Leaf Me Alone: 3 Ways To Prevent Falling Leaves From Clogging Your Gutters And Downspouts

A properly working array of gutters is a must for any roof, guiding rainwater down and away from the roof and walls of your building and preventing damaging and expensive leaks. Unfortunately, rainwater isn't the only thing that your gutters will catch, and every homeowner will be forced to tackle the unpleasant and unsanitary task of unclogging their gutters at some point.

It's hardly surprising, then, that roof plumbing services offer a range of devices that can prevent fallen leaves and other organic detritus from clogging your gutters and downspouts. When installed properly, these devices can be very effective at keeping your gutters clear and rainwater flowing freely; however, they also come with their individual advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the right roof plumbing method for your needs is vital.

Gutter screens

The simplest and most commonly used gutter protection method, gutter screens come in all shapes and sizes. Some are simple screens of wire mesh which are installed over the top of your gutters, while more sophisticated, hooded screens utilise the surface tension of rainwater droplets to guide them into your gutters, while presenting a physical barrier to leaves and other unwanted debris.

Whichever type of gutter screen, they all form an effective layer of physical protection that prevents leaves from settling into your gutters and accumulating into full-blown clogs. They are fairly durable, and more expensive varieties are made from rustproof materials that do not require protection with paints or coatings. However, they can be difficult to install without professional assistance, and a damaged screen can actually contribute to clogging if it is not removed and replaced swiftly.

Gutter foam

Gutter foam is a spongy, porous material made from durable plastics, and is placed in strips directly inside your gutters. From here, they allow water to flow freely through the gutters while denying access to leaves and other debris. These foam strips are very inexpensive and very easy to install (many are fitted with self-adhesive strips and can be installed without tools), and are an attractive proposition for homeowners on a budget.

However, while gutter foam is less susceptible to impact damage than screens, it will eventually begin to degrade and break up as it ages. If neglected, this degrading foam can create blockages of its own, so replacing your foam every few years will be necessary. Gutter foam also slows the rate of water flow through your gutters, which may lead to overflowing during particularly heavy downpours, or when installed in shallow guttering.

Seamless guttering

Seamless guttering isn't so much a gutter protection devices as a complete replacement for your conventional gutters. These specialised gutters are generally made from steel, aluminium or other metals, and are formed from a single piece of material; this virtually eliminates the presence of seams in your gutters, except at corners and junctions.

Primarily, seamless guttering is valued because the lack of seams helps to prevent leaking. However, seams in your gutters (especially uneven ones) are also notorious for catching leaves that would otherwise flow harmlessly away, and many gutter clogs have a rough seam at their epicentres. In seamless gutters, the flow of both water and solid matter is completely uninterrupted, with no 'trouble spots'.

Unfortunately, seamless guttering is far from the cheapest solution to your leaf-clogged woes, and installing a full set of seamless gutters can be a significant investment. As such, they are an option best reserved for when your aging gutters have degraded to the point where clogs are common, and would need to be replaced anyway.