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It should be noted that Amerimax Hinged Gutter Guard's recommended installation method is to clip the screen on the edge of eaves and simply flip the guard on to the shingles. While this installation method avoids the water "skating" problem mentioned below, it makes the screens much more susceptible to removal by wind (or simply being flipped by wind) and does not provide any closure at the point where the screens meet the shingles (which can allow even medium to large debris to pass under the screens). Therefore Hinged Gutter Guards are installed as suggested but instead of simply resting against the roof, the screen is tucked under the first row of shingles (which increases the likelihood of water skating over top and can also create a small valley just before the screen. You can decrease the skating problem by only overlapping a portion of the shingle onto the screen (the more screen the water must cross over, the less likely it will be able to skate the full surface) but this can seriously detract from the product's appearance.
GutterFilter® can be installed above or below the eavestrough hangers, but I recommend always installing above the hangers as this avoids creating depressions in the product (where debris may be inclined to sit) as well as providing a much nicer appearance and smoother top (allowing the wind to blow debris off more easily).
For the rest of this page I will refer to Amerimax Hinged Gutter Guard as "screens".
Cost of Installation
Screens = $2.25 - $3.00 per linear foot (depending on installation complexity)
GutterFilter® = $5-$6 per linear foot (depending on installation complexity)
*Price does not include cleaning eavestroughs (which is required prior to installation).
Effectiveness with large leaves
Screens = 8 out of 10
If installed correctly this product will keep virtually all large leaves out of the eavestroughs. However in some installations leaves can accumulate on the roof above the screen which may require them to be manually removed (although in most cases wind will remove them).
GutterFilter® = 9 out of 10
Large leaves almost always dry up and blow away. However in some protected areas (including some roof valleys) the leaves can accumulate requiring them to be swept off.
Effectiveness with small leaves / maple keys and similar sized things
Screens = 5 out of 10
Some small debris will pass though the openings on screens and begin to accumulate inside the eavestroughs. Most of this will travel through and out the downpipes but in time will build up at the downpipes or along the eavestroughs resulting in clogging. (The amount of time varies with each installation)
GutterFilter® = 9 out of 10
These things will generally not be able to penetrate the openings in GutterFilter® and will usually dry up and blow away.
Effectiveness with tiny debris / some seed pods / pine needles
Screens = 3 out of 10
Screens may keep out some of this tiny debris, but in reality most stuff smaller than the opening in the screen will simply pass right through it and the larger pine needles will likely get stuck in the openings.
GutterFilter® = 8 out of 10
Almost none of the normal seedlings or pine needles will make it through GutterFilter®. Pine needles may however get stuck in it which can cause a blockage on top of the product over time. This would require the top to be swept off.
Screens = 5-8 out of 10
In virtually all cases the screens are clearly visible from ground level and can stand out particularly against a dark roofing material. A very good installation with very light roofing material can go "almost" unnoticed. But edges almost never align perfectly with each other and thus gives a slightly ragged appearance.
GutterFilter® = 10 out of 10
This is invisible from ground level when installed correctly.
Ease of cleaning under the product once it's been installed
Screens = 5-9 out of 10
Depending on circumstances it may be as simple as spraying through the screening to flush out the debris. Otherwise you simply lift the screens as necessary to clean or flush under them.
GutterFilter® = 7 out of 10
In most cases you can simply lift the GutterFilter® out of the eaves and flush through that opening (and under some of the other pieces without removing them) then replace that piece. Be VERY careful to put the pieces back EXACTLY where they came from..
Frequency of cleaning once installed
You will "probably" have to clean the eaves just as often as you did prior to installing the screens (although in many instances if you were cleaning twice annually you could likely get away with once annually). However the amount of "stuff" to be cleaned out would be significantly decreased.
You will probably never have to clean "below" the GutterFilter® in the time you own the house. The size of the debris that actually gets through GutterFilter® is so small that it either flushes right out the downpipe or takes a VERY long time to accumulate to any significant degree. I would recommend flushing under them after 10 years (although they should continue to function well beyond that even without any flushing).
Screens = 26-33 out of 50 (average 60% efficiency)
Definitely has it's uses, However this is primarily a stop-gap with limited applications.
GutterFilter® = 43 out of 50 (average 86% efficiency)
Nothing is perfect. Use this as a permanent solution (keeping in mind that it may require minor maintenance).
My opinion of the purpose of each product
- Use in areas where there is little or no smaller debris in order to delay scheduled cleanings (in this use some houses could go 3 or 4 years without needing to clean).
- Use in areas where there is some small debris to avert the clogging problems. People cleaning twice per year could "possibly" go to once per year. More likely is the ability to leave the cleaning until the trees have stopped shedding without the eaves becoming plugged
- Use where eavestroughs are drained above ground . Although you can also use with below ground drainage, keep in mind that smaller debris which enters through the screens can make it's way into the underground system and possibly clog it.
- Use this in areas where you are fully prepared to continue cleaning the eavestroughs to decrease the problems between regular cleanings.
- Do Not Use in areas with pine needles or tiny debris unless you are prepared to continue your cleaning schedule as if you had never installed them (they would provide a slight improvement over nothing but would also require regular cleaning)
- Do Not Use if the appearance of your home is of utmost importance to you. (Although you will get used to the appearance and most of your visitors won't even notice them, screens will be clearly visible from the ground in many cases). They are not "ugly" but they are different and people not prepared for it can find it unsettling.
- Do Not Use where EXTREMELY heavy rainfall is expected. Often when rainfall is extremely heavy, water can skate across the top of the screens and over the edge of the eavestroughs.
- Do Not Use where a higher eavestrough drains onto a roof just above where the screen is to be installed. Installing in this position will often see debris from the higher eavestrough being poured out just above the screen which can result in partial blockage due to the debris and a very high waterflow on that portion of the screen (resulting with the water skating over the screen as mentioned above). This does not include eavestroughs which drain directly from a higher eavestrough into a lower eavestrough (since the drained water would not have to pass through the screen).
- Can be used anywhere that screens are used.
- Use this in eavestroughs that you want to avoid having to clean.
- Use where the eavestroughs drain below ground. The ability of this product to keep out virtually all debris capable of clogging the drainage system makes it perfect for keeping below ground drainage working trouble free.
- Use on homes where appearance is important (this product cannot be seen from street level and when installed above the hangers, is actually much more aesthetically pleasing than empty gutters).
- Use where you need to keep tiny debris and pine needles out of gutters (be aware that you may need to sweep needles from the top as they may stick in the holes).
- Use where accessing the gutters for cleaning is difficult (due to being too close to another property or structure, or over uneven ground).
- Use with tar and gravel roof. The ability to stop any gravel from entering the eavestroughs will keep them flowing (although you may need to sweep the gravel from the top occasionally).
- Use on rental properties and cottages (or other properties where you cannot easily monitor the condition of the eavestroughs)
- Use where other solutions have failed. This product works in many instances where others fail (and sadly, that's probably what every other product's salesman has said).