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3 Ways to Keep Gutters Running Free

Take action to keep downspouts running freely before those shade trees start shedding in earnest.

One of these guards won’t totally free you of ladder duty, but it could buy you time between checkups.

Mesh-screen caps

  • How they work: A vinyl, plastic, or metal grid sits atop the gutter, letting water in while keeping leaves out.
  • Your job: Brushing aside any accumulated debris from time to time to prevent runoff from cascading over the face of the gutter.
  • The cost: Seamless, pro-installed systems start near $5 per linear foot, while snap-on DIY options, which are more visible, start at about 33 cents per foot.

Foam inserts

  • How they work A porous foam that fits half-round or K-style gutters blocks leaves while letting water through. These DIY guards often come in 4-foot sections that are easily trimmed to turn corners or fit around hangers. Because they nest inside the gutter, they’re hidden from view.
  • Your job: Regular debris removal.
  • The cost: From $1.75 to $3.50 per linear foot.

Surface-tension hoods

  • How they work: As with mesh, a hood (shown above) sits on top; water follows its rounded edge and flows into the gutter, though heavy rains can overwhelm it. Some hoods have clips that make it easy to remove them to check gutters.
  • Your job: Occasional clearing of small debris.
  • The cost: From $15 per linear foot when a pro installs them, and from $2.50 if it’s DIY.