Gutter guards as a whole, whether foam or any other material, can cause serious problems with your gutter system. The ineffectiveness of these products can lead to unnecessary headache and stress for homeowners.
Foam gutter guards are particularly problematic. Although they are often advertised as durable, cost-effective, and easy-to-use — foam gutter guards have some serious pitfalls.
WHAT ARE FOAM GUTTER GUARDS?
Gutter guards are protective devices laid over the top of your gutters. The gutter guard is supposed to allow rainwater to filter into the gutter, while keeping out leaves, sticks, and other impediments. Gutter guards are theoretically meant to prevent blockage of your gutters, so they can easily funnel water away from your roof.
A foam gutter guard is meant to keep water out of the gutters by absorbing water into its spongy material and letting it seep into the gutter, leaving the debris atop the guards. This is one of five core designs for gutter guards. The other four designs include:
1. Mesh Gutter Guards
Primarily metal, these gutter guards have holes drilled throughout the gutter guard, which is how the water is supposed to filter into the gutter.
2. Bottle Brush Gutter Guards
Built with bottle brushes and tiny bristles designed to keep larger debris out of the gutter.
3. Screen Gutter Guards
Similar to mesh design but utilizing a screen system to filter water while stopping debris.
4. Reverse Curve Gutter Guards
Perhaps the original gutter guard design, these have fallen out of favor in modern homes.
THE PROBLEM WITH FOAM GUTTER GUARDS
805 Gutters does not recommend foam gutter guards. Simply put — they are more trouble than they’re worth. More often than not, our cleaning team is battling broken, cracked, and otherwise compromised foam gutter guards, making cleaning fees for homeowners more expensive.
In addition to cleaning fees, gutter guards have three notable disadvantages.
They Don’t Have the Shelf Life They Advertise
If you go to Home Depot, Lowes, or any other home improvement provider, you’re going to see foam gutter guards advertised as “durable.” While a particular foam gutter guard product may live up to the advertising against other foam gutter guards, they fall when compared to the durability of metal, but even metal gutter guards have serious issues.
For this reason, foam gutter guards could whither or crack in as early as 1-2 years. Even though the foam material is cheaper than metal, you end up spending more money in the end if you’re constantly changing your gutter guards.
It’s Difficult to do a Deep Clean
Mesh and screen material can easily be cleaned, disinfected, and shined. With foam gutter guards, water and bacteria can get deep into the foam material, making it impossible to sanitize to the same level of metal.
This is another factor that leads to withering, cracking, and general short-term lives for foam gutter guards.
They Can Sometimes Grow Their Own Blockage
If left long enough, and in the right conditions, there have been stories about how foam gutter guards attracted so much water and soil, that when a couple of seeds got stuck, they ended up growing their own little plants in the gutter guard.
In these instances, the poor design of foam gutter guards lead directly to worse outcomes for your gutters.