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Do gutter covers eliminate the need for periodic cleaning? Also, can gutter guards cause overflow problems in heavy rain or snow? ̶ Richard W. of Stratford, Connecticut

Dear Richard: Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a completely maintenance-free gutter system. While covers can prevent debris from filling up your gutters, seeds and smaller particles can make their way through the mesh or guard. Experts say you should plan to clean covered or hooded gutters at least once every two years, and more often if trees are near your roof.

And it’s a job best left to the experts, as cleaning requires removing the guards to get under them and clear whatever’s gotten through. An experienced cleaner will know how to effectively take the guards off and reinstall them — not to mention how to do it safely while perched on a ladder! A good gutter cleaner will check your downspouts as well. Expect to pay $75 to $225 for a gutter cleaning, depending on the size of your house.

Micro-mesh guards are best

Gutter guards won’t cause overflow problems in heavy rain or snow, especially compared to what you’d experience if you had heavy rain in a gutter already filled with debris. But the type of gutter-cover system you choose will play a big role in how well it will perform.

Guards that look like chicken wire or a flat colander do the job but can easily overflow. The best kind of gutter cover, experts say, is a micro-mesh style made of surgical stainless steel. However, you’re looking at around $18 to $20 per foot for the best material, while lower grades start at around $5.

Hiring for gutter guards

Take your time when considering gutter guards. Review product information thoroughly and make sure the company you hire is appropriately licensed, insured and bonded, and has positive consumer reviews on a trusted site. Be leery of high-pressure sales tactics and promises that you’ll never have to clean your gutters again.