3/12 or a 4/12 roof. What you have is a 12/12 or more roof, which means it’s a very steep pitch.

    Jesse, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 

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