Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gutter Covers and Leaf Guards "Filters go to War"

There's a YouTube video you will want to look at. It compares two filters and the truth about them is revealed.

Notice that both systems must be cleaned off and the only way to clean them is by being at the elevation of the gutter to wipe them or brush them off. Doesn't going up ladders to clean gutter covers defeat the purpose of having gutter covers--especially the ones that cost big bucks.

Please note that what is shown are two gutters with gutter filters installed on them with leaves deposited by hand. What do you think will happen when we let Mother Nature deposit blossoms, twigs, and leaves onto these filters and then drills this debris sitting on top with sun to dry it out like paper mache and then drills this dried out brittle debris with many rain storms over the course of a year?
One of the filter people say that particles as small as roofing grit will not penetrate the filter.

Yes I agree, it will work fine for coffee grinds (that's what the theory is based upon) and roofing grit, but blossoms and leaves are not grandular--they deteriorate into very fine particles that will not only cover the filters as the video acknowledges but also clog the pores of both filters.

It's interesting that the filter companies don't show you what the filters look like after two years of exposure to Mother Nature under heavy debris conditions, but I must say, in case you missed one of our previous posts, that there is one product that does. It can also be easily maintained from the ground as you'll see in the video.

For more information please go to www.waterloov.com.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gutter Covers and Gutter Screens

Basically there are six types of gutter covers and gutter guards. Two of the types are gutter screens and gutter filters.

However, if you look at gutter filters you'll see that they essentially are a gutter screen of some nature. Gutter screens have their openings to allow water into the gutter on the horizontal surface. While most of them are flat, some are not.

Many manufacturers make no claims whatsoever about their gutter screens and sell them usually for less than $1.50/ft. However, some manufactures of the filters (from what I see it is just a new way of referring to screens) can sell for up to $7.00 per foot for just the material and as much as $20 per foot to have them installed.

Of course with the more expensive ones, this is where the manufacturers begin with their claims of maintenance free guttering. These systems might use a micro mesh that keeps out particles as small as roof grit or multi layered plastic upon which they show how a sewing needle will bounce off of it. Their graphic and physical displays make their systems look impervious to debris.

It's refreshing to see one writer, tell the truth about screens. Dennis Montgomery writes, "The idea seems pretty simple, but the biggest problem with some, but not all, screens is that they themselves get covered up with debris and won't allow water to pass through. Many people choose gutter screens because they figure that installing them will save quite a bit of money and/or time. After all, it is far easier to brush debris off of a screen than it is to clean the gunk out of gutters."

Click here for Dennis's full article. What he overlooked, is that depending on the design of gutter screen you choose, i.e. the type of mesh, you may have to remove them to clean the gutter inside because they will still pass enough debris to clog a gutter.

They say the definition of "Insanity" is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. And over the course of twenty years, I've seen inventors try to reinvent the screen type of gutter cover over and over and over again and they are still screens whether they be called screens or filters and will be subject to the same laws of physics. They will require maintenance on the part of a homeowner or a service man to go up a ladder and brush them off, or remove them and clean the clogging gutters.

In a light debris environment it might not be much of an issue, but in a mild-to-heavy debris environment it will be an issue.

In subsequent posts we'll look at other types of gutter covers and gutter protectors.

The one that does keep out all types of debris from getting into the gutter has openings in the vertical surface which, as they might become obstructed, can be cleaned via Gutter Maintenance ("Suit and Tie").

Friday, June 26, 2009

MEMA hurricane tips - keep your gutters free flowing

Another reason to keep your gutters free flowing is to lessen the damage the from hurricane rains.

During this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1-Nov.30), the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) urges homeowners to protect their property from strong winds, damaging rains, and flooding that hurricanes or tropical storms can bring to New England. Click for full article

It's time to prepare for hurricane season. How do you keep your gutter free flowing?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gutter Maintenance

Spring time brings a lot of fine debris to gutters--blossoms and pollen. It accumulates in the gutters and easily clogs the downspouts--particularly if a few twigs have blown in from the last winter storm.

