We started as a roofing company then evolved into “Your Exterior Experts” and now we are full steam ahead as Kusiak Construction, Inc. “Your Complete Home Improvement Experts”
In today’s article, you’ll learn which gutter guards work best in Northwest Indiana. Gutters that aren’t cleaned periodically can cause all kinds of problems to a home, such as damaging your home’s roof or foundation. It can also lead to ice-damming. Not cleaning your gutters can also void your roof’s warranty. It’s no wonder gutter guards are so popular in Northwest Indiana!
But with so many gutter guards available on the market, which one is best for Northwest Indiana’s brutal winters and scorching summers? It can be very frustrating trying to look at so many different types of gutter guards. Each company claims they have the best.
Today, you’ll learn which one is best. So what are our criteria for being the best? Simple. The best gutter guard is the one that means you will never need to clean your home’s gutters ever again! Interestingly, our top performer wasn’t even the most popular or the most expensive!
Some of the most expensive gutter guards claim to protect your home from leaves falling into your gutter, and they are right. They do a decent job of keeping out dry, freshly fallen leaves from entering your gutters, but do very little to stop shingle particles, dirt, pine needles, and decayed leaves from clogging your gutters.
A clogged gutter can cause real issues. You’ll notice water run-off, ice damming, foundation and landscaping problems. Many can result in expensive repairs.
While these gutter guards might prevent leaves from getting in your gutter, they won’t slow down shingle debris, pine needles, dirt, and other debris from clogging your gutters. To complicate matters, some of the worst-performing gutter covers were also the most expensive.
Nobody likes to clean their gutters. But according to Dave Kusiak, owner of Kusiak Construction, “it’s critical to your home’s roofing system and foundation to keep stormwater drainage systems free from buildup and clogs.”
“Decomposed leaves, twigs, and shingle debris can clog up your gutters and block the gutter system from working. This can cause all kinds of issues and even void a roof’s warranty”.
There are only three real solutions for keeping your home’s gutters working right. One solution is to spend the day on a ladder doing nasty, disgusting work removing the soggy, decomposed muck that collects in your gutter. The second option is to pay someone to clean them. The third option is to install gutter guards. Kusiak started his Home Improvement Company as a roofer with expertise in roof repairs. He knows firsthand what can happen when a homeowner neglects to keep their gutters clean.
So which gutter guard is best for homeowners in NWI? With hundreds of companies claiming they have the best gutter guard, we begin our comparison by categorizing 5 separate gutter guard systems. They are screen gutter guards, micro-mesh gutter guards, brush gutter covers, foam gutter covers, and the most popular and expensive system in the market, the LEAFGUARD.
It’s worth repeating, the purpose of gutter guards is to eliminate the time and safety concerns that come with cleaning your gutters. While virtually all gutter guards will stop leaves from collecting in your gutters, quite often, these gutter guards create other issues that require frequent cleaning. This defeats the purpose of installing a gutter guard.
To make matters worse, we live in Northwest Indiana where we experience extreme temperatures. This can cause shingle debris to roll down your roof and into your gutter guards. Some of the most expensive contractor-grade gutters are made of plastic. The plastic protectors didn’t do well standing up against the heat and sun’s intensity. Couple that with the NWI winters and the plastic gutter guard systems quickly lose their shape and allow decomposed leaves, pine needles, bugs, birds, and other unwanted things to get into your gutters.
It’s easy to see why so many people search, “what is the best gutter cover.” It’s really confusing when you see so many gutter guards on the market-each one claiming they are the best. Some gutter leaf guards are only available to contractors. Big Box stores sell everything from a plastic easy-on gutter guard to ridiculously heavy gutter shields. One company we tested claimed they had gutter shields so strong that you could park a car on them. (Ughhh…who parks a car on a roof?)
We also tested different price points ranging from plastic mesh that simply rolls out to a high-end gutter cover that requires you to remove your old gutters and replace them with high-priced all-in-one gutters and covers. In our tests, we were shocked to find that the LEAFGUARD would work against fresh leaves, but when decayed leaves were thrown on a roof and washed down the roof, the decayed leaves ran flush along with the LEAFGUARD’S double curved shape and right into the gutter. Even some of the cheap, gimmicky gutter guards found at big box stores did a better job of stopping decayed leaves.
Ironically, another low-performing gutter guard was only available through contractors’ stores and cost a lot! With that said, we are letting performance and facts determine our best gutter system for homes in Lake County and Porter County.
With hundreds of gutter guards on the market, we narrowed our comparison to 5 categories. Some of the big box stores had offerings that were not worthy of mention. In fact, some of the DIY Home Depot gutter guards and gutter guards at Lowes only lasted a few weeks under the sun’s intensity and Northwest Indiana’s summer heat. The plastic lost its shape and left the gutters completely exposed.
Sadly, some of the “professional grade” gutter leaf guards didn’t perform much better than the big box gimmicks. Anyone can get a contractor’s license and claim to be a gutter guard specialist. The best gutter guard installers are roofers that are insured, bonded, and have expertise in roofing systems.
