Gutter guards are the best way to prevent your gutters from clogging with leaves and other debris. They prevent seeds, leaves, pine needles, and other dirt from collecting your gutters and downspouts and weighing them down. Clogged gutters can be very damaging to your roof, shingles, and can even cause serious structural damage to your walls. That is why; clean gutters are very important.
If seasonal gutter cleaning is not up your alley, then you must at least protect your gutters and downspouts with a high-quality gutter guard. Gutter guards are your best bet for protecting your gutters, preventing strenuous cleanup, and also for protecting the delicate roof shingles as your walls from serious damage.
Before we move on to discuss the detailed steps of gutter guard installation, let us discuss a very important aspect of the process of ‘how to install gutter guards’ and that is types of gutter guards.
Determine the Type of Gutter Guard you Need
Gutter guards come in different styles and designs. The mesh-style gutter guard is easiest to DIY install. After all; gutter guard installation by professionals can cost a lot of money. Note that no gutter guard is fool-proof: they can still collect tiny pine needles, leaves, and even seedlings (if you live in a heavily wooded area) and these eventually clog the gutters up.
Many homeowners go in for solid-type foam or plastic gutter guards. These work by spilling the leaves and other debris along with the rain water or melting snow and prevent the gutters and spouts from choking. The downside to these is that they are highly flammable and some leaves can still get inside and under the guards.
Another type of gutter guard is the wedge style guard that can be fitted into the downspouts. They keep the leaves from clogging the spouts but you still need to clean the gutter out seasonally to remove leaves and other debris. Note that the types of gutter guards are not a topic of this guide.
However, it is important to mention them since the type of guard will determine the installation. For the sake of ease, we will cover the installation process of ‘how to install metal gutter guards’, ‘how to install foam-style guards’ as well as wedge-style guards in downspouts’. This will give you a rough idea about ways to install all three common types of gutter guard installations.
How to Install Aluminum Gutter Guards (Amerimax Gutter Shingles Guard)
The reason why we are recommending Amerimax gutter shingle guard is because they are the most effective of all mesh-type gutter guards, have a low fire-hazard risk, and generally keep leaves, pine needles, and other debris out of your gutters.
They are also the easiest DIY-installation as far as gutter guards go. Other gutter guard installations could require professional help which can end up being expensive (since most pros charge on the basis of per-foot of installation).
Step 1 – Gather Tools
Gather basic tools like broom, pressure cleaner, step ladder, gutter guards, hammers, wrench, pliers, snips or angle grinders with cut-off wheels, wire coat hangers or paper clips, heavy grit sanding tool. We will be using the wire hangers to make a simple locking tool for attaching the guard to the gutter. You can also use paper clips but hangers are way sturdier.
Get a buddy or partner to help you. Be careful and always ensure the safety of you and your assistant. When in doubt, seek professional help. Wear safety goggles and gloves and protect your head from injuries using a helmet or hard hat.
Step 2 – Clean Out Gutters Before Installation
Before you set out to install your aluminum or metal gutter guards, you must clean and flush out the existing debris from the gutters. Make sure you flush out the downspouts. This will remove leaves, seeds, and other debris. Use a pressure cleaner to do the job.
Step 3 – Adjust the Height of the Gutter
Adjust the height of the gutter so they are higher by 1/4th inch for every 10 feet. You can use a level or simply check the water where it runs towards the downspouts. The low end isn’t necessarily where the downspout is located. If needed, use a level to ensure that the low-end is indeed low.
Step 4 – Make a Handy Tool With the Wire Coat Hangers
To make a locking gear with the hanger, straighten the hanger and then bend it from one end about 1/8th of an inch. It should form a 90-degree or right angle. Start hooking this hanger to lock the guard in place with and manipulate it around as the ends of each section overlap. The guard works in such a way that each previously placed piece shifts under the shingles as you place the subsequent section.
It is best to go from right to left as you work since the piece on the left should go above that on the right. This method works well for asphalt shingles since they flex. The instructions on most gutter guards ask you to place the mesh under shingles.
But, if the underlayment goes all the way to the edges, you may have to place the guard under the underlayment. This can get caught in the mesh. Use the nails of the underlayment and lift the mesh over the nail if it won’t go far enough under.
Step 5 – Make Adjustments Where Needed
In some spots, the gutter guards might not slip far enough in which case you might need to cut off some of the mesh. Also, you need to cut the final piece in each run as well. Please use angle grinders for this task.
You can use snips/compound shears too but for speed and straight cuts, grinders work better. (The best tool is actually a Dremmel with heavy duty-cut-off wheel). And this is where you must wear safety goggles.
Step 6 – Sand the Ends
Heavy- grit sand the ends at the cutting points to smooth off the cut off ends.
How to Install Wedge-Style Downspout Gutter Guard
Now we will consider another type of gutter guard installation and that is the easiest to put together: the wedge-style gutter guard that fits in the downspouts. This is also quite simple to put together and needs no tools.
Step 1 – Ensure That Your Gutter Guard Fits in the Downspout
Before selecting the wedge-style downspout gutter guard, ensure that your downspout is round in shape. Most downspout gutter-guards are specifically made for round-holed downspouts. If your downspout has a square slot, you might have to buy ones specifically for that style or modify the round ones you have purchased.
Modification involves cutting off the portion of the downspout gutter guard’s cylinder so it fits into the downspout hole. Note that this method is not a fool-proof way of keeping pine needles and tiny leaves leaves out of the downspouts.
Step 2 – Attach Connectors
The beauty of using the right-sized and correct-shape of downspout gutter guards is that you need no tools for attachment. The wedges come with connectors and you simply attach them to the downspouts making sure that they are located away from the corners of the home.
How to Install Foam Gutter Guards
A third kind of gutter guard is the foam-style guard. It is fire-resistant, easy to install, inexpensive, and also provides year-round leaf protection. The foam material keeps out leaves and other debris while allowing water to flow easily to the downspouts. Such a simple yet brilliant idea!
The advantage of foam-style gutter guards includes easy installation that allows literally anyone to install them. Foam gutter guards also prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the gutters and that can help prevent Zika, dengue, malaria, and other diseases. The downside to using foam gutter guards is that they are flammable and increase fire hazards.
Step 1 – Measure the Gutter Size and the Foam Guard Needed
Most standard homes run about 160 feet of gutters. Measure the foam gutter guard accordingly. It is always best to buy a little extra and cut off the excess.
Step 2 – Press and Push the Foam Gutter Guard in the Gutter
Carefully get up on the step ladder. Have a buddy to help you out if needed. Insert the foam guard in the gutter. The foam will mold according to the gutter size. Turn the gutter guard around the corner. If needed, snip off to fit the shape and contours of your gutters. Leave the downspouts free. Finish off by covering all sides of the gutters.
If cleaning your gutters sounds like an unappealing project to you; you might want to consider learning ‘how to install gutter guards’. Increasingly, this is becoming a requirement for new homes and major home remodels. Dozens of companies sell gutter guard products and all claim that theirs is the best. Foam or plastic guards are easy to install but they can catch fire and are not 100% clogging-proof.
Metal-screen guards with large holes work to an extent but they can still allow needles and small leaves and twigs. Micromesh guards and metal-surface tension gutter guards work well and are fairly easy to install. We hope that this brief guide helps you make an informed choice.