This spring--especially for the north east portion of the country has brought more rain than normal which means clogged gutters become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
By this time of year, you'll start noticing seedlings beginning to grow in your gutter and another two weeks from now they will be peeking over the top of your gutter.

Time to get out the ladder and take to the roof edge to clean the gutters. Wear rubber gloves clean the gutters to protect your hands from any cuts that may occur with leaf guards that you might need to deal with.

If you have the screen type variety of gutter protector they often need to be cleaned. Sometimes you need to remove them to clean them.

One homeowner wrote asking about the light bulb type strainer that get installed in the downspout. My answer is that if you do nothing else, definitely install the strainer. It will keep your leaders from clogging and from experience I'd rather clean fifty feet of gutter than take apart one downspout and clean it out. It seems that the debris always seems to compact in the elbows and leader making it a real job to clean them.

While you're on the ladder, inspect your roofing for any damage from the winter winds.

Obviously if you can walk on your roof, cleaning gutters is relatively easy if you use a blower. Stick the end of the blower down the downspouts to blow them free.

At some point in your life, you'll say enough is enough and begin the search for a serious gutter protection device to eliminate the chore of dealing with ladders and mucky gutters. The serious ones are professionally installed and can be in the thousands of dollars.

The problem is that all of them seem to offer a life time warranty against gutter getting clogged and when you look at the designs of all of them, the design flaws of some of them are obvious--others not so.

When you look at their websites, you'll see beautiful animations and life-time claims. But it's important to project a few years ahead and see what it will look like dealing with all the debris you'll have to clean from your gutter.

Instead of publishing pictures of beautiful new gutter covers as you'll see on most youtube videos, we actually visited installations after 9 and 15 years in very heavy debris conditions and video taped the outside of the gutter as well as the inside.

If you'd like to know more about the Waterloov system go to our website www.waterloov.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gutter Covers "Inspected after Twenty Years"

In several of the last posts we looked at the folly of the various gutter protectors or gutter covers that have been invented. What it shows is that everything ever invented looks like to someone it will work. And with the tools that video and animations offer us, almost any product will look like it will work.

But the truth of the pudding is actual service. For instance if you follow "ask the builder" Tim Carter has been looking for a gutter cover that will work for years. His criteria initially was that it be a device that doesn't have to be installed by a professional which leaves out several basic types of gutter guards and gutter covers. The other thing is that he uses only his own house for testing and is basically limited to screen type or some filter type systems.

Recently Tim indicated that he found a gutter cover (which he had professionally installed) that he believes will worked based on the fact that he tested it on one side of his home and after going through a spring season (which for most gutter covers is the most challenging season) it didn't collect debris on it.

From his description he has mostly oak trees around his home. But, how will this system work with locust trees, pine trees, hemlock, ash...? What about wind currents? Will the wind currents one year be different from another year? What about rain fall? Will the rain fall quantities affect debris conditions differently from year to year? And what about the combination of rain fall and wind storms? Will a severe rain/wind storm that occurs the third week of the spring season have a different effect than one on the sixth week?

In my opinion, a lot more data is required than the results on one home on one side and in one particular season.

I invented the Waterloov Gutter Protection System and for the first five years we inspected more than a dozen installations under the heaviest of tree debris conditions with all kinds of trees (pine, oak, ash, maple, locust, elm...) twice a year. We removed the panels and looked inside and never found any significant accumulation of debris.

But did we stop inspecting after two years? Absolutely not. In fact twenty years later we had the opportunity to inspect fifteen to twenty year old installations. Whenever homeowners call us to repair their system from fallen tree limbs or when they want to have a new roof installed we get to open up the system and every time we find the same incredible results--nothing of significance accumulates in the gutter.

In fact even in situations where the gutter can not be pitched correctly to drain free of water because of building irregularities, we find that the fine fine debris that enters through the louvers builds a false bottom in the gutter such that it does drain free. In fact the false bottom looks and appears to be solid as opposed to mucky and or granular as one might expect.