So in a crowded field of gutter covers, we have our gutter guard comparison narrowed down to just five types. They are gutter guard screens, micro-mesh, reverse curve (sometimes called surface tension gutter guards), brush, and foam. Our gutter guard categories included diversity in materials and designs. We tested metal ones with holes, microfibers (aluminum with a screen with contractor-grade microfibers), simple foam inserted into your gutter, the brush gutter protector, and the very popular LEAFGUARD SYSTEM.
Screen Gutter Guards feature grids with small entries that allow water to enter small holes while blocking leaves and other debris from entering into the gutter. They are relatively easy to install, so besides keeping installation costs reasonable, they are also offering the best value while outperforming the higher-priced gutter guards.
They install by lifting your roof’s bottom shingles and sliding the gutter guard beneath the shingle. The weight of the shingle helps keep the screen shingle in place. While this gutter leaf guard system’s simplicity reduces gutter guard installation cost, it pays to hire an experienced roofer to install screen gutter covers. Prying the lower shingles incorrectly can void your roof’s warranty. A fully insured, bonded roofer can install the screen rain covers without concerns of voiding your warranty. Roofers also tend to work with screens that are fastened with screws. Many screen covers claim they do not require screws and simply snap on. With Northwest Indiana’s harsh winters and summers, combined with lake effect winds, it is highly recommended that this type of gutter cover is securely fastened with screws.
This type of gutter system is diverse, ranging from simple plastic to overbuilt steel. While screen gutter covers performed best when installed correctly, some screen gutter guards are poorly designed and made of plastic. A safe bet is to work with an established roofer that warrants what they sell and install. The better roofers will advise against gutters protectors that don’t install right or blow off over time.
Micro-mesh gutter guards work like screens, allowing water to run through small holes while blocking leaves, branches, pine needles, and most debris. Almost all micro-mesh gutter guards install by either slipping the edge under the first row of roof shingles, snapping the guard directly onto the top of the gutter, or attaching a flange to the fascia. Similar to the screens, your roof’s warranty can be rendered void if the lower shingle is not correctly lifted, so having an experienced roofer install micro-mesh covers is the safe bet. The micro-mesh gutter guards that attach to your gutters flange can blow off during a storm and had the most problems. The micro-mesh gutter guards made of plastic tend to lose their shape from NWI’s intense heat.
While micro mesh gutter guards are effective at blocking most debris, sand and smaller debris will flow through. These gutter guards may require occasional cleaning with a hose sprayer and scrub brush to clear ultrafine debris from the mesh holes. Micro-mesh also comes in miscellaneous materials, including inexpensive plastic to strong stainless steel.
Some mesh gutter covers are only available to contractors because they are only distributed through contractor stores. You might think that makes it good. Just remember, having a contractor’s license doesn’t make you an expert, having experience makes you an expert! Confirm the experience of the installer, and make sure they are bonded and insured!
The very popular LEAFGUARD shares the same design premise as the Gutter Helmet. They have the same design with the same results. They work by allowing the water to roll over the lip and into the gutter. To keep things simple, we’ll just review the LEAFGUARD, but the outcomes are the same. The LEAFGUARD is an integrated gutter and gutter guard that requires you to remove your existing gutters and replace them with an all-in-one gutter system The Gutter Helmet works the same but is installed over existing gutters. Both use the same design called a reverse curve. Both had the same results.
Both the LEAFGUARD and the Gutter Helmet were the most expensive gutter guards in our comparison. They also are the most popular. You might think this would make them the best! Unfortunately, their results put them at the bottom of the list.
The real issue is the design. In theory, the reverse curve system is very cool. It also works well in a presentation, when dried leaves are tossed on a roof and washed down with a hose. The problem occurs when decayed, wet leaves are washed down your roof. Wet leaves get weighted down and become flat, causing them to wash flush along the reverse curve and straight into your gutters. To make matters worse, you need to pay someone to remove the debris from the enclosed cover. The most expensive gutter system is a sustainable money drain. Ouch!
Brush-style gutter guards can be described as oversize pipe cleaners that you shove inside the gutter. The big box stores claim that they prevent large debris from falling into the gutter and prevent clogs. You simply cut the brush to the proper length and slide it into the gutter. Fortunately, removing it is almost as simple, just messier!
The guards require no installation fees, can be installed in an afternoon, and require more time cleaning your gutters than using nothing at all. Why? Because you need to remove them when you clean your gutters, and these gutter protectors are virtually worthless in Northwest Indiana. The only winner when you buy these gutter covers is Menards or Home Depot. Save your money and buy a good ladder. You’ll need it!
Another DIY gutter guard is called a foam gutter shield. It is a piece of triangular foam that fits into your gutter. Foam Gutter Guards do not work in Northwest Indiana. They do not prevent shingle debris, pine needles, and wet leaves from clogging your gutters. NWI’s heavy rain can saturate the foam, causing your gutters to overflow and cause more damage than not using a gutter guard at all.
