Q. We live in a nice neighborhood subdivision that was developed about 30 years ago. At the time when we bought our house there were really no large trees around our home; now there are some that are higher than our house. We do not have leaf screens but seem to be cleaning our gutters more than ever. I have some friends that live on a wooded lot that have gutter guards and they do nothing but complained about them, gutters overflowing etc. Are gutter screens or guards a good idea? Do they work? Also, I have a downspout that runs out onto a lower roof. It seems like the roof is wearing there. Is that acceptable? — Rose of Angola
A. The science of gutters is not simple, and there are many variables that impact performance and maintenance.
First: You should never, if possible, run an upper gutter out onto a lower roof slope simply because you are now subjecting the lower roofing to extreme conditions all the time, and this area will wear prematurely.
Often, gutters will be directed into a lower gutter, but still you’re asking that gutter to perform above and beyond design.
Gutters are intended to help control water run off so that it can be directed into proper drainage channels away from the home. Yes, homes can have no gutters, but now you are distributing the water run off around the entire perimeter of your home.
Cleaning your gutters of leaf and tree debris is a must if you’re in an area with trees. If tall trees are more than a couple hundred feet away, I would avoid installing gutter protection. Gutter screens or guards will not eliminate the need for periodic cleaning.
Gutter protection usually reduces the times that you need to clean the gutter system out — but when you do clean, it might require a little more work.
If leaves are a problem, I will generally recommend gutter screens. They don’t need to be fancy. They simply want to stop the debris and allow the water through. After the debris dries, it can be blown off.