Rather than rely on two seasons of experience and considering that the investment for most gutter protection products is within ten or fifteen percent, does it make sense to rely on anything but fantastic long term results?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Folly of Gutter Guard Inventions - Part Three

Back to the fin and trough system--it doesn't take an MIT graduate to see that all the debris that follows the fin downward will also go into the trough. I suspect the reason the inventors use the trough is to keep full sized debris from entering the gutter. But what do you think will happen with this debris? Will it stay in the trough and clog it or break down into the gutter where it also clogs? You get the picture?

Twenty-five years ago one inventor decided that the answer was to do away with the gutter completely. He invented a rain dispersal system. It definitely looked like the solution to the problem. But what do you think happened to leaves and debris that accumulated on top of the rain dispersal unit? What would keep it from just laying there? What do you think happened with slow rain falls where the kinetic energy of the rain dripping off the roof was insufficient to disperse the water? Do you think there might end up being soil erosion all around your roof line?

Fifteen or so years ago another inventor just figured he'd put hinges on gutters and use a pole from the ground to detach and flip them. What do you think happens to all that putrid debris that accumulates in the gutter when they are flipped? Can you imagine dumping this putrid mess from an upper gutter onto a lower roof? I’d suggest wearing a rain coat and hat.

When I invented a double row louvered system twenty years ago I wanted to make sure it worked. Instead of one long fin, I used two rows of louvers to collect the water. The louvers actually limit the size of the debris that can enter the gutter. The first two years was limited to installing it in the local NJ area. My hope was that it collect all the water, keep gutters clean and free flowing and be maintenance free.

Every six months I personally inspected a dozen homes in high debris areas to make sure that the gutters were clean and free flowing--they were.

Yet, after eighteen months I had my first disappointment--we found that the louvers on the front visible vertical surface in heavy debris conditions clogged. I almost abandoned the product. Fortunately I found that a strong bristle brush on the end of telescopic pole easily knocked the debris off. Next we were pleasantly surprised to find that brushing the louvers was not a dirty or difficult job--in fact one could do it dressed in a suit and tie.

We asked ourselves, what options do homeowners have? Install one of the other products--all of which clog in the gutter or are just plain silly, or use our system with suit and tie maintenance?

Ultimately we found that 85% of all our customers never have to do any maintenance whatsoever--some only need brushing once every year or two. We realized the reality early on that asking someone who has to clean his gutters several times in the fall to believe that any gutter protection product would be maintenance free is like asking them to believe in Santa Claus.

This is the last of a three part blog series. If you would like to read the article in its entirety. Click on Gutter Guard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mosquitoes - Where they Lay Eggs

Ran across an article that does a good job of explaining everything you need to know about mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in four types of water environments:

• Containers. Mosquito eggs are laid on the sides of the container. When the container is filled with rainwater or other means of watering, the eggs hatch. Most of these mosquitoes stay within 100 feet of their breeding site. Typical sites are old tires, bird baths, clogged gutters, flower pots, and buckets.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Folly of Gutter Guard Inventions - Part Two

After having installed gutter guards for several years you actually see how other gutter covers handle debris and they all fail yet, every now and then a prospectus crosses my desk and I get a laugh at the silliness.

For instance one system (not yet on the market) is basically a very long brush inside the gutter extending from one end to the other. It is turned by a three speed electric motor on one end. The inventor apparently tried one of the filter systems and noticed the one that is maintained by removing it from the gutter and shaking it clean. Noticing the inconvenience and mess this causes, he thought he'd improve upon it by having the brush spin by a motor. Can you imagine the mess created by a brush spinning inside a putrid clogged gutter? And it how about the downspout which may still be clogged? What happens if the homeowner forgets to spin his brush--then what? Remember, he can't look inside the gutter and see its condition and will probably wait until the last possible minute before spinning the brush.