While the brush gutter protector and foam gutter shield might seem to be the bottom-feeders of our gutter guard comparison, they did not earn the distinction of our worse choice of gutter protector. That award belongs to our comparison tests two most popular and most expensive gutter protectors…
Taking last place in our comparison test was nearly a two-way tie. The LEAFGUARD took last place, followed closely by the Gutter Guard. While the two systems work the same and yield virtually the same results, the LEAFGUARD system required removing existing gutters and required installation of an all-in-one gutter cover.
While the LEAFGUARD and Gutter Helmet both worked better than our bottom feeder gutter guards, at least removing the foam and brush gutter guards doesn’t require a high price tag for parts and gutter installation. To make matters worse, having your LEAFGUARD system removed costs more than doing the job right the first time!
Let’s get to the bottom line! The only real measurement that matters when comparing the best gutter guard is their ability to keep your gutters clean so that you never need to clean them ever again! The gutter guard system that did the best job of keeping homeowners off the ladder was the Screen Gutter Guards. But beware of the diverse offerings and methods of installation. Many of these gutters are made of lower-quality materials and have designs that have lips that trap dirt and leaves as they roll down the roof.
While choosing a quality constructed screen gutter guard should be emphasized, so should the method of attaching the cover to your roof and gutters. Some gutter screens offer convenient snap-on installation. With Northwest Indiana’s ice-cold winters and intense heat in our summers, choose a screen gutter guard that fits one side under your bottom shingle and fasten the other side with screws. Doing this incorrectly can void your roof warranty, so consider having an experienced roofer install your gutter guard system.
An experienced roofer like Kusiak Construction can assure your gutter installation is done right, won’t void your roof’s warranty, and offers the confidence that comes with an insured and bonded expert!
We asked our consultants, Dave Kusiak and Bob Popovich, which specific brand of screen gutter guards they liked to install and why. With nearly 50 years combined experience in installing guards in Lake County and Porter County, these guys have seen a thing or two. As roofing and roofing repair contractors, Kusiak and Contractor Bob can install any type or brand of gutter cover. We asked them why they recommend the Raintrap Gutter guard.
9 Colors to choose from-As a Home Improvement Company, Kusiak likes to allow customers the choice of matching the gutter guard with the gutters and roof. Customers can visit the Kusiak Planning Center and have fun browsing the different colors and options. For people that prefer a house call, Kusiak can bring the samples to the homeowner. The Kusiak Gutter Services Page also offers a glimpse of color options. For customer color options, contact the Kusiak Planning Center.
Adapts to a variety of gutter and roof combinations-– As a home improvement company, the right fit and finish are important as well as warranty and liability. The RainTrap Gutter Guard fits most homes and eliminates issues associated with the improper fit.
Made of aluminum- Aluminum is the best material for a gutter guard because it resists buckling and prevents birds and squirrels from chewing through them. Some micro-mesh gutter guards utilize strong materials that don’t dent and tend to be overpriced. Most people would never know if a gutter guard gets a dent, if this happens, you may just replace the section. Besides, if something like a tree falls on your home, you’ll call your insurance. A gutter guard doesn’t need to survive the apocalypse, it just needs to keep your gutters clean, and the overpriced micro-mesh failed the test.
Will not clog or collapse like lower-grade screens or plastic protections– While the screen gutter guard is a great choice, many screen gutter guards use plastic and low-grade aluminum. Some screens also have ineffective drill holes. With proper installation, the rain guard holds up and makes gutter clean-up a thing of the past.
Has a smooth surface so debris will slide off– Many micro-mesh gutter guards are coarse and the stems of leaves get caught in the mesh. Just run your hand over one and you’ll see for yourself.
It does not violate your roof warranty- Provided the Raintrap is installed correctly, it does not violate your roof warranty. The Raintrap also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Does not have a flat or recessed surface that will collect trash-– Many screen gutter guards have a lip that traps leaves and debris from running off your roof. This can block the water from entering the gutter guard and into your gutters.
Handles larger volumes of water than most other systems— The unique design of this gutter guard can handle the large volume of rain without water run-off. With Northwest Indiana’s proximity to Lake Michigan, when it rains, it storms!
Innovative Design- Openings on the top surface are small enough to keep significant trash from entering the gutter but large enough to prevent tree sap, dirt, and mold from clogging the cover. Debris smaller than 3/32″ can enter the gutter guard.
No room for nesting and pests!- These gutter guards are fabricated to fit securely around end caps to keep small birds and rodents from nesting in your gutters.
So what’s the bottom line? The only real factor in determining the best gutter guard for Northwest Indiana is performance and the ability to put your ladder away and never clean your gutters again! It’s nasty, time-consuming work. While the Screen system offered the best results, the best outcome relies on professional installation. It also assures you won’t void your roof’s warranty.
Special thanks to Dave Kusiak, Bob Popovich, and the gang at Kusiak Construction. For more on gutter guards, Dave Kusiak welcomes you to contact him or anyone on his team. Dave is happy to visit your home, bring samples, and offer an estimate. But for a little shopping fun, make an appointment to meet Kusiak at their Hammond Planning Center. Here is the link! https://kusiakconstruction.com/
Jim Jano Janesheski
Confessions of a Roofer | FAQ with Kusiak & Contractor Bob