Another system (not on the market) has larger than life openings made in the bottom of the gutter for a larger than life downspout attachment. The homeowner must remove downspouts from house to clean them. It's set up so that the downspout can be easily removed, however, can you imagine a flood of putrid water flowing from the gutter, as the homeowner removes the downspout, all over the siding? And how about dangling a twenty foot length of leader that's clogged with heavy debris at the top? Also can you imagine the homeowner climbing onto a lower roof to remove a leader from an upper gutter and shaking the debris loose from the downspout? Again, the homeowner can't see into the gutter so most likely he awaits some indication, such as an overflowing gutter, to know that servicing is required. Unfortunately by the time he notices it, his basement may have already been flooded.

Study the progression of gutter cover designs and you'll also see the silliness of them. The first improvement over screens was a solid top device with a single longitudinal fin—patents have expired and many of popularly sold gutter covers are of this design.

Just as I hoped my first invention would work, inventors of these devices hoped that as the water and the debris flowed over the fin that somehow only the water would go into the gutter and that most or all of the debris would be jettisoned onto the ground.

It’s true that less debris gets into the gutter than with screens. However, enough does get in to clog the gutters in mild-to-heavy debris conditions. Don't take my word for it. Just look at the next breed of gutter cover—it’s a fin coupled with a trough system containing a sieve (essentially a screen).

One inventor actually back tracked. Instead of a solid top, he has tiny openings in conjunction with the fin--basically a screen in conjunction with a fin.

This is the second of a three part blog series. If you would like to read the article in its entirety. Click on Gutter Guard.
See you in a few days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Folly of Gutter Guard Inventions - Part One

Most gutter guard inventions have been pretty silly; I know because over twenty years ago I began my manufacturing career by trying to market and sell one of them.

The first device I started with was installed in the top most portion of the downspout. Water flowed over several rows of louvers which captured the water and rejected the debris onto the ground. A running water display that I built actually convinced (as I was convinced) several homeowners that it would solve their clogged gutter problems. I also installed it to test it on my own home.

Guess What? As much as I wanted it to work, it was a miserable failure. It did keep the downspout from clogging but did nothing for portions of the gutter more than four feet from the device. In other words my gutters still clogged.

It was a reminder of the disappointment I had experienced a few years earlier when I first installed screens on my gutters. Much to my surprise, eighteen months later, I noticed corn growing from my gutters. Ripping out the screens to clean the gutters was a night mare. I should have used gloves to protect my hands from all the cuts and lacerations.

Now, after manufacturing gutter guards for twenty years, I've seen every type of screen imaginable and they all clog. One of my customers actually invented his own with three layers of the finest mesh he could find--his gutters still clogged with pine needles, Now he's had my system for fifteen years and hasn't called once--more about my system later. It seems that every year or so some ingenious inventor modifies the size openings or adds steps or troughs to the screen convinced that the results will be different. But isn't that the definition of insanity--doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

This is the first of a three part blog series. If you would like to read the article in its entirety. Click on Gutter Guard.
See you in a few days.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Confronted with water running into your home and seeing ice accumulated on the roof edge or guttering, it's easy, in the midst of a panic, to assume that either the roofing or the gutters is the culprit -- particularly if you've never had the problem before and just had new roofing, gutters, or gutter protection installed.

Actually, neither the roof, gutters, nor the gutter protection can ever be the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem is either inadequate insulation, ventilation, or both. Heat loss through the roof causes snow to melt. The melted snow (water) runs down the roof and when it crosses the eve line, where temperatures are colder, the water freezes and builds up as much as 8" high wall -- effectively, a dam. Remember the roof is warmer where you have heat being lost through it from the attic so water is trapped on the roof behind the ice dam and can then seep through openings in your roofing and into your living space.

How to eliminate ice dams:
1. If your attic space is unfinished (not used as a living space), the goal is to have the temperature inside the attic within a few tenths of a degree of the outside temperature. To accomplish this you need:
a. insulation of R49 or greater between the floor joists of the attic;
b. soffit or fascia vents;
c. roof or ridge vents;
d. all sources of heat loss, such as bathroom or kitchen vents, heating ducts, or heat pumps, well insulated to minimize loss of heat from them to the attic space.

Doing all the above allows cold outside air to come in at the bottom of your roof and escape through the top of the roof taking along any heat lost to the attic space.

If you have all the ingredients and are still experiencing a problem:
a. inspect the insulation in the floor to insure it's not jammed against the end of the roof to close off circulation from the soffit vents; if it is, then pull the insulation away from the roof edge to allow air to circulate;
b. inspect soffit vents to see that they are open and not painted shut. Some- times vinyl soffit vents are installed over solid wood soffits making the vinyl vents useless. If so, remove vinyl soffits and drill 2-or-3" openings through the solid wood soffits every 12-to-18" respectively;
c. check roof vents. If only a power vent is available for summer venting, either have additional roof or ridge vents installed or have your electrician install a bypass switch enabling the power vent to be turned on when there is snow on the roof;
d. close any open gable vents. Air can short circuit by coming in gable vents rather than by coming in the soffit vents.

2. If your attic space is used as a living area and you have soffit and roof vents, fixing the ice dam problem can be expensive. You need to allow air to flow between the roof and the insulation. The ceiling and insulation must be removed, special ducting panels must be installed between each rafter, then the insulation and ceiling can be reinstalled.

If the roof area can not be effectively vented, there are two remaining courses of action:
a. have an ice shield barrier installed along the roof edge. Existing shingles must be removed along the roof edge. The barrier is 36" in width -- ample for steep or high pitched roofs. If you have a low pitched roof you may need two widths installed. The shield is like a pool liner and doesn't allow water to seep through it.
b. install heat tapes along roof edge, guttering, and downspouts, if required. The disadvantage is that heat tapes must be turned on and off manually and can burn out if forgotten and left on.

Ice dams are not the only kind of ice damage you can get. Ice and snow in your gutters can be adsorbed by the wood fibers of the fascia board, acting like a wick and sucking in the melted snow, which leads to rot of the fascia and rafter ends, thus creating a fertile environment for carpenter ants. Gutter protectors, like the Waterloov® gutter protector, do keep ice and snow out of the gutters and eliminate ice damage by osmosis; however, gutter protectors do not contribute to or help eliminate ice dams.

In summary, making sure winter time ventilation is functioning properly is a way of making sure your Waterloov Gutter Guard Installation will be free of icicles.

What is the Job of a Gutter Protector?

Being a gutter cover is pretty tough work--24 hours a day, 365 days a year, year in and year out, the gutter guard has to defend your gutter, in all kinds of weather and wind storm conditions, against an assault of leaves, blossoms, twigs, birds, squirrels, balls, toys, and so on.

With all of this to do, it’s amazing that 90% of the homeowners with Waterloov® protecting their gutters never have to do anything to maintain their rain gutter systems.

However, there are some homes located under a canopy of trees--no daylight to be seen from late May to the end of November. It’s these homeowners who would normally have to clean their gutters 5-to-6 times in the fall and another 3-to-4 times in the spring to keep their seamless gutters clean and free flowing that find Gutter Maintenance ("Suit and Tie") a welcome alternative to cleaning seamless gutters..

Monday, June 1, 2009

Do Gutter Covers Ever Clog?

The truth is that in this harsh environment, there is no gutter cover in the world that would be maintenance free. The questions are why and how is the maintenance done?

There are three basic designs for leafguards gutter systems:

1. Single vane type such as the name we can't mention manufactured by Cooley and Hart Corp..
2. Single vane type with built-in trough with sieve openings.
3. Louvered systems.
All others (step and slotted filter types) fall in the category of screening systems and are not considered gutter protectors because their openings are predominately on the horizontal surface where debris is held by gravity and clogs the sieves or openings.